List of hospital ships sunk in World War I
During the First World War, many hospital ships were attacked, both on purpose or by mistaken identity. They were sunk by either torpedo, mine or surface attack. They were easy as well as tragic targets, since they carried hundreds of wounded soldiers from the front lines.
A hospital ship (HS) is designated for primary function as a medical treatment facility or hospital; most are operated by the military forces or navies of various countries around the world, as they are intended to be used in or near war zones. Hospital ships were covered under the Hague Convention X of 1907. Article four of the Hague Convention X outlined the restrictions for a hospital ship:
- The ship should give medical assistance to wounded personnel of all nationalities
- The ship must not be used for any military purpose
- Ships must not interfere or hamper enemy combatant vessels
- Belligerents as designated by the Hague Convention can search any hospital ship to investigate violations of the above restrictions.
If any of the restrictions were violated, the ship could be determined as an enemy combatant and be sunk. Investigators from neutral countries like Spain were allowed to inspect hospital ships to confirm that Article Four wasn't being violated.
The high command of Imperial German viewed Allied hospital ships as violating the Hague Convention and ordered its submarine forces to target them as part of their Unrestricted submarine warfare on Allied shipping. Even with the inspections from neutral countries the German High command alleged that hospital ships were violating Article Four by transporting able-bodied soldiers to the battleground. The biggest hospital ship sunk by either mine or torpedo in the First World War was Britannic, the sister of Olympic and the ill-fated Titanic. Britannic hit a mine on November 21, 1916; 30 people were killed, but the rest of the crew and passengers were able to escape. The largest loss of life caused by the sinking of a hospital ship would be Llandovery Castle. The ship was hit by a torpedo from the German U-boat U-86 on June 27, 1918. Shortly thereafter, the submarine surfaced and gunned down most of the survivors; only 24 were rescued. After the war, the captain of U-86, Lieutenant Helmut Patzig, and two of his lieutenants were charged with war crimes and arraigned for trial, but Patzig disappeared, and the two lieutenants both escaped after being convicted and sentenced to prison. The Allies weren't the only ones who had their ships attacked at the beginning of the war, the German hospital ship Ophelia was seized by British naval forces as a spy ship and near the close of the war the Austrian hospital ship Baron Call was unsuccessfully attacked by torpedo on October 29, 1918.
Hospital Ships sunk
|Name||Image||Nationality||Date||Location of wreck||Cause||Lives lost||Note|
|HMHS Anglia||UK||17 November 1915||One mile east of Folkestone Gate||Struck mine that had been laid by German U-boat UC-5||134|||
|HMHS Asturias||UK||20 March 1917||6 miles off Start Point [A 1]||Torpedoed by German U-boat UC-66||35|||
|HMHS Huntley [A 2]||UK||21 December 1915||.75 miles (1.21 km) off the Boulogne LV.||Torpedoed by German U-boat German U-boat UB-10||2|||
|HMHS Britannic||UK||21 November 1916||Aegean sea||Struck a mine laid by German U-boat UC-73||30|||
|HMHS Dover Castle||UK||26 May 1917||Mediterranean Sea||Torpedoed by German U-boat UC-67||7|||
|HMHS Donegal||UK||17 April 1917||19 miles south of the Dean lightship on passage Le Havre for Southampton||Torpedoed by German U-boat UC-21||40|||
|HS Elektra||Austria-Hungary||18 March 1916||Off Cape Planka||Torpedoed by French submarine Ampère. Out of service until early Sep 1916; returned to her owner 04 Dec 1916||2|||
|HMHS Galeka||UK||28 October 1916||French coast, near Le Havre||Struck a mine laid by UC-26||19|||
|HMHS Glenart Castle||UK||26 February 1918||Bristol Channel [A 3]||Torpedoed by German U-boat UC-56||162|||
|HMHS Gloucester Castle||UK||30 March 1917||en route from Le Havre to Southampton[A 4]||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-32||3|||
|SS India||Greece||12 April 1917||Greek hospital ship India being sunk in the Mediterranean Sea, east of Gibraltar, by German U-boat SM U-35 U 35 (Captain Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière), 12 April 1917. [A 5]||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-35|| |
|HS Koningin Regentes||Netherlands||06 June 1918||21 miles East of Leman lightship||Torpedoed by German U-boat UB-107||7|||
|HMHS Lanfranc||UK||17 April 1917||English Channel||Torpedoed by German U-boat UB-40||40|||
|HMHS Letitia||Canada||1 August 1917||Portuguese Cove, Halifax Harbour||Grounded out due to a pilot error in heavy fog||1|||
|HMHS Llandovery Castle||Canada||27 June 1918||off southern Ireland||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-86||234|||
|HS Marechiaro||Italy||21 February 1916||Off Cape Laghi, Durazzo, Albania||Struck a mine laid by German U-boat UC-12||33|||
|HS Oceania||Austria-Hungary||04 October 1918||Between Cape Rodoni and Durazzo||Mined and beached near Cape Rondoni, and on October 15, 1918 was blown up by the Austrians to avoid falling into Italian hands.||?|||
|HS Portugal (Португаль)|| Russia
(French crew, Russian medical staff)
|17 March 1916||Near Rize Province off the Turkish coast in the Black Sea||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-33 [A 6]||90|||
|HMHS Rewa||UK||4 January 1918||13 miles off Hartland Point, UK||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-55||4|||
|HMHS Rohilla||UK||30 October 1914||Saltwick Nab, one mile south of Whitby||Struck Whitby Rock||84|||
|HMHS Salta||UK||10 April 1917||near Le Havre, France||Struck a mine laid by German U-boat UC-26||130|||
|HS Tabora||German Empire||23 March 1916||Dar es Salaam harbour, East Africa||Sunk by gun fire of the English battleship HMS Vengeance and the cruiser HMS Challenger||?|||
|HS Tirol||Austria-Hungary||16 April 1916||Off Durazzo||Mined. Returned to service 07 Oct 1916||40|||
|HS Vpered (Вперёд)[A 7]||Imperial Russia||8 July 1916||In the Black Sea, between Batoum and the Rize Province off the Turkish coast||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-38 [A 8]||7|||
|HMAT Warilda||Australia||3 August 1918||English Channel||Torpedoed by German U-boat UC-49||123|||
- "Asturias" was beached near Bolt Head, but the damage was so extensive that she was declared a total loss. The government then bought and salvaged her, and she became a floating ammunition hulk at Plymouth for two years.
