The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Hilda Thursby Dudgeon

DUDGEON, Hilda Thursby née Denroche

Hilda Thursby Denroche was born in Cork on the 14th of January 1889 to Charles Hutchings Denroche and Elizabeth Sophia Pentland, the eldest of their four children. Charles was a Bank Official in the Provincial Bank but by 1895 he had retrained as a Solicitor and the family moved to Dublin. Earlier the Cork Seedsman William Baylor Hartland had named a Narcissus ‘Hilda Denroche’.

In July 1913 Hilda married Arthur Dudgeon, a Civil Engineer born in Rutland Square, Dublin whose family firm were Engineers, Surveyors and Valuators with offices in Dublin and London. Arthur grew up in Watford and qualified there as an Engineer, but gave Rutland Square as his address on the marriage certificate. A daughter, Hilda Betty, was born in 1916. They lived in Watford and Arthur joined the Royal Hilda Thursby DudgeonGarrison Artillery.

Hilda Dudgeon was returning to England, presumably after visiting her family who were then living in Bray, when she travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. She survived the sinking and described her experiences in a letter that she wrote to her husband (who she called Peter) on the 11th, and which were also reported on in the newspapers. She had been lying in her berth when the first torpedo struck and making her way to the deck she found a lifeboat that was about to be launched. She appears to have more than pulled her weight along with some of the men aboard in pushing away from the ship and staying afloat. They also took two men and a woman from a life raft. Eventually the naval destroyer HMS Lively found them and with difficulty managed to get them aboard, though it was another two hours before they reached Kingstown.

Disaster struck again the following month when Arthur, then serving with the 4th Field Survey Company with the rank of Lieutenant, contracted pneumonia and died in France. He was buried in Longuenesse Cemetery in St Omer.

Hilda’s mother died in 1924 and her father remarried the following year. In August 1930 she herself married Solicitor Charles James Lane, a relative of the art collector Hugh Lane, and they lived in Cork. She died in 1986 at the age of ninety-seven, described by a relative as “a formidable woman”.



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