- HMHS Gascon during the Great War -
If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.
Add Stories & Photos
Day by Day
War in the Air
Prisoners of War
The Royal Navy
Training for War
Those Who Served
Women at War
Life on Home Front
Central Powers Army
Central Powers' Navy
World War Two
Add Stories & Photos
Help & FAQ's
Our Facebook Page
Great War Books
1st August 1914 Hospital ship
SS Gascon was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6287grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. The first of three ships she was an improved Gaul Class ship with three masts and delivered for the Intermediate service which was, by then, strongly supported with further ships on order.
She transferred to the Union-Castle fleet in March 1900 and in June 1905 was the first Union-Castle ship to call at the new port of Lobito in Angola which had a rail link to Elizabethville.
In 1910 she was moved to the East Africa service and in August 1914 went on the mail run when the larger ships were requisitioned for war service.
On 25th November of that year she was commissioned as a hospital ship with a capacity for 434 patients, her first task being to take the surviving wounded from HMS Pegasus, which had been sunk by the Koenigsburg on 20th September, back to Simonstown in South Africa.
- Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport Service during WW1.
- Medical Staff strength.
- Accommodation capacity.
- Period of Service as Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport.
- Date From:25th November 1914
- Date To:15th February 1920
- Ships Crew details:
During 1915 she served in the German East African campaign and spent the remainder of the war in that area.
She returned to Union-Castle on 15th February 1920 and was immediately refurbished and put back into service. In 1928 she was laid up in the East India Dock in London before being sold to Thos. W. Ward for scrapping.John Doran
20th September 1914 Battle of Zanzibar 1914
The Battle of Zanzibar was fought between the Kaiserliche Marine and the Royal Navy during the First World War. The German cruiser SMS Königsberg had been taking on coal in the delta of the Rufiji River when her crew were told that a British cruiser—HMS Pegasus, which had been part of the Royal Navy's Cape Squadron sent to counter Köningsberg—had put in at Zanzibar for repairs. Königsberg's captain—Commander Max Looff—decided to attack Pegasus while she was in port. On 20 September 1914, Königsberg sailed past the picket ship HMS Helmuth at the entrance to Zanzibar harbour. Helmuth was unable to warn Pegasus of Königsberg's approach, with the result that when Koningsberg opened fire she took Pegasus entirely by surprise. As a result, Pegasus suffered heavy damage before she was even able to return fire. Königsberg's guns out-ranged those on Pegasus, which was consequently unable to damage her opponent. The one-sided battle ended in a German victory, Pegasus sank later that day, having lost 38 crew dead.
Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, on 19 September 1914, Commander Max Looff of the light cruiser SMS Königsberg was coaling in the Rufuji Delta, when he learned from coast watchers that a British warship had entered Zanzibar harbour. Looff assumed the cruiser at Zanzibar was either HMS Astraea or HMS Pegasus and ordered an immediate attack. As Königsberg had been recently resupplied, she was prepared for battle. Königsberg left on the afternoon tide for her run to Zanzibar. The protected cruiser Pegasus, under the command of Captain John Ingles, had just left the company of HMS Astraea and Hyacinth for repairs at Zanzibar to her boilers and engines. Also at Zanzibar, the British had armed the captured German tug HMS Helmuth with a 3-pounder gun and posted her as a picket ship at the entrance of the harbour. Königsberg had been built in 1905 and was armed with ten 10.5 cm guns, ten 37 mm autocannon pieces and two 18 inch torpedo tubes. Pegasus—a Pelorus-class protected cruiser built in 1897—was armed with eight QF 4 inch guns, eight 3-pounders and two 18-inch torpedo tubes. Her complement consisted of 234 officers and men.
At dawn on 20 September, Königsberg entered the southern end of the Zanzibar approaches and sailed past the picket ship Helmuth, firing a few warning shots as she passed. Helmuth could neither stop the Königsberg from entering the harbour nor even warn Pegasus of the German cruiser's approach. Once Koningsberg came within 9,000 yd (8,200 m) of Pegasus, she began firing salvos. Pegasus sat at anchor in Zanzibar Harbour, preparing steam and at that moment, was helpless. For about 20 minutes while Königsberg fired, Pegasus remained stationary. Pegasus did raise the White Ensign and began firing, but her shells splashed into the water well short of Koningsberg. The light cruiser slowly continued forward and fired until the range had closed to within 7,000 yd (6,400 m). One of the first British sailors wounded was gunnery officer Lieutenant Richard Turner, who suffered both of his legs being mangled by shrapnel. Despite his injuries, Turner rallied his men, telling them; "Keep it up, lads, we’re outclassed and done for; but damn them, and keep it up!" The British continued their futile fight for around 20 minutes more, taking additional hits from Königsberg, the majority landing on Pegasus' deck. Her ensign was shot away during the fight. Also, because the Germans were always at least 2,000 yd (1,800 m) beyond the range of Pegasus' guns, no British rounds struck Königsberg. Pegasus became holed near her waterline and began taking on water. All hope of defeating the Germans having gone, Ingles struck his colors and gave the order to abandon ship. Pegasus later sank. After Königsberg had finished with Pegasus, she fired a few parting shots at Helmuth, whose crew managed to abandon ship before one of the German cruiser's salvos struck the tug. With a clear German victory, Königsberg turned around and headed back for the Rufiji Delta.
