Olive Colemans Family History Page
The story of the SS Bandon
Pirates' Cork Victims.
An inquest has been held on the
body of John Courtenay, Seaman of Cork, a member of the crew of an
Irish steamship lately sunk by a German Submarine. The crew numbered 32
in all, and were the residence of the South of Ireland. Four only now
survive. Of the re-maining 28 Twenty-Six appear to have gone down with
the ship. And two sunk before aid arrived. The deceased man Courtenay,
and two other Cork Seaman still surviving- Victor Quelley and John
O'Keeffe - were picked up after the explosion which sank the vessel.
Quelley and O'Keeffe are in Hospital. Courtenay was extremis at the
time he was taken from the water, and died before his rescuers reached
land. The vessel in question was on its way to and Irish port with a
cargo of provisions and general merchandise. Courtenay was a man of 40
years of age. The surviving mem-bers of the crew escaped only with
their lives. The two injured men amoungst the survivors are making
progress towards re-covery. Twenty-eight members of the crew lost their
lives, of whom 19 left widows with 49 children. Two of the crew were
widowers and have left six children. The families of the men who were
drowned were solely dependant on them, and they are now left destitute.
Extract from Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society
Part 1.-Vol XXV. No.121
Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society
(Twenty-Eight Year of |issue)
History of Port of Cork Steam Navavigation
By William J. Barry (Council Member)
(Continued from Vol. XXIII.,page 199.
"Bandon," 1910; 668 Tons
;City of Cork Steam Packet Company Ltd. Built at New Castle by Messrs.
Swan, Hunter & Wighan Richardson, Ltd. Length 266 feet, Breath 37.2
feet, Depth 17.4 feet.
from Liverpool for Cork on the 12th April 1917, under the command of
Captain P.F. Kelly (As I have shown he was also in command of the
Inniscarra when Torpedoed) with a crew numbering 32 in all told. He was
on the bridge all that night and until 4 p.m. the following day. Being
tired after his long and anxious vigil, he decided to go to his room
for a short rest, leaving the second officer, Mr. O Brien, in charge.
The "Bandon" was off Mine Head. After a short time, as he was changing
into his shore clothes, and in the act of buttoning his waistcoat, the
ship was struck by a torpedo on the port side, abreast of the engine
room, and immediately began to sink. On opening the door of his room,
he stepped right into the water, knee-deep, and proceeded to the bridge
and ordering the helm hard to port, so as to head the ship to land.
Fearing the boilers would explode he endeavoured to make his way aft,
but in the space of a minute the ship sank from under his, flames and
sparks issuing from her funnel and engine room. Just as she was sinking
he made an attempt to get hold of the stern of one of the life-boats on
deck (her bow was flung inwards by the force of the explosion) but
missed her and was carried down with the ship. As she sank the main
stay caught him across the back, but he managed after what seemed a
long time to clear himself, and came to the surface. When he was being
dragged down in the vortex, he saw the chief officer, Mr. Ferne, and
some of the crew on the after deck house, near one of the life-boats,
but when he (Captain Kelly) came to the surface, they had all
disappeared, having gone down with the ship.
a short time, while swimming about amidst the wreckage, he saw the
third engineer, Mr. Mercer, clinging to one of the life-saving
collapsible deck-seats, which floated off the "Bandon's" deck, and
grasped it, when it capsized. He then swam round to its end and opening
it out it became more buoyant. In addition to Captain Kelly and Mr.
Mercer the following members of the ill-fated ship were holding on the
seat viz., J. OKeeffe, fireman, and the carpenter, also J. McCarthy,
A.B. (who afterwards became exhausted, lost his hold of the raft, and
was drowned), and a fireman named Walsh.
6 p.m. they described a boat in the offing, which proved to be a motor
launch (M.L. boat) which speedily came on to the scene (she had been
order to go th their rescue by telegram for Mine Head Lighthouse) and
picked up four survivors, after being 2 1/2 hours in the water. The
fifth man, Walsh, in letting go of the raft grasped the large rope
fender of the motor launch, but just as he did so she took a heavy
roll, with the result. he lost his grasp and was drowned.
Nothing could exceed the kindness of the crew of the launch. The survivors were given hot tea, coffee, warm blankets, & c.
arrived at Dungarvan about 9 p.m., and were met by the local doctor and
others, who took them to the Devonshire Arms Hotel. Captain Kelly at
once sent a telegram to the Company at Cork, Advising the loss of the
ship and also the names of the survivors.
They were:- Captain P.F. Kelly, H. Mercer, 3rd Engineer; Kewley the carpenter, and John O'Keeffe, fireman.
Lost were:- Edward Ferne, chief officer; M. J. O'Brien, second officer;
R. Mercer, first engineer; M. Dowling, second engineer; Charles Bird,
A.b.; Patrick O'Keeffe, Richard O'Keeffe, Bartholmew Collins, Jeremiah
Long, and Charles E. Martin, Firemen; John Courtenay,
Quarter master (his body was picked up warm by another M.L.; artificial
respiration was tried, but it proved useless, as he was quite dead. His
body was landed in Dungarvan and brought to cork withe the survivors on
the next day) ; Caleb Crone, cook; John O'Callaghan, Fireman; John
Wafer, A.B. ; Simon Louro, Quartermaster; Jeremiah Leahy, and George
O'Mahony, Greasers; Joseph Geo. Thompson, Jeremiah McCarthy, and John
O'Sullivan, A.B.'s; Charles McCashin, Steward; Wrixan and Sullivan,
cattlemen; two gunners; Walsh, Fireman; and the donkeyman.