A Bit of History – SS Saint Patrick Irish Ferry

My tiny connection with this piece of history is the fact I was stationed at HMS Harrier in 1959, just a few miles from Milford Haven. I have also crossed the Irish Sea from Fishguard to Rosslare.
This cross-channel ferry was sunk by the German Air Force during the Second World War. The day on which she was sunk – 13 June 1941 – has been described by one maritime historian as ‘one of the blackest days in the history of the port of Fishguard’. The ‘St Patrick’ had left Rosslare for north Pembrokeshire early that morning and was about 12 miles from Strumble Head when the German bombers found her. It was not her first encounter with the Luftwaffe. The previous summer she had been attacked on the crossing but had reached port safely. This time there was to be no escape. The first bomb struck her between the bridge and the funnel, penetrating the oil tanks and setting them on fire. When the Fishguard Lifeboat arrived on the scene some hours later, all she found were oil bubbles coming to the surface and two boxes of fish. At this time, it was not known that the ship on fire was the ‘St Patrick’; but when the Fishguard Lifeboat returned to port later, the boxes of fish were identified as part of the ferry’s cargo. The Fishguard Lifeboat searched throughout that morning but found nothing. The St David’s Lifeboat and a naval patrol vessel were also involved in the operation. Later, however, news reached the port that the majority of the people on board the ‘St Patrick’ had been rescued and landed at Milford Haven. Seventeen of her crew, a gunner and twelve passengers were lost – the ferry having sunk within five minutes of the attack. Among those who died was the ship’s captain, Jim Faraday, and his twenty year old son Jack, a Merchant Navy officer cadet who had decided to accompany his father on that fateful trip. Jack’s two brothers also died during the Second World War – one transferring from the Army to the Royal Air Force, after the sinking of the ‘St Patrick’, to seek his own revenge on the Luftwaffe. For her bravery in saving women passengers trapped on the lower deck, stewardess Miss Elizabeth May Owen was awarded the George Medal.

Cheers and keep reading.

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Belfast Blitz, military, veterans. Bookmark the permalink.

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