The Roll today reflects the loss of HMS Pathfinder, the first RN warship to be sunk by a locomotive torpedo from a German U boat; the service given by two WW1 nurses who died in the course of their duty, and two members of the Royal Flying Corps – one from the North Irish Horse. Photo – Window bearing the crest of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps in Belfast Cathedral. Below the window is a First World War Roll of Honour of Irish Nurses which was relocated from Dublin in 1922.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
1914 HMS PATHFINDER
HMS Pathfinder operating from Rosyth was the first Royal Navy warship to be sunk by a locomotive torpedo from a German U boat. 05/09/1914. Five of the fatalities and two of the survivors were from Northern Ireland. One was Staff Surgeon Thomas Aubrey Smyth from Dromore, County Down, who described how it all happened in minutes. He wrote: “The explosion blew a great hole in the side of the ship. I was at the time in the wardroom, but ran up on deck immediately, and it was then evident by the way the bow was down in the water that she would sink rapidly.I should say the whole thing occurred in about 10 minutes which time was spent in throwing overboard the few articles which would float (the reason there was not more of these was that in preparation for war all unnecessary woodwork is got rid of to prevent fire).”
“I was then thrown forward by the slope of the deck and got jammed beneath a gun (which I expect is the cause of my bruising) and while in this position was carried down some way by the sinking ship, but fortunately after a time I became released and after what seemed like interminable ages I came to the surface, and after swimming a short time I was able to get an oar and some other floating material with the help of which I was just able to keep on the surface.After holding on for a long time – I believe it was an hour and a half – I must have become unconscious for I have no recollection of being picked out of the water. You see we were alone when it happened, so it took a long time for the reserve torpedo boats to come out and it was too quick to get any of our own boats out, besides most of the few we had were splintered into pieces.”
RN. Stoker 1st Cl. SS/109372. HMS Pathfinder. Died 05/09/1914. Aged 30. Killed in action with submarine off Firth of Forth. (Served as William Swann). Son of Ann Jane Swann (formerly Barnett), Orchard St., Belfast, and the late Charles Alfred Barnett. Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 4.
+BELL, George Sinclair
RN. Stoker 1st Class. 308909. HMS Pathfinder. Died 05/09/1914. Age 28. Killed in action with submarine off Firth of Forth. Enrolled 01/09/1905 for 5 and 7 years. Born Belfast 31/12/1886. Son of Henry A. and Elizabeth Bell, Earl St., Belfast. Chatham Naval Memorial. Rosemary St – PCI RH. IMR. ADM 188/504/308909
RN. Ordinary Seaman. SS4231. HMS Pathfinder. Died 05/09/1914 in an engagement with a submarine off the Firth of Forth. Age 21. Born Lurgan 18/10/1894. Son of George and Sarah Ann Daley, Milfort Avenue, Dunmurry. Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent, Panel 3. St. Colman’s Parish Church, Dunmurry, WM. Lisburn WM. ADM 188/1098/4231
+GORMAN, Charles John
RN. Stoker 1st. Class. SS108091. HMS Pathfinder. Died 05/09/1914. Age 23. Killed in action with submarine off Firth of Forth. Ship lost. Enrolled 17/02/1907 for 5 and 7 years. Re-engaged 17/02/1909 for 8 and 4 years. Volunteered 17/02/1914. In Pathfinder 01/10/1913 – 05/09/1914. Born Belfast 27/04/1890. Son of James and Fanny Gorman, Summerhill St., Belfast. Brother of James Toland Gorman who was lost in HMS Hawke 15/10/1914. Chatham Naval Memorial. IMR. ADM 188/1114/108091
+HILLIS, James Herbert
RN. Leading Stoker. K4837. HMS Pathfinder. Died 05/09/1914. Killed in action with submarine off Firth of Forth. Enrolled 15/03/1907 for 12 years. War service in Pembroke II and Pathfinder (31/07/1914 – 05/09/19140. Born Banbridge 22/07/1888. Husband to Catherine Hillis, Newcastle St., Belfast. Chatham Naval Memorial. Megain Memorial – PCI RH. ADM 188/876/4837. See also SS104748 ADM 188/1110/104748
+JOHNSTON, Margaret Hessie
Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. Staff Nurse. Died 05/09/1915. Born on the 19/04/1885 at Clonterriff, Upper Ballinderry, Co. Antrim, the family home, she was educated at Upper Ballinderry National School and became a member of Lisburn Young Womans Association. She lived for a time at the YWCA Home in Wallace Avenue in the town before beginning her training as a nurse at Staffordshire General Infirmary in April 1905. This lasted for three years before she moved to Essex County Nursing Home, Colchester in May 1908. Working as a Staff Nurse, she also took on Sisters’ duties during holidays and, at least according to the Lisburn Standard, worked at some point as a district nurse. After nearly a year and a half years in Colchester she moved to the Biblewomans and Nurses Mission in Russell Square, London in Sept 1909 working there until July 1911. She then moved overseas as a church missionary working at the International Hospital in Adana in Turkey between January 1912 and January 1914.
