News from 1918: The Sinking of Justicia


Mark Baber

Staff member
On 20 July 1918, Justicia, managed by White Star and manned by many of the crew that had been on Britannic II when she sank, was sunk by a German submarine attack. The following articles appeared within the next week.

The Times (London), 25 July 1918

The Justicia, one of the newest and largest steamers of the White Star
Line, was torpedoed and sunk off the north coast of Ireland last
Saturday morning, after a long fight, in which destroyers took part,
with German submarines. There were no passengers on board, and of the
steamer’s crew of between 600 and 700 only 10 are reported to be dead.
A survivor states that, of the torpedoes fired, four were exploded by
gunfire from the Justicia.
The Justicia, formerly the Statindam, [sic] a vessel of 32,000 tons,
built by Messrs. Harland & Wolff at Belfast for the Holland-Amerika
Line, and taken over by the White Star Line, was torpedoed and sunk some
miles off the Irish coast on Saturday afternoon after a fight with
submarines which lasted for 22 hours.

The vessel was outward bound, and had on board a crew of about 600, but
carried no passengers. All went well until on Friday afternoon the
coast of Ireland was fading into the distance, when without warning the
vessel was struck by a torpedo, which entered the engine-room, killing
nine firemen and mortally wounding the third engineer, who succumbed to
his injuries next day. Though entirely disabled it was at once seen
that the ship was not likely to sink, and assistance was quickly at
hand. Hawsers were attached to a tug and endeavours made to tow the
crippled liner to port. Meanwhile the crew took up their stations and
gunners kept a sharp look-out for the enemy. By magnificent
marksmanship two torpedoes, the wake of which was seen in the water,
were deflected from their course and passed harmlessly by.


Torpedo-boat destroyers and other craft took up the challenge, and depth
charges were dropped where it was believed submarines were lurking,
while the work of towing went slowly on. By these means the U-oats were
kept at a respectable distance during the remainder of the afternoon and
night. It is uncertain how many German submarines were present.
Rescued members of the crew declare that there were at least eight. At
any rate, with the return of daylight it was seen that the U-boats had
not been entirely shaken off, as the attack on the liner was resumed
with vigour. Eventually two more torpedoes struck her, the last making
her destruction sure. She sank slowly, and the whole of the crew were
taken off and transferred to the accompanying vessel without further
loss of life. They were landed at an Irish port on Saturday evening,
where they were hospitably entertained by the British and Foreign
Sailors’ Society until Monday, when they were sent to their homes.


The Belfast Telegraph says that, according to members of the crew, the
liner was first attacked shortly after 2 o’clock on Friday afternoon,
when a terrific explosion shook the vessel from end to end. At the time
the sea was calm. Not the slightest panic ensued, and the crew speedily
mustered on the decks to await instructions. It was found that the
torpedo had penetrated the engine-room, but the damage was so trivial
that the liner would remain afloat long enough to allow her to be towed
to the nearest port. Preparations were accordingly made, and some time
later, when a tug had pulled in alongside, and the crew were about to
throw over a hawser, two torpedoes were fired by the submarine, which
was never sighted. The torpedoes missed their objective, passing
between the liner and the tug. Further attempts were made by the
submarine before nightfall and during the night to complete the
destruction of the ship, but these met with no more success, and it was
not until Saturday morning that the submarine, after expending numerous
torpedoes, was able to sink the vessel.

The final attempt was made about 8 o’clock in the morning when the liner
was in tow. One torpedo struck the engine-room, causing a violent
explosion, and a second almost simultaneously penetrated the fore hatch.
Directions were then issued to the crew to abandon the ship. The liner
remained afloat until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. At nightfall the
survivors were landed.

One of the men asserts that in all the submarine fired 10 torpedoes, of
which four were exploded by the gun crews. “It was the finest piece of
work I ever saw,” he added, “and it cost the Germans something to sink
us.” Of the members of the crew who were killed, one or two were
firemen, four were greasers, and another a lad of 16, who was working in
the engine-room when the last torpedo struck the vessel, and was on his
first voyage.

