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War Memorials on Anglesey in North Wales.

S.S. Connemara and the Coal Carrier Retriever Sinking in 1916.

Anglesey, Holyhead, SS Connemara - on the Greenore Service

Anglesey, Holyhead, SS Connemara - on the Greenore Service

Early on the morning of Friday the 3rd of November 1916, Captain Patrick O'Neill of the coal carrier Retriever steered his ship out of Garston's Coal Docks near Liverpool, heading for Newry in Northern Ireland, with a crew predominantly from the destination town. Due to the extreme weather conditions by the time the Retriever was off Ireland her cargo of coal had shifted, and she was probably somewhat unstable.

Later that day, the 50 year old Captain George H. Doeg (born near Carlisle), and his ship the S.S. Connemara, left Greenore for Holyhead, with a crew predominantly from the port town of Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales.

The Connemara was a daily ferry between Holyhead and Greenore that carried passengers, livestock and cargo, and whilst it was wartime, and there was an ever present threat from German U-Boats patrolling the Irish sea, to the Captain's wife Mary Doeg it would have seemed that her husband had left on a routine journey, and that he would return the next day.

Neither ship or their crews, nor the families of the crews and passengers aboard, were aware that the fate of both ships were intertwined, and fatally sealed.

The night of November the 3rd 1916 was a particularly dark night, but because of the danger of German Submarines both ships operated with just mininal lighting. In gale force winds and mountainous seas the two ships collided off Carlingford Bar, despite the lighthouse keeper from the Halbowline lighthouse firing flares to warn them they were too close.

The Retriever collided with the S.S. Connemara, holing her amidships. Invariably - I have found during research - when a steamship sinks, the boilers explode on contact with the sea, and thus the S.S. Connemara slipped beneath the waves within minutes. The Retriever took a little longer, but she also sank to the bottom. Just one man would escape this terrible accident, James Boyle of the Retriever, a 20 year old Fireman. He seldom spoke of the disaster, at least until he was an old man, and he subsequently passed away in 1967.

The next day washed up over 50 bodies, they were mutiliated by the boiler explosion, rough seas or rocks. Over the next weeks bodies were washed up on beaches, and identification of the corpses was nigh impossible, having to rely on e.g. clothing and jewellery.



In Holyhead the crew are listed on the War Memorial, and some of the crew members are mentioned on their family graves, and in Ireland there was a military funeral with honours to an Unknown Soldier at St Patrick's Churchyard in Newry. where there is a memorial. Several of the soldiers lost on the Connemara are remembered at the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton, and the schoolchildren of Kilkeel High School erected a stone memorial in Kilkeel Cemetery.

There were in excess of 90 casualties in total, 31 of which were the Holyhead crew of the Connemara, along with 51 of her passengers, and on the Collier Retriever, 8 of the 9 crew lost their lives.

Captain George H. Doeg is believed to have been buried in Irealand. A memorial to the Connemara was held at St Cybi's Church in Holyhead in November 2006.

I have tried to put on this webpage as much information as I can about the crews and passengers, all of which will have been researched by a number of people, and I thank them. I just hope having all the information in one place will make it simpler for anyone researching this incident. If you have any high res photographs of the Retriever and/or the crews of either ship, or even addirional facts or family anecdotes I would love to add them to this page. Please email them here.

The graves where some of the crew are remembered:

George Owen Engineer died Connemara 1916 aged 35 Headstone

George Owen Engineer died Connemara 1916 aged 35 - George is buried with
his father in law Isaac Evans, a respected elder of Disgwylfa Chapel on London Road. Parents lived at Bodarvon, Holyhead. Later his mother in law and wife - Megan Cybi - would join them.

David Evans, died 1916 on the SS Connemara buried in Maeshyfryd Cemetery with his parents

David Evans, Steward, died 1916 on the SS Connemara - buried in Maeshyfryd Cemetery with his parents, James and Margaret Jane Evans of 10, Devonald Street, Holyhead

George Roberts a Leading Stoker  died Connemara 1916 aged 53

George Roberts, Leading Stoker died Connemara 1916 aged 53 - buried with his wife Mary Ellen Roberts. Lived at 5, Tower Gardens, Holyhead.

William Humphrey Jones, Deck Boy died Connemara 1916 aged 16 -  buried with his mother

William Humphrey Jones, Deck Boy died Connemara 1916 aged 16 - buried with his mother Ellen Janes Jones. His father was William John Jones, and as he is not buried here one can reasonably assume that he re-married after losing his wife who was aged just 33.

Here are the lists that I have been able to put together from a multiple of internet resources - It is about two thirds complete.

