The Somme: 1st July 1916: Ulstermen and the Ulster Division

An analysis of the official fatality records to determine the number of Ulstermen and men from the Ulster Division who died during the Battle of Albert, which lasted from 1st July to 13th July 1916, by History Hub Ulster researcher Nigel Henderson. Summary statistics:
  • Over the period of the Battle of Albert, 2129 men who were born or lived in Ulster died.
  • Over the period of the Battle of Albert the Ulster Division lost 2051 men.
The following are some summary statistics drawn from the dataset for the first day of the 1916 Battles of the Somme:
  • 1721 men who were born in Ulster died on 1st July 1916.
  • 1517 of these men were from the Ulster Division and the remainder were from 14 other British Divisions.
  • On 1st July 1916, 1778 men died whilst serving with the Ulster Division.
  • The Ulster Division lost 1935 men during the two days that it was in the frontline.
Things To Note:
  • Anyone born in the nine counties of Ulster has been defined as being an Ulsterman and has been classified by County of Birth (with Belfast being treated as a County).
  • Anyone born outside Ulster but had a residential association with Ulster, has been classified as “Ulster – Residence”.
  • In determining the analysis, it was borne in mind that Ulstermen served with units attached to British Divisions other than the Ulster Division and that not all men who served in the Ulster Division were Ulstermen by birth or residence.
  • Although the dataset is based on the CWGC fatalities, the inclusion of additional information from other primary sources enhances this record of fatalities and facilitates the analysis of the data by a range of different criteria. For example, the records of Ulstermen fatalities can be broken down into regiments or divisions as well as by county and, for Ulster Division fatalities, the non-Ulstermen can be easily identified.
  • Whilst it cannot be claimed that this fatality list is 100% accurate or complete, it does represent a verifiable list of the men that died in that battle and is more accurate than many of the figures that have appeared in newspapers in recent months.
In More Detail: Over the period of the Battle of Albert, 2129 men who were born or lived in Ulster died and the Ulster Division lost 2051 men.  1721 men who were born in Ulster died on 1st July 1916: • 375 from Belfast • 320 from County Down • 312 from County Antrim • 192 from County Armagh • 182 from County Londonderry • 144 from County Tyrone • 77 from County Donegal • 69 from County Fermanagh • 31 from County Monaghan • 19 from County Cavan 1517 of these men were from the Ulster Division and the remainder were from 20 other British Divisions. On 1st July 1916, 1778 men died whilst serving with the Ulster Division: • 314 from Belfast • 292 from County Down • 298 from County Antrim • 183 from County Armagh • 154 from County Londonderry • 116 from County Tyrone • 61 from County Donegal • 54 from County Fermanagh • 29 from County Monaghan • 16 from County Cavan • 261 men were born outside Ulster The Ulster Division lost 1935 men during the two days that it was in the frontline: • 438 with the 107th Infantry Brigade • 767 with the 108th Infantry Brigade • 706 with the 109th Infantry Brigade • 24 with Divisional Support Units

The full spreadsheet is available here: http://historyhubulster.co.uk/ulster-albert

