Private survives torpedo attack on ship

Private William Hannah
Private William Hannah

Private William Hannah, KOSB, who was aboard the Transport ship the Ivernia when it was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on New Year’s Day morning 1917, managed to get a postcard home to his sister in Queen Street, Newton Stewart, to say he had been landed and was safe and well.

Cunard’s Ivernia was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle. She was launched on 21st September 1899, and made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 14th April 1900.

With the outbreak of the Great War, Ivernia was hired by the government for use as a troop transport.

On 28th December 1916 she sailed from Marseilles for Alexandria, Egypt.

Carrying over 2,400 troops, mainly from the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, she was under the command of Captain Turner, who had previously been in command of Lusitania when she was torpedoed.

On 1st January 1917 she was south-east of Cape Matapan, Greece, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine UB47. The torpedo hit on the starboard side and exploded in a boiler room, killing 22 of the crew. Her escort, HMS Rifleman, drew alongside and took off 666 troops and 36 crew, Other survivors were rescued by escorting trawlers. The ship sank soon after. Total casualties were 84 troops and 36 crew lost.