One Dive to HMHS DRINA, Sadly, sunk on St David's Day 1917
off Milford Haven, Rules of engagement of Civilian Vessels
had taken a sinister & cruel change.
WE CAN NOT BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN WHICH U BOAT WAS
RESPONSIBLE SINCE THERE WERE ACTUALLY 3 WITH THE 65
number. UC65, UB65 & U65. Odds on it was UC65 under Otto
Why not MINES? (I have been down to DRINA! & seen the bow
area, undamagedx there as far aft as the start of the
Bilge Turns & start of Bilge Keels, nobody saw the Sub in
the vicinity & 2 explosions are recorded not sight of
THE REPORTED SUB RESPONSIBLE IS UC65 WHILST AS ALWAYS, LET
US LOOK FOR WHAT ELSE COULD BE EVEN JUST POSSIBLE.
THERE SEEMS CONVENIENT MEAT & COFFEE FROM THEIR (SAID TO
BE) BRAZILIAN VOYAGE, From Buenos Aires, via Lisbon &
Falmouth WHILST OTHER LISTS SHOW 4KT of LUMBER CARRIED,
WITHOUT MENTION OF WHETHER IT WAS DECK CARGO, THAT WOULD
HAVE HELPED IT CAPSIZE?, NO MENTION IS ALSO MADE OF THE
1000 TONNES OF SAND LOADED AS BALLAST FOR DRINA'S HOSPITAL
SHIP DUTIES BEING REMOVED, SO THAT MAY HAVE REMAINED IN
Some of the 15? dead are said to be interred at a local
cemetary so far I have not been able to locate them,
Complement aboard stood at 334 of which 133 crew were
listed to have survived, remarkably similar to the
complement of a serving Hospital Ship level.
The difference was far more likely to have been picked up
Patients & Passengers fom Falmouth Vessels. The 'crew
number' is remarkably similar to what had been a medical
staffed vessel crew number.
That meat plus other cargo inc perhaps deck cargo carrying
vessel from Brazil seems to have had quite a large CREW
list, for a vessel withdrawn from Hospital Ship Duties &
returning to Liverpool to go back to its Hospital Ship
189 passengers numbers seems a large number, unless
reporting data released then on the vessel activities &
movements had been not quite as they appear, mercifully no
heavy sea conditions prevailed when the Torpedo strikes
Passenger list stood at 189, all of which survived, the
first explosion was timed at 11.57 pm Saint David's Day
March the 1st 1917, this had been followed by a second
Torpedo? 45 minutes after the stroke of 12 o'clock which
places it into the 2nd of March and whilst survivors were
boarding lifeboats which were plentiful on this vessel
(see GA Drawing).
SS Drina:- A vessel of 11463 DWT Built with Quadruple
Expansion steam system at Harland & Wolff to a Royal Mail
Steam Packet vessel.
Passenger carrying and ventilation capability can be
gauged from the high standing vents plainly visible.
Master of SS Drina was Capt. C. V Fletcher of a long term
seafaring family & whose father had passed on in 1915
whilst aboard the sister vessel SS Darro, his Brother
Capt. G. Fletcher also served with the same line until he
resigned when Master of the SS Sambre.
This voyage had a chequered beginning to it's final
voyage, German Raider SMS Seagull was hunting Allied
vessels off South America and Captured lightly armed RMSP
Vessel SS Radnorshire 110 miles East of Pernambuco now
called Recife (Brazil), capture dated on the 7th January
1917 it was sunk on the 8th & 60 of the captured crew
taken aboard SMS Seagull to Germany where they were later
SS Radnorshire Master Cpt C. L. Willetts plus 11 other
crew by unlisted methods were taken aboard Japanese vessel
SS Hudson Maru then later put on Dutch Steamer SS
Hollandia, some reports mention they were transferred to
SS Drina at some stage to finish their journey, that
report lists Drina as having been actually lost to a mine.
During almost 10 or so years covering mine damage Wire
Guided Missiles M20 M22 & Exocet I did cover considerable
mine damage effect & having personally only seen the fwd
area of SS Drina hull, I can confirm that no mine related
damage is evident there on Forefoot to Bilge Keels plus
starboard forepart to Collision Bulkhead, I have not
checked the vsl Port bow area. (it was an unexpected dip &
took place after other divers had tried to cover the
sternpart, plus tide had started to pick up speed.
