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Thursday, 7 May 2015

100 Years Ago Today – The Sinking of the HMS Maori

The following report appeared in The Times on Monday 10 May 1915

A Destroyer Mined

Rescuers Fired on and Captured

Whilst operating yesterday off the Belgian coast, the torpedo destroyer Maori, Commander B W Barrow R.N., struck a mine about 2 miles north west of Weilingen lightship; the crew took to the boats when the ship was sinking.

HMS Crusader, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas K Maxwell, R.N., which was in company, lowered her boats to assist in picking up crew of Maori, but the enemy then opened fire from shore batteries, and Crusader, after being under fire for one and a half hours had to leave her boats and retire.

It is reported from German sources that the crew of Maori and the boats’ crew of Crusader, seven officers and 88 men in all, were taken prisoners into Zeebrugge.  The Maori was one of the F class, known as the “Tribal” class, which were the first “ocean going” destroyers in the Navy, having better sea-keeping qualities than the earlier types.  She was 1035 tons and she had Parsons turbine engines with yarrow boilers, capable of developing 15,500 h.p. Her armament was two 4in guns and two 18in torpedo tubes.  She was built by Messrs Denny.

The Crusader is of the same class, but is of 1045 tons, driven by oil fuel.

The German Account

Amsterdam May 8

An official telegram from Berlin states:- The British destroyer Maori was sunk off Zeebrugge. The British destroyer Crusader, which tried to come to her help, was forced to retreat and to leave behind the lifeboats which she had launched.
The entire crew of the Maori and the boats’ crews of the Crusader were saved by our vessel and taken to Zeebrugge.  The prisoners number 7 officers and 68 men in all.  Signed Behncke – Reuter

Two days later in the Times a list of seamen believed to be prisoners of the Germans was published and among the list of names was Jack George Ralph Titheridge.

So who was Jack George Ralph Titheridge?

Despite the unusual name care should be taken not to confuse Jack with his namesake and nephew Jack George Ralph Titheridge who was born in 1925 in Scotland.  The Jack George Ralph Titheridge from the Maori was born on 11 February 1895 in Portsea, Hampshire one of two sons born to John Titheridge and Amelia Maud Holland.  On the 1901 census the family were living at 148 Arundel Street, Portsmouth.  By 1911 census sixteen year old Jack had left home and was in the navy working as a boy first class at HMS Impregnable, a Boys training ship based in Devonport.  Jack married Mabel Steains in December 1918 at Paddington, London.  He married a second time in September 1940 to Annie (Nan) Middleton in Stafford, Staffordshire.  Emigration records show that on 24 September 1957 Jack, described as retired and a widow, travelled to Freemantle, Australia on the Iberia.  He died in Australia four months later aged 63 on 24 January 1958 in Perth, Western Australia.  Probate records show that Jack of 32 Manor Close, Havant left £4310 12s 11d.

As previously mentioned Jack was a boy sailor at 16, on his 18th birthday he joined the navy for a period of 12 years.  His navy record shows he served on many ships between 1910 and 1925 including Ganges, Impregnable, Berwick, Victory, Achilles, Excellent, Forward, Dido, Attenwell, Maori and President.  The record also notes that Jack was missing believed a prisoner of war following the sinking on HMS Maori. And later records that he was a prisoner of war held at Giessen, Germany.  It was over 3 years before he was repatriated to England in October 1918.

If anyone is related to Jack and would like to fill in more details or add a photograph please add a comment or email us.

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