Loss of Submarine A8

and the subsequent massive funeral parade.

Thursday June 8th 1905 was a fateful day for the Royal Navy at Plymouth, and especially so for the fated crew of Submarine A8. Leaving Plymouth for exercises off Looe in tandem with her sister boat the A7. After reaching Plymouth Breakwater, an initial dive ended in the A8 surfacing, the crew of an escorting surface Torpedo boat spotted that the A8 was in trouble. The A8 had developed a list and was sitting lower and lower in the water until she slide below the water bow first, showing her stern to the sky. She vanished and the lives of 14 brave men and one officer were snuffed out, some lucky ones got clear, primarily those on the conning tower. Tons of water came through a faulty hatch seal, filling the boat so it became negatively buoyant and all trim was lost.....the end was inevitable and as she sank, sea water at a higher pressure that the air in the boat would have slammed the hatch shut. The coffins lid had closed. These early boats were petrol fuelled and the account follows that there was shortly afterwards what appeared to be an underwater explosion.

The following Monday 12th. the A8 was raised and transported to Devonport Dockyard where the dead were removed with great dignity and respect. The funeral was on Thursday June 15th.Most of the crew are buried close to each other.

The whole populace of the 3 towns as it was then, Plymouth plus Devonport plus Stonehouse, all turned out to pay their final respect to what had become a local disaster. Streets were thronged with masses as the funeral procession wound it`s way from the Devonport Naval Base to the Cemetery......the flag draped coffins were carried on gun carriages pulled by sailors, anchors made of flowers, sailors marched with rifles, a military band played. The whole of three towns stopped. At the graveside a military funeral with full honours paid respect to those who locals called "Heroes all of Them.

I wonder if there would be a turnout like this today.


Book Reviewer
Did boats conduct vaccum tests in these early days, if not, when did they become standard practise? Yes I think you would see a large turnout.

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