Cork’s Darkest Day of World War Two? Cork Losses on HMS Glorious, 75 Years Ago

The 8th June 2015 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the Royal Navy’s costliest engagements of World War Two. This date also has significance for Cork, as it almost certainly represents the worst single day’s loss of Cork men serving in Allied forces during the entire conflict. On that day at least 22 natives of the Rebel county were killed when HMS Glorious, HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta encountered the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the coast of Norway. The vast majority of them were in their late teens and early twenties. 

HMS Glorious in May 1940 (U.S. Naval Historical Center)

HMS Glorious in May 1940 (U.S. Naval Historical Center)

In early June 1940 the Royal Naval Aircraft Carrier HMS Glorious had been sent to Narvik to assist with the evacuation of British forces from Norway. Early on the morning of 8th June, she set through the Norwegian Sea for her return trip to Scapa Flow, accompanied by her two destroyer escorts, HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta. Around 4 o’clock that afternoon the Glorious spotted two vessels on their western horizon. Disastrously for the isolated vessels, these proved to be the extremely formidable German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

HMS Ardent was the first to close with the Germans as she sought to identify the ships; she came under fire from them just before 4.30. In an effort to protect the Glorious from the enemy, Ardent released smoke to conceal her charge. Before the smoke took full effect, Glorious was struck for the first time. The distance at which the Scharnhorst hit her– 24,000 metres, or some 24km– illustrates the extreme range under which naval combat could commence. Over the course of the next two hours the Glorious sought to escape while the Ardent and Acasta tried desperately to protect her. Their efforts were doomed. Ardent was the first to be sunk, going down at around 5.25 pm. Glorious was sent to the bottom around 6.10, followed by Acasta some ten minutes later. There were few survivors; for those who did succeed in getting off the ships, the failure of the German vessels to pick up survivors consigned many to death by exposure. Only around 45 men survived– a staggering 1,519 sailors were lost. (1)

Each of the three Royal Naval ships carried Irishmen among their compliments. Below are details on the 22 Corkmen and 15 other Irish sailors from the 26 counties who we have identified as being lost that day. Where possible we have sought to uncover more detail about their origins through baptismal records and Census returns, but we are eager to hear from readers who may have additional information on any of them. Behind each of their names are individual stories of life and, ultimately, loss. Among their number are young men like 19-year-old Patrick Pearse Murphy from Cork City, a boy clearly named for the 1916 Revolutionary leader, who ultimately gave his life fighting for the British against Nazi Germany. Tragically the list also includes brothers James and Joseph Regan; it is hard to imagine what it must have been like for their family in Leap, Co. Cork, when word came through that both had been lost aboard Glorious, 75 years ago next week.

The Scharnhorst (German Federal Archives)

The Scharnhorst (German Federal Archives)

HMS Glorious 

Barrett, James. Leading Seaman, age 26. Son of William and Margaret Barrett, Bandon. Co. Cork. The 1911 Census records James’s father William (34), a shoemaker, living with his wife Margaret (26), son John (3) and daughter Elizabeth (2) at 24 Cavendish Quay in Bandon.

Calnan, Timothy. Stoker First Class, age not given. Son of Timothy and Hannah Calnan, Lispatrick, Co. Cork. Timothy Senior was recorded as a39-year-old fisherman in the 1911 Census. He lived at a house in Lispatrick Lower, Ballymackean with his new wife Hannah (31) and niece Maggie (16).

Daunt, James. Chief Petty Officer, age 37. Son of Thomas and Teresa Daunt of Rostellan, Co. Cork. The 1911 Census records the Daunt family at house 12 in Farsid, Rostellan. James was then 9-years-old and living with his 28-year-old mother Teresa and 2-year-old sister Emily. 

Hayes, Denis Anthony. Able Seaman, age 22. Son of Timothy and Helena Hayes, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.

Holland, James Christopher Holland. Stoker First Class, age 25. Son of James and Mary Holland of Kinsale, Co. Cork.