- Formerly known as the German hospital ship Ophelia, seized by the British and changed to Huntley
- Glenart Castle hit a mine between Harve & Southampton on January 3, 1917 but did not sink and was able to make it to port for repairs
- Ship was raised, salvaged and returned to service in 1919; in the Second World War she was sunk by Michel in 1942
- Imperial War Museum says that it is a hospital ship; Uboat.net says its cargo is coal
- 1916 New York Times article claims that it was sunk by a Turkish sub
- Also transcribed as Vperiode, Vperyod, or Vperiod, sometimes mistranscribed with an l instead of i
- 1916 New York Times article claims that it was sunk by a Turkish sub
- "Hospital Ships". Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
- "Convention for the adaptation to maritime war of the principles of the Geneva Convention". Yale University. October 18, 1907. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
- R.H. Gibson, Maurice Prendergast. The German Submarine War 1914-1918 (2002 ed.). Periscope Publishing Ltd. pp. 285, 438. ISBN 1-904381-08-1.
- Crispin Sadler and Wayne Abbott (2006). "Deep Wreck Mysteries - Red Cross Outrage" (TV Show). History Television. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
- "Britannic". Public Broadcasting Service. 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Marc Leroux (2008). "The sinking of the Canadian Hospital Ship". Canadian Great War Project. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- pg 312 - R.H. Gibson, Maurice Prendergast. The German Submarine War 1914-1918 (2002 ed.). Periscope Publishing Ltd. p. 312. ISBN 1-904381-08-1.
- "Hold German Hospital Ship" (PDF). The New York Times. May 22, 1915. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
- John Beech (2004). "AH Navy". coventry.ac.uk. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
- "British Hospital Ship sunk, 85 lost". The New York Times. November 18, 1915. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Asturias". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- "31 ON HOSPITAL SHIP KILLED BY U-BOAT". The New York Times. Mar 27, 1917. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- "HMHS Asturias". roll-of-honour.com. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- The war on hospital ships, with narratives of eyewitnesses, and British and German diplomatic correspondence (1918) (1918 ed.). New York and London : Harper & brothers. pp. 14–15. - Call number: SRLF_UCSB:LAGE-315170
- "Kirsten – The Fleets". The Ships List. 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Huntly". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- "HMHS Dover Castle (+1917)". wrecksite. 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
- "SS Donegal (+1917)". wrecksite. 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Donegal". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "SS Donegal". clydesite.co.uk. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "U-BOATS DESTROY 2 HOSPITAL SHIPS". The New York Times. April 22, 1917. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN HOSPITAL SHIPS OF WORLD WAR I". jeffdonofrio.net. 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
- "TEUTON HOSPITAL SHIP SUNK IN THE ADRIATIC" (PDF). The New York Times. March 20, 1916. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
- Marc Leroux (2008). "SS Galeka (+1916)". wrecksite. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "Hospital Ship Sunk by a U-Boat" (PDF). The New York Times. February 28, 1918. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
- Imperial War Museum (2017). "THE GERMAN NAVY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, 1914-1918". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Helgason, Guðmundur (2017). "India". Uboat.net. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Koningin Regentes". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- "PSS Koningin Regentes (+1918)". wrecksite. 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- "Booth Line's S.S. "Lanfranc" 2". bluestarline.org. September 25, 2005. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
- "Letitia - 1917". http://museum.gov.ns.ca. 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011. External link in
- "SS Letitia". wrecksite. 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Marechiaro". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- "Ships used in Immigration". jeffdonofrio.net. 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
- The War on hospital ships, from the narratives of eye-witnesses (1917) (1917 ed.). London : T. Fisher Unwin. p. 1. - Call number: SRLF_UCLA:LAGE-3563453
- "War of the U-Boats" (PDF). The New York Times. July 28, 1918. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
- "SS Rohilla (+1914)". wrecksite. 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "HMHS Rohilla". roll-of-honour.com. 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Leroux, Marc (2008). "HMS Salta". union-castle.net. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
- Kigoma (1914), 2011[better source needed]
- "SS Tabora (+1914)". wrecksite. 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- The war on hospital ships, with narratives of eyewitnesses, and British and German diplomatic correspondence (1918) (1918 ed.). New York and London : Harper & brothers. p. 11. - Call number: SRLF_UCSB:LAGE-315170
- "Peace Movement Diverts Attention at Year's End from Battlefields to Chancelleries of Belligerents and Principal Neutral Capitals." (PDF). The New York Times. December 31, 1916. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
- П.Г.Усенко (P.G.Usenko), IСТОРIЇ ВЕЛИКОЇ ВIЙНИ 1914–1917 рр. НА ЧОРНОМУ МОРI (From the history of the Great War of the 1914-1917 on the Black Sea). Page 80. (Ukrainian)
- "Wounded drown at night". The New York Times. Aug 6, 1918. Retrieved 21 August 2009.