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Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915
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Author:  Leaver [ Sun Oct 21, 2007 2:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915


The troop ship Royal Edward was sunk by enemy torpedo in the Aegean Sea on Friday, 13th August, 1915. The troops she carried consisted mainly of reinforcements for the 29th Division, and detachments of the R.A.M.C. Among the latter were:
1 / 2nd East Lancs. Field Ambulance
2 / 1st East Lancs. Field Ambulance,
2 / 2nd East Lancs. Field Ambulance,
1 / 3rd East Lancs. Field Ambulance,
2 / 3rd East Lancs. Field Ambulance, Territorial Forces.
There were many casualties of Burnley (Briercliffe) men among these.

Author:  Mel [ Sun Oct 21, 2007 2:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

Kris, is there nothing in the Times about this?

Author:  Leaver [ Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

Mel, yes, there are a few. Here are two.

British Troop Ship Sunk. Torpedo Attack In Aegean., 600 Survivors., Feared Loss Of 1,000 Lives. (News)
The Times Wednesday, Aug 18, 1915; pg. 7; Issue 40936; col G

The Royal Edward. Names Of Survivors At Alexandria. (News)
The Times Thursday, Aug 19, 1915; pg. 3; Issue 40937; col E

Author:  pollyanna [ Mon Oct 22, 2007 2:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Royal Edward

My grandfather survived the sinking of the Royal Edward.

A couple of years ago I contributed his story to the book "Burnley and the Royal Edward Disaster. The story of Callam's Own" by Andrew Mackay. It should be available at Burnley library. I could contact Andrew to see where it available to buy if any-one wants a copy. It's a wonderful well written book with lots of photographs of local men.

Burnley Express 4th September 1915 has the news of the sinking and photographs of the victims.

My grandfather was one of the last to be rescued after four and a half hours in the water. He was then sent to Passchendaele and later St Quentin (Somme)

Author:  Leaver [ Mon Oct 22, 2007 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  R.M.S. Royal Edward




Pollyanna, that is interesting. Have you seen this site? There are some Harle Syke men mentioned as well.

Author:  pollyanna [ Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:38 pm ]
Post subject:  royal edward

Thank-you Leaver. I hadn't seen the site before. What a dreadful time it must have been waiting for news. My grandfather told me in detail about what happened that day. He was only 18 years old at the time.

Wonderful work you and Mel are doing. It's brilliant having a web site like this to contribute to.

Best wishes Pollyanna

Author:  Leaver [ Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yes, it must have been terrible. I cannot even comprehend what it was like during WW1. It is said the British Army lost 19,240 soldiers on the first day of the Somme (1 July 1916), and it had another 57,470 casualties. My McCarthy family had five boys, two were killed, two were wounded, and other was unfit for service. One of the wounded (John McCarthy) had his eye shot out and in a letter home he says “I got the bullet in the left eye, and it came out at the cheek. I am very lucky to be living. I am all right in myself and feel very well indeed. We get well looked after, and have had very good food. We were just coming out of the trenches to be relieved when I got hit, and I thought it was all over."

What was your Grandfather’s name, is he mentioned on this site? http://www.burnleyinthegreatwar.info/

Regarding the site, all the credit has to go to Mel, it’s her baby!

Author:  Mel [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

Burnley Express and Advertiser

British Transport Torpedoed
Thousand Men Reported Lost
Local Men Believed To Be On Board

Yesterday the whole country was startled by the publication of the following announcement issued by the Admiralty through the Press Bureau:-
The British transport, Royal Edward, was sunk by an enemy submarine in the Aegean Sea last Saturday morning.
According to the information at present available, the transport had on board 32 officers and 1350 (1850?), in addition to the ship's crew of 220 officers and men.
The troops consisted mainly of reinforcements for the 29th Division, and detachments of the R.A.M.C.
Full information has not yet been received, but it is known that about 680 have been saved.

