Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 2°C

Search

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

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:37 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.

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.

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

An inquest has opened into the death of a “totally loved” Essex 18-year-old, who died after crashing into a roadside barrier.

Familiar faces from across the county came together for the University of Suffolk’s first honorary graduates and fellows dinner as part of its year of celebration.

A man who stole seven bottles of vodka from Tescos in Ipswich told a court he took them to give to the Salvation Army.

Time-travelling children became museum curators as part of a heritage site’s work with local schools.

The return of the Tour of Britain is the latest major sporting event to come to Suffolk, following the Great East Run’s decision to run the 13.1mile route on the streets of Ipswich for the first time.

A stretch of the A14 was closed for more than seven hours after cattle were reported wandering the road.

One of cycling’s biggest sporting events returns to Suffolk this September – with a stage entirely contained within the county for the first time.

Sir Elton John has spent two days in intensive care after contracting a “potentially deadly” bacterial infection, it has been revealed.

A cold Monday night couldn’t stop Anglo-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili warming up a delighted Regent as he rolled into Ipswich for the latest stop on his Schmuck for a Night mega-tour.

A romantic Suffolk father took a moment to catch his breath before getting down on one knee on the final stretch of his first ever London Marathon.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24