LECTURE: The Battle of Jutland Today as Seen Through its Shipwrecks (Dr Innes McCartney)

Innes McCartneyDr Innes McCartney is a nautical archaeologist, explorer, historian and author. Over the last 25 years he has specialised in the discovery of and investigation into twentieth century shipwrecks including the wrecks of the Battle of Jutland and many British and German submarines. He has appeared regularly on documentaries such as Time Team Special and is a popular speaker at conferences.

The talk will give an overview of the Battle of Jutland and then reveal how the 25 ships sunk have been discovered in recent years and what they tell us. The shipwrecks offer an entirely new way of looking at the battle. Not only are they the extant memorials to the 8,500 sailors who died, they are also remarkable untapped archaeological resources. This is no truer than when looking that remains of the ships which sunk with few witnesses, or behind walls of smoke. In those cases the wrecks offer much new information about the battle which was previously unknown. This talk will show how investigations of the wrecks are changing historical perspectives on the battle.

The talk will take place on Thursday 26th May at 6.30pm in PRONI. Refreshments will be available from 6pm

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL: Please click here

Organised by History Hub Ulster and the Royal Navy, this event is part of Belfast City Council’s Civic Events programme of commemorations and is being funded by the Council and OFMDFM. For further information on these events, please visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/centenaries

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 

 

‘Last Post’ Gallipoli Commemoration – Ulster Folk Museum

You are welcome to our ‘Last Post’ Gallipoli Commemoration event being held on Sunday, 26th April 2015 at 2pm at the Northern Banking Company exhibit within the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra.

invite with logo FINAL

We will be commemorating four bank officials from the Northern Banking Company who volunteered and enlisted to serve during the Great War.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas W Cooper was an Englishman and joined Northern Bank in 1904 as a bank porter.  He was working in Grafton Street branch, Dublin when he enlisted into the 5th Bn. Royal Irish Regiment (10th Irish Division).  Thomas saw service in Gallipoli, the landing at Suvla Bay and in the Salonika campaign before transferring to the Western Front.  He was demobilised in April 1919 and was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.

Private Charles Kevin Fitzsimons was born on 9th November 1890.  His family was from Newry and were of Roman Catholic faith.  Kevin joined Northern Bank in 1909 at Head Office, Belfast.  Transfers followed to Mohill, Ballycastle and Shercock.  In October 1914, whilst based in Shercock branch, Kevin enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private.  He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and saw further action during the Suvla Bay Landings at Gallipoli and in Salonika.  Later he transferred to the 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers, which had joined the 10th Irish Division in November 1916, and further action was seen in the Salonika (Struma Valley) and Palestine (Gaza and Nablus) campaigns before being demobilised in April 1919.  Fitzsimons was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.  Following demobilisation, he rejoined the Northern Bank in early 1919 at Shercock.  Transfers followed to Ballycastle and then back in charge of Shercock.  Further transfers followed with Dowra, Shercock, Skerries, Head Office, Oldcastle and Head Office.  He died in 1953 aged 62.

Lieutenant Thomas Richard Jenkins was born in Oldcastle on 5th December 1893.  He was the son of Thomas F Jenkins and Mary E Jenkins who were of Church of Ireland faith.  In 1911 whilst living in Moylagh, Co. Meath, Thomas joined Northern Bank, Head Office.   Transfers followed with Dromore, Bailieborough and Ball’s Branch, Dublin.  In October 1914, whilst he was working in Ball’s Branch, Thomas volunteered and enlisted into the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (10th Irish Division) as a Private.   Jenkins saw action at Suvla Bay in the Gallipoli campaign and in the subsequent campaign against the Bulgarians in Salonika.  Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1917 with the Durham Light Infantry and later promoted to Lieutenant in early 1919.   In early 1919, Jenkins transferred to the Military Accountancy Department, India.  Demobilisation came in December 1919.  He was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.  Following demobilisation, Jenkins rejoined the Northern Bank in January 1920 at Head Office.  Transfers followed to Ball’s Branch, Dublin, Head Office and back to Ball’s Branch, Dublin.  Jenkins left the bank in 1926.

