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THREAT TO HMS CRESSY HMS HOGUE AND HMS ABOUKIR


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#1 Andy Brockman

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 11:25 PM

Dear Colleagues,


Two Dutch salvage ships are apparently violating the wrecks of HMS Cressy, HMS Hogue and HMS Aboukir, in the North Sea looking for copper and bronze.


The issue is complicated because the MoD seems to have sold the wrecks to a salvor in the 1950's. However a group of Dutch divers are organising a petition to get the salvage stopped and the wrecks treated with respect as the wargraves and important parts of the marine environment that they are.

This story broke into the UK archaeological world this afternoon and we are trying to stir up as much vocal opposition to this action as possible in order to bring pressure on the UK and Dutch Government's to take immediate action to stop the violation of what are war graves and sensitive and important parts of the marine environment.


Please sign the petition here...http://www.stopdesloop.nl/ It is in Dutch but is easy to understand. And let's thank our Dutch friends and colleagues for caring enough to try to do something about this. Please also pass on this information to friends and colleagues and if you have contacts in politics or the media please let them know.

This is an International issue- these could be the sailors or service people of any nation and we must not let the scandal of the "Livebait Squadron" of 1914 become another scandal 97 years after the 1459 casualties of U9's action came to rest with their ships.

This is the text of letter from Robert Salman of the European Coastal and Marine Union to the British Ambassador in The Hague,which was published this afternoon and warned us what was going on.
International Office
P.O. Box 11232, 2301 EE
Leiden, The Netherlands

His Excellency Paul Arkwright,
Ambassador of the United Kingdom
British Embassy
Lange Voorhout 10
2514 ED DEN HAAG
Tel : +31.71.5122900
Fax: +31.71.5124069
Chamber of Commerce: 40447714
www.eucc.net

Leiden, 21 September 2011

Subject: Demolition of British Military Remains in the North Sea

Your Excellency,

We have recently discovered that two Dutch salvage vessels are demolishing British seabed war graves, targeting specifically on the remains of the battle cruisers HMS Aboukir, the HMS Hogue and the HMS Cressy, some 22 nautical miles off the coast of Scheveningen - The Hague. The two Dutch vessels operate from the port of Scheveningen. Also other wrecks are targeted, including British.

We would like to convey our gratitude for all the efforts made by the British Embassy in response to an earlier letter of notification concerning the operations of Dutch salvage vessels. We regret to inform you that so far no adequate measures have been taken by the Dutch government to prevent or discourage the disruption of British war graves. The undersigned parties kindly ask for your assistance in our efforts to put an end to the violations.
The salvage vessels are equipped with heavy machinery capable of tearing apart the sunk battle cruisers. They are mainly after copper and bronze.

The final resting places of the 1459 crewmembers aboard these sunk battleships, who were killed while on military duty on Sept. 22, 1914, are grossly violated. We are of the opinion that this is unacceptable, especially considering that these operations are only committed for profit. Moreover, these operations threaten to demolish important maritime cultural heritage associated with the ship wrecks as well as their value for marine biodiversity. Shipwrecks in general, including the three English battle cruisers, are hotspots for marine life and important nurseries for several marine species. They should therefore be protected against demolition.
The Dutch authorities have taken official notice of the destructive operations, but they refer to lacking legislation when confronted with their inability to protect the ship wrecks against these activities. We strongly believe in the importance of the preservation of the cultural heritage the battle cruisers provide.

The undersigned parties address you in the knowledge of the moral obligation towards the British people to ensure an undisturbed resting place of British troops. The Dutch media have already conveyed their indignation towards these occurrences and in our belief this news will reach the British media soon.

We kindly, yet urgently, ask for your assistance in denouncing the activities of the Dutch salvage vessels and we suggest that you address the Dutch government concerning the lack
of safeguarding-measures and legislation in place for the protection of these important maritime monuments.

A public petition is presently online in www.stopdesloop.nl inviting people to express their concern. We hereby kindly ask you to accept the petition and the first list of signatories.

Yours sincerely,

Albert Salman,


Director General,
European Coastal & Marine Union EUCC
Also on behalf of more than 1438 signatories (20 September 2011, www.stopdesloop.nl)
and the following organizations:
Eelco Leemans, The North Sea Foundation / Stichting De Noordzee
Joop Bongers, Royal Dutch Angling Association / Sportvisserij Nederland
Ben Stiefelhagen, Duik de Noordzee schoon
Hanneke Mesters, Vereniging Kust & Zee
John Geurts, NOB
Carel Drijver, WWF
Imre Schep, Vereniging van beroepsmatige handlijnvissers Nederland
prof.dr. Han Lindeboom Marine ecologist, Wageningen University
Adriaan Gmelig Meyling, Stichting Anemoon
Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) www.eucc.net

We have a Facebook Group called Mortimer which discusses issues and sets up lobbies on behalf of issues relating to archaeology and heritage like this. Mortimer will try to report on the situation as it develops and we will report back to this forum as soon as possible.



