Belfast Telegraph

Important to remember those who died in Great War

Editor's Viewpoint

As the centenary of the outbreak of World War One approaches, researchers are still uncovering important details of those who served and died in one of the most catastrophic conflicts in history.

In today's Belfast Telegraph there is a fascinating story of the service personnel who died just after the outbreak of war in 1914.

Most people may have assumed that these were soldiers, but significant new research has shown that more than 150 sailors died at sea when the HMS Amphion sank after she hit a German mine in the North Sea, just 32 hours after the official outbreak of hostilities.

Through an ironic twist of fate, the casualties also included several German sailors who had been rescued after the HMS Amphion had spotted a German mine-laying vessel which she helped to sink. She was helped by other British destroyers, which rescued some of the survivors.

It is now known that 14 Irish people were among the crew of the HMS Amphion, and that four of these people came from the province of Ulster.

The research of Karen O'Rawe and the History Hub Ulster organisation reveals that Henry John Bennett came from Torr Head, William Clarke hailed from Moville, and that the parents of Joseph Lynch, based in the Downpatrick area, were from Co Cork.

One of the most fascinating stories of all was that of Able Seaman McConaghy, whose Belfast family were originally Catholics, but who all became Presbyterians when they moved to live in Ballymena.

None of the four bodies was ever found, though the name of Charles McConaghy is recorded in a memorial in Dungiven, where his parents later were living.

These remarkable stories help to illustrate the human suffering of such widespread conflict, and how it affected people from all backgrounds and from all parts of this island.

As the centenary of the outbreak of the war draws closer, it is apt that all these stories, and many like them, should be uncovered and remembered.

Belfast Telegraph

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