3 December 2012

What Became of UC-5?

As the West Ham Battalion sailed to France on November 17th, 1915, their ship SS Princess Victoria was soon delayed in her journey to allow the hospital ship (HS) Anglia to enter port.

Commanded by Captain Lionel J Manning, the HS Anglia was returning from France full of evacuated wounded. In a sudden flash she struck a mine, laid earlier that morning by the German submarine UC-5. Captain Manning was blown from the bridge to the deck below in the explosion but regained his senses long enough to order the lowering of lifeboats. The Anglia began to sink, bow first, and extremely quickly taking one hundred and twenty-nine lives with her. Ships and boats made frantic efforts to assist in the rescue. One ship was sunk by yet another mine, although without any further loss of life.

With this unsettling welcome to the war for the Hammers, SS Princess Victoria resumed steaming her slow passage as a sea fog began to obscure the English coastline.

SS Princess Victoria

But what became of the submarine UC-5, which had laid the mine?

Incredibly, she was captured a year later and sent to be displayed on the Thames. The noise was incredible as she entered the Pool of London with every ship blowing it's horns in triumphant celebration. Moored at Temple Pier she was visited by many thousands of Londoners.

Finally, by October, she was hoisted up on-board another ship and sailed off to the USA, arriving in New York and ending up in Central Park to become a fund raising display.

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