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Date: 22 February 1915


Cardiff Vessel Torpedoed and Four Lives Lost.
German Pirates Appear off Welsh Coast.

On Saturday a German submarine torpedoed a Cardiff steamer and sunk an Irish collier by means of bombs.

No warning was given in the first case, and as a result four lives were lost, the remainder of the crew taking to the boats and being picked up by the lifeboat.

In the second case the crew were allowed five minutes to get away.

The Queen Wilhelmina was also chased, but got away.

Three other vessels are missing.

The German pirates succeeded in netting two British steamers on Saturday, both in the Irish sea. The stsamship Cambank, 3,112 tons, owned by the Mere-Vale Shipping Company, Cardiff, was the first victim, being torpedoed without warning by a submarine off the coast of Angelsea. Four lives were lost. The second victim was the trading steamer Downshire, sunk off the Calf of Man.

Cambank's Last Voyage.

The Cambank left Huelva on Monday last for Garston. Experiencing very heavy weather in the Channel, she put into Falmouth, and later continued her voyage to Garston, and arrived off Amlwch between nine and ten o'clock on Saturday morning, and took on a pilot, in this instance Pilot Pass, of the Mersey Dock and Harbour pilots, and then continued her voyage to Garston.

When about ten miles east of Point Lynas, off the coast of Angelsea, a submarine suddenly rose about 250 yards distant, and instantly, without any challenge or warning, sent a torpedo at the Cambank.

Both Captain Prescott, in command of the vessel, and Mr. Pass, the pilot, saw the periscope of the the submarine, and almost simultaneously they saw the wash of a torpedo approaching them at a terrible speed.

The Cambank's helm was put hard over at once, but she answered slowly, and practically did not change her course to any extent, and the torpedo struck her plump amidships.

Shattering Explosion.

A shattering explosion followed, and tons of water were flung on the deck of the Cambank, which immediately began to sink, and Captain Prescott promptly ordered the boats to be lowered. There were 25 men to be saved, but only 22 answered the last call, for three who were down below at the moment of the explosion were killed outright.

All the others got into the boat, with one exception. This man became excited in jumping from the ship to the boat, and missed the boat and sank immediately.

The tremendous force of the explosion may be estimated from the fact that, though the tragedy occurred 13 1/2 miles away, people on the hills ashore distinctly heard it. There are persons who actually saw the explosion and the sinking of the ship, and gave the alarm, and in this way the Ball Bay lifeboat was notified, and hurried to the scene of the disaster, where the crew of the Cambank was found rowing several of them half-naked, and all of them hungry, cold, and wet.

The Ball Bay lifeboat took them in tow, and later on a patrol boat came on the scene and took the rowing boat in tow, and landed the men at Amlwch Port about three o'clock. Here a great crowd was waiting to see the rescued men, who, however, were taken in charge by the local agent of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society, and clothed and fed. The society further gave each of the men a railway pass to his own town.

The crew was a mixed one, but it is to their credit that there was nothing in the shape of panic. They, of course, lost everything except what they had on at the time the ship was torpedoed.

Watched by German Spies?

During the hours from 3 till 7.40 tie men rambled about the town, surrounded by hundreds of the inhabitants, who evinced the greatest hospitality to them, and followed them to the station and gave them a cheering send-off. Despite their nerve-shaking experience, the men were in excellent heart.

There were a Leyland liner and a Norwegian steamer quite near the Cambank when the latter was torpedoed, but the submarine took no notice of them, probably considering they were too fast to be dealt with. There was also another steamer, the Allerton, coming along, but, apparently, receiving a timely warning, she turned tail, and took refuge in Holyhead instead of continuing her course towards Liverpool.

The crow of the Cambank expressed the opinion that the loading of the Cambank at Huelva was watched by German spies, and that her destination and course were accurately ascertained before she left Huelva.

Hardly a Minute's Warning.

An able seaman of the Cambank, Thomas Tetlow, of Hardwick, Manchester, yesterday stated to a Press representative: "We had hardly a minute's warning. The second mate suddenly shouted, 'Submarine!' and almost immediately the vessel was struck amidships. We saw the periscope of the submarine about 200 yards away, theft the bubbling track of the torpedo making straight for us at something like sixty miles an hour. We never had a chance. The Germans just had a look at us and then let fly. At the best our ship could only do about 5 knots.

