Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 13°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.

Prince Harry has arrived in Suffolk to present a new colour to the RAF regiment at Honington and launch a new initiative at Suffolk charity Headway.

A month-long campaign to tackle drink and drug driving in Suffolk has seen more than 60 drivers fail alcohol and drug tests.

When the sun finally comes out it is great to have a day in the park and there are plenty to choose from in Suffolk and north Essex. Here are seven of our favourites.

Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin has signed a House of Commons motion calling on rail company Greater Anglia to retain its ticket offices across the region.

This Tudor Hall was the home of one of the founding fathers of the United States of America - Bartholomew Gosnold. Now it could be yours for £2.5m.

A “stunning” £10,000 sum has been gifted by a mystery donor to help replace a charity’s stolen Rural Coffee Caravan - taking the campaign to more than half way.

The first scheduled service between Stansted Airport and the United States for nine years is to be launched next April.

Top East Anglian acoustic duo Silbury Hill will be performing at the next Ipswich Arts Association lunchtime concert.

A 16-year-old suspected of being in possession of a large hunting knife was one of four males arrested on suspicion being involved in a drug deal.

Ipswich Town fans gathered at Portman Road in July 78’ to have a chance to hold and take pictures of the FA Cup.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24