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Remembered Today:

Otranto barrage HM Drifters sunk 15/5/1917 and crews taken prisoner


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I see there are a few old threads on this forum about this event. eg here

 

Wiki tells me this:

During 1917, a fleet of British drifters, escorted by destroyers and light cruisers, maintained a blockade of the 72 km (45 mi) wide Strait of Otranto, denying the Austro-Hungarian Navy access to the Mediterranean. On 15 May 1917, the Austro-Hungarian Navy raided the barrage.[2] The Austro-Hungarians gave most drifter crews warning to abandon ship before opening fire.[2] Some drifter crews chose to fight, and the Gowan Lee returned fire on the Austro-Hungarian ships. The drifter was heavily damaged, but remained afloat. Skipper Joseph Watt was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the battle.[3] Of the 47 drifters in the barrage at the time, 14 were sunk and 4 were damaged.[3] The lack of sufficient Allied escorts forced the withdrawal of the remaining blockading ships, although only for a short time.[4]

 

Whilst looking for Army PoWs on the ICRC Prisoners site I came across several pages with duplicated R numbers and just in case that they were overlooked in ICRC's indexing I thought to post a link here. I have previously found that trying to trace RN PoWs on ICRC is very hit/miss.

Below is an example of a backing sheet on ICRC and if you scroll back and forth there are a few other pages.

 

I checked one name (James Samuel Grimmer) to his RNVR BT377 Royal Naval Reserve record held by Discovery National Archives. He was on Admirable and comment in his file is what led me to the Otranto HM Drifters connection. Here is an extract courtesy National Archives showing him to be held in Austria at Gefangenenlager Deutsch Gabel. (There are threads on this forum about that camp).

637337178_GwfGrimmerJSRNVRDrifterOtrantoBarrage.JPG.1b5fa6634fcb54b5419369923ebe3013.JPG

 

The ICRC pages relevant include R50779,R50780, R50781. There are perhaps others

 

C_G1_E_01_03_0004_0304.JPG.53c5734742945a838013368df44be7a0.JPG

 

What vessel C5 and T4 mean I'm unclear.

 

This might just be useful to someone unless it has already been noted and indexed ? I would be happy to type out the names on these three pages so they get picked up by a search.

 

Comments please. Thanks

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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Charlie,

 

5 hours ago, charlie962 said:

What vessel C5 and T4 mean I'm unclear.

 

Leonard Peek, the last name on the list, is almost certainly Engineman Leonard Emmanuel Peek, a Lowestoft man, who was serving aboard the Girl Gracie when she was sunk in the attack on the Taranto Barrage.  The Wrecksite website - :) - records that the drifters were divided into a number of divisions with Girl Gracie being in "B" Division. My original thought was that C5 and T4 were pennant numbers, but unless Leonard was actually temporarily assigned to another drifter that wouldn't add up.

https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?189105

 

Here is a low grade picture of Leonard I found in the local press.

 

Leonard Peek RNR Lowestoft Died PoW 1918

 

When I was researching him a few years I couldn't track down any ICRC records for him. Unfortunately he died from disease in July 1918 and is buried at Klagenfurt War Cemetery in Austria.

 

Did you come across any more references to him at all?

 

Thanks,

Peter

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On 24/11/2020 at 00:25, PRC said:

Did you come across any more references to him at all?

No. But several other men on the list are Lowestoft and several of them crewmen of Admirable. edit- not neccesarily Admirable, which was also the holding ship for admin.

 

Thanks for your comments, Peter. I shall type out the list and then the links to Service Records on Discovery. It might be helpful for anyone trying to identify men on the same Drifter. No doubt this info lurks in Navy records already but perhaps not available online.

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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On 24/11/2020 at 00:25, PRC said:

but unless Leonard was actually temporarily assigned to another drifter t

Leonard appears on the above list as 'from other vehicles' ( von anderen fahrtzeugen)- I may haveincorrectly presumed fahrtzeugen in this case means vessels not vehicles. Given that William Urqhart (near top of list) and James Grimmer are both from Admirable could it refer to PoW transport or even the ship that picked them up ?

 

But

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I see there is a Community on Lives of the First World War that picks up a number (115) of these men here.

 

Someone has clearly done their homework and this might cover all of them but I shall check the ICRC lists to that site and see if there are any new ones*.

 

*Edit

eg Temp Skippers William Moncrieff and  John William Labon are on ICRC R50780 and their service records show capture 15/5/17 but they are not on the Lives community.

Edited by charlie962
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A little bit more about those who survived - most probably won't turn up on your lists but will flesh out some of the crew details.

 

Norwich Mercury, Saturday September 1, 1917.

 

HONOURS FOR DRIFTER CREWS

 

SKIPPER WINS A VICTORIA CROSS.

 

The gallant deeds of the men on the British drifters in the Adriatic when attacked by Austrian light cruisers on May 15th are recognised in a series of awards published in the “London Gazette” as follows :-

 

V.C. FOR A SKIPPER.