Yours sincerely

Andy Brockman

Conflict Archaeologist


#2 high wood

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 06:32 AM

I think that notifying the press would be useful in getting wider attention to this shameful plundering of war graves, perhaps you should contact the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express and other papers of a similar ilk as they are more likely to run the story.

#3 simonharley

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 07:30 AM

While appreciating the sentiments expressed, a minor quibble - in the letter the designation of the ships swings between either battle cruisers or battleships. At the time of their sinking they were simply designated "cruisers", their pre-1913 designation being armoured cruisers first class.

Simon

#4 sadsac

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 07:34 AM

ANDY - `War Graves' ????? We would say YES !! BUT, the Admiralty sold the scrap-rights to these ships in 1920 to a German Wreck Company. They blew off the props and shafts and any other valuable metals that they could get at.
Wonder if the German Company still own the rights ?? Somewhat Ironic do you not think ???
The fact that two of the ships are upside-down make recovery of artifacts difficult.

Sadsac

#5 ph0ebus

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:36 PM

ANDY - `War Graves' ????? We would say YES !! BUT, the Admiralty sold the scrap-rights to these ships in 1920 to a German Wreck Company. They blew off the props and shafts and any other valuable metals that they could get at.
Wonder if the German Company still own the rights ?? Somewhat Ironic do you not think ???
The fact that two of the ships are upside-down make recovery of artifacts difficult.

Sadsac

Not with the proper application of high explosives. :angry2:

So, are they legally protected, or not? I am asking about their actual legal status rather than what we would wish their status to be (myself included).

-Daniel

#6 David Underdown

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 01:31 PM

They are not designated under the British "Protection of Military Remains Act 1986". The wrecks would appear to lie in either Dutch or international waters

#7 Grantowi

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 11:27 PM

The fact that two of the ships are upside-down make recovery of artifacts difficult.



No really, they will just blow the hull apart where ever they need to get to.

Strikes me a being very wrong that the MOD sold the wrecks for scrap knowing that they were the War Graves of British men.

MOD should be made to buy back the wrecks

Grant

#8 ianw

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 08:49 AM

The MOD has not covered itself in glory by its general attitude to war grave designation - it has consistently denied war grave status to merchant ships sunk on war work with casualties e.g SS Storaa that now at last has war grave status - has this stance been modified at all? - and the MOD has been similarly reticent about the recovery of remains from crashed aircraft - including at least one in Holland. The signals that go out are that the matter is not too serious.

#9 Andy Brockman

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:42 PM

An Update

In case you have not seen todays "Times." The violation of the three ships has been condemned by the Ministry of Defence, and the Dutch cultural agency. On a practical level, the ships alledged to be carrying out the raids have been identified as the MS Bernica and MS Bela based in Scheveningen. However, the Dutch Coastguard are quoted as being unable to act in spite of the vessels being seen on site by a Dutch aircraft and wreckage being found on the salvage ships by Dutch Police.

The UK Ministry of Defence is quoted as making efforts with the Dutch authorities to prevent "inappropriate activity."

Andy Brockman

#10 seadog

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:14 PM

Disgusting and really makes me feel proud that the UK are part of the glorious EU (Not)!

Norman

#11 Grantowi

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:30 PM

Disgusting and really makes me feel proud that the UK are part of the glorious EU (Not)!


Norman,

It was the British MOD who sold these wrecks, why are you blaming the EU ?

The MOD dosn't seem to give a hoot about those who were lost when they went down or else they wouldn't have sold them

Grant

#12 ph0ebus

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:01 PM

Saw this in my Facebook feed this morning:

Petition to Save British Wrecks

Well done that it is getting coverage. I am reposting.

-Daniel

PS I also signed it.

:poppy:

#13 Grantowi

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:59 PM

Thanks for the link Daniel,

Duly signed - I think :) (can someone translate the box titles for us numptys, please)

I hope that the "anti divers on shipwreck" bunch have noticed that this petition was started by Sport Divers !!

