SS Anglia commenced duty as an express passenger steamer for the LNWR on the Holyhead to Dublin service in May 1900. She was capable of speeds of up to 22 knots. At the outbreak of war she was commandeered for war service by the Admiralty and initially fitted out as a Fleet Messenger and named HMS Anglia. She took on this role of until April 1915 when she was refitted as an auxiliary hospital ship. She was then renamed HMHS Anglia, remaining under the command of Captain Lionel J Manning.
She then began regular sailings to Boulogne to collect and transport wounded soldiers back to England. She was manned by her regular Holyhead crew together with three Nurses, three Army Doctors and 28 men from the RAMC. On 28 October 1915 King George V was in France inspecting troops when he fell from his horse injuring his pelvis. Three days later he was evacuated back to Britain on board HMHS Anglia. He was appreciative of his care and rewarded acting Captain Robert H Horner and the First Officer each a gold pin set as a memento.
On 17 November 1915, HMHS Anglia was making its way from Boulogne across the English Channel to Dover carrying 390 wounded soldiers, accompanied by medical staff. The crew numbered 56, with most of them originating from Holyhead and Anglesey. The ship followed the marked route reserved for Hospital Ships. At about 12.30 pm she struck a mine, laid previously by the submarine UC-5, one mile east of "Folkestone Gate", the swept channel entrance to Dover Harbour. The Anglia struck the mine on her forward port side and she immediately began to sink.
Many ships, including HMS Ure, HMS Hazard, HMTB 4, SS Langdon, SS Channel Queen and the coller Lusitania, went to the rescue but this was made more difficult as she was listing heavily with her stern rising out of the water and screws still turning. As a result the ship continued to move in a circle and out of control. HMS Ure positioned herself close to the Anglia and managed to take off many from her decks. Before the Anglia finally sank the destroyer set herself across the steamer's submerged bow to take off as many as possible of those remaining.
It took HMHS Anglia just 15 minutes to sink. During that time many sacrificed their lives to help others. Despite best efforts five army officers, 128 soldiers, one nurse and nine RAMC men lost their lives. Of her crew, 25 were lost with 23 of these from Holyhead. Only one crew member's body was recovered. Chief Steward Richard Roberts of 13 Roland Street is buried in Maeshyfryd Cemetery. His grave inscription includes 'He gave his life for a friend'.
Details of crewmembers from Holyhead lost on the Anglia can be found here - Holyhead War Memorial