Published By Ben Hillidge
SS Mariston. Sea Area Shannon, SW Ireland. 10 July 1917.
SS Mariston was a 2900 ton steam cargo ship. Built by Russell & Co at Greenock and launched in 1914 and owner by WS Miller & Co, Glasgow.
The SS Mariston was en route from Alermiria, Spain to Glasgow with a cargo of copper ore when she was torpedoed by U45 about 80 miles west of Fastnet off the southern coast of Ireland. The ship was hit twice and sank rapidly. The second explosion destroyed the mid-ships bridge sections where John Stubbs, as Master, probably would have been. He was therefore spared the more gruesome fate awaiting his crew. The sinking was reported in the Times under the headline ‘Torpedoed Crew Devoured by Sharks’….. ‘another instance of the barbarity of German submarine commanders’. The article goes onto to recount the events as told by the sole survivor, the ship’s cook. He managed to get off the ship with another 17 survivors and was clinging to wreckage. Then, through the gloom, they saw the submarine surface ‘a large craft painted jet black‘ and approach them. A hatch in the conning tower opened and an officer appeared and began to observe the scene through binoculars. He ignored the cries for help from the men in the water although it would have been easy to pick them up. Suddenly one of the men screamed and disappeared beneath the waves, a moment later a second man suffered the same fate. A school of sharks had arrived and they set to inflicting ‘horrible death in the jaws of these monsters. The scene was too much even for the U boat commander, for he closed the trap door of the conning tower and submerged his vessel’. 28 men were lost. the cook was picked up 15 hours later. The U boat commander was Kapitänleutnant Erich Sittenfield. He would be killed about 2 months later when U45 was torpedoed off the west coast of Scotland.
B&O ALL YEARS. Sea War. SS Mariston. 10 July 1917.