Extracts from the News

Llandovery Castle Sinking - Series of articles

The (London) Times

Thursday, July 04, 1918

Transcribed by: marc

This is a series of articles condeming the sinking of the Canadian Hospital Ship Llandovery Castle


Amsterdam, July 2. Without waiting for the supplementary intelligence which has proved that a German submarine sank the. Llandovery Castle, Berlin, with imprudent haste, has issued the following semi-official communiqué:-

Like all similar assertions of the British Admiralty it is probably (duerfie) in this case also incorrect that a German U-boat is responsible for the ship's fate. It appears from later news that no one on board the steamer observed a U-boat or a torpedo. At all events the cause of the loss may be attributed to a -British mine.

July 3.—It would appear from a Berlin official semi-official dispatch issued this morning by the Wolff Bureau that the German, authorities have not allowed the full statement regarding the sinking of the Llandovery Castle to be printed in Germany. Otherwise, the dispatch in question, which is quoted below, is scarcely intelligible:

First it is said that the Llandovery Castle was clearly recognizable as a hospital ship, although all proof is lacking for this assertion. Secondly how could the submarine commander know that Canadian airman were on board? Thirdly, the Canadian Government, as is alleged, chartered the vessel also for prisoners, but assert nevertheless that they have not transported any prisoners of war in the vessel during the last six months. Fourthly, the assertion that the German U-boat fired at the boats is without doubt a barefaced untruth. Fifthly, the report of the submarine commander on the events accompanying the sinking of the ship must be awaited.


NEW YORK, July 3. Since the sinking of the Lusitania no German crime has affected the American nation quite so deeply as the torpedoing of the Llandovery Castle. It was with peculiar grimness that the nation turned to-day from studying details of this latest exploit in fiendishness to the announcement of President Wilson that over 1,000,000 troops are in France and to statistics of the Shipping Board showing the phenomenal growth of American sea tonnage. America feels that it has the resources and the will, together with the Allies, finally to overcome the bestial horror which infests the seas and ravages the land in the name of the German Emperor. "The Unspeakable Prussian" is the title under which the cartoonist to-day interprets the event, while editorial writers are concerned mainly with schemes for a long excommunication of the German people from intercourse with the civilized world.

The New York Times says:

The Hague Convention gives belligerents the right to visit hospital ships. But these cold-blooded assassins refused to exercise that right; they strike and slay because it is in their hearts to glut their cruelty upon helpless non-combatants after trumping up a case of justification, which is only another infamy. The Allies in presence of this crowning atrocity have a duty to perform. A German officer recently captured said, "We are going to win, or we are going to hell." The Germans are not going to win, but if there is hell for Germans in retribution, the Parliaments and Legislatures of the Allies should ensure that retribution. The British Seamen's Union has blazed the way, and it is for the statesmen of Allied countries to formulate and sanction the plan. To talk of reprisals is vain. Punishment should take the form of excommunication, isolation, and deprivation, until the guilty nation makes amends and qualifies for re-admission to civilization.


THE HAGUE, July 2. The sinking of the Llandovery Castle has caused more indignation here than any incident connected with the war of recent date. The newspapers comment in severe terms, and even the Vaderland, which, to put it mildly, certainly cannot be accused of anti-German sympathies, speaks out ' with no uncertain voice. The journal says:

The assertion that a few American flight officers were making use of the hospital ship is also singular, because approximately 1,000,000 American troops, thanks to their admirably organized transport service, have been conveyed safe and sound to France, showing that flight officers can safely proceed to their destination without the misuse of hospital ships. Yet this suspicion seems to have given the occasion to the German submarine commander to torpedo the Llandovery Castle without warning. This is an important point. Submarines are destroyed by dozens by artfully laid submarine traps, and where the German Admiralty desires to spare its submarines it has resorted to the destruction of every vessel within a dangerous region without investigation or warning. So long, however, as it is unproved that a hospital ship is ever employed as a submarine trap, no reason exists to employ this reckless method against it also. The suspicion of conveying munitions and sound troops existed - whether rightly or wrongly we do not discuss; we merely point out that the suspicion has never been supported on sufficient grounds. But such suspicions are insufficient to sink a hospital ship proceeding with full lights and marks, without warning or search. It must be proved that hospital ships are misused as submarine traps. But no such proof has appeared. According to The Hague Convention, the submarine commander had full right to detain and search the Llandovery Castle. His reckless action will therefore rightly arouse the greatest indignation not of the enemy alone but also of neutrals ... Fairness demands that we should await the defence of the other side, but we cannot imagine that it can do away with the grave accusation which the occurrence involves.

TORONTO, July 2.

There is much feeling throughout Canada over the sinking of the Llandovery Castle. The vessel made many trips to and from Halifax, and brought back thousands of wounded soldiers. Among the medical staff were Major Macdonald and his brother, Dr. H. C. Macdonald , of Halifax, while the matron was Nursing Sister Mary Fraser , of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, youngest daughter of Mr. D. C. Fraser, formerly Liberal member of Parliament, afterwards a Judge, and at his death lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. On board also was Sister Gallagher , of Ottawa, formerly superintendent of Moose Jaw Hospital. As yet the newspapers are unable to secure full lists of the Canadian doctors and nurses.


M. Millerand, President of the French Maritime League, and M. Guernier, Deputy, and delegate to Great Britain and the Dominions, have sent the following telegram to the British Navy League:

The French Maritime League would be grateful to the British Navy League if it would be good enough to transmit to the National Sailors' and Seamen's Union, of which Mr. Havelock Wilson is president, its cordial congratulations on the noble sentiments inspiring the decision by which the seamen of Great Britain have bound themselves to refuse, after the war, for a certain number of years, varying in proportion to the crimes committed, all collaboration with the maritime transports of Germany.


Sir, Immediately after reading the story in The Times this morning of the last German horror it was my duty, being a schoolmaster, to go to morning chapel. The Psalm for the day seemed strangely and terribly appropriate. It was Psalm xi. I need only quote the second and third verses as they are given in the 'Revised Version:

• For, lo, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrows upon the string,
That they may shoot in darkness at the upright of heart.
If the foundations be destroyed,
What can the righteous do?

The Psalmist gives the answer, the only answer that can be given, in the verses that follow. I think that many of your readers may be glad to have their attention drawn to this example of one instance of what Dean Church calls "those piercing, lightning-like gleams of strange spiritual truth" contained in the Psalms.

July 2. Yours faithfully, U.

Mary Fraser in the Canadian Medical Staff article is Margaret Marjory Fraser