Today is the Centenary of the sinking of Royal Mail Ship Leinster which will be marked both in Ireland and Holyhead, and at Plymouth by members of the Association, with special mention of the only Wren who died as a result of enemy action in the First World War.
On 16 September 1918 Josephine Carr from Cork joined the WRNS, followed on 1st October by Lilian Barry and Maureen Waters, also from Cork. Together they set sail on 10th October from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead on the RMS Leinster. When only 16 miles from the Irish coast the ship was attacked by the German submarine UB123 and torpedoed twice. It broke in two and sank with a great loss of life (some 569 people) who included many of the crew, the passengers, women and children, and military personnel. .
The three Wrens on board were Shorthand Typists en route for their first WRNS draft, but only two of them survived after being pulled into the lifeboats which had been lowered from the ship. Josephine Carr was last seen in the reading room before the first torpedo struck the ship. Her body was never recovered, she was the only Wren to die as a result of enemy action in the First World War.
Wren Josephine Carr is commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial. Wrens Lilian Barry and Maureen Waters both survived, but were discharged as medically unfit on 7 January 1919, suggesting that they never took up duty in the aftermath of the sinking.
A floral tribute will be laid by members of the Plymouth AOW Informal Group and RN personnel who previously served in the WRNS, at the Plymouth Naval Memorial, on Wednesday 10th October 2018 at 1100. This, an act of Remembrance for Josephine, and all those Wrens who died whilst serving in the First World War. RIP.
Prayers were said during the 2 week period of the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Leinster at The Wrens’ Church, St Mary le Strand, London and the Book of Remembrance was turned to display the entry for Wren Josephine Carr.
Chris Selwood’s booklet ‘The whereabouts of the twenty-six Wrens who died in Service 1917-19’ has been published by the Association and can be ordered from HQ..
The Association is pleased to acknowledge the support of the National Maritime Museum of Ireland and author of the ‘Leinster’ books Philip Lecane, for their help with this article. Currently there is a varied programme of events being held by the NMMI linked to the Centenary at Dun Laoghaire..
Navy News October issue has a detailed account of the Sinking of the Leinster and loss of Wren Josephine Carr.
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