The First Transport Lost
One of the most remarkable features of the war hitherto has been the immunity of our transports from attack by the enemy. Of all the many vessels which carried our men across the Channel not a single one has been lost, or even damaged. It was too much to hope that such immunity would last; and yesterday there came the sad news from the Aegean Sea.
Details are still wanting, and the full extent of the disaster is not yet known with certainty. Roughly speaking, there was the equivalent of a whole battalion on board. They were mainly reinforcements for the 29th Division, with details of the Royal Army Medical Corps. In all 600 are known to have been saved, which leaves 1,000 still to be accounted for.
This success achieved by one of the enemy's submarines in the Aegean, like that more theatrical feat reported of the bombardment of Whitehaven and two adjacent villages, will furnish German editors with a fresh topic on which to base discourses on the downfall of British sea power. The effect of such incidents upon the war is precisely nil, if we accept the possibility that they will, if anything, stiffen the determination of the people to see the thing through.

Formerly On The Canadian Service
The Royal Edward was a large ship of the Royal Line, her port of registry beng Bristol. Before the war she was engaged in the Canadian service, sailing between Avonmouth and Montreal. Built in 1908 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Glasgow, her gross tonnage was 11,117, net 5669. She was 526 feet long, and had a speed of 19 knots.

Burnley Vitally Concerned
The connection between Burnley and the tragic affair is, it is feared, very close indeed, and tidings are anxiously awaited as to the men who have been saved. The official announcement mentions "detachments of the R.A.M.C.," and a good many Burnley folk, some Padiham and Briercliffe people believe that near relatives are to be found among the detachments. During the week-end numerous postcards have been received, these having been posted at alta, and some of the writers stated they were on the Royal Edward.
One pathetic message on the back of a picture postcard of the Royal Edward was as follows:-
"Dear son,- This is the picture of our troopship, the one your daddy is on."
We understand that practically all one detachment consists of local men, and these number between 60 and 70, and we have it on good authority that the gentlemen under whom they were recruited and trained more than once declared that they were the best lot of men he had ever worked with. They were a keen and hard-working set of men, and were anxious to enter upon the serious duty they had enlisted for.
It was well known in the town last night about the men. and we hoped to give a complete list of them, and had gone to considerable trouble and expense in obtaining it, but, in accordance with out usual custom, we first sought official permission. The following message in reply to ours will be sufficiently explanatory to the public as to the non-appearance of the list:-
"You may publish local names of crew only - Press Bureau."
So far as we know there are no local men forming part of the crew.

"Anything May Turn Up"
More than ordinary interest is attached to a letter posted at Malta by a Burnley man, and received on Monday. In this, he says:- "We fell in at 11-30a.m. for a boat parade. We have had a few of these since we set off. We are detailed off from a boat which is numbered.We had to parade with lifebelts on and in front of our boat on deck, so that we may know what to do if anything happened. I hope it is not needed, but we do not know what will happen; anything may turn up."

Author:  Mel [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

Burnley Express and Advertiser
21 August 1915

The Ill-Fated Transport
No News About The Men

The anxiety felt in the Burnley district over the fate of those members of H.M.'s forces who were on the transport Royal Edward when it was sunk in the Aegean Sea by an enemy submarine had not been allayed. Beyond the first intimation that 600 out of the 1600 on board had been saved there has been no official announcement which would solve the difficulty of numerous Burnley and Padiham people.
It has been stated that 68 of the crew of 220 had been saved, and yesterday there was published a list of officers who had survived and of those of whom no report had been receivd. Among the former are Lieut. W. L. Cockroft and Lieut. J. Cowan, of the 1st East Lancashire Field Ambulance. Among the missing are Capt. C. Marshall and Lieut. T. Hayhurst, of the same unit.
Nominal lists of the non-commissioned officers and men who survived, and of those of whom there is no trace, had not, we were informed at midnight by our London correspondent, been issued.
There can be no doubt that the Government departments will inform relatives of men who were on board the transport of their fate as soon as possible, and it is from this source that relatives will probably have news first.
As so many postcards have been received of the ship, there has been a strong conviction that a lot of local men were on board. Whether this was actually the case remains to be seen, but a letter received in the town yesterday stated that some of the men were detained at Alexandria for duty, and did not proceed onward. If this be the case there is good grounds for hoping for the best.

