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Date: 3 April 1915


Heavy Loss of Life.

PRESS BUREAU. 6.40 p.m.
The Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement:—

The British steamship Aguila, 2,114 tons, belonging to the Yeoward Line, when on a passage from Liverpool to Lisbon, was torpedoed off Pembroke at six p.m. on March 27. The vessel sank. Twenty-three of the crew and three passengers are missing. The master and nineteen of the crew have been landed at Fishguard.

The British steamship Falaba, 4,906, owned by Elder Dempster and Co. (Limited), was torpedoed at 0.25 p.m. on March 28, to the south of St. George's Channel, and sank in about ten minutes. The ship carried a crew of about 90 persons, with about 160 passengers. About 140 survivors have been picked up, eight of whom, including the captain, died after being picked up. It is feared that many were killed by the explosion of the torpedo.

The Dutch steamship Amstel, 853 tons, belonging to P. A. Vanes and Co., of Rotterdam, when on a passage from Rotterdam to Goole, struck a mine at four a.m. on March 29 in the minefield off Flamborough. The crew have been landed in the Humber by the Grimsby trawler Pinewood.


During Monday several of the rescued passengers and crew of the Falaba were interviewed either at Milford or at Swansea and Cardiff when on their way home after their terrible experience. In some of the details there are, naturally, little discrepancies, but there is complete agreement on the point that the commander of the enemy submarine and his men behaved more like fiends than human beings. Of all tho German inhuman floutings of the rules of warfare there is no worse record than that to he now charged against these men. Unfortunately, none of the survivors seem to have fixed the identity of the submarine, and the probability is that her initial and number had been painted out. Had she been identified and her crew captured later there would undoubtedly be raised a cry for vengeance as advocated by Lord Charles Beresford. Those guilty of the murder of innocent men and women are outside the pale of consideration as prisoners of war.

Ono of the passengers said: "We were about 70 miles south-west of Milford when the submarine came within hailing distance after a run in which we were overtaken by superior speed. The Falaba could only steam twelve or thirteen knots, but the submarine was much faster. We watched their approach with agitated feelings, and when she was near enough to hail us her commander shouted in English that the Falaba must stop, and that he would sink us if his order were not immediately obeyed. Captain Davies had no alternative, and hove the ship to. The submarine commander then shouted, again in English, that we

Would be given five minutes

in which to leave the ship. Suiting his actions to his words, he swung the submarine on to our starboard quarter, about 300 yards away, and turned her bow on the Falaba amidships. While this was going on our crew were lowering the Falaba's boats as quickly as they could, but several of them did not get down properly and were upset. Thre of them were swamped, and passengers were struggling in the water. Another boat was actually half-way down in the davits, full of passengers, when the submarine fired the torpedo, without further waning. I was one of a small party of passengers and officers who had not got into the boats, and I distinctly saw the torpedo coming—in fact it came straight towards where we were standing, and we ran to the fore part of the ship to escape it. The torpedo struck our vessel about amidships, and she immediately gave a list to starboard, and went down about ten minutes after. There was a slight explosion when she was struck but it was not a very big noise—more like that of a small gun. The party, of whom I was one, jumped off the steamer into the water about four minutes before she sank. The main deck was then awash. I had previously grabbed the lifebelt which was in my cabin—in fact, all the passengers had been served with, lifebelts—and when I got into the water I seized hold of a floating buoy. I was in the water for about an hour, swimming and floating, and had to swim through wreckage and a number of dead bodies At last I was picked up by one of our own boats, together with four others, including the first officer. I had all my clothes on, the same that you see me wearing now—cap, overcoat, tennis shoes, and clothing complete—and I should never have survived but for the lifebelt and buoy."

The narrator was naturally not inclined to mince words when he described the atrociousness of the crime. "It was positively murderous," he said, "and almost incredible in its fiendishness. A five minutes' warning was too short, and most calculating in its heinous object. People were swimming around the ship, and the boat that was half-way down the davits was sent flying into the water from the shock of the torpedo, which snapped the davits. If the Germans had given us only another ten minutes I believe all the passengers and crew would have been saved. As it was, if the trawlers had not come up very few of us would have been alive to tell the tale. Not only did the submarine torpedo us so soon after the warning, but we

Could see her crew laughing at us

as the people were struggling in the water I could not see her number, which I believe had been painted out. She waited to see the Falaba sink, and then went off in chase of another steamer which was some distance away—the Dundee, I believe. Many of those who had lifebelts were drowned or died from exhaustion. The boat in which I was picked up transferred us to a trawler, which was in sight when we were torpedoed. She came round as close as she could to us, and also sent out her dinghy to pick up people who were struggling in the water. Later on three or four more trawlers came up. The crew of the trawler on which I was taken were very good to us, supplying us with warm food and clothing and rubbing down those who were half-perished. I cannot speak too highly of what they did for us. The main lot of survivors, numbering about 70, were transferred to a torpedo destroyer which came up afterwards."

The informant echoed the feelings of passengers and crew when he spoke sympathetically and regretfully of the loss of the

Gallant master, Captain Davies.

"The captain," he said, "jumped off about the same time as I did, so he was one of the last to leave the ship. There was nothing else left for him to do. He swam in the sea for a long time, and was picked up by one of the boats, but died immediately after being rescued. The submarine was flying a German ensign—something like our white ensign."

One of the survivors of the steamship Falaba (named Blair, an engineer) was, as already stated in the "Post," interviewed in passing through Landore, and fully corroborated the above story.

What Amused the Huns.

