London, 17 November 1940 - (C.P.) – “A sturdy Irish captain - Fogarty Fegen - who went down with his ship, H.M.S. Jervis Bay, her guns blazing and her colours flying, was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously yesterday.
“The Jervis Bay was sunk Nov. 5 as she challenged a powerful German raider in the mid-Atlantic. The ‘suicide’ stand of the armed merchant cruiser allowed at least 33 of 38 ships in the convoy to escape.
“The Admiralty announced that four ships were sunk by the raider and that one other ship still was unaccounted for. Another ship also escaped from the raider but later fell victim to enemy aircraft.
“Captain Fegen, 49, went to his death maintaining the great traditions of the Royal Navy. During the First Great War he served as a lieutenant and later was in command of the destroyers Moy and Paladin. In 1924 he was appointed to command of the training ship Colossus. Later he was attached to the Dartmouth Naval College, and then became commander of the Naval College at Jervis Bay, in New South Wales.
“His commands since 1929 included the cruiser Suffolk, in China, and the cruisers Dauntless, Dragon and Curlew, in reserve. For a time he was executive officer of the cruiser Emerald. He was appointed to the command of the Jervis Bay two months before the war.
“The Jervis Bay, hopelessly outgunned and facing superior armament, poured shells at the Nazi raider and sunk in flames following an explosion, her guns roaring to the last. At least 66 survivors, taken aboard a merchantman, were landed at an East Coast Canadian port.”
At the age of 12, Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen entered Osborne Royal Naval College in England.
In 1909, he was appointed midshipman on the British battleship HMS Dreadnought.
Just two days after the outbreak of the First World War, on the 5th August 1914, his ship HMS Amphion was mined and sunk.
Surviving this, he spent the remainder of the First World War serving in destroyers and in command of Torpedo Boat 26.
During the inter war years he served in training establishments for young officers and men. He was Divisional Officer at the boys’ training ship HMS Colossus at Devonport and Dartmouth in England. He was promoted to Commander on 30th June 1926, and served in Australia as Commander of the Royal Australian Navy’s College at Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales.
During the inter-war years, Edward won the Lloyd’s Medal for lifesaving at sea when he was able to bring his ship alongside a burning oil tanker and rescue its crew.
Whilst commanding HMS Suffolk on the China Station in 1930-2, he won a Dutch lifesaving medal and an Admiralty commendation for his handling of the rescue of the crew of the Dutch steamer Hedwig, which had run aground on the Patras Reef in the South China Sea.
For the remainder of the decade, he commanded the cruisers HMS’s Dauntless, Dragon and Curlew serving in the Reserve Fleet, held an appointment in the Anti-Submarine Division of the Admiralty, and at Chatham, before becoming Executive Officer in the cruiser HMS Emerald in 1939.
In March 1940, he was promoted Captain, and given command of Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Jervis Bay and a crew of 254 seamen, drawn from the ranks of the Royal and Merchant navies and the Royal Naval Reserve.
Jervis Bay was a converted passenger liner that had been fitted with eight ancient 6-inch guns and an obsolete fire control system, and was escorting 38 merchant ships of Atlantic Convoy HX.84 – which had left Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 28th of October,1940, and was destined for the Clyde in Scotland. On the 5th of November 1940 they were attacked by German Admiral Theodor Krancke and his pocket battleship, the Admiral Scheer.
These were desperate times for Britain - the darkest days of the Second World War.
The sea carried the economic lifeblood of Britain; without its ocean supply lines the country could not maintain its social fabric, let alone fight a war. Germany had the vast resources of occupied Europe to draw upon, resources now denied to its British antagonists, who were forced to rely on supplies from overseas, particularly from Canada and the U.S.A.
The Jervis Bay was no stranger to the life-or-death struggle being waged along the 2,000 miles of cold Atlantic seaway across which the vital supplies flowed from North America to Britain. Only a month before Convoy HX84 left Halifax, the Jervis Bay had escorted 41 ships of another convoy to the middle of the Atlantic, where they were met by a protection force of a destroyer, three frigates and a sloop, whose task it was to take them on to Britain.
The mid-Atlantic was the favourite hunting ground of the so-called German ‘wolf packs’ – small groups of U-boats whose mission it was to sink each and every Britain-bound merchant ship that came within range of their torpedoes. They preferred lone vessels, but convoys coming from North America with single warship escorts were also prime targets. However, once the convoys reached the mid-way stage and, secured greater warship protection from Britain, the U-boats were not so keen. Nonetheless, four U-boats attacked the earlier convoy just after the Jervis Bay had handed it over - and that ‘wolf pack’ managed to sink 11 of its 41 ships.
Incidentally, the submarine that spotted that particular convoy was U47, the commander of which was one of the greatest names in German submarine service history – Gunter Prein, the man who had sunk the British battle-ship HMS Royal Oak inside the supposedly ‘impenetrable’ anchorage of Scapa Flow (at the very top of Scotland).
But U-boats were not the sole hazard facing Convoy HX.84 as it began its voyage across the Atlantic; winter weather, randomly sown mines and, as British Naval Intelligence had recently discovered, the threat of the German ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Scheer were additional menaces to the convoy’s well-being.
The day after the Admiral Scheer slipped away from the German port of Kiel, Convoy HX.84 with 38 merchant ships formed into nine columns at the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Admiral Scheer had passed out into the wide ocean when, during the night of October 30/31, Admiral Krancke received intelligence that Convoy HX.84 had left Halifax and was sailing on a virtual collision course with his ship. This was splendid news; 38 merchant ships would soon be at the mercy of the Admiral Scheer’s 11-inch guns.
No mention had been made of the Jervis Bay in the German intelligence report. Only one problem served to cloud Krancke’s optimism; he must not, under any circumstances, allow the Admiral Scheer’s presence to become known to his target convoy which, assuredly, would then scatter to the four winds the moment it heard of his ship’s presence. He therefore issued strict orders that any single vessel detected by his ship’s radar was to be avoided at all costs.
