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