The Unfortunate Troopship
The London shipping correspondent of the "Yorkshire Post" writes - The Royal Edward has had an infortunate career. Built in 1908 at enormous expense, for the 'Egyptian Mail Steamship Company' she was named the Cairo, and was intended originally solely for the Egyptian Mediterranean mail service. Almost before she was completed her owning company was in liquidation, and for a long time no buyer could be found for her or her sister boat, the Heliopolis. Eventually she found a purchaser in the Canadian Northern Steamship Company (Limited), and was renamed Royal Edward, but again she was unfortunate, and in May of last year the vessel narrowly escaped total loss in the Atlantic. She struck an iceberg off Cape Race, and twisted her stern. Her speed had been reduced, otherwise she must have sunk. She and her sister-ship Royal George were in the regular mail and passenger service between Bristol and Canada. Since the Royal Edward was taken over as a troopship she had done a good share of work in carrying soldiers.

A Previous Attack In The Aegean.
The way in which vast numbers of British soldiers have been safely conveyed across the Channel to France and to the Dardanelles, as well as the arrival of the Canadian contingent in this country and its departure, has been one of the most remarkable achievements of the war. Of all the innumerable fully laden transports that have crossed the Channel not one has been offically announced as lost or even damaged, despite the activities of German submarines and the continuous risk of floating mines. This is the second occasion on which a British transport has been attacked by the enemy in the Aegean Sea. On April 17 the transport Manitou, carrying British troops, was attacked by a turkish torpedo boat, which fired three torpedoes, all of which missed. The Turkish boat then made off, chased by the British cruiser Minerva and destroyers, and finally she was run ashore and destroyed on the coast of Chios, in Xalammuti Bay. The crew were made prisoners. There was some loss of life on the Manitou owing to two boats capsizing, but it was not as serious as at first feared, 51 men being drowned. The transport herself was undamaged.

German Or Austrian Submarine?
Whether the deed was done by an Austrian of a German submarine, whether an Austrian or a German crew was on board, is a matter of much interest, about which we have no precise information, but we do know that the base from which an Austrian serpent of the sea could operate is nearly 2000 miles nearer the Aegean than the German base. the damage may possibly have been caused by one of the new type of German submarines, which displace something like a thousand tons and steam twenty knots on the surface and fourteen knots under water. As British submarines get into the Baltic and the Black Sea, we must expect that the Germans, whose skill in the management of under-water craft is freely admitted, will operate on any waters on which our tropps are conveyed to which they can get access, and that they will be occasionally successful, however efficient may be the precautions taken against their attacks. In this kind of warfare disasters must be expected from time to time. The fact that this is the first time a troopship has been sunk is a fine tribute to the efficiency of the Navy. The transport work will be continued by men who cannot be daunted and who have shown, and are showing, that in seacraft not only have they no superiors, but no equals.

Author:  Mel [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

Express And Advertiser August 23 1915

The Torpedoed Troopship 34 Local Men Reported Saved

Though it is a fortnight this morning since the troopship Royal Edward was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea on its way to the Dardanelles, no official list of survivors and victims has yet been issued. It was estimated that about 600 men of a total of 1,600 on board were saved, the troops consisting mainly, according to the Admiralty notification, of reinforcements for the 29th Division and detachments of the R.A.M.C. The latter was known to include a batch of about 70 men from this district, from the 2/1st and 2/2nd East Lancashire Field Ambulance (Territorials), and the fate of these men has occasioned much anxiety in Burnley and Padiham, whence the men were chiefly recruited.
On Wednesday, Lieut.-Col. Callam, who raised the particular battalion of the R.A.M.C. from which these formed drafts, wired home as follows:- "Thirty-four of boys safe. No name syet." On Wednesday and Thursday letters began to arrive from survivors, and as in these news was sometimes given of other men they have been widely read, and the relatives of those reported safe have been overjoyed at the good news. The only official notification, as far as we can gather, up to last night, of any kind was that relating to Provate J. P. Conway, of Fulledge, and the only member of St. Mary's Catholic community, in which he was a highly respected member. He is reported as drowned "at a place not stated."
Appended is a list of those reported, either personally or by comrades in letters, as saved. This is not necessarily a complete list, and it does not follow that those of whom no news has been received are lost, as the survivors seem to have been scattered according to the ships which picked them up. We are able therefore, up to the present, to give definite news of the following:
Pte. J .P. Conway, 43, Lyndhurst-road, Burnley

