The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Hutchinson Ingham Cone

CONE, Hutchinson Ingham (Hutch)

Hutch Cone was born in Brooklyn, New York on the 26th of April 1871 to Daniel Newman Cone and Annette Ingham. The family returned to Columbia, Florida, where Cone was from, shortly after Hutch’s birth and four more children were born there, one dying at two years. Hutch Cone graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and became a successful Naval Engineer and Officer. He married Martha Selden in 1900 and they had two children, a daughter in 1901 and a son in 1912.

He first served as Assistant Engineer during the Spanish-American War in 1898, commanded the Second Torpedo Flotilla in 1907, winning a commendation from President Roosevelt and was appointed Superintendent of the Panama Canal in 1915. In 1917 he was given command of the U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service. On the 10th of October 1918 he was returning from an inspection of naval aviation bases in Ireland when he travelled on RMS Leinster.  He survived the sinking and wrote a very complete report of events.

After the first torpedo struck the ship Cone went to the bridge and spoke to Captain Birch and offered his services. Birch asked him to help with lowering the lifeboats, which he did, as well as releasing some life rafts. When the second torpedo hit Cone’s legs were broken in the explosion but he managed to roll into the sea and cling on to a life raft. A young U.S. mariner named Russell and a young civilian were on the raft and attempted to keep him cheerful. Finally a Royal Navy motor launch picked them up, though it took the bravery of a young seaman on the launch, Alexander Young, who jumped into the sea to help get the injured Cone into the launch.

Hutch Cone was taken to the Red Cross Dublin Castle Hospital from where he wrote his report on the 20th of October. He was later made an honorary commander of the Order of the British Empire for his lifesaving actions during the sinking. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 1922 with the rank of Rear Admiral, the same year as the death of his wife. He remarried in 1930 to Julia Mattis and died in 1941. Both he and his wife are buried in Arlington Cemetery.

The young man who had risked his life to help Hutch Cone out of the water was awarded the bronze medal and certificate of the Royal Humane Society for his gallantry in October 1919. Leading Seaman Alexander Young, who had come from Australia to join the navy at the beginning of the war, was then employed as a rigger at the Swan Hunter Neptune Engine Works on the river Tyne.



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