A personal account of the sinking of the hospital ship Anglia (which struck a mine off Dover, 17th November 1915) written by Captain Manning who was in command at the time. Also lost in the incident was the steamer Lusitania.
The Anglia, which belonged to the L.& N.W.Rly.Co., was at the outbreak of war requisitioned as a commissioned ship, when, after ten months' service with the Fleet, she was converted into a hospital ship in May, 1915, from which date she was employed carrying wounded from France to England until November 17th, 1915. On this date she was lying in Boulogne Harbour with wounded on board, and we were to have sailed at nine o'clock that morning, but had orders to delay our sailing, and did not eventually depart until eleven o'clock. The day was beautifully fine and clear, and we had nothing to report until we saw our turning buoy ahead. I, being on the bridge, made the remark that we had made a beautiful course. I then went to my room to get my gloves and came out immediately and returned to the bridge. I had only just got there when there was a loud explosion and I was thrown from the bridge on to the deck below. I at once jumped up and, going to the wireless cabin, ordered the wireless operator to send the S.O.S. signal. I found his face cut and the room wrecked, and he explained to me that the apparatus was useless. I ran at once to the telegraphs to stop the ship, but found that they were broken by the explosion, and then hurrying to the voice tube I gave verbal orders to the engine room, but that also was broken.
The ship was now very much by the head, and the starboard propeller was turning clear of the water. The Chief Officer and myself, with some of the men, launched No. 2 lifeboat and lowered it to the water, where we got about fifty people into it. There were other boats being launched aft at this time, one of which I am sorry to say sank, either through being overloaded or the discharge of water from the engine-room filling it up. I kept No. 2 boat alongside until I thought the end was not far off, and then let go the forward tackle and signed to those in her to pull clear. After this boat had pulled clear I busied myself throwing life-rafts over for the use of anyone that might be in the water. At this time H.M.S. Ure came alongside and took a lot of people off, and with splendid seamanship the commander of the Ure manoeuvred his ship alongside a second time and took several more people off. I cannot speak too highly in praise of the work of H.M.S. Hazard and H.M.S. Ure.
The steamer Lusitania, which was proceeding down Channel at the time, hearing the explosion, and seeing our predicament, most bravely returned to render us assistance, launching all her boats. Our boats at this time approached the Lusitania with a view to putting their crews on board. Being on the lower bridge deck at the time, I saw them proceed to the Lusitania, but as the first man started to clamber on board the rescuing vessel there was another explosion, and the Lusitania sank stern first shortly afterwards.
There being no one on my deck at this time, and seeing no one about, I proceeded on to the next deck and went towards B Ward, but found I could do nothing as the orderlies had already got the wounded on deck. I came up and sat on the rail, not knowing then that anybody remained on board. The forecastle head was now under water, so I simply let go and slid into the sea, the water being then at my feet. I swam for a distance from the ship where I thought the suction would not take me down. Feeling rather tired, and not having any life-saving apparatus on me, I lay on my back to rest, and did not know anything more until I found myself in the doctor's cabin of H.M.S. Hazard. I take this opportunity of recording my sincere gratitude to the officers and men who so kindly attended to me and others they picked up. We eventually arrived in Dover, when I was carried ashore on a stretcher and sent to an hotel, and by that evening I was quite myself again.