HMHS Glenart Castle

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HMHS Glenart Castle
HMHS Glenart Castle, in her wartime service colours
Name: Glenart Castle, formerly the Galician
Operator: Union-Castle Line
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
Launched: 20 September 1900
Completed: 6 December 1900
Identification: 6824
Fate: Torpedoed by German U-boat UC-56, 26 February 1918. Wreck lies approximately 10 mi (16 km) west of Lundy Island[1] in 240 ft (73 m) of water POS - 51:07N/05:03W.[2]
General characteristics
Tonnage: 6,807 tons gross
Length: 400 ft (120 m)
Speed: 12.5 kn (14.4 mph; 23.2 km/h)

HMHS Glenart Castle (His Majesty's Hospital Ship) was a steamship originally built as Galacian in 1900 for the Union-Castle Line. She was renamed Glenart Castle in 1914, but was requisitioned for use as a British hospital ship during the First World War. On 26 February 1918, she was hit and sunk by a torpedo from the German U-boat UC-56.[3]


On 26 February 1918, Glenart Castle was returning to the UK. Fishermen in the English Channel saw her clearly lit up as a hospital ship. John Hill — a fisherman on Swansea Castle — remembered "I saw the Hospital Ship with green lights all around her - around the saloon. She had her red side lights showing and mast-head light, and also another red light which I suppose was the Red Cross light."[4] At 04:00, Glenart Castle was hit by a torpedo in the No. 3 hold.[3] The blast destroyed most of the lifeboats, while the subsequent pitch of the vessel hindered attempts to launch the remaining boats. In the eight minutes the ship took to sink, only seven lifeboats could be launched.[3] Rough seas and inexperienced rowers swamped most of the boats. Only a few survivors were reported, with 162 killed including eight nurses, seven Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) medical officers and 47 medical orderlies. The matron of Glenart Castle — Miss Kate Beaufoy — was a veteran of the South African War.[5] Her family kept her diary and her writings describe life on the ship.[2]

Evidence surfaced later that initial survivors of the sinking may have been shot at by the submarine in an effort to cover up the sinking of Glenart Castle. The body of one of the junior officers of Glenart Castle was pulled from the water close to the site of the sinking. It was marked with two gunshot wounds, one in the neck and the other in the thigh.[6] The body also had a life vest indicating he was shot while in the water.[3]


After the war, the British Admiralty sought the captains of U-Boats who sank hospital ships, in order to charge them with war crimes.[7] Captain Kaiserwetter — the commander of UC-56 — was arrested after the war on his voyage back to Germany and interned in the Tower of London.[7] He was released on the grounds that Britain had no right to hold a detainee during the Armistice.[7]

See also


  1. pg 226 - A. J. Tennent. British Merchant Ships Sunk by U-boats in World War One (2006 ed.). Periscope Publishing Ltd.. pp. 258. ISBN 1904381367. 
    Galician 6824 Grt. Blt. 1900
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crispin Sadler and Wayne Abbott (2006). "Deep Wreck Mysteries - Red Cross Outrage" (TV Show). History Television. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Hospital Ship Sunk by a U-Boat" (PDF). The New York Times. February 28, 1918. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  4. "Hospital ship "Glenart Castle" - torpedoed and sunk 26th February 1918". Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club. 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  5. "Hospital Ships". Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  6. "Evidence That Germans Fired on Hospital Ship Boats" (PDF). The New York Times. March 11, 1918. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Admiralty stirred by German's release" (PDF). The New York Times. December 2, 1919. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 

Coordinates: 51°7′N 5°3′W / 51.117°N 5.05°W / 51.117; -5.05

de:Glenart Castle (1900)