S.S.W.M.Barkley sunk by U-boat. 1917


On the night of October 12th 1917 at 7 pm. The S.S.W.M.Barkley with a full cargo of Guinness, and a crew of 13 men was torpedoed just off the Kish Lightship by a German U-boat. Five men lost their lives that night.

One of the crewmen who survived was the Cook/Steward, Thomas McGlue and in 1964 at the age of 82 he was interviewed about that night.

“I was in the galley, just reaching out my hand to take a kettle off the fire to make a cup of tea for the officers, when we got the poke, the kettle capsized and shot boiling water up my arm to the elbow. The galley was filled with steam and I said a few hard words, but apart from that there was’nt much noise – not a murmer in fact. I went out on the starboard deck where there was a life-boat hanging by one end to the forward fall, the Berkely was doing her best to go down but the barrels of Guinness were fighting their way up through the hatches, and that kept it afloat a bit longer, in fact, it’s the reason any of us got out of her. The master gave three blasts on the siren, and then I didn't see him anymore. I climbed into the boat and a mate gave me a knife to cut the fall and the painter. The boat dropped clear. We waited for others of the crew, then the gunner came up- we had one gun on the after deck but he wasn’t at it when we got the poke, as a matter of fact he was with me in the galley, waiting for some hot water to do his washing with. Another A.B. jumped into the boat and the four of us rowed away from the sinking ship so as not to get dragged under. Then we saw the U-boat going astern. We hailed the Captain and asked him to pick us up. He asked us the name of our boat and where she was bound to. He spoke better English than we did, in a little while he let us go. He pointed out the shore lights and told us to steer for them.

The submarine sailed away and we were left alone, with hogsheads of stout bobbing all aroun us. The Berkley had broken and gone down very quietly. We tried to row for the Kish Lightship, but it might have been America for all the way we made. We put out the sea-anchor and sat there shouting all night. At last a collier bound for Dublin took us aboard. At the Custom House in Dublin there was a big fire which was welcome because we were wet through and I’d spent the night in my shirt sleeves. But we weren’t very pleased to be kept there three hours. Then a man came in and asked ‘are you aliens?, I said ‘ Yes we’re aliens from Dublin’

I was glad to get back home to Baldoyle because I’d left my wife sick and was afraid she’d hear about the torpedoing before I could get home”. (Abstract)

0 Comments · 12804 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on November 08 2014

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