 

The King has been pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the under-mentioned officer:-

Skipper JOSEPH WATT, R.N.R., 1206 W.S.A.

For most conspicuous gallantry when the Allied drifter line in the Straits of Otranto was attacked by Austrian light cruisers on the morning of May 15th, 1917. When hailed by an Austrian cruiser at about 100 yards range and ordere to stop and abandon his drifter, the Gowan Lea, Skipper Watt ordered full speed ahead and called upon his crew to give three cheers and fight to the finish. The cruiser was then engaged, but after one round had been fired a shot from the enemy disabled the breech of the drifter’s gun. The gun’s crew, however, stuck to their gun, endeavouring to make it work, being under heavy fire all the time. After the cruiser had passed on Skipper Watt took the Gowan Lea alongside the badly damaged drifter Floandi, and assisted to remove the dead and wounded.

 

TO RECEIVE THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS.

 

Skipper William Bruce, R.N.R., 1486 W.S.A.

He remained at his post with his crew when under the fire of a very superior force until his ship, H.M. Drifter Quarry Knowe, blew up.

 

Skipper Robert Stephen, R.N.R., 1384 W.S.A.

He remained at his post although under heavy fire from a very superior force, until his ship, H.M. Drifter Tarts, was badly damaged and in a sinking condition.

 

Skipper William Farquhar, R.N.R., 1310 W.S.A.

He remained at his post with his crew although under heavy fire from a very superior force, only leaving his ship, H.M. Drifter Admirable, as she was sinking.

 

Skipper Robert Crowe, R.N.R., 1777 W.S.A.

Although under heavy fire from a very superior force, he remained at his post, keeping his ship H.M. Drifter Coral Haven, heading for the enemy and encouraging his crew to fight their small gun. Four rounds were fired, and he and his crew only escaped from their ship when she was on fire and in a sinking condition.

 

Skipper Dennis John Nichols, R.N.R., 834 W.S.A.

He remained at his post in the wheelhouse, steering his ship, H.M. Drifter Floandi, and although wounded himself, assisted in removing the more severely wounded members of his crew. Later he went in a small boat, plugging the holes in ship’s side, thereby enabling her to reach port.

 

TO RECEIVE THE CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY MEDAL.

 

Deckhand Frederick Hawley Lamb, R.N.R., O.N. 1491 T.S.

Though severely wounded in the leg by the explosion of a box of ammunition on H.M. Drifter Gowan Lea, he stuck to his gun, endeavouring to make it work.

 

Engman. Charles Mobbs, R.N.R., O.N. 1760 ES.

He remained at his post until the main steampipe was shot away, when he was forced to leave the engine-room, but as soon as possible he returned and put out the fires. He also went in a small boat and assisted to plug holes in the ship’s side, thus enabling her to reach port safely.

 

2nd Hand John Turner, R.N.R., O.N.5098 D.A.

He displayed great coolness whilst under fire. Seeing that then enemy were endeavouring to destroy the W.T. apparatus, Turner went aloft to strike the topmast, quite regardless of the fact that the shells were passing between the mast and funnel.

 

Engmn. Walter Watt, R.N.R., O.N. 2098 TS.

The crew were taken prisoners, but on their way to the Austrian cruiser, Watt jumped overboard. He was recaptured, and when alongside the cruiser he again jumped overboard and escaped. He was picked up by another drifter 1 ½ hours later.

 

2nd Hand Joseph Hendry, R.N.R., O.N. 1959, S.A.

His ship being in a sinking condition, the remainder of the crew left her in a small boat and were taken prisoners, but Hendry refused to leave. His ship eventually sank under him, and he was in the water for some hours until picked up by another drifter.

 

My notes (January 2017) about those individuals:-

 

Joseph Watt survived the war and died in 1955.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Watt

 

WSA 1486 William Bruce, was born Buckie, Banffshire on the 2nd January 1867.

Source: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586491

Captured by the Austrians.

 

WSA 1384 Robert Stephen was born Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire on the 28th May 1872.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586390

He appears to have survived the war.

 

WSA 1310 William Farquhar was born Lossiemouth, Elgin on the 25th July 1879.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586316

He appears to have survived the war.

 

WSA 1774 Robert Cowe was born Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire on the 16th June 1878

Source: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586779

He appears to have survived the war.

 

WSA 834 Dennis John Nichols was born Yarmouth on the 4th August 1878.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8585840

He appears to have survived the war.

 

TS 1491 Frederick Hawley Lamb was born Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire on the 20th December 1878.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8569728

He appears to have survived the war.

 

ES 1760 Charles Mobbs was born Yarmouth 28th November 1878.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8665367

He appears to have survived the war.

 

DA 5098 John Turner was born Martham, Norfolk, on the 8th November 1890.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8512638

He appears to have survived the war.

 

Probably TS 2089 Walter Watt, born Banff, 24th April 1897.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8570326

He appears to have survived the war. Looks to have been serving aboard the Admirable at the time of the attack.

