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On 30th December 1917 the troopship HT ‘Aragon’ was torpedoed entering the port of Alexandria. A total of 380 officers and men of the Commonwealth forces were drowned as the ship sunk in less than 15 minutes.

On her arrival at Alexandria on December 30th, 1917, the ship was permitted to enter the harbour, but later was ordered out again. She anchored outside without any protection from submarine attack, for which she was an easy target.

This piece of indiscretion on the part of the authorities did not remain long unpunished, for the Aragon was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UC-34.

Amongst those killed were 18 soldiers of the 12th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

They are remembered on the Chatby Memorial in Egypt.

22488 Lance Corporal WILLIAM BRINDLE
31899 Private JOHN COPLEY
36886 Private FRANK DUNLOP
34117 Private GEORGE JACKSON
34530 Private HARRY JONES
15862 Company Quartermaster Serjeant WILLIAM MORGAN
31916 Private JOSEPH NEWTON
2964 Private ROBERT ROUND

HT Aragon 1905 – 1917

Paul McCormick
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18 Responses to Sinking of the Aragon: 30th December 1917

  1. Susan Round says:

    Thank you for this story of the HT Aragon, I was pleased to see the name of Robert Round in print.

  2. Mike Emsden says:

    Is there a full list of men lost on the Aragon as 8609 Cpl George William Mabbott 5 Suff R is noted as “Missing believed drowned” on 30 Dec 1917 and he also appears on the Chatby Memorial.
    Great site. Many thanks.


  3. Les Forester says:

    This, and other articles, does not state that apart from troops, the “Aragon” was also carrying wounded soldiers. Among them was Private Henry Sutcliffe Fox, of West Vale, Greetland near Halifax W Yorks. He was drowned when both the “Aragon” and the destroyer “Attack” were sunk. The “Attack” was rescuing memn from the “Aragon”, when it was torpedoed too.

  4. Tessa Potter says:

    I have been trying to identify an incident described by my father – (between Oct 1916 and 18 a newly qualified doctor in Macedonia with the RAMC)- how having just disembarked himself, the ship he was on, was then sunk in front of him with many of his friends and great loss of life.
    Having investigated every sinking from 1914 (he was with first Serbian Relief Fund as a medical student) to 1918, this is the only scenario which seems to fit his description. My question is, when the Aragon ‘briefly’ entered the harbour, did some men disembark before she was ordered out again?
    Do you you know where I can find some first hand accounts?
    Thank for any help. T. Potter

    • An interesting question but can’t imagine they would have docked for some men to disembark then moved off again – I don’t know. I’ll see what I can find. Thanks, Paul

  5. Jon.l.lawton says:

    Harpley Appleby t3025974 drowned at sea.ht aragon
    December 1917
    Army service corps 75th divisional train
    Age 27
    Resided plover Street warrenby redcar
    Wife Sarah Ann blower
    Born 1890

  6. Lee Roberts says:

    hi my great great uncle Alfred victor Hume 275805 L/cpl.
    1/6th battalion Essex regiment lost in H.M. Aragon.

    this year, is the 100 years ago in December I am thinking to go to Egypt after Christmas has anyone been over there?

  7. Gareth says:

    Looking for info on Harold Currie 1897-2000 from belfast and dundonald. He was on the aragon, and HMS attack and couldn’t swim,so survived it all and ended up the second oldest survivor of ww1 in northern Ireland.any information wud be great

  8. Dar Russell says:

    HI, Just discovered my Great Great Uncle pte. Albert James Apperley, Royal Gloucester Hussars of Tetbury Glos, was killed in this incident. There has always been a story within the family of someone being torpedoed then being saved only to be torpedoed again, i guess he was picked up by HMS Attack before she was sunk.

  9. R Mogg says:

    My grandfather was on the Aragon He was pulled out of the water on to the Attack. He was stripped of his sodden great coat only to land back in the sea when the Attack was sunk. He was rescued and on his return home to Forfar he wrote about the incident in a book about Forfar and the First World War which I have managed to obtain. I never met him as he died before I was born but my father, one of his sons said due to his survival he insisted his three children learnt to swim at a very early age.

  10. Ralph Hardwick says:

    A relative of mine was wounded on the torpedo attack on the Aragon and was rescued by the Attack only to be torpedoed again. Unfortunately the wounds took their toll as he passed away in an Alexandria hospital on April 2nd 1918. Arthur John William Hardwicke.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thankyou found out how my relative Albert Matthews died

  12. Beryl Phillipson says:

    I have just found this, my father was Thomas Arthur Isherwood, from Selby York’s,he was on the Aragon and survived both sinkings to go on to build railways in Egypt,my mother kept newspaper cuttings from the local paper,only courting then married in 1928, I was born in 1937,I would appreciate it if by chance you have any photos of him or any more details, thank you so much.

  13. Denise Sweeney says:

    My Grandmas 1st husband was on the Aragon Joseph Newton 12th Battalion 31916. Married Bertha Lamb 01 July 1909 and they had two sons William and Joseph and lived in Bolton Lancashire, Sadly he did not come home.

  14. Denise Smith says:

    William Beesley, 1/12 L.N.L.R. service no: 266261 drowned 31 Dec 1917, age 21, son of Thomas & Alice Beesley, Chorley, Lancs. Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery Index No. E. 1. U.K. Commonwealth War Graves.

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