Another account of the attack on the Justicia is given in the Liverpool
. Seaman W. Bibby, a Liverpool youth, states that at 2.30 p.m. on
July 19 a torpedo struck the ship right in the engine-room and put some
of the gear out of order. With others, he volunteered to stay on board
all night. During that time, he said, several torpedoes were fired at
them, and they kept up a continuous fight with submarines which they
could not see. When daylight came the fight was still proceeding, and
one of the Justicia’s gunners, by remarkable marksmanship, exploded two
of the submarine’s torpedoes before they could reach the ship. At 9.30,
however, two torpedoes struck, and the ship’s boats were lowered. While
he was trying to get into one of them a ladder broke, and he fell into
the water among a pile of lines and other débris. He was washed against
the stern of the vessel and knocked unconscious. He remembered nothing
more until he found himself on board a trawler.


COPENHAGEN, July 23---The official statement issued by the German Naval
Staff to the effect that the steamer Justicia had been torpedoed caused
the greatest sensation in Germany, and particularly in Hamburg. The
entire German Press expresses satisfaction that the United States has
lost such a valuable and useful steamer.

According to German submarine commanders, the boat was provided with
large steel nets to prevent torpedoes from reaching the sides of the
ship, and that it was, therefore, difficult to destroy her. She had,
they said, often been attacked by submarines.---Exchange Telegraph
The Times (London), 26 July 1918

The Secretary of the Admiralty issued last evening the following account
of the torpedoing of the Justicia, reported yesterday:

The Justicia was attacked by torpedo at 2.30 p.m. on July 19, when the
vessel, with other ships, was being escorted by torpedo-boat destroyers
and other craft.

The torpedo exploded in the engine-room, which immediately filled, while
the compartment abaft was also flooded. Although the watertight
compartments were undamaged, the ship’s boats were provisioned and
lowered to the rails, and tugs stood by as a precautionary measure. At
4.30 p.m. two torpedoes were fired, one of which was diverted by gunfire
from the ship, while the other missed. The Justicia was then taken in
tow at 8 p.m. and a fourth torpedo was also diverted by gunfire. A
number of the crew were then taken off the Justicia, towing being
proceeded with.

At 4.30 a.m. on July 20 a fifth torpedo was seen to pass just ahead of
the vessel. At 9.15 a.m. two torpedoes were seen approaching from the
port quarter, one striking No. 3 hold, while the second struck No. 5
hold. The ship began to settle rapidly and sank, stern first, at 12.40
p.m. The third engineer of the Justicia died of his injuries and 15 men
are missing from the engine-room staff as the result of the first
explosion. The whole of the officers and crew were saved.

The submarine which was reported as having been sunk by H.M.S. Marne was
one of those endeavouring to get into position to attack the Justicia.


Mark Baber

Staff member
[MAB Notes: 1. "Friday" was 19 July 1918; "Saturday" was 20 July.
2. In the original article, there is one evidently misplaced line of type
in the paragraph which begins "A tug pulled alongside." That line has
been omitted from this transcription.]

The New York Times, 25 July 1918

32,120-Ton Liner Torpedoed Off Coast of Ireland on Westward Voyage
Already Damaged by a U-Boat, Ship Is In Tow When She Suffers Vital Blow
Marine Men Here, Citing Loss of Big Transports, Want Warships'
Protection Both Ways
AN IRISH PORT, July 22, (Associated Press)---The giant White Star liner
Justicia has been torpedoed and sunk. No passengers were lost.

The Justicia was formerly the Dutch steamer Statendam, which was taken
over by the British Government on the stocks at Belfast when she was
nearing completion. She was of 32,120 tons gross.

Four hundred of the crew of the Justicia have been landed here. They
report that the liner was sunk after a twenty-four-hour fight with

The first torpedo struck the engineroom and the ship then stopped.
Several other torpedoes were fired, but only two of the missiles were

The story of the fight between the German submarine and the Justicia, if
it could be told, would make one of the finest stories in the annals of
anti-submarine warfare.

Nothing which has occurred in connection with the sinking of the former
White Star liner gives navy men any cause for misgivings over the
submarine warfare. The defensive measures and methods showed up to
excellent advantage and indicate that the Entente naval forces can
always be counted on to make the enemy pay dearly for every attempt he
Sunk Off North Irish Coast
LONDON, July 24---The White Star liner Justicia, says a Belfast dispatch
today, was sunk off the North Irish coast on Saturday morning last. She
carried a crew of between 600 and 700. Eleven members of the crew are

The news of the sinking was announced by The Belfast Evening Telegraph,
which quotes one of the crew as asserting that ten torpedoes were
discharged at the ship. Four of the approaching missiles, he added,
were exploded by gunfire from the liner.