Another diver whose assessments down the years I have
found reliable has been on the upturned bottom of the hull
not covering or firmly identifying midsection area, no
mine type damage was encountered by him, circa midship,
others inc. one of the owners & his son have reported
visually checking stern running gear without encountering
major explosion evidence to prop blades or noting impact
damage. (A mine could on occasions also cause a wide
implosive bottom or side damage) & it does cause a
markedly different pattern to a Torpedo)
RECORDS STATE THAT DRINA WAS HIT BY 2 TORPEDOS, one
considerably after the initial strike, with Lifeboat
capacity far in excess of personnel aboard 320 or so
Survivors were rescued, most of those lost seem engine
Room personnel or below deck crew, same as likely with
Closer inspections are needed firstly on the wreck's
actual direction heading on the bottom, then determine
whether the vessel lays true, or has a broken back in it's
Joggled Plating does from the way it caved in to a RIB's
moderately weighted anchor now seem quite soft at least in
The Starboard vertical side would overhang plus affect
light if along seabed searches for Torpedo damage was
being carried out & the exhaled bubbles wd run up along
the hull at an angle, disorientating those not used to
Angles on hull structure fwd plus aft along unbalanced
rudder skeg wd help piece the angle & vessel current
layout, (rudder plate now reported to have fallen to the
seabed, along with seabed contours plus scour which may be
present will all need consideration for any (especially
air) dives. Beneath the stern on seabed large bones were
recently reported & the afterdeck was a place where a
small number of live Cattle/sheep were carried in shelter
& the Butcher you see in the pictures was one of those
responsible for slaughter & providing fresh meat for the
galley & this could well stem from such. (rather than the
'frozen meat if such was being carried & wd be in sealed
Actual Starboard Vertical side areas will lay on the Port
side of the overturned wreck, since by the vessel's
settled attitude & these may present themselves above
seabed, or after the first Torpedo did the vessel turn &
allow another Torpedo to the other side, either way, the
vessel was loaded & Torpedo impacts may be well above
actual Bilge turns & Bilge Keels.
If access to Vessel is intended, it's higher Port Vertical
side would allow safer more search access.
Later another RMSP vessel 4310 DWT SS Brecknockshire, ex
(originally) Aberystwyth Steam Nav. Co. vessel SS Salopian
was also sunk by SMS Seagull 1917 15 February, It is
unclear whether SS Drina was in the area or involved with
this & rescued personnel. (so some further clarification
re dates, personnel & transferring is called for.
SS Drina had one buff Funnel & 2 masts plus had been the
very first civilian vessel taken over in Aug 1914 as a
Hospital Ship, & for stability took aboard 1000 tons of
low loaded sand for ballast there is believed to be some
record of modifications in 1916, no record has been found
of that low loaded ballast sand's removal.
13.5 Speed, twin Propellor 500.7 ft Long with 62.3 ft Beam.
Vaguely she is 'said' but not officially declared to have
been taken from her Hospital ship duties, however was
still recorded as visited by Prince Albert who was a
patient on Royal Naval Hospital Ship DRINA for quite some
time until transferred with his Surgeon to another
Hospital Ship in Scapa Flow as a Hospital Ship July 1915 &
remained on Hire listed as a Hospital vessel at time of
sinking, his ailment was never defined.
It is believed she had gone back to commercial use capable
of carrying 75000 Quarters of beef with Refrigeration to
cope with such.
First D class vessels, SS Deseada then Demarara went into
service as Royal Mail ships, next SS Desna, SS Darro, then
SS DRINA who at the time of her sinking was said to be
carrying NO PASSENGERS in spite of having 95 first Class
38 2nd Class & 800 3rd Class capacity when troop movement
plus casualties with USA & Canadian involvement had become
Bruce Rogers had been with 2WW's /Halliburton when 'D'
Class vessels were being visited by them for recovery of
Specie, Darro in fact was too deep for profitable Sat.
