HMS CAROLINE TO OPEN JUNE 1 2016. SIX MONTHS TO GO!

The count-down has begun for the opening of one of the world’s most historically significant war ships. Urgent repairs to halt the deterioration of World War One light cruiser HMS Caroline were completed earlier this year making the ship safe for the next stage of restoration. Now the final leg of restoration and interpretative work can be completed to allow the ship to function as a world-class museum, a cross-community centre and a meetings and conferences venue.

National Museum of the Royal Navy Chief of Staff Captain John Rees OBE has been leading the complex funding and restoration programme in partnership with the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. He says: “HMS Caroline is a living legend. We are breathing new life into what is an internationally significant piece of world history. We are particularly looking forward to the ship being ready for public opening on June 1 2016. This will mark the first stage of a series of phased openings. The second and third phases will see the ship dry docked for hull conservation works in the winter and then the completion of onshore facilities.

“This is a world class heritage asset and the only ship remaining from the Grand and High Seas Fleet of some 250 vessels.  We must not underestimate the value of this ship and the resonance of its history and position in Northern Ireland, so it is a matter of pride for us as well as a contribution to local communities that the ship is brought back to life as a museum, visitor and community centre.”

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell says: “As the last floating survivor of the Battle of Jutland, HMS Caroline is an integral part of the rich tapestry of maritime history at Titanic Quarter. I have no doubt it will prove to be a popular draw for tourists when it opens as a world class museum in six months’ time.”

The vessel has been based in Northern Ireland for over 90 years and has undergone the first stages of restoration which will eventually see it opened to the public as a world class museum and heritage visitor attraction. The opening date is due to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Jutland on May 31 2016.

NMRN in a joint venture with Northern Ireland’s Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment initially secured £1m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to safeguard the ship, £11.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2.7m from the Northern Ireland Government to complete the restoration, preservation and interpretative work.

COMMEMORATION OF THE IRISH SAILOR

31st May 2016, the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, is the chosen date to mark the contribution of all involved in war and life at sea 1914 – 1918 with a Commemoration to the Irish Sailor in the Great War.  The event will be run in Belfast next to Jutland’s only afloat survivor, HMS Caroline, and will include her official opening as a heritage visitor attraction.  The commemoration will connect people in maritime activity a hundred years ago with descendants, and to those engaged in similar activity today.

If you have links to sailors, fishing, shipbuilding or other maritime activity from 1914-18 and wish to be involved, please see here:  http://historyhubulster.co.uk/irishsailor/

HMS CAROLINE Project Phasing

The project is split into three distinct phases as outlined below:

PHASE 1The Ship: These works comprise of asbestos removal, ship adaptation, audio visual hardware and software and exhibition fit-out and interpretation fit-out.

PHASE 2Dry Docking: of the ship for conservation works to the hull

PHASE 3Visitor Centre & Landscaping: refurbishment works to the Pump House blocks 1-3 including the Alexandra dock

Schedule of opening

2016

May 31: Commemoration of The Irish Sailor. Centenary of Battle of Jutland ceremonies and events at Alexandra Dock.

June 1: HMS Caroline welcomes its first public visitors.

August: Landscaping of Alexandra Dock complete.

November:  HMS Caroline leaves Alexandra Dock for dry dock inspection and hull conservation works.

December: HMS Caroline returns to Alexandra Dock and new position close to Pump House and facing out to sea.

2017

May: Completion of Pump House restoration and installation of permanent ticketing office and visitor welcome centre.

caroline pic

Living Memory Pilot Project 2015

History Hub Ulster is honoured to have been invited to participate in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Living Memory Pilot Project 2015 and has created a short video based on the War Graves and memorials in Belfast City Cemetery as part of this project.  The video will be shown at a presentation of the Castleton Lanterns in Alexandra Presbyterian Church, Belfast at 2:00pm on Saturday 14th November 2015.

Those featured are:

Typist Sarah Rachel Orr (Sadie) Hale, Mercantile Marine (SS Lusitania)

Sergeant Thomas Samuel Telford, Machine Gun Corps (Motors)

Private David Lumsden Newel, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)

Company Serjeant Major George Frank Newel, Royal Irish Rifles

Lance Corporal Walter Newel, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Rifleman Hugh Joseph Thompson, Royal Ulster Rifles

Private Thomas Clulow, South Lancashire Regiment

Air Mechanic 3rd Class Albert Edward Campbell, Royal Air Force

Private Charles Banford, Royal Marine Light Infantry

Trimmer William Edwin Gleave, Mercantile Marine (SS Celtic)

Greaser Robert Bodie, Mercantile Marine (SS Celtic)

Fireman George Richardson, Mercantile Marine (SS Celtic)

Fireman Samuel Routledge, Mercantile Marine (SS Celtic)

Steward Charles Jeffers, Mercantile Marine (SS Celtic)

4th Engineer Stanley MacDonald, Mercantile Marine (SS Celtic)

Sergeant Charles William Evans, Royal Air Force

Lieutenant John Alan Schwarz, Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (HMS Whitaker)

Signalman Lyn Edgar Landon Relf, Royal Navy (HMS Sarawak)

Sapper James Orr, Royal Engineers

Communities Secretary Greg Clark launched ‘The Living Memory Project’, designed to remind people of the 300,000 war graves and memorials in the UK. Many of these memorials lie in forgotten corners of graveyards; the Living Memory initiative is designed to aid their rediscovery.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:

“This year, of course, we’ve continued to mark the First World War’s centenary with a focus on the battlefields of Northern France, Belgium and Turkey. But we should take time to remember the brave men buried and commemorated here in the UK too. We owe our gratitude to those men, from across the Commonwealth as well as from the British Isles, who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First and Second World Wars. Paying respects at the war graves of Belgium or France is a life-changing experience, but the final resting places and memorials of thousands of brave men can also be found, not far from your home, in 13,000 locations across the British Isles. The Living Memory Project is a fitting way to pay tribute to that sacrifice and to learn about our shared history. I’d encourage people to get involved, and discover how they can pay their own tribute.”

The Living Memory Project, part-funded by the Government, is working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and thirty-six local groups around the country to create remembrance events at local war memorials.

Thirty-six groups will work with the CWGC to re-discover war graves, pay respect to the war dead, and share their research with the wider community. “We should make a positive decision to remember these brave people,” said Mr Clark. “They may have died long before we were born, but they died that we could be free. Their sacrifice should inspire all of us.” 

The initiative will continue long after this fortnight of activity, with all communities urged to remember these hidden war heroes annually – creating a thread of memory and shared history long into the future.

CWGC Director of External Relations, Colin Kerr, said: “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s work overseas is well known, but here in the United Kingdom there is little awareness of the graves to be found in a staggering 13,000 locations, that commemorate over 300,000 Commonwealth dead of the two world wars.

“We believe that this is wrong, and through the Living Memory Project aim to reconnect the British public to the commemorative heritage on their doorstep. With the support of DCLG, the Living Memory Pilot will encourage more people to discover and visit CWGC war grave sites in the British Isles, to remember the war dead in those places from the First and Second World Wars and to share and raise awareness of these 300,000 commemorations with their wider communities.  The aim is to roll the programme out nationwide in 2016 as part of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Somme campaign.”

The project has been devised in partnership with community engagement specialists, Big Ideas Company www.bigideascompany.org.

Chief Executive Virginia Crompton said: “We are proud to be contributing to such a meaningful project supporting people across the UK to discover their local war graves.”

North Belfast Remembers Job Opportunities

We are looking for three people to help with our project North Belfast Remembers. Application details at the bottom of the page.

Project:

A series of arts and heritage based events aiming to connect the local community with the Decade of Centenaries and the First World War.  It aims to engage the community with their local history and begin a dialogue about the place of remembrance in today’s society. It provides an opportunity for intergenerational storytelling aiming to enable older people and children to understand the importance of each other in the community.

