Monday, 26 October 2020

The Royal Edward and the UB-14

Following on from my recent blog post about the Maritime Museum in Barcelona, I have found some more information about the fate of one of the ships whose model is on display (the Royal Edward) ... and the submarine that sank her!

The RMS Cairo was built in 1907 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, for the Egyptian Mail Steamship Company. They sold her to Canadian Northern Steamship Company in 1910, when she was renamed RMS Royal Edward.

The Royal Edward was requisitioned for military service when the First World War broke out, and after a period as an internment ship moored off Southend-on-Sea, she was used as a troop transport. On 28th July 1915, Royal Edward embarked 1,367 officers and men at Avonmouth to take them to the eastern Mediterranean to take part in the Gallipoli campaign.

She was torpedoed by the German submarine UB-14 was off the island of Kandeloussa at approximately 10.00am on 13th August, and she sank in less than six minutes. It is estimated that 950 lives were lost when she sank.

The UB-14 was a German Type UB I submarine. It was built by the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen, and launched and commissioned in March 1915. She was ‘transferred’ to the Austo-Hungarian Navy as the U-26 (i.e. she was crewed by German sailors but listed as a ship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy because Italy was not at war with Germany at the time) and transported in sections by rail to Pola on the Adriatic, where she was reassembled.

Her first commander was Oberleutnant zur See Heino von Heimburg (who later served as a Vice Admiral and People's Court judge during the Second World War) and she became the most successful German submarine serving in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. During her career she:

  • Torpedoed and sank the Italian armoured cruiser Amalfi on 7th July 1915

  • Torpedoed and sank the British troop transport Royal Edward on 28th July 1915
  • Torpedoed and seriously damaged the British troop Southland on 2nd September 1915
  • Sank the Russian coaster Katja on 7th October 1915
  • Sank the Russian transport ship Apscheron on 8th October 1915
  • Torpedoed and sank the British submarine HMS E-20 on 6th November 1915

  • Sank the Russian sailing ship Karasunda on 5th June 1917

After the end of the war, the UB-14 was disarmed at Sevastopol, and scuttled in the Black Sea early in 1919.


  1. Hi BOB,
    Yes, WW1 Submarines were a very dangerous foe. They took a very heavy toll on Merchant Ships and Naval Ships. Regards. KEV.

    1. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      The UB-17 was particularly successful, in no small part due to its captain. He was a nasty piece of work, and was one of the judges who condemned numerous people to death under the Nazis.

      All the best,


  2. BBC World War 1 at Home had a short section on this Royal Edward sinking as Many Cornishmen died with one of their relatives (someone I know) interviewed in this -

    1. Mark, Man of TIN,

      That sounds very interesting, and I’ll follow the link later this week.

      All the best,



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