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Remembered Today:

Rom Hyde

Airship station, Ballyquirke, Killeagh, County Cork, Ireland

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Rom Hyde

I will try and attach a photocopy of a photo of my Grandfather, Harry Leach, originally from Oldham, sitting as a chauffeur in a Darracq Landaulette in Emmett place in Cork. He worked at the time as a mechanic with motor dealers, Johnson and Perrott. The photo was taken in April 1912. He was taking the Odell family from London on a tour of Ireland. The Odell's arrived in Cork from Southampton, via Cherburg on the Titanic. They were 5 days into their tour when the heard of the sinking of the Titanic, so they aborted their tour and returned the car to J&P in Cork and went back to London.

I'm trying to see if I can trace what happened the car next. J&P can offer no assistance. I found a reference to an Auction at the Cinema Hall in Castlemartyr, near Killeagh in East Cork. The auction was held on the 12 November 1919 and one of the items listed was a Darracq Landaulette. I since found that the contents of the auction came from the unfinished Airship station at Ballyquirke, Killeagh.

Remember this was 1919 and "the war to end all wars" was over. The Darracq Landaulette was not a normal run of the mill set of wheels and could have been the property of the Air force, most likely or a senior officer. If it is the same car, reg, PI-102, it may have ended it's days as a hen house somewhere or it may have been purchased by a collector. PI, was the First Cork registration identification and was put in place in 1903. Records was lost when the city and county merged in 1994.

I'm doing a book on my family history, from both sides and including interesting stories. This one is class, but it has no end. Can anyone , perhaps, have any records of the contents or perhaps on who purchased the car, assuming that it's the same vehicle or indeed who was the senior officer. Incidentally, no Irish labour was used on the construction of the site and as it was after the rising in 1916, most people serving with the British forces were leaving the country.

 

Rom Hyde, Cork City.

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Alan Bentley

I have some details on the airship station, I live a few short ks. away.A couple of years ago I took pictures of the site as it is today.1918306148_Killeaghwater.JPG.8eaa72c8ee9116b2ead1fae9c29845e5.JPG448330122_Killeagh3.JPG.dbe895f536060adc526c04701c7bac60.JPG

I will have a local search to find the details of this auction

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Rom Hyde

Thanks for coming back to me Alan. I do much appreciate the gesture. The auction was conducted by Marshs and I've been on to a friend who is with Marshs and also a veteran car enthusiast. He said that they have no catalogs on any of those auctions as they were doing them every day as the British began to head back to the old Blighty.

I may be clutching at straws but I really want to get to the end of the Darracq story.

Many thanks Alan.

 

Rom

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Airshipped

Hi Rom, Alan,

I did a rummage around my files but couldn't find anything on that particular model of car.

 

If it's of any interest, most of the airfields, kite balloon bases and airship shed construction work entailed a mix of locally-recruited labour and centrally-allocated materials. Here's a bizarre example of 12 wheelbarrows being shipped from Cardiff to Berehaven. (Images from TNA files). 

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With regard to vehicles there'd appear to have been great reluctance for civilian contractors to be seen to cooperate with the hiring out of vehicles. Here's an example of a complaint from the Irish Recruting Council.

NATS_1_40_023.jpg.e3d3d04e650a188470eaf44e0a751384.jpgNATS_1_40_024.jpg.84afdf095fb1f6c07ffe8321f5b6e4d3.jpg

 

I recall in another example that a decision was made to not proceed with the lease of an Austin from a local dealer. In that regard it's possible that there was quite an ebb and flow of officers' personal vehicles and official military ones via the locally-sourced and imported routes.

 

Bear in mind that there were local drivers hired, e.g. the WRAF had scores of local women employed in that role, but the shipment of equipment from Britain to Ireland appears to be quite erratic. The large-scale demobilisation of men and disposal of material could also have seen cars being sold and then re-sold within Ireland.

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Rom Hyde

That's very interesting Alan and the one can see the annoyance of the writer of that letter.

Given that the British were so good at keeping records it must be possible to get more information on the Top brass at the Ballyquirke Airship Station.

 From what you posted, even wheelbarrows were recorded. We know that a Darracq Landaulette belonging to the base was being sold off at auction. There must be records in some file of it's purchase.

Where should I look. This was a big deal, building such a station to track U-Boats off the south coast. From the limited amount of available material that I've seen, the rail line between Cork and Youghal was pivotal in it's location as was the flat terrain. The base was about 350 acres and it was leased. After independence an argument developed between the Irish and the British as to who should continue to pay the lease. Paddy ended up getting stuck with that one.

 

Rom

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Alan Bentley

Something that I cannot understand is why I have been unable to find contemporary pictures of this airship station. I have searched newspapers, the records at Kew and RNAS records with no success.

I have a copy of a Parliamentary discussion, and the idea of this station seems to have come from dear old Churchill.

My personal interest is that at this time in the War my father was flying as an engineer with the RAF/RNAS in airships over the East coast of England.

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Alan Bentley

203799373_Newkilleaghmap001.jpg.6e18b295bce54095a0d693021018a40f.jpg

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Alan Bentley

The two airships sheds were partially finished and the bases remain, covered in scrub and trees. Other buildings completed were housing for 18 officers and 297 men, the power/ gas producing sheds, offices stores,  a canteen , and the water tower..

The explosive building and the tower are the best preserved. The railway tracks are still visible in places.

Work stopped on the 20th of August 1919.

"The War Cabinet,having deliberated in private decided that - The construction of housing accommodation for two airships at Killeagh should be approved" Initalled A.B.l. - 2 Whitehall Gardens S.W. August 27 1918

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Rom Hyde

All fascinating Alan, but it doesn't move my story along. there must be records somewhere of personnel involved in Ballyquirke. The war cabinet was making decisions with regards to this station so it was important. Your father was privileged to be part of the birth of the era of flying.

I would love to meet up with you some day if you are on for that.

Rom 

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