Reports on USA Newspapers (there are copies here) do
repeatedly declare that SS Drina Passengers had been
rescued & local reports show around 100 to have been
saved, VERY strange to have the figure of saved to be
reduced to around a quarter of survivors readily
accountable for, it makes one think Ministry wished lesser
shock to the Wartime public..
DRINA's maiden voyage had been to a South American
Location & it is always easy to change figures relating to
an old manifest if felt warranted, those in charge of
listings wd be Ministry Parties.
Officially she was listed to be carrying (strangely from
South America, 4KT of timber or Lumber) plus 190 tons of
Carbon also some Specie which covers currencies in gold or
valued material, elsewhere Meat & Coffee is recorded.
Meat was another continually stated cargo, which to date
we can not find supporting provenance, Drina's freezer
capable holds in it's orig. GA drawings spaces are not
huge & freezer capable compartments are, positioned well
aft of midships & low in hull, originally when starting to
carry Meat 75000 quarters of Beef is listed as capacity to
be carried on hooks.
Very strange combination for a vessel which had apparently
undergone some alteration work, however true nature of
alteration is strangely not listed any more or known, in
Feb 1916 Her Hospital ship staff, many of which were
Sutton in Ashfield Ambulance plus stores which at the
start of her service were taken off.
We do have released figures on how many of SS Drina's
actual crew survived, Captain C. V. Fletcher were to have
survived the reported 2 x Torpedo attack by U Boat.
U65 was operating from Pula in Croatia & was indeed at the
end of WW1 scuttled there in the harbour.
It has always been listed as sunk by UC65 outside Milford
Haven, carrying 7 Torpedos & Mines, recorded to have been
sunk by HMS C15 Submarine circa 03 Nov 1917, however
nobody seems to have considered the approach to Milford
Haven having been mined & thus the 2 explosions, nothing
is absolutely proven thus far.
However, recently after checking the other '65' UB65 type
UB111 found off Padstow, this one could not have sunk
DRINA since it was not launched until June 1917 reported
sunk off Padstow & was found comparatively undamaged on
the seabed off Padstow & seems likely to have been
covering shipping via Bristol Newport Cardiff Barry
Swansea which has Milford Haven nearby, along with routes
from those to Falmouth English Channel plus Irish Sea to
Irish & Northward locations with heavy traffic bound for
HOWEVER DANIEL TRIMBLE IS LISTED AS SHIP'S BUTCHER,
actually it is correctly spelt DANIEL TRIMBEL, kindly
pointed out by his Grandson researcher David Peel
Daniel Trimbel was picked up after 36 hours in that
temperature Water which seems hardly possible particularly
that close to shore in range of rescuers, lifeboats etc &
David Peel as his grandson has the Discharge Cert & other
Documents supporting this serving aboard SS DRINA at the
time of sinking, so let us advise this.
WE CANNOT BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN YET WHICH U BOAT WAS
RESPONSIBLE, UB65 WAS LISTED LOST TO IT'S OWN TORPEDO
EXPLODING 10 JULY 1918 OFF UK. However UB65 has been
located off Padstow and identified by UBoat expert Innes
McCartney in 2003 in 60 metres, with hardly any external
damage & the vessel itself intact but with HATCHES OPEN
which could well indicate that escapes had been attempted.
There is a picture of a UB65 propellor in existance which
I shall ask permission to add to the page. From the
Padstow Location to Milford Approaches 4 to 5 hours (or
less) brings it to Milford entrance it seems to have been
mainly a Torpedo user UB65.
UC65 HAD BEEN LOST OFF UK SHORES TO A TORPEDO FROM ALLIED
SUB C15 under Lt. E. H. Dolphin 3 NOVEMBER 1917. & THIS
UC65 IS REPORTED TO BE & MAY WELL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
LOSS OF SS DRINA.
UC65 has been shown in some reports to be under KAPITAN
LAFRANZ, in THE FLANDERS FLOTILLA repeatedly loading Mines
& being SUCCESSFUL with 210 000 Tons of Sinkings in the
Channel WHILST THANKS TO EARNEST RESEARCH by David Peel,
it was KAPITAN OTTO STEINBRINK HAS ACTUALLY BEEN FOUND TO
BE IN CHARGE of UC65 NOV 1916 to JULY 1917 when SS DRINA
Being actually credited with the level of sinkings UC65
been needs careful sifting since it wd seem to be more
than just minelaying.
