February 8, 1916 – French Cruiser Amiral Charner Torpedoed, 374 Sailors Drown

Pictured – The Amiral Charner. Of its 375 crew members, one survived.

Amiral Charner was a French armored cruiser built in the 1890s.  Besides a brief stint in China during the Boxer Rebellion, the ship served most of its career in the Mediterranean, forming part of the International Squadron during the Greco-Turkish War in 1897 before being relegated to a training ship.  In 1914 she was re-commissioned for war, joining the French Mediterranean Fleet, blockading Western Turkey. 

In September 1915, the cruiser played a brief but heroic role by saving 3,000 Armenian refugees on the coast from encroaching Ottoman troops north of the Orontes River Delta.  On February 8, while sailing from Syria to Egypt, German submarine U-21 torpedoed and sank the Amiral Charner, which went down in less than four minutes with 374 crew members, the whole crew save one.  The German submarine was commanded by Otto Hersing, who had already sunk one British battleship of Scotland and two off Gallipoli.