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Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War

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SS Thisbe

Built: 1910

Lost: 1917

Reason for Loss: Sunk by U-boat

Thisbe was a British built, French owned cargo vessel travelling to Caen from Swansea.  At 12.15pm on the 6th September a lookout spotted a torpedo seconds before it slammed into the side of the vessel, which started to sink immediately. The crew took to the lifeboats and picked up survivors from the water, but as they looked back at the doomed vessel, they saw the tragic sight of the young ship’s boy at a porthole.  Although stretching his arms out of the hole, he couldn’t get out and there was nothing the survivors could do as the ship slipped beneath the waves.  

Eight people were lost when the Thisbe sank. The eight survivors were picked up shortly afterwards by a nearby Royal Navy motor launch that had witnessed the sinking. The motor launch attempted to locate the U-boat that had fired the torpedo and dropped several depth charges, but to no avail. UB-35 escaped on this occasion and sank a further 20 vessels in 1917, but in January 1918 she was lost when Admiralty drifters depth charged her as she passed through the Dover Straits.

Of Thisbe’s loss, the Admiralty suggested “this instance of what can be termed as foul murder might be published” to draw attention to the horror of the losses caused by U-boats.  

Today the Thisbe lies approximately 6 miles west of Lizard Point in approximately 45 metres of water.