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  • Christina Drummond

Wren Josephine Carr, Women's Royal Naval Service

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Wren Josephine Carr, Women’s Royal Naval Service, died on active service when SS Leinster sank after being torpedoed in the Irish Sea.

The only daughter of a widow, she had enlisted just nine days days earlier on the 1st of October, and became the first servicewomen of the Women's Royal Naval Service to die as a result of enemy action. She and two fellow Wrens had boarded the mail ship SS Leinster earlier that day in order to travel from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead. As the ship cast off at 9:00 a.m. she was seen in the reading room, that being the last time anyone reported seeing her.

There were three members of the Royal Navy on board, manning 12 pound guns, as well as 489 military personnel, 180 civilians, 22 Dublin Post Office personnel and 77 crew members. An hour after leaving Dublin Bay, the German U-Boat 123 launched a torpedo which missed the ship. After the second launched torpedo struck, devastating the sorting room and killing all but one of the post office workers, the Captain gave orders to turn around, but the third torpedo struck the engine room and the ship sank within eight minutes.

Of the 771 people on board, 501 died in what was the largest maritime disaster on the Irish Sea – among those who lost their lives were English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. Some of those whose bodies were recovered now lie in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin. Josephine's body was never recovered and she is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Josephine, from Cork in Ireland, had turned 21 years old just six days before her death.

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