"But this was not the worst," said another survivor. "While this was going on I saw seven men upon the deck of the German submarine Laughing and jeering at the struggle of our people. After our vessel sank, and when these who had been sucked down by her came to the surface they held up their hands, making frantic efforts to grab at anything. This seemed to cause intense amusement amongst the pirates on the submarine, who laughed at and ridiculed the frantic efforts of our poor fellows, and then, after circling round the scene and making sure their dastardly work was only too well done, partially submerged their raft, and made off without offering assistance or caring whether there was any near at hand."

The Falaba's Survivors.

Reuter's Agency learns that the Falaba carried 92 first class passengers and 55 second class.

The passengers included six ladies, several doctors of the Nigerian Medical Service, and a number of officials of the various West African Government services.

The owners of the Falaba at Liverpool sup[p]ly the following list:—
1st class passengers..........52
2nd dass ditto...................34


The Aguila, a Liverpool steamer of 1,200 tons, was bound for the Canary Islands with a general cargo. Torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U 28 fifty miles off the Smalls, Pembrokeshire, on Saturday night. Of the four boats launched three containing twenty members of the crew were picked up by the Grimsby trawler Ottillie and landed at Fishguard on Monday morning. The other boat, containing thirteen men, is missing.

A member of the crew, interviewed, said the submarine was sighted about five o'clock on Saturday. The skipper of the Aguila, Captain Barnerman, forced the vessel ahead full speed, and the submarine gave chase at 18 knots, firing at the Aguila, which was being rapidly overtaken. When Captain Bannerman [sic] saw that further flight was hopeless he stopped and prepared to lower the boats. The submarine continued firing as the boats were being launched, and two men were killed and several others wounded. There were

Two lady passengers on board.

One was killed, and the other was in the missing boat. The. submarine continued fir ing for nearly two hours, and then sank the Aguila by a torpedo.

Seaman Crawley, of the Aguila, said the crew had a terrible experience whilst launching the boats, being under fire the whole of the time. Shrapnel flew in all directions, and several members of the crew were hit. Boatswain Anderson was killed whilst assisting to launch a boat, and Seaman McKirkan fell overboard after being shot, and was lost. The submarine gave the crew no chance to leave the vessel, but continued firing, and in the excitement one boat capsized, and a lady passenger, who had received a shot wound, was crushed against the side of the vessel and killed.

"Trying to Kill the Crew.'

"There was no doubt they were trying to kill our crew," said Crawley, "and it is lucky that any of us got off alive. I had to cling to a line and let, myself down into the boat with shrapnel flying around me, and the boatswain, who was by my side, received awful wounds and fell back on deck. I could see it was no use trying to do anything for him. The submarine was about 100 yards behind us. She failed to sink, our ship by firing at her, and had to torpedo her. Our boats had got some distance away, when the sea seemed to open up and swallow the Aguila. We were in the boats for about two or three hours before we were picked up by the trawler Ottillie. We lost one boat, and don't know what has become of its occupants."

Several of the men wore bandages, and Seaman Lawson had his clothing ripped and leg wounded by shrapnel. Third-officer King had a, nasty wound on the right side, and showed a piece of shrapnel embedded in the rim of his cap. Another seaman had a remarkable escape, a piece of shrapnel striking him below the eye, causing a deep wound. The men lost all their possessions, but were thankful to escape alive.


Mr. William Dobell, of Downend, in an interview, said the German submarine, which turned out to be the U36, appeared close to them at 12.30 on Sunday noon.

"We were about 50 miles south of Milford Haven at the time, having left Liverpool the previous evening. The submarine gave peremptory orders for our vessel to stop, and Capt. Davis, seeing we had no chance of escape, obeyed.

"No one came on board, but the submarine signalled that we should be allowed two minutes to take to the boats. There were only seven ladies among the passengers. In orderly fashion the boats were lowered and the passengers and crew began to fill them.

"As this was being done the submarine fired her torpedo and the Falaba was struck on her starboard side between hatches No. 3 and 4. There was a terrific explosion and our stricken vessel listed heavily to the starboard. The force of the explosion blew bundles of mails into the air. Numbers of people were still below, and a boat was being lowered from the poop when the Falaba went down.

"The ensuing scenes were ghastly. All round people were struggling in the water, and all the time the brutal Germans stood jeering. They were so close to my boat that I could have thrown a biscuit on board the submarine. They were laughing, and did not move a finger while these poor fellows drowned. They watched them in a cold-blooded manner that was absolutely fiendish. I shall always have that scene, in my memorv."


The ship's carpenter lives at Golden Grove, Llandilo, and, seen at Carmarthen Station on his way home, he stated that the submarine only gave them five minutes to leave the ship.

"The boat I was in," he added, "was filled and was cut in two. I went right under, and it is a wonder I am alive. If we had a gun on the Falaba we would have beaten the submarine easily."


(Press Association War Special).

NEW YORK, Tuesday.
In an article headed "Kultur at its Meridian," the "New York Herald" makes the following comment on the sinkirug of the Falaba :—

"There is great joy in the halls of kultur, that over a hundred non-combatants, some of them women, have been ruthlessly murdered on the high seas. It is 'The Day.'"

The "World," writing on the same subject, declares it is not war but murder, adding that, it rouses pity throughout the neutral world for the helpless victims, and abhorrence for the men in high command who order murder to be done. The higher policy of war, as waged in Berlin, began with a gigantic blunder in the invasion of neutral Belgium. It is continuing it with another in decreeing the deliberate slaughter at sea of defenceless men, women, and children.

'Jeered at the Drowning.' South Wales Weekly Post. 3 Apr. 1915. 5.

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