Saturday, 18 January 2014

295103 Petty Officer Stoker Edward CONDRON (1881 - 1914)

In the early months of the First World War, HMS Aboukir was part of a cruiser squadron assigned to patrol the North Sea in defence of the supply route between England and France. On 22 September 1914, the squadron was spotted by the German submarine U-9. The German U-boat closed in and fired a torpedo at the Aboukir. The boat sank within 20 minutes, with the loss of 527 lives. Its sister ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy rushed to assist the stricken Aboukir. As they were picking up survivors, the U-9 fired two torpedoes into the Hogue, sinking it. Seeing the submarine’s periscope, the captain of HMS Cressy realized that the squadron was being attacked by a submarine and tried to flee. However, the U-9 fired a further two torpedoes into the Cressy, sinking that ship also.

The engagement lasted only two hours. Britain lost three warships, and with them 62 officers and 1,397 other men. A complete list of the casualties and survivors can be found here . The losses shocked Britain and led to an official court of inquiry. The three warships, which were all Cressy-class armoured cruisers, were becoming obsolete by the start of the war. With their limited speed, they were supposed to progress in a zig-zag course to offer some protection from enemy attack. The court of inquiry held the two admirals of the cruiser squadron responsible for failings including disregard of advice that the ships should take a zig-zag course and that, on the torpedoing of the Aboukir, the other two ships should have steamed away in opposite directions rather than coming to the Aboukir’s aid.

Petty Officer Stoker Edward CONDRON (service no. 295103) lost his life on 22 September 1914 on board HMS Aboukir. He was born on 29 June 1881 in Battersea, Wandsworth, London, the son of Daniel and Hannah CONDRON.

Edward was admitted to the Sleaford Street School, Battersea, aged 3 years. Sleaford Street School opened in 1874 and was one of the 'Board Schools', which were established by the Elementary Education Act of 1870 and allowed children from poorer families to have a free education. 

Edward served in the South African War, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and at the time of the 1911 census was a petty officer stoker aboard HMS Nubian. He married Sophia JACKSON in 1907 in the Wandsworth district of London. In the 1911 census Sophia is at home with their two children: Edward Daniel (born 1908) and Robert (1910).

Edward’s father Daniel CONDRON (or CONDRAN: this form appears in several records) was born in Maryborough, Queen’s County, Ireland, in about 1850. The modern name of Maryborough is Portlaoise. Daniel married Hannah WILSON in the Wandsworth district in 1880, and raised a family of at least five children. Their children were: Edward (born 1881), Mary (1883), Robert Daniel (1884), Florence (1886) and Hannah Ethel (1887): all were born in Battersea.

Edward CONDRON is memorialized on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

By coincidence, another stoker on the Aboukir who lost his life that day was married to a CONDRON. That man was Stoker James FLYNN, who married Mary CONDRON in 1898 in the West Derby district near Liverpool. As far as I am aware, there is no family link between Edward CONDRON and Mary CONDRON.
For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Lest We Forget

Tyne Cot Cemetery near Passchendaele, West Flanders, Belgium (image credit:
2014 is the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The First World War began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. They called it the Great War, the war to end all wars. The war pitched the Allies (Britain, France and Russia, later joined by the United States and others) against the Central Powers (Germany and Austro-Hungary, later joined by the Ottoman Empire [Turkey] and Bulgaria). Many factors contributed to the start of the war, including: the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s territorial ambitions in the Balkans, leading to its annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908; the arms race between Britain and Germany; the “bellicose utterances and attitude” of the German Kaiser (to quote Liddell Hart); and the various treaties between the big powers that linked them into joining the war. The trigger for war is generally taken to have been the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 during a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 28 July, Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Other major powers mobilized their troops in the subsequent days: Russia on 29 July, Germany on 30 July, France on 2 August. Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August following the German invasion of Belgium.

In all, more than nine million combatants were killed. Britain and Ireland lost nearly 900,000 men, while the loss of combatants from the British Empire as a whole was more than 1.1 million men. Many more were casualties. The names of the campaigns and battles where so many lives were lost – Gallipoli, the Somme, Passchendaele, … – still have a resonance today. In some countries, we remember those who died each year on the anniversary of the Armistice, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and wear red poppies like those that grew in the fields of Flanders where such slaughter occurred.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

– From ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae

In 2014 I shall use this blog to remember those CONDR*Ns who gave their lives in the First World War, devoting one post to each of them in the chronological order in which they died. I have researched carefully and believe this is a complete list of CONDR*Ns (with their service numbers) who were killed in the war:

Arthur CONDRON, Private, 4/8173, died Aug. 1916
Edward CONDRON, Petty Officer Stoker, 295103, died Sep. 1914
Frank CONDRON, Corporal, 4525, died Sep. 1915
Herbert CONDRON, Private, 36779, died Dec. 1917
Hugh CONDRON, Private, 3046, died Aug. 1916
Humphrey N. A. CONDRAN, Private, 3045, died June 1917
John CONDRON, Private, 11362, died Apr. 1915
John CONDRON, Private, 9249, died June 1915
Lawrence CONDREN, Private, 3015, died Aug. 1915
Martin CONDRON, Private, 7401, died Apr. 1915
Michael CONDRON, Rifleman, 3956, died Dec. 1917
Michael CONDRON, Corporal, 26919, died Apr. 1918
Patrick CONDRON, Private, A/7579, died July 1916
Thomas CONDRON, Private, 24941, died Apr. 1917
Thomas CONDRON, Private, 32396, died Feb. 1920
Thomas Arthur CONDRON, Serjeant, 15901, died Feb. 1918
Thomas Denis CONDRON, Private, 7045, died Aug. 1918

All these are listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) among those who died in the First World War, with one error that Thomas CONDRON (died 1917) is listed there as “J. CONDRON”. Following the CWGC, I have included Thomas CONDRON who died in 1920, even though his death occurred after the end of the war.

If I have erroneously omitted anyone from the above list then I sincerely apologise and ask readers of this blog to let me know the name and details of the deceased (my contact details are below). Also I would greatly appreciate receiving photographs of any of the above men who died in the war.

Of course, many other CONDR*Ns served in the First World War, and numerous of them were casualties of the war. I would welcome receiving information about them. If I receive enough contributions I will write a future blog post about those who served without sacrificing their lives.

Please contact me by leaving a comment below, or by emailing me at CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

– From ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon