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H.M.S. Aboukir

Illustrated London News October 21, 1914

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The Illustrated London News, Oct.21st, 1914

Dead on the Filed of Honor: Naval and Military Officers who have been killed on active service

In the October 3, 1914 issue of my London Illustrated News there is a two page photograph record of the British Army and Navy officers killed in combat in the preceding month.

The second page is made up predominantly of naval officers. All are from three ships; the H.M.S. Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy. All three ships were armored cruisers of the Cressy class and were in Navy lingo, “sister ships.”

I discovered that the ships were sister ships when I searched for the H.M.S. Aboukir. I also discovered that all three ships were lost on the same day and were sunk by the same German submarine, the U-9 commanded, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Aboukir_(1900)

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According to the Wikipedia article cited above the Aboukir was torpedoed first. The Hogue moved to the Aboukir’s aid and it to was torpedoed as it tried to rescue crewmen from the rapidly sinking Aboukir. The Hogue sank in ten minutes.

The Cressy attempted to ram the U-Boat but failed and it to was torpedoed and sank in thirty-five minutes.

Dutch and British fishing trawlers rescued a total of 837 men from the three ships. Sixty-two officers and 1, 397 enlisted men were lost. About a third were lost from the Aboukir which was torpedoed first.

Here is the list of officers pictured in the October 3, 1914 issue of The London Illustrated News.

H.M.S. Aboukir

Lieut-Com T. E. Harrison

Lieut B.H.M. Bradford

Lieut J.G Watson

Lieut O.W. Tottie

Engr-Com A.E. Everitt

Midshipman G.B. Barchard

Midshipman A.V.G. Allsop

H.M.S. Hogue

Lieut-Com H.E. DE P. Rennick

Lieut-CM C. Phillips-Wolley

Midshipman G.C. Harold

H.M.S. Cressy

Lieut-Com E. P. Gabbett

Lieut-Com B.M. Harvey

Lieut S. Wise

Lieut P.A. G. Kell

Lieut-Com Watkins Grubb

Surgn A. E. Turnbull

Midshipman J.A. Proude

Midshipman F.G. Matthews

Since the total number of officers pictured is considerably under the 62 officers lost I’m assuming future issues of the News would list the remainder if possible.

My friend Martin Gibson has supplied me with this link that lists the names of all the UK and Commonwealth naval casualties in WW1.

Otto Weddington, the commander of the U-9 sank the three armored cruisers in about an hour. For the feat he was awarded the Iron Cross, first and second class as well as other medals. In 1915 while commanding another U-Boat Weddington and his entire crew were lost when rammed by the H.M.S. Dreadnought-a battleship! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Weddigen

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German U-Boat WW1

At the outbreak of World War One the Royal Navy still ruled the waves. The technology associated with naval vessels was advancing at a rapid pace. This can be illustrated in that the Aboukir had been completed in 1902 and put into the reserve fleet by 1912-an active service life of only ten years. It was reactivated in 1914 at the outbreak of the war but was no doubt considered a useful but second line type ship.

Germany sought to challenge Britain’s dominance of the waves by constructing it’s own High Seas Fleet. It fought one major battle at Jutland in 1916 and failed to achieve much of anything. The High Seas Fleet stayed in port bottled up by the Royal Navy as the Royal Navy blockaded Germany eventually bringing the country to the brink of starvation.

As a result of the blockade the Germans relied more and more on U-Boat warfare in an effort to starve Great Britain first even as Germany began to starve due to the Royal Navy’s blockade.

Most of the dramatic successes that the U-Boats enjoyed were in the earlier parts of the war. The allies reacted to the U-Boats by building and employing many more destroyers and other sub-hunting craft. Transports became part of convoy systems escorted by destroyers and the U-Boats suffered fearful losses of their own.

As the war went on Germany became more desperate to break the British blockade and reintroduced unrestricted submarine warfare-meaning that the U-Boats would sink neutral ships suspected of supplying Britain.

This is what brought the United States into the war in April, 1917 thus sealing Germany’s doom in the Great War.

But before that would happen there would be many Aboukir’s sunk and thousands of lives lost on both sides. The list of officers in my issue of The London Illustrated News is sadly just a sampling of the terrible cost that was the First World War.

4 comments on “H.M.S. Aboukir

  1. The dead and survivors of all 3 cruisers are listed on naval-history.net.

    http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1914-09Sept.htm

  2. WWI and the battle of Jutland I imagine was quite a time for the navies, transitioning from the grand old wooden battleships to the dreadnoughts. Dan Carlin does a great mention of it in his series on WWI, “Blueprints for Armageddon.” Great post!

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