Private William Frederick Alexander Mathews was born in Dublin in 1893 and was the son of Marcus Beresford Mathews and Mrs Annie Mathews.  Marcus Mathews was a bank manager and with his family lived in Henry Street, Dublin.   The family were of Church of Ireland faith.  In 1910, William joined Northern Bank at Ball’s branch, Dublin.  The following year the family moved to Northern Bank House, Grafton Street, Dublin.  In early 1914 William was transferred to Head Office in Belfast.  After the outbreak of war, William volunteered and enlisted into the 7th Bn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers (10th Irish Division) as a Private.  He fought in battles at Suvla Bay Landing and Chocolate Hill before being killed in action on 13th September 1915 aged 21.  William was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.  He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

Research by History Hub Ulster Treasurer Gavin Bamford

 

 

 

How 2291 lives were lost to sudden explosions on Royal Navy ships with 38 of Ulster’s men needlessly lost

Across the course of World War One, 5 Royal Navy warships were destroyed by internal explosions causing the deaths of 2291 sailors of which 98 were known Irishmen. 38 of the lost sailors were Ulstermen. These ships were HMS Bulwark lost 1914, HMS Princess Irene lost 1915, HMS Natal lost 1915, HMS Vanguard lost 1917 and HMS Glatton lost 1918.

HMS_Bulwark_(1899)

HMS Bulwark

On 26 November 1914, the 15,000-ton battleship, HMS Bulwark was moored on the Medway in Sheerness.  While the men on board were having breakfast, the ship suddenly exploded.  An eyewitness saw ‘a great volume of flame and smoke shot into the air. The ship seemed to split in two and then heeled over and sank’.

The explosion was heard across a 30 mile radius.  Once the smoke cleared no trace of the ship remained. The Times lead with the strapline Ship’s company almost eliminated. The Bulwark disappeared in three minutes. The explosion shook every building in the vicinity, and some of the debris was thrown six miles’.

The Belfast Newsletter printed an eyewitness statement ‘At first we could see nothing but when the smoke cleared a bit we were horrified to find that the battleship Bulwark had gone’.  He continues describing finding a body in the water ‘The poor fellow was terribly mutilated. One arm was torn off and hanging as if by a thread, while the body was terribly cut about. He looked as if he had been dragged for miles over rough stones, His clothing was in shreds and his flesh cut through’.

Stoker William Gray HMS Bulwark

Stoker William Gray HMS Bulwark

There was considerable damage in Sheerness and more than 700 men on the ship were killed. Winston Churchill reported the disaster to the House of Commons later that day, noting that only 12 had survived. There were rumours of sabotage or enemy action, but Bulwark was almost certainly destroyed after cordite was ignited and there may have been some mishandling of the powder charges.

30 Irish men were killed in the explosion, 7 of them from Ulster.

The Ulstermen were Seaman James Begley of Greencastle, Donegal aged 24, Stoker (1st) Jeremiah Byrne of Kilcar, Donegal aged 38, Seaman Edmund Finn of Red Bay, Antrim aged 34, Able Seaman James Thomas Gardner of HM Coastguard Station, Carrickfergus aged 46, Stoker Hugh Gilmour of Banbridge, aged 36, Stoker William Gray from Hogarth Street in Belfast aged 32 and Lieutenant Alexander Cyril Montagu from Cromore in Portstewart aged 24.

HMS Princess Irene

HMS Princess Irene

Cordite, the propellant that once hurled British bullets and shells, is notoriously unstable and less than six months later there was a second explosion on ocean liner Princess Irene built at Dumbarton in 1914 for Canadian Pacific Railways. She had been commandeered for war service as a minelayer and became HMS Princess Irene.  On the morning of 27 May 1915 while in the Medway for a refit, a huge explosion tore through the vessel, shaking the ground for miles around and showering the surrounding villages with bodies and debris.

