Vessels Lost in WW1 Recorded on the Memorial at Tower Hill: Dunrobin to East Wales

This page includes basic information about the ships and how they were lost, a photo of the relevant panel(s) of the Tower Hill Memorial and information about those that lost their lives extracted from the CWGC database. In the table I have included information about those who served on the ships but who had a normal burial as this seems appropriate to me. In some cases further family information about the individuals may be available on the CWGC website - External Ref. #7.

Dunrobin

Dunrobin was a 3,617 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1903 by W.Doxford & Sons for Dunrobin Shipping Co. Ltd. From 1911 she was owned by Sutherland Steamship Co. Ltd, and managed by A. M. Sutherland. She was sunk on 24 November 1917 by torpedo fired by German submarine U-53 approximately 49 nautical miles South-West by South from The Lizard. She was en route from Almeria to the Tyne with a cargo of iron ore and grapes.

Dunrobin Dunrobin
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Allen Sydney 24/11/1917 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son of William and Annie Allen, of Rosendian Downs, Perranuthnoe, Marazion, Cornwall. Mr. Allen was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and is also commemorated on panel 24 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Bearpark Charles 26 24/11/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Abraham And Eliza Bearpark (Nee Wright), Of 25, Russell St., Oatlands Mount, Harrogate.
Bridge George 44 24/11/1917 Steward Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Elizabeth Bridge, Formerly Collins (Nee Littler), Of 5, Duncan St., Salford, Lancs. Born In Jamaica.
Brown Hubert Cowley 21 24/11/1917 Fourth Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of George Cowley Brown And Elizabeth Brown (Nee Ruddick), Of 16, St. Paul S Rd., Jarrow, Co. Durham. Born At Jarrow.
Dick George Faulkland 48 24/11/1917 Donkeyman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Thomas And Elizabeth Dick; Husband Of Margaret Jane Dick (Nee Gibson), Of 15, Whitburn Terrace, Sunderland. Born At Camberwell. London.
Dobson George William 38 24/11/1917 Second Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary And The Late Thomas Dobson; Husband Of Annabell Dobson (Nee Lodge), Of 132, Queen Alexandra Rd., North Shields. Born At Rose Hill, Willington.
Evans Anthony 22 24/11/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Anthony And Margaret Jane Evans (Nee Wheatley), Of 29, Church St. Market, Sunderland.
Goodall Alfred 24 24/11/1917 Third Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of William George And Jane Chapman Goodall (Nee Barclay), Of 4, Musgrave Rd., Low Fell, Gateshead, Co. Durham. Born At Gateshead.
Hansen William Rudolph 37 24/11/1917 Boatswain Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Caroline Hansen And The Late Carl Hansen; Husband Of Mary Ann Hansen (Nee Rackstraw), Of 21, Wear St., Sunderland. Born In Denmark.
Houna D 34 24/11/1917 Cook Tower Hill Memorial Born In Mauritius.
Hurst James 18 24/11/1917 Ordinary Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of James And Ellen Hurst (Nee Smith), Of Walton House, Harrison St., Pollard St., Ancoats, Manchester. Born At Wigan.
Ison H 24/11/1917 Master Tower Hill Memorial
Jefferson William 57 24/11/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Thomas Collier Jefferson And Elizabeth Cummings Jefferson. Born At Sunderland.
Johnson G 59 24/11/1917 Carpenter Tower Hill Memorial Born In Finland.
Laybourne James Pickering 28 24/11/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Joseph Pickering Laybourne And Margaret Arm Laybourne; Husband Of Margaret Ann Laybourne (Nee Morrison), Of 31, Silver St., Sunderland. Born At Sunderland.
Lennox Matthew 17 24/11/1917 Apprentice Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Matthew And Margery Lennox (Nee White), Of 27, Lavender Gardens, West Jesmond, Newcastle-On-Tyne.
Lunn John Henry 21 24/11/1917 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial (Served As Young). Son Of James Henry Lunn, Of 20, Low Row, Sunderland, And The Late Annie Lunn.
McCready William Francis 49 24/11/1917 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late James And Elizabeth Mccready; Husband Of Sarah Isabella Mccready (Nee Roberts), Of 37, Back Stobart St., Sunderland. Born At Sunderland.
Perkins John George 16 24/11/1917 Mess Room Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Joseph And Susannah Arm Perkins, Of 16, Gordon St., West Hartlepool, Co. Durham.
Randle Walter Edward 19 24/11/1917 Signalman Tower Hill Memorial Son of Edward Thomas and Elizabeth Ann Randle, of West Bromwich. Mr. Randle was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and is also commemorated on panel 25 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Rigg Henry Sizeland 19 24/11/1917 Signalman Tower Hill Memorial Son of John L. and Anna Rigg, of 12, Ivegate Yeadon, Leeds. Mr. Rigg was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and is also commemorated on panel 27 of the Chatham Naval Memorial.
Rodriguez Mariano 23 24/11/1917 Assistant Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mariano Rodriguez, Of Estacion De Guadix, Granada. Born In Spain.
Sheel Henry Berthold 46 24/11/1917 First Mate Tower Hill Memorial (May Have Been Named Scheil). Son Of The Late Henry Daniel William And Margaret Sheel (Or Scheil); Husband Of Annie Patterson Sheel (Or Scheil) (Formerly Hayes, Nee Mckie), Of 19, Barnard St., Sunderland. Born At Sunderland.
Sleightholm Robert 18 24/11/1917 Apprentice Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Lavinia Sleightholm (Nee Oxley), Of Rose Cottage, Goathland, Yorks, And The Late James Sleightholm.
Stephenson William George 36 24/11/1917 First Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late William And Sarah Stephenson; Husband Of Leila Mary Stephenson (Nee Patton), Of 100, Mowbray Rd., South Shields. Born At South Shields.
Vickers Anthony 25 24/11/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial (Served As Willson). Son Of The Late George And Mary Ann Vickers; Husband Of Margaret Ann Vickers (Nee Richardson), Of 38, Queen Street East, Sunderland.
Young John Anderson 32 24/11/1917 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Elizabeth And The Late George Young; Husband Of Elizabeth Young (Nee Mulligan), Of 2, Nicholson St., Sunderland. Born At Sunderland.