NORTH BELFAST REMEMBERS PROJECT MANAGER

December 2015 – March 2016 (78 hours total / £12 per hour / Freelance)

Roughly 4 hours per week, rising to 8 hours per week in March 2016.

Role:

Project Management of 10 research workshops, 5 art workshops and a final larger scale event in March 2016

Essential:

3 years project management experience / an interest in history / ability to work to own timetable and within budget / time management skills /Ability to engage with all members of our community

Desirable:

Experience having worked with older people and children / knowledge of North Belfast particularly BT14 / BT15

_______________________________________________________________________________

NORTH BELFAST REMEMBERS ARTIST

5 x 60 mins children’s workshops in February and March 2016 (plus 5 x 60 mins prep time)

 (10 hours total / £30 per hour / Freelance)

Brief:

Artist for 5 arts workshops of 20 children each, aged 8 – 12 years old in community venues in North Belfast. The brief will be discussed in more detail with the chosen artist, but will involve decorating glass bottles.

Essential:

3 years arts experience / an interest in history / ability to work to own timetable and within budget / /Ability to engage with all members of our community / Experience working with children

Desirable:

Knowledge of North Belfast particularly BT14 / BT15

________________________________________________________________________________

NORTH BELFAST REMEMBERS RESEARCHER

December 2015  (20 hours research / £12 per hour / Freelance)

January – February 2016  (20 hours workshop delivery/ £12 per hour / Freelance)

Role:

Research of ww1 servicemen from North Belfast and delivery of 10 x 90 minute research workshops for older people in community venues in North Belfast. (plus 10 x 30 min prep time)

Essential:

3 years research experience / an interest in history / ability to work to own timetable and within budget / time management skills / ability to engage with all members of our community

Desirable:

Experience having worked with older people / knowledge of North Belfast particularly BT14 / BT15

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Applications:

Please send cover letter and CV to research@historyhubulster.co.uk

Closing Date: Wednesday 25th November 2015

 

 

Please note this email is not monitored daily and we cannot acknowledge every application.

Belfast City Council 2015 (Master) CRC logo

WW1 Centenary: The loss of Anglo-Californian

ANGLO-CALIFORNIAN

ANGLO-CALIFORNIAN

The horse transport vessel Anglo-Californian sank off the south coast of Ireland on 4 July 1915 while en-route from Montreal, Canada to Avonmouth, England.  At the time she was carrying 927 horses destined for the Western Front.  At 0800 on 4th July, German submarine U39 surfaced a mile off the port beam of the Anglo-Californian as she was about 90 miles off Queenstown, Co Cork.  The Master, Lieutenant Frederick Parslow (Royal Naval Reserve) with his eldest son at the helm, took evasive action but U39 opened fire with her deck gun repeatedly hitting the vessel.  At 1030 the submarine ordered Parslow to stop and abandon ship.  Having received signals from local destroyers to delay, Parslow ignored the order much to the annoyance of U39 commander, Walter Forstmann, who opened fire on the vessel wrecking the bridge, lifeboats and superstructure.

Thomas M Henry “Unconquerable”

Thomas M Henry “Unconquerable”

U39 closed to 50 yards shooting at anything that moved but soon dived to avoid the approaching destroyers.

The Anglo-Californian was towed into Queenstown on 5 July.

Lt Parslow lost his life along with 21 others including Horseman David O’Neill from Belfast.

Parslow was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) while his son and the chief engineer were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Interestingly, Parslow was not a member of the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) at the time of the incident.  He was posthumously awarded a commission as a RNR Lieutenant and then awarded the VC.

Parslow’s grave along with 9 others from his ship can be found at Cobh Old Church Cemetery, County Cork.

Research by Mark McCrea, Member, History Hub Ulster.