The Belfast Newsletter reported that it ‘the explosion…was even more violent than that which accompanied the blowing up of the battleship Bulwark. Flying debris was scattered for a considerable distance, and a number of men on other ships in the vicinity were injured’. ‘A packet of butter which is known to have belonged to the vessel has been picked up in a garden in Newington, which is about 8 miles as the crow flies from Sheerness, and at the same place two towels bearing the words “Allan Line”, were picked up along with a large piece of wood bearing marks that it belonged to the Princess Irene’.

One mechanic working on a ship 1000 yards away was hit by debris and died the following day, and a little girl aged 9 was picked up dead on the Isle of Grain having been struck by a piece of iron from the ship. On Princess Irene 200 men died, along with 78 shipwrights, apprentices, skilled labourers and boys from nearby towns and villages. Once again sabotage was suspected, but the conclusion was that the mine charges were unstable and were awaiting replacement.

Stoker James Maxwell, HMS Princess Irene

Stoker James Maxwell, HMS Princess Irene

19 Irish men were killed in the explosion, 6 of them from Ulster.

The Ulstermen were Stoker (2nd class) James Larmour from Lilliput Street, Belfast aged 19, Stoker (2nd class) James Maxwell of Barbour Street, Greencastle aged 20, Able Seaman John McAdorey of Garmoyle street, Belfast aged 30, Stoker 2nd class Matthew McEnroe of Union Street, Derry aged 19, Leading Stoker John Carleton of Belgrave Street, Belfast aged 23 and Stoker (2nd class) Alexander McMurray of Bangor aged 22.

HMS Natal

HMS Natal

Just over six months later another explosion occurred near Cromarty, Firth on HMS Natal, a Warrior-class armoured cruiser. On 30th December 1915 the Captain was hosting a Christmas film show on board the warship. Invited along were wives of officers and nurses from a nearby hospital ship. Just as the party was starting at around 3.25pm, a series of massive explosions tore through the rear part of the ship and she capsized within 5 minutes.  Reports that she had been torpedoed by a German U-boat or detonated a mine were proven false when examinations of the wreckage revealed that the explosions were internal. The Admiralty court-martial concluded that the explosion was caused by an ammunition explosion, possibly due to faulty cordite. The Admiralty issued a list of the dead and missing that totalled 390 in January 1916, but did not list the women and children on board that day, perhaps embarrassed by the loss of non-combatants.  Losses are now listed between 400 to 421 people.

Stoker William McConkey, HMS Natal

Stoker William McConkey, HMS Natal

17 Irish men were killed in the explosion, 9 of them from Ulster.

The Ulstermen were Boy 1st class Francis Pasteur Goodman of Keady, Armagh aged 17, Stoker 1st class William McConkey of Agnes Street, Belfast aged 20, Armourer’s Crew John Stratton of Portadown, Armagh aged 20, Stoker 1st class William Walsh of Spamount Street, Belfast aged 26, Boy 1st class Robert Woodney of Queensland Street, Belfast aged 17, Able Seaman Henry McKee of Malone Road, Belfast aged 24, Carpenter’s Crew Thomas McKeown from Cookstown, Tyrone aged 23, Engine Room Artificer 4th Class Nathaniel Taylor from Rockvale, Katesbridge aged 22 and Stoker 1st class Thomas Newell of Lachagh street, Belfast, aged 22.

HMS Vanguard

HMS Vanguard

HMS Vanguard was a St Vincent-class dreadnought battleship built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She spent her whole career assigned to the Home and Grand Fleets. Aside from participating in the Battle of Jutland her service during World War I generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea.  Just before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, Vanguard suffered an explosion caused by an unnoticed stokehold fire heating cordite stored against an adjacent bulkhead in one of the two magazines which served the amidships gun turrets.  She sank almost instantly, killing an estimated 804 men with only two picked up alive.

In terms of loss of life, the destruction of the Vanguard remains the most catastrophic accidental explosion in the UK, and one of the worst accidental losses of the Royal Navy.

