HC Deb 22 December 1915 vol 77 cc444-5

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the crew, captain, and the survivors of the crew of the steamer "Wood-field," which was sunk by an Austrian submarine on 9th November, 1915, are now kept in confinement by the Spanish authorities on the Island of Melilla; and whether he will take steps to procure their immediate release?

The following question also appeared on the Paper:—


To ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the transport steamer "Wood-field," which was chartered by the Government to carry a cargo of petrol to the Dardanelles, was attacked on 6th November last by an Austrian submarine and several of the crew killed and wounded; whether, after three hours' fighting, the captain decided to abandon the vessel, but himself remained on board, though injured, in order to look after the ship's wounded carpenter, who eventually died in his arms; whether the vessel was in the end torpedoed by the submarine and sunk, and the captain was picked up after many hours by one of the ship's boats; whether two of the boats landed on the island of Melilla and another on the mainland of Morocco; whether the crew and captain have been interned by the Spanish Government at Melilla; whether the Government have made any and, if so, what provision for the support of the families of the crew dependent on them at the time of the disaster; and whether the Government intend to make any acknowledgment to the master of the vessel in recognition of his conduct?


I had intended to give the following answer in reply to Question 1. As it deals with the same subject, perhaps I may give it in reply to both questions. The "Wood-field" was sunk by an enemy submarine off the coast of Morocco on the 3rd November, as stated by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War, on the 7th instant. As then stated, the casualties amongst the military and crew were six persons killed and fourteen wounded. The survivors, forty-five British and nine Arabs (firemen), are all understood to be now in the hands of the Spanish authorities, by whom they have been treated with every consideration and kindness, the wounded in particular being well looked after. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has been and is in communication with the Spanish Government. I understand that the owners of the vessel are making suitable arrangements in regard to the families of the survivors. As regards the other statements in my hon. Friend's question, I have, so far, no information.

Back to