Rain

Rain

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Shotley: A German mine that hit HMS Amphion off the coast of Shotley claimed the first British casualties of First World War

10:00 02 August 2014

First World War graves at Shotley Church. The grave of Henry Copland.

First World War graves at Shotley Church. The grave of Henry Copland.

Archant

As the world prepares to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, a quiet Suffolk churchyard records the sad details of the first British servicemen to die in the conflict.

shares

Many history books record the first British casualty as Private John Parr at Mons in Belgium on August 21 – but more than two weeks earlier about 150 sailors perished when the Cruiser HMS Amphion hit a German mine off Shotley.

Four British sailors who died are buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Shotley in a plot that is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – nearby are the graves of several German sailors who died in the same engagement.

The story of HMS Amphion is very poignant. Launched in 1911, on the day war was declared she was operating in the North Sea off Harwich.

She was called into action alongside two destroyers when a former German ferry, converted to become a mine-layer, was spotted dropping mines off the Haven ports.

They gave chase and the mine-layer was sunk. It had a crew of 100 and 46 were rescued by the British, many taken on board the Amphion.

A few hours later, in the early hours of August 6, the Amphion hit one of the mines that had just been laid, crippling it in the water. The bridge and the front of the ship was badly damaged with many casualties.

The other ships in the flotilla were able to take off survivors, including many with serious burns, and these included some of the German survivors who had been involved in two ship sinkings in the same night.

A few hours later the abandoned Amphion hit another mine and sank.

The total number of casualties was about 150 – official figures at the time gave the number as 131 but that does not include any Germans who died or those who died later from their wounds.

Four were buried at Shotley, the bodies of others were sent to their home towns or villages for burial, and some could not be identified because of the seriousness of their injuries or the bodies went down with the ship.

shares

3 comments

  • Well at least it is consistent, Shotley!

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

  • I typed in Shirley, honest. Must be a reflection on our dependence on American spell checkers!

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

  • I recently visited the churchyard in Shirley and was surprised at the number of military graves, many more than expected. This includes sailors from Ganges but also many submariners from WW1. Who knew we had submarines in WW1 or that they operated around Harwich Harbour?

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Ipswich Crown Court

A 19-year old man who met up with a 13-year-old girl and exchanged text messages with her despite being given a police caution for kissing her several months earlier has been sentenced to 21 months youth detention.

The vandals tore through Bury St Edmunds

A drunken “night of madness” saw vandals rack up over £5,000 of damage to cars, pubs and property as they roamed the streets of Bury St Edmunds.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral overlooking colourful displays in the Abbey Gardens

Suffolk’s most important religious building has been awarded a £300,000 Government grant to pay for urgent roof repairs.

Josephine Murphy

An 86-year-old woman who had gone missing from Clacton has been found safe and well

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton.

A television antiques expert has appealed for help rebuilding his eco-friendly arts centre in Suffolk after a major blaze destroyed the historic sawmill that was to be its showroom and workshops.

Darsham Nurseries head chef Lola DeMille and chef Tom Eagle in the cafe where they are donating money from one of the dishes to the World Land Trust.

An international conservation charity based in Suffolk is one of three organisations to benefit from a new campaign raising awareness about the impact of meat production on health, welfare and the environment.

Suffolk County Council's base at Endeavour House

Up to 23 jobs could go in a major shake-up of Suffolk County Council’s education services.

Latitude Festival, at the Henham Estate near Southwold

Suffolk poet Luke Wright has seen the Latitude festival grow from a modest boutique gathering in 2006 to one of Britain’s biggest music and arts events.

Fire crews

Firefighters tackled a lorry fire in Ipswich last night, after police reported the vehicle in Hatfield Road.

Last year's Colchester Half Marathon.

Thousands of people will be pounding the streets of Colchester tomorrow as the town’s half marathon event returns.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages