In January 1916, the St Saviours, Stoke-Next-Guildford, parish magazine, reported upon an eventful journey to Egypt that had been undertaken by Mr and Mrs Scamell, two missionaries from Surrey who were returning to the Soudan:
Mr and Mrs Scamell have arrived safely in Egypt after a very stirring experience in the Mediterranean. They embarked at Marseilles on Monday, November 22nd. There were twelve missionaries and six Y.M.C.A. [Young Men’s Christian Association] workers travelling by boat. One morning just after breakfast the whistles were blown and all the crew rushed to their various posts. A submarine had been sighted about 31/2 miles away. Since the Ancona outrage* very strict watch had been kept. ‘At 10 o’clock the submarine, which flew no flag, opened fire by sending an armour-piercing shell after us and then a second, but the captain so skilfully zig-zagged the boat that neither touched us, both bursting alongside. In all she fired seven shots at us, one shrapnel bursting just over the bridge and narrowly missing the captain, and one other officer. At 10.20 it drew off, much to their joy and relief. This boat has a great many woman and children passengers – a floating nursery someone described it as – one woman in the second class has eight children under her care; if we had been hit it would, indeed, have been another baby-killing triumph for the Huns.’ During the minutes of suspense all the passengers remained in the dining saloon and were greatly comforted by the ministrations of Mr Mortimer, a C.M.S [Church Missionary Society] clergyman returning to Cairo. The sang, “Jesu, lover of my soul,” “O God our help in ages past.” So, in the goodness of God, ended what might have been a terrible event for all of us. No one was touched, and of the ship only a few splinters of wood knocked off a spar near the bridge.
* The SS Ancona was an Italian passenger liner that had been sunk by a u-boat, without warning, on 6th November 1915, only 16 days prior to the Scamell’s sailing.
St Saviour’s Church, Stoke-Next-Guildford, Parish Magazines, January 1916, SHC Ref: 1946 Box 10.
‘SS Ancona’, wikipedia, accessed 23 March 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Ancona.