A chance discovery unveils grandad’s WW1 past

After the success of our World War One family history roadshows in Germany last year, we're now set to visit at least five more countries in 2012.

Come and join us at:

National Library of Ireland 21 March
France Bevk Public Library 28 March
Sønderborg Castle 24 April

Wednesday, 21 March 1000 - 1900
National Library of Ireland
Kildare Street
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 603 02 00

Wednesday, 28 March
France Bevk Public Library
Nova Gorica

Tuesday, 19 April 2012,
Military Museum of the Slovenian Armed Forces /Vojaški muzej

Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Celje Public Library / Osrednja knjižnica Celje

Tuesday, 24 April 1000 - 1800
Sønderborg Castle
Sønderbro 1
6400 Sønderborg
Tel: +45 3373 3396

A chance discovery unveils grandad’s WW1 past

An apprentice merchant seaman whose ship transported goods between the UK and Ireland found himself moving logistical supplies to Northern France during World War One.

Daniel Cantwell, from Waterford, was just 18 when the conflict started and his ship SS Batanga was requisitioned to support the war effort.

His grandson, John Cantwell, a telephone technician from Dublin, only discovered Daniel’s involvement in the 1914-1918 war when he uncovered a wooden box containing a British War Medal for his service.

“I was going through my parents’ things after my mother died when I found his medal, ribbons, photos and letters from the Admiralty,” said John, 53, who brought these items to the National Library of Ireland, Dublin, to be digitised.

“At the time there were lots of small steam ship companies working around Ireland bringing goods across the Irish Sea and that was his job. I suspect his boat was requisitioned by the Admiralty to support the war effort.

“All I have is the remnants, the memories of a time that he spent at war, but I don’t know what he did which is really sad. Everyone has a history and it’s an awful pity that that history isn’t passed on.

“It was an unfortunate time in Ireland with independence and the country trying to get rid of the shackles of being part of the Empire and people not being encouraged to talk about it.

“You hear a lot about the troops involved in the war, but I didn’t realise how important the merchant navy was in WW1; that there was a medal for them and they were recognised for their service. I hope that by bringing my objects in today I will find out more about my grandad.”

John has since discovered that his father’s ship operated between Africa and Liverpool after the war and even delivered an antelope for Liverpool Zoo. The ship was sold in 1934 and moved to Italy where he was decommissioned two years later.

By Jackie Storer 

No comments: