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HMS Arethusa HMS Arethusa
First Name: Sydney James Last Name: BARNES
Date of Death: 28/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Shepherd's Bush
Rank: Boy1 Unit: HMS Arethusa
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-16

56 Askew Crescent, Shepherd's Bush

Gillingham (Woodlands) Cemetery

The Battle of Heligoland Bight  was fought in poor visibility on 28th August 1914 in an area of sea off the mouth of the Elbe, named after the island of Heligoland, thirty miles off the coast. It was here that a force of British light cruisers, destroyers and submarines, commanded by Commodore Tyrwhitt, attacked German coastal patrols. They were in turn covered by Vice Admiral Beatty's Cruiser Squadrons.

Two German torpedo boats were sank early on but when German cruisers appeared on the scene they began to do serious damage to Tyrwhit’s ships including the light cruiser HMS Arethusa. Two of her 4 inch guns were jammed and out of action and another was damaged by German shells. With part of her engine room flooded and suffering wireless damage, HMS Arethusa could only make slow progress through the water. Tyrwhitt called Beatty for urgent assistance and his force of powerful heavy cruisers arrived an hour later. In the action that followed three German cruisers and a destroyer were eventually sunk. No British ships were lost, but three British ships had to be towed home. Beatty's squadron sank three German cruisers and a destroyer and damaged a further three other cruisers. Retreating hurriedly under the cover of mist, the Germans had lost 1,200 men, as opposed to just 35 British fatalities. Despite the victory, British naval planning had been poor. With better co-ordination more could have been achieved. 

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