Able Seaman J McCracken, HMS Vanguard

Able Seaman J McCracken, HMS Vanguard

30 Irish men were killed in the explosion, 15 of them from Ulster.

The Ulstermen were Ordinary Seaman Alexander Baird from Upper Meadow Street, Belfast, aged 19, Stoker John Devine from Ballymoney, aged 32, Ordinary Seaman William Harvey, from City Street, Belfast, aged 18, Able Seaman Joseph McCracken of Crimea Street, Belfast aged 26, Stoker 1st class Samuel McIlvenny from Stratheden Street, Belfast aged 24, Naval Schoolmaster Hugh Robert Murray from Halliday’s Road, Belfast aged 22, Stoker 1st Class, William George Reid of Mervue Street, Belfast aged 23, Carpenter’s Crew Charles Magee Thompson from Gracehill, Ballymena aged 23, Midshipman Randal William McDonnell Johnston from Glynn, Co Antrim aged 17, Carpenter’s Crew Bernard Ferris from Co Derry, aged 22, Stoker 1st Class Hugh Fisher from Portaferry, Co Down, aged 27, Able Seaman Samuel Montgomery McCargo from Co Antrim aged 21, Carpenter’s Crew John Wilson Adams from Spittal Hill, Coleraine, aged 29, Stoker 1st class Thomas Rainey Agnew from Spamount Street, Belfast aged 23, Shipwright 2nd class John Neville from Cregagh Road, Belfast aged 37.

HMS Glatton

HMS Glatton

HMS Glatton and her sister ship Gorgon were originally built as coastal defence ships for the Royal Norwegian Navy, as Bjørgvin and Nidaros respectively. She was requisitioned from Norway at the beginning of World War I, but was not completed until 1918 although she had been launched over three years earlier.

On 16 September 1918, before she had even gone into action, she suffered a large fire in one of her 6-inch magazines. Attempts to deal with the fire failed and she had to be torpedoed to prevent an explosion of her main magazines that would have devastated Dover as well as other vessels nearby loaded with oil and ammunition.

Able Seaman William Brown, HMS Glatton

Able Seaman William Brown, HMS Glatton

It was found that the piling of clinker against the magazine bulkhead provided the source of the ignition of the cordite causing the explosion. Her wreck was partially salvaged in 1926, and moved into a position in the North Eastern end of the harbour where it would not obstruct traffic. It was subsequently buried by landfill underneath the current car ferry terminal.

2 Irish men were killed in the explosion, 1 of them was from Ulster.

The Ulsterman was Able Seaman William Thomas Brown of Jonesboro Street, Belfast aged 20.

These five ships, needlessly lost during World War One were not the victims of enemy action but rather the mismanagement of explosives and at least 2291 lives were lost.

A list of known Irish men on board these ships is available by contacting me by email.

There were 5 other Allied ships lost during the war to explosions. Italy lost the battleships Benedetto Brin and Leonardo-di-Vinci. Japan lost the battleship Kawachi and the battle cruiser Tsukuba and Russia lost the battleship Imperatritza Maria. A cordite explosion also occurred on board the Chilian ship Capitan Prat however this did not lead to the loss of the ship. In addition cordite handling problems caused 3 battlecruisers to fatally explode during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Research by Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster

Servicemen images courtesy of History Hub Ulster Member, Nigel Henderson at http://www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com

History Hub Ulster is a research group based in Belfast, but working on projects across Ulster.

 

 

Victoria Cross commemorative paving stones

In August 2013, the government announced a campaign to honour Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War.

As part of this, commemorative paving stones will be laid in the birth place of Victoria Cross recipients to honour their bravery and provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities.

A total of 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded during the First World War, of which 145 were awarded to servicemen who fought for Britain, but were born overseas.

The first Ulster paving stone will be laid in April 2015 to commemorate Private Robert Morrow, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Click on the map for the location of commemorative paving stones and information on the recipients. The map will be updated as more paving stones are laid.

WW1 and You: Belfast Central Library 22nd January 2015

WW1 and You, Objects and Memories

Would you like to play a role in preserving WW1 historical facts for future generations? Join Living Legacies 1914-1918 and Libraries NI at Heritage Department, 2nd floor, Belfast Central Library on Thursday 22 January.