 

1959 SA J Hendry C G M would die on the 30/10/1918 while attached to HMS Venerable. He is buried at Buckie New Cemetery, Banffshire,

Source: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/666929/HENDRY, J

SA 1959 Joseph Hendry was born Port Gordon, Banffshire on the 14th April 1890.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8548762

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

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On 25/11/2020 at 19:11, PRC said:

A little bit more about those who survived - most probably won't turn up on your lists but will flesh out some of the crew details.

 

Norwich Mercury, Saturday September 1, 1917.

 

HONOURS FOR DRIFTER CREWS

 

SKIPPER WINS A VICTORIA CROSS.

 

The gallant deeds of the men on the British drifters in the Adriatic when attacked by Austrian light cruisers on May 15th are recognised in a series of awards published in the “London Gazette” as follows :-

 

V.C. FOR A SKIPPER.

 

The King has been pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the under-mentioned officer:-

Skipper JOSEPH WATT, R.N.R., 1206 W.S.A.

For most conspicuous gallantry when the Allied drifter line in the Straits of Otranto was attacked by Austrian light cruisers on the morning of May 15th, 1917. When hailed by an Austrian cruiser at about 100 yards range and ordere to stop and abandon his drifter, the Gowan Lea, Skipper Watt ordered full speed ahead and called upon his crew to give three cheers and fight to the finish. The cruiser was then engaged, but after one round had been fired a shot from the enemy disabled the breech of the drifter’s gun. The gun’s crew, however, stuck to their gun, endeavouring to make it work, being under heavy fire all the time. After the cruiser had passed on Skipper Watt took the Gowan Lea alongside the badly damaged drifter Floandi, and assisted to remove the dead and wounded.

 

TO RECEIVE THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS.

 

Skipper William Bruce, R.N.R., 1486 W.S.A.

He remained at his post with his crew when under the fire of a very superior force until his ship, H.M. Drifter Quarry Knowe, blew up.

 

Skipper Robert Stephen, R.N.R., 1384 W.S.A.

He remained at his post although under heavy fire from a very superior force, until his ship, H.M. Drifter Tarts, was badly damaged and in a sinking condition.

 

Skipper William Farquhar, R.N.R., 1310 W.S.A.

He remained at his post with his crew although under heavy fire from a very superior force, only leaving his ship, H.M. Drifter Admirable, as she was sinking.

 

Skipper Robert Crowe, R.N.R., 1777 W.S.A.

Although under heavy fire from a very superior force, he remained at his post, keeping his ship H.M. Drifter Coral Haven, heading for the enemy and encouraging his crew to fight their small gun. Four rounds were fired, and he and his crew only escaped from their ship when she was on fire and in a sinking condition.

 

Skipper Dennis John Nichols, R.N.R., 834 W.S.A.

He remained at his post in the wheelhouse, steering his ship, H.M. Drifter Floandi, and although wounded himself, assisted in removing the more severely wounded members of his crew. Later he went in a small boat, plugging the holes in ship’s side, thereby enabling her to reach port.

 

TO RECEIVE THE CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY MEDAL.

 

Deckhand Frederick Hawley Lamb, R.N.R., O.N. 1491 T.S.

Though severely wounded in the leg by the explosion of a box of ammunition on H.M. Drifter Gowan Lea, he stuck to his gun, endeavouring to make it work.

 

Engman. Charles Mobbs, R.N.R., O.N. 1760 ES.

He remained at his post until the main steampipe was shot away, when he was forced to leave the engine-room, but as soon as possible he returned and put out the fires. He also went in a small boat and assisted to plug holes in the ship’s side, thus enabling her to reach port safely.

 

2nd Hand John Turner, R.N.R., O.N.5098 D.A.

He displayed great coolness whilst under fire. Seeing that then enemy were endeavouring to destroy the W.T. apparatus, Turner went aloft to strike the topmast, quite regardless of the fact that the shells were passing between the mast and funnel.

 

Engmn. Walter Watt, R.N.R., O.N. 2098 TS.

The crew were taken prisoners, but on their way to the Austrian cruiser, Watt jumped overboard. He was recaptured, and when alongside the cruiser he again jumped overboard and escaped. He was picked up by another drifter 1 ½ hours later.

 

2nd Hand Joseph Hendry, R.N.R., O.N. 1959, S.A.

His ship being in a sinking condition, the remainder of the crew left her in a small boat and were taken prisoners, but Hendry refused to leave. His ship eventually sank under him, and he was in the water for some hours until picked up by another drifter.

 

My notes (January 2017) about those individuals:-

 

Joseph Watt survived the war and died in 1955.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Watt

 

WSA 1486 William Bruce, was born Buckie, Banffshire on the 2nd January 1867.

Source: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586491

Captured by the Austrians.

 

WSA 1384 Robert Stephen was born Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire on the 28th May 1872.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586390

He appears to have survived the war.

 

WSA 1310 William Farquhar was born Lossiemouth, Elgin on the 25th July 1879.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586316

He appears to have survived the war.