The morning of the 5th of November broke fine and clear, as indeed the previous seven mornings had done - remarkably good weather for the time of the year. Aboard the Jervis Bay, Captain Fegan and his crew had reason to be well pleased with their steady speed of nine knots, which had taken them almost to the mid-point of their journey.
Mindful of the submarine menace, the Jervis Bay’s lookouts were all engaged in scanning the waters for the telltale signs of a U-boats periscope. They saw none; neither did they notice a German Arado 196 sea plane, miles away and hidden behind a bank of cloud. The German aircraft, however, saw convoy HX.84 and hastened back to the Admiral Scheer, from whose flight deck it had been launched earlier in the day. The fates appeared to have delivered the lambs into the waiting jaws of the sea wolf.
The first Templars may well have entered Ireland with Strongbow’s Norman knights in 1169.
After the events in Paris, the Knights Templar in Ireland were arrested under suspicion of heresy and placed in Dublin Castle. Between
fifteen and thirty knights were imprisoned, most having seen more than forty years of service with the Order. (Ireland seems to have
been a retirement posting for veteran Templars).
The Templar Trials in Ireland commenced in 1310 at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Accusations based on hear-say were directed at the knights, but no evidence could be found, and no confessions were forthcoming. The trials ultimately fizzled out, ending after six months in a bit of an anti-climax. The Irish Templars were admonished to be good Christians and most were just pensioned off.
The property of the Knights Templar in Ireland was either confiscated by the English king or transferred to the Hospitallers.
The Templar empire crumbled - but there are still traces to be found on Irish soil ... if you know where to look!
In Ireland today you can find quite a few references to former Templar properties – even if the properties had not been in existence before the Order’s suppression!
A so-called Templar church at Ballintemple in County Cork, for instance, was only built in 1392 – more than 80 years after the Order was actually suppressed.
Much confusion might have been caused by the Gaelic word teampall - literally ‘temple’, but referring to any church. This seriously confuses some amateur historians, who like to attribute any place-name with a ‘temple’ reference to the Templars.
The best documented Templar link still visible today can be found at Templetown in County Wexford. Here, near Hook Head, the Templars had farms and manor houses. The Templetown churchyard grave-slabs mark the burial sites of ‘Poor Knights of Christ’.
In Baldungan, County Dublin, to the south of Skerries, there are church ruins with what seems to have been a ten-sided tower, and they are believed to be the remnants of a Templar church. Parts of Carrigogunnell Castle, County Limerick, near Clarina, are reputed to have been built by the Order, Clontarf Castle in County Dublin belonged to the Knights Templar.
Ruins of a church and a castle at Dungeel in County Kerry, near Killorglin, are reputed to have belonged to the Templars. There are Templar-related ruins near the remains of the Augustinian nunnery at Graney in County Kildare, near Castledermot. Kilberry, in County Kildare, is a possible preceptory of the Templars and it lies in ruins near the River Barrow.
Part of the Priory at Roosky, in County Louth, may have belonged to the Templars.
Temple Strand, at the town of Strand in County Limerick, has a church of almost certain Templar origins.
There are ruins of a house that belonged to the Templars at Templehouse Lake in County Sligo, near Ballymote, which gave
the lake its name
The Noble Society of Celts, is an hereditary society of persons with Celtic roots and
interests, who are of noble title and gentle birth, and who
have come together in a search for, and celebration of, things Celtic.
"Fall Edition 2009"
The Knights Templar in Ireland
Warrior Monks in the Emerald Isle
The Knights Templar was one of several ‘knightly orders’ founded during the crusades. Forming a new caste of ‘warrior monks’ they took oaths to protect the Holy Land and Christian pilgrims. At the same time members of the knightly orders strived to lead an exemplary Christian life, mainly based on the rules of medieval orders of monks. The other knightly orders of those days included the Hospitallers (also known as Knights of St. John or Knights of Malta), the Teutonic Order and the Order of St. Lazarus.
The ‘Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon’ were formed in 1118 at Jerusalem. They adopted the Cistercian monastic rules in later years (hence their white robes), and they were officially recognized by Pope Innocent II in 1130.
From humble beginnings the Templars established an empire, consisting of strongholds and estates all over Europe and the Holy Land. Known as ferocious warriors, they were also operating as bankers and moneylenders.
It was their financial empire that more than likely caused their downfall - and the heavily indebted King Phillip IV of France accused the Knights Templar of heresy in 1307.
On Friday the 13th of October, in the year 1307 AD, the French king’s men came knocking. His men-at-arms took the Knights Templar of Paris (and their treasure) into custody. It was the beginning of the end for the ‘warrior monks’, it also was the event that launched a thousand books and conspiracy theories. With the complicity of the Pope, the ‘Templars’ were incriminated, tortured, suppressed (in 1312) and their leaders burnt at the stake (1313). Most Templar knights were either ‘pensioned off’ or accepted into other knightly orders ... as were most of the Templar estates, (the Hospitallers especially profited from this ‘redistribution of wealth’).
Seal of the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon
The knightly orders were interrelated with feudal society to a large extent - knights went into temporary service to atone for sins, some even joined to relieve the burden to their families’ estates. Others took the full vows late in life, using the Orders as a sort of retirement home after a worldly career. And, kings and emperors tried to stay in the good books of the Orders (who always provided an ad-hoc fighting force in times of trouble). So gifting estates to the Orders, and thus ‘planting’ a few battle-hardened veterans as an unofficial police force into wilder areas of the realm, was par for the course in those days.
In Ireland, the Templars were given estates, most of which were then populated with older knights. These older knights were still a valid fighting force, though maybe not up to scratch for frontline service in Palestine and Syria. These knightly outsiders kept a watchful eye on the local Irish commoners, in both their own and their benefactors’ interests
Officially the Templars arrived in Ireland in September 1220 - though documents pertaining to individual Knights Templar in Ireland go back as far as 1177.