Dunsley

Dunsley was a 4,930 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1913 by W. Gray & Co., Ltd.for London & Northern Steamship Co. Ltd. and managed by Pyman Bros. Ltd.. She was captured and sunk by gunfire on 19 August 1915 by by German submarine U-24 at position 50° 55' N, 08° 18' W - approximately 48 nautical miles South by West of the Old Head of Kinsale. She was en route from Liverpool to Boston with a general cargo.

Dunsley
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Finn Gerald 19 19/08/1915 Assistant Cook Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Rosanna Finn, Of 114, Maine Rd., Moss Side, Manchester, And The Late Patrick J. Finn. Born At Dublin.
Nielsen Aug 23 19/08/1915 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born In Finland.

Durban

Durban was a 152 GRT steam trawler completed in 1897 by Cook, Welton & Gemmell Ltd. for Hull Steam Fishing & Ice Co. Ltd. and registered at Hull as H378. She had seen war service as auxiliary vessel FY 1209 and returned to her owners after the war. She was posted missing on 15 March 1919 and is presumed to have struck a mine in the North Sea.

There were no survivors

Durban
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Blurton Cyril Gregory 19 15/03/1919 Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Richard And Kate Edith Blurton, Of 1, Walker Terrace, Manchester St., Hull.
Brignall Bernard Carlton 20 15/03/1919 Deck Hand Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Herbert And Charlotte Brignall, Of 7, Beech Grove, Princes Rd.,.
Bryant Charles 31 15/03/1919 Skipper Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Gertrude Bryant, Of 109, Coltman St., Hull.
Catling Lewis Henry 27 15/03/1919 First Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Charles Catling And The Late Jane Catling; Husband Of Gertrude Maria Catling (Nee Mecklenburgh), Of 13, Naburn St., Hull. Born At Yarmouth.
Gilbert John Robert 57 15/03/1919 Spare Hand Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late John And Mary Ann Gilbert. Born At Yarmouth.
Lawson Richard 42 15/03/1919 Boatswain Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Richard And Mary Lawson; Husband Of Ada Lawson (Formerly Grimlaw, Nee Hengler), Of 59, Constable St., Hull. Born At Hull.
Matthew William Samuel 40 15/03/1919 Mate Tower Hill Memorial Son Of William James Josiah And Araminta Matthew; Husband Of Elsie Emma Matthew, Of 27, Lincoln St., Hull. Born At Hull.
McDonald Edwin 33 15/03/1919 Cook Tower Hill Memorial (Served As Ryan). Son Of The Late Edwin And Clare McDonald. Born At Hull.
West John 46 15/03/1919 Spare Hand Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Thomas And Sarah Ann West. Born At Hunslet.
Wright George Alfred Andrews 23 15/03/1919 Second Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Robert And Sarah Wright; Husband Of Emily Wright (Nee Beardshaw), Of 61, Westbourne St., Hull. Born At Hull.

