Sussex (French passenger ferry)

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Cross-channel ferry Sussex at Boulogne after being torpedoed in March 1916. The entire forepart of the ship was destroyed in the attack.

The Sussex was a cross-channel passenger ferry, which became the focus of an international incident when she was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1916.

Sussex was a twin-screw steamship of 1,353 tons;[1] originally British-owned, she was acquired by the French State Railway service in January 1914.[2]

On 24 March 1916, while on passage from Folkestone, England, to Dieppe, France, she was irreparably damaged in a torpedo attack by the German U-Boat UB-29. Although the forepart of the ship was completely destroyed, and many of the lifeboats were launched, she remained afloat and was eventually towed stern-first into Boulogne-sur-Mer harbour.

Approximately fifty lives were lost in the attack; a number of people were killed by the torpedo explosion, and others were drowned or died of exposure after abandoning the ship; reportedly, at least two of the lifeboats capsized.[3] The dead including the celebrated Spanish composer Enrique Granados and his wife. Several Americans were injured, but none were killed. However, although no US citizens were killed, the incident enraged public opinion in the United States of America, and caused a heated diplomatic exchange between the US and German governments.[4] In May 1916, Germany issued a declaration, the so-called Sussex pledge, which effectively represented the suspension of the "intensified" U-boat campaign.[5]


  • Tony Bridgeland. Outrage at Sea: Naval Atrocities in the First World War. Pen and Sword Books, 2002. ISBN 0-85052-877-1
  • Attack on the Sussex, March 24, 1916 - article at
  • French-language account at villemoissons-sur-orge 1916


  1. Bridgeland, p. 81.
  2. villemoissons-sur-orge 1916
  3. Bridgeland, p. 82.
  4. Bridgeland, pp. 89-98.
  5. Attack on the Sussex, March 24, 1916

fr:Sussex (paquebot)