Grant

#14 Andy Brockman

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 04:21 PM

Dear Forum colleagues,

UPDATE ON THE CRESSY, HOGUE AND ABOUKIR

Forum members who are also readers of "Private Eye" might have noticed the article about the issue of commercial salvage from the three cruisers sunk by U9 on 22 September 1914, in the current issue of the magazine [Booty Trawl" Eye 1302 p31]. If you have not read the magazine you can also see the article on the Private Eye website here...

http://www.private-e...back&issue=1302

The key point of the story is that the MoD now state officially that the wrecks were sold in 1954 to a German salvage Company and that they now have no legal responability for them. This is an issue we are trying to persue.

The story has also been attracting attention across the Atlantic in Bermuda where the first Bermudan to die in the Great War, Officers Cook First Class William Edmund Smith, died on the Aboukir...

http://bernews.com/2...war-grave-call/

I also wanted to let you know that our colleagues in the Dutch diving, archaeological and environmental movement who first brought the "salvage" work to our attention and have done a fantastic job getting it taken seriously at government level, now have a dedicated website

http://beschermeenwrak.nl/

and Facebook group...

Bescherm een wrak


We hope you will want to support them and maybe say thanks for the effort they have put in to respect the lost crew members of the ships, even though they have no national interest.

Of course the Dutch cared for survivors of the ships in 1914. Most importantly for the future of this story, the Dutch have also succeeded in getting their Government to publicly consider protecting the wrecks and also to look again at adopting the UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage. Something many people in the Heritage and Archaeological community wish the UK Government would also do.

They are also campaigning on the wider issue of creating a management system in the North Sea which allows ethical access to historic wreck sites for divers yet protects and sustains them as part of the historic and natural environment for future generations.

In an effort to work with our Dutch colleagues we have set up a dedicated Facebook Group for English speakers which is designed to be complimentary to the work in the Netherlands...

SOS - Save Our Ships

We hope to create a raise these issues with the UK authorities in the hope of getting more protection for not just Cressy, Hogue and Aboukir, but other vessels which might come under threat from commercial salvors and unfettered sports diving and are not yet designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act. It is an anomaly that individual aircraft are protected automatically under the Act, whereas warships, with larger loss of life, are not.

In other words, in terms of the crews, we are asking that they are treated in the same way as the remains of soldiers on land where they have legal staus and some protection, even if they turn up on someone's commercial demolition site.

To do that we need the support of people who care, not just about the ships as historical artifacts left over from a fascinating if tragic part of the history of the Royal Navy, but also about respecting and learning about the wider past and the memory of members of the Armed Forces, many of whom will have living descendents, some perhaps even close kin. If you feel any of those things are important please consider commenting on the Facebook page, or through this forum and keep an eye out for further bulletins and ideas as to how you might help in this campaign.

Thanks


Andy Brockman

On behalf of the Mortimer Group

OUR PAST, OUR FUTURE, OUR CHOICE






#15 MichaelBully

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 04:50 PM

Thanks for the update Andy , and am glad that the might 'Private Eye' have taken up the cause. I have a great interest in The Netherlands and can have a go at reading Dutch, so please PM me if can help in any way. I am am member of the Netherlands Western Front Association and have previously made contact with the Great War study organisation Stichting Studiecentrum Eerste Wereldoorlog ssew.nl . Regards, Michael Bully



#16 Grantowi

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:40 PM

..... and unfettered sports diving .


Is part of the plan to get "Sport Divers" banned from diving Wrecks ?

Grant

#17 MichaelBully

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 08:17 PM

I have been looking at a Dutch book from 2010 'Drie massagraven voor de Nederlande kust' by Henk H.M. van der Linden, (Aspekt ) Three Massgraves off the Dutch Coast

"De Aboukir, Cressy en Hogue

De wrakken van de drie schepen liggen nog steeds voor onze kust. Er mag niet op gedoken worden. Aangezien vele honderden mannen met hen zonken, zijn het officiele zeemansgraven."

The wrecks of these three ships still lie off our coast. Diving is not permitted. Out of respect to the many hundreds of men that were sunk with them, they are officially the graves of sailors.

Would welcome more information. Are campaigners asking for divers to be allowed to view the wrecks, as long as nothing is taken? Regards, Michael Bully



Is part of the plan to get "Sport Divers" banned from diving Wrecks ?

Grant



#18 Hedley Malloch

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 12:57 PM

From the letters page of issue 1305 of Private Eye

"The excellent article in issue 1302 of Private Eye on the possible salvage of metals from HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy makes depressing reading and sadly shows how little respect is still paid to the final resting places of British sailors lost in past conflicts.

