We are grateful to Simon McClean for the loan of his great-aunt’s memorial plaque, now on display at the Holyhead Maritime Museum. Louisa Parry was one of two Stewardesses lost on RMS Leinster and lived with her family at 5 Fair View, Holyhead. One of nine children, she was 22 when she lost her life.
Family information tells us that she was not scheduled to work that day but sailed in place of one of her sisters who was ill. It is further believed that Louisa Parry went to a lower deck to help passengers but became trapped in a cabin with another woman and a child; crew members were unable to open the door due to the angle of the ship and the pressure of the water against it.
Plans for the commemoration in October 2018 of the RMS Leinster tragedy are beginning to firm up. Please keep up to date by checking this blog at regular intervals.
via West Wales Maritime Heritage Society: Hirano Maru Update
On 4 October 1918, only six days before RMS Leinster was sunk, U-boat UB-91 attacked and sank the Japanese merchant ship, Hiranu Maru, 200 miles south of Ireland. There were only 29 survivors from 320 on board. Japan at that time was an ally of Britain and the ship was therefore considered a legitimate target. This tragedy demonstrates how dangerous the seas were in the western approaches to Britain and along the Irish Sea during this stage of the war.
Previously, in January 1918, the Hiranu Maru was in collision with the British ship SS Hildena about 4 miles north of the Skerries, Anglesey. It happened at night when the vessel was travelling in a convoy without lights. SS Hildena floundered with the loss of all hands. Among the crew was 2nd Engineer, Robert Jones of Holyhead.
We are very pleased to announce that the Holyhead Maritime Museum has been awarded a grant to help fund the RMS Leinster Centenary Commemoration planned for October 2018. We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund (Wales) for giving due consideration for this project and also all those who participate in the lottery to provide the necessary funds.
May Westwell was the only daughter of the late Mr and Mrs W W Westwell of 103, Lovely-lane Warrington. She joined the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps to support the War effort in April 1918. Before that she was a teacher at Evelyn Street Primary school in the town. After spending some time in Belfast in an administrative post, she was transferred to the headquarters of the Irish Command in Dublin.
Miss Westwell had decided to use her short leave to travel back to Warrington to surprise her family and friends. They were all totally unaware of her being a passenger until they received the tragic news of her loss on the Leinster at the age of 30. The courage of Miss Westwell during this terrifying event was noted by a surviving passenger and reported by a local newspaper.
“There was a Canadian Major who was amongst the rescued, and the first remark he made was that of all the things that impressed him most at the time, was the behaviour of the Q.M.A.A.C. on board. Their courage was magnificent. Your daughter was the one referred to as she was the only woman officer travelling and there were few women in uniform on the boat.”
The school is planning to commemorate the life of May Westwell by creating a poppy cascade at St. Barnabus Church, Warrington made from plastic bottles. They aim to promote Miss Westwell as a positive role model to children, especially girls, and by using bottles link the project to the issue of single use plastic around the globe. There will be a service at the church on 10 October to remember the sacrifice of Miss May Westwell and others.
The Holyhead Maritime Museum has been asked to make and send a poppy to the school to mark the link the town has with the tragedy. This we will gladly do.
This link will take you the latest update for the Centennial Commemorations planned at Dun Laoghaire – Bulletin July 2018
With thanks to the RMS Leinster Team at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland.
Now available for sale at the Holyhead Maritime Museum – Philip Lecane’s definitive account of the worst maritime tragedy of the Irish Sea.
RMS Leinster was torpedoed in October 1918 en route from Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) to Holyhead resulting in the loss of over 560 lives, including 27 from Holyhead.
As part of the Museum’s contribution to the centennial commemoration, the book is offered at special price of £14.50 (£15.99 on Amazon). Get your copy whilst stocks last.