HMS Montrose commemorates WW1 tragedies off Islay

HMS Montrose has taken part in a remembrance ceremony alongside US, French and German warships off the Western Coast of Scotland to commemorate the loss of the American troopship SS Tuscania and British troopship HMS Otranto in 1918.

HMS Montrose commemorates SS Tuscania and HMS Otranto tragedies off IslayThe Tuscania was carrying US Army personnel to France in early 1918, with a total of 2,397 personnel on board when it was torpedoed on the evening of 5 Feb. 

In total, 210 lives were lost in the incident and the death toll would have been larger if not for the efforts of HMS Mosquito and HMS Pigeon who rescued the majority of those saved. 

HMS Otranto was a converted UK liner taken up from trade by the Royal Navy, which sunk on the evening of the 6 Oct 1918 after a collision in the same area that SS Tuscania was lost, resulting in the loss of 470 British sailors and American troops, which they were transporting to fight in France.

100 years later and a major multinational exercise offered the opportunity for the sailors of HMS Montrose (UK), USS Ross (USA), FGS Luebeck (Germany) and FS Andromede (France) to gather together and pay their respects to those that lost their lives.

It’s important to remember those that have gone before us and for those that lost their lives. I felt proud to be a part of the occasion

Able Seaman Tanya Moore, Steward on HMS Montrose

The event saw the vessels sail over the wreck of the Tuscania on Thursday 3 May with HMS Raider laying a wreath at the head of the formation of ships. 

During the laying of the wreath, the Ship’s Company of all the vessels manned the upper deck and a short service was broadcast from HMS Raider over VHF radio. 

On completion of the remembrance service, the flotilla proceeded to the Oa Peninsular, the site of the wreck of HMS Otranto and where a monument dedicated to the tragedies was constructed by the US Red Cross in 1920, for a sail past in formation at 8am on Friday 4 May. 

Able Seaman Tanya Moore a Steward on HMS Montrose said, “It was a cold afternoon and very quiet with just the wind in my ears. The sound of the saluting gun was eerie in the mist as the ship’s Company manned the upper deck. It’s important to remember those that have gone before us and for those that lost their lives. I felt proud to be a part of the occasion.” 

HMS Montrose and the other vessels have recently taken part in Exercise Joint Warrior, a UK led multi national exercise with over 11,000 sailors, soldiers and airmen from across NATO countries taking part. 

The UK remains a committed NATO partner and Joint Warrior is the prelude to the much larger Exercise Trident Juncture scheduled to take part later in the year in the waters around Norway. 

HMS Montrose will be one of a number of UK assets scheduled to take part in what promises to be the largest NATO exercise in 3 years.