Oscar Barker Benfield (1892‒1917), is presumed drowned at sea on 1 August 1917, aged 25. The ship on which he was travelling, the SS Karina, was torpedoed and sunk in the Irish Sea 17 nautical miles SSW of Hook Point, Count Waterford, Ireland, with the loss of eleven (another source gives seven) lives. Benfield appears not to have been a member of the armed forces or Merchant Navy.

Oscar was born in 1892 in Cambridge. He was the fourth of five children born to George Herd Benfield and Phillis Benfield (née Collyer). His paternal grandparents were George Benfield and Ann Louisa Benfield (née Barker). Oscar’s grandfather, George, was a college servant. Oscar’s father was Head Porter at Selwyn College and then at Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 1901 Oscar was living with his family at 29 St Mary’s Street, Cambridge. Ten years later he was living at 21 St Andrew’s Street North, Bury St. Edmunds as a boarder. He was then 20 years of age and a bank clerk.

Oscar married Vera Evelyn Batten in 1916 in Reading, Berkshire. The following year Oscar embarked on the SS Karina at Cape Coast, a city and fishing port in south Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. The SS Karina was a passenger/cargo steamer of 4,222 GRT (gross register tonnage) built in 1905 by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow for the African Steam Ship Company (Elder, Dempster), London. On 1 August 1917, it was travelling from Sierra Leone to Liverpool with a cargo of palm oil, kernels and passengers, when it was torpedoed and sunk 7 miles south by west of Hook Point, Ireland by the German submarine SM UC-75, Kaiserliche Marine. It lies at a depth of 70 metres.

BENFIELD. – At sea, on August 2nd, through the vessel being mined, Oscar B. Benfield, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Benfield of 70, Mawson-road, Cambridge, aged 25 years. Deeply mourned.
(Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 10 August 1917)

Benfield grave
Benfield monument



Lat Lon : 52.203921 0.13776362 – click here for location

Parish : St Andrew the Less

See family grave page for more information





For a photograph of the ship in 1912, see SS Karina
Census returns for England: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915
London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754–1921
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914–1919
Web: International, Find a Grave Index
Allen Tony (2007 and 2009)

By Ian Bent and Emma Easterbrook

Oscar Barker Benfield