The Belfast Telegraph says that land had just been lost sight of when a
terrific explosion shook the Justicia. The crew was speedily mustered
on deck, but it was soon ascertained that the damage was so trivial that
the liner would remain afloat for a sufficient period to enable her to
be towed to port.

A tug pulled alongside the liner for this purpose when two more
torpedoes were fired by a submarine, which had missed the target,
passing between the liner and the tug.

Further attempts were made by the submarine to torpedo the Justicia on
Friday night, but all failed, and it was not until Saturday morning and
after the submarine had expended numerous torpedoes that the destruction
of the ship was accomplished.

Torpedo Caused Explosion

The final attempt was made at 8 o'clock on Saturday morning, when two
torpedoes hit the ship. One struck the engine room, causing a violent
explosion, and the other penetrated a forehold.

The liner was in tow at the time, and, as she did not sink until 2
o'clock in the afternoon, there was lots of time to transfer the crew to
other rescuing ships.

From three to eight submarines are said to have been concerned in the
attack on the Justicia, according to The Daily Mail, which states that
the fight began at 3 o'clock Friday afternoon and lasted intermittently
until Saturday morning. The ship sank about 1 o'clock in the afternoon
after nine torpedoes had been fired.

When the liner was first struck the torpedo boat destroyers which
accompanied her raced to attack the enemy and dropped many depth
charges, while patrol boats stood by the ship and a tug took her in tow.

The second and third torpedoes were fired about 5 o'clock in the
afternoon. Both missed their marks, one going ahead of the steamer and
the other aft. Two hours later another torpedo was seen coming, but
when it got close a gunner on the Justicia, with extraordinary aim, hit
it clean and exploded it.

Nine Torpedoes Used

All was quiet until 8 o'clock in the evening, when the fifth torpedo was
sighted. The gunners on the Justicia placed their shots so near it that
the torpedo was deflected and missed its target. Most of the crew by
this time had transferred to other ships, which had remained near the
liner all night.

The Justicia was well on her way to port Saturday morning, when toward 8
o'clock the gunners were hard at work as the sixth and seventh torpedoes
went past. Two hours later a submarine fired the eighth and ninth
torpedoes and one of them struck forward and the other aft.
Criticise Allied Naval Practice of Not Protecting Liners on Westbound
The news of the sinking of the British transport Justicia came as a
great shock to shipping circles in New York yesterday, as she was
regarded as the most valuable vessel in the service of the Allies
operating between the United States and England. The Justicia carried
5,000 troops comfortably, with their equipment, and maintained an
average speed of eighteen knots. It was her fourth trip with American
soldiers when she sailed from New York last time on June 27.

In December, 1917, the Justicia sailed from this port with 30,000 tons
of cargo, which included the biggest quantity of grain ever carried on a
single ship from America. On her way to England she called at Halifax
and took on board 12,000 Chinese laborers to work behind the lines in
France. This was at the time the explosion occurred at the Canadian
port, and for a day or two it was rumored that the Justicia had been

The transport carried a crew of 525 officers and men, and was commanded
until the present trip by Captain Arthur [sic; should be "Alexander"] E.
S. Hambleton. He was taking a voyage off, according to the rule of the
International Mercantile Marine Company, and had ben [sic]
relieved by Captain John [sic; should be "Hugh"] David.

Captain David's Ill Luck

Apparently Captain Hambleton took away the luck when he left his
command, because this is the second occasion on which Captain David has
met with misfortune when he succeeded Hambleton on a ship. The first
time was on the British transport Celtic, last April, when Captain David
left an English port alone after the convoy, and the Celtic was hit by a
torpedo off the Isle of Man.

The ship would have gone down, a big hole having been made in her port
side, if the U-boat commander had not fired another torpedo which struck
the Celtic on the starboard side, making another big hole so that the
water flowed clean through and the transport recovered her list to port
and remained on the mud until she was towed to port to be repaired.

Among the officers on the Justicia were Chief Officer John
Hollingsworth, Chief Engineer Claud Lapsley, Purser Claud [sic]
Lancaster, who was in the hospital ship Britannic when she was sunk in
the Ionian Sea; Dr. French, the ship's surgeon, who was on the auxiliary
cruiser Oceanic when she was wrecked off the north of Ireland, and
Joseph Jennings, chief steward.