Bring your WW1 objects and artefacts (photographs, letters, diaries etc.) to the Heritage Department where there will be scanning and recording of memorabilia and stories throughout the afternoon from 12.30 – 4.30pm.

Call 02890509150 for details.

Also talks by Keith Lilley, Dr Brenda Winter Palmer, Jason Burke, Siobhan Brennan-Deane, Professor Elizabeth Crooke and Dr Johanne Devlin Trew.

 

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Centenary of the Battle of the Falklands

Battle of the Falklands – 08 Dec 1914

Prelude to Battle

Following the Battle of Coronel on 01 November 1914 off the coast of Chile, where the Royal Navy had suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hand of Admiral von Spee’s squadron, the Admiralty was making plans to redress the loss.  Admiral von Spee clearly realised his actions would not go unpunished. At a post battle celebration in Valparaiso in central Chile, he was given flowers whereupon he commented ‘these will do nicely on my grave’ and refused to drink to ‘the confusion of the British Navy’.

The Admiralty ordered two battlecruisers, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, to sail south to engage von Spee’s squadron on 11 November 1914, despite being told by Devonport dockyard that Inflexible could not be ready until 13 November. The dockyard pulled together and both ships put to sea at 4.45pm on 11 November.

The location of von Spee’s squadron after Coronel was unknown.  Would he come through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean Sea?  Would he round the Cape Horn into the Southern Atlantic? Would he remain in the Pacific? Was he already off the coast of Brazil as one (false) report suggested? The Admiralty covered all options, but it seemed probable that he would remain off the coast of Chile, so the Falkland Islands would be essential as a coaling base. The battleship HMS Canopus was therefore directed to moor at Port Stanley and guard the islands.

On 23 November, sound intelligence was received by the Admiralty that von Spee remained off the Chilean coast.  On 24 November, Admiral Sturdee and Admiral Stoddart were to join forces and move to the Falklands.

Meanwhile, Admiral von Spee had rounded Cape Horn on 02 December with two armoured cruisers (SMS Gneisenau and Scharnhorst) and three light cruisers (SMS Nurnberg, Dresden and Leipzig).  On 06 December he made a decision to take the Falkland Islands, expecting to meet a small British squadron at worst. Unknown to him, Admiral Sturdee’s squadron, consisting of two battleships (Invincible and Inflexible), three armoured cruisers (Carnarvon, Kent and Cornwall) and two light cruisers (Glasgow and Bristol) arrived at the Falklands on the forenoon of 07 December. Sturdee’s intention was to coal immediately and sail in search of von Spee on 08 December.

At 7.50am on 08 December, while the British ships were still coaling, Admiral von Spee’s squadron was sighted by lookouts from HMS Canopus.  At 8.30am all coaling was ordered to cease and “Action” was sounded. At this moment, SMS Gneisenau and Nurnberg were approaching Port Stanley at a range of eight miles, while the remainder of von Spee’s squadron were at twenty miles.  By 9.15am, the two lead German ships were making ready to fire on the wireless station above Port Stanley. Only HMS Carnarvon was ready for action at this point, but Canopus had the first say in the action by firing on the Gneisenau at a range of 11,000 yards.

At 9.40am the Gneisenau had view of the harbour. It must have been a severe shock to see the dense smoke created by an unexpectedly large number of British warships, and worse still, to see the tripod masts of battleships! By 9.45am the Gneisenau and Nurnberg had turned and fled.  By 10.00am the British ships were under way and the chase had begun.

By 11.07am the enemy were in sight and it was clear the British ships had the advantage of speed. At 11.30am Admiral Sturdee aboard Invincible ordered that the next meal be taken aboard all ships while they closed in.

At 12.51pm the first shot of the chase was fired by Inflexible at the lagging Leipzig.  At 1.20pm, Admiral von Spee made a courageous and honourable move to save the Leipzig and his other light cruisers.  He turned his two armoured cruisers around to engage the British and ordered the light cruisers to make their escape.  Admiral Sturdee immediately ordered his light cruisers to break away and give chase.