H Baldwin, 1, Holmes-street
W. Barker, 98, Accrington-road
Frank Basnett, senior, Healey Wood-road
C. Brockbank, 20, Jackson-street
J. clegg, 2, Hind-street
T. Cliffe, 58, Church-street, Briercliffe
J. Dickinson, Baron-terrace
J. Dixon, Sutcliffe-street, Briercliffe
W. K. Gaukrodger, 9, Francis-street
W. Hardman, Green-street
E. Hartley, 18 ford-street
R. Hirst, 11, Daneshouse-road
H. Hodkinson, 11, Linby-street
B. Jones, 19, Renshaw-street
G. Macdonald, 50, Hart-street
W. Slater, 2, Basnett-street
H. Smith, Briercliffe
H. Stuttard, 31, Grasmere-street
E. Taylor, 35, duke-street
D. Thompson, 39, Bracewell-street
W. Towse, 132, Briercliffe-road
T. Warrington, Manchester-road
J. Rigby, St Giles-street, Padiham
R. E. Morroe, 30, Moore-street, Cheapside
C. Whittle, 77 Hapton-road, Padiham
W. Robinson, 7, Graham-street, Padiham
Sergt. V. B. Ditcham, London
W. Walker, of 77, Waterloo-road

Not On Board
J. Barnett, of Accrington-road, is said to have been put off at Alexandria.

Sister's vivid Dream
Sad News To Wedding Party
"It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office notifying the death of Pte Joseph P. Conway, which occurred at (not stated) on the 15th July. I am to express the regret of the Army Council. The cause of death was 'drowned'." This was the fateful message received yesterday morning by Miss Conway, of 43 Lyndhurst-road, Burnley, from the Record Office at Preston. It terminated the suspense and anxiety which Miss Conway had felt over the fate of her brother, who was a chemist, and one of the best-known men in the fulledge district.
The fatality is all the more poignant as on the day the disaster to the transport Royal Edward was made public, another of his sisters was married. Mr. conway was to have been present at the ceremony, but his duties precluded this, and instead of his company there came a cheery letter explaining his absence and telling his sister not to regret his inability to be present, but to feel proud that she had a brother who was going to do his duty to the wounded soldiers.
Also it was a sad home coming to another sister, Mrs. Proctor. This lady, who had married a Burnley gentleman named Proctor, a member of a well known Cliviger family, had been out in Montreal, Canada, a few years, and as her husband has joined the ?0th Batt. of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, she came over for her sister's wedding and to reside with friends. She only arrived in burnley about an hour before the wedding, and it was whilst the wedding guests were enjoying themselves that the tragic news came through of the loss of the troopship and the loss of a thousand British lives.
It is a remarkable coincidence that on Friday, whilst on board the vessel coming across from Canada, Mrs. Proctor had a terrifying dream in which she saw a ship wrecked and soldiers afterwards struggling in the water.
As it was known Mr. Conway was on that ship, it naturally cast a gloom over the proceedings, but the relatives kept up a brave heart, hoping that he might be amongst those fortunate enough to be saved.
When letters began to arrive in Burnley early this week Miss Conway began to have her doubts as to her brother's safety, as he had been so regular and thoughtful a writer. On Wednesday there came to Burnley a letter bearing ominous news, and its contents were communicated by Mr. and Mrs, Macdonald, of Hart-street to Miss Conway. The message read:-
"Poor Joe conway is dead. He got picked up, but died an hour later."
As already stated, Miss Conway received a confirmatory message from Preston yesterday. Obviously the date of death is wrong, as the boat was not torpedoed until August 13th.
Pte. Conway was a prominent member of the Roman Catholic community, being connected with St. Mary's Church. He had been employed for several years by Mr. Collins and then Mr. Shepherd, chemist, at Duke Bar, before commencing business on his own. He was un-married, and aged 36 years.
Safe But Bruised
Mr. and Mrs, Macdonald, of 50, Hart-street, Burnley, are gratified at the receipt of news that their son, Pte. George Macdonald, aged 19, was safe. In a letter the soldier states:- "I am all right with the exception of a bit of a cut on my head and a few bruises on my leg. I am in a hospital at Alexandria."
Another son, James Francis Macdonald, is in the A.S.C. in Alexandria, and George in his letter expressed the hope that he might see his brother whilst there. George formerly worked on the Corporation tramways.

