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Boat torpedoed 100 years ago commemorated in Dublin


View of Dun Laoghaire harbour

View of Dun Laoghaire harbour

View of Dun Laoghaire harbour

The centenary of the sinking of the RMS Connaught by German torpedoes was commemorated in Dun Laoghaire today.

A brief ceremony was held at the First World War memorial in the Royal St George Yacht Club  to remember those who died in the sinking on March 3, 1917.

The ship regularly brought passengers and mail between Dun Laoghaire and Britain until it was commandeered to carry troops from Southhampton to the battlefields of France during World War One.

Crew members from Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, and other parts of Ireland as well as Britain were on board the ship when it was struck by two torpedoes fired by a German submarine in the English Channel.

Father-of-four John Moran (33) from Crofton Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, was killed in the explosion caused by the first torpedo strike, along with two crew mates from Wales and the Channel Islands.

Among the 74 survivors were a large number of Irish crew members.

Two of the survivors, Joseph Inglis (41) from Dublin and Denis Whelan (45) from Dun Laoghaire lost their lives when the RMS Leinster was sunk by German torpedoes shortly after leaving Dun Laoghaire harbour the following year.  The two men were among more than 550 people who died in the Leinster sinking.

The memorial ceremony was held at 1.45pm, the exact time of the attack  100 years ago, at the yacht club in Dun Laoghaire where Moran’s name is inscribed on the World War One memorial in the club.  Moran was a member of the club’s staff before becoming a volunteer with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Philip Lecane, author of Torpedoed! The RMS Leinster Disaster, spoke of the sinking in a lecture at the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday.

He led the memorial ceremony tdoay. A guest at the ceremony was Robert Moran, a grandson of victim John Moran.

“Though people are beginning to become aware of the sinking of the RMS Leinster, few are aware of the sinking of her sister ship," said Mr Lecane, a maritime historian who works as a volunteer at the museum.

"It is important to remember such events in Ireland’s maritime history," he said.

Plans are being made for the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Leinster on October 10 next year.. Relatives of those who sailed on the Leinster’s final voyage can contact Philip Lecane through the website www.rmsleinster.com to be kept informed of plans for the centenary.   

The RMS Connaught was sunk by German submarine U-48, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Berndt Buss (24).  Buss and the submarine’s navigating officer were killed a few days later when the ship East Point rammed the U-48’s conning tower.

The submarine torpedoed the East Point, dived and was coming up to torpedo another ship, when she was struck by the East Point, which was still afloat.  After burying Buss and the navigating officer at sea, the U-48 returned to Germany.

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