19th February 1915

HMS Goldfinch is wrecked off Orkney

HMS Goldfinch had a short career. Built in Glasgow, she was launched in 1911, but wrecked in 1915 under the command of Reginald Guy Stone, who had been involved in several previous maritime incidents – one of which involved the same ship.

In 1913, the Goldfinch collided with two other ships – HMS Nymphe and HMS Sheldrake while still at anchor in bad weather. Stone was held responsible and cautioned to always post a watch in the future when inclement conditions were forecast.

Goldfinch stranded and wrecked

However, worse was yet to come and, on 19 February 1915, he stranded the ship, in dense fog, on rocks off the Orkney Islands. The Royal Navy could well have done without losing one of its ships in wartime under any circumstances – never mind a situation involving no enemy action – and Stone was subsequently court martialed.

None of this should suggest that Stone wasn’t a brave and valuable member of the forces, though. He was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) and mentioned in Dispatches for gallant behaviour.

Wartime reporting restrictions meant that the ship’s grounding on Start Point wasn’t made public, but it can hardly have gone unnoticed, as it was left in place to rot while the Admiralty focused on more important matters. In April 1919, with the war over, it at last invited tenders for the wrecked and rusting hull, which it sold for scrap.



Other events that occured in February

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