Gallipoli commemoration at Belfast Port as part of Last Post Project

Turkish minehunter TCG ANAMUR and German minehunter FGS BAD BEVESEN were yesterday at Pollock Dock in Belfast on the Centenary of the Commencement of the land campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

History Hub Ulster, as part of the national Last Post Project, commemorated those naval personnel lost at Gallipoli from all countries involved in the First World War campaign.  Musician Ioannis Tsioulakis played Turkish folk song Canakkale Turkusu on traditional Turkish instrument the baglama, and Clare Galway played the Last Post on violin adjacent to TCG ANAMUR berthed at in Belfast Harbour.

Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland, Commander John Gray, History Hub Ulster Chair Karen O’Rawe and sea cadets from TS Eagle and TS Formidable joined them to remember Ulster sailors lost in the Gallipoli campaign.

HHU Turkish Warship and HMS Goliath

Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland, Commander John Gray and History Hub Ulster Chair, Karen O’Rawe at Turkish minehunter TCG Anamur in Belfast Port commemorating the Centenary of the Gallipoli landings as part of the Last Post Project. Playing çanakkale türküsü on bağlama is Ioannis Tsioulakis and playing the Last Post on violin is Clare Galway. Also pictured are a sea cadet from TS Eagle and a marine cadet from TS Formidable.

 

The 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 Ulster losses during the Gallipoli campaign is the loss of HMS Goliath on the 13 May 1915. In total 74 Men from Ireland, at least 18 from Ulster were lost on this ship.  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.

Ioannis Tsioulakis playing çanakkale türküsü on bağlama

Ioannis Tsioulakis playing çanakkale türküsü on bağlama

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.

Clare Galway playing the Last Post on violin

Clare Galway playing the Last Post on violin

There were at least 18 Ulster casualties on board HMS Goliath:

Stoker (1st) Class Hector Hiles RN aged 28 from Derwent Street, Belfast

Stoker Robert Jones RNR aged 43 from Sandy Row, Belfast

Stoker John Jones RNR aged 42 from Sugarfield Street, Belfast

Stoker John McAnally RNR aged 45 from Linen Street, Belfast

Stoker Robert John McDowell RNR aged 22 from Leopold Street

Stoker Thomas Warnock RNR aged 37 from Marine Street, Belfast

Seaman Gordon Douglas Simpson RNR aged 24 from Windsor Avenue, Belfast

Stoker (1st) Class Hugh O’Donnell RN aged 40 from Cliftonville Road, Belfast

Stoker Charles Holland RNR aged 44 from Belfast

Private Alexander Harkness RMLI aged 29 from Ballygarvey, Antrim

Able Seaman James Kelso RN age 22 from Kilkeel, Down

Stoker (1st) Class William Ernest Beringer RN aged 28 from Portaferry, Down

Private Robert Hutchinson RMLI aged 32 from Creggan Road, Derry

Leading Seaman John Doherty RN aged 34 Culmore Road, Derry

Seaman John Joseph Dennis RNR aged 22 from Clooney Terrace, Waterside, Derry

Able Seaman Philip Wright RN aged 35 from Ballyarnett, Donegal

Petty Officer (1st) James John Beauchamp RN aged 48 from Castleblayney, Monaghan

Boy (1st) Class Philip Duffy RN aged 17 from Clones, Monaghan

 

The Last Post project: The Last Post is a mass participation project for the First World War centenary taking place from 20-26 April that will see people unite in communities around the UK to remember the impact that the First World War had on their local area and play music from the era as a mark of commemoration. At every event held this April, the Last Post bugle call will be played to remember someone connected to the community – not just on bugles but on any instrument from piano to bagpipes, guitar to drums. Part of the First World War Centenary, The Last Post Project is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Heritage Lottery Northern Ireland and Department for Communities Arts and Leisure Northern Ireland.

