Published By Ben Hillidge
Hired Military Transport (HMT) Royal Edward. 13 August 1915
Oral Account of the sinking of HMT Royal Edward – Reel 2 from about 8.00 minutes (IWM 8226). Private Arthur John Bonney, 2 Bn South Wales Borderers, survivor of HMT Royal Edward sinking
The SS Royal Edward was a passenger liner, built and commissioned in 1907. At the outbreak of war she was owned by Canadian Steamship Company and was operating on the North Atlantic routes. She was commandeered for war service as a troop ship and designated HMT Royal Edward. Her first trip was to bring over troops of the Canadian Divisions. She then spent time moored up as an internment facility for aliens. In July 1915 she was assigned to take British troops to the Dardanelles. She left Avonmouth on the 15 July with about 1400 troops and 220 crew aboard. Most of the men were destined as reinforcements for the fighting at Gallipoli but there was also a large contingent of men from the RAMC. It was an uneventful voyage down to Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean to reach Alexandra on 10 August. Alexandra was a staging post for the Dardanelles campaigns. Royal Edward left the next day for the two day run across the Mediterranean, the ship sailed alone with no warship escort. At 9.00am on the 13 August she was torpedoed by submarine UB14 as she was passing the Aegean island of Kandeloussa near to Kos.
The torpedo hit the Royal Edward at the stern. The men on board had just completed a boat drill and were returning to their berths. There was confusion and chaos as the men below, in trying to get up and out, met those returning down to below. The ship went down in about 6 minutes. It is estimated that about 600 survivors were picked up but figures are unreliable. Of the crew, about 130 were lost.
SS Royal Edward Society the web site has a full account of the sinking and of the history of HMT Royal Edward.
GOOGLE MAPS approximate location of Royal Edward wreck site, 6 miles west of the island of Kandeliusa, Aegean Sea. However, an alternative wreck site is given at 36° 31’N, 25° 51’E, about 60 miles west of Kandeliusa.
References and Sources U Boat.net
B&O ALL YEARS. Sea War. Hired Military Transport (HMT) Royal Edward. 13 Aug 1915