 

WSA 1774 Robert Cowe was born Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire on the 16th June 1878

Source: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8586779

He appears to have survived the war.

 

WSA 834 Dennis John Nichols was born Yarmouth on the 4th August 1878.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8585840

He appears to have survived the war.

 

TS 1491 Frederick Hawley Lamb was born Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire on the 20th December 1878.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8569728

He appears to have survived the war.

 

ES 1760 Charles Mobbs was born Yarmouth 28th November 1878.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8665367

He appears to have survived the war.

 

DA 5098 John Turner was born Martham, Norfolk, on the 8th November 1890.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8512638

He appears to have survived the war.

 

Probably TS 2089 Walter Watt, born Banff, 24th April 1897.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8570326

He appears to have survived the war. Looks to have been serving aboard the Admirable at the time of the attack.

 

1959 SA J Hendry C G M would die on the 30/10/1918 while attached to HMS Venerable. He is buried at Buckie New Cemetery, Banffshire,

Source: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/666929/HENDRY, J

SA 1959 Joseph Hendry was born Port Gordon, Banffshire on the 14th April 1890.

Source: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8548762

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

I thought I recognised some surnames which were common in the Moray, Banffshire and Aberdeenshire fishing.

RM

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On 25/11/2020 at 20:11, PRC said:

Skipper Robert Crowe, R.N.R., 1777 W.S.A.

 should read Robert Cowe, 1774

 

On 25/11/2020 at 20:11, PRC said:

Engmn. Walter Watt, R.N.R., O.N. 2098 TS.

s.b. 2089

 

Peter, thanks for your additions. I shall copy here shortly a list of names that I have gathered so far, just in case someone is searching.

Charlie

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Here is my reproduction of those 3 ICRC pages which seems to be a complete list of prisoners taken by the Austrians. Helpfully it gives the Drifter names for quite a few. I have quoted the RNR Service number for each man and tried to check for those men listed on ICRC as 'Other Vessels', with mixed success.


 

Drifters generally seem to have had a crew of 10.


 

Admirable was clearly the holding account as well as being one of the Drifters. The Base Ship was Queen.


 

Otranto Barage Drifters PoWs taken 15/5/17

 

 

 

 

Discovery

 

ICRC

 

 

 

Discovery

 

 

 

 

 ---------

 ---------

 ---------

 ---------

 

 

 

 

 

R50779

Serene

More,William

Kapitan

More

 SA 1470

Skipper

 

 

R50779

Serene

Flet, James

Maschinist

Fleet

ES 4121

Engineman

 

 

R50779

Serene

Taequhar, Georg

Maschinist

Farquhar

ES 3549

Engineman

 

 

R50779

Serene

Mennie, Georg

Heizer

Mennie

TS 3587

Trimmer

 

 

R50779

Serene

MacKenzie, James

Matrose

Mckenzie

DA 6325

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Serene

Geddes, Alex

Matrose

Geddes

DA 7223

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Serene

Durrant, Georg

Koch

Durrant

DA 7085

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Serene

Virgo, Georg

Matrose

Virgo

DA 7846

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Mackay, Georg

Kapitan

McKay

WSA 1051

Skipper

Aberdeen

 

R50779

Helenora

Ogg, Franz

Maschinist

Ogg

ES 2041

Engineman

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Dungan, Robert

Maschinist

Duncan

TS 2039

Engineman

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Watt, William

Maat

Watt

DA 3980

SecondHand

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Milne, Alex

Matrose

Milne

TS 2050

Trimmer

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Dean, Ernst

Matrose

Dean

SD 3338

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Mathias, Thomas

Matrose

Matthews

 DA 8278

Deckhand

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Hargreaves, Friedrich

Matrose

Hargreaves

DA 11726

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Helenora

Garden, James

Matrose

Garden

DA 5385

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Lyll, William

Kapitan

Lyall

WSA 873

Skipper

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Battason, Georg

Maat

Paterson

SA 951

SecondHand

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Stott, William

Maschinist

Stott

ES 1792

Engineman

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Couie, William

Maschinist

Cowie

TS 1894

Engineman

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Hutt, James

Matrose

Hutt

DA 3090

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Barron, Alex

Matrose

Barron

DA 6657

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Doyle, Part.

Matrose

Doyle

 222945

AB RN

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Huggett, Samuel

Matrose

Huggett

SD 1302

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Avondale

Johnson, Andreas

Koch

Johnson

DA 1784

DeckHand

 

 

R50779

Craignoon

Wilson, James

Kapitan

Wilson

WSA 1059

Skipper

 

 

R50779

Craignoon

Dunn, Jamesw

Maat

Dunn

SA 1165

SecondHand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R50780

Craignoon

Tuff Thomas

Maschinist

Duff

ES 2032

Engineman

 

 

R50780

Craignoon

Smith Johann

Maschinist

Smith

ES 2033

Engineman

 

 

R50780

Craignoon

Urqhart William

Heizer

Urquhart

TS 2727, Z 3256

Trimmer

Admirable

 

