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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
These were desperate times for Britain - the darkest days of the Second World War.
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the events in Paris, the Knights Templar in Ireland were arrested under
suspicion of heresy and placed in Dublin Castle. Between
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).
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.
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!
Ireland today you can find quite a few references to former Templar
properties – even if the properties had not been in existence before the
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
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.
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’.
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.
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
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.
‘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.
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
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.
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
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.
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’
the Templars arrived in Ireland in September 1220 - though documents
pertaining to individual Knights Templar in Ireland go back as far as
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
Hospital. None of these have any connections to the Order - however the
Hospitallers were definitely active around Kilmainham.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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
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
Caption: Bookplate of Chevalier Michael Subritzky-Kusza Ct, NSC.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Caption: Bookplate of Chevalier our Chancellor, Chevalier Roger Carlton Sherman Bn, NSC.
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)
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Duffy, envoy for the rebel Irish Government, offered him the post of
secretary to the Irish Legation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
1921, MacWhite was sent to Geneva as Dáil Éireann representative to
Switzerland on the establishment of the League of Nations.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.'
died in 1958 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Paddy Finucane, Irish Spitfire Ace
Brendan Éamon FitzPatrick Finucane DSO, DFC & two Bars
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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”.
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!”
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!”
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
Four more German Focke-Wulf Fw 190s fell to his guns during March 1942.
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.
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.”
replied: “I shall have to get out of this.” Then, to his wing: “Hallo,
wing commander calling. I've had it. Am turning out.”
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.”
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
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.
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
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.”
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
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
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."
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