Dwinsk

Dwinsk was a 8,173 GRT steam passenger ship completed in 1897 by Harland & Wolff for Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Mij as Rotterdam. In 1917 the ship came under the control of Cunard Steam Ship Company Ltd. and kept the name Dvinsk that had been assigned by Russian East Asiatic Line - the previous owner. She was sunk on 18 June 1918 by torpedo fired by German submarine U-151 at position 39° 10' N, 63° 10' W - approximately 400 nautical miles North-East by North of Bermuda. She was en route from Best to New York.

Dwinsk
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Ackers Jonathan 18 18/06/1918 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial (Served As Stafford). Son Of Margaret Stafford (Formerly Ackers, Nee Scott), Of 15, Elm Grove, Liverpool, And The Late Jonathan Ackers. Born At Liverpool.
Airey Henry 48 18/06/1918 Waiter Tower Hill Memorial Born At Liverpool.
Balmer John 21 18/06/1918 Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial (Served As Hockey). Son Of Thomas Balmer, Of 81, Page St., Liverpool, And The Late Mary Balmer (Nee Mcdermott).
Clarke George 34 18/06/1918 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary Jane Clarke (Nee Johnston), Of 7, Bullen S Terrace, Bootle, Lancs, And The Late Michael Clarke.
Coppin Joseph William 36 18/06/1918 Second Officer Tower Hill Memorial Born In Cornwall.
Corder John Armstrong 27 18/06/1918 Barber Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mrs. Corder, Of 71, Sandy Rd., Seaforth, Liverpool.
Corri Eugene Patrick 16 18/06/1918 Apprentice Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Edna A. Corri, Of 17, Seaforth Rd., Westcliff, Essex. Born At Lambeth, London.
Dunne William John 32 18/06/1918 Chief Steward 3rd Class Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Elizabeth Dunne, And The Late Edward Dunne; Husband Of Margaret Dunne (Nee Kenny), Of 90, Methuen St., Liverpool. Born At Liverpool.
Fisher Matthew 47 18/06/1918 Bed Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late John And Sarah Fisher; Husband Of Marina Fisher (Nee Moores), Of 19, Elgin St., Birkenhead. Born At Birkenhead.
Garrity Alfred 28 18/06/1918 Quartermaster Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Patrick And Annie Garrity. Born At Liverpool.
Gilmore Patrick 21 18/06/1918 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary Ann Gilmore (Nee Burke), Of 97, St. Anne St., Liverpool, And The Late Henry Gilmore.
Harris John 31 18/06/1918 Assistant Purser Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late William And Ellen Harris; Husband Of Annie Harris (Nee Deering), Of 81, Moses St., Liverpool. Born At Liverpool.
Harrison James Henry 28 18/06/1918 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of James Harrison, Of 75, Walker St., Hull, And The Late Ann Elizabeth May Harrison (Nee Crawford).
Hayes Alex 50 18/06/1918 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born At Lame.
Hinejosa Daniel 22 18/06/1918 Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born At Buenos Aires.
Inglis Robert 18 18/06/1918 Officer s Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Robert And Jane Trotter Crouch Inglis, Of Pytchley Buildings, 1, Sheep St., Northampton. Born At Edinburgh.
Jones Charles Robert 26 18/06/1918 Quartermaster Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary Jane Jones (Nee Dennison), Of 1, Back Stamford Rd., Mossley, Lancs, And The Late Charles Frederick Jones. Born At Bradford.
Lamb A.J. 43 18/06/1918 Lamps Tower Hill Memorial Born At Chicago, U.S.A.
McGreal Anthony 27 18/06/1918 Assistant Storekeeper Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Anthony Mcgreal, Of 32, Brae St., Birkenhead, Cheshire, And The Late Bridget Mcgreal (Nee Dever). Born At Westport, Co. Mayo.
Moneypenny John 18 18/06/1918 Assistant Cook Tower Hill Memorial Son Of William Moneypenny, Of Quay St., Dundalk, And The Late Mary Isabella Moneypenny (Nee Parks).
Ranger Robert Reginald 18 18/06/1918 Assistant Baker Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Robert Ranger, Of 4, Barrymore Rd., Stanley, Liverpool, And The Late Ellen Ranger. Born At Everton.
Reid John 35 18/06/1918 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Patrick And Mary Reid; Husband Of Lucy Reid (Nee O Donoghue), Of 9, Addison St., Bootle, Lancs. Born At Dublin.
Richardson Matthew Bernard 37 18/06/1918 Ship s Cook Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Catherine Richardson, Of 81, Cresswell St., Everton, Liverpool, And The Late Robert Richardson.
Sheridan William Terence 19 18/06/1918 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary Elizabeth Sheridan, (Nee Leary) Of 1, Blackfield St., Liverpool.
Sinclair Harry 23 18/06/1918 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Born At Sydney, New South Wales.
Taylor Alexander 21 18/06/1918 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Benjamin And Elizabeth Taylor; Husband Of Mary Catherine Taylor (Nee Donnelly), Of 60, Roslyn St., Lower Tranmere, Birkenhead. Born At Liverpool.
Thornhill William Gabbert 33 18/06/1918 Bed Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary Jane Thornhill (Nee Gabbert), Of 57, Admiral St., Liverpool, And The Late William Thornhill. Born At Great Barr, Staffs.

