Dyddiad: 26 Chwefror 1915


A German submarine, either U 12 or U 21 has appeared again in the Irish Sea. There she has sunk two British steamers, the "Cambank," of Cardiff, a vessel of 3000 tons, and the small Irish collier "Downshire."

The Cambank," laden with copper, etc., and bound from Huelva for Garston, was torpedoed without warning at eleven o'clock on Saturday morning, about five miles off Amlwch, Anglesey. The third engineer and two men were killed and the donkeyman was drowned. The remainder of the crew saved themselves in their own boat, and eventually were towed to Amlwch Port, where they were taken charge of by the local agent of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society. The vessel had just taken the Liverpool pilot on board and resumed her journey when she was torpedoed.

The coal steamer "Downshire," belonging to the East Downshire Steamship Company, was stopped off the Calf of Man about five o'clock in the evening. The master, Captain Connor, and the crew were given five minutes to leave the vessel before it was sunk. The crew, in the ship's boats, landed at Dundrum, County Down. The "Downshire" was a small steamer of 365 tons, and was built in 1898.

The crew of a vessel which docked at Liverpool during Saturday stated that about a quarter to ten o'clock they spoke the "Cambank," who warned them that there was a submarine about. Both vessels were bound for Liverpool, but the "Cambank" was much the slower of the two, and while the faster boat reached port without incident, the "Cambank" met with disaster. Lloyd's agent at Holyhead stated that the captain of the Liverpool pilot steamer reported having, at 11.15 on Saturday morning, put a pilot aboard the "Cambank." Fifteen minutes later she was torpedoed by a submarine, and sank in twelve minutes.

The "Cambank" loaded at Huelva, Spain, a cargo of about 4800 tons of pyrites and copper ingots, the latter consisting of about 800 tons. She left Huelva a week ago 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 ton o'clock on Saturday morning, and, as usual with Liverpool-bound boats, 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, a submarine suddenly appeared about 306 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 tho periscope of the submarine, and almost simultaneously they saw the trail of a torpedo approaching them at a terrific speed.

The "Cambank's" helm was put hard o-vet at once, but she answered but slowly, and practically did not change her course to any extent, and the torpedo struck her plump amidships. 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 21 answered the last call, for three who were down below at the moment of the explosion were killed outright.

All the others got safely into the boat with one exception, who, being excited in jumping from tho ship to theboat, missed the boat and sank immediately.

The tremendous force of the explosion may be estimated from the fact that, though the tragedy occurred thirteen and a half 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 Bull Bay lifeboat was notified and hurried to the scene of the disaster, where the crew of the "Cambank" was found rowing about, several of them half naked, and all of them hungry, cold and wet. The Bull Bay lifeboat took them in tow, and later on a patrol boat came on the scene and took both in tow and landed them at Amlwch Port about throe 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 and warmed. This, it may be noted, was done by the society, although only one of the rescued men was a member of the society. The society, furthermore, gave each of the men a railway pass to his own town, for which they all left by the mail train.

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

During the hours from 3 till 7.40 the 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 was a liner and a Norwegian steamer quite near the "Cambank" when the latter torpedoed, but the submarine took no notice or them, probably considering they were too fast to be dealt with. There was also another steamer coming along, but apparently receiving a timely warning, she turned tail and took refuge in Holyhead instead of continuing her course to Liverpool.

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

Pilot Pass, interviewed on his return home to Egremont, said he was with, the captain and second mate on the bridge, when the second mate called out, "There is a submarine's periscope." Immediately afterwards they saw the ripple of an approaching torpedo. They put the helm hard to port and tried desperately to clear, but there was no time. It was all over in a few seconds.

The torpedo was fired at a distance of not more than 200 yards. It struck the vessel abaft the bridge, and the explosion blew out the funnel and caused tons of water to tumble on to the deck. It seemed as if the vessel was going down instantly, but as a matter of fact the survivors had been in the boat ten minutes before she disappeared beneath the waves.

Mr Pass mentioned that one of the boats had already been swung out in readiness, since they heard that there was a submarine in the neighbourhood, and the other boat was being prepared when they were attacked. They had not expected to see a submarine so short a distance from Point Lynas.

The first mate had the utmost difficulty in escaping from the cabin owing to the rush of water, and had a narrow escape of losing his life. The cargo of the steamer included some 300 tons of iron ore and 800 copper ingots.

Mr R. C. Baxter, Victor House, Llandudno, writes:— I was a fellow passenger on Saturday with the crew of the 'Cambank,' from Llandudno Junction to Liverpool. The men were loud in their praises of the hospitality of the Amlwch folk, in succouring them in their distress. One man, Joseph Bunbury, said he should not forget the kindness shown him as long as he lived. They were anxious that the people of Amlwch should know of their gratitude. It was, sir, a great pleasure to see how bravely these men took their misfortunes, and the same spirit pervades them that animates the whole nation. They are not daunted and are ready again to follow their calling in spite of submarines. This same spirit will carry us through this terrible war at any cost to a final and complete victory over all our enemies."

The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality

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