Count Dohna and His SeaGull ©
Ships - Hermione
Hermione, a British steamship, was passed by SMS SeaGull on February 16, 1917, 570 miles northeast by east from Cape Frio, Brazil.
Hermione was built by Joseph L. Thompson and Sons at Sunderland, England in 1891 as the Yarrawonga. She was built for the Blue Anchor Line. In 1903 she was purchased by R. P. Houston and Company of Liverpool, England and renamed Hermione. A ship of 4,011 tons, 360 feet in length, she was used to carry frozen meat from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Liverpool, England. She was armed with a 3-inch gun mounted at the stern.
Yarrawonga is a village in Australia. Hermione, in Greek mythology was the daughter of Helen of Troy and King Menelaus of Sparta.
On February 16, 1917 after SeaGull sank the steamships French Prince and Eddie, her lookouts sighted the British auxiliary cruiser Edinburgh Castle. This auxiliary was armed with eight 170-mm guns, which could out-range the armament of SeaGull. Not wanting to engage the auxiliary cruiser, SeaGull steamed away. Captain Marshall, in command of Edinburgh Castle, gave chase. SeaGull headed for a small rainsquall and just before entering encountered the British steamship Hermione moving in the opposite direction. She was sailing her usual run from Buenos Aires for Liverpool with a cargo of frozen beef, general merchandise and 57 racehorses.
Count Dohna, commander of SeaGull, in his book recounting the voyage, wrote that he observed Edinburgh Castle open fire on Hermione with multiple shots scoring direct hits. Official British accounts of this incident state clearly that no shots were fired and that Count Dohna "misunderstood" the actions that day. Records of Hermione represent the ship was not damaged in the incident and report she struck a mine set by the German submarine UC-33 off the southeast coast of Ireland on April 14, 1917. The mine clamed no casualties but caused extensive damage, which caused the ship to be scrapped. Inquiries are ongoing.
R. P. Houston and Company later owned another ship named Hermione. During World War II, renamed Harmodius, she was sunk by the German submarine U-105 on March 8, 1941 with the loss of 11 lives.
DER MOEWE FAHRTEN UND UBENTEUER, by Graf zu Dohna.
BLOCKADEBRECHER, by Otto Mielke.
NAVAL OPERATIONS: Official History of the WWI, VOLUME IV, by Henry Newbolt.
MERCHANT SHIPPING (LOSSES), by Great Britain Admiralty.
Last Revision: March 4, 2007.
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