Service Held In Holyhead To Mark 100 Years Since Sinking Of HMS Tara And HMHS Anglia
Dozens of people were killed when HMS Tara was sunk by a German U-boat on November 5 1915, while HMHS Anglia went down 12 days later. Today being 5th November, the two tragic tales which proved to be pivotal moments in Wales’ maritime history were respectfully marked today. A special service was held at Holyhead Town Hall to mark the sinking of the HMS Tara and the HMHS Anglia, which took place 100 years ago to this month, resulting in the community of Holyhead losing dozens of its finest men to the ongoing war effort.
The first tragedy struck on November 5, 1915 when the HMS Tara was struck by a German U-boat, Just 12 days later, HMHS Anglia was sunk by a mine in the English Channel. The SS Hibernia had first come to Holyhead in 1900 to carry cargo and passengers between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire, but when war broke out, she was renamed the HMS Tara and patrolled the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland.
On October 15, 1915, she was ordered to go and relieve her sister ship, the Scotia, off the coast of Egypt. But three weeks later, on November 5 while off the coast of modern day Libya, she was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank within seven minutes.
Twelve men went down with the Tara and several dead mariners were buried on a North African beach. Four later died in captivity. Of the 109 men on board, the 94 survivors were held captive in the north African desert by Senussi tribesmen after being handed over by the German Submarine crew. The tribe forced the survivors to march for 22 days into the desert and during their ordeal in captivity; the men lived on a starvation diet of goat, rice and snails. Whilst in the camp four more men perished, a result of starvation and dysentery and were buried alongside each other in the desert.
But four months later, salvation came by way of the Duke of Westminster’s Regiment. The Cheshire Yeomanry had found correspondence written by survivors to loved ones back home, with the crew then transported to nearby Military Hospitals. But just eight days after the sinking of the Tara, the town of Holyhead was impacted by the loss of another vessel.
VIEW GALLERY: Valmau Keating, mayor of Holyhead J.V Owen, Mayoress Beryl Owen, Peter Carmichael, Commander Henaghen of the Royal Navy and the Lord Lieutenant Edmund Bailey. The SS Anglia had been used on the Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire service, was commandeered for war service by the Admiralty and refitted as an auxiliary hospital ship and renamed the HMHS Anglia.
But on November 17, disaster struck when the ship struck a mine while on its way back from Calais to Dover carrying injured soldiers. It is believed that up to 164 people lost their lives, including 25 of her crew – 23 of these being from Holyhead.
The Anglia has since been recovered with its anchor resting at Holyhead’s Newry Beach. But with so many local people killed in both incidents, feelings still run deep in the town with regard to these tragedies. At Holyhead Town Hall this morning the town’s mayor unveiled a special plaque to mark the sinking of both vessels as well as the lives that were lost.
According to Cllr J.V Owen, it’s hoped that the plaque will be given a more permanent base in the near future.
Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ann Kennedy, added: “We’ve been especially delighted this morning to welcome the families of crew members that travelled on the Tara and the Anglia. “Our maritime heritage plays a key role in the legacy of our town and we have been honoured as town councilors to be part of this event today.”