The centenary of the loss of HMS Drake and HMS Brisk off the North West Coast of Ireland.

HMS Drake was the lead ship of her class of armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy around 1900.  She was flagship of the 6th Cruiser Squadron of the 2nd Fleet on it’s incorporation into the Grand Fleet upon the outbreak of World War I.

She remained with the Grand Fleet until refitted in late 1915 when she was transferred to the North America and West Indies Station for convoy escort duties. HMS Drake was torpedoed by German submarine U-79 off the Irish North Coast on 2 Oct 1917 and sank in shallow water with the loss of 18 lives.

Shortly afterwards the destroyer HMS Brisk made a sweep up the Sound to assist her and was hit by U-79, firing one torpedo amidships causing a catastrophic explosion which broke her in two. The bow section sank in the Sound and the stern section was eventually towed into Derry. The explosion killed 32 men outright with another surviving with severe burns until pneumonia eventually took his life on 31 Oct 1917. 

U-79 had a successful day, also sinking the Steamer Lugano, although no casualties were reported.

Of the 18 men who died on HMS Drake, Petty Officer Stoker Robert O’Brien was the only Irishman. He was from Skerries, County Dublin.

Of the 32 men who died on HMS Brisk, four were from Ireland.  Officer’s Steward William Argent had Irish links as his mother Sarah was notified of his death at the Kinsale Coastguard Station in Cork. 

The four Irishmen were Seaman Adam Carthy – born in Kinsale, Stoker Michael Fay – born in County Meath, Leading Seaman Michael Flood was a Cork native and Petty Officer Stoker John Owens was born in Lusk, County Dublin.

Able Seaman Cyril Brook who died from his injuries is buried along with three of his crewmates at Londonderry City Cemetery.  None of the other men’s bodies was found, and their grave remains the sea.

There was a Commemoration Service and Service at Sea today in Ballycastle for those who died to mark the centenary of their deaths.  

Photo: Robert White

 

 

 

 

Missing Names Project – Ballymena and District

You are encouraged to come forward with names currently missing from Ballymena and District War Memorial.

Mid and East Antrim citizens have been encouraged to take part in a consultation aimed at ensuring all local people who lost their lives during the First World War are remembered on Ballymena and District’s War Memorial.

Earlier this year Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed the addition of verified missing names of the Fallen on the monument in Memorial Park, Ballymena.

In 2013 it was discovered that some local soldiers who died in The Great War were not honoured on the Memorial.

Research undertaken by WW1 Research Ireland has found that up to 172 names could be missing.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said: “I would encourage local people and those from further afield to check if their forebear is on the published list of missing names and, if not, for them to share their information during the consultation period which has just opened. We would wish to ensure as best we can that all those who made the ultimate sacrifice from Ballymena and district are now remembered side by side on the Memorial with the existing names of those who lost their lives. This includes any relevant local women who served in clerical or nursing roles.”

Ballymena and District War Memorial was unveiled in 1924 after a fundraising effort raised just over £1,000.

It is unknown how the 495 names were gathered by the then War Memorial Committee in the early 1920s but through professional research, using agreed criteria, it has emerged that some of those who were killed in action or subsequently died of wounds have been overlooked until now.  

A public call for anyone who believes that their relative should be included for verification has been made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Council’s Museum and Heritage Service at Mid-Antrim Museum is conducting the consultation facilitated by History Hub UIster.  

The consultation will be conducted through History Hub Ulster – please click here.

Primarily the criteria requires that the proposed person was born and/or enlisted in Ballymena or District, or was born in Ballymena or District and enlisted elsewhere including Dominion Forces.  

Other criteria requirements are that the proposed person was killed in action or subsequently died of wounds before August 1921, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cut-off date for First World War Fallen.  

A current database of the existing names on Ballymena War Memorial and verified names collated through ongoing research is also available to view on the page. 

Members of the public who have no access to the internet, or who would prefer to submit their information in person, are welcome to call into The Braid, Ballymena, on either Thursday 26 or Saturday 28 October. Mid-Antrim Museum staff will be available between 10am – 1pm on both days in the museum atrium to accept submissions. 

Files containing the list of existing names on the War Memorial and verified names recently collected through research will be available to view.  The 1924 Ballymena Rural District Council boundary map will also be available.

The online consultation opened on Monday 25 September and will close on Friday 10 November 2017. All names supplied, either online or in person, will be verified prior to inclusion in the final list of names missing from the War Memorial.  Members of the public who submit names for consideration will be advised accordingly.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have undertaken to have the engraving of verified names completed on Ballymena’s War Memorial in time for the national Centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 2018.  An application is being prepared to the War Memorials Trust in London to support this initiative.