Methodology:
  1. A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) database was executed using the following criteria: Ulster DivisionThe records returned were downloaded and imported to Excel and columns were added to facilitate the recording of additional information, such as Division, Type of Death, Place of Birth and associated County/Country.
  2.  The spreadsheet was filtered by Regiment and Units to identify and mark those fatalities associated with units belonging to the 36th (Ulster) Division. If there was no unit reference on the CWGC database records, the unit reference was identified from other primary sources (for example, Soldier Died in the Great War, medal rolls).
  3. The “additional information” section in the CWGC data was analysed to identify counties, towns, etc. within Ulster and the relevant records were marked to indicate Ulster connection.
  4. For men identified in Step 3 as having an Ulster connection, the regiments/units were examined to identify whether they had played a role in the Battle of Albert and, where appropriate, the Division number was recorded. Note: the Long Long Trail website was used to determine the Division associated with a Regiment/Unit and whether that Division participated in the Battle of Albert.
  5. The Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) online database was interrogated to identify fatalities in July 1916 in France where the birth location held on SDGW satisfied a number of Ulster-based criteria: Birth Location set to “Northern Ireland”, “Ulster”, specific cities (i.e. Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh) and each of the nine counties in turn. The results were used to update the master spreadsheet with Birth Location, County/Country of Origin, Type of Death and additional information (e.g. former regiment details, mainly for Machine Gun Corps fatalities). Where there was a Death Date discrepancy between SDGW and CWGC, other sources were checked to determine the most commonly held date – the details/sources of discrepancies were noted. Variations on Surname/Forename spellings and Regimental Numbers were also noted.
  6. For fatalities where no next-of-kin information was held on CWGC, the National Archives of Ireland Soldiers’ Wills (SW) online database was searched to identify, where a will is present, the next-of-kin name, relationship and address. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects (RSE) and Ireland Census returns were also searched to identify the name(s) and relationship(s) of the beneficiaries and the addresses of widows/parents. In checking the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, priority was given to cases where there was no Birth Location recorded on the SDGW database – there are over 950 fatality records where a next-of-kin has not yet been identified.
  7. The In Memoriam notices placed in the Belfast Evening Telegraph in late June and early July 1917 were trawled to identify next of kin details.
  8. The family memorials in the War Graves Ulster archive that specified deaths during the period of the Battle of Albert were examined to identify next of kin details.
Whilst it cannot be claimed that this fatality list is 100% accurate or complete, it does represent a verifiable list of the men that died in that battle and is more accurate than many of the figures that have appeared in newspapers in recent months.  We would welcome suggestions of names that are not present in the attached spreadsheet. Click here to email. Nigel Henderson - History Hub Ulster

Ulster and the First World War Book Launch

big_live_link_jonathan_bardon_s_bookPRONI is pleased to invite you to a lunchtime lecture by renowned author and historian Jonathan Bardon OBE on Ulster and the First World War. This is to conincide with the launch of his new publication with the same title.
JONATHAN BARDON was born in 1941 and educated at Trinity College Dublin and Queen's University. He has lived in Belfast since 1963, teaching history. Bardon is best known for his critically acclaimed text, A History of Ulster.  The book examines, in detail, the cultural, social, economic, and political arenas of the province, beginning with the early settlements and progressing linearly to present-day Ulster.
He has also written numerous radio and television programmes on the subject of Northern Ireland. Most recently he was commissioned by BBC Radio to create a two hundred and forty-episode series entitled A Short History of Ireland.
WHERE: PRONI WHEN: 3 December 2014, 1pm HOW MUCH: Admission is FREE Please contact PRONI to book your place at proni@dcalni.gov.uk . T: 028 90534800

HMS HAWKE Centenary: Heartbreaking stories of fathers-to-be who would never see their newborn children.

