Some of the earliest Old Dragons will remember Regie Tyrwhitt, whose father was vicar of St Mary Magdalen’s here in Oxford. Regie joined the Navy straight from the OPS in 1882, by way of the training ship HMS Britannia.
Now Commodore in charge of the Harwich Force on HMS Aruthusa, he was involved last month in an action off Dogger Bank, about which we have received the following account (from an unknown source) of the sinking of the German battleship ‘Blucher’.
“The ‘Lion’ led the British line and began to pour upon the ‘Blucher’ the deluge of shells which crippled her, but by the time the ‘Blucher’ had ceased steaming, the ‘Lion’ herself had been hit by a chance shot and her speed reduced. At this moment the ‘Arethusa’ was at hand. In spite of the aircraft, submarines and the fire of the big guns she went at full speed towards the damaged ‘Blucher’. When close in, the ‘Arethusa’ swung round. She was greeted with a salvo from the ‘Blucher’ at short range, but every shot went wide. They were the last the ‘Blucher’ fired. Before the smoke had cleared the ‘Arethusa’ discharged two torpedoes and both got home.”
A member of the Arethusa’s crew described the scene on the deck of the ‘Blucher’.
“They drew themselves up on the deck in lines when they knew all was over and then, taking off their caps, gave three cheers.
We steamed in as close as we could and shouted to them to jump, which lots of them did just before she heeled over. We had boats out in no time and picked up 197 altogether. They were mostly black and blue with cold – but all they wanted was some fags.”
Another account noted that “each of the German sailors had been provided with special life-saving apparatus – a cork belt and an inflatable apparatus fastened about the shoulders. The latter was made of rubber and is about 24 ins. long by 10 ins. wide; it can be blown up by the wearer in a moment and is so made that when in use the air-feed pipe comes opposite the mouth. The Germans declared that any sailor who loses this article is liable to a fine of 11 shillings.
As the Germans were helped into the boats a strange scene took place. They took every article of value they were wearing, such as rings, purses and watches and implored our men to accept them as tokens of their gratitude. ‘On land,’ said one, ‘we can beat you, but here, no.’”