The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will formally remember, at a service in Chatham on Monday, the Coastguard Officers who lost their lives when three Royal Navy cruisers were sunk by enemy action.

The commemoration event at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on 22 September 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the loss of 1,459 men on board HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy. The vast majority of these men were Coastguard Officers.

Joining His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG will be Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey KCB CBE, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Also representing HM Coastguard will be serving Coastguard Officers Mark Rodaway OBE, Geoff Matthews, Cindy Rodaway, Emma Gaston and James Way.

The commemorations will start at 2pm with a ceremonial Drumhead Service. During this service the colours of HM Coastguard will be placed on the drumhead and HRH the Duke of Kent will unveil a plaque commemorating the loss of the three cruisers.

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Editors notes:

For further PRESS information and registering interest in attending the event, please contact Gail Louise James, Communications Manager on 01634 823813 or email

Early on 22nd September 1914, HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy were patrolling in the North Sea 60 miles off the Dutch coast, when they were attacked by U-Boat U9 and all were sunk with the loss of 1,459 lives. The ships’ complements were mainly reservists, called into service at the declaration of war. A number of the survivors were picked up by Dutch fishing vessels and a number of Dutchmen will attend this event.  The three cruisers were part of the Royal Navy’s 7th Cruiser Squadron. Their task was to protect ships in the North Sea which were carrying supplies between Britain and France. However, the ships were considered obsolete and were crewed largely by naval reservists. Because of the age and inexperience of the crews the Squadron was considered to be at high risk and had earned the nickname “the Live-Bait Squadron”. On 22nd September 1914, the three ships were on patrol. The Squadron’s flagship and its screen of destroyers had been forced to return to port so the cruisers were unsupported. They were spotted by a German U-boat, U-9. The submarine fired a torpedo at Aboukir which broke the cruiser’s back. The Hogue came to the Aboukir’s aid and was herself torpedoed, as was the Cressy when she steamed in to help. All three ships were sunk and over 1,450 men were killed, many of them reservists from the Medway Towns. 

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