Philip Lecane at Holyhead

Screenshot 2018-04-27 19.17.23Members of the ‘RMS Leinster Centenary Commemoration Group’ met up with Philip Lecane, author of ‘Torpedoed’ (the story of the tragic loss of RMS Leinster ) at Holyhead when he recently passed through the port.

L-R. Cllr. Ann Kennedy, Mayor of Holyhead, Philip Lecane, Edwyn Hughes, Dr Gareth Huws, Norman Williams, Eric Anthony and Peter Scott Roberts (all of Holyhead Maritime Museum).

Norman, Eric and Peter all lost grandfathers on the Leinster.

With thanks to Alan Williams, Stena Port Manager, for arranging access.

Separated as they boarded ….

Screenshot 2018-04-21 13.45.59

This cutting from a West Country newspaper tells the tragic story of a young married woman, Virginia Maud Frizzell (nee Carter), of Teignmouth, Devon who became separated from her husband as they boarded RMS Leinster in the early morning of 10 October 1918.

She had married Private Robert Frizzell in April of that year. He was originally from Dublin but was serving with the Canadian Army. They had gone to Ireland to visit his relatives.

Another newspaper report linked the couple to Newry Street in Holyhead but research has failed to find a connection with the town. It is possible that the couple may have stayed overnight at a lodging house in Newry Street prior to traveling to Ireland.

Virginia Maud Frizzell is buried in an unmarked grave at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. Private Robert Frizzell rejoined his unit in England and later settled in Canada and remarried. He is believed to have died at Toronto in 1955.

The cutting is from The Western Times of 15 October 1918 and reproduced from ‘Findmypast’.


William Watson – City of Dublin Steam Packet Company


The brass plaque can be found in the Chancel area of St. Cybi’s Church at Holyhead. It is a memorial to William Watson, Chairman and Managing Director of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. He died in 1883 and was instrumental in building up the company, whose vessels provided the mail service to Ireland for over 70 years.

The company was formally wound up in 1924, being unable to continue following the loss of two of its ships, RMS Connaught (1917) and RMS Leinster (1918) during the Great War.

The plaque records the installation in 1897 of the East Window at St. Cybi, donated by William and Edward, the two sons of William Watson, in memory their father.

The local newspaper recorded at the unveiling that ‘William Watson was a generous employer of labour at Holyhead and was much respected’.

Original photograph of the window by Dr. Ken Roberts and published at

The U-Boat War in the Irish Sea

RMS Leinster was an unfortunate victim of the ‘U-Boat War’ when Germany targeted the Allied trade routes bringing in food and war materials. During the four years of the Great War there were almost 1700 incidents involving U-boats on this important sea route. The image below indicates some of the 170 losses that occurred around the Welsh Coast.

The Holyhead Maritime Museum is participating, with others, in an important project covering the ‘U-boat War in the Irish Sea’. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by a partnership between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, School of Ocean Sciences and the Nautical Archaeology Society.

Further information can be found here – and Twitter @LlongauUBoat

Welsh coast u boat attacksImage from The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

Compensation for a Widow

The loss of RMS Leinster was discussed a number of times at Parliament after the armistice of 1918. Questions were asked about the lack of naval escort on the day. The government stuck by their reasoning that the Leinster’s speed was enough to protect her. They also cited the bad weather that would have reduced the ability of naval vessels to keep up with the ship. The government continued to refuse to have an official inquiry into the tragedy.

The extract below, from Hansard in June 1919, covers an exchange between Sir Aukland Geddes, President of the Board of Trade and Sir Owen Thomas, MP for Anglesey. Reference is made to the lack of proper compensation for Mrs Williams, widow of Head Stoker, Thomas Williams, of 18 St. Cybi Street, Holyhead.

Captain Redmond, MP for the City of Wexford, makes a comparison between the loss of the Lusitania and Leinster in respect of the need for an inquiry.


The Surviving Gunner


This is Evan Rowlands RNR. He was one of three naval Gunners on board RMS Leinster and the only one to survive the sinking. He was born at Newborough, Anglesey in 1868 and went to sea at age 14. Prior to the war he served as Quartermaster for the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company and lived with his family at 13 Well Street, Holyhead. During the early days of hostilities he served as a DEMS Gunner on ships carrying beef from Argentina for the war effort. He died in 1939.