31st October 1914 H.M.S. HERMES sunk in the Channel

H.M.S. Hermes, British Navy Seaplane Carrier (ex protected cruiser); Built in 1898 by Fairfield Co.; 5,600 tons; 350x54x22; 10,000 i.h.p.; 20-5 knots; triple-expansion engines; Babcock boilers; eleven 6 in. guns, eight 3 in., six 3pdr., 2 m.g., 2 T. The cruiser HMS Hermes had seen nearly 14 varied years service by the outbreak of the First World War. She had started life as a protected cruiser and is historically notable for being refitted in April-May 1913 to act as the first experimental seaplane carrier of the Royal Navy, with a launching platform and room to stow 3 seaplanes. The program involved taking obsolete protected cruisers and converting them into experimental seaplane ships by being fitted with canvas aircraft shelters fore and aft, flying-off platforms, and hoisting booms.

She was initially used as a trials ship for seaplanes, to test launching and recovery methods, and to develop tactics for use of aircraft in fleet operations. The first of three modified Eclipse class cruisers, commonly known as the Highflyer class. This equipment was removed in 1913 but refitted in 1914.

HMS Hermes was converted back into a cruiser and commissioned in May 1913, but taken out of service at the end of the year and placed in reserve. She was brought back into service on the outbreak of World War I as a seaplane tender. On October 30th, 1914, Captained by C. R. Lambe she arrived at Dunkirk bringing seaplanes from Portsmouth. The presence of German submarines in the Straits of Dover had been reported on the 29th, and the greatest vigilance was maintained. She cleared Dunkirk for Dover on the early morning of the 31st and, when some eight miles W.N.W. of Calais, was attacked by the submarine, U-27 (Commander Wegener), which hit her with two torpedoes. Despite her injuries Hermes remained afloat for nearly two hours. Of her complement over 400, including Capt. Lambe, were taken off by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies steamship Invicta, and two destroyers.


Sunk off Calais on 31st October 1914


COLLIER, Air Mechanic 1st Class F48. TOM DONALD. Royal Naval Air Service. Age 37. Husband of Lillian Mary Collier, of 65 Windsor Road, Holloway, London.

CRODDEN, Petty Officer 2nd Class 134672. ALFRED JAMES. Age 45. Husband of Mrs K. Dawson (formerly Crodden) of 241 Buddle Road, South Benwell, Newcastle.

DARVILL, Private 11827. ALFRED. Royal Marine Light Infantry. Age 32. Son of Arthur and Mary Louisa Darvill, of Battersea, London.

DOBBS, Chief Armourer 164607. JOHN DICKINSON. Age 41. Husband of Esther Elizabeth Kemp Dobbs, of 30 Lawson Road, Southsea. Portsmouth.

FERGUSON, Air Mechanic 1st Class J8185. ALEXANDER Royal Naval Air Service.

FREEMAN, Stoker 1st Class SS101080.ALFRED WILLIAM. Son of Richard and Francis Freeman of London.

GREENLAND, Able Seaman 101643 GEORGE EDWARD Age 52. Son of George and Harriet Greenland of Gillingham, Kent.

HARRISON, Private 8310 SAMUEL Royal Marine Light Infantry. Age 38. Son of James and Louise Harrison, of Camberwell, London. Husband of Charlotte Harrison of 119 St John’s Road, Walthamstow, London.

HART, Assistant Paymaster MAURICE WILLIAM.

IRVIN, Stoker 1st Class 293174, ERNEST SYDNEY. Age 35.Son of William and Lottie Irvin of Upstreet, Canterbury; Husband of Eliza Irvin, of 14 The Wall, Sittingbourne, Kent.

JEFFERS, Leading Seaman 206682. CLAUDE HERBERT.

LITTLEFIELD, Private 6700. ALFRED WILLIAM. Royal Marine Light Infantry. Age 40. Son of Jacob and Julia Littlefield, of London; Husband of Ellen Littlefield, of 94 Russell Scott Buildings, Jamaica Road, Bermondsey, London: Awarded East and West Africa Medal (Brass River Expedition)

McINNES, Seaman. 1698C. NORMAN. Royal Naval Reserve. Age 39. Son of Angus and Catherine McInnes; Husband of Annie McInnes.

McLEOD, Seaman. 3477B. DONALD. Royal Naval Reserve. Age 37. Son of Angus and Annie McLeod of Ness, Stornoway; Husband of Mary McLeod, of 30 Cross, Ness, Stornoway.

NASH, Chief Stoker. 154256. HENRY CHARLES. Husband of Annie Nash of, 3 King Edward Road, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex.

PHIPPS, Stoker 1st Class 280900. THOMAS.

PRICE, Private 6634. CHARLES ROBERT. Royal Marine Light Infantry.

RICHARDS, Carpenter’s Crew M 8141. PAUL W.

ROBERTSON, Officer’s Steward 1st Class 1776673, GEORGE JAMES.

SIMPSON, Petty Officer 1st Class 123763 MAURICE CHARLES.

WAITE, Stoker Petty Officer 283584. ISAAC.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

We should remember them.

This shipwreck is not protected as an offical War Grave.

However WW1 mementoes or souvenirs taken by divers from this shipwreck including the bones of the dead, should be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/receiver-of-wreck

From Kentnews.co.uk
Two men arrested after HMS Hermes shipwreck theft
16:04 23 October 2015 Tom Pyman

Kent Police
HMS Hermes was sunk by a German submarine in the Dover Strait in 1914, killing 44 people
Officers investigating the reported theft of items from a sunken Royal Navy warship in the English Channel have arrested two men.

HMS Hermes was a protected cruiser built in the 1890s and converted into an aircraft ferry and depot ship ready for the start of the First World War in 1914.

It was sunk by a German submarine in the Dover Strait in October of that year with the loss of 44 lives.
Earlier this year Kent Police’s Rural Task Force was informed that a number of historical artefacts had been reported stolen from the wreck.

Following an investigation in partnership with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Marine Management Organisation, the Receiver of Wreck, Sussex Police, Historic England and the French authorities, officers executed warrants at two separate addresses in Teynham, near Faversham, and Rye in East Sussex, on Monday.

A 56-year-old man from Winchelsea in East Sussex was arrested on suspicion of theft and fraud and released on bail pending further enquiries until February 22, and a 55-year-old man from Teynham was arrested on suspicion of theft and released on bail pending further enquiries until the same date. Officers also seized a number of historical artefacts they believed to have been stolen from HMS Hermes and other underwater locations.

PC Preston Frost of the Rural Task Force said: “We are proud of our close working relationship with our partner agencies and take a robust approach to ensuring important historical artefacts do not end up in the hands of people who are not entitled to them.

“We will continue to investigate anyone suspected of stealing items from sunken wrecks and will bring prosecutions against them when appropriate.”


30th January 2017 UPDATE : 6th June 2018 UPDATE

In Court, June 2018: Nigel Ingram 57, was jailed for 4 years & John Blight 58 jailed for 3 1/2 years :- see below for details