Kelly, Joseph Patrick. Petty Officer Writer, age 23. Son of Patrick J. and Helena M. Kelly, Summerhill, Co. Cork.

McCarthy, John David. Stoker First Class, age 21. Son of Timothy and Mary McCarthy, Kinsale. Co. Cork.

Minihane, Denis John. Stoker First Class, age 23. Son of Denis and Mary Minihane, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork. The only Denis Minihane on the 1911 Census was a 21-year-old agricultural labourer and is likely Denis John’s father. He lived in Downeen.

Murphy, John Stanislaus. Stoker First Class, age 22. Son of John T. and Sheila Murphy, Youghal, Co. Cork.

Murphy, Patrick Pearse. Able Seaman, age 19. Son of Patrick J. and Ellen Murphy of Cork. Born in Cork City in 1920. 

O’Brien, James Francis. Stoker First Class, age 25. Son of Denis and Mary O’Brien of Cork.

O’Leary, Joseph. Stoker First Class, age 21. Son of Daniel and Mary O’Leary, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. In 1911 Joseph’s parents Daniel (a 30-year-old agricultural labourer) and Mary (20) had just celebrated the birth of their son Michael John who was 6 months old. They lived with Mary’s parents and siblings at a house in Knockskagh, Clonakilty. 

Regan, James. Leading Stoker, age 24. Son of Jeremiah and Margaret Regan, Leap, Co. Cork. His brother Joseph died with him. As far as I can establish the Regan’s father Jeremiah was originally from Brulea, Co. Cork.

Regan, Joseph. Stoker First Class, age 22. Son of Jeremiah and Margaret Regan, Leap, Co. Cork. His brother James died with him.

Regan, Timothy. Able Seaman, age 33. Son of Jeremiah and Mary Regan, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.

Roche, John Michael. Stoker First Class, age 21. Son of Nicholas John and Margaret Roche, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.

Russell, Denis Augustine. Stoker Second Class, age 20. Son of Jeremiah and Catherine Russell, Cork. Denis was born in Cork City in 1919.

Stack, Thomas. Petty Officer Stoker, age 36. Son of Michael and Hanna Stack, Youghal, Co. Cork. In 1911 the Stacks lived at 4 Foxes Lane, Youghal. Thomas was (incorrectly?) recorded as a 2-year-old boy living with his father Michael, a 34-year-old general labourer, his mother Johanna (30), sisters Mary (3) and Ellen (1).

Thornhill, John. Able Seaman, age 19. Son of John and Mary Thornhill, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork.

HMS Ardent (Imperial War Museum FL870)

HMS Ardent (Imperial War Museum FL870)

HMS Ardent

Hegarty, Michael John. Able Seaman, age 28. Son of Michael and Anne Hegarty of Castletownshend, Co. Cork.

Lucey, James Joseph. Leading Seaman, age 26. Son of Denis and Mary Lucey of Cork.

HMS Acasta (Wikipedia)

HMS Acasta (Wikipedia)

HMS Acasta

Kiernan, Francis Augustin. Supply Assistant, age 25. Son of Francis R. and Margaret M. Kiernan of Cork. Francis was born in Cork City in 1914. 

Kevin Myers has noted that 65 men from the island of Ireland died as a result of the sinkings of Glorious, Ardent and Acasta. Aside from the 22 Cork men outlined above, I have identified a further 15 men from the the 26 counties who perished on that June day. Their names are recorded below. (2)

The Gneisenau (German Federal Archives)

The Gneisenau (German Federal Archives)

Other Irish Casualties

Byrne, Patrick William. HMS Glorious. Stoker Second Class, age 23. Son of Peter and Mary Byrne, Dublin.

Collins, James. HMS Glorious. Stoker First Class, age not given. Son of Michael and Mina C. Collins, Kilnaboy, Co. Clare.