The Royal Navy's losses were Pegasus sunk and Helmuth damaged. Thirty-eight British sailors on Pegasus had died; another 55 sailors were wounded, most of whom had been top-side when hit. Staff Surgeon Alfred J. Hewitt was on the deck of Pegasus from the beginning to the end of the battle, aiding wounded sailors and marines. Captain Ingles later recognized Hewitt's courageous behavior in a report on the action. Although Helmuth had taken a hit from Königsberg, the damage to the tug was relatively minor and her crew managed to reboard her after Königsberg had sailed off. Only one man on board Helmuth died, a non-enlisted native working in the engine room. The hospital ship HMS Gascon and the Scottish ship SS Clan Macrae rescued the survivors of Pegasus. Twenty-four of the British sailors that died in the battle were buried in a mass grave in the naval cemetery on Grave island, Zanzibar, while 14 others were laid to rest at the town's cemetery before being moved in 1971 to the Dar es Salaam war cemetery. The British salvaged six of Pegasus' guns from the wreck and later used them in the East African land campaign. Although Königsberg had suffered no hits or casualties, Looff's plans to continue the offensive were soon cut short. One of her main engines failed. The British were watching the port of Dar es Salaam so she had to return to the Rufiji River delta to await the overland transport of spare parts. The British soon discovered Koningsberg's location and blockaded her. They damaged her beyond repair in the Battle of Rufiji Delta when they were able to bring up the monitors HMS Mersey and Severn.John Doran
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Want to know more about HMHS Gascon?There are:2 articles tagged HMHS Gascon available in our LibraryThese include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.
Those known to have served in
during the Great War 1914-1918.
- Flockart Robert Pearce. Mjr. (d.15th July 1915)
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
Looking for help with Family History Research?
Please see Family History FAQ's
We are unable to provide individual research free of charge, but do offer a paid service at competitive rates, the small profit from these services will be put towards the costs of keeping this website running. For more information please see our Research Services Leaflet
Can you help?The Wartime Memories Project is run by volunteers and this website is funded by donations from our visitors.
If the information here has been helpful or you have enjoyed reaching the stories please conside making a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web. In these difficult times current donations are falling far short of this target.
If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.
- The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website
This website has been running for 16 years and receives in excess of a million hits per month. The website and our group will continue long after the 2014-18 events are over. We hope that people will continue to support us by submitting material and stories in addition to submitting to the new websites set up for the anniversary.
- We are looking for volunteers to help with researching the activities of units of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force, Regular Army, Pals Battalions, Kitchener's New Armies, Voluntary Organisations and the Ships of the Royal Navy. We currently have a huge backlog of stories and historical documents which need to be edited or transcribed for display online, if you have a good standard of written English, an interest in the two World Wars and a little time to spare online we would appreciate your help. For more information please see our page on Volunteering.
Wanted: Digital copies of Group photographs, Scrapbooks, Autograph books, photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards and ephemera relating to the Great War. If you have any unwanted photographs, documents or items from the First or Second World War, please do not destroy them. The Wartime Memories Project will give them a good home and ensure that they are used for educational purposes. Please get in touch for the postal address, do not sent them to our PO Box as packages are not accepted.
We are now on Facebook. Like this page to receive our updates, add a comment or ask a question.
If you have a general question please post it on our Facebook page.
Aug 2017World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 234727 your submission is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.
Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.
Want to know more about HMHS Gascon?There are:2 articles tagged HMHS Gascon available in our Library
Available at discounted prices.
Items from the Home Front Archive
Do you have any photos, postcards, documents or memorabilia relating to this unit? Please add to this archive.
Suggest a link
The Wartime Memories Project is a non profit organisation run by volunteers.
This website is paid for out of our own pockets, library subscriptions and from donations made by visitors. The popularity of the site means that it is far exceeding available resources.
If you are enjoying the site, please consider making a donation, however small to help with the costs of keeping the site running.
Website © Copyright MCMXCIX - MMXVII
- All Rights Reserved