Earl

Earl was a 169 GRT steam trawler completed in 1898 by Mackie & Thomson & Co. for Great Northern Steam Fishing Co. and registered at Hull as H436. She was reported missing in the North Sea on 21 January 1916 and presumed lost to enemy action.

There were no survivors

Earl Earl
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Brownhill A 51 21/01/1916 Cook Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Brownhill, Of 140, Regent St., Hull. Born At Sheffield.
Buchan W 17 21/01/1916 Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mrs. Buchan, Of 30, Hoddon St., Hull.
Coates W.D. 20 21/01/1916 Third Hand Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Coates, Of 6, Empringham Place, Daltoy St., Hull. Born At Boston.
Coates W.D. 21/01/1916 Skipper Tower Hill Memorial
Jackson Fred 54 21/01/1916 Second Hand Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late John Sowerby Jackson And Martha Jackson; Husband Of Martha Jackson (Nee Dinsdale), Of 236, Boulevard, Hull. Born At Hull.
Mason W 50 21/01/1916 Fourth Hand Tower Hill Memorial Born In London.
Mellor J.W. 40 21/01/1916 First Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Mellor, Of 6, Glasgow St., Hull. Born At Ravensthorpe.
Newmarch G 36 21/01/1916 Boatswain Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Newmarch, Of 3, Helens Terrace, Marmaduke St., Hull. Born At Hull.
Patterson B 22 21/01/1916 Second Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mrs. Patterson, Of 1, Blenheim Crescent, Rugby St., Hull.

Earl Howard

Earl Howard was a 226 GRT steam trawler completed in 1914 by Cook, Welton & Gemmell Ltd. for Earl Steam Fishing Co, Ltd. of Grimsby and registered there as GY332. She was posted missing on 11 December 1914 whilst fishing in the North Sea East of Spurn Point and is assummed to have struck a mine.

There were no survivors

Earl Howard
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Commack William Thomas 30 11/12/1914 Second Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs Commack, Of 158, Guildford St., Grimsby. Born At Boston.
Duffin Albert Edward 32 11/12/1914 Mate Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Duffin, Of 10, Bramhall St., Cleethorpes. Born In London.
Freeman James Herbert 21 11/12/1914 Fourth Hand Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Freeman, Of 26, Arnesley St., Grimsby. Born At Grimsby.
Freeman John William 11/12/1914 Skipper Tower Hill Memorial
Guymer Ernest James 40 11/12/1914 Fourth Hand Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Benjamin And Jane Guymer. Born At Cambridge.
Roberts George Henry 39 11/12/1914 Steward Tower Hill Memorial Born At Malton.
Smith J.L. 49 11/12/1914 Third Hand Tower Hill Memorial Born At Rampton.
Welch J 47 11/12/1914 First Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Welch, Of 117, Barcroft St., Grimsby. Born At Greenwich, London.
White Frederick William 29 11/12/1914 First Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Husband of Mrs. White, of 40, Macaulay St., Grimsby. Born at Nottingham.

Earl of Elgin

Earl of Elgin was a 4,448 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1909 by Russell & Co. for Earl of Elgin Steamship Co. Ltd. From 1916 she was owned by Anglo-American Oil Co. Ltd. She was sunk on 7 December 1917 by torpedo fired by German submarine UC-75 approximately 10 nautical miles West by South of the Caernarvon Bay ligh vessel. She was en route from Milford Haven to Dublin in ballast.

