Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 6°C

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.

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

Police are searching for a man in a car who approached a nine-year-old girl in Stowmarket.

The Buttermarket Shopping Centre first opened on October 1, 1992 - a modern, glass fronted shopping centre with a green-theme.

More details have been unveiled for this year’s Raising the Bar Awards – with people across Suffolk being urged to get involved to celebrate those striving for excellence in education.

A leisure centre has reopened today following a closure of more than two months due to the discovery of the Legionella bacteria.

Parents have criticised the decision of an Ipswich school to go-ahead with a trip to a theme park despite the threat of an amber weather warning after claims a tree fell onto a slide the children were playing on.

Ipswich’s first drive-through Starbucks will open tomorrow with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony by mayor Roger Fern.

Community leaders at two east Suffolk district councils which are set to merge to save money are raising their tax by just over 3% in April.

Two former Ipswich Town FC players say the dangers of heading in football have been blown out of proportion and that it would ruin the sport if any changes to the game were made.

A driver clocked doing 129mph on the A14 has been banned for six months.

Council and highways authority officials insisted that better warnings and other preparations eased the pressure on roads around Ipswich after the closure of Orwell Bridge yesterday.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24