Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
clive_hughes

New Book: Holyhead To Bir Hakkim and Back - HMS Tara

Recommended Posts

clive_hughes

I recently bought a copy of a brand-new book by Geraint S. Griffith, From Holyhead To Bir Hakkim (and back). The full story of HMS Tara. (ISBN 978-1-84494-103-2) It has been privately published by the author (November 2015) as a substantial 329-page paperback and (so I'm told), limited to 200 copies. I think it deserves wider publicity, hence this review.

Formerly the London & North-Western Railway Company's steamer SS Hibernia, the vessel was one of four requisitioned at Holyhead on the outbreak of war. After being armed and renamed HMS Tara she undertook patrol duties in the North Channel, many of her original crew being retained as MFA seamen or given RNR commissions. Some naval ratings were also added as gunners or crew replacements. In October 1915 she headed to Egypt where the Senussi tribes were acting under Turkish influence against the Anglo-Egyptian forces in the Western Desert. Tara was sunk by a torpedo from U-35 on 5 November 1915, and the survivors put ashore in Libya as prisoners of the Senussi. They were joined by some survivors of the Indian Government Transport Moorina. There followed nineteen weeks of captivity in desert locations, with the men enduring near-starvation conditions before they were rescued by an RNAS armoured car column on 17 March 1916.

The book deals comprehensively with the career of the vessel before and during the war; it also brings together for the first time the testimony of published accounts by the Captain Gwatkin-Williams and others, as well as unpublished letters, diaries, and photos. It sets the events fully in the context of the operations against the Senussi, and deals with the aftermath as the crew's survivors were nursed back to health and returned to the UK.

There are biographies of all the crew members (and the prisoners from Moorina); lists of other known crew who served aboard Tara prior to the final voyage; a bibliography and index. It is in my opinion well-produced, well-researched, well-illustrated, and includes maps and diagrams. Above all, it's a good read with only an occasional typo to be found. It should be of interest to maritime historians, especially Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary buffs; as well as those who want to know more about the Western Desert campaign; or who like myself have a WW1 Anglesey/Welsh specialism. Worth the £19.99 cover price (or £18.49 incl. postage direct from the author).

Though it is currently on sale at various local outlets on Anglesey and in Caernarfon, the main bookstores and online sellers won't have it. So unless you're over that way it might be better to contact the author directly by PM – he's otherwise known as Forum member Rogin. I have contacted him re. this review and the issue of sales, and he has suggested I also add his email geraint.griffiths(at)tiscali.co.uk and his address 151 London Road, Holyhead, Anglesey LL65 2NY.

Clive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maureene

There is an article about HMS Tara on the National Railway Museum website.

Prisoners of the Red Desert: Wartime Adventures of LNWR railwaymen

http://blog.nrm.org.uk/prisoners-of-the-red-desert

Perhaps the author of the new book Geraint Griffith could contact the National Railway Museum and have details of his new book added to the article.

Cheers

Maureen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
clive_hughes

Thanks Maureen - I sent him a link to this thread so he should spot it.

Clive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbriscoe

Nearly finished reading "HMS TARA", is there no memorial anywhere to those who died in the sinking of the ship or subsequently in captivity?

 

What happened to the gift given to the Duke of Westminster, is it with the family or a military museum?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24

The crew of the Hibernia/Tara are remembered on the Holyhead War Memorial.

 

Cheers

Stuart

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbriscoe

Yes, I read that but wondered if there was a specific memorial plaque or something.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24

Just this one, as far as I know.

 

Cheers
Stuart

Tara plaque.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbriscoe

Thanks, I photographed the Holyhead War Memorial for the IWM WMR whilst down there but not reached those pictures yet. 

 

It was just that I though something specific might have been erected, even if only a brass plaque in the local church / station / harbour.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Carmania
On ‎14‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 10:40, mbriscoe said:

What happened to the gift given to the Duke of Westminster, is it with the family or a military museum?

 

 

It is with the family at Eaton Hall. It was loaned to, and on display at, the Holyhead maritime Museum for I think two years, 2015 and 2016.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...