Earl of Elgin Earl of Elgin
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Barham A 58 07/12/1917 Ship s Cook Tower Hill Memorial Born At Norwich.
Birkland Fred 35 07/12/1917 Third Officer Tower Hill Memorial Born In Norway.
Cousins Percy George 30 07/12/1917 Leading Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Husband of Laura Kate Cousins, of Florence Cottages, Regent St., Rowhedge, Colchester. Mr. Cousins was a member of the Royal Naval Reserve and is also commemorated on panel 26 of the Chatham Naval Memorial.
Davies T 28 07/12/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Born In West Africa.
Johansen Bernhard Sofus Frederick 30 07/12/1917 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Rose Minnie Eliza Alexander (Formerly Johansen, Nee Jennings), Of 6, Salisbury Terrace, Nomabell St., Hull. Born In Denmark.
Kasnamoto T 21 07/12/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Born In Japan.
Kirkland James Frederick 07/12/1917 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Mr. Kirkland was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and is also commemorated on panel 24 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Latif Rahman 07/12/1917 Fireman Bombay 1914-1918 Memorial, Mumbai
Leslie James 63 07/12/1917 Master Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Christina Leslie, Of 49, Westbank Rd., Devonshire Park, Birkenhead.
Lillie John Usher 23 07/12/1917 Fourth Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of John William And The Late Katherine Lillie, Of 53, Brinkburn St., East Howdon, Willington Quay, Northumberland. Born At North Shields.
Nakasmuda T 21 07/12/1917 Fireman Tower Hill Memorial Born In Japan.
Nelson William John Charles 38 07/12/1917 Second Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Robert And Elizabeth Nelson; Husband Of Annie Nelson (Nee Mcarthur) Of 6 Lowther St., Belfast. Born At Bognor.
Petersen Gabriel 60 07/12/1917 Chief Steward Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of The Late Sarah Petersen (Nee Woods). Born At Copenhagen; A British Subject.
Robertson William John 07/12/1917 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Mr. Robertson was a member of the Royal Naval Reserve and is also commemorated on panel 27 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Seem W 27 07/12/1917 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Born In Russia.
White Stanley Thomas 15 07/12/1917 Mess Room Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Edith Annie White (Nee Sutton), Of 72, Selsdon Rd., South Croydon, Surrey, And The Late Thomas John White. Born At St. John S Wood, London.
Williams John Charles 25 07/12/1917 Greaser Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Rose Ellen Williams (Nee Horscroft), Of 77, Shakespeare Rd., Stoke Newington, London. Born At St. Vincent, British West Indies.
Willom Marks 19 07/12/1917 Ordinary Seaman Tower Hill Memorial (Served As Williams). Son Of Sarah Willom (Nee Scherby), Of 15, Winthrop St., Brady St., Whitechapel, London, And The Late Abraham Willom.

Earl of Forfar

Earl of Forfar was a 4,453 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1910 by Russell & Co. for Earl of Forfar Steamship Co. Ltd. She was extensively damaged by a major explosion that occurred at Archangel.

The loss of Earl of Forfar is unlike that of most of the ships recorded on the Tower Hill Memorial in that it occurred in port. As a result of this, and the catastrophic damage that occurred, more information than usual is available although it has only emerged relatively recently.

The following information is extracted from the research of George Bolotenko - External Ref. #42:

Captain Gwatkin-Williams, a British naval officer of the White Sea Station, was in Archangel within a day of the Bakaritsa explosion; he has written, "Never before probably has there been such an explosion as this one in Archangel. The death toll must have numbered several thousands, although, for official purposes, the Russian authorities gave out the number to be only one hundred and thirty. Whatever it was, approximately thirty thousand tons of munitions had gone up into the air". Another writer has observed that the "few puny tons of high explosive which went up at Silvertown [in the United Kingdom] on the 19th January, 1917 ... [were] ... a mere cracker compared with the terrific explosion at Archangel."

Catastrophic, yet little known to the outside world. In its time the explosion was almost as little known throughout Russia itself, save to the inhabitants of Archangel and its hinterland. The imperatives of war-time censorship precluded any public broadcasting of the event. And then, on the heels of the war came the two revolutions of 1917, followed by a malevolent civil war, foreign interventions, the brutal Russo-Polish war, and socio-economic and political upheavals which visited upon Russian lands unseen suffering and ruin. Against the backdrop of these new horrors, incalculably grander in their sweep across Russia and in the tally of human lives taken, the historical memory of the Archangel explosion receded, and faded away.

