Belfast Telegraph

26 Ulster heroes honoured in restored film that tells story of WWI's first big sea battles

By Amanda Ferguson

The bravery of the Ulster heroes who perished in one of the First World War's key naval battles is to be marked 100 years after they died.

On November 1, 1914 some 91 Irishmen - of whom 26 were Ulstermen - were among the 1,654 lives lost from HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth in the Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile.

The loss of these men will be marked within the introduction to QFT's screening of The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands on November 11 and 16.

A new restoration from the British Film Institute National Archive is described as one of the finest films of the British silent era - a thrilling reconstruction of the two decisive naval battles of 1914, recreated and filmed 13 years later in peacetime.

It features a new score performed by the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.

German ships led by Vice-Admiral Von Spee met and defeated a Royal Navy squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock at the Battle of Coronel. Spee's fleet suffered little damage and once news of the scale of the British defeat reached the Admiralty in London a decision was taken to assemble a naval force under Admiral Sir Frederick Sturdee.

This was promptly dispatched to destroy Spee's force at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

Commander John Gray RN, senior naval officer Northern Ireland, told the Belfast Telegraph the Battle of Coronel was a watershed moment in the nation's history.

"The Battle of Coronel was the first major naval action of the First World War, in fact the first for the RN since the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805," he said. "It was a watershed moment for the Navy and the nation, a tragedy and a human loss that should be marked in order to remember those brave sailors who went down with their ships in icy waters so far from home."

Ulster losses in the Battle of Coronel included:

15-year-old Midshipman Gervase Ronald Bruce from Downhill, Derry, one of 10 cadets lost on Monmouth.

Armagh man Gunner James McVey was underage on enlistment and was likely the first Ulsterman from the Royal Marine Artillery to die in the Great War.

Antrim man Private Adam Morrow, who was likely the first Ulsterman from the Royal Marine Light Infantry to die in the Great War.

Five more Ulster teenagers were lost; Belfast boys Stoker (2nd) John McAteer, Boy (1st) William Connell, Able Seaman William AJ Wilson and Ordinary Seaman Herbert Kelly, as well as Ordinary Seaman Henry McNally, who was from Draperstown.

  • For tickets to The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands at QFT please visit

The local men who lost their lives in icy cold of the South Atlantic


Gunner James McVey, lived Belfast

Able Seaman David Boyd, born

Dromore, lived Belfast

Stoker (1st) Hugh Brough, lived Belfast

Stoker (2nd) John McAteer, born Belfast

Leading Stoker Joseph Wood, lived Belfast

Leading Seaman John Weir Hanna, born Belfast, lived Aghalee

Able Seaman James McGregor Reed, born Turmore, Donegal

Able Seaman George Todd, lived Newcastle


Stoker (1st) John Bleakley, born Belfast

Boy (1st) William Connell, lived Belfast

Able Seaman Samuel James Dickson, born Edenderry, lived Belfast

Able Seaman Albert Henry O’Hea, born Londonderry

Leading Seaman Herbert Campbell, born Belfast

Private Adam Morrow, born Antrim

Able Seaman George Henry Patton, born Belfast

Able Seaman Alexander Rodgers, born Belfast

Able Seaman William A J Wilson, born Belfast

Seaman Samuel Johnston, born Newtownards, lived Donaghadee

Seaman John McMullan, born Downpatrick

Ship’s Corporal (1st) William

McAllister, born Portrush

Leading Seaman John Bernard, born Belfast

Ordinary Seaman Herbert Kelly, born Belfast

Ordinary Seaman Henry McNally, born Draperstown

Leading Seaman Michael Molloy, born Ardglass

Able Seaman David Prentice, born Belfast, lived Dromore

Midshipman Gervase Ronald Bruce, born Downhill

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