Templar Castle at Thurles
Templar Castle at Ballyhack, County Wexford
However, the real fun part of looking for Templar relics
in Ireland are the ‘red herrings’ ... which are taken quite
seriously by some folk. Especially in Dublin.
Kilmainham for instance is often touted as being
founded by the Templars, with local people variously
referring to the Dublin village, its church, or even the
Kilmainham Hospital. None of these have any connections to the Order - however the Hospitallers were definitely active around Kilmainham.
The trendy ‘Temple Bar’ district of central Dublin is sometimes referred to as being connected to the knights by virtue of its name ... which actually refers to a land-owning family by the name of Temple.
One of the mummies in the vaults of the church of St. Michan’s is commonly called ‘the crusader’, and is sometimes imagined as a Knight Templar – however, this deceased knight actually lived centuries after the dissolution of the Order.
King Henry II of England swore to sponsor the upkeep of 200 Templars following the murder (on the king’s orders) of Arch-Bishop St. Thomas a Beckett, and in 1172 he gave away wide stretches of Ireland to help fulfil this promise. The Manor of Kilcloggan, basically the whole southern end of the Hook Peninsula, was gifted to the Order.
Templetown provides one of the few tangible traces of
Templar history in Ireland. Templetown is listed as one
of the local attractions on the Hook Peninsula (which
juts out into the Irish Sea between Wexford and Waterford),
and you may pass through when visiting the Hook Head
lighthouse. What’s more, the food at the pub opposite
the old church is quite good.
Today only a few remains of the Templar church in Templetown are visible; the impressive tower is of Hospitaller construction, and the church is from the early 1800s. But the church-yard holds grave-slabs with a cross and the agnus dei (Lamb of God), which is typical of Templar graves.
Ever since the Templars were arrested on (mainly) trumped-up charges in 1307 their possessions in the Hook Peninsula were given into the care of the Hospitallers … their rival Order, the Knights of St. John. Only their name remains there now - Templetown.
by Michael Subritzky-Kusza Ct, NSC.
An interestingly colourful and individual way to mark as personal property the books in ones personal library is by using a bookplate. Bookplates often carry the Latin words "Ex Libris" which simply translates as "The Library of." I had hoped that the membership of our Society might respond and send me a considerable number of bookplates, but that was not to be. One of the reasons for this is that bookplates are a European nobility fashion, whereas many of the members of the NSC are American with a Celtic ancestry. The traditional manner in which American gentlemen and Ladies identified their personal books was, either by writing on the inside cover such as "John Washington - His Book," or with a book rhyme. One of the most common was :
"If this book you steal away,
What will you say On Judgment Day?"
So as we are a Noble Society, and to create an interest and dialog on the subject of bookplates, here is a short primmer. In regards to the use of bookplates the rules are ...there are no rules. The bookplate can be as simple as the owner wishes, or as busy and intricate. It can depict anything from the use of just the owners name to such as a personal photograph, military regiment, coat of arms, clan badge, occupation or even comedy; nude females were quite popular in the 19th century. As well, the owner of the library can change the design of his or her bookplate at will. It is quite common with old families to feature their ancient castle, country estate or homestead. Armigrous gentlemen or Lady will often feature their coat of arms, and will usually include any order of chivalry, or combat decorations that they have been awarded.
The shape of the bookplate can be any shape that appeals to the individual and the size is irrelevant, although 3 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches is about right, so that the detail on the bookplate is clearly visible as a work of art.
I will include with this article a number of variations in designs to create interest, as well as 4 bookplates that are personal to members of our Society.
Bookplates can be produced by your local printer, however to produce a simple bookplate, decide upon a design, have the artwork done up on an A4 sheet of paper, take the artwork to your local photocopying shop and have the design reduced so that about 8 or 10 copies will be reproduced onto the finished sheet. Select a coloured card (I use black ink on a buff coloured card), then have the design reproduced at will (remember to keep your original artwork, and the original copy that has the 8 or 10 reductions on it for your future book purchases). Next purchase "double-sided" cellotape (clear sticky tape), cut the bookplates just away from the edge of the border, run the cellotape across the back several times then place your bookplate on the inside cover of each book in your library. Then, send me a scan of your bookplate (and a short bio on yourself), and I will publish it in an upcoming edition of AWEN. I look forward to hearing from you and publishing your bookplate. Good Luck!
Caption: Bookplate of Chevalier Michael Subritzky-Kusza Ct, NSC.
This bookplate is personal to Mike Subritzky and acknowledges the ancestry of both Mike's paternal (Polish) and maternal (Irish) ancestry, as well as his membership in several Orders of chivalry. Foremost is the Subritzky coat of arms which features a downward pointing crossbow (in Polish "Kusza") on a Polish styled shield. The helm is very obviously Celtic and above is a comtal coronet with a crest of three ostrich plumes. Behind the shield itself is the cross of a Knight of Justice of the Order of Saint Lazarus, and the chain of a senior Knight in the Order of Saint Stanislas. Top left is the star of the Order of Saint Mary of Zion (Imperial Family of Ethiopia), top right is Mike's personal crest featuring a comtal coronet and the Dragon of Annam (Imperial Family of Vietnam), and bottom right, the neckbadge of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia and the Tunic of Christ (Royal Family of Georgia). The bookplate is bordered by "never-ending" Celtic strapping.This bookplate is the work of the late Chevalier Dennis Eden Ivall of Cornwall.
Caption: Kevin Derek Couling Esq. (Lord of Little Neston)
Caption: Bookplate of Chevalier Robert Allen Cromartie of Urquahart on Spey, Baron of Urquhart.
