Rank: Company Sergeant Major
Number: 17553
Unit: serving aboard HMHS “Salta” ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
Date of Death: 10 April 1917
Age: 33 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: “Salta” Memorial, Ste Marie Cemetery, Le havre, Seine-Maritime, France

When the census was taken in 1901, 17 year old mark was living at the family home of 50 Carmichael Street, Edgeley, with his parents, John and Sarah, and younger sister, Florrie. He was working as a clerk in one of the local hatworks but, the following year, decided to join the army as a new career. Nothing is known of his early years of service but, in the late summer of 1915, he married Elsie Weston in Southampton. She originated from the area. A couple of months before he died, Mark was home on leave. It’s believed he had the time to come back to Stockport to see the family. His father had died by 1917 and his mother and sister had moved to 26 Wellington Road North.

Salta had been built as a passenger ship, of 7200 tons, in 1911. In 1915, she was acquired by the Admiralty and converted for use as a hospital ship. She was operated on the Admiralty’s behalf by Union Castle Mail Steamship Ltd.

On 10 April 1917, she was nearing the French port of Le Havre from Southampton with a cargo of medical stores. Early that morning, a patrol craft found drifting mines (later ascertained to have been laid the previous day by the German submarine UC26. At 11.20am, Salta’s identity was confirmed by the drifter “Diamond” and she was approved to enter the port. Whilst following the buoyed channel into Le Havre, Salta's Captain Eastaway gave orders to alter course to the north. The commander of the Diamond relayed a frantic message that Salta was now approaching the zone where the mines had been seen. One of the Salta's surviving officers later reported that Eastaway was concerned about entering Le Havre without a pilot because of the bad weather and had wanted to let the other ships pass.

Realising the grave danger, Eastaway tried to re-trace his course back to the buoyed channel. In poor weather conditions,
Salta drifted across the mined zone and hit a mine at 11.43am. An enormous explosion breached the hull near the engine room and hold No. 3. She quickly listed to starboard and sank in less than 10 minutes, ½ mile north of Whistle Buoy.

Despite help arriving rapidly, the state of the sea and the strong winds hampered the rescue operation and the human cost was appalling. Of 205 passengers and crew, 130 perished. In spite of extensive searches, only 13 bodies were initially recovered. There are now 24 burials from the sinking of the
Salta in Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, and also a memorial to those who were not recovered. As well as Mark, two of his comrades, John Gould and Frederick Hodkinson, also died

© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
Close Search Window