R50780

Craignoon

Johns Henry

Matrose

Johns

DA 9082

DeckHand

Admirable

 

R50780

Craignoon

Doughty William

Matrose

Doughty

SD 3340

DeckHand

Admirable

 

R50780

Craignoon

Thain Peter

Matrose

Thain

TC 430

Trimmer Cook

 

 

R50780

Craignoon

Wilkins Alfred

Matrose

Wilkins

DA 4464

DeckHand

 

 

R50780

C4

Bruce, William

Schiffer

Bruce

WSA 1486

Skipper

Quarry Knowe

}

R50780

C4

Bruce William A

Bmannsmt

Bruce

SA 1614

SecondHand

 

}

R50780

C4

Bowie, George

Matrose

Bowie

DA 6149

DeckHand

 

}

R50780

C4

Bowie, Josef

Matrose

Bowie

DA 6148

DeckHand

 

}

R50780

C4

Geddes, John Alex

Matrose

Geddes

TS 3107

Trimmer

 

}QuarryKno

R50780

C4

Shipley, Josef

Matrose

Shipley

DA 8453

DeckHand

 

}

R50780

C4

Clarke, Albert Louis

Matrose

Clarke

DA 11801

DeckHand

 

}

R50780

C4

Ross, Alex Strachan

Heizer

Ross

DA 11945

DeckHand

 

}

R50780

C4

Smith, William

Masschinenvorstand

Smith

ES 3461

Engineman

 

}

 

 

 

( inzwischen seiner Verletzung erlegen)

(Since succumbed to injuries)

 

R50780

T5

Brown, Chester

Schiffer

Brown

SA 242

Skipper

Adm YoungLinnett?

Lowestoft

R50780

T5

Robinson, Thomas

Bmannsmaat

Robinson

DA 6919

SecondHand

 

Hull

R50780

T5

Sowe, Stanley

Maschinist

Lowe

ES 3933

Engineman

Adm YoungLinnett

Lowestoft

R50780

T5

Joy, Samuel

Maschinist

Joy

DA 873

Engineman

Adm YoungLinnett

Lowestoft

R50780

T5

Curtis, Samuel J

Matrose

Curtis

DA 5573

Deckhand

Young Linnett

 

R50780

T5

Maclennan Donald J

Matrose

McLennan

SD 3227

DeckHand

 

 

R50780

T5

Saberton Goerge F

Matrose

Sabberton

DA 8637

DeckHand

 

{For T5

R50780

T5

Morrison, Norman

Matrose

Morrison

SD 1396

DeckHand

 

see note

R50780

T5

Grimmer, James S

Matrose

Grimmer

DA 3504

DeckHand

 

below}

R50780

T5

Allerton, William

Matrose

Allerton

DA 898

DeckHand

 

 

R50780

other

Moncrieff, William

 

Moncrieff

DA 4882

Skipper

Girl Gracie?

Aberdeen

R50780

other

Labon, John William

 

Labon

SA 1086

Skipper

Felicitas

Lowestoft

R50780

other

Turrell, Walter

 

Turrell

DA 8643

DeckHand

Adm GirlGracie?

Lowestoft

R50780

other

Bidle, Frederick

 

Bidle

DA 8625

DeckHand

Adm GirlGracie?

Lowestoft

R50780

other

Peek, Leonard

 

Peek

ES 4040

Engineman

Girl Gracie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R50781

Other

James,John

 

James

DA 11093

DeckHand

Adm GirlGracie

Cornwall

R50781

other

Thwaites, George

 

Thwaites

SA 2273

SecondHand

Admirable&Queen

Lowestoft

R50781

Other

Culham, James Alfred

 

Culham

DA 8078

DeckHand

XmasDaisy??

Lowestoft

R50781

other

Ayrton, Philipp

 

Ayrton

SA 1818

SecondHand

Adm Rosies?

Aberdeen?

R50781

other

Greenslede,Tabior

 

Greenslade

DA 9307

DeckHand

Adm FredSalmon

Poole

R50781

other

Flinn, James Milne

 

Flinn

Z/2874, 2413/TS

Engineman

Adm VioletFlower

Aberdeen

R50781

other

Watson, George D.

 

Watson

DA 9064

DeckHand

Adm Capella

Aberdeen

R50781

other

Moreis, Wilfred

 

Morris

TS 4469

Trimmer

Admirable ?

Falmouth

R50781

other

Randall, Ernest

 

Randall

DA 8639

DeckHand

Adm GirlGracie?

Lowestoft

R50781

other

Ironside, William

 

Ironside

ES 696

Engineman

Adm Ivy

Aberdeen

R50781

other

Buchan, John

 

Buchan

TS 3108

Trimmer

Felicitas

Aberdeen

R50781

other

Freman, George

 

Freeman

DA 3499

DeckHand

Adm HastingsCastle

Lowestoft

R50781

other

Robinson, William

 

Robinson

ES 4039

Engineman

Adm GirlGracie?