Biography: Robert A. Cromartie of Urquhart On Spey, Baron of Urquhart (Moray) was born and grew up in Tampa, and currently lives on his Ardmore Farm, a thoroughbred stud farm in Versailles, Kentucky which also serves as the base of operations for Briggs & Cromartie Thoroughbred Consultants. "Bob" is considered one of the Thoroughbred industry's leading experts on Thoroughbred genealogy and pedigrees. While his professional career as always centered around his love of horses and racing, he is also trained in master planning and development and works as consultant in residential and mixed use development as well as farm design and planning. He is a graduate of Lenoir Rhyne College with a degree in Business Management.
Bob has served as a Trustee of The Breeders' Cup. He is a former director and officer of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association and former president of Florida Equine Publications. He co-authored “Prominent SireLines in America,” a research project covering 300 years of Thoroughbred breeding history. This project remains one of the most comprehensive studies of Thoroughbred pedigrees ever undertaken.
Bob has two children. His son, Alexander Ian Cromartie, Younger is a sound engineer and owner of recording studio in Claremont, Florida where he lives with his wife Shirley and son, Liam Navarro Cromartie. Bob's daughter, Bevin Sterling Cromartie Taylor is married Christopher G. Taylor, Baron Baille of Urquhart and they live in Washington, DC.
An avid student of Scottish history and heraldry, Bob is a Fellow of The Society of Scottish Antiquaries; a member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland; the Society of Scottish Armigers; and Clan Urquhart. Among his hobbies is breeding, raising and showing Scottish Deerhounds.
Caption: Bookplate of Chevalier our Chancellor, Chevalier Roger Carlton Sherman Bn, NSC.
This colourful bookplate also features the armorial bearings of the owner, and also includes the Grand Cross sash, and also the Chain of a senior Knight of the Order of Saint Lazarus.
Caption; Bookplate of Michael John Arnold of County Down, Ireland. Lordship of Garrycloyne.
Irish Adventurer, Soldier, and Diplomat
(1883 – 1958)
Michael MacWhite was born in 1883 at Reenogreena, County Cork, Ireland. A born adventurer, in his early twenties he travelled extensively in central Europe, Scandinavia and western Russia. He studied agricultural co-operation and high school teaching in Denmark, and worked as a newspaper correspondent. He fought for Bulgaria during the first Balkan War in 1912 – which resulted in almost all remaining European territories of Turkey’s Muslim Ottoman Empire being captured and partitioned among Bulgaria and her Christian allies (Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece).
When the World War broke out in 1914, MacWhite was prodded and hustled out of a French railway carriage at Lyons, so that the carriage might be used to rush ‘poilus’ (French soldiers) to the frontline with Germany. Stranded but not downhearted, Michael joined the French Foreign Legion, fought all over the Balkans, and commanded the last French division to be withdrawn from Serbia.
While serving in the French Foreign Legion he was wounded in France’s first offensive at Arras; he survived the withering fire of the Turks at Gallipoli; and then spent the rest of the war on the Macedonian front, where once again he was wounded.
He received the French Croix de Guerre three times for his valour in combat.
Following the end of the First World War, he returned to Dublin in 1919 to see his old friend, Arthur Griffith and offered his services to the fledgling undercover Dail Eireann (the pre-Independence Provisional Irish Government).
In January 1919 Harry Boland secretly sent MacWhite back to Paris with Ireland’s Declaration of Independence, the Provisional Constitution, and the democratic programme that had just been adopted.
MacWhite succeeded in getting these ‘seditious’ documents (so considered by the British) published in Paris. He also became the Paris correspondent for the United Irishman and Arthur Griffith's paper, Young Ireland.
George Duffy, envoy for the rebel Irish Government, offered him the post of secretary to the Irish Legation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
In 1921, MacWhite was sent to Geneva as Dáil Éireann representative to Switzerland on the establishment of the League of Nations.
MacWhite unintentionally made a significant indirect intervention in the Dáil (the Irish Parliament) debate on the ‘Independence’ Treaty with England. In the last speech before the vote, Arthur Griffith quoted from one of MacWhite's letters from Geneva, reporting world opinion as being in favour of the Treaty.
Following admission of the newly formed Irish Free State to the League of Nations in 1923, MacWhite was appointed permanent Free State delegate to the League. He played a very active role in League affairs and helped to secure the Free State's position as separate from that of the British Empire.
In 1929, Michael MacWhite – by now called by the American Press, ‘the famed French-ified Fighting Irishman’ – was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary of the Irish Free State to the United States, with a mandate to consolidate and encourage existing ties between Irish America and Ireland and to promote trade agreements between the two countries. He was an extremely energetic and popular diplomat in Washington circles and succeeded in cultivating contacts with the powerful Irish-American community and the Catholic hierarchy.
MacWhite's next diplomatic posting was to Rome in 1938. This was an altogether different experience, the international situation making the Fascist government suspicious of foreign diplomats. When war broke out, MacWhite, as representative of a neutral country, was responsible for the Irish citizens in Rome. He arranged travel documentation for those wishing to return to Ireland and protected the property of those who wished to stay.
MacWhite retired in 1950 with the rank of Ambassador, having served as a diplomat for Ireland for 30 years. In correspondence with writer Seán Ó Faoláin in 1949, he wrote: 'I am laying down the wand of office with no regrets. I have got as much out of life as any man could hope for. I have travelled a long distance from a thatched farm house on the top of File-na-Shouk, a mile or so south of Glandore, to the Palaces of Kings and Presidents and to hold my own amongst them, is I suppose, something to brag about.'
MacWhite died in 1958 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. Michael Doyle
Paddy Finucane, Irish Spitfire Ace
Brendan Éamon FitzPatrick Finucane DSO, DFC & two Bars
The story of Wing Commander ‘Paddy’ Finucane [pronounced fi-NEW-kin], is an amazing story of an Irishman who became one of Britain’s most decorated Spitfire Aces during the Battle of Britain. With the highest number of Battle of Britain ‘kills’ (32), Finucane was also the youngest Wing Commander in the history of the RAF – and all before his 22nd birthday. Paddy was commander of an RAF Fighter Wing, leader of a famous Aussie Spitfire Squadron, and an inspirational leader to his pilots and ground crew.