Click here for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shankill Messines 100 – 10th June 2017

Please come along to support SHANKILL MESSINES 100 at Townsend Street Presbyterian Church on Sat 10th June.

10:30am Re-dedication of Shankill Road Mission Memorial
10:45am Presentation: Shankill Messines 100 by History Hub Ulster member Nigel Henderson

All day:
– Exhibition: Shankill Messines 100
– Exhibition: Poetry from the Streets
– Exhibition: Castleton Lanterns
– Exhibition: Argyle Business Centre’s new Titanic Themed training hotel

Unique event creating a Sea of Lights to remember those from North Belfast who died in the First World War.

On Saturday 19th March, participants of North Belfast Remembers set sail glass bottles with LED lights and details of individual men and women from North Belfast who served in the First World War.

Sea of Lights in front of HMS Caroline EditedAdults and children across North Belfast took part in workshops to tell the stories of First World War servicemen from their areas.  The adults have researched a serviceman and written a letter to a local child about his life.  Each child received a letter and designed their glass bottle to represent his story.

This memorial event was the culmination of the project when the participants released their letters in painted glass bottles into the water at the Titanic Pump House near HMS Caroline.

Members of the public were invited to bring their ancestor’s story and write a message for a bottle which was provided on site and was thrown into Alexandra Dock.

The sea of lights was a poignant reminder of those who died in the First World War.Bottles waiting to go

Adult groups taking part were: The Hubb Community Resource Centre on the Shore Road, Survivors of Trauma Centre from Cliftonville, Alexandra Presbyterian Church on the York Road, Dalariada Community Organisation, ACT North Belfast and Brantwood History Group from Skegoneill Avenue.

Children’s groups taking part were the Hammer Youth Centre and Clonard Youth, the Church of God Boys Brigade on the Shankill, The Hubb Community Resource Centre on the Shore Road and Ardoyne Youth Club.

 

This project has been funded by Belfast City Council and Community Relations Council.

CWGC calls on communities in NI to reconnect with cemeteries of the First World War

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), supported by the World War One Centenary Committee in Northern Ireland, have announced details of Living Memory – a project to highlight and engage communities in Northern Ireland with the 2,700 war graves of the two world wars to be found there in 400 cemeteries and burial grounds.

The Living Memory Project is designed to raise awareness of the 300,000 war graves and commemorations in the UK.

Living Memory Launch

In 2016, the CWGC, in partnership with Big Ideas Company, are asking the public to re-connect with the war dead buried in their own communities. CWGC wants the public to visit these sites, take a personal interest in those buried there, organise a commemoration of their own and ultimately, champion these places –  tell their friends or other local community groups that these war graves must not be forgotten.

Funding and a creative resource pack will be available from March 2016 for community groups in Northern Ireland wishing to participate in this initiative.

The Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP is supporting the project and said: “As chairman of the Northern Ireland World War One Centenary Committee, I am delighted to be co-hosting this event at the Linen Hall Library to highlight the fact  we have a significant number of war graves here in Northern Ireland, including many associated with those who died during the First World War.  The CWGC has undertaken excellent work to preserve and maintain these graves and I believe it’s important to increase awareness of the graves and to encourage local people to visit during the current centenary period.  The fact is that you don’t have to travel to France or Belgium to visit a WW1 war grave.  There may be one in your local cemetery.”

Mr Colin Kerr, CWGC Director of External Relations, explained: “Living Memory is about discovering, exploring and remembering those war graves to be found in cemeteries, churchyards and burial grounds here at home.

Living Memory Launch 2“When people hear about the First World War, they think of the large, set-piece battles on the Western Front, and the cemeteries and memorials there that the CWGC maintains. But there are war graves and memorials literally on your doorstep – many lie in forgotten corners of graveyards. The CWGCs Living Memory initiative aids their rediscovery and remembrance.

“Living Memory presents a unique opportunity for communities to work together to gain a fuller understanding of the war’s impact and the ongoing importance of remembrance.”

Big Ideas Chief Executive, Virginia Crompton, said:  “When you stand at the graveside of someone who lost their life in war some of the politics of the past fall away.  The headstone brings you back to the individual, and their family.  It’s a powerful reminder of the impact of war.  The Living Memory project is an opportunity for us all to make a very simple and human gesture in remembering those who died in the two world wars and are buried near us.  We are proud to be working with the CWGC to invite communities to take part.”

