From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Allen Family: ‘Thomas James Allen’: Courtesy of Pam Dray


The ship on which Thomas James Allen lost his life on that fateful day of 8th August 1915

This picture shows the ship on which Thomas James Allen lost his life on that fateful day of 8th August 1915. This ship, named the Duke of Lancaster, was built in 1895 and it was used as a ferry between Liverpool and Douglas. At the end of the 1914 season she was taken over by the government and fitted out by Cammell Laird and Company, arming her with two twelve pounder guns positioned port and starboard under the Captain’s Bridge. Her crew numbered ninety eight and in November 1914 she sailed to Scappa Flow and joined ships of all sizes awaiting orders. The Ramsey, joined by two other ships, was sent on patrol duty and its last patrol resulted in its sinking on August the 8th 1915.

The Ramsey was deceived by a German ship disguised as a Russian tramp steamer and when the Ramsey got closer to the ship the Russian flag was pulled down and the German flag hoisted up, firing machine guns and torpedoes. The Ramsey sank in four minutes. There were forty six survivors that the German ship “Meteor” picked up on its way to Zeebrugge. Much to the crew’s surprise, they were treated very well.

In the meantime the “Cleopatra” was on its way to rescue the Ramsey’s survivors. When the “Meteor’s” Commander saw the large battleship coming he decided to off load the prisoners onto one of the Norwegian fishing vessels near him. When the “Cleopatra” gave orders for the British to steer a course for the Germans, who were apparently sailing under a neutral flag, the German Commander and some officers placed a time bomb fuse and blew the “Meteor” up to avoid capture. The German crew made off in a Danish fishing vessel, and it was the Arathusa that eventually rescued the English. They landed at Harwich on the Tuesday afternoon and were sent to Shotley barracks.

Courtesy of Pam Dray


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