 

 

 

Lieutenant Frederick Parslow

Lieutenant Frederick Parslow VC citation

Lieutenant Frederick Parslow

Lieutenant Frederick Parslow

Titanic People: The First World War Roadshow

Did a member of your family serve in the First World War? Were any from East Belfast? Bring along your artefacts and stories to the Titanic People First World War Roadshow in East Belfast Network Centre on Saturday 6 June 2015, from 10am – 3pm.

10.30am Launch of Row on Row, East Belfast Remembers

11am The Shipyard and the Home Front during the First World War – Philip Orr

1.30pm Researching East Belfast and the First World War – Jason Burke

2.45pm Playing of the Last post – The Hounds of Ulster

History Hub Ulster member Nigel Henderson will be available all day to provide tips and pointers on conducting your own First World War family research.

Titanic People

Letters of 1916 Belfast Launch

EXPLORE life in Ireland a century ago, CONTRIBUTE to a crowdsourced history project, LEARN about how a digital archive is created, DISCOVER hidden stories of 1916.

Bring your family letters written between 1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916 to digitize and add to the Letters 1916 archive:

WHERE: PRONI
WHEN: Thursday 28th May 2015, 5.30pm to 9.00pm

5.30pm – 6.30pm Open Session – Letters 1916 – Meet the team demo, transcribe, digitise.
6.30pm- 7.45pm A year in the life: A series of talks exploring life in Ireland a century ago highlighting letters from PRONI’S collection, including Professor Susan Schreibman (Maynooth University), Ian Montgomery (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), Stephen Scarth (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), Jason Burke (East Belfast & The Great War)
7.45pm – 8.30pm Reception

Admission is FREE, Please contact PRONI to secure your place

letters1916

WW1 Centenary: The Irishmen lost on HMS Goliath

HMS_Goliath_(1898)_in_1907The Gallipoli campaign resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 Allied and Turkish servicemen in just eight months. Serving both at sea and on land, the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Division lost many men in what was to become an unmitigated military disaster of poor planning that resulted in the loss of more than 44,000 Allied lives. In contrast, the defence of Gallipoli was the Ottoman Empire’s most successful military operation of the war.

One example of the local losses during the Gallipoli campaign is the loss of HMS Goliath on 13 May 1915. In total 73 men from Ireland were lost on this ship. In 1911, Coonagh, a small village in Limerick was recorded as having only 48 households of 202 people. Of these 98 were male and only 48 men were between the ages of 18 and 49 in the village. Of these men, 8 died on HMS Goliath.  Seven of these men were fishermen like their fathers, the other an agricultural labourer. The impact of this loss is still felt today as Mick Cronin from Coonagh is currently fundraising for a memorial to these lost men.

The ages of the men lost on the ship ranged from 17 to 55 years old, the average age being over 30. Despite the myth that World War One was a ‘young man’s war’, there were many very experienced seamen who died at sea.  This includes Armourer Michael Meyler from Wexford who was 55 years old when he died, and noted as a pensioner, and Petty Officer James John Beauchamp who was 48 when he died. Following in his coastguard father’s footsteps, James was a coastguard in Castleblaney.  The youngest Irishman to die on Goliath was Boy (1st Class) Philip Duffy, a Monaghan lad. His service record notes his full enlistment on 23 August 1915, however he never made it to that date and his death date precedes his enlistment date.

The 73 Irish casualties who died during the sinking of HMS Goliath were from the following areas: 16 from Cork, 9 from Waterford, 9 from Belfast, 8 each from Dublin and Limerick, 6 from Wexford, 3 from Derry, 2 each from Monaghan, Down and Carlow, 1 from Antrim, Donegal, Wicklow, Kerry, Tipperary, Meath, Sligo and Louth.

Another Irishman, Signaller Frederick Parnell Waterson was severely wounded in action on HMS Goliath on 3 May 1915 during operations in the Dardanelles, died on 1 June 1915 of pneumonia. Previously a plumber, Frederick is buried at the Royal Naval Cemetery in Capuccini, Malta.

