10 October 2018

Cork First World War Hero Remembered

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is marking the end of the First World War Centenary with 120 personal stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the last months of the war. One remarkable story is that of Josephine Carr, from Cork who died on 10 October 1918. The CWGC commemorates a staggering 120,000 men and women who died between 8 August and 11 November 1918


To mark the end of the First World War Centenary, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has launched its “Road to Peace” project.  The project tells 120 personal stories of casualties who died during the final 100 days of the First World War, from 8 August to 11 November.

The stories have been compiled by the CWGC’s team of historians and includes the remarkable accCork ount of Clerk Josephine Carr, the first service woman of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS or Wrens) to die on active service.

The WRNS was the women's branch of the Royal Navy. Formed in 1917, it was disbanded in 1919, and then revived in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War. It remained active until the WRNS were integrated into the Royal Navy in 1993. Wrens worked in many roles including cooks, clerks, wireless telegraphists, radar plotters, weapons analysts, range assessors, electricians and air mechanics.

Born in Cork Ireland, Josephine was the daughter of Samuel and Kathleen Carr who lived at 4 Bethesda Road. She enlisted in the WRNS on 17 September 1917 and worked as a shorthand typist.

On 10 October 1918 Josephine and two fellow Wrens boarded the SS Leinster in Dublin Bay, a mail-boat travelling to Holyhead.  Shortly before 10am, without warning, a torpedo whistled past Leinster’s bow. Just seconds later a second torpedo hit the port side. Attempting to turn, the ship was hit again and within 13 minutes the Leinster had sunk. Lifeboats were launched, and SOS messages sent but survivors struggled in the rough seas.

Over 500 of the 700 passengers and crew lost their lives in the sinking, among them was Josephine Carr. She was just 19 years old. Josephine’s body was never recovered. Her name is inscribed, alongside more than 45,000 other servicemen and women, on the CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial.

The Road to Peace Project aims to illustrate the global nature of sacrifice of the First World War. From famous casualties like war poet Wilfred Owen, through to relatively unknown individuals; from those dying in battle to those who died of Spanish Flu; each story has been carefully chosen to shine a light on the human stories on the costly Road to Peace.

CWGC Historian, Max Dutton, explained: “Behind every one of our headstones or names on a memorial to the missing, is a human story just waiting to be told. Our 100 days “Road to Peace” campaign will remind people of the human cost of the Great War, the sheer diversity of those who took part and the global nature of that sacrifice and remembrance today. We hope Josephine’s story will inspire people to find out more about her and her fellow Wrens commemorated by the CWGC and visit their graves and memorials.”

From 8 August – the 100th anniversary of the Allied victory at the Battle of Amiens – the “Road to Peace” campaign will conclude on 11 November with the stories of 11 people who died on the very last day of the First World War, even as the guns fell silent. The “100 Days” is a term applied to the final period of the First World War, during which the Allies launched a series of offensives on the Western Front that ultimately led to peace. Not actually 100 calendar days, the term is a reference to the final period of the Napoleonic Wars.The Road to Peace stories will be shared across the CWGC’s digital channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A story will appear every day – with a more in-depth feature appearing weekly.

For more information, images, spokespeople or more personal stories please contact:

Emily McGhie on 07742667504 or email: media@cwgc.org

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