Fate of German Armoured Cruisers

As soon as von Spee ordered the turn, Inflexible opened up on Gneisenau and Inflexible attacked the Scharnhorst.  The enemy had not replenished their ammunition since Coronel.  Von Spee sought to close the range down to make fire more effective, and held off returning fire until he was close enough. Sturdee realised this and continued to fire at long range.  By 3.10pm the action was at its hottest with Gneisenau listing and Scharnhorst burning.  By 4.00pm the Scharnhorst’s guns fell silent as she listed to starboard.  By 4.17pm she had sunk with the loss of all hands.

The attention of two British battleships now turned on the cruiser Gneisenau.  Despite being pounded, she continued to fight bravely.  By 5.10pm Admiral Stoddart in the Carnarvon had caught up and joined in.  By 5.30pm she was burning furiously and listing heavily, but still firing defiantly.  She sank at around 5.45pm with around 200 of her 850 men being picked up by 7.30pm.

Fate of the German Light Cruisers

Unknown to the British, the German Light Cruisers were not in good condition at the point war broke out.  After four months cruising with no maintenance periods, they were even worse with doubts raised over the condition of the boilers.  Glasgow being the fastest soon caught the Leipzig and opened fire at 2.53pm.  The Liepzig turned and launched a broadside at Glasgow.  This slowed the Leipzig’s progress and allowed Kent to close up.

Shortly after 3.30pm the German ships scattered on different courses.  Cornwall and Glasgow pursued Leipzig while Kent chased Nurnberg.  Dresden was able to escape due to her superior speed.

By 4.15pm Cornwall and Glasgow had closed in and engaged Leipzig.  Ten minutes later, it was clear that Leipzig was doomed as she was being hit time after time and her speed was falling.  But the Leipzig continued to fight for nearly two hours until the Cornwall closed range and began to fire lyddite, a high explosive.  A surviving German officer described it as ‘terrific’ and ‘fearful’ as the vessel became an inferno filled with dark smoke lit by the flashes of the bursting shells.  By 7.00pm Leipzig’s guns fell silent, but she managed to launch three torpedoes from her starboard tubes.  The crew opened the sea cocks to sink the Leipzig and gathered amidships in hope of rescue before she went down.  Sadly this was not seen by the British due to the smoke and flames and at 7.50pm, Captain Luce decided to finish Leipzig off at close range.  During this, the crew of the Leipzig managed to burn two green lights.  Luce ordered cease fire and put rescue boats into the water at 8.45pm.  Leipzig, a mass of flames and smoke, turned on her beam ends and sank at 9.23pm.  Only eighteen men were saved alive.

The Kent was not known as a good steamer, but by burning almost everything made of wood she had performed a miracle and had got almost within range of the Nurnberg by 5.00pm.  The Nurnberg immediately fired her stern guns which went over the Kent, while the Kent’s guns struggled to get close.  Things quickly improved as two of the Nurnberg’s boilers had burst slowing her down.  The Kent gained ground and soon her guns were within effective range with fire being exchanged from 5.45pm.  By 6.00pm the range was very close and the Nurnberg was taking severe punishment, so she turned away.  Kent continued to shell at longer range and ten minutes later Nurnberg was on fire with several guns out of action.  By 6.25pm Nurnberg had almost stopped in the water.  She had a heavy list, was down by the stern, she was ablaze and all her guns were out of action.  Just before 7.00pm, Nurnberg hauled down her colours in surrender and sank just before 7.30pm.  Kent sent boats to the rescue and continued to search until 9.00pm, but only seven men were saved.

What of SMS Dresden?  She had escaped, but Admiral Stoddart’s order to locate and sink her remained.  Worn out and with no coal, she was trapped by HMS Glasgow in a Chilean port were her crew scuttled her on 14 March 1915.

By Mark McCrea, History Hub Ulster Member

Reference: Naval Operations – History of the Great War Volume 1 – by Sir Julian S Corbett