Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During last month, each weekday I posted a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War. People were kind enough to come forward with comments and information, so I'm going to continue posting during September. Many thanks for your support and interest.

Here, it's 1914 at HMS Defiance, Cornwall's naval establishment at Wearde Quay near Saltash. The month is January, before war broke out. Not really within our time frame, but the story of British submarine A.7, seen alongside her pontoon, shouldn't be lost to us.

That month, a terrible accident befell A7. One of Britain's earliest submarines, the tiny craft suffered from poor seagoing qualities and on the surface would roll at the slightest provocation.

During dummy torpedo attacks in Whitsand Bay against HMS Onyx and HMS Pigmy, A.7 failed to surface. She gave off an oil slick and the spot was marked, while naval and local vessels searched frantically for survivors. But the 11 crewmen aboard all perished; the submarine was never recovered. Cornish people were shocked by the tragedy, and contributed to a public fund set up to help the families left behind.

Attempts to salvage A.7 failed; today she still rests in Whitsand Bay. The vessel contains the remains of its crew, a controlled site under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

My new book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available on line through Waterstones, with free UK post: http://bit.ly/I47c9p

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