Report by Commander Bertram W L Nicholson RN, Late of HMS Cressy

World War 1 Naval Combat

World War 1 Naval Combat

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September 23, 1914

Sir, I have the honour to submit the following report in connection with the sinking of HMS Cressy in company with HMS Aboukir and Hogue on the morning of September 22:-

Whilst on patrol duty Aboukir was struck at 6.25 a.m. on starboard beam.  Hogue and Cressy closed and took up position, Hogue ahead of Aboukir and Cressy about 400 yards on port beam.

As soon as it was seen that Aboukir was in danger of sinking all boats were sent away from Cressy and picket boat was hoisted out without steam up; when cutters full of Aboukir's men were returning to Cressy, Hogue was struck, apparently under aft 9.2-in magazine, as a very heavy explosion took place after the first explosion.  Almost directly after Hogue was hit we observed a periscope on our port bow about 300 yards off.  fire was immediately opened and engines put full speed ahead with intention of running her down.  our gunner, Mr Dogherty. positively asserts that he hit the periscope and that the submarine then showed her conning tower, which he struck, and the submarine sank.  An officer standing alongside the gunner thinks that the shell struck only floating timber, of which there was much about, but it was evidently the impression of the men on deck, who cheered and clapped heartily, that the submarine had been hit.  This submarine did not fire a torpedo at Cressy.

Captain Johnson then manoeuvred the ship so as to render assistance to crews of Hogue and Aboukir.  About five minutes later another periscope was seen on our starboard quarter.  fire was opened, the track of the torpedo she fired at a range of 500 to 600 yards was plainly visible, and it struck us, starboard side, just before the after bridge; the ship listed about 10 deg. to starboard and remained steady - time 7.15 a.m.  All watertight doors, dead lights, and scuttles had been securely closed before the torpedo struck the ship.  all mess stools and tables, shores, and all available timber below and on deck had been previously got up and thrown over the side for saving of life.  A second torpedo fired y the same submarine missed and passed about 20 feet astern.  About a quarter of an hour after the first torpedo had hit, a third torpedo, fired from a submarine just before starboard beam, hit us in no. 5 boiler room - time 7.0 a.m.  the ship then began to heel rapidly, and finally turned keel up, remaining so for about 20 minutes before she sank at 7.55 a.m.; a large number of men were saved by the casting adrift of a pattern 3 target; the steam pinnace floated out of her crutches, but filled and sank.

The second torpedo which struck Cressy passed over the sinking hull of Aboukir, narrowly missing it.  It is possible that the same submarine fired all three torpedoes at Cressy.

The conduct of the crew was excellent throughout.  I have already reported the splendid service rendered by Captain Phillips, master of the trawler L T Coriander, and his crew, who picked up 150 officers and men.

I have the honour,

Bertram W L Nicholson, Commander, Late HMS Cressy.

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