His Majesty's Troopship Royal Edward
HMT Royal Edward was a passenger ship belonging to the Canadian Northern Steamship Company that was sunk during the First World War with a large loss of life while transporting Commonwealth troops. She had previously been known as RMS Cairo when she was launched in 1907 for a British mail service to Egypt.
On 28 July 1915, Royal Edward embarked 1,367 officers and men at Avonmouth. The majority were reinforcements for the British 29th Infantry, but also included were members of the Royal Army Medical Corps. All of the men were destined for Gallipoli Royal Edward was reported off the Lizard on the evening of the 28th, and had arrived at Alexandria on 10 August, a day after sister ship Royal George which had departed from Devonport. Royal Edward departed Alexandria for the harbour of Moudros on the island of Lemnos, a staging point for the ships in the Dardanelles.
On the morning of 13 August, Royal Edward passed the British hospital ship Soudan, which was headed in the opposite direction. Oberleutnant zur See Heino von Heimburg on the German submarine UB-14 was off the island of Kandeloussa and saw both ships. Von Heimburg, seeing the properly identified hospital ship, allowed Soudan to pass unmolested, but soon focused his attention on the unescorted Royal Edward some 6 nautical miles off Kandeloussa. Von Heimburg launched one of UB-14's two torpedoes from a about a mile away and hit Royal Edward in the stern. The ship sank by the stern within six minutes.
Royal Edward's crew was able to get off an SOS before losing power. Soudan, after making a 180° turn, arrived on the scene at 10:00 and was able to rescue 440 men over the next six hours. Two French destroyers and some trawlers that responded were able to rescue another 221. According to authors James Wise and Scott Baron, Royal Edward's death toll was 935 and was as high as it was, they contend, because Royal Edward had just completed a boat drill and the majority of the men were belowdecks re-stowing their equipment. Some other sources report different numbers of casualties, ranging from 132 on the low end, or 1,865 on the upper end.
Article adapted from Wikipedia.
At least 22 men from Breckland perished when the Royal Edward went down. They were all from the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment and all had previously been with the Norfolk Regiment. They are commemorated on the Helles Memorial and local memorials. They were :-
- Private JOHN ADCOCK, Saham Toney
- Private WILFRED BLOWER, Saham Toney
- Private EDWARD JOHN BUTTERS, Beachamwell
- Private SAMUEL DAVISON, Eccles and Kenninghall
- Private JOHN EDWARDS, Attleborough and Little Ellingham
- Private HERBERT SIDNEY EMMS, North Lopham
- Private ARTHUR GARROD, Mundford
- Private ALBERT JAMES HOGGETT, Threxton
- Private WALTER HOLMAN, Shipdham
- Lance Corporal TOM KEMP, Mileham
- Private HORACE ALFRED LAKE, Billingford
- Private CHARLES LINCOLN, Attleborough
- Private BERTIE EDWARD PATTERSON, Beachamwell
- Lance Corporal DENNIS PEGG, Sporle
- Private PERCY GEORGE PRENTICE, South Lopham
- Private WILLIAM GEORGE ROBERTS, Banham
- Private ERNEST RYE, Mileham
- Private ROBERT SECKER, Beachamwell
- Lance Corporal EDWARD JAMES TUTTLE, Mattishall and Welborne
- Private FRED WARD, Saham Toney
- Private PHILL WILLIAMS, Croxton and Eccles
- Private DAVID EDWARD HARRY WOODS, Attleborough