The First Mersea Casualties of WW1


Early on 22nd September 1914, HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy were patrolling in the North Sea 60 miles off the Dutch coast.

Their task was to protect ships in the North Sea which were carrying supplies between Britain and France. However, the ships were considered obsolete and were crewed largely by naval reservists.

Because of the age and inexperience of the crews the Squadron was considered to be at high risk and had earned the nickname “the Live-Bait Squadron”.

They were attacked by U-Boat U9 which fired a torpedo at Aboukir which broke the cruiser’s back.

The Hogue came to the Aboukir’s aid and was herself torpedoed, as was the Cressy when she steamed in to help.

All three ships were sunk and amongst the 1,459 souls lost were two men from Mersea:

Yeoman of Signals Ralph Cutts Avis (Ralph Mussett) on the Cressy, and

Leading Stoker, Thomas Edward Funnell on the Aboukir.

A number of the survivors were picked up by Dutch fishing vessels and a number of Dutchmen attended a commemoration event held at Chatham Historic Dockyard over the weekend.




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