Shipping men and shipmasters said yesterday that the Justicia, Dwinsk,
Covington, President Lincoln, Aurania, Andania, and many other fine
transports and supply ships had been sunk by the U-boats in the last
three months because they were not protected by warships after they got
clear of the land on the other side. When the transports were eastbound
they were convoyed across by cruisers and met 200 to 300 miles from the
Irish coast by destroyers or patrol boats. The result of this plan was
that only one transport, the Tuscania, had been sunk by submarines
eastbound with troops on board.

U-Boats Lie in Wait

Leaving France or England the transports and supply ships are usually
protected for twelve to thirty-six hours and then left to spread out and
make the best of their way back to America. The German Admiralty was
aware of this fact, Captains said yesterday, and has ordered the
commanders of the U-boats to spread out and lie in wait for the
unprotected allied ships after the warships leave them.

The submarines are cruising in the Atlantic in the form of a half
circle, the centre of which is 1,000 miles from the Irish Coast, which
is the point where they got the transport Ausonia on May 30. Each
U-boat has a radius of ten to thirty miles to operate in, according to
the distance from land, and the submarines can watch the steamships
coming for hours without being detected by the officers on the bridge.

Four weeks ago a determined attack was made by eight submarines on an
American transport westbound, which, fortunately, still had her escort
with her, and beat them off, after five torpedoes had been launched at
the huge sides of the vessel and had missed striking her by a few feet.

An experienced Captain, who has been in the transport service
practically since the war began in August, 1914, said yesterday:

"The loss of the Justicia may put an end to the senseless methods of
allowing American and British transports to travel without escort

Cruiser Convoys Withdrawn

"The cruisers which convoy them from America return alone with
Government officials and politicians on board and leave the transports
and supply ships to take care of themselves. It would be an easy task
to class the transports into groups of two, four or six, according to
speed, and send a cruiser to look after them and the submarines will
keep clear."

Some of the naval officials contend that it would mean the loss of a day
or more on the voyage if the high speed transports were escorted on the
return trip to American ports.

"What if it were true?" the Captain continued. "You could not replace a
magnificent steamship like the Justicia in a day or 300 days. If the
Navy Department at Washington and the Admiralty in London do not take
care of these valuable ships, the German submarines will get them one by
one during the fine weather and clear moonlight nights. None of the
steamships that are being constructed in America or Great Britain
compares with the vessels that are being sent to the bottom daily. The
Cunard Line alone has lost five steamships in five weeks."

Formerly the Statendam

The Justicia was laid down in the shipyards of Harland & Wolff, Belfast,
early in 1913 as the Statendam, for the Holland-America Line passenger
service between New York and Rotterdam, and was to have been completed
by the Fall of 1914.

On account of many strikes among the shipworkers, she was not launched
until June, 1914, less than two months before the great war began, and
stopped all work on merchant vessels. In October that year the British
Admiralty offered to pay the Holland-America Company at Rotterdam
£1,000,000 for the ship as she was, without any fittings and lacking the
upper promenade deck.

Two of the Directors of the company went from Rotterdam to London and
offered to let the Admiralty have the Statendam at a low rate for
charter in order that the company could get her back at the end of the
war. This was agreed to, and nothing more was heard of the steamship
until late in 1917, when she steamed into New York Harbor as the
Justicia, with about 2,000 Canadians, wounded officers and men, and
women and children who had been to see their husbands and fathers in the

The liner was operated under the White Star flag, with a White Star
commander and crew, but the International Mercantile Marine Company,
owners of the line, had no interest in the vessel except to act as
agents for the Admiralty on a 10 per cent. commission basis, it was

Second Biggest Ship Lost

The Justicia was the fourth biggest steamship in the allied service, the
fifth largest vessel in the world, and the second largest that has been
torpedoed since the war. Her net tonnage was 32,120 gross and 19,690
net. The only larger steamship torpedoed was the hospital ship
Britannic of the White Star line, of 45,000 gross tonnage.

The Justicia had a double bottom extending fore and aft, nine decks when
completed, and was 770 feet long, of 86 feet beam, and 48 feet depth of
hold. The cabin fittings, of the latest and most elaborate kind, which
are stored in the Holland-America Line warehouse in Rotterdam, were
intended to accommodate 860 first, 630 second, and 2,000 third class

The great liner had three funnels and was equipped with triple screws
driven by two reciprocating engines and one centre low pressure turbine
engine, which has proved to be the best type pf machinery for the big
liners, and gave her an average speed of eighteen knots.