The massive inflow of war cargo and munitions into Archangel city harbour occasioned by the First World War threatened to overwhelm the existing port facilities. Hence Russia’s Ministry of Trade and Commerce, with the participation of the Naval Ministry, began to build a complex of wharves at Bakaritsa, about five kilometres upstream from Archangel proper, on the left (west) bank of the Northern Dvina, and had them operational for the 1915 navigation season. Here, on this bank, the wharves linked directly with the Archangel-Vologda Railway terminus, through which war cargo moved into the heart of Russia. The port stretched along the river bank with a berthing line of more than two kilometres, berths for 20 ships. It was served by floating and railed cranes, a shoreline railway, a fire station, and so on. Eight covered storehouses were erected here with an area of 6,800 square metres, and a large open storage area just in from the wharves proper received and held mounds of war materiel. The receiving capacity of the port reached 260,000 tons monthly.

To this port, on 23 October 1916, came the Baron Driesen. The inhabitants of Archangel were well-acquainted with this older but still durable freighter, which had made a number of such munitions runs before. Flying the flag of the Northern Steam Shipping Co, she reached Archangel Harbour on the morning of 17 October, direct from New York. One of Russia’s largest transports, she was "a veritable floating arsenal." Given her dangerous load, town authorities forbade her from docking at city centre wharf (although inexplicably they did allow her to drop anchor just off city harbour, right across from the great cathedral, and stand there for almost a week!). On 23 October Driesen received instructions to go upriver to Bakaritsa, where she made fast at Berth No. 20, the last in line.

Driesen came into Bakaritsa "loaded to the throats of her holds" with war cargo and munitions. Captain Pope, master of the British Transport then docked at Bakaritsa, says there were 4,000 tons of explosives aboard. That, however, seems unlikely. What is manifestly evident .... is the great degree to which sources differ on Driesen’s load. At the same time, despite the variations in detail, there is some general over-all agreement about the components of the ship’s cargo, and the proportions of the various articles carried. And most sources come in at a figure of about 1,600 tons of explosive material.

By the morning of 26 October, (9th November New Style), 700 tons had been unloaded off Driesen, including 200 tons of chlorine gas. But 1,600 tons of explosives remained in her holds, along with various metals and machinery. On that day fifty stevedores laboured at unloading the vessel; they left the ship for lunch at mid-day, and went to the mess barracks not far distant. All four holds of the ship were left open and, aside from a customs official and a sailor on watch, there was no on else aboard.

The hands on the town hall clock showed 3 minutes short of 1:00 in the afternoon when, from Bakaritsa-side, there sounded a horrific explosion, such as never heard before on the shores of the river Dvina and, several seconds later – a second one not in the least any less powerful than the first." The time and sequencing of events as set out above is attested by Captain Pope’s recollection of the explosion, as recorded later by David Masters. The British Transport, Pope’s ship, was berthed some ships back in line from Driesen. Standing at his desk by an open port, Pope had started to do some writing. "It was lunch time," wrote Masters. "Captain Pope glanced at the clock, saw that it was 12:55 and was thinking that in five minutes all the men would be hard at it again, when an appalling explosion occurred. He was flung back across his room. The ship suddenly became a living thing, straining to get away from her moorings. Another explosion followed, and another.

First explosion — This explosion actually consisted of two explosions in very rapid succession. The first occurred in the bow of Driesen, where shells were stored. A point of interest: the few surviving witnesses from the immediate vicinity of the freighter said that "the portent of the explosion was a bang, suggestive of a hunting rifle going off." Several seconds later, a much more terrific explosion ripped open Driesen’s stern, when flames from the first detonation set off the explosives stored there. "From the left bank of the river a fantastic tongue of flame soared into the autumn sky, and a mushroom cloud of black smoke soared over the forests along the river’s banks." Flames cast over the wharf from the explosions easily lit the wooden structures; fanned by the winds, the whole port area began to blaze, and a lava wall of fire rolled down over the wharves.

Second explosion — Forty minutes later, the most powerful of the explosions occurred. Some commentators suggest that this was the detonation of stores of ammunition stacked up on the wharves, and ignited by fires rising out of Driesen’s demise. A massive pillar of smoke reared up into the sky, following the orange tongues of flame which strobed into the firmament. But it is far more likely that this detonation marked the fiery end of Earl of Forfar, whose cargo of explosives was detonated as a consequence of Driesen’s explosion and subsequent wharf fires. Naturally the explosion of the Earl intensified the wharf fires underway, and contributed to an endless series of distinct and grouped explosions, as individual piles of munitions went up.

