Pullman Gallery

H. & H. Plante, SS ‘Dacia’, 1915

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Reference: 6321

H. & H. Plante, of 12 Bury Street, St. James’s.

A fine and unique maritime presentation piece of historical interest relating to the SS Dacia the undersea cable-laying ship built by Swan Hunter in Newcastle in 1879 and sunk in 1916. This unusual piece was commissioned from H. & H. Plante Silversmiths of St. James’s and the glazed mahogany case contains a fine engraved silver map of Dacia’s areas of activities off the coast of Africa, along with a presentation plaque and mounted samples of the three kinds of deep sea cables used and laid by the vessel. An exceptional piece of Great War maritime history.

Size: 16 x 9½ inches (41 x 24 cm).

The Atlantic island of Madeira, did not escape the violent consequences of World War I. On 3rd December 1916, a German U-boat sunk the French gunboat SS Surprise whilst moored off Funchal. SS Dacia and the French auxiliary vessel SS Kanguroo were also torpedoed and sunk. Dacia, a British cable-laying vessel, had previously undertaken war work off the coast of Casablanca and Dakar, and the vessels Surprise and Kanguroo were her armed escort and support respectively.

Following the attack on the ships, the German U-boat then proceeded to bombard Funchal for two hours from a range of about 2 miles. The English cable station was a main target along with other public buildings in the city. SS Dacia had a long and successful career as a cable-layer until its sad end and although cable-ships were merchant vessels, they were still considered legitimate war targets and a great many were sunk during both world wars.

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