Among the chief features in the first cabin accommodation laid out for
the Statendam were thirty-two suites de luxe, a dining saloon to seat
560 persons, and Louis XVI. music, drawing, and reading rooms.

As a freight carrier at the present price of tonnage the Justicia was
worth at least $10,000,000, although she was only valued at half that
amount when the Admiralty took her over in October, 1914. According to
the agreement with the owners, the British Admiralty will have to
replace the vessel with one on similar lines as soon as possible after
the war ends.


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 26 July 1918

And Each Submarine Operated Independently and in a Different Area
Germans Talk of Sinking That Ship---Justicia Was Under Convoy
Copyright, 1918, by The New York Times Company
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, July 25---There is no truth in the statement that the Justicia
was attacked by submarines in squadron. As Admiral Sims pointed out,
they do not and cannot travel that way. There has not been a solitary
instance since the war began of an attack by more than one submarine at
a time.

I learn that a U-boat coming from the North Sea and proceeding to her
station happened on the big boat and fired a torpedo which hit her. She
escaped further attack and was being towed to the Irish Coast to be
beached when she was attacked by a different U-boat. This time she was
convoyed, but the submarine got in lucky shots and she sank.

More submarines are now at work than for several months past. It is
well to remember always the element of periodicity in submarine
activities. This is really the best possible evidence of exhaustion.
The Germans are unable to maintain their submarine effort at a fixed
level, despite all their activities in building boats.

All the same, we must expect regrettable losses and spectacular plays
from time to time. The wonder is that our convoys have not been harder
LONDON, July 25---The White Star liner Justicia, which was sunk off the
north coast of Ireland on Saturday by German submarines, was attacked
when, with other ships, she was being escorted by destroyers and other
craft, the British Admiralty announced tonight.

The Admiralty's announcement says that fifteen of the Justicia's
engineroom staff are missing as a result of the first explosion, but
that the remainder of the officers and crew of the vessel were saved.

The submarine which previously was reported as having been sunk by the
British torpedo boat destroyer Marne "was one of those endeavoring to
get into position to attack the Justicia," says the Admiralty statement.
Think Vaterland is Sunk
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
THE HAGUE, July 25---On an obscure back page the Vorwärts deplores
the sinking of the Vaterland, pointing out that even patriots must
regret this success, and for Socialists it is an especially tragic
example of the overthrowing of culture.

The Dutch papers state that the torpedoed Justicia, formerly the
Statendam, was taken for the Vaterland by the Germans.


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 25 July 1918


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 28 July 1918

German Public Learns That the Admiralty Report of Her Sinking Was Not
AMSTERDAM, July 27---Implicit belief in the veracity of German Admiralty
reports received a rude shaking in Germany when the public had to be
told at it was not the American transport Leviathan, (formerly the
German liner Vaterland,) but the White Star liner Justicia which was
sunk Saturday off the north coast of Ireland. The Leviathan measures
22,000 gross tons more than did the Justicia.

The Lokal-Anzeiger of Berlin deems it necessary to say that it would be
entirely wrong to jump at the conclusion that German U-boat commanders
habitually overestimate the tonnage sunk. The newspaper, which treats
the official report as an exceptional and an excusable lapse, admits,
however, that German figures on sinkings are generally based on
"indications which are fallible to the trained mariner's eye, as in
present methods of warfare it is, in a majority of cases, impossible
definitely to establish a ship's identity."

The Lokal-Anzeiger hopes, however, that the "Vaterland will be caught
yet---sooner or later."

Other Berlin newspapers, which had already spoken of the United States
having to foot the bill for the destruction of the Leviathan, refrained
from comment, pending the verbal report of the U-boat commander which
the German Admiralty says must be awaited.


Mark Baber

Staff member
[MAB Note: Based on a record retrieved from, it appears that the "Atlantic Port" in the dateline is New York, the unnamed liner mentioned in the article is Canadian Pacific's Melita and the unnamed British port from which Melita departed is Liverpool.]

The New York Times, 29 July 1918

Crew and Passengers on Liner Narrowly Escaped from the Same Submarine
Officers Believe Three Are Now Cruising Off Atlantic Coast Awaiting
AN ATLANTIC PORT, July 28---The first details by eyewitnesses of the
sinking of the British transport Justicia off the north coast of Ireland
on Friday, July 19, were brought here today by the officers, crew, and
passengers of a liner which had a narrow escape herself. The U-boat came
between this vessel and the Justicia and fired torpedoes at both vessels
from her forward tubes, but fortunately only one hit its mark. The other
passed under the stern of the liner which arrived today.

