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Date: 1 April 1916

Transcript:

FATE OF THE SUSSEX
GRIEVOUS DEATH ROLL.
SWANSEA GENTLEMAN ON BOARD.

It is believed that ninety-seven persons, including four Americans and many women and children, lost their lives when the unarmed cross-Channel Steamer Sussex was sunk by a German submarine on Friday. Among the saved are thirty-six British pssengers [sic]. That the vessel was wantonly torpedoed admits of no doubt, for the wake of the torpedo was seen by a number of persons.

Mr. T. W. James, the well-known Swansea solicitor, and one of the town's most able and cultured citizens, was on the Sussex, and, unfortunately, there was, up to Monday morning, no tidings of him.

No doubt is felt by those aboard the Sussex (says the Dover correspondent of the "Daily Telegraph") that, the vessel was deliberately torpedoed without the least warning, and that but for the skilful handling of the whip by the captain the loss of life would have been appallingly greater. At Ieast one American lady is among the dead, and two Americans are amongst the many people severely injured in the explosion. Sixty-nine survivors were landed at Dover from a torpedo-boat destroyer which had rescued them, and a large number of others were saved by a French trawler, which took them into Boulogne. Many of the injured were put on to a hospital ship at Dover, and others removed to hospital.

I interviewed survivors at. Dover and ob tained details of the distressing scenes which accompanied the torpedoing of the steamer ani of the subsequent further heavy loss of life by the capsizing of a lifeboat, heavily laden with women and children for the most part.

[portrait of T. W. James]
Mr. T. W. James.

The action of an untidentified sailing ship which did not render aid, although rockets were being fired by the torpedoed steamer, was strongly commented upon by the survivors. There seems to be a good deal of mystery about the ship. Mr. Edward Marshall, of the "New York Sun," who was crossing by the Sussex on his way to Paris, said:—

"I have no doubt that the ship was torpedoed. The boat which capsized was lowered from the starboard davits about opposite the smoking room, where I was standing. The boat seemed to take in a good deal of water, which must have been due to her bad condition, as I saw no sea break into her. She was very low, as there were so many people in her, and there seemed a good deal of excitement, people constantly changing places. The boat suddenly went over.

Throwing everybody into the sea.

I shall never forget me moan which came from those people as they realied that the boat was capsizng. I have been in various disasters, but have never heard so painful sound before."

The Americans on Board.

A good deal of information concerning the Americans who were on board the Sussex was given me by Mr. C. T. Crocker, of 136, Prospect-street, Fitchburg, Mass, who. with his cousin, Mr. G. H. Crocker, of the same address, Mr. W. G. Penfield, of Wisconsin, and Mr. Sargent, a Harvard man, were members of the American Field Ambulance. Mr. Crocker said that other Americans on board were Mr. Colbertson, of Princeton University; Miss Baldwin, who with her mother, had crossed the Atlantic on the same liner, the New York; another American lady, understood to be travelling for Meesrs. Wanamaker. In addition, there were also Mrs. Hilton and her daughter. Mr. Crocker said:—

"I was standing in the stern of the ship when tbe explosion occurred, right forward. Although I was several hundred feet away from it, the force of the explosion was so great that the stern deck cracked upwardsaAnd shot me up into the air. A big wave followed, and knocked everyone along the deck.

"When the lifeboat was unset there were quite a lot of W

Women and children struggling in the water,

but nothing could be done for them except to throw over small rafts and lifebuoys.

BOAT OVERTURNED.
GRAPHIC STORY OF CARDIFF DOCKSMAN.

Mr. T. W. James, the well-known Swansea solicitor, was on board the Sussex. He left Swansea, on Thursday and sailed in the Sussex from Folkestone on Friday, and the first public notification that he was on the boat came from Cardiff in the following account of the disaster, and no further tidings have been received respecting Mr. James:—

A well-known Cardiff docksman, Mr. S. W. Hansen, managing director of the firm of Hansen Bros. (Limited), Exchange-buildings, one of the survivors of the steamship Sussex, when seen at, his residence, Cliffside, Penarth, on Sunday afternoon had a thrilling story to tell of his experiences.

"I was going on a business visit to Paris," he said to our reporter, and was accompanied by a friend, Mr. W. James, the well-known Swansea solicitor. Mr. James was an occupant of the first boat which got away from the ship. It capsized very soon afterwards, and only five or six persons who were in it were picked up, and Mr. James was not one of them."

Mostly Continentals.

Proceedings, Mr. Hansen said:: "The Sussex left Folkestone at 1.30 on Friday .afternoon. It was a calm, beautiful day. There was hardly a ripple on the sea. About three o'clock the boat struck something. I thought it was a mine, because it seems that if it had been a torpedo the boat would have been damaged much more seriously than was the case. However, the captain declares that he distinctly saw the trail of the torpedo.

"There was an immediate hubbub. Most of the passengers and crew were Continentals, and as far as I know there were only about half a dozen Bri-

(Continued at foot of next column.)

(Continued from preceding column.)

tish men on board. The boat was struck in the for part [sic], and the shock blew the forepeak tank right out. It was a mercy for everybody that we were struck there and not amidship. If the torpedo bad struck us in that vital part not a single soul would have been saved.

"After the unsuccessful attempt to launch the first boat we could see passengers floating and struggling in the water, and rafts or anything that happened to be handy were thrown to their assistance. Finally, the lifeboat was lowered into the water."

Mr. T. W. James In Overturned Boat.

The captain saw the wake of a torpedo a hundred yards off. He had the helm swung hard over immediately, and it was only in the bow that the explosion occurred. Part of the bow was carried away, and the foremast fell, killing several persons. Immediately the vessel was struck the order to man boats was given, and the passengers were got into them. One boat, containing about thirty people, among whom was Mr. T. W. James, was overturned. It is believed thart several lives were lost in this mishap. Luckily, the Sussex kept afloat, as, owing to some disdirection or misunderstanding due to he breaking and repairing of the ship's wireless apparatus, it was not until late at night that the rescue of most of the passengers and crew was effected. British destroyers assisted in the work of rescue. Two Belgians among those landed at Dover have died in hospital. Survivors who have been interviewed say there was no panic, but a great deal of excitement, which subsided when it was seen that the ship was keeping afloat.

Throughout Sunday, when the news was made known that Mr. T. W. James was one of the missing, there was profound anxiety felt at Swansea. He had twice visited France during the winter in connection with his very fi?? series of lectures upon our Sea Pwer that he has been delivering for the benefit of the Navy League.


Source:
'Fate of the Sussex.' South Wales Weekly Post. 1 Apr. 1916. 3.

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