With the outbreak of war she volunteered for service and took up duties at Northlands Red Cross Hospital, Emsworth, near Portsmouth. On the March 3 the following year though she applied to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve, noting in her application that she had considerable experience nursing those suffering from Enteric fever. Not surprisingly for someone of her experience, her application was quickly approved; she was “warned” for Egypt on the 21st and the following month was posted to R Section QAIMNS at the Citadel Military Hospital, Cairo.
At the time of her application to join the QAs, it was reported that she was “in good health and fit for foreign service”, however, this was not to last. Only a few months after going overseas she fell ill. According to the Standard, Colonel Naggs the CO at the Citadel had her brought to his own quarters and “everything possible was done for her but it was all no good”. She died from enteric fever/paratyphoid in Egypt on 05/09/1915 aged 30. A service was held in the hospital chapel attended by Sir John Maxwell who commanded the troops in Egypt and his ADC Prince Alex of Battenberg. She was buried with full military honours in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, row D, grave 84.
Margaret Johnston’s death is commemorated on the family headstone in Ballinderry Middle church graveyard, and on the Roll of Honour in the Parish Church. The family headstone records that she, “gave her life in the Great War”. Margaret Johnston was the daughter of Edward Johnston, a farmer, and Mrs Johnston of Clonterriff, Upper Ballinderry, Co. Antrim. She died single and intestate with an estate valued at £85.11.5 gross. Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. Memorial St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast
+CHAPMAN, Cecil Sutton Chapman
48th Coy. Machine Gun Corps. Sergeant. 22877. Died 05/09/1916. Born Ballycastle. Thiepval Memorial, panels 5c and 12c, Somme, France
+DOHERTY, Mary Agnes
Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve . Sister. Royal Red Cross. MiD. Died of illness 05/09/1916. Eldest daughter of Philip and Catherine Doherty. She was born in Magherafelt on 10/09/1887. The 1901 census lists Mary Agnes as age 13 living with the family in Meeting Street, Magherafelt. Philip Doherty was a member of the R.I.C. The 1911 census lists Mary working as a nurse in Mohill, County Leitrim.
She later became a nurse in Dublin. Mary volunteered for service and was stationed in a general hospital in France where she was mentioned in despatched by Sir John French. Afterwards she received the award of Royal Red Cross. Sister Doherty went on to Salonika where she contracted malaria. She had returned to duty when she was struck down with dysentery to which she succumbed on 05/09/1916 in the 29th General Hospital Salonika. Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery, Greece. Memorial St Anne’s Cathedral, Bellfast
Royal Irish Fusiliers. B Company, 7th Battalion. Corporal. 15293. Died 05/09/1916. Age 42. QUB Faculty of Law 1899 – 1900. A Solicitor. Son of James and Susan Whaley (nee Nelson). Theipval Memorial, Pier 15.QUB RH
Royal Flying Corps. Serjeant.158. Died 05/09/1917. Aged 23. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Dunville, of Shankhill Rd., Belfast; husband of Susannah Vance (formerly Dunville), of 184, Grosvenor Rd., Belfast.. Carnmoney Cemetery
Manchester Regiment, attached Royal Flying Corps. Lieutenant. Flying Officer. Died 05/09/1917. Aged 28. BA 1913. At the outbreak of war he was working as a teacher at Skegoneil School in Belfast. He enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 18/02/1915. Soon after he applied for a commission and was made a second lieutenant in the infantry. Early in 1916 he embarked for Egypt where he joined a battalion of the Manchester Regiment.