Paddy was born at Rathmines in Dublin on the 16th day of October 1920, the first child of Thomas and Florence Finucane. He had two younger brothers and two younger sisters. His father was a member of the ‘Irish Volunteers’ (forerunners of the I.R.A.) and served under Eamon de Valera’s command in Dublin during the 1916 Rising against the British. Paddy was educated at Synge Street Christian Brothers School and the O’Connell School (CBS) in Dublin, and later at The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London - after his family immigrated to Richmond, Surrey England in November of 1936.
Paddy became an all around sportsman, excelling at Rugby, Soccer, Boxing and Rowing. Having always dreamed about flying, Paddy joined Britain’s Royal Air Force in August 1938 and was posted to 65 Squadron at RAF Hornchurch on July 13th, 1940.
Paddy claimed his first victory against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain on 12 August 1940, a Messerschmitt Bf 109. No. 65 Squadron was rested at the end of August 1940 and did not return to combat duties until November. Flying from RAF Tangmere, by year's end, Paddy had claimed four more Messerschmitt Bf 109s and a Messerschmitt Bf 110.
On April 15, 1941, Paddy crossed paths with one of Germany’s highest decorated pilot’s, Oberstleutnant Adolf Galland – who commanded the Luftwaffe’s famous ‘JG 26’ Fighter Group. Adolf Galland had decided to join a birthday celebration for the Luftwaffe’s General Theo Osterkamp, and intended to personally deliver some lobsters and oysters for the party. Galland's crew chief placed the goods in Galland's new Messerschmitt Bf 109F fighter just before takeoff. Galland's flight plan would take him and his wingman, from Brest to Le Touquet in France, the site of the party. But en-route to Le Touquet, Galland decided that a little ‘detour’ to England was in order. His hunter’s instinct paid off near Dover, as they surprised a large flight of Spitfires on maneuvers. And, as chance would have it, Paddy Finucane was leading that group of Spitfires. Nonetheless, Galland’s instincts proved deadly as he managed to shoot down three Spitfire Mk. IIs. Then, as Galland flew through the Spitfire formation, Paddy rolled out from above and targeted Galland. The hunter became the hunted and Paddy riddled Galland’s aircraft with shells. Galland had no choice but to bail out of his flaming Messerschmitt Bf-109 near the coast of France. Galland was rescued by the German air-sea rescue service a few hours later. Suffice it to say, Galland never made it to Osterkamp’s party, and Paddy claimed Galland’s Messerschmitt as a victory
In November 1941, at the age of 29 and with his score standing at 94, Adolf Galland was promoted to General der Jagdflieger (the Luftwaffe’s General of Fighters). By the end of the war he claimed a total of 104 victories and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz) with oak leaves, swords and diamonds, one of only 27 recipients of the highest German military decoration. His victory claims were all against air forces of the Western Allies.
At the time that Paddy shot down Adolf Galland, he was quoted as saying, “I shoot to hit the machine, not the lad in it; at least I hold him no grudge, but I have to let him have it. See him first before he sees you, hit him when you fire as you might not have a second chance”.
In April 1941, Paddy was awarded the D.F.C. (Distinguished Flying Cross) and posted as a flight commander to a famous Australian fighter squadron, 452 Squadron RAAF, stationed at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey. 452 Squadron was the first RAAF squadron to serve in RAF Fighter Command, making their debut on combat operations in July 1941. It was at this time that he became best friends with Flight Lieutenant Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott, one of the well known Australian Spitfire aces. Together they made plans to set up in business ‘down under’ once the war was over.
Operations to strike back against the Nazi forces across the English Channel led to increasing RAF attacks
against the Germans throughout 1941. Between early August and his 21st birthday in mid-October,
Paddy added 17 more enemy aircraft to his ‘score’. His achievements led to the award of two more DFC’s
in September, followed by the award of a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) – Britain’s second highest
combat decoration for officers - in October. The citation for the DSO stated: “Recently, during two sorties on
consecutive days, Flight Lieutenant Finucane destroyed 5 Messerschmitt 109’s bringing his total victories to
at least 20. He has flown with this squadron since June, 1941, during which time the squadron has
destroyed 42 enemy aircraft of which Flight Lieutenant Finucane has personally destroyed 15. The
successes achieved are undoubtedly due to this officer’s brilliant leadership and example.”
Despite facing danger in the air on an almost daily basis Paddy managed to suffer a non-flying accident while
celebrating in London during November 1941 - when he broke an ankle during the ‘blackout’ while jumping
over a wall. After recovery he re-joined the Australians of No.452 Squadron RAAF in January 1942, yet
within a week he was promoted and given command of the RAF’s No.602 Squadron at Redhill in Surrey.
Misfortune befell Paddy on 20th February whilst in combat with deadly Focke-Wulf Fw190 fighters over Mardyck near
Dunkirk. He was flying a Spitfire MkVb during a ‘Rhubarb’ sortie (a low-level freelance fighter operation against ground
targets). Two Focke-Wulf Fw190’s attacked him and Pilot Officer Richard Lewis while they were shooting-up a Nazi
ship. After an hour of dodging and dog fighting in the clouds over the French coast, one of the Focke-Wulfs riddled the
Flying Shamrock and a German cannon shell exploded in the cockpit of Paddy’s Spitfire. A sharp piece of shattered
plate ripped Paddy’s thigh from knee to hip. As he put it later, “The cockpit was awash with blood. It was not until
I was feeling a bit sick and dizzy did it dawn on me that it was my blood!”…“Good Dublin blood should not be wasted!”…By radio he ordered Lewis to run for home. Lewis disobeyed, and hovered behind Paddy's tail - fighting off repeated Focke-Wulf attacks. One of the Focke-Wulfs was seen to crash into the English Channel. Paddy and Lewis then scurried back to their home airdrome. Squadron Leader Finucane taxied his Spitfire up to the flight line and then collapsed at the controls, after which he then had to be gently lifted out from the shattered cockpit before being taken to hospital. Paddy later said, “How I even managed to land without a crack-up will never be known, luck of the Irish triumphed that day if ever!”