The Cannonade and Wharf Fires — And then commenced what several commentators call the 'cannonade' or 'bombardment.' From this time onwards, i.e. from about 1:45 pm until approximately 6:00 pm in the evening, explosions of shell and cartridges stored in the wharf area did not cease. According to Armistead, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, "the fire spread with great rapidity, owing to the strong wind that was blowing, and the nature of the goods caused a continuous series of smaller explosions."

A Russian sailor, Petr Ivanovich Musikov, on the minesweeper T-17 that came up from Archangel town to assist in fighting the fire, described the scene at Bakaritsa: "It was a ... sea of fire and explosions without end ... Everywhere, the thundering of shells, and the chattering of machine-gun rounds. Like shelled peas being poured into a bast basket ... Horror ... Every now and then, something horrific booms out, loudly, deafeningly so. At Bakaritsa there remains not a solitary soul."

In this inferno, Captain Pope managed to get his crew to safety; immediately after the first two rapid-succession explosions of Driesen, he and his men scrambled almost half-a-mile along the port railway track, away to the upper end of the wharf. There they sat, as "a long succession of explosions [continued] for hour after hour as dumps and ships were embroiled. The sky, black with smoke, was shot from time to time with great bursts of flame. Every now and then they were driven to shelter from the rain of metal that fell from the skies. It was red hot and burned its way through wood and set fire to everything that it touched ... Thousands of tons of explosives were around them in the ships and on the shore ... Shattering explosions deafened them. Terrified Russians began to run by, their clothing torn, some bleeding from wounds in head and face. A big bearded fellow with an astrakhan cap on his head dashed past holding a baby in his arms while the blood from a wound across his forehead flowed down on the poor mite."

The fires were brought under control only towards 10:00 in the evening, according to one source. Another suggests that it was only late at night that the fires were doused. But Armistead , present at the event, reported that the fires burned all night, and the last flames were extinguished only about noon on the following day, a Thursday.

Baron Driesen — The explosions on the Driesen were so powerful that her remains sank immediately. The detonations were of such magnitude that in the area of the two points of explosion, bow and stern, craters of forty and sixty metres in diameter resulted, filled with smashed chunks of wharf pilings. Huge parts of the ship’s structure — engine components, steam boilers, deck and plates — as well as the piles, stays, timbers and boards of the wharf "lifted into the sky, hung over the Dvina for some several seconds ... in the grey autumnal sky." Some of the shattered, scattered pieces of the ship weighed tens of tons; a chunk of engine thirteen tons in weight was projected 100 metres inland. A portion of the steam machinery, thirty tons in weight, was hurled an equal distance. Twisted lengths of the ship’s plating were thrown as far as the railway station. On the morning following, Captain Pope observed, "The Baron Drizen had vanished; other vessels were all torn and twisted in the most amazing way, while some with little cargo in them had escaped lightly."

Earl of Forfar – I have already alluded to the Earl of Forfar above, in connection with the second great explosion at Bakaritsa that day. The Earl stood next in berthing line to Driesen. According to one source, she had been almost emptied of her contents, and the explosive wave from Driesen tore away all her superstructure, following which the remains of the ship caught fire. However, according to Armistead, the Earl contained a considerable load of gunpowder in her holds, which exploded, set fire to the ship and killed 24 members of her crew. Captain Pope assisted in carrying out the dead from the Earl of Forfar the following day. She was just a shell.

Her forward deck and upper works were blown completely away, while the great, thick steel plates of her hull at the top drooped over like petals of a flower, as though they were made of putty, or of cardboard that had been soaking in water so long it could no longer support its own weight. Apparently her whole cargo of explosives blew up vertically in the air, while the sides of the ship just folded back under the tremendous forces that were let loose. Judging from the terrible state of the ship, Captain Pope reached the conclusion that the awe-inspiring explosion which mushroomed over the skies was due to the Earl of Forfar blowing up.

The photos below are by courtesy of Vladimir Andriendko and show the damage in Bakaritsa.

