Jeremiah Shea was born 5th October 1834 or 1835 in Whitegate near Cork (there is conflicting information in his service records as to the year). On entering the Royal Navy on 13th September 1852, as a Boy 1st Class in HMS Sidon, his description was given as 5’ 8’’ tall, brown hair, grey eyes and of fresh complexion.
He was advanced to the rate of Ordinary Seaman on 2nd December 1853, with the ships no. 239 in the Description Book.
HMS Sidon, a 22-gun paddle frigate under the command of Captain George Goldsmith, was despatched as part of the invasion fleet to the Crimea. During the early part of the campaign Sidon and the 6-gun paddle sloop HMS Inflexible in company with the French ships Cacique and Caton remained in Odessa Bay, to prevent the Russians from there communicating by sea with the Crimea.
In May 1855 a combined French and English force of 15,000 men was assembled to make an attack on the strategically important town of Kertch, which commanded the straits between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoff. HMS Sidon formed part of the 50 strong fleet necessary to transport and protect this invasion force.
The fleet sailed from Kamiesh Bay on May 22nd, and reached a point a few miles below Kertch on the morning of May 24th, the Queen's birthday. The troops were quickly thrown ashore near Kamiesh Bournou and Cape Paulovski, while some of the lighter vessels pushed on towards Kertch and Yenikale. But the Russians did not await the attack. Taken, apparently, by surprise, they blew up their fortifications on both sides of the strait, abandoned about a hundred guns, and retired, after having destroyed three steamers, and several other heavily-armed vessels, as well as large quantities of provisions, ammunition and stores. These results were effected without loss to the Allies, and, indeed, practically without any fighting.
HMS Sidon was to spend the entire Crimea war working in and around this theatre of operations. The artist William Simpson was to record her part in one of his series of his coloured lithographs illustrated above.
For his part in this Campaign Shea was awarded the Crimea medal with Sebastopol Clasp.
Shea was eventually paid off from Sidon on the 30th July 1856, by now rated as an Able Seaman. The next day he signed on to the 4-gun paddle sloop HMS Salamander. He was to spend the next six years in various ships before entering the Coast Guard service.
A full record of his naval and CG service is set out below; prior to 1873 his record in CS 29833 is not specific as to his location:
|Sidon ||13/09/1852|| ||B1C|
|Vanguard CG|| || || |
|Iron Duke|| || || |
|Topaze|| || || |
|Belleisle|| || || |
| ||07/02/1883||15/02/1883||Chf Boat’n in Ch.|
|Barrys Cove||16/02/1883||18/01/1884||Chf Boat’n in Ch.|
|Ballycooneen||19/01/1884||08/10/1890||Chf Boat’n in Ch.|
Following his last appointment Shea was ‘Pensioned to Shore’.
In addition to his Crimea medal he was awarded the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct medal on 16 April 1879.