Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
ff
P/SSX 14757   Able Seaman William Darragh
Save as PDF
Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 17/12/2019
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: HMS Grenville, Royal Navy (British Navy)
Date Of Birth: 29/01/1914
Died: 19/01/1940 (Died at Sea)
Age: 25
Summary      
Able Seaman William Darragh was the son of the late Thomas Darragh & Sarah Jane Darragh, Killymoon Street, Cookstown, and husband of Catherine Darragh, Cookstown. William Darragh served his apprenticeship to the joinery. He joined the Navy in 1934. After periods of service in other ships he was transferred to HMS Grenville, a flotilla leader, and served on her prior to the outbreak of War. HMS Grenville sunk after striking a mine in the North Sea on 19th January 1940 in which William Darragh was killed.
Able Seaman William Darragh
Further Information
William Darragh was the youngest son of Thomas and Sarah Jane Darragh. Thomas Darragh and Sarah Jane Scullion were married on 17th October 1908 in the district of Cookstown.
The 1911 census lists Thomas’ father and mother living at house 9 in Chapel Street, Cookstown. His father was a labourer.
William Darragh was born on 29th January 1914 in Cookstown.
Family: Thomas Darragh, Sarah Jane Darragh, Joseph Darragh (born 11th November 1909), Thomas Darragh (born 23rd July 1911), William Darragh (born 29th January 1914).
World War I
William Darragh’s father, Private Thomas Darragh, served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Connaught Rangers during the First World War and was killed in action in France in September 1916.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 28th October 1916: (father of William Darragh)
Mrs Darragh, Chapel Street, Cookstown, has received official intimation that her husband. Private T Darragh, 6th Connaught Rangers, is wounded and missing since 3rd September. Private Darragh, who joined the army about two years ago, was previously wounded last May. No particulars as to his fate are forthcoming. He wrote home very regularly up to a few weeks ago, since when nothing has been heard of him. His wife, who is naturally very anxious, has three little sons.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 2nd December 1916: Private Thomas Darragh (father of William Darragh)
Private Thomas Darragh, Connaught Rangers, who was killed in action in France on or about the 3rd September. He had been reported missing, but official intimation of his death on that date was received a few days ago. He joined the Army soon after the outbreak of the war and was in the fighting line for many months. He was wounded last May. Previous to joining he worked in Cookstown as a builder’s labourer. He was well known in local football circles, having paid for both Cookstown and Derryloran Football Clubs. His wife and three little children reside in Chapel Street, Cookstown, and much sympathy is felt for them in their sad bereavement.
William Darragh served his apprenticeship to the joinery trade with Joseph Crilly and Sons, who were building contractors in Cookstown.
William Darragh served his apprenticeship to the joinery trade with Joseph Crilly and Sons, who were building contractors in Cookstown. He was highly regarded and popular among his friends and acquaintances.
William Darragh was the husband of Catherine Darragh.
William joined the Navy in 1934. The first ship he joined was the HMS ‘Iron Duke’.
Able Seaman William Darragh had the honour to be one of the naval ratings to be chosen to represent the Fleet at the funeral of the late Admiral Earl Jellicoe in 1935.
World War II
HMS ‘Iron Duke’ was slightly damaged by a bomb at Scapa Flow in October 1939.
Able Seaman Darragh later served on HMS Royal Oak, which was torpedoed at Scapa Flow, the same month.
After periods of service in other ships he was transferred to HMS Grenville, a flotilla leader, and served on her in the Mediterranean prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
HMS Grenville
HMS Grenville (H03) was a British Royal Navy Ship named after Vice Admiral Sir Richard Grenville. HMS Grenville was a G class destroyer laid down by the Yarrow Shipbuilding Company Limited, at Scotstoun in Glasgow on 29th September 1934, launched on 15th August 1935 and completed on 1st July 1936.
When the ship returned to home waters in November 1939 Seaman Darragh came home on short leave. This was to be the last time he saw his native town. His period of active service in the Navy would have been completed in another year.
On the outbreak of war in September 1939, Grenville was deployed in the Mediterranean. On 22 October, Grenville and her sisters Griffin, Grenade and Gipsy were transferred to the Western Approaches Command and arrived at Plymouth on 2 November. Grenville and Grenade collided during the night of 7/8 November and Grenville's No. 3 boiler room was flooded. She was under repair at HM Dockyard, Devonport until 1 December.
