Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Bedford Man Taken Prisoner in German Sea Raid


SS Appam [Wikimedia]

Thursday 10th February 1916: The parents of Lieutenant Thomas Lansberry have received the good news that their son is alive after they believed him to be lost at sea when the liner on which he was sailing disappeared. The Appam left Dakar in West Africa on January 11th but failed to arrive in England as expected on the 19th. Lt. Lansberry had cabled on Christmas Day “Invalided. By Appam. Tom”, so it was assumed that he had gone down with the ship. On 1st February to their immense relief they received a second telegram, this time from the owners of the ship to the effect that the Appam had arrived at Norfolk, Virginia in the charge of a German raiding party, and that all the passengers were believed to be safe. The family’s relief was tempered by the lack of any communication from their son, and they were afraid he may be one of a number of officers who were transferred to the raiding vessel as prisoners. This has now been confirmed by a third cable: “Regret inform you Lieut. Lansberry transferred from Appam to raider, by which Appam captured”.

Lt. Lansberry is 26 years old and the eldest of five brothers who all won Harpur Trust Scholarships. After leaving the Grammar School he worked first in the City of London, then at Barclay’s Bank in Luton until September 1914 when he took up a commission in the 8th Bedfords. He was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Nigerian Regiment and sent to the Cameroons where came through two big battles unharmed in August 1915. When a new action began he was left behind in Duala to look after sick officers and men and before he himself succumbed to the gastritis which caused him to be invalided home.

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 4th and 11th February 1916

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