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Remembered Today:

K Battery Royal Artillery 1914


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Does anybody have any information on the " Minnesota " , Google only comes up with a US ship ? or any information on K Battery Royal Artillery in 1914.


Penrith Herald Saturday December 12th 1914

Mr Frank Mason of `K` Battery, Royal Artillery, who is in the 3rd Cavalry Division of the Epeditionary Force in France, Has forwarded another interesting letter to his parents at Keswick, under date 1st December, he give more details of his life at the front. He says:- My governor is coming to England for a few days and is posting this for me. He tells me I can tell you some of the places we have been to and the times we have had. We left Southhampton on the Minnesota, it was nice enough but being a cattle boat it was not to luxuriously fitted up. We got over all right, which was more important. It was past midnight when we left so we could see nothing of the country as we left. We followed the coast all dayand reached Dover at dusk, we thought we were going to be able to get off here for half an hour , but they took us futher on and we dropped anchor off Margate. We arrived off Ostend the following morning and hung about there all day and disembarked in the evening. we had a grand reception from the people of Ostend, but I did not get chance to see anything of the place as it was nearly midnight by the time we got our horses and guns off.

We stayed the night just outside town and set off next morning on the march, stopping at Bruges the following night.

We went on for about a fortnight, and except for a occasional brush with the Uhlans it was a unevful march until we got into that action I told you about in my other letter, I have been fighting all the time in the vicinity of Ypres - where the hardest fighting has been going on - first in one action and then another.

It has been a most terrible time, although what we had was nothing to what the infantry had to go through. the losses in my battery have been very heavy, out of the 120 men we started with 12 have been killed and 20 wounded. we seemed to be very unfortunate as wherever we were the Germans always found us, I did not see the attacks as we were always behind, but we covered our infantry with our guns when they were into the Prussian Guards, and the site of the ground after they retired over it was awful

It was littered with nothing but dead and dying men. It has always been the same whenever the Germans have tried to break through, they were pushed back leaving thousands of dead behind, but they have made us suffer heavy casualties too. I don`t think the Germans can last much longer as the number they are losing must tell in the end. The way they shell towns and villages is the worst, one village we were in was a very nice place, but when we went through it one day it was a very different; there was not a house that did not have a shell in it, some were blown clean down, others had their roof blown off and great gaps in the walls while dead men lay about the streets, they were still shelling this place as we went through and we had to gallop as hard as we could to get through it.

Ypres was a very nice town indeed when we first went into it, it had a beautiful town hall hundreds of years old, but it is destroyed like the rest now, the Germans have never had it and never will. There must be hundreds of people buried in the ruins of these places, some of them won`t leave their homes and so they go under with them.

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He mentions that it is a cattle ship,doubtless there were quite a few horses of the 3 Cav Div and the Artillery to carry as well as the soldiers !

The War Diary usually shows the name of the ship(s) that carry them to war,so you could check that is correct,and then find the ship(s) named in the 1914 edition of the Lloyd's List (some large Reference Libraries have them) if you really want more details about them.

There is no War Diary specifically for K Battery (it would be Royal Horse Artillery) for 1914,but you can check ships that carried the Division from this Diary WO95/1154 which began in 1914.

The MINNESOTA you have found must be the liner which operated out of Baltimore MD.


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Hi Caldbeck - Looked up your ship on the Miramar Ship Index and the only 'Minnesota' I could find that wasn't US or Norwegian was a passenger/cargo ship of 3,216 GRT built by Harland & Wolff at their Belfast yard in 1887. In 1917 the name was changed to 'Mahopac' and she was broken up at Rotterdam in 1923. The 'Minnesota' was registered to Williams Torrey up to 1917 then to the Atlantic Transport Co.

Regards, lostinspace

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  • 1 year later...

The Minnesota was built as a cattle carrier for the Atlantic Transport Line. She ran her trials on November 22, 1887 and was the first of many ships built for the line by Harland & Wolff. Bernard N. Baker set up a series of one-ship companies to own his vessels (to limit liability in the event of a disaster) and among these there was presumably a Minnesota Steamship Company that technically owned this ship.

She was used as a troopship on the outbreak of World War I, taking two field companies of the Royal Engineers from the 2nd Division over to France with the British Expeditionary Force, sailing from Southampton to Rouen in August 1914. Apparently the commanding officer of one of the field companies noted, "Accommodation for men was not good. Officers and men found voyage trying. Both were very crowded, and ship cabin not kept clean."

In 1917 she was renamed Mahopac on acquisition of a much larger and more modern ship named Minnesota from the Great Northern Steamship Company for service on the Atlantic. She survived in A.T.L. service until broken up in 1926, longer service than any other vessel in the fleet.

Specification: 345' 6", Beam: 40' 10", Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Launch date: 1887, Destruction: Scrapped 1926 Rotterdam, Operated by A.T.L.: 1887-1926, AKA: Mahopac. Notes: Schooner-Rigged Steamship, Wood/Steel construction, three decks. Single screw, triple expansion engine with cylinders of 24 1/2", 37", and 64" and a stroke of 48". Steam pressure 160 lbs, 291 n.h.p., 12 knots<BR clear=all>


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