He later returned to England and in April 1917 he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as a flying officer. On 22 August he was posted to No.45 Squadron in France. At 0710 hrs on 05/09/1917 Shields took off on an offensive patrol, flying a Sopwith Camel.
According to his commanding officer, writing to Shields’ father: “Your son was killed in aerial combat. Eye-witnesses whom I have questioned inform me that your son put up a most magnificent fight. It appears that he was fighting a Hun ‘plane, and would have shot it down, when another German ‘plane, which your son couldn’t see, dived down on his tail. Your son was killed instantaneously, as his machine fell completely out of control in front of our lines. His body was recovered, and buried behind the lines with military honours.”
Three of Lieutenant Shields’ brothers also served in the war. Samuel of the Royal Irish Rifles was killed in action on the Somme on 02/07/1916. Neil also served in the Rifles before joining the Tank Corps. Robert served in the Royal Flying Corps.
William Shields was born on 31/01/1889 at Seaforde, County Down, son of coachman Samuel Shields and his wife Sarah who were residing at 33, Upper Frank St., Belfast, when their son died. Lieutenant Shields was buried at Voormezeele Enclosures, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
+WHITE, Patrick Francis
RN. AB. SS476. In HMS Falmouth at Jutland. Served 05/03/1906 – 09/05/1909. Joined RFR 10/05/1909. Recalled 11/08/1914. Died of heart failure 05/09/1918. Age 32. War service in Pembroke, Falmouth (15/08/1914 – 26/08/1916), Weymouth, Caesar and President. Born Warrenpoint, 29/12/1885. Son of John and Sarah White, Warrenpoint. Husband to Mary Teresa White, Rhyl St., Boodle, Liverpool. Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 26. ADM 188/1094/476
RN. Stoker 2nd Class. D/KX 135973. Died 05/09/1942. Age: 28. HMS Attack, a Coastal Forces base at Portland 1941 – 45. He joined the navy three months after the outbreak of war. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William McIntyre, and stepson of Mary McIntyre, Station Rd., Portstewart. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 25/09/1942). Ramsgate & St Lawrence Cemetery.
RAF. Sergeant (Flight Engineer). 532066. Died 05/09/1942. 207 Sqdn. William and Elizabeth Fleck, ‘Cloneen’, Antrim Road, Ballymena
Runnymede Air Force Memorial, Panel 83
RN. Stoker 2nd Class. D/KX 135973. Died 05/09/1942. Age: 28. HMS Attack, a Coastal Forces base at Portland 1941 – 45. He joined the navy three months after the outbreak of war. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William McIntyre, and stepson of Mary McIntyre, Station Rd., Portstewart. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 25/09/1942). Ramsgate and St Lawrence Cemetery.
Royal Horse Artillery. Sergeant. 1439207. Died 05/09/1942. Aged 19. 6 Regiment, RHA. Son of Hugh and Eileen Mary Weir. Londonderry City Cemetery
+BIRSE, Leslie Seymour
Royal Artillery. Sergeant. 1511752. Died 05/09/1943. Aged 25. 6 Bty., 1 Lt. A.A. Regt. Johannesburg (West Park) Cemetery, Gauteng, South Africa
+CRAIG, William John
RN. Able Seaman. P/JX 323451. HMS Falmouth. Died 05/09/1945. Son of William John and Isabella Craig, Lenaderg, Co. Down. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 46. Gilford WM
LEAKE, Francis Martin
RN. Captain. HMS Pathfinder. Wounded. HMS Pathfinder
SLOAN, Wolsey Cornwall
RNVR. Surgeon-Lieut. Commander. 1940-45. Surgeon-Lieut., R.N., 1926. BA, TCD 1924. MB BCh 1926. B 05/09/1902. Son of Andrew G Sloan, Ballyworkan House, Portadown. D. Campbell College 1285
SMYTH, Thomas Aubrey
RN. Staff Surgeon. Survivor of HMS Pathfinder. (See account above). Bedeque House, Dromore
RAMC. Lt Colonel. Coleraine AI. QCB MD, RUI 1870. MRCSI 1872. Surgeon Lt Colonel to 3rd Western General Hospital. Born 1849. Son of Thomas Wallace, Kirkhill, Ballymoney. Died 05/09/1939
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