The bell from the WW1 ship SS Stock Force that was sunk in 1918.
The last surviving piece of an iconic WW1 battleship that defeated a German U-boat in a clash in the English Channel has been unearthed – more than a century on.
The bell from the SS Stock Force, which was attacked by a German submarine on July 30, 1918, will go on public display for the first time in more than 105 years.
The historic relic was salvaged when the crew of the ship – led by Captain Lieutenant Harold Auten – who bravely fought off German submarine gunners before it sank.
And it’s expected to fetch up to £5,000 ($6,348 USD) when it goes under the hammer in Scarborough, England, on Friday.
Stock Force was torpedoed 25 miles off the Devon Coast by the UB-80 at 5 p.m. on the afternoon of July 30, 1918.
The massive explosion wrecked the front of the ship, including the bridge, leaving the vessel dead in the water, billowing smoke and slowly sinking.
The German sub, skippered by Kapitanleutenant Max Viebeg – one of the deadliest U-boat aces of the war with 50 sinkings to his name – rose to the surface half a mile away.
It then slowly approached Stock Force, determined to finish the job by gunfire.
But what they didn’t realize was that the boat – built in Dundee before being re-equipped in the Humber – was a Q ship, heavily armed with concealed guns.
As the submarine approached, they peppered it with gunfire until it sank.
It is the first time the bell has been seen in public for 105 years.
Stock Force eventually sank with colors flying, but the officers and men were taken off by two torpedo boats and a trawler.
Lieutenant Auten was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the British Army, for his actions that day.
It remained in the personal collection of the shipyard family and their descendants until a couple of years ago.
The bell was recently discovered in a house clearance and was passed onto a private collector who decided to put it up for auction for the first time ever.
Jess added: “The astonishing story had an equally astonishing ending.
The bell will go on display at David Duggleby’s salerooms in Scarborough on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 am-4 pm.
It can also be seen on Friday morning from 9 am until the start of the auction at 11 am.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.