The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

John Craig Carlisle

CARLISLE, John Craig

John Craig Carlisle was born on the 16th of January 1895 at Derryvalley, Ballybay, Co Monaghan to Samuel Carlisle and Margaret Gillespie, the eldest of their four children and the only son. Samuel was a Farmer and the family lived at Sunnybank, while his father, also John Craig, farmed at the adjoining property, Derryvalley House. All were very involved in their local Presbyterian community and, according to the 1901 Ulster Street Directory, Samuel was also Sub-Manager of the local branch of the Belfast Bank.

According to the Northern Bank War Memorial blog John Craig Carlisle joined the Northern Bank at its headquarters in Belfast in October 1910, when he was just fifteen years old. He was transferred to Dromore in Co Down in 1911, where he is found as a Boarder in the census of that year. Later that year he was back in Belfast and was then sent to their Dublin office in Grafton Street in 1913, before returning to Belfast in 1915.

During his time in Dublin he met Anna (Nano) Ferguson, daughter of a Sanitary Engineer / Plumber from Scotland, who was living in Brighton Road, Rathgar. The Ferguson family were members of the Christ Church Presbyterian community in Rathgar, and it is probable that it was through this community that they met. They were married in Christ Church on Saturday the 5th of October 1918, her parents being the witnesses.

In the meantime John Carlisle had enlisted in the army in November 1915, according to the Northern Bank blog initially into the Royal Irish Rifles and then the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. He was subsequently a Second Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps, and served in France.

John Craig Carlisle and his new bride travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October. In a report in the Irish Independent on the 14th, headed “Honeymooner’s Ordeal, Gallant Rescue of the Bride”, their terrifying experience was recounted in detail. Having both found a place in the very overcrowded third lifeboat to be launched, they saw the first two being swamped and smashed. Their own boat was almost submerged because of the number of people on board. Eventually a navy vessel arrived to their rescue, but in the rush to get on board, the lifeboat overturned and many were thrown into the water, including John and Anna Carlisle. However her large fur coat helped to keep her afloat and a “plucky member of the rescue vessel’s crew” jumped on to the upturned lifeboat and managed to haul her in. John Carlisle was also rescued but was injured by floating wreckage and was subsequently taken to the Castle Hospital.

They presumably stayed in Dublin to recover, though John Carlisle may have had to return to his unit. Following demobilisation he resigned from the Northern Bank and they moved to England where he worked as an Accountant with the Air Ministry. Two children were born, Desmond in 1920 and Anna in 1921, when they were living in the Edmonton district of Middlesex. In the 1939 Register John Carlisle gave his occupation as Bank Manager. They died in Hove, Brighton, John in 1966 and Anna in 1969.



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