Our July talk is Michael O’Brien on the naval career of Baron Georg von Trapp. Best known as the stern father in the musical ‘The Sound of Music,’ Von Trapp was originally more famous for being Austria-Hungary’s leading submarine ace in the First World War.
The talk examines his fighting record and the unique links of the Trapp family to Britain. Born 1880 in Croatia, Georg followed his father into the Austro-Hungarian navy, serving on torpedo boats and then submarines. He married Agatha Whitehead, whose grandfather hailed from Bolton and invented the torpedo. Von Trapp gained fame in 1915 by sinking a French cruiser followed by an Italian submarine. In October 1915 he took U-14 into the Eastern Mediterranean and sank 5 ships in one 3-week voyage. After the war he lost all his wealth. His second wife, Maria, pursued singing as the means of family income, which is where the famous musical comes in.