Belfast Telegraph

Titanic priest was decorated war hero

By Ralph Riegel

The photography-loving Irish priest who captured the last images of the doomed liner RMS Titanic in 1912 was an unheralded hero of World War I.

A new book has outlined how Cork-born Fr Francis Browne, a Jesuit priest, served on the western front, ministering to shell-shocked soldiers and the seriously wounded for more than two years.

Wounded five times and almost killed in a German gas attack, Fr Browne's courage was so extraordinary that Field Marshal Haig, later the Allied force commander, described him as "the bravest man I ever met."

When he finally returned to Ireland, the cleric was honoured by the British with the award of the Military Cross while the French gave him the Croix de Guerre and the Belgians similarly honoured him.

The medals have been on show in Cobh's Queenstown Heritage Centre as part of a memorial to the Belfast-built Titanic.

Fr Browne returned to Ireland in 1918, but spoke little of his Great War experiences.

In later life, he worked with the Jesuits' mission service and travelled widely. He died in 1960, aged 80, in Dublin.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph