8th February 1917 H.M.S. GURKHA sunk off Dungeness


HMS Ghurka or HMS Gurkha, was a 880 ton, Tribal Class Torpedo Boat Destroyer, with a length of 225 feet and a beam of 25.5 and a draught of 8, was built by Hawthorn Leslie and completed on 29th April 1907.


Originally armed with three 12 pounders, with two 18 inch torpedo tubes mounted one behind the other and just behind three funnels so that they could be fired broadside, and one firing over the stern, in 1911 two more 12 pounders guns were added. The destroyer was powered by Parsons steam turbine engines producing 14,250 horsepower at a top speed of 30-33 knots.

On 4th March 1915, HMSGurkha” and HMS Maori, while on patrol protecting the channel shipping, by towing a submarine net sweeping hoping to catch an enemy submarine as a poacher would catch a rabbit in a purse net, caught the German submarine U-8 with a crew of 35 under command of Alfred Stoß, The submarine was forced to surface and under gunfire from the destroyers surrendered the crew was taken as a Prisoner of War, U-8 was then sunk by gunfire.

On the evening of 8th February 1917 around 7.45 pm, HMS Gurkha while travelling though heavy seas four miles south-east of the Dungeness buoy, the destroyer exploded a mine laid by the German coastal minelayer submarine UC-47, and the destroyer started sinking immediately with the loss of 75 men.

During the sinking of HMS Gurkha a large number of the crew died in the explosion, others drown before the nearest ship, the armed trawler Highlander reached the scene after hearing the explosion. When the trawler arrived only the tip of the destroyer’s bow was above the water, her stern having touched the seabed. The Highlander tried to launch her boat but it was swept away by huge swells. However the trawler managed to drag five men covered in oil from the icy sea. Commander F.H.L. Lewin. R.N., the destroyer flotilla gunnery officer who was a passenger aboard the Gurkha, was one of only six men rescued, but not before he had released one man from the tangled debris of the sinking bow, and then refused to leave the water until he had helped in the rescue of four of the destroyer ratings.

Commander F.H.L. Lewin. R.N., for his services in connection with HMS Gurkha, the Royal Humane Society honoured him with their silver medal and subsequently awarded him with the Stanhope Gold Medal for the bravest deed of the year. In consequence of the exposure which he suffused at this period he became crippled with lumbago and sciatica, and in July was laid up for some months, but was passed fit for shore service in February , 1918, when he joined the Trades Division at the Admiralty.

The shipwreck of HMS Gurkha, lies with most of the remains of her crew in 30 meters of water off Dungeness. She has been extensively professionally salvaged and explosives have been used in many places. Despite that, parts of her stern are still intact and stand 8 meters proud above the general wreckage.    The wreck is a War Grave,  however she was not officially designated until April 2008.


Sunk off Dungeness on 8th February 1917

BELL, Stoker 1st Class, CHARLES ALBERT, 308296, Royal Navy. Age 30. Son of Charles and Jane Bell, of Micheldever, Hants

BIRMINGHAM, Engine Room Artificer 1st Class, FREDERIC BARNARD, 269413, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

BONNER, Leading Seaman, DANIEL, 236361, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 32. Son of Daniel and Jane Bonner, of Paisley; husband of Mary Ann Ethel Murphy (formerly Bonner), of , Stamshaw, Portsmouth.

BRIGHT, Able Seaman, DONOVAN NEVILLE, J/15876, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

BROWN, Engine Room Artificer 4th Class, EDWARD WILSON, M/14285, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

BYRNE, Stoker, PATRICK, 4601S, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Reserve. Husband of Hannah Byrne, of Middlesbrough.

CALDWELL, Stoker 1st Class, ALEXANDER, K/32160, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 33. Son of Joseph and Cathrine Caldwell, of Londonderry.

CHURCHILL, Petty Officer Stoker, FRED, 276990, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 41. Son of Joseph and Mary Ann Churchill, of Abbotsbury, Dorset.

CONSTANT, Stoker 1st Class, JOHN, 287877, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Killed by mine explosion in English Channel 8 February 1917.

COOK, Leading Stoker, WILFRED, K/10075, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

CORNER, Chief Artificer Engineer, JOHN, H.M.S. Gurkha, Royal Navy.

CUTLER, Petty Officer Stoker, WILLIAM GEORGE, 301350, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 37. Son of George and Mary Cutler, of Winton; husband of the late Ida Cutler, of Winton, Bournemouth.

DAVIS, Stoker 1st Class, HENRY JAMES, K/34702, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Son of John William and Ruth Davis, of Chilworth, Guildford.

