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Monday 5th June, 1916
4.40 pm. The Hampshire left Scapa Flow it took the route through Hoxa Sound to the south and then turned westwards into the stormy weather just off south west Hoy she rendezvous with Victor and Unity the escort destroyers. The two destroyers then followed behind the Hampshire.
5.40 pm. The weather conditions which the Hampshire and her two escorts are now up against are exactly the opposite of what had been forecast.
6.05 pm. Victory which is the smaller and less powerful destroyer sent a signal to indicate that she could only maintain a maximum speed of 15 knots.
6.10 pm. The destroyer Unity signalled that she could only maintain a maximum speed of 12 knots.
6.18 pm. Unity again signalled this time to state that she could only maintain 10 knots.
6.20 pm. The Hampshire returned the message and signalled that Unity should now return.
6.25 pm. Victor once again signalled to say that she could not maintain a speed any greater than 12 knots.
6.30 pm. The Hampshire returned the message and signalled that the Victor should now also return to her base. Both destroyers were situated off the entrance to Hoy Sound when they left the Hampshire and headed for home. The Hampshire then proceeded alone as she fought the might and fury of a force nine gale.
7.40 pm. In the previous hour the Hampshire had struggled to make much headway at all. She was now only making 13.5 knots and was roughly one and a half miles from shore, her location was between Marwick Head and the Brough of Birsay. It was at this time in this location when an explosion shook the whole ship, the explosion was on the port side just forward of the bridge. She began to sink straight way, the helm was jammed and power failed. As a result of no power she could not make radio contact with the authorities on the shore to seek assistance.
7.45 pm. A telegraph message was sent from Birsay Post Office to Kirkwall and Stromness. It read: "Battle cruiser seems in distress between Marwick Head and the brough of Birsay ”.
7.50 pm. It had now only been 10 to 15 minutes after the Hampshire had struck the mine and the explosion ripped through the ship, she went down bows first, leaning over to starboard.
8.05 pm. A second telegraph message was sent from Birsay Post Office to Kirkwall and Stromness. It read: "vessel down".
8.10 pm. Mr. G. L. Thomson, honorary secretary of the R.N.L.I. branch. He rushed to Stromness Naval HQ with an offer to launch the lifeboat. His offer being declined, he pressed to see a senior officer, by whom he was told: “you have no right to interfere in Naval matters. It is none of your bloody business. And, what’s more, if you attempt to launch a lifeboat it’s mutiny. Mutiny do you hear? Any more nonsense or argument and I’ll have the whole lot of you locked up”.
9.45 pm. A tug and two trawlers left Stromness for Birsay.
10.00 pm. Four destroyers followed the trawlers, then other boats.
Time unknown. The few who knew of the disaster, who wanted to help, were in some cases “forcibly prevented under dire threats”. One man was told by a soldier “that all civilians were to remain in their houses and not to venture near the shore or we should be fired on”.
Tuesday 6th June, 1916
12.00 am. Observers in Birsay were positive that none reached the scene of the sinking before midnight.
1.00 am. One of only three Carley rafts to be launched from the Hampshire surged up on to the rocks in a small creek called Nebbi Geo, half a mile north of Skaill Bay. This raft had about 40 men in it when it left the sinking ship, it picked up another 30 from the water. Due to exposure there were only six men alive when it hit the rocks.
1.15 am. Another Carley raft made the shore just north of Skaill Bay. There were 40 to 50 men on this larger Carley raft, only four of its occupants had survived the journey. The third Carley rafts which was the first to leave the Hampshire had only six men in it. Faced with the severe conditions it was flung over twice, jettisoning the men into the sea. Only two men were alive when it reached the safety of Skaill Bay.
1.15 am. One or two men had sufficient strength to reach a farmhouse, after their ordeal by sea. The others were found on the rocks more dead than alive.
Time unknown. Someone remembers two lorry loads of bodies coming to Stromness Pier, little attempt being made to cover them from public view: Some were almost naked. They were sent down a chute into the hold of a Naval tug to be taken for burial at Lyness.
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