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Remembered Today:


Brenda elen

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My mother's cousin, John Rowlands, was one of two villagers from Trefor, Caernarfon, to die when the S.S.Cymrian sank on August 25th, 1917. I believe she was a merchant navy ship, but not sure. Can anyone tell me anything about her or the circumstances of the sinking?

Thank you.

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Brenda elen

CYMRIAN was sunk by enemy submarine torpedo on the 25.8.1917, 13 miles South East by South of Tuskar Rock which is on the SE coast of Ireland near Wexford. 10 crew killed. The ship was a cargo ship of 1014 tons gross and defensively armed.

See this certificate from Commonwealth War Graves Commn:



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S'mai Brenda,

only a few details to hand -

CYMRIAN (London), 1,014grt, defensively-armed, 25 August 1917, 13 miles SE by S from Tuskar Rock (off the southeast coast of County Wexford, Ireland), torpedoed without warning and sunk by submarine, 10 lives lost

The names of those killed (if their bodies weren't recovered) will be on the Tower Hill Memorial, London, which commemorates those of the Merchant Marine who were lost due to enemy action in both World Wars. CWGC register for the Memorial states that John Rowlands was aged 19, the son of John and Margaret Rowlands (nee Roberts) of Gwydr Mawr, Trwr, Caernarfonshire. I suspect "Trwr" is a corruption of Trefor!

I research Anglesey casualties, and another of those killed in this incident was First Mate Henry William Hughes, born at Dinas, Llaneugrad and living at Brynhyfryd, Llanfair-Mathafarn-Eithaf. He was aged 48, and is commemorated as above, and on the war memorial at Benllech. He also appears on the Llanfair-M-E panel of the North Wales Heroes Memorial Arch in Bangor.

John Rowlands probably does, too; but as the Arch is arranged in order of Civil Parish, Trefor isn't listed. If you know which parish it fell into, you can look for him yourself on this link:


I have a photo of the Tower Hill name panel for the CYMRIAN which I will try to reproduce here. If you would like a larger version, PM me.



EDIT- Sotonmate beat me to it!

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A bit more information from Henry W.Hughes' entry on the Welsh mariners website:


C/120493/Cymerian/1917. (LCR Ms:18569/18). Dead, lost in the SS "Cymerian", torpedoed by the enemy on 25 August 1917 off Tuskar. (Copy of cert. sent to his widow).

[Drowned were HWH of Post Office, Trevor, Llanaelhaiarn; John J.(sic) Rowlands, Gwydr Mawr, Trevor; William Roberts, Caerhyd and Henry Lloyd, Caerlon, Nevin. Caernarvon & Denbigh Herald August 31, 1917].

[Meml. Inscriptions at Sant Aelhaern, Llanaelhaearn: Capt H. W. Hughes, Post Office, Trevor. Drowned at sea in SS "Cymerian" through enemy action, Aug 25, 1917 aged 48. Also his wife Mary Hughes died April 15, 1923 aged 54. Also their daughter Jane Mona Hughes died June 28, 1910 aged 22].

[MI Sant Pedr, Llanbedrgoch, AGY: Capt Thomas Hughes, Bryn Hyfryd, Tynygongl, marwodd 5 Ebrill, 1899 yn 64. Hefyd Capt H.W. Hughes, mab yr uchod, gollodd ei fywyd gan ffrwydriad or German submarine 25 Awst, 1917 yn 49].

Henry Hughes according to the other details on the site had qualified as an "Only Captain" in 1895 but was clearly not acting as Master on his final voyage, but serving as First Mate. Masters, if casualties, are specified as such on the Tower Hill panels.



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Some additional details:

The syeamer was built in 1905 by A. Vuijk, Capelle a/d Yssel as Kingwood for Shipping Agency, Ltd., (G. S. Coram), London but resold almost immediately to Golden Cross Line, Ltd. (O. & W. Williams), London and renamed Cymrian.

Cymrian was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine UC 75 under the command of Oblt.z.S. Johannes Lohs. Lohs was a highly competent and aggressive U-boat commander who was awarded the Pour Le Mérite in April 1918.

Best wishes,


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Here are the names

COUCH, John Husband Mess Steward MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

GREY, Robert Fireman MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

HUGHES, Henry William 1st Mate MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

LLOYD, Edwin Sailor MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

ROBERTS, John 1st Engineer MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

ROWLANDS, John Sailor MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

MOPPETT, Charles, Able Seaman, RNVR, PZ 1327, Cymrian, steamship, 25 August 1917, submarine action, ship lost

SLATTER, Christopher W, Act/Leading Seaman, RNVR, London Z 4963, Cymrian, steamship, 25 August 1917, submarine action, ship lost

CAMPBELL, E. W. Fireman MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

ROBERTS, William Ordinary Seaman MM SS Cymrian (London) drowned 25.8.17

The CYMRIAN was transporting general cargo from Newport, Mon., to Dublin and was steaming at 8-knots when the torpedo detonated on the port sides, amidships at 10.20 and she sank amost at once. When the survivors were clearof the area, they were stopped and questioned by Oblt.z.S. Lohs; later the men were rescued by the Russian steamer ODESSA and landed at Larne.

Cheers Ron

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Fantastic and diolch yn fawr to all of you!

I've never thought of following this line before, but have been researching my (paternal) Grandfather during the war. Lots of answers and help, but not as quick as this. Just goes to show how much easier it is to get answers when the original facts are more specific.

He was the only son, by the way - three sisters and three girl cousins otherwise. Two of his sisters were still living at Gwydir Mawr until fairly recently and I spent a lot of time with all three of them at one stage. The eldest had a son whom she called John Rowland Jones. He came to Trefor from Liverpool partly as an evacuee and also for health reasons during the Second World War, then refused to go back. Eventually his mother also came back to Trefor. All are now dead unfortunately, but I will pass this information on to John's widow and his two children.

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Looking at info given, it struck me as being strange that of all the crew 10 died and two were from the same village. No mystery as it turned out : Henry Hughes was John Rowlands' uncle, and John would most probably have survived if he hadn't gone back to look for him.

Yet another story that I didn't know - until I asked...


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