Royal Navy: Another Ship to participate in the Gallipoli Campaign was HMS Hibernia, a King Edward VII class pre-dreadnought battleship launched in 1905.  Hibernia’s Ulster connection is more modern due to her latest incarnation as the Royal Naval Reserve unit based in Lisburn.  To mark Hibernia’s presence off Gallipoli, Ulster’s RNR were included in the Centenary parade in London on Saturday 25th April as part of the Naval marching contingent.

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

Photos by Aurora 

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WW1 Centenary: The Catholic Young Citizens: Roman Catholic Ulstermen in the 36th (Ulster) Division

Rifleman James Dooley

Rifleman James Dooley

The enlistment registers of the 14th (Young Citizen Volunteer) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, shows that despite the loyalist narrative that has sprung up around the 36th Ulster Division, there were a number of men who described themselves as Roman Catholic enlisting in the battalion.

There were at least 88 Roman Catholics with addresses all over Ireland who enlisted in the Young Citizen Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, of which 42 were from Ulster.

These men included:

  • Foundry worker William Kerr from Whiterock who was killed in action aged 22, Alfred Wynne who died aged only 18 from the New Lodge and Robert Dennison of Lisburn who died just 4 weeks before the end of the war.
  • Two Roman Catholic RIC Sergeants lost their sons in the war, Crumlin Road Gaelic speaker Charles Blake died aged 24, while East Belfast’s Martin William Jennings died aged 21.
  • Roman Catholic brothers who served include the Rooney brothers. Kilkeel born and Short Strand reared, only one would return home; Peter Rooney was killed on the first day of the Somme aged only 20.  Widowed mother, Ernestine of Bangor was lucky to have both of her boys Raymond and Ernest Warnock home safe after the war despite one son being wounded.
  • James Davey Maxwell’s father was a Scots Presbyterian from Glasgow and his mother an English Catholic from Liverpool. Their Catholic son James was killed in action at The Battle of Langemarck, aged only 20.
  • Newly married Gaelic speaker, 18 year old John McKee from Armagh was killed in action in April 1918, his wife Cecelia placing on his gravestone ‘On His Soul Sweet Jesus Have Mercy’.
  • Marksman William McGarrell of Dromore died of his wounds aged 21 in the Dressing Station, his body buried in Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery.
  • Ormeau lad James Magee served till the end of the war, being promoted to Lance Corporal. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal, both of which were marked as returned.
  • Another Ormeau boy to survive the war was 2nd Lieutenant James Redmond from Kimberly Street who served with both the YCV and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Rifleman Jack Flynn

Rifleman Jack Flynn

The 36th Ulster Division was made up of 107th, 108th, 109th Brigades, Divisional troops, mounted troops and artillery as well as Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps and other divisional troops.  These Brigades included Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Fusiliers and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

The 14th (YCV) Royal Irish Rifles was formed in Belfast in September 1914 from the Belfast Volunteers and came under orders of 109th Brigade in 36th (Ulster) Division. The battalion moved to Bundoran in December 1914 moving on to Randalstown in January 1915.  In July 1915 they were moved to Seaford and in October 1915 they landed at Boulogne. On 18 February 1918 the battalion was disbanded in France and personnel re-allocated to other battalions of Royal Irish Rifles.

The review of the 36th Ulster Division before they embarked for France occurred in May 1915. The Belfast Newsletter of 6th May noted under the headline Young Citizens Arrive in Belfast:

Rifleman W Kerr

Rifleman William Kerr

“The 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (Young Citizen Volunteers) left camp Randalstown yesterday morning, and marched via Crumlin to Belfast for the purpose of taking part in the review of the Ulster Division on Saturday. The men carried their rifles, packs, and entrenching tools, and notwithstanding the long distance they had covered – 22 miles – they appeared to be in excellent condition as they passed through the centre of the city at six o’clock in the evening on their way to the yard of Messrs. Davidson & Co. Ltd., Mountpottinger Road, where they piled arms and were dismissed.

Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. D. Spencer Chichester, the commanding officer, rode at the head of his men, and the battalion band played appropriate airs. A large number of spectators witnessed the progress of the men through the city. The battalion was accompanied by its cyclist, signalling, and ambulance detachments, as well as by its transport.

This evening the rank and file will be the guests of the officers at the Royal Hippodrome, and at six o’clock tomorrow evening they will attend a meeting in the Ulster Hall. On Sunday they will attend a Divine service in the Ulster Hall at 2:30 p.m., and at noon on Monday they will leave the city on the return march to Randalstown.”

As the Unionist Centenary Committee marks the centenary of the Review of the 36th Ulster Division with a Parade past the City Hall on Saturday 9th May, it must be remembered that the 36th Ulster Division was not only made up of Protestants. People across Ireland enlisted in the war effort for various reasons, and there were at least 88 Roman Catholics with addresses all over Ireland who enlisted in the Young Citizen Volunteers, of which 42 were from Ulster. At least 8 Roman Catholic Ulstermen in the YCV gave their lives with the Ulster Division.

Karen O’Rawe from History Hub Ulster said: “It is important that our commemorative activities acknowledge the true history of the men who served in the 36th (Ulster) Division.  The divergence between the real history of the 36th and the single minded commemoration which exists in our communities today needs to be recognised. A wholly unionist Protestant Division marching off to war is an imagined past and History Hub Ulster would like to use the opportunity of the Centenary to extend an invitation for others to tell their stories whether Catholic, Jewish or Quaker, or indeed those from other regions of Ireland and the UK who were drafted into the Ulster Division.”

Upon reading the research by History Hub Ulster, Jeffrey Donaldson, Chairman of the NI WW1 Centenary Committee commented: “The fact that a number of recruits to the YCV Battalion were Roman Catholic, albeit a small proportion, nevertheless challenges the perception of some unionists that this unit was exclusively Protestant and the perception of some nationalists that no Catholics would associate with the organisation.”

The 42 men are listed below:

Rifleman William Kerr of Forth River Gardens, Springfield Road, Belfast KIA

Rifleman James Dooley of Church View, Holywood KIA

Rifleman Charles J Blake of Crumlin Road, Belfast KIA

Corporal James Davy Maxwell of 136 Dunluce Avenue, Lisburn Road, Belfast KIA

Rifleman Robert Dennison of 71 Bridge Street, Lisburn KIA

Rifleman Patrick Hughes of Altcar Street, Belfast KIA

Lance Corporal William McGarrell of Lurgan Bane, Dromore KIA

Rifleman Martin William Jennings of 33 London Street, Belfast KIA

Rifleman John Campbell of Knockbarragh, Rostrevor

Rifleman James Magee of 45 Spruce Street, Belfast

Rifleman Alfred Wynne of 84 Lepper Street, Belfast

Rifleman John Flynn of 143 Dunluce Avenue, Belfast

Lance Corporal John McKee of Annacramp, Armagh

Rifleman Francis McNally of 20 Havana Street, Belfast

Lance Corporal John O’Brien of Bailieborough, Cavan

2nd Lieutenant James Redmond of 80 Kimberly Street, Belfast

Rifleman Peter Rooney of 43 Kilmood Street, Belfast

Rifleman Thomas Rooney of 43 Kilmood Street, Belfast

Rifleman Raymond D Warnock of 54 Ballyholme Road, Bangor

Corporal Ernest J Warnock of 54 Ballyholme Road, Bangor

Rifleman H Bryan of 24 Kingston Street, Belfast

Rifleman P Brownlee of 25 Belgrave Street, Belfast

Rifleman F Girvan of 3 Mary Place, Whitehouse, Belfast

Rifleman Thomas Hall of Ballylueas, Downpatrick

Rifleman E Russell of Tullymore, Newcastle

Rifleman W. J. Smith of 105 Albert Street, Belfast

Rifleman T Tumelty of 13 Sheriff Street, Belfast

Rifleman P Vallelly of Stanhope Street, Belfast

Rifleman F Kunan of 148 Ravenhill Road, Belfast

Rifleman William Loughran of 16 Marys Street, Belfast

Rifleman E Robinson of Magheralin, Lurgan

Rifleman P Rodgers of 5 Sunwick Street, Belfast

Rifleman Hugh Magee of Carrycowan, Martinstown

Rifleman J Macklin of 22 Valentine Street, Belfast

Rifleman T Murphy of 17 Parkview Street, Belfast

Rifleman A McVeigh of 28 Croft Road, Carnlough

Rifleman H McNamara of Ballynahinch Street, Hillsborough

Rifleman J McMullen of 23 Sherwood Street, Belfast

Rifleman J McLaughlin of 71 Derwent Street, Belfast

Rifleman E McGreevy of Ballyalton, Downpatrick

Rifleman M Quinn of Levanmore, Newry

Lance Corporal T Dogherty of Sappagh Muff, Donegal

 

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

Pictures: Nigel Henderson, Member, History Hub Ulster

With thanks to John McCormick

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

 

 

‘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.

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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.

 

 

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

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

Shadows of the Great War: World War One on Film

battlesofcoronelTo mark the Centenary of World War One, QFT and Film Hub NI are presenting a programme of films, talks and events.

Exploring a wide range of themes, the Shadows of the Great War programme will give audiences the opportunity to experience a diverse range of archive, classic and contemporary films, all of which present and reflect on the Great War and its legacy.

The Centenary of World War One, and the huge interest in the historical narrative surrounding it, creates a timely occasion to consider the relationship between film and the Great War.  Despite being in its infancy, film played an important part in the war effort, recording and documenting the events of the conflict, relaying news to the home front and keeping people informed.  This exploration of how the events and legacy of the Great War have been depicted on film will be supported by a programme of talks by eminent First World War experts.

The Launch event will take place on Armistice Day, 11th November at 6.30pm at QFT with the Irish premiere of ‘The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands’. This new restoration from the British Film Institute National Archive is one of the finest films of the British silent era – a thrilling reconstruction of two decisive naval battles of 1914, recreated and filmed 13 years later, in peacetime. The film has been updated with a new score performed by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.  Receiving its UK Premiere in London in October, the Guardian described it as ‘…the greatest British war film you’ve never heard of’.

A_Night_at_the_Cinema_in_1914_-_A_Film_Johnnie_pic_1-300x195Other highlights include: ‘A Night in the Cinema in 1914’. Cinema a century ago was a new, exciting and highly democratic form of entertainment. This special compilation from the BFI National Archive recreates the glorious miscellany of comedies, dramas, travelogues and newsreels which would have constituted a typical night out in 1914. A highly successful screening on the City Hall in August allowed audiences to enjoy this presentation on the big screen.  Showing at QFT, the film will be preceded with a talk from Ian Montgomery (PRONI) on 1914 in Ireland, placing the film in context for local audiences.

‘War Horse’, the 2011 film adapted from the popular children’s book by Michael Morpurgo,  is the story of a remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man named Albert.  Set during World War One and focusing on themes of friendship and adventure, this film is a simple introduction for children to the wider context of the War and the reality in which young people of the time lived. War Horse shows at the Ulster Museum on 6th December at 1.00pm War-Horse-movie-900x562

Documentary film ‘The Green Fields of France’ is a poetic documentary film about the Irishmen who died in World War One, with the voices of Frank McGuinness, John Banville and Peter Fallon as Irish poets Patrick MacGill, Francis Ledwidge and Thomas Kettle.  The film will be shown at the Ulster Museum on 22 November and at the Strand Arts Centre on 20 January.

After the Ulster Museum screening, Professor Richard Grayson, Goldsmith’s, University of London and author of the highly successful ‘Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War’ will give  a talk about the role Irish troops played in the Great War.