HMS Goliath was a pre-dreadnought battleship built by the Royal Navy in the late 19th century. Having been mothballed prior to the outbreak of the First World War, she was returned to full commission. Goliath was part of the Allied fleet supporting the landing at X and Y Beaches during the landing at Cape Helles on 25 April, sustaining some damage from the gunfire of Ottoman Turkish forts and shore batteries, and supported allied troops ashore.

On the night of 12th May, Goliath was anchored in off Cape Helles, along with HMS Cornwallis and a screen of five destroyers. Around 1am the Turkish torpedo boat destroyer Muâvenet-i Millîye eluded the destroyers and closed on the battleships firing two torpedoes which struck Goliath almost simultaneously causing a massive explosion. Goliath began to capsize almost immediately, and was lying on her beam ends when a third torpedo struck.  She then rolled over and sank taking 570 of her 700 crew to the bottom, including her commanding officer. Although sighted and fired on after the first torpedo hit, Muâvenet-i Millîye escaped unscathed.

Goliath was the fourth Allied pre-dreadnought battleship to be sunk in the Dardanelles. For sinking Goliath, Turkish Captain of Muâvenet-i Millîye, Ahmet Saffet Bey was promoted to rank of Commander (Major) and awarded the Gold Medal. The German consultant, Kapitänleutnant Rudolph Firle was awarded the Gold Medal by the Ottoman sultan and the Iron Cross (1st class) by the German General Staff.

HHU Turkish Warship and HMS GoliathTo read how History Hub Ulster remembered those Irishmen lost on HMS Goliath please click here.

Irishmen lost on HMS Goliath were: 

Seaman Richard Allen RNR, from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman Maurice Cronin RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman Patrick Cronin RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman Patrick Darby RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman John Davis RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman Thomas Davis RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman Thomas Grimes RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Seaman Michael Hickey RNR from Coonagh, Limerick