The captain put the helm hard over to get the stern in line with the submarine, but she was too slow in answering. The torpedo struck her clean amidships about a foot or two below the water-line, and the explosion threw coal and cinders high in the air. The funnel was unshipped, and but for the guy rope which held it would have crashed down upon us with certain loss of life.

The submarine never took the slightest notice of us while we were in the water and made off west.The chief engineer had luckily just come up when she struck, and his watch stopped at 11.5. The hatches were blown into the air and the mate, who was in his cabin at the time, had to swim out, the cabin being immediately flooded.

Rescued by Lifeboat.

"The Cambank was not long afloat after being torpedoed. She sank in about twenty minutes, and seemed suddenly to split amidships. Her bow and stem rose in the air—it was a wonderful sight—and then she sank beneath the waves. If it had been blowing we should never have been saved. We rowed until three in the afternoon, and were then picked up by the lifeboat. Then a destroyer came up, took us on board and rushed us to Amlwch."

In answer to further questions, Tetlow said they had been warned to look out for submarine, and at Gibraltar received orders to fly a neutral flag or none at all, so they new no flag. A big liner passed the Cambank only half an hour before the disaster, but she was going at good speed. Another ship was quite near when the Cambank was torpedoed. "As soon as we were struck," said Tetlow, "she steered for Point Lynas, ten miles away, and with her 10 or 11 knot speed she got clear."


The steamer Downshire, of Belfast, was sunk on Saturday evening, six miles off the Calf of Man, by a German submarine.

The crew were ordered to their boats, which were later picked up by a trawler bound for Larne, and towed to Dundrum Bay, county Down, when they were able to row ashore.

The Downshire was a vessel of over 300 tons, owned by the East Downshire Shipping Company.

The submarine which sank the Downshire was the U12, says the chief engineer of the Downshire, but many people here think it must have been the U21.

The Germans fired three shots before Captain Conor hove to. Five of his crew were taken on board the submarine, their lifeboat being utilised to row a German officer to the Downshire to place bombs amidships in the water. These destroyed her in a few minutes.

After her crew, who had been given five minutes to leave, had turned adrift in their own boats and picked up by a trawler, one boat broke adrift; but the other boat was safely towed to Dondrum with the entire crew.

The Lost Vessels.

The Cambank has never been to Swansea, but the Downshire has occasionally visited the port.

A Desperate Chase.

After sinking the Cambank the German submarine afterwards gave desperate chase to a Sunderland vessel, the Queen Wilhelmina.

"I happened to lie looking in the direction of the Cambank," one of the officers of that boat told me, "when there was a disturbance in the stretch of water between us. We were not more than half a mile apart. I realised at once that a torpedo had been fired from a submarine, I counted twenty during the time the missile was travelling to its mark.

"We had just taken on Pilot Shaw, and it was thanks in no small measure to him that we escaped the Cambank's fate."

Missing Ship.

A Ramsay, Isle of Man, message to the underwriters states that a lifebuoy and boat chocks belonging to the Whitehaven schooner Maggie Barratt, with coal, have been washed ashore.

The steamer Membland left Hull for the Tyne on Monday of last week, and has not since been heard of.

It was reported in Lowestoft on Saturday that the smack White Heather had foundered in the English Channel, and there was no news of the crew.

Dutch Convoys.

It is believed that the prominent representatives of the three Scandinavian Governments now meeting in Copenhagen will recommend a proposal that a fleet of Government convoy ships should escort Scandinavian merchantmen through the North Sea "war zone."

The idea is to buy twenty or thirty big trading steamers, man them with naval officers and crews, probably change the ships' names, paint them in naval colours, and let them fly Scandinavian naval flags.

Huge crowds gathered along the quays at Amsterdam on Sunday to watch the departure of eight Dutch merchantmen, all painted in the national colours.

These ships met others at Ymuiden, and an imposing mercantile armada left to cross the "war zone" for their respective destinations.

What Pirates Have Done.

The piracy campaign of the German Admiralty has been in force four days. The result to date is as follows:—

Cardiff steamer. Cambank, torpedoed Saturday off Anglesey.

County Down steamer Downshire, sank Saturday near the Calf of Man.

Norwegian steamer Belridge, torpedoed February 19 th. Damaged.

French steamer Dinorah, torpedoed February 18th. Damaged.

On the debit side of the German account may be placed the
two modern dirigibles L3 and L4, wrecked off the Danish coast while hunting for prey.

"Without Warning." The Cambria Daily Leader. 22 Feb 1915. 7.

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