FREDERICK RICHES AND THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL EDWARD
Fredrick James Riches was the son of Frederick and Jesse Riches of 49 Leighville Grove.
The Royal Edward, along with the Saxonia and Invernia, had been used to house German prisoners of war anchored off the end of the Pier.
On 10 August 1915 Royal Edward set off for Lemnos on her way to the Dardenelles with a complement of 1,367 officers and men, destined as reinforcements for the British 29th Infantry. Members of the Royal Army Medical Corps were also on board.
Sadly this voyage was to be interrupted on 13 August when the German submarine UB-14 laying in wait off the island of Kandeloussa, saw the Royal Edward and with her, the Soudan.
The U-Boat let Soudan pass and concentrated on the Royal Edward which was unescorted. The submarine launched a torpedo from about 2 klms away and hit Royal Edward in the stern. She sank within six minutes.
Before sinking the ship sent out an SOS and Soudan returned and rescued 440 men in six hours. Two French destroyers and some trawlers rescued another 221. The death toll was high because Royal Edward had just completed a boat drill and the majority of the men were below decks re-stowing their equipment.
It may have been Frederick Riches who sent out the SOS before power was lost on the ship.