The sinking of HMS HAWKE: One of the greatest single losses of Royal Navy sailors from Ulster with 49 Ulstermen lost to just one U-boat During the week when the Royal Navy traditionally remembers the Immortal Memory of Admiral Nelson and his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, it is worth pausing to reflect on the centenary of a naval incident that had a significant impact on so many Ulster families, the sinking of HMS Hawke. One of the greatest single losses of Royal Navy sailors from Ulster, this incident occurred on the 15th October 1914 when the German Submarine U-9 which was patrolling the North Sea came across two British Cruisers HMS Hawke and her sister ship HMS Theseus. HMS_HawkeUnder the command of German hero Commander Weddigen, U-9 fired on the British ships. This was the same German submarine which had caused the deaths of almost 1500 British seamen only 3 weeks earlier with the torpedoing of the ‘Livebait Squadron’. The submarine's first torpedo hit HMS Hawke, igniting a magazine and causing a tremendous explosion which ripped much of the ship apart. Hawke sank in a few minutes with the loss of her Commander and 523 men. Only 74 men were saved. Sailors from Ulster lost on Hawke included the tragic loss of three fathers-to-be, leaving pregnant wives to fend for themselves throughout the difficult war years. -Leading Stoker Joyce Power left young twins and a pregnant wife in Ballymena. His daughter Margaret Hawke Power named after the ship he was killed on. -Also drowned was Able Seaman Albert Patterson Wilson whose first daughter Frances was born only 4 weeks later on 14 November. -Mariette Isabella Donald was born at the end of 1914, her father Martie Donald not returning to Carrickfergus to meet his newborn daughter. -The Gorman siblings from Clifton Park in Belfast lost one brother, Charles on HMS Pathfinder in September only to hear of the death of another brother, Able Seaman James Toland Gorman, only one month later on HMS Hawke. -Sullatober Flute band from Carrickfergus who lost one of their players Henry McMurran on HMS Cressy just 3 weeks before, suffered yet another tragedy with the loss of another member, Stoker (1st class) Andrew McAllister. -Another loss for Ulster was Lieutenant Commander Ruric Henry Waring, the first of the sons of Colonel Thomas Waring JP of Waringstown to be killed. Ruric’s younger brother Major Holt Waring would be killed in 1918 at the Front. In August 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, Hawke was part of the 10th Cruiser Squadron, operating on blockade duties between the Shetland Islands and Norway. In October 1914, the 10th Cruiser Squadron was deployed further south in the North Sea as part of efforts to stop German warships from attacking a troop convoy from Canada. On 15 October, the squadron was on patrol off Aberdeen and HMS Hawke stopped at 0930 to pick up mail from her sister ship HMS Endymion. Hawke proceeded to return to her station without zig-zagging to avoid danger, and was out of sight of the rest of the Squadron when a single torpedo from U-9 struck Hawke and she quickly capsized. The remainder of the Squadron only realised something was wrong when, after a further, unsuccessful attack on Theseus, they were ordered to retreat and no response was received from Hawke. The destroyer Swift was dispatched from Scapa Flow to search for Hawke and found a raft carrying 22 men, while a boat with a further 49 survivors was rescued by a Norwegian steamer. 524 men drowned, including the ship's Captain, Hugh P. E. T. Williams, and 49 Ulstermen. Only 74 men were saved, of which 6 were from Ulster. A surviving Stoker explained: ‘Those on deck for an instant immediately after the explosion saw the periscope of a submarine which showed above the water like a broomstick. The Hawke was holed above the engine room and commenced to cant over to starboard with alarming rapidity. Her plates were twisted and torn and a huge gap was rent in her side. An attempt to man the guns was made but owing to the extra acute list of the vessel it was found impossible to train them on the submerged craft. The horror of the situation was added to when a tank of oil fuel caught fire and the flames advanced with fatal rapidity. Seeing there was not the ghost of a chance of doing any good by remaining in what was obviously a death trap I determined to make a dash for it. I scrambled precipitately up the iron ladder to the main deck. All this had happened in less time than it takes to tell.’ He continued: ‘But such is British pluck and coolness of nerve even in the face of such a situation that already after the initial shock the Captain, Commander and a midshipman were on the bridge and calmly on the fleet manoeuvre in the Solent, orders were given out and calmly obeyed. The bugler sounded the ‘Still’ call which called upon every man to remain at the post in which the call reached him. Apparently during the first minute or two, the belief was entertained that all that was wrong was the boiler explosion, but the rapidity with which the cruiser was making water on her starboard side rudely and quickly disputed all minds of this belief.’ Another survivor explained that: ‘The Captain, Commander and the midshipman had stuck bravely to their posts on the bridge to the last, and were seen to disappear and the ship finally plunged bow first amidst a maelstrom of cruel, swirling waters’ One survivor when interviewed pointed out that: ‘the crew for the most part were Irishmen, the reason being that at the outbreak of war the Hawke which was one of the oldest ships of the British Navy, was stationed at Queenstown... there were only around 24 active servicemen on board, the remainder being fleet reservists’ None of these men’s bodies was recovered for burial, most remaining where they drowned. The centenary of the sinking of HMS Hawke and the tragic loss of so many men of Ulster will be remembered at the Royal Navy’s annual Trafalgar Day Service in Belfast on 19th October 2014. Ulstermen known to have died on HMS Hawke are: Stoker (1st class) Nathaniel Agnew, born Belfast Able Seaman Robert Algie, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) David Bell, born Ballymena Stoker (1st class) George Jackson Campbell, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) John Chisim, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Hugh Patrick Cormican, born Belfast Able Seaman Hugh Crawford, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Robert Creighton, born Larne Stoker (1st class) James Dickey, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Mariott (Martie) Robert D Donald, born Carrickfergus Petty Officer (1st class) William James Elkin, born Coleraine Stoker (1st class) Samuel Fee, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) William John Gillespie, born Lisburn Able Seaman James Toland Gorman, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) William Greer, born Ballybay, Monaghan Stoker (1st class) Robert John Hamilton, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) William James Harper, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Robert Hunter, born Belfast Able Seaman William Johnston, born Carrickfergus Stoker (1st class) Isaac Lewis, lived Belfast Stoker (1st class) Andrew McAllister, born Carrickfergus Able Seaman David McCaugherty, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Hugh McComb, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) William McFarlane Stoker (1st class) James McNally, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) John Mills, born Belfast Chief Petty Officer Charles Molloy, born Drumragh, Tyrone Stoker (1st class) Edward Mullen, born Belfast Able Seaman William James Ross, born Belfast Leading Stoker Joyce Power, born Ballymena Stoker (1st class) Thomas Henry Sefton, lived Belfast Stoker (1st class) John Smyth, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Archer Thompson, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) David Tully Stoker (1st class) Charles Edward Uprichard, born Lurgan Stoker (1st class) Henry Wasson, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) James Wilson, born Newry Able Seaman Albert Patterson Wilson, lived Belfast Stoker (1st class) John Yates, born Belfast Boy (1st class) Clare Robert Adams, born Enniskillen Stoker (1st class) William Clarke, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Edward Crossin, born Belfast Able Seaman John Thomas Gibson Dawson, born Belfast Able Seaman James Charles Gamble, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Daniel Laverty, born Belfast Stoker (1st class) Alexander Mairs, born Ballymena Leading Stoker Patrick McEvoy, born Dechomet, Banbridge Stoker (1st class) Hugh McGinley, born Inch Island, Donegal Lieutenant Commander Ruric Henry Waring, born Waringstown *Research by Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster and William Hull, Research Assistant, Now Project. *Three years before, on 20 September 1911, Hawke, under command of Commander W. F. Blunt, collided in the Solent with the White Star liner RMS Olympic. In the course of the collision, Hawke lost her bow. The subsequent trial pronounced Hawke to be free from any blame. During the trial, a theory was advanced that the large amount of water displaced by the Olympic had generated a suction that had drawn Hawke off course. The decision of the first court to try the case provoked a series of legal appeals. *There were 6 known Ulster men who survived the tragedy. These were: Charles Trainer from Derry, JA Allen from Belfast, Thomas H Doyle from Belfast, Thomas Hoy from Larne, John Aitken, from Belfast and James O’Neill, from Belfast. *Newspaper photographs 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.    