UC65 in 8 operations has been credited with sinking a
total of 94 Vessels virtually all of which lost in English
Channel plus approaches there.
As yet the damage locations from either Torpedo has not
been accurately located on SS Drina (More inspection
Research is called for on which of the numerous flotillas
were operating from Heligoland.
UC65 Has been listed elsewhere to be one of 2 successful
Uboats on MINE LAYING capacity in Channel & approaches
throughout, whether it left for Milford approach, cannot
be completely ruled out. (Does anyone have St George's
Channel & Irish Sea sinkings claims)
U65 IS THE LEAST LIKELY SINCE IT HAD WORKED MAINLY FROM A
VERY FAR OFF CROATIAN BASE AT PULA BUT DID HAVE WIDE RANGE
OF REPORTEDLY CLAIMED LOSSES SUCH AS RN VESSELS DON DIEGO
OFF MALTA 21 MAY 1917 PLUS IN UK WATERS ANOTHER VESSEL IS
RECORDED ATTRIBUTABLE to U65 OR PERHAPS EVEN RECORDED WHEN
NOT INCLUDING THE 'C' WAS GLENART CASTLE BEING LOST ON 1st
of MARCH BETWEEN HAVRE & SOUTHAMPTON, hardly truly
possible because that day is the same SS DRINA went down.
With 15 knots surface speed & 9 knots submerged speed I
suppose it is only just possible.
A earlier than the Roman Colosseum can actually be seen in
the Croatian based U65 Harbour town.
A researcher David Peel does however have record of a
crewmember, his grandfather, Daniel Trimbel, Drina's
Butcher being picked up 36 hours after the sinking and
surviving to continue sailing in sister ships, as declared
in his discharge Document which has been kept.
DAVID PEEL's RESEARCH SHOWS UC65 TO BE THE MOST LIKELY
UBOAT INVOLVED not U65 or UB65, PLEASE CONTACT US with any
Thanks in advance to anyone who does have relevant info. &
can supply it.
I shall leave all unaltered AS YET WHILST RESEARCH
CONTINUES & convey thanks to a Mr D Peel for the
following:- recd 17th Jan 2008.
My Grandfather, Daniel Trimbel, survived the sinking of
the SS Drina in March 1917, (it wasn't only the captain
who survived thankfully!) he was the, or a, ship's butcher
from Birkenhead. I have his 'Continuous Certificate of
Discharge' with some details of the sinking and his
If I can help Taff or if he would like any more
information please ask him to contact me, I found his
article very interesting.
THIS IS VERY SIGNIFICANT AND COULD ACTUALLY SEE US ADD OR
DELETE CONSIDERABLY SINCE DATA RE UB65 & UC65 is down in
44 meters off Eastbourne Sussex.
NB only UC65 and one other at the time had the distinct
mine laying tubes which allowed it to lay 18 mines then
continue it's Torpedo & deck gun activities.
1918 alone had 134 Uboats in action when Allies lost 192
ships plus 5400 personnel.
In conflict with UK Press releases particularly on USA
Newspapers (we have copies) list the SS DRINA PASSENGERS
to have been landed safely.
SS Drina was listed to have been 'protectively armed',
(armament unlisted) however being an RN vsl with such a
voyage route with Raider presence it may well have
required more than a Merchant Vessel standard 2 1/2
Pounder 'sub chaser'.
All other than one lost Crew member from Ireland, one from
Scotland and one originally from Newport S Wales seem to
be Liverpool region based & as pointed by Dave Peel seem
largely Engine Room or below decks crewmembers.
SS Drina lays upturned, on sand with her fwd parts which I
have visited visited well into the sand, she leans fwd
onto her stbd vertical side at roughly 30 degrees, anchor
chain of the inspecting vessel had to be followed to SS
Drina along a soft Sandy Bottom at depth reading of close
to 200 ft. Hawse pipes on lower side are below sand
surface level, I have not seen port bow side.