Mr Ken Best was one of those who took part in a pilot of the Living Memory Project in November 2015. He said: “The opportunity to participate in the CWGC Living Memory Pilot was enthusiastically embraced by The Grammarians, the Association of Old Boys of Bangor Grammar School. The School has a long tradition of remembering the former pupils who served and died in both world wars. The Guided Walk to Bangor Cemetery in November 2015, to pay our respects at some of the war graves  opened up a new dimension to  remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice as well as bringing the knowledge about these graves in the town to the wider community.”

To support the initiative, the CWGC is bringing a number of its unique archive documents to Northern Ireland for the very first time. The documents include details of how the CWGC commemorated a female typist, Sarah Hale, who died in the sinking of the SS Lusitania in 1915 and correspondence between CWGC Founder Fabian Ware and Belfast City Hall over the care of war graves.

 

Call to Action: Share your stories of people who were at the Battle of Jutland

National Museum of the Royal Navy launches an innovative digital project to map stories of the people at the Battle of Jutland

The National Museum of the Royal Navy today launched an interactive map to create a record of the individuals involved in the Battle of Jutland. Following responses from descendants of Admirals Beatty and Jellicoe amongst others, the Museum is calling on the public to share, discover and remember stories of those connected with the battle. The platform has been made live in anticipation of the blockbuster exhibition ’36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle that Won the War’ opening 12 May 2016 at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The site is at http://jutland.org.uk/

The interactive map will provide an innovative way of charting the impact of the Battle of Jutland. It will convey the ‘human’ story of the battle, highlighting its scale and significance to the First World War, by demonstrating the involvement of people from all over the British Isles and further afield. The project launched with over 6,000 entries from across Britain, already showing the national impact of The Battle of Jutland. To provide a comprehensive record the Museum is calling on members of the public to share more information.

Nick Jellicoe, grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, commander of the British Grand Fleet, said: “This is one of those moments where engaging with the interactive map and what the museum is image007providing is a real opportunity to fill in some parts of a jigsaw, a family jigsaw you’ve never been able to solve. It’s nice to think about stories from your father, grand-father or great-grandfather, and be able to pass them on. Always one of my biggest regrets is that I never talked to my father more in detail about his father. I never did, and I hope other people don’t make the same mistake.”

Nicholas Beatty, Grandson of Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty said of the project, “I am delighted to add my grandfather’s story to the Jutland Interactive Map, and am sure that the legacy of his and his brave fellow seamen will continue to live on and be better understood by current and future generations. I thoroughly recommend that all descendants whose relatives fought at Jutland do the same to ensure that those who fought to maintain our naval supremacy and retain the lines of supply to the United Kingdom, all giving so much, are never forgotten.”

The Battle of Jutland was the defining naval battle of the First World War, fought over 36 hours from May 31st to June 1st 1916. It is often considered a German victory due to the number of British lives lost; the British lost 6,094 seamen and the Germans 2,551 during the battle. However these figures do not represent the impact upon the British and German fleets. At the end of the battle the British maintained numerical supremacy; only two dreadnoughts were damaged, leaving twenty-three dreadnoughts and four battlecruisers still able to fight, whilst the Germans had only ten dreadnoughts.

The interactive map provides a platform for living history, and the data collected will offer a richer and more accurate history of the Royal Navy. All data is mapped and linked geographically providing a clear picture

Nick Jellicoe uploading his grandfather's details onto the Jutland interactive map

Nick Jellicoe uploading his grandfather’s details onto the Jutland interactive map

of those involved, where they served and where they came from. Memories of sailors can be shared within the messages section and icons with categories including sailors, memorials, places and schools provide key information through an immersive browsing experience. The map offers layers of information, integrating a historical overlay provided by the Scottish Archive, to show the country as it was in 1916.

Public response via a social media campaign has already been strong and contributed to the 6,000 entries already documented. Entries have also been assembled in collaboration with Trevor Penfold at the Imperial War Museum, and further research has been compiled by a team of 12 volunteers at the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth Grammar School, and Karen O’Rawe of History Hub Ulster. Portsdown U3A has kindly granted access to their research project, in conjunction with a team from Portsmouth University and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The NMRN will also partner with The Royal Hospital School, Marine Archaeologist Anthony Firth and Nick Jellicoe, the grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, 1st Earl of Jellicoe.

If one of your ancestors was Irish, involved in the War at Sea and you would like to be considered to attend the Commemoration of The Irish Sailor event on 31st May at HMS Caroline, don’t forget to fill in the form at http://historyhubulster.co.uk/irishsailor/

 

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 

 

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