Search our records : Sidney Leonard Mutter

Surname: Mutter
Forename(s): Sidney Leonard
Service Number: 43243
Force: British Army
Unit: 23rd Division Ammunition Column Royal Field Artillery
Date of Death: 23rd October 1915
Where Buried / Commemorated: Commemorated on the Mikra Memorial Thessaloniki Greece
Parents: Johna and Amanda Mutter
Home address: Oaken Cross, Marnshull, Dorset
Leonard Mutter was born in Beer in 1889.  He seems to have been known as Leonard, rather than by his first name, as this is the only name given for him in both the 18891 and 1901 censuses.  In the 1891 census, the family was recorded as living in Cemetery Lane, Beer.  Leonard's father, John, was an agricultural labourer aged 50, and Amanda, his mother, was 34.  At two years old, Leonard was the youngest child.  His sister Ethel was five, while his brother John was aged four.

After the outbreak of war in August 1914, Leonard enlisted at Taunton as a driver in the Royal Artillery.    He arrived in Egypt on 6th April 1915.

The Marquette left Alexandria on 19th October 1915 en route to Salonika in Greece, where British troops were fighting against                                . She had a crew of 95, and was carrying just over 600 personnel from the 29th Division Ammunition Column, plus the staff of No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, including 36 nurses.  Her escort, the French destroyer 'Tirailleur' accompanied her for most of the voyage, but left her on the evening of 22nd October, as she was approaching the Greek coast.  At 9.15am on Saturday 23rd October the Marquette was hit by a torpedo fired by a German submarine, U35.   In the confusion which followed, several of the lifeboats were damaged or lowered incorrectly, tipping the occupants into the sea.  In all, 167 people died, including 128 troops, 29 of the crew and 10 nurses. 

There is some doubt as to why the escorting destroyer left the Marquette when she was so close to her destination, and why the hospital unit was
on board at all, because the Marquette, as a troopship, was a legitimate target for the U boat, and a British hospital ship, the Chantilly Castle, left Alexandria empty only a few hours after the Marquette.  Ironically the Chantilly Castle was used to treat many of the survivors from the Marquette.
After the sinking of the Marquette, no Allied medical units were permitted to travel on troopships, a restriction which continued into the second world war.

Leonard has no known grave, and is commemorated on a memorial at Mikra, near Thessaloniki in Greece.  The inscription on the memorial reads:
"To the glory of God and in reverent memory of the dead are inscribed here the names of one hundred and thirty five nurses, officers and men of the United Kingdom and New Zealand drowned in the 'Marquette' transport torpedoed on the 23rd October 1915. Of eighty officers and men of the forces of the United Kingdom and India drowned in the 'Ivernia' transport torpedoed on the 1st January 1917. Of the eight officers and men of the Royal Army Medical Corps drowned in the hospital ship 'Britannic" sunk by a mine on the 21st November 1916. Of two men of the forces of the United Kingdom drowned from the hospital ship 'Braemar Castle' on the 23rd November, 1916 and of one sailor of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who perished in the Aegean Sea on the 22nd January 1918.
All these have no other grave than the sea.
"He discovereth deep things out of darkness
And Bringeth out to light the shadow of death".