S.S. Wallace Rose
It was in 1954 when I was working in the shipping dept. of P. Donnelly & Sons, Ltd. at George’s Quay Dublin. We acted as shipping agents for ships bringing coal to our own company and other cargo ships as well. The s.s. Wallace Rose, a coal carrying ship, was owned by Hughes Holden and Co. Ltd in Liverpool. It was a frequent visitor to Dublin and we knew the Captain well. He was Leo McCourt from Dundalk and was well liked by all the staff.
On the 27th January 1954, our Shipping Manager, Mr. Tom Kenny, received a telephone call, informing him that the Wallace Rose had sunk the previous night, while berthed in the Thames. It was waiting for a berth to discharge a cargo of coal slag.
It had been struck by another ship which had drifted from its moorings. Captain McCourt and three other Irishmen, who had been asleep, had sadly been drowned. As the three men were from Dublin, they asked would we inform their relatives. Telephones were not owned by many working families at that time, so visits were necessary. The men drowned were Mr. Daniel Doogue from Drumcondra, Mr. Patrick Connelly from Ringsend, and a young man from Cabra. I was asked to do this unpleasant job, at which I had no previous experience.
I first called on Mrs Doogue with the awful news and called next door first, to ask if Mrs Doogue would be on her own, only to be told that she was with the neighbour at that moment and it made it a little easier for me.
When finished I then went to Cabra to be informed by the father and mother that the sailor involved was a young man , not long working at sea. Finally to Ringsend where I met the family of Mr Patrick Connelly. Needless to say, all the families were very shocked. Indeed I felt very upset myself by that time.
It had taken me several hours and I was glad to get back to the office. Just in, I was told that another call had been received from Ms. Hughes, to tell that the young man from Cabra had not been on board, having stayed ashore for the night. Back I went though more pleasantly this time. When I arrived at the house, I found it full of neighbours all sympathising with the family. As I left, it was turning into a party after hearing the good news. I did not feel that way,sadly, as I thought of the other grieving families.
I have since learned that Mr. Doogue was the chief engineer on the boat. Small colliers such as the Wallace and the other many ‘Rose’ ships are no longer a feature of Dublin docks. Robertsons of Glasgow with a large fleet were frequent callers also. Joseph Fisher of Newry had a number of small boats who could access Spencer Dock and Customs House Quay to service the Coal Merchants there. Bridges to allow access to the canal can still be seen on North Wall, Dublin. Fishers, who were coal merchants also, had them built to travel up the Newry Ship Canal. Their boats had names of trees likes.s.s. Oak and Elm, etc.
I attach a report from The Times which gave a different account of the accident from the one given to us that morning.
From the Times dated Wednesday, January, 27, 1954
COLLIER SUNK IN THAMES
EIGHT MEN MISSING AFTER COLLISION
Wednesday, Jan 27, 1954
A British collier, the Wallace Rose (632 tons), sank in the Thames off Erith, Kent, last night after being in collision with a Swedish vessel, the Yvonne (4,138 tons). Two survivors from the collier were picked up by the Yvonne, but eight of the crew are missing.
The collier was going down river on the Essex side and the Swedish ship was coming up. The night was clear, with no trace of fog. The collier sank almost immediately, leaving no trace on the surface. Early this morning the position of the wreck was ascertained.
The Yvonne proceeded to Gravesend after the collision which occurred at about 9 pm. River police searched for survivors. A wreckship with its green warning light took up position at the spot where the collision occurred.
The two survivors picked up by the Yvonne were William Cleary aged 35 boatswain of Stella Gardens, Dublin, and Jackson Abokie, aged 45, a deckhand, of Bridson Street, Liverpool. Both were suffering from the effects of immersion, but their condition was not serious.
The Wallace Rose was registered at Liverpool and owned by Hughes Holden Shipping, Ltd, of Swansea. She was built in 1931. She was sailing from Cannes to the Thames with a load of (s)lag’. Her skipper was Captain McCourt, an Irishman. The collier traded between Swansea and other British ports and was also in a regular coal run to France.
The Yvonne is owned by Rederi A/B Disa and registered at Stockholm. She was built in 1945 at Gothenburg.
Acknowledgement to Ships Nostalgia for detailed information.