Doyle, Benedict Leo. HMS Glorious. Able Seaman, age 24. Son of Michael and Mary Doyle, Dublin.

Duggan, Dermot Harry Tuthill. HMS Ardent. Surgeon Lieutenant, age 27. Son of Captain George Grant Duggan (Royal Irish Fusiliers) and Dorothy De Courcy Duggan, Foxrock, Co. Dublin. Dorothy not only lost her son in World War Two, but her husband in World War One. George, an Irish international cross-country runner, was killed in Gallipoli on 16th August 1915 and is remembered on the Helles Memorial.

Fogarty, Marcus. HMS Glorious. Leading Sick Berth Attendant, no age given. Son of William and Ellen Fogarty, Killenaule, Co Tipperary.

Forsyth, John Thomas. HMS Glorious. Able Seaman, age 20. Son of John and Amy Forsythe, Sandycove, Co. Dublin.

Keogh, Patrick Kevin. HMS Glorious. Able Seaman, age 19. Son of Mary and Jane Keogh of Dublin.

Koyce, John. HMS Acasta. Stoker First Class, age 21. Son of Patrick and Hannah Koyce of Limerick.

Langan, Maurice. HMS Glorious. Stoker First Class, age 33. Son of Peter and Anne Langan, Tarbert, Co. Kerry.

McGhee, Edmond. HMS Glorious. Ordinary Seaman, age 18. Son of John and Elizabeth McGhee, Kilkenny

Pearse, George Passmore. HMS Glorious. Surgeon Lieutenant, age 31. Son of Charles Perrin Pearse and Ellen Gertrude Pearse, Glenageary, Co. Dublin.

Pender, John. HMS Glorious. Ordinary Seaman, age 19. Son of Mrs. C. Pender, Gorey, Co. Wexford.

Porter, William. HMS Glorious. Able Seaman, age 26. Son of William and Mary Porter, Annamore, Co. Wicklow.

Stuart, Francis. HMS Glorious. Petty Officer Stoker, age 31. Son of James and Alice Stuart, Marino, Co. Dublin.

White, William Patrick. HMS Glorious. Able Seaman, age 27. Son of Christopher and Catharine White, Dermotstown, Delahasey, Co. Dublin.

(1) Howland, McMurtie; (2) Myers;

References

Howland, Vernon M. Loss of HMS Glorious

McMurtie, Francis E. 1946. The Tragedy of HMS Glorious

Commonwealth Wargraves Commission

Myers, Kevin., 9th June 2010, Irish Independent. Let Us Not Forget Irish Deaths in Calamitous Events of 1940. 

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Categories: 20th Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Cork’s Darkest Day of World War Two? Cork Losses on HMS Glorious, 75 Years Ago

  1. I wonder if Michael John Hegarty AS HMS Ardent from Castletownshend was one of the men who joined the Royal Navy having consulted Vice-Admiral Somerville prior to that gentleman’s murder by the IRA in 1936? Perhaps somebody in that village could tell us.

  2. Michael Hogan

    Michael joined from Pontypridd, Glamorgan. His father Michael, from Fahouragh, worked in the mines and then Pontypridd tram service. Michael and Annie O’Donovan ( Castlehaven) also lost their only daughter, Mary Therese in Sigginstown, Cowbridge plane crash carrying Welsh rugby supporters back from Ireland 1950- the biggest civil air disaster anywhere in the world at that time. Michael Sn. died 1929, but Annie outlived her two children. My mother was a first cousin to Michael John (Ardent). Her mother a McCarthy from Castletownsend was very upset at the murder of Vice-Admiral Somerville, that he had advised and helped those in her family who who were considering joining the Royal Navy. Large families were often happy to get money home from the service of their sons.

    • Mike Sellick

      Hello Michael,

      I am contacting you on behalf of the HM Ships Glorious, Ardent and Acasta Association (Glarac). An Association formed in memory and honour of those lost when the three Royal Navy ships were lost in June 1940.