The screening at the Strand will be followed by a talk from local historian Jason Burke on East Belfast and the Great War.

Gallipoli_photo_colourOther films in the programme include: the dazzling technicolor satire “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp”, “All Quiet on the Western Front” focusing on the gulf between the concept of war and the actuality, Richard Attenborough’s musical film “Oh! What a Lovely War”, French anti-war film “La Grande Illusion”, classic epic Lawrence of Arabia, “Joyeux Noel” the story of the 1914 Christmas truce on the Western Front, a love story set during the Italian campaign “A Farewell to Arms”Australian film “Gallipoli” which tells the story of two young Australian sprinters fighting on the Turkish Front and “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” an Irish film set after World War One which highlights the difficult situation in Ireland during the fight for Independence.

Full programme details are available at www.filmhubni.org and tickets can be booked through each venue – QFT, Strand or Ulster Museum.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

First Irish bank staff to be killed in the Great War

The Belfast News Letter of 15th December 1914 reported in the war series “Ulster and the War – Bank Clerks in the Army”.  Within the first few months of war being declared, over 100 bank clerks or workers had volunteered for service or had been ‘called up’ due to being in the Army Reserve.

Private Michael Millett from the Bank of Ireland was probably the first bank official to be killed in action.  Millett was born around 1886 in Kilcloney, Co. Roscommon and was the son of Colour Sergeant James Millett.  He would have joined the Bank of Ireland around 1902.  Soon after, he enlisted in Athlone into the Army Reserve.  At the outbreak of war he was immediately called up to serve in the 2nd Bn. Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).  After training, he was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force.  He was Killed in Action on 20th October 1914 aged 28.  Millett is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium and on the Bank of Ireland War Memorial in College Green, Dublin.

Sergeant William Archibald Pattenden from the Northern Banking Company was to be Killed in Action at Ypres on 31st October 1914.  Pattenden was born in October 1886 in Flimwell, Tunbridge, Kent, England and was Church of England faith.  He was the son of Horace Pattenden and had 2 older brothers, George and Frank.  In September 1906, following his education, Pattenden volunteered and enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment at Chichester, England.  On his enlistment form, his next of kin is recorded as his father and the 2 elder brothers.  Their address is recorded as East Street, Hambleden, Kent, England.  He was given the Service Number of 8527.  William is described as being 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighing 141 lbs (10 st 1 lb) with a scar over his left eye.  He has dark brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

Pattenden’s military career started off at the Depot, Royal Sussex Regiment.  In 1907 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion.  Later that year he was posted to the 1st Battalion.  Between October 1907 and December 1913 Pattenden was serving in India (Ambular, Rawalpindi, Gharial and Peshawar).  He transferred to the Army Reserve in December 1913.  According to the Army ‘Statement of Services, Pattenden was formally discharged from the Army Reserve on 30th September 1914.  Over the years in service, his army medical form records him suffering from tonsillitis, having an abrasion on his left arm, having an abscess.  In 1913 at Rawalpindi, India he was vaccinated as a result of having ‘vesicles’.  On his transfer to the Army Reserve, he was found to have a hernia.

Sometime after 1913 he moved to Belfast and joined the Northern Banking Company as a Head Office Porter and Caretaker.  He was married and living in 13 Third Avenue, Belfast.
At the outbreak of war, as a Reservist, Pattenden was immediately recalled to the 2nd Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment.  The battalion immediately went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.  He was to be Killed in Action at Ypres on 31st October 1914.  He was also the first Northern Bank official to take part in the Great War.  He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, the Shankill Road Mission War Memorial and on the Northern Banking Company War Memorial in Donegall Square West, Belfast.

Research by History Hub Ulster Member Gavin Bamford

For further information on Banking memorials visit

http://northernbankwarmemorials.blogspot.co.uk/

http://ulsterbankwarmemorials.blogspot.co.uk/