The British ship was again attacked last Friday by a German submarine
about 700 miles southeast of Sandy Hook. It fired thirteen shells at her
without making a hit and then went in chase of another vessel. Another
U-boat appeared last night, but did not attempt to use her guns against
the steamship. It was thought that the last one might have been an
American submarine.

The Captain and officers expressed the opinion that there were at least
three U-boats cruising between Sable Island and Sandy Hook. When their
vessel was attacked on Friday they received S O S calls from another
steamship 100 miles to the northward and two hours later a call came
from a vessel more than 100 miles to the eastward of their position.

Saw the Justicia Hit

According to the officers, the liner left an English port on July 18
after waiting in the harbor for thirty hours to get the submarines and
mines cleared out of the North Channel. There were eight other
steamships in the convoy and six destroyers. All went well until 2
o'clock Friday afternoon, when the Justicia was about two miles
away on the starboard beam. While the officers and passengers were
looking at the big three-funneled transport they heard a muffled report
like the banging of a watertight bulkhead door below decks and saw a
cloud of smoke go up from the port side of the Justicia by the engine
room. The chief officer said, "By Jove, they've got her." At the same
time there was a flash through the water in the bright sunlight and the
wake of a torpedo was seen twenty feet from the liner's stern.

The hole in the transport must have been a big one, because she began to
settle by the stern as the rest of the convoy scooted away in all
directions. The destroyers steamed to the Justicia and dropped ten depth
charges over the spot where the Hun craft was believed to have fired her
torpedoes, but no trace of the periscope was seen either before or after
the attack.

The engineers on duty on the liner said that the effect of the depth
charges filled with 600 pounds of T N T was terrifying where they were
eighteen feet from the bottom of the ship. The oilers and firemen ran
from one side to the other as each bomb went off in succession,
expecting every minute to see the plate stove in. They could not tell
whether it was torpedoes, mines, or bombs, as the pandemonium of noise
with the shaking of the ship made it impossible for any of them to
think, the engineer said.

The Justicia was taken in tow and started for a nearby port at about
three knots an hour, for it was impossible to make more on account of
the weight of the vessel and the quantity of water in her holds, which
was increasing all the time. Word was received later that she had been
attacked again and sunk. In the meantime the destroyers had returned to
the convoy and remained to protect the eight steamships left for another
twenty-four hours

Nothing occurred to mar the smoothness of a normal midsummer voyage
across the Atlantic until shortly after eight bells struck at noon
Friday, when a U-boat was sighted about three points to starboard, three
and a half miles away. The Hun undersea craft, the officers said, was
heading southward across the stern of the liner, and promptly fired
two shells from his 5.9 Krupp gun forward, which fell short.

All Shots Went Wide

The Captain manoeuvred the liner so as to bring the submarine astern,
and then the gun crew opened fire on the enemy with the six-inch gun,
but their shots also fell wide. The U-boat followed in the wake and
fired thirteen shots, the last three being filled with shrapnel, but no
hit was made.

The 102 passengers were all on deck, including twenty Americans and two
women, with their life belts on and standing by the boats, which were
lowered to the level of the main deck rail. For an hour or more the
submarine hung on to the chase, first gaining and then losing way.
Finally the Hun went after a British freighter that was just above the

It must have attacked her, because the Captain sent out an S O S call
later. Another S O S was picked up from a British steamship in trouble
100 miles to the northward, the officers said, and a third call later
about the same distance to the eastward. The submarine was too far off
for the officers on the bridge of the liner to distinguish her
classification, except that she was 225 to 250 feet long and had a big
conning tower. The position of the Hun craft when seen on Friday was
latitude 36 degrees 42 minutes north and 60 degrees 58 minutes west.

At 6 o'clock last night, when the steamship was in 38 degrees 36 minutes
north latitude and 70 degrees 20 minutes west longitude, another
submarine was sighted on the port beam about three to four miles away,
heading west-southwest. This was about 250 miles southeast
of Sandy Hook, The steamship swung so that the stern gun could be
brought to bear and four shots were fired. The submarine, which had no
conning tower and apparently no guns, did not fire in return. Some men
were seen on deck aft waving flags, and the Captain ordered the gun crew
to cease firing, as it might prove to be an American war craft. The
fourth shot struck so close to the submarine that the water must have
splashed the crew on her deck.