HMS Amphion – First Ulster deaths of World War One

HMS Amphion Lost 06 August 1914 The first Ulster casualties of the Great War were sailors on the HMS Amphion, the first ship of the Royal Navy to be lost in the First World War on 6th August 1914.  HMS Amphion was an Active-class scout cruiser and the wreck site is designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
Amphion, Newsletter, 8 August 1914

Newsletter, 8 Aug 1914

These Ulster men were: Engine Room Artificer (1st Class) HENRY JOHN BENNETT born at Tor Head in County Antrim, died aged 36. Able Seaman WILLIAM CLARKE born in Moville, County Donegal, died aged 26. Petty Officer (2nd Class) JOSEPH LYNCH born in Bright, County Down, died aged 39. Able Seaman CHARLES GEORGE McCONACHY born in Belfast, died aged 25. On August 4th 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. In anticipation of war, Germany had converted the Konigin Luisea former holiday ferry into a minelayer.  On the night of 4th August she left her home port of Emden and steamed south through the North Sea to lay mines off the Thames Estuary. Meanwhile, HMS Amphion and the destroyers of the 3rd Flotilla were preparing to sail from Harwick.  By daylight on the 5th August they were in the North Sea where they received reports of an unknown vessel ‘throwing things over the side’.  At 10.25 Amphion sighted the unknown steamer and sent the destroyers Lance and Landrail to investigate. The Konigin Luise alteredher course and disappeared into a squall where she began laying mines.  HMS Lance signalled she was engaging the enemy and is credited with firing the first shot of World War I. The destroyers were soon joined by Amphion (which had won the fleetgunnery prize for 1914). The Konigin Luise was only lightly armed and offered little resistance. Commander Biermann changed course hoping to draw the British ships into her minefield. However, after receiving numerous hits, the ship was sunk.
HMS Amphion

