Commemoration for Wexford men killed in naval battle

By David tucker

Published 27/05/2016 | 00:00

The warship HMS Indefatigable which was sunk at the Battle of Jutland.
The warship HMS Indefatigable which was sunk at the Battle of Jutland.

THE Wexford men who were killed in the World War One Battle of Jutland are to be commemorated with an ecumenical service at St Iberius Church on Sunday, May 29, two days before the 100th anniversary of the only major naval battle of the Great War.

The 11 a.m. commemoration will be followed by a wreath-casting ceremony at Crescent Quay.

'We would like to invite any surviving family members of the seven Wexford men that were known to have been killed serving with the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland,' said the organiser of the Wexford event, Les Newman, secretary of the Wexford (Major Willie Redmond) branch of the RBL.

The seven Wexford men known to have died in the battle, out of more than 6,000 killed on board Royal Navy ships of the British Grand Fleet which engaged the German High Seas fleet, are:

Patrick Cahil, aged 23, and late of William Street, Wexford Town, leading Stoker on HMS Indefatigable; John H Grattan Esmonde, aged 17, and late of Ballinastragh, Gorey, midshipman on HMS Invincible; James Kehoe, aged 42 and late of Bridgetown, leading stoker on HMS Defence; James Mernagh, aged 27, and late of Clonroche, stoker 2nd Class on HMS Invincible; Edward O'Leary, aged 24, and late of Michael Street, Wexford Town. stoker on HMS Black Prince; Bartholomew Rodgers, aged 43 and late of Emmet Place, Wexford Town, stoker on HMS Indefatigable and John Sunderland, aged 27, late of Blackwater, stoker on HMS Defence. All four ships were totally destroyed when their magazines blew-up killing all crew members.

'We will also be remembering two local survivors; the Late Admiral David Richard Beatty, GCB OM GCVO DSO & PC, of Borodale House, Enniscorthy and commander of the Grand Fleet's Battle Cruiser Squadron. His squadron was the first to engage the German Imperial High Seas Fleet, and Chief Petty Officer Jack Barron of Barron's Bakery Waterford,' said Les.

'Surviving members of Jack's family will be attending the commemoration.

Although there was no clear winner, the Battle of Jutland will always be remembered for the huge sacrifices made by the naval personnel of both countries, especially in Great Britain, which lost more ships and nearly two and a half times as many men.

A total of 6,094 men serving on Royal Navy ships were killed, and of these it's estimated that between 200 and possibly more than 350 Irishmen were actually killed in the engagement, but unfortunately, no significant records are available to accurately support these numbers.

The UK and German Governments will be holding a joint commemoration in the North Sea (and elsewhere) to commomorate those lost on May 31, 1916, with the Wexford ceremony part of that.

Wexford People

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