DENT, Chief Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class, JAMES MOAT, 270028, Mentioned in Despatches, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

DODDS, Able Seaman, MATTHEW DOBSON, J/29904, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

DRODGE, Able Seaman, EDWARD JOHN, J/12122, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 22.

DUCHART, Seaman. GEORGE, 9038A, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Reserve. Age 19. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Duchart, of Pulteneytown, Wick.

DUMOND, Officer's Steward 3rd Class, GEORGE AUGUSTE, L/7395, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 20. Son of Alphonse Francois and Celestine Dumond, of St. Heliers, Jersey. Native of St. Peter Port, Guernsey.

DYER, Leading Cooks Mate, HENRY WILLIAM, M/57, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

EBLING, Engine Room Artificer 4th Class, BERTIE, M/5739, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 25. Son of Thomas and Elvina Ebling, of King's Lynn, Norfolk; husband of Alice Neale (formerly Ebling), of Southampton.

ELVEN, Lieutenant, ARTHUR ROBERT JAMES, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Reserve.

ENGWELL, Leading Stoker, GEORGE VICTOR, 311315, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 29. Son of G. Engwell, of Notting Hill, London; husband of Annie Engwell, of 79A, Manor St., Clapham, London.

FORD, Able Seaman, GEORGE HENRY ROBERT, J/11431, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 22. Son of George William and Annie M. Ford, of Brighton.

FORTNUM, Leading Seaman, WILLIAM GEORGE, 229295, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 30. Son of the late William and Margaret Fortnum, of Aldenham, Hertfordshire; husband of Ruth Fortnum, of West Banks, Sleaford, Lincs.

GOBLE, Petty Officer Stoker, GEORGE EDWARD, 310398, H.M.S. "Gurkha", Royal Navy. Age 29. Son of the late Mr and Mrs Goble, of Portsmouth; husband of Ada Jane Goble, of Stamshaw, Portsmouth.

GOBLE, Petty Officer Stoker, THOMAS, 220448, H.M S "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

GOLDSMITH, Leading Stoker, ALFRED CHARLES, 296476, H.M.S "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 35. Son of Francis and Elizabeth Goldsmith, of Portsmouth; husband of Florence M. Goldsmith, of 17, Malta Rd., Buckland, Portsmouth.

GOODALL, Stoker 1st Class, HERBERT THOMAS, K/30789, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

GREENWOOD, Leading Telegraphist, RICHARD, J/3383, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

HAWKER, Able Seaman, JAMES HENRY FREDERICK, SS/5936, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 21. Son of Henry and Mary Hawker, of Hyson Green, Nottingham. Native of Tewkesbury, Glos.

HODGSON, Petty Officer Stoker, JAMES, 305970, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 31. Son of Thomas and Sarah Hodgson, of Wigton, Cumberland.

HOLLANDS, Able Seaman, ARTHUR EDWARD, J/12051, H M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

HOOK, Stoker 1st Class, BENJAMIN WILLIAM, 220009, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 32. Son of George and Sarah Hook, of Surbiton Surrey; husband of Fanny Hook. of , Tettenhall, Wolverhampton.

HOPGOOD, Chief Stoker, WILLIAM, 278145, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 46. Son of Charles Hopgood; husband of Alice M. Hopgood, of Forton, Gosport, Portsmouth.

HUGHES, Able Seaman, OWEN, J/6007, H.M.S, "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 24. Son of Mary Hughes, of Teddington, Middx. Native of Kingston-on-Thames.

HUNT, Petty Officer Stoker, JOHN WILLIAM, K/21554, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.
JACKSON, Able Seaman, REUBEN, J/6520, H.M.S. "Ghurka.", Age 23. Son of John and Jane Jackson, of Blockley, Worcs.

JEWELL, Seaman, ALFRED JOHN, 5591A, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Reserve.

KENDLE, Petty Officer, WILLIAM CHARLES TOM, 183820, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 39. Son of Tom and Emma Kendle; husband of Gertrude Adelaide Mary Kendle, of Southsea, Portsmouth.

LACK, Able Seaman, ROBERT JOHN, J/17348, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 23. Son of George and Priscilla R. Lack, of Wells, Norfolk.

LAVENDER, Stoker 2nd Class, JAMES WILLIAM, SS/117563, H.M.S. " Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 19. Son of George Henry James and Rose Lavender.

LAWRENCE, Stoker 1st Class, WESLEY MORLEY, K/30800, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 27. Son of William and Annie Lawrence, of Cadnam, Southampton.

LINCOLN, Able Seaman, ALICK, SS/5946, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

LODGE, Ordinary Seaman, FRANCIS, J/56099, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 19. Son of John and Elizabeth Lodge, of Dalefield, Normanton, Yorks.

