Archie Jewell

(1888-1917) – 'Titanic' survivor whose luck ran out

Bude radio operator Archie Jewell survived the sinking of the 'Titanic'. Upon the outbreak of war he served on various liners which were being used as hospital ships. He survived the 1916 sinking of the 'Britannic' but, unfortunately, his luck ran out when the SS 'Donegal' was torpedoed the following year.

Credit: Bude Castle Heritage Centre

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Archie Jewell was born in Bude Haven, the son of a sailor.  He was one of the radio operators who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912; being one of several Cornishmen on board. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Jewell served on various liners which were being used as hospital ships.

On November 1916 he was on board the Britannic (the Titanic’s sister ship) which was sunk by an explosion in the Mediterranean.  Once again he survived, although thirty others did not.

On April 17 1917 he was on board SS Donegal, a Merchant Navy Hospital ship which was bringing wounded soldiers home from France, when the ship was torpedoed in the English Channel by a German submarine.  Sadly, Jewell’s luck had run out. He died aged only 28, leaving a wife and children behind.

Hospital ships should have been immune from attack according to the Hague Convention.  Unfortunately, the boarding and seizure of the German hospital ship Ophelia on 17 October 1914, when acting suspiciously, put paid to that.  The British Admiralty seized her as a prize of war and found quantities of Verey signalling lights on board, far more than the 12 red, 12 green and 12 white Verey lights normally carried by a British hospital ship.  An enquiry was held and Sir Arthur Moseley Channell, who later retired to Falmouth, was a member of the judicial committee.

Key words: casualty

Credit: Bude Castle Heritage Centre