Earl of Forfar Earl of Forfar

Earl of Forfar
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Arneil James 21 08/11/1916 Third Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of James And Elizabeth Arneil, Of 8, Moncreiff St., Paisley, Renfrewshire.
Cole James 25 08/11/1916 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born In Sierra Leone.
Cools Francois 18 08/11/1916 Assistant Steward Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Francois Joseph Cools, Of Berchem, Antwerp. Born In Belgium.
Cuthbert Gilbert 36 08/11/1916 Chief Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Euphemia Cuthbert And The Late James Cuthbert; Husband Of Isabella Cuthbert (Nee Hill), Of 116, Templehill, Troon, Ayr. Born At Greenock.
Daniel Isaac 26 08/11/1916 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial
Hughes Thomas 20 08/11/1916 Ordinary Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Mrs. Hughes, Of 34, Denmark St., Liverpool. Born At Liverpool.
Hyndman Donald Milne 32 08/11/1916 Second Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Alex Hyndman, And The Late Flora Hyndman; Husband Of Helena Ethel Hyndman (Nee Lawton), Of 27, Elizabeth St., Ibrox, Glasgow. Born At Gourock.
Jones Andrew Duckett 39 29/11/1916 Carpenter Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Andrew And Elizabeth Duckett Jones; Husband Of Elizabeth Jones (Nee Kavanagh), Of 34, Worcester Drive, Tue Brook, Liverpool. Born At St. Martin S, Shropshire.
Knight F 18 08/11/1916 Ordinary Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Born In London.
Le Gall *See note below 29 08/11/1916 Sailor Tower Hill Memorial Born In France.
Le Guern Auguste 28 08/11/1916 Sailor Tower Hill Memorial Born In France.
Le Quillac Yves 22 08/11/1915 Sailor Tower Hill Memorial Born In France.
McNab John 28 08/11/1916 First Mate Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Donald And Janet Mcnab (Nee Mcnair), Of 15, Watt St., Glasgow. Born At Glasgow.
McNeill Donald 26 08/11/1916 Third Mate Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late Donald And Jessie Napier Mcneill; Husband Of Catherine Mcneill (Nee Mckinnon), Of 75, Houston St., South Side, Glasgow. Born At Dumbarton.
Money Samuel 25 08/11/1916 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mary And The Late Thomas Lawrence Money; Husband Of Dahlia Gladys Reffel (Formerly Money), Of Bailey St., Brookfields, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Born At Sierra Leone.
Palmer Jack 29 08/11/1916 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born At Sierra Leone.
Toby Tom 28 08/11/1916 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born At Seirra Leone.
Vaughan James Henry 36 08/11/1916 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Patrick And Alice Vaughan, Of 19, Catherine St., Newry, Co. Down.
Veasey Charles 18 08/11/1916 Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of The Late William And Catherine Veasey. Born At Camberwell, London.
White John 18 08/11/1916 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Born At Nottingham.
Wright George 47 08/11/1916 Steward Tower Hill Memorial Husband Of Rachel Wright, Of 11, Minto St., Kensington, Liverpool. Born At Southport.

On 5 February 1918, the Albert Medal was awarded to Lieutenant Maurice MacMahon for gallantry in saving life at sea in this dreadful incident. The cutting below is from the British Gazette.

Earl of Forfar MacMahon

Note: I was contacted in August 2014 by Janine Lozac'hmeur who provided the following information about the seaman recorded on the monument as simply Le Gall:

The sailor 'Le Gall' known only by his surname was actually François Sébastien Le Gall born on August, 13th of 1887 in Pouldergat (but in the neighboorhood of Pouldavid which now is in the town of Douarnenez). This information is available on the memorial of Pouldavid and in the Town Hall register of Pouldergat.

Earlswood

Earlswood was a 2,353 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1898 by R. Craggs & Sons for Federated Coal & Shipping Co. Ltd. She was damaged on 5 December 1917 by torpedo fired by German submarine U-53 approximately 4.5 nautical miles West-South-West of Start Point. She was en route from Dieppe to Barry Roads in ballast and managed to make it to the port despite the damage.

Earlswood
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Almeida Silva Augusta 34 05/12/1917 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born At St. Vincent, Cape Verde.
Andrede Antonio 30 05/12/1917 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Born At St. Vincent, Cape Verde.

East Wales

East Wales was a 4,321 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1915 by W. Dobson & Co. for East Wales Steamship Co. Ltd, and managed by Gibbs & Co. She was sunk on 14 October 1917 by gunfire from German submarine U-57 at position 51° 40' N, 08° 13' W - approximately 8 nautical miles South by West of Daunts Rock. She was en route from Newport to an unknown destination in ballast.

East Wales
Surname Forename Age Honours/Awards D.O.D Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Daniel Thomas 44 14/10/1917 2nd Steward Tower Hill Memorial Born At Dublin.
Fringer James 14/10/1917 Horseman Tower Hill Memorial Son Of Mr. J. W. Fringer, Of 4Th Street, S.E., Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.A.
Morgan Sidney Herbert 18 14/10/1917 Fireman and Trimmer Tower Hill Memorial Son Of John And Annie Eliza Morgan, Of 12, Marion St., Newport, Mon.