Her Nationality Uncertain

Whether she was German or American, the undersea craft followed in the
wake of the liner until 10:25 last night and then submerged. The rule
during wartime for the submarines of the Allies is that they must keep
out of the track of convoys or merchant steamships or else take the
consequences, as naval officers and shipmasters have been warned to fire
at submarines on sight and take no chances.

In the opinion of the officers, the U-boats were being looked after on
the American coast by a submarine supply boat and would be able to stay
at least three or four months. They could renew their supply of oil fuel
by getting a tanker occasionally. The big submarines had a cruising
radius [sic] of 10,000 to 12,000 miles, they said, and could economize
on fuel while they were waiting for the transports to csome [sic] along. No
American patrol boats were seen on the approach to the coast yesterday
or today, it was said.

Among the passengers who gave vivid accounts of the thrilling escape of
the liner was Edward H. b***, formerly of Augusta, Ga., brother of Major
Archie b***, aide to President Taft, who was drowned on the Titanic. He
was accompanied by his wife and is going to take up his residence in
America again after being twenty years in England, engaged in the cotton
brokerage business.

There were also a number of Canadian officers belonging to the Royal
Flying Corps, on their way home for a rest. They had just left the
western front, and said it was absolutely certain that the Allies were
supreme in the air and the Huns realized it by their reluctance to


Remco Hillen

Thanks for all these Justicia reports Mark, interesting to read!


Mark Baber

Staff member
Here's "that word" again.

New York Tribune, 25 July 1918
Original article digitized by the Library of Congress
Retrieved from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America web site,

Justicia Second Largest Victim Of German Boats
The Justicia, reported sunk off the Irish coast, was a vessel of 33,000
tons. Only one larger ship, the Britannic, a White Star liner of 45,000
tons, has fallen prey to U-boats. The Lusitania was a vessel of about 32,000
tons. The Justicia was returning to an American port after landing a large
number of American troops.

Officials of the Holland-America Line, for which the Justicia was built and
to which the ship would have reverted after the war, said yesterday she was
valued at $10,000,000, and was built to be one of the finest passenger ships
in transatlantic service. She was supposed to be as nearly unsinkable as
modern ship construction would make her.

On her last trip from an Atlantic port the Justicia was commanded by Captain
A. E. S. Hambleton, [sic; should be "Hambelton"] and carried nearly 10,000
troops, from 2,000 to 3,000 in excess of her rated capacity, and a 15,000
ton cargo. She was a triple-screw turbine driven vessel, capable of eighteen
knots, and had a double bottom fore and aft, with eleven watertight
bulkheads extending up to the bridge deck. The ship had nine steel decks and
three funnels and was 770 feet long. Her crew numbered 500.



Good evening. I am interested in 1914-1918 Justicia lid ex Statendam. Please there are photos of the ship during construction and lowered into the water? Photos of hull slipway on the liner Justicia launching? Help please I ask you very. I hope for your understanding and for your answers. With Respect to Sergey Ions
Michael McGuffin

Michael McGuffin

Captain of SS Justicia

I am trying to confirm who was the captain on the Justicia's final voyage? Captain David or Captain Hambelton? I am also trying to find out what was the Justicia's last voyage? Thanks.


[Moderator's note: This message, originally a separate thread in a different topic, has been moved to this existing thread addressing Justicia's sinking. MAB]
Last edited by a moderator:

Mark Baber

Staff member
It was Hugh David, Michael; look at the second message in this thread.

She was evidently on her way from the UK to the US for troops; see the eighth message in this thread.

Mark Baber

Staff member
That David had just replaced Hambelton as Justicia's commander when she was sunk is confirmed by the White Star Officers' Book entries for both men.
Michael McGuffin

Michael McGuffin

That David had just replaced Hambelton as Justicia's commander when she was sunk is confirmed by the White Star Officers' Book entries for both men.

Mark, thanks for your answer and looking into this for me. The reason I asked again was because as I mentioned in the Afric post I have a discharge book that has a seaman who was on the SS Afric when it sank and then the next voyage was the SS Justicia. He engaged on the ship on sometime in April of 1918 and was discharged in Liverpool on the 20th of July 1918 (the day when the ship actually sank. Now from my understanding I would take that as he was on the last voyage of the SS Justicia. This discharge is stamped on the master's signature line by A Hambelton. So I am confused to why Hambelton would stamp the last voyage if in fact David was the captain of the SS Justicia when she sank?