Leading Seaman Michael Coleman RN from Aghada, Cork

Stoker Thomas Webb RNR from Bantry, Cork

Seaman Patrick Sweeney RNR from Castletown, Cork

Petty Officer James Crowley RN from CastleLyons, Cork

Seaman Robert Arnopp RNR from Kinsale, Cork

Seaman Daniel Collins RNR from Kinsale, Cork

Seaman John Mahony RNR from Kinsale, Cork

Seaman John Mahony RNR from Kinsale, Cork

Seaman Patrick Regan RNR from Kinsale, Cork

Able Seaman William Geoghean RN from Queenstown, Cork

Petty Officer John Keane RN from Templerobin, Cork

Gunner Charles McCarthy RN from Aghada, Cork

Stoker (1st) Jeremiah Kearney RN from Nackbrown, Cork

Shipwright (2nd) Richard Ahern RN from Youghal, Cork

ERA John Joseph O’Flaherty RN from Cork

Chief Stoker Denis O’Neill RN from Cork

Seaman William Dempsey RNR from Blackwater, Wexford

Stoker (1st) Patrick Murphy RN from Fethard, Wexford

Seaman Patrick Kavanagh RNR from Kildermot, Wexford

Seaman Michael Joseph Allen RNR from New Ross, Wexford

Seaman William Barron RNR from Ballyhack, Wexford

Armourer Michael Meyler RN from Wexford

Stoker John Garvey RNR from Bray, Wicklow

Stoker Myles Doran RNR from Carnew, Wicklow

Cooper Michael Cunningham RN from Clashmor, Waterford

Seaman James Flynn RNR from Corbally, Waterford

Seaman Michael Flynn RNR from Corbally, Waterford

Able Seaman James Mason RN from Passage East, Waterford

Seaman James Walsh RNR from Passage East, Waterford

Stoker (1st) Michael Power RN from Tallow, Waterford

Petty Officer Michael Gyles RN from Tramore, Waterford

Seaman Thomas Keohan RNR from Tramore, Waterford

Seaman William Power RNR from Tramore, Waterford

Able Seaman Richard McClatchie RN from Clonmel, Tipperary

Stoker (1st) Peter Carroll RN from Clontarf, Dublin

Chief ERA Robert Byrne RN from Dublin

Stoker John Larkin RNR from Ringsend, Dublin

Stoker Thomas Lee RNR from Dublin

Able Seaman Frederick William McDowell RN from Dublin

Seaman William McGee RNR from Rush, Dublin

Stoker (1st) John Steel RN from Dublin

Able Seaman George Edwin Upton RN from Dublin

Stoker Francis McKeown RNR from Dundalk, Louth

Able Seaman John Kearney RN from Slane, Meath

Chief Yeoman of Signals Robert Kilcullen RN from Waste Gardens, Sligo

Able Seaman George Wood RN from Valentia, Kerry

Stoker Samuel Gibson RNR from Carlow

Stoker (1st) Class Hector Hiles RN from Belfast

Stoker Robert Jones RNR from Belfast

Stoker John Jones RNR from Belfast

Stoker John McAnally RNR from Belfast

Stoker Robert John McDowell RNR from Belfast

Stoker Thomas Warnock RNR from Belfast

Seaman Gordon Douglas Simpson RNR from Belfast

Stoker (1st) Class Hugh O’Donnell RN from Belfast

Stoker Charles Holland RNR from Belfast

Private Alexander Harkness RMLI from Ballygarvey, Antrim

Able Seaman James Kelso RN from Kilkeel, Down

Stoker (1st) Class William Ernest Beringer RN from Portaferry, Down

Private Robert Hutchinson RMLI from Derry

Leading Seaman John Doherty RN from Derry

Seaman John Joseph Dennis RNR from Waterside, Derry

Able Seaman Philip Wright RN from Ballyarnett, Donegal

Petty Officer (1st) James John Beauchamp RN from Castleblayney, Monaghan

Boy (1st) Class Philip Duffy RN from Clones, Monaghan

 

Research by Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster.

Photo by Aurora 

 

VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) – 70th Anniversary

Bonfires, effigies and gramophones, parades, bunting and fairy lights: How Lisburn celebrated VE Day on 8 May 1945

By the end of April 1945 it was clear that World War 2 was coming to an end.  The German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler had taken his own life on the last day of April.  His successor, Admiral Donitz authorised the military surrender of Germany which took place on 7th May 1945.  The British Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill declared the following day to be known as VE Day (Victory in Europe Day).  A public holiday of two days was declared.

Life in Lisburn was the same as in any other place in Northern Ireland.  Among the advertisements in the weekly Lisburn Standard were the following:  Girls Training Corps holding a parade and display; Wallace High School entry requirements; Welcome & Christian Workers’ Union Mission Sunday School and Lisburn Variety Theatre with its Saturday Night Show.  The annual RVH ‘house to house’ collection went on as normal.

The Lisburn Standard was a weekly paper and the news relating to VE Day was written and published on Friday 11th May 1945.  The paper described the events from Monday 7th May – a radio broadcast warned the nation to ‘stand by’ for an important announcement to be broadcast at 4pm.  The locals listened to their radio sets at home and at work but no announcement came.

The local Urban District Council meeting took place that night.  At 7.45pm, the meeting was disturbed by a telephone call to Mr T H McConnell the Town Clerk.   The caller said that the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill would announce VE Day at 3pm the following day, Tuesday.  In addition, both Tuesday and Wednesday would be observed as general holidays.  The local ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Officer, Mr R H Gibson soon broadcast the news over loud-speakers in Market Square, where it was then spread by pedestrians all over the town.  Members of nursing, domestic and outdoor staff who were to work on the public holidays would be given two days double pay or two days holiday at a later date.

