Following on from our previous post on Deceased Irish Seamen, some interesting information has come to light regarding the monthly returns made during the war periods of 1914-18 and 1939-45, which include deceased Irish seamen.
The Returns of Deaths of Seamen Reported to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen under the Provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 and otherwise for the periods of WWI and WWII appear to record the reported deaths of all merchant seamen serving on British registered ships. This includes all Irishmen who died on board a British Merchant Vessel. As one might imagine, the number of deaths being reported and registered during the periods 1914-18 and 1939-45 on board British registered merchant ships rose dramatically. Although the monthly returns are primarily concerned with the deaths of members of the crew of British registered merchant vessels a small number of passengers also find their way into the returns.
The Monthly Returns of Deceased Seamen serving on board British Registered Merchants Vessels for the periods 1914-18 are as comprehensive as they were for the pre-war period and record the name, age, rank, nationality and last place of abode for the deceased seaman; the name, official number, port of registry and net tonnage of the vessel as well as the date, place, cause of death and additional remarks. The primary cause of death for seamen during the periods 1914-18 was drowning or supposed drowning as the results of the ship being sunk by the enemy or sunk by a mine. Each page of the monthly returns contains at least one deceased Irish seaman.
The monthly returns for the periods 1939-45 also record the deaths of all seamen who died on board a British registered merchant ship. For the periods 1939-41 the monthly returns follow the same format as the pre-war period. Thereafter, the information continues in a less fulsome manner and merely records the name, age, rank or rating, nationality, address and date of death of the merchant seaman.
It is to be hoped that at some time in the future the information recorded for Irish born deceased seamen is extracted from these records and published in some searchable format.
The registers are available to consult at the National Library of Ireland. If you cannot make it to the library, but suspect you have an Irish ancestor who may have died on board a British Merchant Vessel during the First or Second World War, contact us to request a search of these records.