Of the World War 1 major warship losses, HMA Natal, HMA Bulwark, HMS Invincible and HMS Indefatigable all seem to have been the subject of extensive salvage efforts despite the ships being lost with the bulk of their crews. HMA Vanguard, which suffered an internal explosion and sank with its crew in 1917 was salvaged as late as 1959. The ship is now classed as a war grave after first having been crudely picked over for its ferrous and non-ferrous metal. The salvage of this ship in Scapa Flow is incomprehensible as HMS Royal Oak, which sank in the same waters with a similar loss of life, is rightly classed as a war grave and diving on it is strictly controlled.

Once again common decency seems to have taken second place to base commercial interests. It is good to know that the organizations named in your article and Private Eye itself are raising the profile of this matter, but it is obviously too much to expect bodies like the Ministry of Defence or the government to show much interest. They should look carefully at how USS Arizona and its crew have been carefully venerated and compare this with the contemptible treatment that lost Roylal Navy ships have received.

Yours sincerely
Geoffrey Lowther, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear."

Hedley Malloch adds: I think that one reason why WW1 ship salvage is highly prized is that its metals are free from radio-active traces which have infected all metals produced since 1945. This makes them particularly valuable in certain specialized scientific and technical applications.

#19 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 01:30 PM

Hedley Malloch adds: I think that one reason why WW1 ship salvage is highly prized is that its metals are free from radio-active traces which have infected all metals produced since 1945. This makes them particularly valuable in certain specialized scientific and technical applications.==============

Is that true? I have heard it before as a reason for taking salvage from a ship at Scapa Flow

#20 ph0ebus

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 06:30 PM

Hedley Malloch adds: I think that one reason why WW1 ship salvage is highly prized is that its metals are free from radio-active traces which have infected all metals produced since 1945. This makes them particularly valuable in certain specialized scientific and technical applications.==============

Is that true? I have heard it before as a reason for taking salvage from a ship at Scapa Flow

I believe that it is. It also makes you wonder (I certainly do) that if all metal above the waterline since 1945 had been contaminated with radiation, what about the people?

The whole thing, in my opinion, is disgraceful, even if it is legal in most cases. And it will continue until someone changes the law.

-Daniel

#21 centurion

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 07:53 PM

I believe that it is. It also makes you wonder (I certainly do) that if all metal above the waterline since 1945 had been contaminated with radiation, what about the people?


I think that this is largely myth. There was (and is still) plenty of natural radiation (especially in the sea). Radon for example washed into it. A recent study of radiation levels in the Irish sea and of exposure to radiation amongst those living around it showed that exposure to natural radiation was more than 9 time higher than artificial radiation (if you live in Cornwall you are certainly receiving a much higher dosage from the granite underneath the ground on which you walk). The reason why steel from the pre 1945 period wrecks might be required is that they have not been exposed to certain minute trace elements produced by nuclear fission. These can confuse some research results. Bowls and instruments made of such 'clean' steel' is sometimes required The amount of 'uncontaminated' steel needed is very small and would not in anyway justify the scale of recovery in this case (and there are plenty of other places that are not war graves where it could be got from.

#22 NigelS

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:10 PM

I used to work for a company involved in nuclear measurement instrumentation and certain laboratories & facilities which were involved in ultra-sensistive radiation measurements (those where the effects of the normal, everday background levels need to be minimised because it has a significant effect and will comprimise the results) needed - still do - to use steel made pre the use & testing of nuclear weapons. This Wikpedia link gives the basics Click.
I have always understood, and this appears to be backed up (although, obviously not confirmed) by the article, that the steel from the scuppered German fleet at Scapa Flow was the primary source for such material; unlike British vessels there, as there were no deaths involved (?), they would not be considered as War Graves, so there are not the same moral issues with their use. My involvement with this type of equipment ended nearly twenty years ago, so I suppose it's possible that the salvageable German fleet steel 'stock' may have all been used, although, as Centurion has already said, the requirement is low, so I would have thought that that's rather unlikely. The Steel doesn't have to be from Scapa Flow, any sunken vesssel which has been built from pre-late WWII steel could be used, its just it's relatively easy - at least as far as any such operation goes - to salvage from there.

Aberdeen - 'the Granite City' (that's why) - is another location well known for having higher background radiation levels.

