The lost lives of the Battle of the Somme

Belfast City Council event with History Hub Ulster member Nigel Henderson. The lost lives of the Battle of the Somme Date: 21 Jun 2016 Time: 6.30pm - 9pm Venue: Banqueting Hall, Belfast City Hall Over 200,000 Irishmen fought in the Great War, and it’s estimated that up to 25,000 – 30,000 Irish soldiers from the Irish Divisions and others in British based Divisions died between 1914 and 1918. The most iconic Battle involving Irish soldiers was the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1 July 1916. Nigel Henderson and Philip Orr will deliver a presentation on some of those who lost their lives, focussing on the impact that this had on communities in Belfast. The presentation will also include poetry written in Ulster and in France during the period of the Battle of the Somme. The presentation will be followed by a dramatised reading of the Halfway House, which looks at two women who met in 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, hearing of the experiences of their fathers who were on different sides in 1916. Light refreshments will be served at 6.30pm. Booking is essential, email goodrelations@belfastcity.gov.uk or call 028 90270 663 to register. http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events/Event-61893.aspx

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

Victoria Cross commemorative paving stones

In August 2013, the government announced a campaign to honour Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War. As part of this, commemorative paving stones will be laid in the birth place of Victoria Cross recipients to honour their bravery and provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities. A total of 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded during the First World War, of which 145 were awarded to servicemen who fought for Britain, but were born overseas. The first Ulster paving stone will be laid in April 2015 to commemorate Private Robert Morrow, Royal Irish Fusiliers. Click on the map for the location of commemorative paving stones and information on the recipients. The map will be updated as more paving stones are laid.

Centenary of the loss of HMS Bayano

On 11 Mar 1915 HMS Bayano was torpedoed by U27 off the Firth of Clyde.  The Bayano was an Elders & Fyffes merchant ship launched in 1913. She was requisitioned on the 21st of November 1914 and became HMS Bayano, Pendant No M78, an armed merchant cruiser. She displaced 5948 tons, carried 2 x 6 inch guns, and had a maximum speed of 14 knots.
Bayano pre conversion

Bayano Pre-conversion

Just after 0500 hrs on 11 March 1915, Kapitanleutnant Bernd Wegener in U27 was positioned a few miles off Corsewall Point at the entrance to Loch Ryan, where the ferries from Cairnryan to Belfast and Larne now pass several times daily. HMS Bayano was steaming fast out of the Firth of Clyde heading south for Liverpool after taking on coal in Glasgow. Wegener spotted Bayano and manoeuvred himself into an attack position. U27 fired a torpedo which hit Bayano causing her to sink rapidly taking down 194 of the 220 man crew. Some survivors were picked up around 4 hours later by the Balmarino a vessel operated by Kelly’s Colliers of Belfast. The Castlereagh, another vessel operated by Kelly’s, reported siting the wreckage and being pursued by a submarine, possibly U27, for some time around dawn the following morning.
Bayano Post-convertion

Bayano Post-conversion

Bodies began to wash up on the East Coast of the Ards Peninsula between Ballyquintin Point near Portaferry and Cloughey. Four of the men were collected by a lorry operated by Messrs Elliot merchants of Portaferry and taken to Ballyphilip Parish Church.  The oval shaped war grave headstones can be found for Royal Marine A G Bain of Portsmouth, Seaman W A Wellstead of Lydd in Kent and two unidentified sailors. Other men are buried in cemeteries in Whitechurch outside Ballywalter, and St Andrews Balleysborough near Ballyhalbert. There were at least ten Irish sailors lost on HMS Bayano.  Ulster men who perished were: Mercantile Marine Reservist Fireman John Alexander McQuigg from Derry, who died aged 26 years old and is remembered at Plymouth Naval Memorial. Royal Naval Reservist Seaman John Todd from Belfast who died aged 35 years old and is remembered at Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Royal Naval Volunteer Reservist Ordinary Seaman Patrick Worke from Belfast who is remembered at Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Research by Karen O’Rawe, Chair and Mark McCrea, Member History Hub Ulster History Hub Ulster is a research group based in Belfast, but working on projects across Ulster.

Creative Centenaries Resources Fair

Do you have a role to play in the Decade of Anniversaries? This Creative Centenaries Resources Fair will open up opportunities for those planning and organising events that explore and share our history and heritage. The day-long, free conference at Titanic Belfast on 5th March will include: • keynote addressunnamed • exhibition stalls • digital resources • project presentations • workshops • funding information • artistic expressions • networking and partnership opportunities This event is aimed at community and heritage groups, councils and good relations officers, arts and community organisations and others who are organising events across Ireland in the coming years.  Delegates will have the chance to hear from a range of projects and exhibitions, take part in engaging workshops, learn about funding opportunities and establish connections and partnerships with others. When registering for the event, delegates will have the opportunity to select which workshops they would like to attend, including: What is Commemoration?, Ethical and Shared Remembering or Creative Responses. What is Commemoration?: This panel based workshop will explore issues such as the purpose you hope to achieve and the long term legacies attached to commemorative events within the Decade of Anniversaries and how this may impact on planning. Ethical and Shared Remembering: This workshop will examine approaches to commemoration including inclusive and ethical remembering and how interpretations of history shape modern society. Creative Responses: This workshop will look at artistic and creative approaches to commemorating and remembering events with the Decade of Anniversaries including theatre, poetry, music and more.

Click here to book your place