HMS Amphion

The British destroyers sighted another ship flying a German flag and began an attack.  Amphion recognised her as the St.Petersburg which was carrying the German Ambassador back to Germany from England.  Amphion signaled the destroyers to cease fire but the signal was ignored. Captain Fox then put the Amphion between the destroyers and the St. Petersburg to deliberately foul the range and allow the ship safe passage.  That evening Amphion and the destroyers set course to return to Harwick but due to reported problems with mines and submarines, the allocated course ran very close to where the Konigin Luise had laid her mines.HMS Amphion At 06.45 on 6th August, the Amphion struck a mine which exploded and broke the ship's back.Abandon Ship was ordered. As most of Amphion's boats were destroyed, the destroyers sent their boats to rescue the crew.  However, although Amphions's engines were stopped, she continued turning in a circle and she struck the same row of mines.  Her magazine detonated and the destroyers were showered with debris.  Amphion sank at 07.05 and 151 men were lost. With the war only 32 hours old, HMS Amphion, which had primarily assisted in inflicting the first German Naval loss of the war, became the first British Naval war loss. Known Irishmen on the Amphion were:
First Name Surname Rank Area
OWEN CALLAGHAN Stoker 1st Class Waterford
GEORGE CHRISTIE Shipwright 2nd Class Cork
ANDREW COLLINS Leading Stoker Cork
TIMOTHY HOURIHANE Able Seaman Cork
MAURICE PAUL JORDAN Cooper's Crew Cork
JEREMIAH MINIHANE Able Seaman Cork
MARTIN MUNNELLY Chief Stoker Sligo
JOSEPH PIERCE MURPHY Signalman Dublin
SAMUEL PARSLOW Stoker 1st Class Wexford
ELI WILLIAM WARSAW Able Seaman Cork
HENRY JOHN BENNETT Engine Room Artificer 1st Class Antrim
WILLIAM CLARKE Able Seaman Donegal
JOSEPH LYNCH Petty Officer 2nd Class Down
CHARLES GEORGE McCONACHY Able Seaman Belfast
Ballymena Observer 21st August 1914 The official press bureau on Wednesday afternoon issued the following:- "3.30pm - at 9am on August 5th, HMS Amphion with the 3rd flotilla proceeded to carry out a certain pre-arranged plan of search and about an hour later a trawler informed them that she had seen a suspicious ship 'throwing things overboard' in an indicated position. Shortly afterwards the mine layer Konigen Luise was sighted steering east. Four destroyers gave chase and in about an hour's time she was rounded up and sunk. After picking up survivors the search continued without incident till 3.30am when the Amphion was on the return course. At 6.30 am Amphion struck a mine. A sheet of flame instantly enveloped the bridge which rendered the Captain insensible and he fell on the fore and aft bridge. As soon as he recovered consciouness he ran to the engine room to stop the engines, which were still going at revolutions for 20 knots. As all the forepart was on fire, it proved impossible to reach the bridge or to flood the fore magazine. The ship's back appeared to be broken and she was already settling by the bows. All efforts were therefore directed to placing the wounded in a place of safety in case of explosion and towards getting her a tow by the stern. By the time destroyers closed in it was clearly time to abandon ship. The men fell in with composure and 20 minutes after the mine struck, the men, officers and captain left their ship. Three minutes later it exploded. Debris falling from a great height struck the rescue boats, destroyers and one of the Amphion's shells burst on the deck of one of the latter killing two of the men and a German prisoner rescured from the cruiser. After 15 minutes the Amphion had disappeared.Captain Fox speaks in the highest terms of the behaviour of the men throughout."
Amphion, Newsletter 7 Aug 1914

Newsletter 7 Aug 1914

HMS Amphion Newsletter 7 Aug 1914

Newsletter 7 Aug 1914