Forenames
Surname
Age
Relation to others
Ship
Status
Fate
Other Family
Boyd
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Corporal.
James
Boyle
20
Retriever
Fireman
Survived
John
Burns
S.S. Connemara
Cattleman
Perished
Edwin Righton
Carter
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private. On the Hollybrook Memorial.
William
Clugson
Retriever
Crew
Perished
Lizzie
Collins
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Patrick
Conlon
Brother of Robert Conlon
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
John Stanley
Cooke
18
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private.
Stanislaus Marie J.
Cooke
17
S.S. Connemara
Steward
Perished
James
Curran
60
Husband of Alice Curran (nee Murdock)
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Had 10 children.
Frank
Diver
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Gunner. On the Hollybrook Memorial.
Diver
Wife of Frank Diver
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Diver
Child of Frank Diver
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Diver
Child of Frank Diver
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
George H.
Doeg
50
Husband of Mary Doeg died in 1918.
S.S. Connemara
Captain
Perished
Joseph
Donnan
Son in law of the Captain - Patrick O'Neill
Retriever
Seaman
Perished
David C.
Evans
28
Son of James and Jane Evans.
S.S. Connemara
Steward
Perished
10, Devonald Street, Holyhead.
Robert
Evans
S.S. Connemara
Quartermaster
Perished
Jane
Fillingham (or Fillington)
4
Daughter of Lillie Fillingham
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Lillie
Fillingham (or Fillington)
Aunt to Robert Conlon
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Robert
Fillingham (or Fillington)
2
Son of Lillie Fillingham
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Michael
Flaherty
S.S. Connemara
Able Seaman
Perished
Maggie
Glassbrook (or Clarinbroke)
Aunt to Robert Conlon
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Philip G.
Goodfellow
44
Husband of K. Smith (formerly Goodfellow)
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private. Brother of Mary Barry. On the Hollybrook Memorial.
William F.
Hambley
S.S. Connemara
Steward
Perished
John
Hughes
S.S. Connemara
Luggage Guard
Perished
Joseph
Hughes
S.S. Connemara
Quartermaster
Perished
William E.
Hughes
S.S. Connemara
3rd Engineer
Perished
William
Iliffe
47
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Colour Sergeant Major.
Hugh
Jones
S.S. Connemara
Chief Engineer
Perished
John Robert
Jones
S.S. Connemara
Able Seaman
Perished
William
Jones
S.S. Connemara
Greaser
Perished
William Humphrey
Jones
16
Son of William John and Hannah Jane Jones
S.S. Connemara
Deck Boy
Perished
Buried with his mother who had died in 1910 aged 33.
Catherine
Kearney
Sister to Patrick
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Daughter of Charles Kearney.
Patrick
Kearney
22
Son of Charles Kearney. Brother of Catherine
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Survived collision but was killed on the rocks.
Robert Andrew
Kenna
23
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private. Remembered on the Hollybrook Memorial.
Peter
Killen
S.S. Connemara
Cattleman
Perished
King
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Sergeant.
Ernest Thomas
Knowles
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private. On the Hollybrook Memorial.
George Henry
Logan
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Sapper.
James
Lomax
24
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private.
Margaret Alice
Maguire
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Rose
Maguire
Sister to Patrick Joseph Maguire
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Mary Angela
McArdle
19
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
Samuel
McComb
<35
Husband of Elizabeth McComb (nee Morgan)
Retriever
Crew
Perished
Children John aged 6, Clare aged 4, and Veronica 6 months.
Simon
McGarrell
S.S. Connemara
Passenger
Perished
McGuinness
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private
Joseph
O'Neill
Son of the Captain - Patrick O'Neill
Retriever
2nd Mate
Perished
Patrick
O'Neill
Retriever
Captain
Perished
George
Owen
35
Husband of Megan Cybi.
S.S. Connemara
2nd Engineer
Perished
Son of William and Mary Owen of Bodarvon, Holyhead.
George S.
Owen
S.S. Connemara
Quartermaster
Perished
Richard
Owen
S.S. Connemara
Fireman
Perished
William
Owen
S.S. Connemara
Cook
Perished
Joseph
Perry
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Sergeant. On the Hollybrook Memorial.
George
Roberts
53
Husband of Mary Ellen Roberts died 1911 age 44.
S.S. Connemara
Leading Stoker
Perished
5, Tower Gardens. Buried with his wife.
Owen
Smith
S.S. Connemara
Carpenter
Perished
John Henry (or Henry George)
Tomelty (or Tumelty)
Retriever
Fireman
Perished
Jack
Whittaker
S.S. Connemara
Soldier
Perished
Private. On the Hollybrook Memorial.
Margaret Alice
Williams
S.S. Connemara
Stewardess
Perished
John
Williams
S.S. Connemara
Seaman
Perished
Owen T.
Williams
S.S. Connemara
Fireman
Perished
Richard
Williams
S.S. Connemara
Fireman
Perished
William P.
Williams
S.S. Connemara
Chief Officer
Perished
Isaac
Woodall
S.S. Connemara
Fireman
Perished

Holyhead War Memorials Main Page




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