Lowestoft

R50781

C4

Bruce, Peter

Machinisten

Bruce

ES 2923

Engineman

Adm Quarry Knowe

Aberdeen

 

 

 

Die Leiche wurde auf dem C4 zuruckgelassen

His body was left on C4

 


 


 

C4 is clearly Quarry Knowe


 

T5 is Young Linnett, as confirmed by testing some records


 

There are three men above whose service records I've not yet tracked down......


 

Peter @PRC

I could not see any Lowestoft clippings listing the Girl Gracie or Young Linnett crews. Have you seen anything ?


 

Charlie


 


 

Naval Operations, Newbolt:
=========================
p288et  ..little or nothing was done to blockade the far more important [Austrian] submarine base at Cattaro. This was in the Italian zone, where the authorities were content to rely on the British drifter flotilla as the principal means of hindering the almost daily passages in and out of the Adriatic. The flotilla consisted of thirty motor launches and 120 net drifters, supplied with depth charges for dropping on submarines which might run into the nets. Each vessel mounted a gun drawn from the reserves of one or other of the Allies, but in no case was the weapon of sufficient size to permit reply to a submarine which might prefer to fight at the range of its own gun. The flotilla was based at Taranto and had for parent the battleship Queen, sole remnant of the battle squadron formerly lent to the Italian Government.....Even the Queen's crew had gone home, leaving her in charge of a care and maintenance party. The empty ship formed an excellent depot for the personnel of the net barrage.
  ..the drifters maintained a line of nets from the Italian shore to Fano Island, a distance of forty-four miles, leaving by day a passage ten miles wide along the Otranto coast for ordinary mercantile traffic.
  ..There were 120 net drifters at Tarranto, of which seventy were at sea at a time. Each drifter covered half a mile...


 

15th May 1917
p299  The nets at the moment were being managed by seven groups of drifters, each group averaging seven vessels..


 

  ..The three cruisers had turned and now began a systematic destruction of the barrage. Each took a third of the line, and steaming slowly along it called on the crews of the drifters to abandon their ships. In some cases the men, feeling their position to be hopeless, obeyed the order and were taken as prisoners on board the Austrian cruisers, which then sank the empty drifters by gunfire. But others, in spite of the heavy odds, would not give in so tamely....
  [eg Gowan Lea (Watt), Admirable (Farquhar), Floandi (Nichols), also  Quarry Knowe (Bruce), Taits (Stephen), Coral Haven (Cowe)..]  

p300  ...When the cruisers had finished their work and steamed away northward, of the forty-seven drifters fourteen had been sunk; three others, seriously damaged, were still afloat on the calm moonlit sea.

                    =======================================


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

Edited by charlie962
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16 hours ago, charlie962 said:

R50779 Helenora Mackay, Georg Kapitan Mackay   ?? Skipper Aberdeen

I believe this to be Skipper George McKAY 1051.WSA - shown as ADMIRABLE on his record card.

 

Skipper William MORE 1470.SA - shown as ADMIRABLE on his record card.

 and Deck Hand Thomas MATTHEWS, 8278.DA - HELENORA

 

Edited by horatio2
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15 hours ago, charlie962 said:

I could not see any Lowestoft clippings listing the Girl Gracie or Young Linnett crews. Have you seen anything ?

 

Charlie,

 

Contemporary reports and even death notices \ in memoriams during the war years are censored in the local press reports that I have come across, which was why I was surprised to see the detail given in the report on the honours awarded.

 

I've had a look at the articles I've transcribed that referenced men who were serving in the Mediterranean on drifters \ trawlers and then looked for their R.N.R. papers, but while potentially that shows they may have been aboard other boats involved in the action they are not the ones listed here.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

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19 hours ago, charlie962 said:

SA 1818   SecondHand   Adm Rosies?

ROSIES was sunk on 26 August 1916.

Edited by horatio2
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Horatio

Thanks for trying to make sense of those names

22 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

ROSIES was sunk on 26 August 1916.

There was Girl Rose of Yarmouth amongst the drifters. But it seems that the ships the men were serving on that day were not always clearly noted on their files.

 

44 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

XMAS DAISY.

She was in the barrage. I have a newspaper note that the crew refused to surrender even under fire.

 

I am uncertain whether I should be quoting these 3 names (incl Hastings Castle) anyway!

 

In the ADM file I quote above are the recommendations for awards. Elsewhere I have read that there were no less than 119 recommendations for gallantry on this day, which caused some debate. Those recommendations must be in interesting read if there are individual citations rather than just a list of names.

