The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Francis James Elms

ELMS, Francis James

Francis James Elms was born in Camberwell, London in 1894 to James Elms and Lydia Bertha Symonds. James was a ‘Confectioner Shopkeeper’, later a ‘Newsagent’ and Lydia had been a School Teacher before her marriage. Francis was the eldest, with two brothers born in 1900 and 1905, and another child who died in infancy. From at least 1900 the family lived at Shepperton Road in Islington. In the 1911 census Francis Elms gave his occupation as Clerk, National Telephone Company. This company was taken over by the GPO the following year, and in 1918 Francis was described as a ‘Post Office Clerk’.

The limited military records available do not show when he enlisted but it appears that he initially was a Private in the 15th Hussars (Number 16329). He then transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and was wounded on the 7th of January 1918, when he was a Lance Corporal. In October he was recorded as being in the 9th Squadron of the M.G.C. but it is not known why he was in Ireland. At that stage the family were living at Lewisham Road.

Francis Elms did not survive the sinking of RMS Leinster but his body was recovered near Kirkcudbright in south west Scotland. The Dumfries and Galloway Standard reported on the 16th of November that his body was identified by markings on his uniform and his father and brother came to Kirkcudbright from London.

His remains were interred with military honours, “the War Office meeting all expenses”. A firing party from Kirkcudbright paid the last honours at the grave. The Glasgow Herald on the 19th reported that the body of Francis Elms and that of another Leinster victim, Private Kenny of the Leinster Regiment, had been found near Kirkcudbright and given military funerals.

Francis Elms was laid to rest in Kirkandrews churchyard where a headstone was erected “By Public Subscription” and was refurbished in 2002.


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