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Remembered Today:

SS Hirano Maru, sunk 1918 - passenger details?


headgardener
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This is the inscription on the back of one of my photos:

post-55685-0-59047700-1422645464_thumb.j

The only Japanese liner that I can find that was sunk shortly before the Armistice was the Hirano Maru (torpedoed on 4 October 1918), in which case 'the channel' refers to St. George's Channel.

Here's the man himself:

post-55685-0-37487200-1422646075_thumb.j

He looks like a colonial type in a plantation of some kind. I can't find any reference to anyone called Holmes who died around this date. I assume that he was a British civilian, and that British civilian passengers on foreign ships are not recorded on CWGC.

What I'm trying to establish is:

  • was the 'japanese liner' actually the Hirano Maru?
  • where was the ship sailing from, and where was it going to?
  • are there any sources for researching this man? (passenger lists, and the like)

Many thanks for any help or advice.....!

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There is a Mr J HOLMES, British, in the list of deceased, lost when the Hirano Maru sank on 4th October 1918

Thank you both, Horatio and CGM......! I'd love to find out a bit more about him if possible.

CGM - where did that detail come from? That's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. It appears to confirm that the initial of his first name was 'J' (it's hard to tell from the handwritten annotation on the card).

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I found it on Findmypast, under Deaths at Sea. If you have access you can see it HERE

The information is all that is in the register - two really empty pages with just a list of names. The Captain is identified.

There is an occasional age or town. And nationality.

CGM

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In "died at sea" notices in the Lancashire Evening Post he is referred to as James Holmes aged 47 - dearly beloved husband of Amelia Holmes

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He is shown on the passenger list as travelling 2nd class to Capetown - a builder. The vessel is shown as leaving from Birkenhead/Liverpool going to Japan.

Intended disembarkation ports apart from Capetown were listed as Durban, Singapore,Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe and Yokohama

Looks to have arrived in London from Capetown on 31/12/1916 - also showing as a builder

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I found it on Findmypast, under Deaths at Sea. If you have access you can see it HERE

The information is all that is in the register - two really empty pages with just a list of names. The Captain is identified.

There is an occasional age or town. And nationality.

Many thanks for that, CGM. I don't have FMP, so I very much appreciate you checking on my behalf.

In "died at sea" notices in the Lancashire Evening Post he is referred to as James Holmes aged 47 - dearly beloved husband of Amelia Holmes

He is shown on the passenger list as travelling 2nd class to Capetown - a builder. The vessel is shown as leaving from Birkenhead/Liverpool going to Japan.

Intended disembarkation ports apart from Capetown were listed as Durban, Singapore,Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe and Yokohama

Looks to have arrived in London from Capetown on 31/12/1916 - also showing as a builder

Esskay - that's excellent! Thanks for these details. The Lancashire address on the back of the card fits with the Lancashire Evening News cutting, and with the departure/arrival at Birkenhead. Interesting that he was a builder, judging by the photo I was assuming that he ran a plantation in the far east. Perhaps he was on a hunting expedition instead.

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On the basis of the information that Esskay just posted, I've found a very obscure reference to him online - a small-ad in the 'British Bee Journal & Bee-Keepers Advisor' dated 9 May 1918, to be precise. Evidently he was a bee-keeper, as well as maybe being interested in big-game. Seems that he was selling some hives:

"TWO Stocks Italian Bees, 10 frames, Claridge's
direct, W.B.C. pattern Hive, home-made, new
condition, £5 10s.; one Stock Simmins' Italian, 10
frames, and Hive as above, £5 10s; one Stock
Hybrids, Queen direct from Simmins, and Hive as
above, £4 10s; all packed fxee on rail.— JAMES
HOLMES, Sunnyside, Priory Lane, Penwortham,
near Preston
."

As an aside, it seems that the 'British Bee Journal & Bee-Keepers Advisor' published a regular 'Roll of Honour' - I checked from October-December 1918 but unfortunately James Holmes wasn't on it. The journal claims that:

"Although bee-keeping is considered a
minor pursuit, we venture to say that it
has provided more fighting men than the
usual average of any industry."

Well I never knew that....!

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  • 4 years later...
Quote

The Hirano-Maru was a Japanese merchant ship operating in the Japan-Europe trade, having been built in 1908. On October 4, 1918, while en route from Liverpool to Yokohama, she was torpedoed in the Irish Sea during a strong hale by U-91.

 
She sank quickly ... some say five minutes, others say seven. The seas were high and no lifeboats could be gotten away, all being smashed against the sides of the ship. There are varying reports of the number of people lost, but it appears that about 292 of the 320 people aboard perished. 
 
More people could probably have been saved, but initial rescue efforts by the escorting USS Sterrett had to be temporarily halted so the escort could go chase away the sub, which was attempting to torpedo it during rescue operations.

http://civiliansandwarsatsea.blogspot.com/2014/05/hirano-maru-4-october-1918.html

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