It was on this date, October 11, 1918 that the first reports of the sinking of the troopship Otranto were reaching the U.S.  Berrien County, Georgia and Ray City would pay a heavy toll in the disaster.

The NYT coverage of the story began with the following:


BELFAST, Oct 11.–A grave collision in the North Channel, between the Irish and Scottish coasts, has involved the loss of the American transport steamer Otranto and many lives of soldiers, officers, and crew.  The vessel with which the Otranto collided was the Kashmir of the P. and O. Line.  So far as could be gleaned at this time, the Kashmir’s wireless and other gear had broken down, and, becoming unmanageable, she crashed into the Otranto with appalling effect.
Splendid discipline was maintained, but in the terribly wild weather that prevailed with very high seas, the task of rescue was attended with the utmost difficulty and danger, and a number of boats immediately swamped and their occupants drowned.
It has been roughly estimated that several hundred men of all ranks and ratings lost their lives, but this calculation is very indefinite, as complete details are not to hand regarding the fate of those on the colliding ships.
About 400 survivors, many injured more or less seriously and all suffering from the effects of immersion and exposure, arrived at Ulster harbor on Sunday morning. Large numbers of missing men are believed to have been afloat, and they may have been picked up and taken to other ports.

Although it would be months before the names of all the dead were confirmed, ultimately 25 Berrien County soldiers lost their lives.


Pvt. Hiram Marcus Bennett, Sparks, GA

Pvt. Jim Melvin Boyett, Milltown, GA

Pvt. John Guy Coppage, Cecil, GA

Pvt. Rufus Davis, Sparks, GA

Pvt. Mack Hilton Easters, Lenox, GA

Pvt. George Bruce Faircloth, Milltown, GA

Pvt. Lafayette Gaskins, Nashville, GA

Pvt. Bennie E. Griner, Nashville, GA

Pvt. Lester A. Hancock, Alapaha, GA

Pvt. Robert J. Hancock, Lenox, GA

Pvt. Arthur Harper, Enigma, GA

Pvt. William P. Hayes, Alapaha, GA

Thomas H. Holland, Adel, GA

Pvt. George H. Hutto, Adel, GA

Pvt. Ralph Knight, Ray City, GA

Pvt. Benjamin F. McCranie, Adel, GA

Pvt. James M. McMillan, Nashville, GA

Pvt. William McMillan, Enigma, GA

Pvt. John Franklin Moore, Adel, GA

Pvt. Charlie S. Railey, Alapaha, GA

Pvt. Tillman W. Robinson, Enigma, GA

Pvt. Thomas J. Sirmons, Nashville, GA

Pvt. Shellie Loyed Webb, Ray City, GA

Pvt. Joel Wheeler, Nashville, GA

Pvt. William C. Zeigler, Sparks, GA


  1. May 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    […] and other Berrien men embarked for over-seas service, sailing on the armed  transport “Otranto.”  The Otranto joined a convoy of ships crossing the North Atlantic, and about 10 days into […]

  2. September 12, 2011 at 6:39 am


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