Saturday, 8 August 2015

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 108



Well I feel rather diffident about pontificating on nautical terms, me being a pongo, but with help from John and others I think I have got it now. Using a photo of Cormorant from 1991, I have labelled the various bits (no, sorry, John tells me that ‘bits’ are the ‘bollards’ on a ship and ‘bollards’ are big versions of ‘bits’, usually on shore), so I have labelled the various items (Photo 1081). 


The stern leads then were in much better condition than in my last post and in addition to these, Cormorant has gaps in the bulwark for mooring lines. However, as I said earlier, I cannot see leads or gaps on the early photos of Irish lightships.

    Getting back to historical research again, I have made a little progress on those Irish rebels who were ‘guests’ aboard Cormorant on 1 May 1916. I put a paragraph on a website called ‘Ships and Navies – Great War Forum’, hoping that the 1916 uprising might feature.  ‘Johnny’ supplied this nugget after much digging:-



    “Some prisoners taken in Galway were detained on board HMS Laburnum. The trawler Guillimot also gets a mention with Galway prisoners. Captain Aplin was in charge of the RN in Kingstown and had travelled up the Liffey early on in the Rising on the Helga.

    ‘The Sea Hound’ by Daire Brunicardi contains a reference to Capt Alpin and mentions Boadicea II being ordered to steam at full speed to Skerries. Threads in this forum suggest HMY Boudicea II was depot ship for Kingstown and Holyhead. There is also mention of a ship of the Commissioners of Irish Lights being requisitioned as a temporary prison whilst transport to British camps was organized. No names or details”.



    So, leaving no stone unturned, I have obtained a copy of ‘The Sea Hound’ and also a copy of ‘Danger Zone’ by E Keble Chatterton, which deals with RN activities in this period. The latter arrived first and I scoured its pages. Chatterton does mention the Easter Rising, but the only useful bit of information relating to my search for the identity of those Cormorant prisoners, was in his description of the number of suspected rebels rounded up by the Army and Navy – thousands! I would think officials were desperate to find ‘homes’ for the prisoners awaiting transportation to Dublin or mainland UK.  

     The book actually concentrates on the bitter struggle between the Royal Navy and the German U-boats in the Irish Sea and the Western Approaches. I am finding this book quite fascinating. I had no idea that the U-boat campaign in WWI was so successful and nearly turned the tide of war, as indeed it almost did again in WWII.

    ‘The Sea Hound’ does mention the requisition of Cormorant and as stated by Johnny, there were no details about the vessel or the prisoners:-


   “In Kingstown a vessel of the Commissioners of Irish Lights was requisitioned as a temporary prison while transport to the British camps was being organised.”


   So at the moment I conclude that the small group of guests, who spent the night of 1 May 1916 on Simon’s ship, were probably just a bunch of bolshie local residents!  However, I think it worthwhile to contact the author, Daire Brunicardi, to see whether he has any more information which he did not include.  He is apparently on Facebook, but I am not, so Simon will have to try.  It reminds me of the man who liked the idea of Facebook but did not have a computer. So he walked around the town chatting to strangers, showing them pictures of his kids and telling them all about his illnesses and what he did each day. He soon had four ‘followers’ – two policemen, a psychiatrist and a social worker!

David
PS:  I am told that 'bits' should be 'bitts' and 'bulwark' should be 'bulwarks'.