Five weeks later and mended, the British newspaper headlines read, “Finucane Flies Again!”
Model airplanes of his Spitfire with the vivid green Shamrocks were sold in London all along Piccadilly Circus and The Strand. Small boys robbed their Mother’s purses in haste in order to own one! These were treasured reminders that their greatest flying Ace was again winging his way across the murky channel to protect England. Even the German pilots were aware of him as word spread to, “Get Finucane of the Shamrock!”
Amazingly Paddy was soon back in action to seek his revenge, and did so on 13th March 1942, when he shot down one of the dreaded enemy Focke-Wulf fighters.
Four more German Focke-Wulf Fw 190s fell to his guns during March 1942.
Greater recognition came his way on 27 June 1942 with promotion to Wing Commander to lead four fighter squadrons at RAF Hornchurch, which made him the youngest ever to hold this high rank and responsibility. Paddy Finucane was now a legendary and well-known figure, his leadership was outstanding and the aura surrounding him affected air and ground crews alike along with members of the general public. Even with so much popular publicity and the distractions, Paddy dutifully maintained his religious ways and attended Catholic Mass regularly, but was not the kind who forced his beliefs on anyone, although he would be happy to discuss them in his quiet charming lilt with those who so wished.
Another mark of his character and feelings was demonstrated after a member of his ground-crew in wanting to show off his pilot’s prowess in combat, added a series of small Swastikas around the Irish shamrock emblem that adorned his Spitfire. Upon seeing these symbols signifying the number of enemy aircraft he had destroyed, Paddy asked in a most kind and friendly manner for their immediate removal. Though he may have been a leading RAF ace and proud of the achievements of his squadron, he had no desire to boast about his personal victories in which he had no knowing of how many enemy airmen he may have killed.
For 15th July 1942, the following entry appears in the No.154 Squadron Operations Record Book:- “A fine bright day today and at eleven thirty, pilots are called to the briefing room and told by Wing Commander Finucane that the hutted camp at Etaples is going to be shot up. He is leading 154. It is a tragic day for us all. Wing Commander Finucane has the foulest luck. A stream of bullets from a Hun machine gun on the beach in the Estuary mouth gets his radiator. He is forced to ditch and is not seen again.” After attacking German shipping at Ostend and strafing three German airfields on July 15th, 1942, Finucane’s wing regrouped to return to RAF Hornchurch. He always said that the Luftwaffe would never get him, and it was actually ground fire which hit his Paddy Finucane was on his last sweep near Boulogne. As he led his wing low over German installations on the French beach, Pilot Officer Aikman, his Canadian wingman, saw something Paddy did not see: a small machine-gun post perched about 20 feet above the beach on a ridge of sand. It was not a regular gun post, with an emplacement and protecting sandbags, but just one machine gun on a tripod with two young men in German uniforms behind it. Aikman saw a burst from the machine gun go through Paddy's starboard wing and radiator. A split-second later Pilot Officer Aikman blew the machinegun post to blazes. But it was a split-second too late for Paddy Finucane.
Aikman called on his radio: “You've had it, sir - in your radiator.”
Paddy replied: “I shall have to get out of this.” Then, to his wing: “Hallo, wing commander calling. I've had it. Am turning out.”
Aikman followed Paddy as he turned out over the sea, trying to get as near England as possible with his failing engine. Aikman could see him quite clearly in the cockpit. Paddy opened his sliding cockpit canopy and took off his helmet. It appeared to Aikman that he was also releasing his parachute harness. Aikman called through his radio that he was going to climb so that he would be able to fix Paddy's position when he crashed. Paddy replied: “Get as high as possible.”
Ten miles from the French coast Aikman saw the Spitfire with the green shamrock level off, drop its tail, and hit the sea. Just before it crashed he heard Paddy's voice on the radio: “This is it, chaps.” The Spitfire sank like a stone. At 5,000 feet Aikman circled, watching the spot where it had sunk. All he saw was a streak of oil floating on the water's top.
Paddy had had a strict Catholic upbringing in Dublin and London before he joined the R.A.F. at 17. There was nothing particularly spectacular about him except his flying, and he wanted very little except to be fit and right for that. When he got leave he would got to London and his mother would ask Paddy's girl friend over from next-door-but-one, and if his younger brother got leave from the Bomber Command at the same time they would have a real party.
Paddy Finucane, despite his Irish roots, was a national hero in Britain and his loss touched a great many of its citizens. When a Requiem Mass was held for him at Westminster Cathedral in London, over 3,000 people attended, which was then followed by a nationwide appeal that resulted in the bequeathing of the ‘Finucane Ward’ in the Richmond Royal Hospital.
Because he remains officially missing, Paddy is remembered upon Panel 64 at the RAF memorial at Runnymede, near Windsor, that commemorates over 20,000 RAF airmen of the Second World War who went missing over the European region. In his short life, Wing Commander Brendan Finucane DSO, DFC & 2 Bars, proved himself to be a remarkable young man who achieved incredible things, his sacrifice for freedom makes him someone that Ireland – and Great Britain – should be forever proud.
Paddy Finucane was the first of World War II's flying heroes to live long enough to become a legend.
At the time of his death, the 22 year old Wing Commander’s (equivalent to Lt. Colonel in the army)
score stood at an amazing 32 victories.
