SS La Provence
|Owner:||Compagnie Generale Transatlantique|
|Builder:||Chantiers & Ateliers de St. Nazaire, Saint-Nazaire|
|Fate:||sunk by torpedo, 26 February 1916|
Known in peacetime as La Provence, the ship was refitted as a troop ship in World War I. She was designed to carry 1,960 people, and was transporting troops from France to Salonika when she was sunk by the German U-boat U-35, south of Cape Matapan. The ship listed so quickly that many of the lifeboats could not be used. There were 742 survivors. Nearly 1,000 people were killed in the sinking.
The Sydney Morning Herald for 8 March 1916, and several other English-language papers, reported:
M. Bokanowskl, a French Deputy, who is one of the survivors of the French auxiliary cruiser Provence, which was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean, narrates that a battalion of the Third Colonial Infantry was aboard. There was no lamentation, and there was no panic, though the ship was sinking rapidly and the boilers exploding.
Captain Vesco, he states, remained on the bridge, calmly giving orders, and finally cried, "Adieu, mes enfants." The men clustered on the foredeck, and replied, "Vive la France." Then the Provence made a sudden plunge, and the foredeck rose perpendicularly above the water.A British patrol and a French torpedo boat picked up the survivors after they had been 18 hours in the water. Many died or went mad before the rescue ships arrived.
- "Greatest Disaster". The Ogden Standard. 4 March 1916. p. 16.
- Halpern, Paul G. (1994). A Naval History of World War I. London: Routledge. p. 386.