Monday 22 September 2014

Disaster off the Dutch Coast

HMS Cressy

Tuesday 22nd September 1914: We have today received intelligence of a great naval disaster off the coast of Holland. Three of our armoured cruisers of the same class, the Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy[1] have been sunk by a German submarine, known as a U-Boat. These armoured cruisers are obsolete and manned by relatively inexperienced crews and, given their patrol area is so close to lanes known to be used by German submarines, have been, with rather grim humour, known as the “Live Bait Squadron”, a name which has proved tragically prophetic. Over fourteen hundred of our sailors have been killed by this under-handed vessel of secretive destruction. That more did not perish is down to the humanity of neutral Dutch ships in the area which picked up as many survivors as they could as did a number of our vessels.

Sadly Mr. Alfred Charles Rowberry of Husborne Crawley was on board HMS Cressy and must be considered lost. No news has reached his wife and much sympathy is felt for her by the village. He was a Petty Officer Stoker and in civilian life was attendant at the swimming baths and waterworks in the village. He was a naval reservist called up on the outbreak of war. He was a fine manly fellow, highly respected in the neighbourhood. He left a wife and one child.

A strange coincidence is that Stanley Stapleton, second son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Stapleton of Husborne Crawley is on HMS Lowestoft, the ship that played such an important part in the rescue work of the survivors.

Source: Bedfordshire Times

[1] Weighing 12,000 tons and armed with two 9.2 inch guns and twelve 6 inch guns.

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