The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic

'Lost at Sea' the October Snippet subject - Responses Round Six

Basil David O'Donoghue   1914 – 1942
 
 
Basil O'Donoghue, (Lieutenant RANVR,) died on 7 December 1942 when the ship he was travelling on, the S.S. Ceramic, was torpedoed off the Azores by the German U-boat U-515.
 
He was 28 years of age, and the only son of David Flynn and Florence Mary O'Donoghue, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia.  He was also the brother of Kathleen O'Donoghue (Sr. Mary Angela), whose obituary appeared in the July 2018 issue of the O'Donoghue Society journal.
 
The Ceramic had been built as a passenger liner for the England – Australia run and launched in1912.  During WW1 it was used as a troop ship, and at the end of the war it became a passenger ship again,
 
After WW2  broke out, some ships had to be used to carry people with a legitimate reason for travelling between England and Australia, and the Ceramic was chosen.
She made several successful trips. It was a calculated risk but okay so long as it succeeded. She almost always carried some women and children.
 
On 3 November 1942, Ceramic left Liverpool  bound once more for Australia via the Cape of Good Hope. On board were 656 passengers and crew, including military and naval personnel, British Army nursing sisters and more than 100 civilians, including 12 children. Also on board were 16 men from the Royal Australian Navy: three were gunners attached to the Ceramic and the remaining were travelling home to Australia as passengers. Basil O'Donoghue was one of these.
 
On the night of December 7, 1942, a torpedo hit the ship but didn't sink it. The ensuing story of what happened is tragic. The U-boat Commander, Werner Henke, failed to help the survivors already in lifeboats. 350  people were still alive when the U-boat left the scene.  In fact he actually gave orders for  his sub to submerge even though crew members alerted him to the fact that there were people clinging to it.
He picked up one survivor, sapper Eric Munday, who was taken to a POW camp in Germany, and for ten months relatives of passengers and crew knew nothing of the tragedy.  The sinking of SS Ceramic remains one of the worst shipping disasters of all time.
 
In an interesting footnote to the tragedy, Henke, was captured by the Americans when they sank U-515 in April 1944  north of Madeira. Believing he was wanted by British authorities on charges of war crimes relating to SS Ceramic, Henke tried to escape, and was shot by guards as he attempted to climb the fence of the POW interrogation centre in Fort Hunt, Virginia, where he was being held.
 
https://www.navyhistory.org.au/the-loss-of-the-ss-ceramic-december-1942/2/
Submitted by Helen O'Donoghue
Basil David O'Donoghue   1914 – 1942
 
 
Basil O'Donoghue, (Lieutenant RANVR,) died on 7 December 1942 when the ship he was travelling on, the S.S. Ceramic, was torpedoed off the Azores by the German U-boat U-515.
 
He was 28 years of age, and the only son of David Flynn and Florence Mary O'Donoghue, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia.  He was also the brother of Kathleen O'Donoghue (Sr. Mary Angela), whose obituary appeared in the July 2018 issue of the O'Donoghue Society journal.
 
The Ceramic had been built as a passenger liner for the England – Australia run and launched in1912.  During WW1 it was used as a troop ship, and at the end of the war it became a passenger ship again,
 
After WW2  broke out, some ships had to be used to carry people with a legitimate reason for travelling between England and Australia, and the Ceramic was chosen.
She made several successful trips. It was a calculated risk but okay so long as it succeeded. She almost always carried some women and children.
 
On 3 November 1942, Ceramic left Liverpool  bound once more for Australia via the Cape of Good Hope. On board were 656 passengers and crew, including military and naval personnel, British Army nursing sisters and more than 100 civilians, including 12 children. Also on board were 16 men from the Royal Australian Navy: three were gunners attached to the Ceramic and the remaining were travelling home to Australia as passengers. Basil O'Donoghue was one of these.
 
On the night of December 7, 1942, a torpedo hit the ship but didn't sink it. The ensuing story of what happened is tragic. The U-boat Commander, Werner Henke, failed to help the survivors already in lifeboats. 350  people were still alive when the U-boat left the scene.  In fact he actually gave orders for  his sub to submerge even though crew members alerted him to the fact that there were people clinging to it.
He picked up one survivor, sapper Eric Munday, who was taken to a POW camp in Germany, and for ten months relatives of passengers and crew knew nothing of the tragedy.  The sinking of SS Ceramic remains one of the worst shipping disasters of all time.
 
In an interesting footnote to the tragedy, Henke, was captured by the Americans when they sank U-515 in April 1944  north of Madeira. Believing he was wanted by British authorities on charges of war crimes relating to SS Ceramic, Henke tried to escape, and was shot by guards as he attempted to climb the fence of the POW interrogation centre in Fort Hunt, Virginia, where he was being held.
 
https://www.navyhistory.org.au/the-loss-of-the-ss-ceramic-december-1942/2/
Submitted by Helen O'Donoghue
15.10.2018