 

Charlie

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A drifter that had no crew taken PoW but suffered more than most was Floandi. I came across this 1921 account by the skipper:

 

Yarmouth Independant 16/4/1921

The Affair with the Austrian Cruisers- Chief Skipper Nichols' story

On more than one occasion 'Toilers of the Deep' has referred to the Yarmouth drifter Floandi and the part she took in the affair with the Austrian cruisers in the Adriatic. This month it gives some particulars from her gallant skipper at the time- today the coxswain of the lifeboat at Calster-on-Sea. This is Chief Skipper D.J.Nichols, DSC, who says:

 

"It was on May 15th 1917 when the drifters were stretching their submarine nets across the Adriatic Sea, some 50 miles wide. At 3.40am we heard some heavy gunfire, and being flagship of a division of six drifters, we informed our section to let go their nets and follow us. We had not received any message by wireless as to any enemy craft being out, but at 4.15am a big, dark object crossed our ship's head, going very fast. At 5am we could see a cruiser of some class coming straight for us, but could not make out his flag. But we had not long to wait, for he was close to our side, as he was a vessel doing 35 miles an hour, and our drifters only eight miles an hour.
"He was scarcely more than 400 yards on our starboard bow when a broadside of gunfire rattled into our little drifter Floandi, completely destroying everything. The wireless was shot down, the mizzen mast was carried away, the forecastle deck was blown up, the deck amidships blown in, and the deck on our port side blown in, destroying our engine. The high-pressure cylinder was holed, and not one pipe in the engine-room was left whole, oil tanks, clocks, steam-guage glass, main steam pipe - all were carried away. The engine-men were at their engines all the time this was taking place, and I was at the wheel until our vessel stopped.
"The Austrian cruiser had sunk three of our division and had gone into some more some five miles from us.
"When I came out of the wheel-house to see where my crew were, my only shipmate aoard alive was the first engineman (Mobbs). We explored the ship only to find the lieutenant lying on the starboard side of the deck, with his head and a leg blown off. Down in my cabin, where the wireless was, there sat the wireless operator on his chair, as if writing in his logbook- but stone dead. We laid him on my bed for the time being. Then we went to the after-part of our drifter, and there lay the second engineman dead - killed on coming on deck after his engines had stopped, and one deckhand was lying close to the engineman, dead. Six men were blown overboard by the explosion of shells coming through our ship's side into our hold, as three of our hatches were blown on top of our wheel-house. When some of my crew had een picked up by other small boats which had lost their drifters I called a roll, and only to find six killed, one badly wounded, and three slightly wounded out of my crew of 12.
"The first drifter that came to us was the British Crown, whose skipper gave us his little boat to plug our ship's side up. Then the Capella, then the Morning Star, to which we conveyed our dead and badly wounded.
"Orders were received from the senior officer to make for Gallipoli, in the Gulf of Taranto. The five of us prepared our ship for being towed, as our wheel-chains shot away and our small boat smashed up like matchwood. We had to steer by tackles.
"We were towed by the British Crown and joined later by the Mill o' Buckie. We arrived at Gallipoli some 14 hours after the Austrians "straffed" us. We were met by our commanding officer, J.O.Hatcher, at Gallipoli, who had heard by wireless of what had taken place as to the fate of the 14 drifters, and ordered the drifters to make for Gallipoli instead of Taranto, some 50 miles short. Our commanding officer boarded us as soon as we arrived and came to me and shook hands and said 'You look as if you have had a hot time, skipper.' I said 'Yes, sir.'  He found that my left arm was bandaged in two places, and ordered me, one engineman, and one deckhand to the hospital at once. Next day we were sent to our mother-ship, the battleship Queen, and left our drifter at Gallipoli to be cleaned up a bit and temporarily patched up to enable us to bring her to Taranto, where she was repaired. A week later my commanding officer asked me if I was feeling well enough to go and fetch my ship home to Taranto - it was a great honour in the British Navy for an officer to bring his ship home after a battle with a ship so much superior to us, as she carried four 4.7s and two 6-inch guns against our one three-pounder. That accounts for the Ensign - it was a very big one lent to us for me to bring my ship home. It is not a half-mast, as it was a wireless mast - a short one. When we were being towed through the canal gates at Taranto we were cheared heartily by the Italian people and a bugle was sounded three times to the people's cheers, and then we came to our drifters and base ship, who cheered most heartily."

 

The Floandi has been converted into a trawler since the war, and regularly brings her hauls to Yarmouth Trawl Market.
   ============================================================

 

My Notes
1. He doesn't menton Gowan Lea, whose skipper Joseph Watt's VC citation says came 'alongside the badly damaged drifter Floandi and assisted to remove the dead and wounded'.  EDIT-  Halpern's book expands on this and quotes Lyall, Skipper of BRITISH CROWN and "S" Division chief who also says that Gowan Lea was not involved with rescuing Floandi.

 

2. Mobbs = Charles Mobbs ES 1760. Awarded CGM "He remained at his post until the main steam pipe was shot away, when he was forced to leave the engine-room, but as soon as possible he returned and put out the fires. He also went in a small boat and assisted to plug holes in the ship's side, thus enaling her to reach port safely."

