Joseph Hadfield

 

Submitted by Ian Cooper.

Joseph was Ian's 1st Cousin 5x removed


Joseph Hadfield was a driver with the Royal Field Artillery. He served in France between 5 August and midnight 22/23 November 1914 and was within range of enemy mobile artillery during that period. For this service, he later received the Mons Star with Clasp and Roses.

In 1915 his unit was transferred to the newly-formed 29th Division, making up the divisional ammunition column.

In October 1915 the column was transferred to 10th (Irish) Division which was bound for the Balkans. So in mid October 1915 the men and horses of the ammunition column boarded the Transport SS Marquette, which was leaving Alexandria, bound for Salonika, Greece.

SS Marquette, under the command of Captain John Bell Findlay, left Alexandria Harbour, Egypt in the late afternoon of October 19. At dusk the transport was joined by its escort, the French destroyer 'Tirailleur', and the portholes were blacked out. The passengers and crew carried out lifeboat drills, as there were rumours there was German U-boats in the area.

On the evening of the fourth day, as Marquette was only 35 miles from Salonika harbour, the escort left the convoy. Shortly thereafter, U:35, under the command of Kapitaenleutnant Waldemar Kophamel, spotted the transport and prepared for a submerged torpedo attack. With a tally of 224 ships sunk, U-35 was the most successful German submarine of the Great War.

Steaming at a leisurely 9 knots, SS Marquette was struck without warning at 9:15 a.m off Platamona Point. Although hit on the forward starboard side she immediately took of a list to port but then righted herself and began to settle by the bow. She sank 13 minutes after the torpedo struck with the loss of 167 lives. Second Engineer Robert Rae lost his life going below to open sea cocks to lower the ship's stern because her still churning propellers were rising and threatening lifeboats and survivors in the water. More men and women were lost as they endured hours in the water waiting for rescue to come. Particularly tragic was the loss of the medical personnel, who could easily have sailed in comparative safety on the hospital ship Grantilly Castle which sailed empty in the same convoy bound for the same destination. As a result of this incident medical units were prohibited from traveling in military transports.

Joseph Hadfield's body was never recovered. His name is commemorated on the Mikra Memorial. This memorial, at the south end of Mikra British Cemetery just outside Thessaloniki, commemorates almost 500 nurses, officers and men of the Commonwealth forces who died when troop transports and hospital ships were lost in the Mediterranean, and who have no grave but the sea. They are commemorated here because others who went down in the same vessels were washed ashore and identified, and are now buried at Thessalonika.

Joseph's service number was 96655. He was entitled to the 1914 Star with Clasp and Roses, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The inscription on the medals would read 96655 DVR. J. HADFIELD R.F.A.

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