The Holt Family at War


On the morning of 22 September, the cruiser Hogue and her sisters ships, Aboukir and Cressy, were on patrol in the North Sea without any escorting destroyers (which had been forced to seek shelter from bad weather). The three  were in line abreast, about 2,000 yards  apart, at a speed of 10 knots ( 12 mph). They were not expecting submarine attack, but they had lookouts posted and had one gun manned on each side to attack any submarines sighted. The weather had moderated earlier that morning and eight destroyers were en route to reinforce the cruisers .

U-9, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen, had been ordered to attack British transports at Ostend, but had been forced to dive and take shelter from the storm. On surfacing, she spotted the British ships and moved to attack. She fired one torpedo at 06:20 at Aboukir that struck her on the starboard side; the ship’s captain thought he had struck a mine and ordered the other two ships to close to transfer his wounded men. Aboukir quickly began listing and capsized around 06:55. As Hogue approached her sinking sister, Captain Wilmot Nicholson realized that it had been a submarine attack and signalled Cressy to look for a periscope although his ship continued to close on Aboukir as her crew threw overboard anything that would float to aid the survivors in the water. Having stopped and lowered all her boats, Hogue was struck by two torpedoes around 06:55. The sudden weight loss of the two torpedoes caused U-9 to broach the surface and Hogues gunners opened fire without effect before the submarine could submerge again. The cruiser capsized about ten minutes after being torpedoed, as all of her watertight doors had been open, and sank at 07:15.

Victories of U-9 on a postcard

Cressy attempted to ram the submarine, but did not hit anything and resumed her rescue efforts until she too was torpedoed at 07:20. She too took on a heavy list and then capsized before sinking at 07:55. Several Dutch ships began rescuing survivors at 08:30 and were joined by British fishing trawlers before the destroyers arrived at 10:45. The combined total from all three ships was 837 men rescued and 62 officers and 1,397 ratings lost. Hogue lost 377 men.

Information from Wikipedia


Documents kindly made available by Gerald Holt’s granddaughter Briony.

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