      We are trying to put faces to names of all those lost on our website. After seeing your post here, I see that your Mother’s first cousin was Able seaman Michael John Hegarty D/JX 130207 who was lost in action aboard Ardent. I wonder if there’s a chance you may have (or know if we could locate any) photos of Michael? As all those lost on the ships deserve to be honoured and remembered. Please feel free to view our website at http://www.glarac.co.uk.

      Yours sincerely Michael Sellick (Grandson of John Henry Brain, deceased, HMS Ardent).

      P.S. I don’t know if you are aware, but Michael has an entitlement to two medals. The Arctic Star and Arctic Emblem which are relatively easy to claim by the nearest next of kin.

      • Michael Hogan

        Hello Mike,
        Much appreciate your email and the information there in. Coincidentally, have been trolling 2 West Cork papers in the hope of a photo of Michael John, but to no avail. Would his records in England have a photo, I might access ? Would have thought that would have been part of sign- up then. Have discovered since that M.J. was born in Skibbereen, not Pontypridd. His only sibling, Mary Therese died in a plane crash 1950, Cowbridge, Wales. (Welsh rugby supporters coming back from winning the triple crown in Belfast. His father Michael had died in 1929. Don’t know when his mother died, but she did survive her children. I agree, his medals should be claimed by family. I’m in Canada, but will contact family in Britain.
        Thank you. Agree that their memories should be honoured.

        Michael Hogan

      • Mike Sellick

        Hello Mike,
        For some reason service records over here didn’t have a photo – unless you were a senior officer and even then not all the time.
        We have photo’s of about 70 of the c.148 Ardent crew, including James Joseph Lucey, mentioned above. We also have quite a few photos of unidentified crewmen – so there is a small chance MJ is on one of them. Would you or anyone in your family be able to recognise him if I emailed some pics.? Do you have any idea if there are any relatives still living in South Wales? It may be worth trying to contact them.
        Best regards
        Mike Sellick.

      • Michael Hogan

        Hello Mike.

        Neither Michael nor his sister married. Mary left everything to an aunt. Unfortunately, anyone of that age is dead. Possibly, some cousins in West Cork might be able to identify him, but doubt it. The one thing that might help was that Michael’s father Michael and my grandfather Denis were twins. Perhaps a likeness ? If you would forward pics, I could work on same.
        Thanks,
        Mike H

      • Mike Sellick

        Hi Again Mike. If you could forward an email address I’ll get a few sent over to you.
        Regards Mike S.

      • Michael Hogan

        mjhogan@shaw.ca

  3. john clarke

    my uncle Dominick John Logue was on HMS Glorious on that day and was only just turned 18 his family originally from Donegal son of Dominick and Mary Logue of Cwoole Donegal

  4. pat aherne

    My uncle John (called Jack by the family) Murphy Stoker 3rd class, from Youghal died on the Glorious. My mother was Olive Evelyn nee Murphy. The family lived in South Main Street Youghal, over Powers pub.His parents were originally from Macroom (father John Murphy, retired clerk of the union (town clerk) for Macroom 1905 and Sheila (Julia) from Coachford whose family maiden name was also Murphy by coincidence. John, the father, (my father told me he was affectionately locally known as “cueball” because of his bald head and liked to play billiards a lot in his later years,) was married twice, his first wife having died and he already had a grown up family when he met Sheila. Jack was a twin to Joe who also joined the RN around the same time. Joe survived the war and went to New York. The family had two other brothers in the RN. Anthony, who joined in 1938 and was demobbed in 1946, was in the Mediterranean and at Dunkirk where he drove a landing craft, later he settled and married Lillian in Birmingham… and Coleman, who was telegrapher 3rd class on the Exeter? and was taken prisoner after the battle of the Java sea. I have his memoir from that time.He survived 3 and a half years Japanese prison camp on Island in Indonesia, Celebes island and later settled and married in Canada…had a daughter Heather and son John.

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