|Builder||Earle’s SB. & Eng. Co., Ltd., Hull|
|Operator||Ellerman’s Wilson Line, Ltd., Hull|
|History||The Romeo, J Neile, master, left Scapa on 23rd February 1918 bound for Liverpool. She was on Admiralty charter for carrying meat and provisions to the Fleet, but was returning to Liverpool in ballast after having called in at Stornoway, remaining there for six days. She was equipped with a twelve pound gun for defence against enemy submarines.
On 3rd March 1918 at 2.40 a.m., she was about 10 miles south of the Mull of Galloway, steaming at 10 knots and zigzagging. The weather was fine with occasional snow showers, the wind light and the sea smooth. The first officer was in charge on the bridge. There was a lookout on the forecastle head, another on the bridge and one on the gunner’s aft platform. All lights on the ship were carefully screened and no navigation lights were burning.
Suddenly, a green and red light appeared off her port bow. Fearful of a collision with another ship, the order was given to show the Romeo’s navigation lights at her bow. This was a fateful mistake as she had been tricked by German submarine U 102, Kurt Beitzen, commander, into giving away her exact position. Within a couple of minutes a torpedo slammed into the Romeo’s port side between the stoke-hole and engine room. The explosion was terrific and split the ship in half. At first she took a list to port, then righted herself before sinking like a stone in less than two minutes of the explosion. There was no time for the crew to launch any of the lifeboats and the crew of thirty seven men was thrown into the water.
The two gun crew, John Compagnon and William Camomile, managed to cling to a swamped boat and eventually bailed it out. Shortly afterwards, they spotted a sailor in the water and hauled him out in to the lifeboat, but he later died at about 10.00 a.m. At daylight the two gunners managed to get the mast and sail up before being picked up by the steamship Ardgarvel at 11.00 a.m. and were later landed at Greenock.
The only other survivor from the Romeo was the wireless operator, Arthur Seddon. He was picked up by a trawler and landed at Holyhead by the patrol boat Kilgobnet at 11.00 a.m. on 4th March.
(© Shipwreck Magazine & Adrian Corkill)|
U-boat attacks on Steamer Romeo
|1||3 Mar 1918||U 102 (Curt Beitzen)||Sunk||Torpedoed and sunk 10.9 nm NW of Peel||54° 22'N, 4° 52'W||Scapa Flow - Liverpool||in ballast||26|
Position of attack on Romeo
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