I spent a couple of years mainly on Heliox & Trimix use
daily out in Middle East, sadly I had only air to use on
the SS Drina 'dip' so had to concentrate carefully, take
care to record what was seen, get back to anchor & ascend
in plenty of time.
Much of the Baraka Terminal Oilfield was from circa 165 ft
at the Storage Tanker & other Oil jackets Flare stack
bordered at 200 ft then well over 200.
Oilfield work off Sharjah & Dubai, normally we used gas &
PP mixes, whilst when required to carry out sequences of
repet. dives with 24 hrs we wd have then have to use Air &
USN tables since no repets were made on Heliox or Trimix.
When tired & at end of a long hard working day, or several
days on repets you do need to concentrate or the old
narcose effect could creep in unnoticed & you could be
getting called up fm Surface on the comms to find where
the shackle in your hand should have gone at all or been
fitted!!!, you only had to rise 10 to 20 ft & thought
pattern usually came back, though if a diver had to be
called up, it was best to bring him off the job all the
way, rather than try to get him back onto the job.
I was very lucky not once to have been narcose down there,
'look at your line, keep concentrating on the simple
things needing to be done, keep knowing what you are down
to do, do not get distracted or look about or your thought
pattern, repeat the simple task several times or thoughts
can be ruined.
At this time the inspecting dive vessel's anchor & chain
had landed heavily on the riveted plates & ran off into
tide lee of the wreck itself onto the fine sand bottom.
It at first was a disappointment until the high off bottom
darkness of the DRINA side came into view as I approached
travelling along the anchor chain.
The SS Drina? hull which stands well proud of the seabed
towards the main traffic lines to Milford Haven n/east of
Skokholm Island charts show 34 metres depth wheras that is
clearance over the high off bottom stern at low water,
seabed it wd be worth using a 200ft or metre equivalent
When I saw her circa 1990 there was no visible Major fwd
impact damage, undulation or depressions between frames
ahead of the comparatively small bilge keels which are
compatible with size & type on the GA Drwg. which I
Having checked the GA Drawings Bilge keels size &
attachment format & dimension relating to the vessel does
fit with fabrication cnstruction shown on drawing.
No rivets missing, fwd plating firmly in situ & the only
recent damage to the fwd hull shell was on the flat bottom
roughly between fwd ends of the Bilge keels where the
diving vessel anchor had dropped from the inspection
vessel & had penetrated through a plate, plating is intact
but evidently not robustly firm.
I peered inside the hull thru that freshly caused anchor
caused opening & from vacant space ahead of what appeared
to be a collision bulkhead located (estimated) roughly
near frame #100 to rear of the forefoot I wd expect this
to be the non reinforced water ballast area.
I would have wished to accurately check the beam size of
the bessel amidship since it did seem quite narrow (but
far from impossible) to become the beam size given for SS
One reliable source has since expressed surprise at the
large midship beam dimension encountered <(has anyone been
able to check dimension at this region?)
N.B. Cross checking is justifiable since a rather smaller
vessel SS TENET was seen sinking capsized near this area
It is however remarkable that as a bottom mark of a
vessel, albeit reflecting larger than a U Boat that no
depth charging was carried out as was the practice on
static non Allied vessels giving trace or suspected on
bottom in both wars.
The inshore Merchant Vessel passage from Cornwall
Northward in towards & past Padstow area for Bristol &
Newport Cardiff Barry Swansea Milford Ports in WW2 had
been a non mined zone & thus a very strongly U Boat
operated area where sub hunter & Convoy protecting vessels
had charged about and naturally depth charged any seabed
vessels even suspected of being U Boats.
On the approach to Milford However with the turbulent high
flows up to 6 knots or more & out towards Grassholm plus
the Hats & Barrels along with Ramsey & it's Westward Reefs
the Goose race between southern ends flows of Skokholm &
Skomer would make it difficult for 9knots submerged U
Boats to negotiate & attack. The bottom peaks & walls in
the Goose Race itself, several are 20 metre chunks form
the bottom it quite surprised me at the conformity of the
Goose Race Bottom.
Torpedo attack it wd seem would be normally attempted from
starboard of an inbound vessel to keep well off the
obstructed zone to the west.