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#23 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:53 PM

Members may like to take a look at HMS Aboukir - HMS Cressy - HMS Hogue - and there is a very dramatic account of the naval action which resulted in their loss, which reinforces the need to have these ships designated War Graves for all the 1,459 British Sailors lost that day :-
" In late September 1914, the Royal Navy experienced their first contact with a new form of naval warfare. It was a shock which brought home the vulnerability of surface warships to an invisible underwater enemy.
On September 22, three armoured cruisers, HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy, were sunk in the North Sea by a solitary German submarine U9 commanded by Otto Weddigen.
Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy were pre-dreadnought ships whose design and construction dated from 1898 - 1902. They were three of the four Cressy or Bacchante class ships which made up the 7th Cruiser Squadron, stationed at the Nore under Rear-Admiral Henry Campbell.
At dawn on September 22, the three elderly cruisers were deployed in regular order, steaming at a dangerously low speed of under 10 knots, in an area sandwiched between the Dutch coast and a German minefield, without escort and almost on the enemy's doorstep. The only other principal in the drama, the U9, had yet to appear.
In common with the adversaries she was soon to meet, the U9 was not a modern craft. Her surface propulsion was by Korting diesel engines, underwater propulsion was by electric motors whose batteries needed constant recharging.
For armament she had 4 torpedo tubes of 17.7 inches, 2 at the bow, and 2 at the stern, and one 2-inch deck gun. The bow tubes had reloads, giving the U9 a total of 6 torpedoes.
Under the command of Leutnant Otto Weddingen, the U9 sailed from Kiel on September 20, her destination was the Flanders Bight, where she was to try to prevent landings by British troops on the Belgian coast during the Battle of the Marne. On the voyage south, her gyro compass proved to be faulty and, unable to navigate precisely, Weddigen found himself off the Dutch coast, some 50 miles from his destination, on the night of September 21.
At dawn on September 22 Leutnant Weddigen surfaced the U9 in order to recharge her batteries. Visibility was good and Weddigen soon saw the masts of the three cruisers to the south of him. The U-boat's heavy-oil engines were making a lot of smoke, so Weddigen dived immediately without completing the recharging of the batteries. Once submerged Weddigen could see the cruisers were without a destroyer screen and were approaching at a steady course of about 9 knots in a line abreast, 2 miles apart.
At 0620 hours he fired only a single bow torpedo at the Aboukir from a range of 500 yards on her starboard side, and she began to sink. The Aboukir's Captain thought he had struck a mine, and signalled to the Cressy and Hogue to close in, but to keep ahead of him. The Captains of the 2 other cruisers complied with the Aboukir's signal and stopped their ships to pick up survivors.
The U9 had dived deep after firing her first torpedo to reload the torpedo tube and now returned to periscope depth. The U-boat Commander saw the Aboukir was going down, and the other 2 ships standing by. At 0655 he fired both bow torpedoes at the stationary Hogue, from a range of only 300 yards. Both torpedoes hit and the U9 was so close to her target that she had to manoeuvre to avoid a collision.
The Hogue was doomed, and one of her Officers recalls " Within three minutes of the first torpedo hitting, the list had increased to about 40 degrees, and realising that her end was very near all hands began tearing off their clothes and crawling down the high side or jumped overboard to leeward. To add to the confusion the stokehold crowd suddenly poured on deck, their blackened faces dripping sweat and tense with apprehension. It was now a case of everyman for himself, and tearing off my boots and clothing and then fastening to my wrist by its chain my gold watch, which I greatly prized, I walked down the sloping deck into the water and struck out for dear life ".
Undeterred by any British counterattack, Weddigen recklessly surfaced to acertain whether the Cressy was stationary or still moving, and found her stopped with her boats away picking up survivors from her two sister ships.
The U-boat's batteries were almost exhausted by now, but she still had the 2 stern torpedoes and a single reload left for a bow torpedo. The U9 submerged and manoeuvred for a stern shot but her periscope was spotted by the Cressy just before she fired. The Cressy's captain ordered full speed ahead, but one of the torpedoes hit and stopped her. The U9 turned again and with a bow shot sank the Cressy. The U-boat then disengaged and surfaced north of the action to recharge her batteries.
In the distance the victims were struggling for their survival, seen by one of their numbers as " Two thousand swimming or drowning men all herded together, hardly with elbow room. Strong swimmers were dragged under in the frenzied clutches of weak swimmers or men who could not swim at all. Their cries were full-throated at first, but they gradually subsided into a low wailing chant ".
The total complement for the 3 ships was about 2,200 men. Of these, 62 Officers and 1,397 men were lost.
Leutnant Weddigen was awarded the Iron Cross for the action ".

HMS Aboukir.

HMS Cressy.

HMS Hogue

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#24 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:57 PM

U9 - Displacement : 493/611 tons - Lenght : 188 feet - Beam : 19.3/4 feet - Power/Speed : 1,050/1,160 hp and 14/6 knots
- Armament : four 17.7-inch torpedo tubes and one 2-inch Deck Gun - Crew : 28 men.

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#25 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 10:05 PM

U9 and Commander Weddigen.

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