On 11th July 1941, tragic circumstances unfolded in Carlingford Lough, Rostrevor, Co. Down. A total of 6 soldiers from 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment died during the training incident.
The exercise was for 16 officers and men to swim 30 or 40 yards from boat to shore while carrying their service rifles. Such exercises would prepare them for crossing rivers such as the Rhine in 1945. As well as rifles, they carried water bottles and wore light overalls, shirt, tin helmets, and Army boots. The water was still and between 10-12 feet deep.
The 6 soldiers of 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment drowned in Carlingford Lough were:
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Regiment||Information|
|Mort||Raymond||Corporal||3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment 3910702||From Wryunwem, Swansea. Killed aged 23 years old.|
|Morris||William Alden||Private||3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment 4080347||From Splott, Cardiff. Killed aged 31 years old.|
|Poole||Leo Patrick||Private||3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment 4079026||From Bristol. Killed aged 37 years old.|
|Cannon||Francis Joseph||Lance Corporal||3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment 4080398||From Pontypridd, Glamorgan. Killed aged 21 years old.|
|Jones||Haydon Thomas||Private||3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment 4080020||From Treboarth, Swansea. Killed aged 21 years old.|
|Lamb||Clive||Private||3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment 3909965||From Pontypool, Monmouthshire. Killed aged 22 years old.|
Daniel F Tinnelly had hired his boat to the Army for the exercise. He claimed it “hung about” for about an hour before a General arrived and training began. It was approximately 1600hrs when the General’s car pulled up at Woodside Bar, Shore Road, Rostrevor, Co. Down. The soldiers on the boat had been waiting in the cold since just after 1400hrs. Interviewed many years later by the Sunday World newspaper, Tinnelly stated:
The soldiers were stiff, cramped. Someone should have realised they were too cramped to go into the water.
The soldiers went overboard, clinging to a lifeline around the boat until they received the command to go. Along with the General, a small crowd of people watched from the beach. Some members of the regiment dived in to rescue their comrades. They brought 2 unconscious men ashore and revived them on the beach.
In the same interview with the Sunday World newspaper an elderly man who was a young boy at the time added:
The Colonel, we called him “Wingey”, was watching from the quay with the Brigadier. I knew he was a Catholic and I rushed onto the beach to ask him if I should go for a priest. But he shouted, “get that effing civilian off the beach”.
Rescue attempts were underway for several hours following the failed exercise. Officers and fellow soldiers searched for bodies in the water recovering the bodies of the 4 Privates and Lance Corporal Cannon. They carried out artificial respiration in a nearby tea shop with no success. Dr. McLoughlin and the Battalion’s Chief Medical Officer oversaw the treatment for several hours. The unit recovered the body of Corporal Mort later that night.
An inquest took place on Saturday 12th July 1941 in Rostrevor, Co. Down. The hearing recorded a verdict of death due to asphyxia from drowning. Officers made every effort to save the men.
Witnesses from the time suggest the bodies lay in the medical hall in full uniform for almost 2 weeks. There is no record of the incident in official regimental records although local newspapers reported on events at the time.