It will be interesting to locate the actual areas of the 2
x Torpedo strikes which if all is correct assumption at
least one should be somewhere along the Starboard of SS
More info seeping out, re HMHS Drina & times of
Explosions, first, 11.57 PM 1st March 1917, 'more of a
Torpedo attack seems to have been likely now, second
explosion 45 minutes past the stroke of 12 midnight taking
it into the 2nd of March.
Some of those killed & recovered buried locally,
complement aboard at the time seems remarkably large @
Survivors!! ?=189 'passengers alone!' seems a heckuva
lot?, however add to this 148 CREW!!! it does seem strange
for a vessel that size & carrying such cargo.
So much seems not to add up & such a large number of crew?
HAVING ALREADY CALLED AT FALMOUTH, was nothing discharged
there? whilst much or many could have been'taken aboard'?)
Hospitals & medical bases along South Coast in retrospect
bear a question, was more capacity & clearer Hospital
ships required for imminent Western Front Spring offensive
with USA & Canadian Involvement increasing etc..
Transferral in large numbers wd be speedier by sea, with
less publicity etc & up the river FAL for example was a
place for onship casualties transfer & alongside berthage
room, (Liners were later stored there).
Several other shore forts, bases and stations along South
Coast were in use as Hospitals, shoreside at that time,
cannot track how heavy their loads of casualties were
Vessel was lost at end of a voyage listed to have been
from Beunos Aires via Lisbon & Falmouth, with a listed
Deck Cargo of Lumber?, plus Coffee, Refrigerated Meat etc,
plus the 1000T SAND Ballast put aboard for HMHS stability
work, no record of it has discovered it being removed.
UC65 has long been the Mines plus torpedo successful
Unterzeebooten always credited, however >>>>a recently
discovered & virtually undamaged UB65, down off Padstow in
60 metres too was really well positioned on that same
inshore safely unmined area used in WW2 as well covering
Bristol, Newport, Cardiff, Barry, Swansea Milford & those
bound outwards to Ireland Irish Sea Liverpool & Northward.
Originally reported lost to it's own Torpedo in 1918 at
51.07N & 09.42W UB65 stands 6 Miles North of Padstow in 60
Meteres with open Hatches indicating perhaps escapes or
attempts to do so by the 37 man Crew. That same inshore
passage where UB65 now stands in WW2 was mined to only a
deep level so cargo vessels cd travel above it safely,
above the mines level however it accounted for at least 3
WW2 Uboats, & according to the Crayfish boys of old
The Beautiful Croatian location of PULA can be seen below
in it's modern day state, it seems far too distant &
difficult to relate to a U Boat heading to sink the vessel
pictured adjacent to it.
The name DRINA relates to a River Drina the Croatian (Now
BOSNIA eastern Border with SERBIA) in a Serbian Yugoslavia
area which has seemed in long term conflict with Croatia
as recent past Balkans affairs seem likely to continue or
even increase, let us hope not.
65 numbers shows (I think?) that at least one of the 3
UBoats bearing that 65 number had been a 63 Class Type as
seen in the picture.
The least likely to have sunk the SS DRINA was a 63 Class
U65 Built 1915 in Kiel based at Croatian Natural Harbour
of PULA, with 4 x 533 mm Torpedos & a 88mm Gun with
surface speed of 16.5kn & sumerged speed 9kn operating to
50 Metres depth. In 11 operations fm PULA 52 vessels were
Between 1914 & 1918 wartime a total of 8 Submarines were
never to return to that base.
When Pula was evacuated late in WW1 it's crew scuttled U65
& I believe it can be dived upon to this day.
A Type U 63, U65 was made.
Shipyard Germaniawerft, Kiel (Werk 249)
Ordered 17 May, 1915 Laid down 4 Jun, 1915
Launched 21 Mar, 1916 Commissioned 11 May, 1916
U65 was a petrol fuelled vessel, similar to the U86
pictured above which had been involved in some atrocities.
U65 Commanders 11 May, 1916 - 18 July, 1918 Hermann von
Fischel, who doing his duty was the Commander was in
charge at the time of SS DRINA loss.
19 Jul, 1918 - 29 Sep, 1918 Gustav Sieß
30 Sep, 1918 - 28 Oct, 1918 Clemens Wickel
Career 11 patrols
2 Jul, 1916 - 18 Nov, 1916 IV Flotilla
18 Nov, 1916 - 28 Oct, 1918 Pola/Mittelmeer I Flotilla
Successes 49 ships sunk for a total of 77.916 tons.
2 ships damaged for a total of 7.860 tons.
Fate 28 Oct, 1918 - Scuttled at Pola in position 44.52N,
13.50E during the evacuation from there.
By now, harshness of War actions has taken horrifying
aspects. In October 1916 the U-boats returned to British
waters with the obligation of applying prize rules.
Despite this restraint, they sank 337,000 tons during this
month, followed by 961,000 tons of shipping sunk between
November 1916 and January 1917.
In February 1917, the German Admiral Staff was finally
able to convince the Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg to
declare unrestricted U-boat warfare. Immediately the
sinkings went up to 520,000 tons.
One of the 2 Main Submarine Operation bases PULA in
Croatia was an Austro Hungarian location for initially
dealing with the Dardanelles & later this seemed condoned
by Italy after their entry in the War, initially in 1915
they had lost their Dreadnought Svent Istvan in an attack
on the base, later with Austrian Hungarian German & vessel
Flags changes & registrations U boats operated into the
Mediterranean and by 1917 they were operating considerably
distant fron the PULA base. (Italy had in fact declared
War on Austro-Hungarians but not Germany at this stage)so
strangely the German Flagged UBoats could use the Pula
base with comparative impunity.
Pula remains a Historically much fought over zone with
even it's end of first century BC Roman Amphitheatre still
prominently standing, largely Croat polulation.
The harshness of this campaign was unnecessarily further
driven home by two unhappy incidents, where two U-boats -
SM U-55 (Kptlt. Wilhelm Werner) and SM U-44 (Kptlt. Paul
Wagenführ) - were allegedly involved in the killing of
survivors of ships - SS Torrington and SS Belgian Prince -
they had sunk in April and July 1917. The worst case of
these kinds of atrocities was supposed to have happened on
27 June, 1918, when SM U-86 (Oblt.z.S. Helmut Patzig),
against international law and standing orders of the
Imperial German Navy, sank the hospital ship LLandovery
Castle. On top of that, he ordered his U-boat to ram the
life boats and shot at the survivors. Of a crew of 258 of
the Llandovery Castle only 24 survived. For this war
crime, Patzig and his watch officers were tried after the
war before a German court at Leipzig and were condemned to
four years imprisonment.
Other Divers (the present owners) had been on the stern
gear which is intact plus high from the seabed itself,
Sister vessel SS Darro is shown below.
Below is SS Darro which that SS Drina sinking Survivor
Daniel Trimbel quicky joined and served on.
Also is shown SS DESNA Below that is SS Demarara & Lastly
SS Deseado, later some A Class vessels wd be introduced
for their duties.
One other vessel went down in this region generally the
smaller SS TENET which was seen upside down prior to going
down & could well be worth eliminating.
Since it is only a short distance across to where the
recently located UB65 rests off Padstow. (data is scant so
please advise whatever can be confirmed)
Plus 10 Miles West of Lundy is not a sort of course to
take unless it was to travel an evasive course?.
DANIEL TRIMBEL a survivor of SS Drina kindly provided by
David Peel (Daniel's Grandson) and absolutely great
researcher who gently brings far more sensible things to
my notice than can be imagined.
The Spelling of Trimbel from Trimble has been perhaps a
'sign of the time', just a slip since on his Birth Cert.
it was again TRIMBLE, much travelled he Had been on the
ARCADIAN for the landings at Gallipoli.
Stop off at Alexandria (Egypt) sees the crewmembers
getting a Picture with Daniel at the left, prior to what
became a failed Winston Churchill plan Maritime failure.
After that Drina sinking, Daniel Trimble went on to serve
in the Darro.
Bringing about the Gallipoli Dardanelles Land Disaster
from that 1915 April 25 'Anzac Day' landing time.
The Drina is covered in the book “The fitting out and
maintenance of a Hospital Ship” by Edward Sutton. A copy
of this book is in the National Maritime museum. ve no
idea why I felt I should visit DRINA, 'could even have
been a mid life crisis hope to show the younger divers
that the old codger could still go in the 'oggin.
I was just 'in kit as a safety man!' on a visit to Drina
site by RIB along with some people that had recently
become owners of the wreck.
Some dives had taken place, it was nearing the end of a
tidal period where access was even reasonable.
I had somehow, probably through being 'the guy handy with
cameras & reports in the war zone' become well approved
for working underwater on, plus surveying shipping of all
sorts, from Supply Vessels to VLCC, ULCC & the sorts of
Super Tankers over 500,000 DWT such as Shell Battillus &
Bellamya compiling, recording & conveying findings to
Classification Societies & other factors.
Drina, HMHS Drina, SS Drina, call her what you will did
seem to intrigue me, what people were saying did not seem
to slot readily into places & visiting a vessel of circa
11000 DWT did not present a problem.
Curiosity seems all which drew me to do an unpaid drop, on
Drina, I did not cover a large area & basically
information emerging years later cloaks Drina with an
enigmatic shield of possibilities plus reasons & causes.
Some well planned, systematically recorded visits, long
after my drop on it will perhaps eventually provide fact
plus clarity for a presently clouded picture.
A sinking on St David's Day 1917 happened under full view
of Skokholm & St Annes head was virtually a local Titanic
affair, whilst facts & figures seem not to have been
confirmedly made available.
For those bothering to visit the Museum on Milford Docks
you will surprisingly find nothing, relating to a vessel
Torpedoed twice, in full view of Skokholm Island plus
mainland observation points whilst casualties had been
interred locally & well over 300 survivors rescued.
"Oh it was carrying Meat from South America" seemed the
general info available, whilst even gentle research shows
DRINA had called at Lisbon, next at FALMOUTH, where up
river Fal towards Truro, liners & Hospital Ships had been
berthed prior to DRINA proceeding to Milford Haven or was
it Pembroke Dock? Military base & Hospital, it wd take a
lot more research to uncover or confirm various aspects.
Vessels & War damaged vessels I attended in Persian Gulf
had high levels of disguised reasons, cargos,
Internationally Military equipment, sources, destinations,
shrouding movements which in war zones seems rather more
common & perhaps more noticeable & identifiable nowadays.
What becomes released to the public is what it is felt
that public may be needed to know, but then, who does not
Take a look at the listed Cargo of the vessel shown below,
it would have taken little imagination to composite or
alter plus interchange the listed losses of matter or
items. So think again!.
Here, below is another report which accounts perhaps for
12 Passengers, plus states that UC65 mine or perhaps mine
& Torpedo combination? accounted for the sinking.
Unless of course they had been landed at Falmouth which wd
have been the Norm rather than keeping them on a circular
trip to Milford Haven & then on to Liverpool. (Though that
is where they could be taken on RMSP vessels)
Another ship sailing for the Royal Mail Steam Packet
Company was sunk by the German Raiding Vessel SeaGull.
Brecknockshire was captured and sunk on February 15, 1917.
In all 11 ships of the line were lost in the war.
Radnorshire is a traditional county in Wales bordering
Captain C. L. Willatts was in command with a crew of 71
when Radnorshire departed Pernambuco, Brazil on January 5,
She was sailing for London, England and then Le Havre,
France. Her cargo consisted of 6,500 tons of coffee, cocoa
and sugar being shipped to Hard and Rand, coffee
On January 12, 1917 her captain and 11 of the crew were
transferred to the captured Japanese steamship Hudson
They arrived in Pernambuco, Brazil, four days later.
They then sailed for Lisbon, Portugal on the Dutch steamer
Hollandia on January 23. And continued the journey home on
the English steamship Drina sailing for Liverpool,
On March 1st Drina struck a mine laid by the German
submarine UC-65 off Milford Haven, Wales and sank with the
loss of fifteen souls.
The other 60 crewmen of the Radnorshire remained on
SeaGull until March 22, 1917 when she returned to Germany
and then were freed.
Pernambuco is now known as Recife, Brazil.