 

3. Nichols = Dennis John Nichols. Awarded the DSC "He remained at his post in the wheel house, steering his ship, HM Drifter Floandi, and although wounded himself, assisted in removing the more severely wounded members of his crew. Later he went in a small boat, plugging the holes in the ship's side, thereby enaling her to reach port.2

 

3.As section flagship Floandi had a wireless and an RN crew addition of a Lieutenant (G.R.Barling kia and MiD) and a wirelss operator (D.M.H.Harris BZ9359 kia and MiD). The wireless ships appear to have been particularly targetted ?

 

4. The 6 dead per CWGC were:
Deckhand William John Ball DA 5720
T Lt George Reuben Barling RNR                  MiD
Deckhand  James Boulton DA 15230           MiD
Engineman William Herne Fowler  ES 2439  DSM
AB Douglas Morris Henry Harris BZ 9359    MiD
Deckhand William Joseph Murphy DA 5523

 

5. Survivors (of which 3 ? were wounded and one badly wounded) incl:

Engineman Charles Mobbs  ES 1760        CGM  wounded
Skipper Dennis John Nichols WSA 834     DSC    wounded

Deckhand Jonas William Blyth  DA 3163             wounded

Deckhand George Olive  SD 3296           DSM    wounded

Claude Edward Beales TC 574                              wounded

plus 1 other ??


6.The Austrian cruiser was Novara.

Edited by charlie962
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6 hours ago, horatio2 said:

I believe this to be Skipper George McKAY 1051.WSA - shown as ADMIRABLE on his record card.

 

Skipper William MORE 1470.SA - shown as ADMIRABLE on his record card.

 and Deck Hand Thomas MATTHEWS, 8278.DA - HELENORA

Excellent, many thanks. Since Admirable seems to be the admin holding ship I assume the ICRC drifter name can be taken as the correct ship for the action ?

 

Charlie

 

(Table in post above edited to reflect your finds)

Edited by charlie962
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3 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Since Admirable seems to be the admin holding ship

My understanding, from a study of Auxiliary Patrol parent ships, is that the nominal parent ship (i.e. commissioned ship) for the drifters based at Taranto was, indeed, from 14 October 1916, the drifter HMS ADMIRABLE, She was, at the same time, an operational net drifter and relieved another drfiter HMS MANZANITA as nominal ship for the base.   However, on 1 March 1917 all the drifters parented by ADMIRABLE were transferred to the books of the battleship HMS QUEEN. She had been refitted as the Taranto depot ship with reduced manning. From then on ADMIRABLE was just another operational net drifter and was no longer involved as nominal/parenting ship ("admin holding") by 15 May 1917.

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16 hours ago, horatio2 said:

My understanding, from a study of Auxiliary Patrol parent ships, is that the nominal parent ship (i.e. commissioned ship) for the drifters based at Taranto was, indeed, from 14 October 1916, the drifter HMS ADMIRABLE, She was, at the same time, an operational net drifter and relieved another drfiter HMS MANZANITA as nominal ship for the base.   However, on 1 March 1917 all the drifters parented by ADMIRABLE were transferred to the books of the battleship HMS QUEEN. She had been refitted as the Taranto depot ship with reduced manning. From then on ADMIRABLE was just another operational net drifter and was no longer involved as nominal/parenting ship ("admin holding") by 15 May 1917.

I had noted that Manzanita often preceded Admirable on the service records. Thanks for the detailed explanation (and correct terminology).

 

Charlie

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Just updating my notes:

 

A book referred to in previous threads, Paul G Halpern's Battle of the Otranto Straits, helpfully lists the Divisions and their location that day as well as providing a wealth of detail on the action.

 

From West to East, with the number of drifters in that Division in ( ). I have then inserted the number of drifters lost (as quoted on wrecksite) as a fraction for that Division- gives total lost 14 out of 52 + Capella :

 

        N (3/6),   B (2/8),   C (1/4),   T (1/8),   E (0/6),   A (0/8),   O (3/6),   S (4/6)     plus Capella in overall command of the line.

 

 

Thus the T5  listing by ICRC which I have interpretted as Young Linnet makes sense.

And the C4 listing by ICRC which I have interpretted as Quarry Knowe also makes sense.

 

On 24/11/2020 at 00:25, PRC said:

Leonard Peek, the last name on the list, is almost certainly Engineman Leonard Emmanuel Peek, a Lowestoft man, who was serving aboard the Girl Gracie when she was sunk in the attack on the Taranto Barrage.  The Wrecksite website - :) - records that the drifters were divided into a number of divisions with Girl Gracie being in "B" Division. My original thought was that C5 and T4 were pennant numbers, but unless Leonard was actually temporarily assigned to another drifter that wouldn't add up.

As you will see from my transcription of the ICRC pages above, I have Peek as 'other' and thus B Division makes sense.

 

Charlie

 

 

Edited by charlie962
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Two of the four drifters damaged at Otronto are the GOWAN LEA and FLOANDI.

What are the names of the other two drifters?

 

Joe R

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According to Halpern the other damaged drifters were Jean and Union

Edited by The Treasurer
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Much obliged  Treasurer. Would you happen to know the division(s) these four damaged drifters belonged to?

Thanks again.

 

Joe R 

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