Three well known pilots of No. 452 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, at Kirton-in-Lindsey,1941:-
•Brendan ‘Paddy’ Finucane (centre) •Keith William ‘Bluey’ Truscott (left) and •Raymond ‘Throttle’ Thorold-Smith (right)
‘Bluey’ Truscott became one of Australia's best-known flying aces of the Second World War. Truscott
was commissioned in February 1941, and ordered to England where he joined No. 452 Squadron RAAF
as a foundation member on 5 May. Flying a Spitfire Mk. V, he scored his first victory in August.
Thorold-Smith nicknamed ‘Throttle’ was another Australian and a founding member of No. 452
Squadron RAAF. A tall man, at 6’3", he had trouble fitting into the confines of a Spitfire cockpit.
All three pilots became aces and advanced rapidly to the rank of Squadron Leader (Paddy became Wing Commander). Sadly, their careers didn't last long: Finucane was shot down and killed over the English Channel on 15 July 1942. The other two went home to Australia to fight in the Pacific against the Japanese, but were both killed in March 1943.
The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" cried the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!"
‘The Minstrel Boy’ is a popular Irish patriotic song that was written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) who set it to the melody of The Moreen, an old Irish air. It is widely believed that Moore composed the song in remembrance of a number of his friends, whom he met while studying at Trinity College, Dublin and who had participated in (and were killed during) the 1798 Irish Rebellion.
However, the song gained widespread popularity and became a favourite of many Irishmen whofought during the American Civil War and gained even more popularity after the First World War. The song is notably associated with organisations that historically had a heavy representation ofIrish-Americans, in particular the police and fire departments of New York, Boston and Chicago and those of various other major US metropolitan areas, even after those organizations have ceased to have a substantial over-representation of personnel of Irish ancestry. The melody is frequently played at funerals of members and/or officers of such organisations who have died or been killed in service, typically on bagpipes. Unsurprisingly, given its lyrics, it is also associated with the Irish Army and with traditionally Irish regiments in the British and other armies.
Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, V.C.
‘a sturdy Irish Captain who went down with his ship’
The Arado 196 – standard shipboard reconnaissance aircraft of the German Navy
Admiral Krancke knew that time was now almost his only enemy. Fearful that any delay on his part might result in the convoy rendezvousing with some strong protection force sent out from Britain to meet it, he ordered full speed ahead. Suddenly, his plans threatened to go seriously awry. A lone vessel stood between the Admiral Scheer and Convoy HX.84. This vessel was the S.S. Mopan, a banana boat of 8,000 tons. Steering a wide berth to avoid the Mopan would cost valuable time – time he may not have, and the thought of a running fight with a force of British warships was a poor substitute to the certainty of watching defenceless merchantmen sinking in a sea of flames.
Krancke took a bold decision; using a signal lamp, he ordered the Mopan to stop immediately, and under no circumstances to use its radio. To the German’s delight, the banana boat did exactly as instructed. No doubt the thought of being blown out of the water, or being left to face the rigours of the cold Atlantic without a lifeboat, acted as a powerful source of persuasion to the skipper of the Mopan. As it turned out, his ship was sunk, but not before the crew had been taken off. The Admiral Scheer had made its first kill. Krancke, however, was more relieved than pleased; by now it was late afternoon, daylight was fading. He ordered that full speed ahead be resumed at once.
It was growing dark when one of the Jervis Bay’s lookouts spied the outline of an unknown ship on the twilight horizon.
Suspecting it to be the leading British warship of their expected protection squadron, Captain Fegan flashed the signal “What ship?”
No reply being forthcoming, Captain Fegan then ordered his signal to be repeated.
Again, no answer was received and, with the unknown ship less than 10 miles distant and getting closer by the minute, the Captain of the Jervis Bay began to feel doubtful as to the intentions of the strange vessel. By 1730 hours, and with darkness fast closing in, the unidentified ship was seen to turn broadside on. It was then about eight miles away from the Jervis Bay and its convoy.
Suddenly, all doubt as to the intentions of the unknown ship were removed, as six flashes lit up the horizon and a sound like an express train out of control filled the evening sky. As the first salvo from the Admiral Scheer fell around his ship, Captain Fegan sprang to action, ordering the convoy to scatter at once, and for the Jervis Bay to make full ahead towards the enemy, dropping a trail of smoke floats as he went.
An experienced professional naval officer, Captain Fegan knew without a doubt that his obsolete guns with their antiquated fire control system were hopelessly outmatched by those of the powerful German warship that was now beginning to find the Jervis Bay's range; he knew too, that the chances of even getting within shooting distance of his enemy were slim to say the least; he also knew that the consequences for his crew in the likely event of the Jervis Bay being sunk (for the enemy would not, and the convoy could not, stop to pick up any survivors fortunate enough to make it into a lifeboat) was almost certain death from starvation and exposure.
But Captain Fegan also knew his duty. Whatever the outcome, the actions of the Jervis Bay would buy valuable time for Convoy HX.84. Although they were out of range, the four forward six-inch guns of the Jervis Bay opened fire on the German warship anyway.
In the unforgiving calculus of war at sea, Jervis Bay should have been dead long before there was anything within range of its puny guns. The ship stood tall enough in the water to represent a side-of-a-barn target to any reasonably trained enemy. Even after its refit as a fighting vessel, it retained enough of its original wood trimmings to make it a potential bonfire. Not for nothing did the men on board those ships joke that AMC actually stood for “Admiralty-made coffin.”
Aware now of the rapid approach of a British warship, Admiral Krancke ordered all his guns to bear on the Jervis Bay. By the third salvo, the German gunners had found their range. (An 11-inch armour-piercing shell weighs over 600 pounds. It is a fearful thing to consider when it is lying inert in its rack; imagine, then, how frightful it becomes when six of them are approaching at velocity of 2,000 feet per second.)
When these high-explosive projectiles struck the Jervis Bay they met next to no resistance from such puny armour that the ship possessed, and less still from the unfortunate crew. Lucky were those who were killed outright by the force of the exploding shells, for they were spared the horrors which suddenly burst out around their ship mates – including choking fumes from burning paint, showers of red-hot metal splinters flying everywhere, the agony of burst eardrums, the smell of human flesh on fire, and the sight and sound of screaming men with shattered bones, sliced limbs, and heat-seared eyes.
The foredeck was the first place to receive the full brunt of the Admiral Scheer's broadside; the bridge was next, part of it being ripped to bits with total loss of the gunnery control system and the ship’s ‘wireless’ (radio), plus her hull was holed in several places. Major fires started down below. The ship’s White Ensign was shot from the flagstaff, but out of sheer bravado, a member of the crew, nailed it to another.
The Jervis Bay maintained her course towards the Admiral Scheer - her guns still firing.
A German shell now struck one of Jervis Bay’s forward guns, killing most of its crew instantly; then the bridge took a direct hit.
Captain Fegan, one arm torn off, stuck doggedly to his post, restoring morale and inspiring the men around him by his example.
The next shell that hit the bridge killed the gallant captain, but his example lived on; a mass of flames and twisted metal from bow to stern, the Jervis Bay kept course towards the German warship, her remaining guns still firing.
And so it went. Jervis Bay took a fearful pounding but managed to stay afloat, a result of the 24,000 empty 45-gallon steel drums that it carried for buoyancy. Its guns fired until they were silenced. It was hopeless, for the most part, but Jervis Bay did manage to land one lucky shot on Scheer that destroyed the German ship’s radar crystal and reduced its spotting capability enormously.
Moreover, even after most of the crew was dead or dying, secondary explosions from cordite bags on the stern continued, looking enough like gunfire to make it seem as if Jervis Bay still had some fight left. Admiral Scheer, had no choice but to keep raining down shells on the ‘AMC’. He was holding the whip hand at the moment, but he knew that it was a big ocean, that he was all alone in it, and that getting damaged by another lucky shot was a real possibility.
The closer the ships came, the greater the havoc wreaked by the Admiral Scheer's guns. At last the inevitable happened - a shell struck a vital part of the Jervis Bay, bringing it to a shuddering halt.
The Jervis Bay was last seen by convoy HX84 at 7pm burning, but still afloat. The ship eventually sank an hour later, with the White Ensign still nailed to its temporary staff. Captain Fegen went down with his ship, but it was due to him that 31 ships of the convoy escaped. Of the Jervis Bay’s crew of 254 only 68 survived, three of whom subsequently died after being rescued.
Jervis Bay's heroic action saved far more sailors than were lost through it. For 3 hours the brave ship had occupied the full attention of the Admiral Scheer - which had expended 335 valuable shells in sinking her. These 3 hours afforded a priceless opportunity for the ships of Convoy HX.84, to make good their escape under cover of a welcome darkness.
In the aftermath of the Jervis Bay sinking, the Admiral Scheer went on to overhaul and sink 7 ships from the convoy, with the loss of 253 lives; but the remaining 31 vessels (including the famous oil tanker SS San Demetrio *) escaped to bring their much-needed cargoes to Britain. Except for the gallantry of Jervis Bay, it is likely that the vast majority of the ships in Convoy HX.84, along with their crews, would also have fallen victim to the Admiral Scheer's guns.
Heroism begets admiration, and for the skipper of the neutral Swedish ship Stureholm, who had witnessed the action, the heroism of the Jervis Bay was impressive to such a degree that, neutral though he was, the skipper could not sail by and leave the survivors to their grim fate. Waiting until the Admiral Scheer - whose progress through the night was marked by searchlights, star-shells and explosions - moved away from the scene, the Stureholm's skipper sailed his ship to the last resting place of the Jervis Bay and began a search for survivors. He managed to rescue 65 men. (One of the 65 died in Liverpool some weeks later of delayed shock.)
Stureholm was herself later sunk by the German submarine U.96 in 1940 (tragically
there were no survivors).
The German Panzerschiff ‘Admiral Scheer’- at Gibraltar 1936
Captain Fegen was remembered as having “defended Ireland’s honour” in Winton Churchill’s famous ‘Five years of War’ broadcast speech on 13 May 1945: “When I think of these days I think also of other episodes and personalities. I do not forget Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde V.C., D.S.O.; Lance-Corporal Kenneally V.C.; Captain Fegen V.C.; and other Irish heroes that I could easily recite, and all bitterness by Britain for the Irish race dies in my heart. I can only pray that in years which I shall not see, the shame will be forgotten and the glories will endure, and that the peoples of the British Isles and of the British Commonwealth of Nations will walk together in mutual comprehension and forgiveness.”
The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to the late Commander (acting Captain) Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, Royal Navy, for valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect. On the 5th of November 1940, Captain Fegen, in His Majesty’s Armed Merchant Cruise Jervis Bay, was escorting thirty-eight Merchantmen. Sighting a powerful German man-of-war he at once drew clear of the convoy, made straight for the Enemy, and brought his ship between the Raider and her prey, so that they might scatter and escape. Crippled, in flames, unable to reply, for nearly an hour Jervis Bay held the Germans fire. So she went down: but of the Merchantmen all but four or five were saved.
12 JUNE 1941, to his sister by King George VI, at Buckingham Palace
In Honoured Memory of Captain E.S. Fogarty Fegen V.C.
New Brunswick, Canada
There are memorials to the crew of the Jervis Bay at Ross Memorial Park, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, at Hamilton, Bermuda and at the Seamens’ Institute, Wellington, New Zealand.
Count Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki, HNSC, pp.
Grand Master of the charitable Order of Saint Stanislas
"O God, for Whose honour the glorious bishop Stanislas fell under the swords of the wicked; grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid, may obtain deserved answer to their prayers. We pray that you graciously hear our prayers and shed your blessing upon your servant Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki who has departed this life on the 17th August 2009. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen."
The Noble Society of Celts notes the passing of one of the Societies long time Honorary Members, Count Julisz Nowina-Sokolnicki. Our condolences are offered to his wife Countess Avril and their family