Although the official celebrations were to start the next day, the townspeople showed their relief and pleasure in no uncertain manner.  At 3pm, Mr Churchill’s broadcast was relayed around Market Square to an attentive crowd who cheered when it was finished.  An open-air religious service was held after the King made his speech. Streets were packed and crowds paraded up and down until the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  A squad of Belgian soldiers billeted in Lisburn marched to Dunmurry and then back to Knockmore, singing ‘Tipperary’ and other songs made popular in wartime.  They lighted an impromptu bonfire in Seymour Street, brought out a melodion and danced for hours.

By the next day, the town had been plentifully decorated and looked really well.  There were flags, bunting and decorations making the streets a riot of colour.  At night, fairy lights and the glow of bonfires added to the gaiety of the scene.  A few shop fronts were boarded up, but not many, with most shops displaying patriotic colours.  Messrs J C Patterson’s premises in Bow Street and the Picture House looked well with their fairy lights.  Other grounds and buildings attracted considerable attention and the effect was impressive.  Once again the celebrations lasted into the wee small hours.

After a break of a few hours, the celebrations continued into Wednesday evening.  Everyone was out, young and old, in gay attire.  The girls were in their light summer dresses for it was an ideal, warm summer day.  (The paper emphasised that it was now at liberty to describe the weather without regard to security).  Parties were numerous and animated.  In the streets, the people forgot their habitual reserve and sang, danced and made merry with one another as though they were all acquainted.  Bonfires burned.  Effigies of Adolf Hitler were burnt with zest.  Gramophone records were relayed over improvised loud-speaker systems.  Children were entertained by street groups.   There was no thought of bed in most people’s mind.  Anyone who tried got no sleep at all. Wednesday was more subdued, until the night came.  By then, most folk were thoroughly tired out.  There was talk of just having the task of ‘knocking-out Japan’.  No one could tell when VA Day (Victory in Asia Day) would come.

Celebrations weren’t just for Lisburn; Dunmurry went wild with joy.  Impromptu bands paraded on the Monday night through to Wednesday.  Mr Robert Green and a large team of local boys worked on a huge bonfire.  It was lit on the Tuesday night by Mrs Beattie J.P.  Again, an effigy of Hitler and his detested and discredited swastika perished in the flames.  Finaghy too, had its bonfire and a Hitler effigy burnt.

Following the declaration of peace, advertising changed in the following week’s Lisburn Standard.   The Belfast Savings Bank told of the ‘Dove of Peace’ spreading its wings.  A ‘Victory Queen’ contest was announced.  Christ Church was to hold a ‘Thanksgiving for Victory’ service and Railway Street Presbyterian Church would hold a ‘Thanksgiving and Dedication’ service.

Research – Gavin Bamford, Member, History Hub Ulster

Thanks also to Catherine Burrell, member History Hub Ulster and Lisburn Museum.

 

WW1 Centenary: The loss of RMS Lusitania 7th May 1915

On 30 April 1915, the Lusitania was in New York, being loaded with food and medical supplies. She was also secretly loaded with munitions for Britain for the war.  On the same day, Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger was ordered to take U-boat 20 into the Irish Channel to destroy ships going to and from Liverpool.

Lusitania at the end of the first leg of her maiden voyage, New York City, September 1907.

Lusitania at the end of the first leg of her maiden voyage, New York City, September 1907.

On 1 May 1915, the Lusitania embarked on its crossing of the Atlantic with 1257 passengers and a crew of 702 under the command of Captain William Turner.

On 5 May, U-20 tried to destroy but missed several ships, including several neutral ones.  That day, he destroyed the Earl of Lathom.  The next day he fired two torpedoes at the Candidate, a steamer from Liverpool. The same day he destroyed another ship, the Centurion.

cunardOn 7 May the Lusitania entered the Irish Channel.  Contrary to orders to travel at full speed in the submarine war zone around Great Britain, Captain Turner slowed the ship down because of fog.  As a precaution, Captain Turner posted extra lookouts and brought the lifeboats out.  Meanwhile U-20 was travelling west in the Irish Channel and sighted the Juno, a cruiser. It’s zigzag path made it difficult for a submarine to fire at and so it escaped.  Captain Turner of the Lusitania did not do this because he felt that it wasted time and fuel.