On 19 January 1940, HMS Grenville was operating out of Harwich with six other ships of the Flotilla were returning from an operation off the Dutch coast when in calm weather, she was mined at 1250 hrs in the Thames estuary, 23 nautical miles east of the Kentish Knock light vessel in position 51º39'N, 02º17'E.
HMS Grenville quickly capsized. Her bow was the last part of the ship to disappear. 118 of the crew survived. Seventy five officers and crew lost their life in the sinking.
Able Seaman William Darragh was lost at sea on 19th January 1940. He was ten days shy of his 26th birthday. He had often spoke highly of Captain Creasy, the ship’s commander who was among the survivors.
At the time of his death, William was survived by his mother, Mrs Lagan, Orritor Street, Cookstown, and his brother Joseph Darragh, a joiner, who during the Second World War was engaged on government work in Scotland.
He was survived by another brother, Thomas Darragh who at the time was a painter and lived in Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 27th January 1940: Cookstown Sailor’s Death – Went down with His Ship
Able Seaman William Darragh of Church Street, Cookstown, who went down with his ship H.M.S. Grenville, a destroyer of 1485 tons, when she was sunk by a mine or torpedo on Thursday of last week, is the first man from the town or district to, lose his life in action in the current war.
Official intimation from the Admiralty that he was among the 73 members of the crew missing and presumed dead following the loss of the ship, was received by his wife and relatives on Saturday night and Sunday morning,
Seaman Darragh, who was rated as first-class gunner, would have been 26 years of age on Monday next, and the pathetic feature of the occurrence is that his wife, who lives at Church Street with her eighteen month old son, was expecting him home on leave on his birthday next week.
As recently as Thursday 18th January, actually the day on which HMS Grenville was lost, she had a letter from him stating that he was due home on leave on 29th. But fate willed otherwise.
He joined the navy in 1934, and the first ship he joined was the Iron Duke, which it will be recalled, was slightly damaged by a bomb at Scapa Flow in the same month. He had the honour to be one of the naval ratings chosen to represent the Fleet at the funeral of the late Admiral Earl Jellicoe in 1935.
After periods of service in other ships he was transferred to HMS Grenville, a flotilla leader, and served on her in the Mediterranean prior to the outbreak of war. Grenville was in Spanish waters during the Spanish Civil War, and while lying in Barcelona harbour, one of her motor pinnaces, which had gone to collect Consular mail, was fired upon.
When the ship returned to home waters in November last, Seaman Darragh came home on short leave. That was the last he saw of his native town. His period of active service in the Navy would have been completed in another year.
The destroyer Grenville had been engaged in convoy patrol duty, and it has been stated that she responsible for the sinking of at least one U-boat.
Young Darragh was no doubt popular among his shipmates. He spoke very highly of Captain Creasy, the ship’s commander, who is among the survivors.
His father, Thomas Darragh, served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Connaught Rangers during the Great War, and was killed in action in France in 1916. His mother, who married again, is Mrs Lagan of Orritor Street, Cookstown.
One of his two brothers, Joseph Darragh, a joiner, is engaged in government work in Scotland, and the other, Thomas Darragh, is a painter in Cookstown.
Post War
Able Seaman William Darragh has no known grave and is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Panel 38 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Able Seaman Darragh is commemorated locally on Cookstown Cenotaph.
The CWGC record Able Seaman William Darragh as the son of Thomas and Sarah Jane Darragh. He is alos recorded as the husband of Catherine Darragh of Cookstown, County Tyrone.
Read more
Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Killymoon Street Cookstown South Lived at Killymoon Street 54.634889 -6.743328
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1911 Census lists Darragh family 1911 census lists Thomas father and mother at house 9 in Chapel Street, Cookstown
2 Private Thomas Darragh Father of William Darragh
3 Uboat.Net - HMS Grenville HMS Grenville ship information, including photo and wreck site.
4 Wikipedia - HMS Grenville Details of HMS Grenville
5 wrecksite.eu Brief details of William Darragh
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2020