Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 5

February 5, 1918 - Edwin R. Berkey of Bemidji, Minn.,1 was one of 210 casualties of the sinking of the S.S. Tuscania on this date. Frank Gaboury of Little Falls, Minn., 2 was one of 2,187 survivors.3

S.S. Tuscania

En route to Liverpool, the Tuscania was carrying approximately 2,013 American troops and a crew of 384. “After an arduous voyage across the North Atlantic, most of those aboard, in sight of the Irish coast to starboard and the Scottish coast to port, surely believed the worst part of their journey was behind them. Spotted by German submarine UB-77 earlier in the day, however, their convoy was stalked until early evening and the cover of darkness. Then, at about 6:40 p.m., submarine captain Lt. Cdr. Wilhelm Meyer ordered two torpedoes fired at the Tuscania. The second of these struck home, sending her -- within about four hours -- to the bottom of the [North] Channel.”3

Isle of Islay, Scotland4

“The Tuscania was the first ship carrying American troops to be sunk, and public opinion in the USA regarded its loss as an outrage. In 1920 the American Red Cross erected a monument on the Isle of Islay, where many of the victims had been buried before their transfer that year to the American War Cemetery at Brookwood (England) or to their homeland.”5

Edwin R. Berkey Burial:
Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial
Surrey, England6

1Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Bemidji Name is Given on Roster of Sunken Vessel; ‘Subs’ Await Prey”; Feb. 8, 1918; p. 1
2Little Falls Herald; “Local Boy on the Tuscania, Frank Gaboury Listed Among Survivors of Torpedoed Transport”; Feb. 15, 1918; p. 1.

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