LONDON, Ordinary Telegraphist, PETER CAREW, J/37413, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 18. Son of Walter and Rosina London, of Forest Hill, London.

MACANGUS, Seaman, WILLIAM, 5434A, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Reserve. Age 21. Son of William and Annie MacAngus, of Fearn, Ross-shire.

MAHONEY, Leading Seaman, EDWARD, J/14360, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 22. Son of Margret Holgate (formerly Mahoney), of Aldershot, and the late Thomas Mahoney.

MILLS, Officer's Steward 2nd Class, CECIL PERCY FRANK, L/6873, H.M S "Gurkha", Royal Navy. Age 23. Son of Frederick and Ann Mills.

MILLS, Able Seaman, JOHN THOMAS SETH, J/19934, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

MORT, Able Seaman, PAUL JOHN, J/41552, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 25. Son of E. H. Mort, of Milford, Stafford, and the late William Mort. 25.

NEWLOVE, Able Seaman, GEORGE ROBINSON, J/10445, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 22. Son of Alfred and Sarah Newlove, of 41, Durham St., West Hartlepool.

NEWMAN, Leading Seaman, ERNEST JAMES, 203503, H.M.S. " Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Husband of E. M. A. Bedwell (formerly Newman), of Portsmouth.

PARKER, Able Seaman, LEWIS, SS/6384, H.M.S "Gurkha", Royal Navy. Age 17. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Parker, of Wakefield.

PHILLIPS, Signalman, CYRIL WILLIAM, Bristol Z/3806, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Age 20. Only son of Joseph and Kate Phillips, of Iron Bridge, Salop.

PHILLIPS, Stoker 1st Class, FREDERICK, 300814, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 34. Husband of Helen M. Phillips, of , Emsworth, Hants.

RANDALL, Stoker 1st Class, WILLIAM, K/30401, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 28. Son of George and Zilpah Randall, of Swadlincote, Burton-on-Trent.

REDDELL, Leading Signalman, FREDERICK ROBERT, 231194, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 28. Son of Thomas Walter Reddell (Crimean Veteran) and Caroline Reddell, of Portswood, Southampton. Awarded Messina Medal.

SAVORY, Stoker 1st Class, WILLIAM, K/5969, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

SHERMAN, Able Seaman, WILFRED JAMES, J/9781, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 24. Son of Harvey George Sherman, of Farnham, Surrey.

SMALLMAN, Petty Officer Stoker, FRANCIS JOHN, 306929, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 33. Son of James and Sarah Ann Smallman, of Bilston, Staffs. Native of Sedgley, Dudley.

SOUTHWELL, Petty Officer Stoker, CHARLES, 291973, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 34. Husband of Emmeline Clara Southwell, of Landport, Portsmouth.

STONE, Able Seaman, ALFRED, J/25117, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

TRAVERS, Able Seaman, WILLIAM, 225435, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal NavyAge 31. Son of Richard and Alice Travers.

WAGG, Leading Stoker, ARTHUR, K/4597, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 26. Son of John and Amy Wagg, of Leicester; husband of E. A. Gumley (formerly Wagg), of Leicester.

WHITEHOUSE, Stoker 1st Class, ROWLAND, SS/101037, (RFR/PO/B/3360). H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 37. Son of Abraham and Ann Allsop Whitehouse, of Pelsall, Walsall.

WILKS, Able Seaman, ALFRED HENRY, 215685, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 30. Son of Sarah Wilks, of Gosport, Portsmouth; husband of Louisa E. Wilks, of Swindon, Wilts.

WILLOUGHBY, Lieutenant, ALFRED HERBERT, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 33. Son of the late Mr. and Mrs. H. Willoughby, of Eastbourne; husband of Beatrice Elizabeth Willoughby, of Milton, Portsmouth.

WILSON, Leading Stoker, HENRY, K/8096, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

WOOD, Able Seaman, FREDERICK VICTOR, J/46411, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 19. Son of Frederick John and Elizabeth Ellen Wood, of Harewood, Leeds.

WOOD, Stoker 1st Class, WILLIAM, K/5936, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 25. Son of James and Mary Jane Wood, of Newick, Sussex; husband of Margaret Wood, of Meopham, Kent.

WOOLLCOMBE-BOYCE, Lieutenant, HAROLD COURTENAY, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy.

WRIGHT, Gunner, WILLIAM VILLIERS, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Navy. Age 29. Son of Elizabeth Wright, of , Burton-on-Trent, Staffs., and the late George Wright.

YELLOW, Stoker, JOHN GEORGE, 7725S, H.M.S. "Gurkha.", Royal Naval Reserve. Age 24. Son of Thomas and Dinah Yellow, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

We should remember them.
This shipwreck is protected as an offical War Grave.