At 1:20pm British time, Schwieger sighted something of note.

‘Starboard ahead four funnels and two masts of a steamer with course at right angles to us’

He submerged and waited until at 1:40pm when the ship turned towards him, and fired a single torpedo.

The 18 year old lookout on the Lusitania grabbed his megaphone and shouted to the bridge:

‘Torpedoes coming on the starboard side.’

memorialThomas Quinn, a lookout in the crow’s nest, saw the torpedo’s wake and sounded the alarm.  There was a large explosion at the side of the ship just ahead of the second funnel.  Then there was a larger, muffled explosion from the bottom of the ship.  The ship tilted to the right and although the power failed, Captain Turner attempted to steer the Lusitania toward land in an attempt to beach her.  Without power the rudder and engines did not respond and the watertight doors could not be closed.

Although the Lusitania had adequate lifeboats for all on board, most lifeboats simply could not be launched.  Due to the list, the lifeboats on the port side could not be launched.  The starboard side boats swung out so far that many passengers had to jump from the deck to the lifeboats, risking falling into the water far below.  A few lifeboats were launched that contained only crew members.  Other lifeboats capsized and some were damaged when the torpedo hit the ship.

The Lusitania sank below the waves shortly before 2pm.  It sank in only 90 metres of water, and since the ship was 239 metres long, the bow hit the bottom of the ocean while the stern was still up in the air.

Norman Wilkinson - The Illustrated London News, May 15, 1915.

Norman Wilkinson – The Illustrated London News, May 15, 1915.

Captain Turner jumped into the water as the bridge was about to go under.  He swam for 3 hours until he finally found a nearby lifeboat.

The distress signals sent from the Lusitania reached Queenstown, where the Vice Admiral Sir Charles Coke gathered up whatever ships were available and told their captains to sail to where the Lusitania was.  They arrived 2 hours after the sinking.  They picked up any people still alive in the water and only 6 lifeboats.

761 survivors were collected by boats from Queenstown.  1198 people died.

Some Ulster passengers lost on the Lusitania were:

Thomas McAfee

Thomas McAfee

Frank Houston, the only son of Mr and Mrs Houston of Fernbrook Cottage, Carnmoney Road.

Frank Houston

Frank Houston

Thomas McAfee, originally from Belfast, who had moved to Toronto was coming home to enlist.  He had worked at the York Street Spinning Mill and his sisters lived at Summer Street, Belfast. Also lost was his friend Robert McCready who had emigrated to Canada a few years before.   He was a photographer employed by Charles ad Russell photographers, Royal Avenue, Belfast.  His father was William McCready of Oldpark Road, Belfast.

Some crew with Ulster addresses who died on the Lusitania were:

Robert McCready

Robert McCready

Isaac Linton, aged 48, and Michael Corboy, aged 49 both fireman from County Down. Michael Rice, aged 60 and Patrick Campbell aged 35 both firemen from Newry.  Another Newry man lost was Patrick Loughran, a trimmer aged only 19 from Queen Street in Newry. Kenneth Mackenzie, aged 25, a waiter from Belfast. Trimmer William Field from Ship Street in Belfast was also lost, aged 31.  Edward Finnegan, aged 22, a trimmer from Castleblaney in Monaghan.  Sadie O’Hale aged 29, a ship’s typist from Ballymena.

Edward J Heighway an able seaman from Strangford was saved.  Also saved were Able Seaman James Hume from Canmore Street, Belfast and Fireman Stephen Rice from Armagh.

Research: Karen O’Rawe, Chair, History Hub Ulster

Newspaper Pictures: Nigel Henderson, Member, History Hub Ulster