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Friday, 20 February 2015

One Hundred Years Ago Today…

Over 170 ships, aircraft and airships were lost due to enemy action or supporting the war effort round the coast of Wales.
…. the Cardiff-registered steamship, CAMBANK, became the first casualty of a German u-boat in Welsh waters during the Great War 1914–18.

The U-boat campaign began on 4 February 1915, when the German High Command announced that any merchant shipping in the vicinity of Britain and Ireland were to be regarded as legitimate targets. The shipping lanes passing up the St George’s Channel, along the North Wales coast into the Mersey and along the south Wales coast to Swansea, Barry and Cardiff were extremely important for essential imports of food and materials to keep industry running and to support the war effort. In all, over 170 merchant ships, naval vessels, aircraft and airships were lost.

The front cover of one of the surviving crew lists for the CAMBANK from the collections of Glamorgan Archives. A very special thank you to Rhian Phillips, Senior Archivist, for allowing us to include the document on Peoples Collection Wales website.
A new collection on the People’s Collection Wales site is beginning to explore some of the stories.

The CAMBANK was built by John Readhead & Sons, South Shields, in 1899, for the shipping line, W.J Runciman & son as the RAITHMOOR. It was sold to the Merevale Shipping Company of Cardiff in 1913, which changed the vessel's name to CAMBANK to match the line's own naming tradition. William Evans Thomas was the nominated manager of 17 Merchants Exchange, Bute Street.

At 11am on 20 February 1915, the CAMBANK was torpedoed by German U-30 off Point Lynas, Anglesey. It had been on passage from Huelva to Garston with a cargo of copper. The vessel sank within 20 minutes. The ship’s lifeboats, containing the 21 surviving crew members, were taken in tow by the Bull Bay lifeboat and then the armed yacht ORIANA to be landed at Amlwch.

Today, at 11am, the Royal Commission and the People’s Collection Wales will be remembering Joseph William Boyle, age 30, Third engineer; Michael Lynch, age 30, Fireman and Trimmer; Robert Quigley, age 34, Donkeyman; and Charles Sinclair, age 36, Fireman and Trimmer – and their families.

Commemorating all who gave their lives for their country but have no grave but the sea.


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