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Sunday 22 September 2019

Family remember Private Mike Carroll at island ceremony

Carmel, Mike, Tom and Rita Carroll attending the service
Carmel, Mike, Tom and Rita Carroll attending the service
Pte Mike Carroll

Anna Hayes

A Blackwater man was among those remembered at a centennial service on the island of Islay, off the coast of Scotland earlier this month, which was attended by members of his family.

During World War I, Mike Carroll, a native of Ballyconnigar, was a Private, Gas Company 410, Medical Department of the United States Army. On September 25, 1918, a convoy of 13 ships carrying 20,000 U.S. soldiers left New York bound for Europe, to join the Allied Forces on the western front. Mike was on board the flagship HMS Otranto. Spanish Flu was rampant throughout the convoy and many soldiers and crew were buried at sea.

On the morning of October 6, 1918, as they passed between Northern Ireland and the Shetland Islands off Scotland, a violent storm blew up. The Otranto collided with the Kashmir, another ship in the convoy, with disastrous consequences. The Kashmir, though damaged, was able to reach safety. The Otranto, with 701 U.S. soldiers on board, had, en route, picked up 36 French fishermen whose boat had foundered in rough seas.

A British Destroyer, HMS Mounsey, attempted to rescue those still on board the sinking ship by trying to manoeuvre beside the Otranto. The soldiers tried to jump from the Otranto to the Mounsey. Though some were lucky, most either landed in the sea and were drowned or were caught between the two ships and were killed.

The bodies of the soldiers were buried in Kilchoman on the Island of Islay but in 1920 their remains were exhumed and returned to America. Private Mike Carroll was aged 27 when he died. Many relatives of those lost were present at a commemoration service on October 6, 2018.

There was also a special musical tribute on the previous evening. People had travelled from America, Australia and many parts of Britain and Ireland to be part of a very moving and poignant commemoration.

Among those present were Tom Carroll, Ballyconnigar and Mike Carroll, Knocknasillogue, nephews of Pte. Mike Carroll.

Wexford People

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