Ships hit during WWI


TypeArmed merchant cruiser
GRT5,360 tons
Country  British
BuilderHarland & Wolff, Ltd., Belfast
OperatorRoyal Navy
HistoryPeace-time owner: Pacific Steam Navigation Company, Liverpool

U-boat attacks on Armed merchant cruiser Champagne

DateU-boatLoss typePositionLocationRouteCargoCasualties
19 Oct 1917U 96 (Heinrich Jeß)SunkTorpedoed 8 miles SW of the Calf of Man
54° 17'N, 5° 10'W


\"I regret to report the loss of HMS CHAMPAGNE torpedoed by enemy submarine in the following circumstances. On the 9th October at 6.10 a.m., mean course N 21deg E (mag) zig-zagging, Lat 54.17\' N, Long 5.10\' W, speed 13 kts, the ship was struck by a torpedo in the engineroom the starboard side. The lookout at the starboard after gun saw a periscope and gave the order \"Close up\", we were struck by the torpedo almost instantaneously, and the periscope disappeared. Ship\'s company automatically went to action stations - the leading torpedo man put the depth charges to safe and reported to me., the confidential books were locked up in the steel safes by the decoding Officers and other confidential papers destroyed. All steam was cut off bty the explosion. I believe the Engineer Officer of the watch was blown to pieces and there were several other casualties in the engineroom. ......... The main engines were stopped by the explosion , and we could not go astern, but the ship lost way almost at once, the wind was WNW Magnetic, squally, force 5 to 7, sea state 6. The 1st Lieutenant asked me to give the order to abandon ship, I said \"No, not yet, as the ship may float for a considerable time, and we may bag the submarine if he comes up\". Almost immediately after this there was a second explosion on the port side in the forepart of the after welldeck. I at once gave the order \"Abandon ship\"; up to this time not a single gripe had been cast off, nor any attempt made to go to the boats. The ship remained on an even keel but began to settle rapidly.The boats, with the exception of the collapsibles, were got away smartly, although difficulty was experienced owing to the rough sea. Four men Oliver Ward, AB, RNVR, AB Ryan RNVR, LS Watkins RNR and LS W. Cox RNR volunteered to remain by foremost pair of guns. Ward saw a submarine come to the surface about 300 to 400 yards away on the port beam. The port foremost 6\" gun was fired at once, projectile apparently went just over. The submarine at once dived and the gun was reloaded and a tube inserted. These men remained by their gun and I regret to say that Cox was the only one who was picked up.\" He then goes on to explain the difficulty in getting the collapsible boats over the side with no steam available. At 6.30 a third torpedo struck the ship which broke her in two and the boats experienced difficulty in picking up men out of the water. Two boats sailed to the Isle of Man and others were later towed there by trawlers. Captain Brown considered the casualties to have been 5 officers and 53 men missing out of a complement of 305. He finishes up: \"The ship went down with a portion of her guns manned and ready to fire and traditions of the Service were upheld. At the time of the attack we were going as fast as we could keep up, lookouts were stationed all round the ship and were alert. We had no escort.\" Courtesy of G.Ryan

Position of attack on Champagne

Media links

Hostile Sea

Corkill, Andrian

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