Crushed Between Boats
Perhaps one of the most fortunate escapes is that of Pte. wilfred slater, of Basnett-street, Burnley. He was crushed between the sinking ship and a boat and at the time he wrote he was unable to walk. At the same time he says he is not badly injured, and is getting on all right.

Survivors' Letters
We have in type, which we cannot publish without the sanction of the Press Bureau, a large number of letters from survivors. these give more interesting accounts of the sinking of the Royal Edward. They bear out the Admiralty statement that the ship was torpedoed. All state that it was struck by a torpedo and not mined. The boat was hit about 9-20a.m. and sank within four minutes, which would account for the large loss of life, as recorded in the official announcement of the disaster.
Pte. E. Taylor has written to his sister at 35, Duke-street, that he is still "in the pink" despite the mishap to the ship. He has written from a ship, on which he stated there were three other ambulance men on the same rescue ship at the time and who had been saved. He, however, does not give any names.
"'kit' is all right; he did not get a scratch." This is a sentence received in a letter from Pte. G. Macdonald, who was on the Royal Edward, and is safe. It refers to Pte. C. Brockbank, whose home is at 20, Jackson-street, Burnley.
Pte. Henry baldwin, whose home is at 1, Holme-street, has also written home, though his relatives did not have their anxiety relieved until yesterday morning. He attributes his safety to a lifebelt he wore.

A Fighting Family
Pte. John Dickinson, of 3, Baron-terrace, Burnley, has written to say he is safe. He is a member of a fmaily of fighters. There are three brothers in France - Alfred, with the Blue Cross; Levi, with the R.H.A.; and Walter, with the R.F.A.; while there are also two brothers-in-law on service.

Scattered Survivors
A Burnley member of the Burnley Territorial R.F.A. named Swainston, writing from Egypt, states: "Last night I went, after numerous inquiries to visit E. Hartley, who was on a boat, the Royal Edward, going to the Dardanelles. The boat was torpedoed, but luckily he, along with many more, was saved. The survivors are stranded allover the show."

Watches Stopped
Pte. W. Barker, a prominent local Salvation Army bandsman, is among the men saved. His home is at 98, Accrington-road, burnley, and he has been connected with the Elmwood-street Salvation Army Corps for over ten years, having been deputy bandsmaster for nearly three years. Formerly he worked at Messrs. Haslam's Yatefield Mill. He is 25 years of age, is married, and has two children. Pte. Barker has sent home his watch, with the follwoing written on a piece of cardboard:- "My watch spoiled by water." The dial is badly discoloured.
Pte. Elijah Hartley also records the following:- "I had my watch in my trouser's pocket and it stopped at the minute I went down. It will not run again after being in salt water."

Author:  Kath [ Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

I am the author of the article on the Burnley men linked in the OP (http://www.1914-1918.net/heroes/royaledward.htm ).
My interest in the Royal Edward began when my father told me his father was lost on her.
Here's a link to a page about my Grandfather on Graham Matthew's Helston History website:
http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ances ... sepage.htm

The loss of the Royal Edward affected families throughout the U.K.


Author:  Mel [ Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

Hi Kath, welcome to the forum.

What I thought must have been so distressing at the time was the amount of time that it took to compile the casualty list. I suppose it was difficult because survivors (& casualties) were taken to different areas and they didn't have the communications that we have today.

Author:  joda [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

My grandad Hartley Stuttard was survivor and I have a copy of the letter he sent home to his wife. It is not written in his hand but has been rewritten by someone we presume in the press bureau where letters were censored. The original letter was kept and I would love to see it but would not know where to start my search. He mentions not having seen Harrison Wilkinson who was his brother in law and who perished. If anyone would be interested I can scan the letter

Author:  Mel [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

Hi Joda, welcome to the forum. I'd love to see the letter please. I won't add it to the site unless you express a wish for it to appear on it.

Author:  Kath [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Royal Edward troop ship sunk August 1915

Hello, Joda.
I would like a copy also, please.

Did you know your grandad’s service record is on Ancestry?

Quote Mel:”What I thought must have been so distressing at the time was the amount of time that it took to compile the casualty list.”

I’ve recently seen relatives’ letters of enquiry – some written weeks after.


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