The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Frank Brereton Hurndall

HURNDALL, Frank Brereton, Major

Frank Brereton Hurndall was born 25 June 1883 in Birkenhead to Watkin Frank Hurndall and Ruth Brereton. The Hurndall family had an established Drapery and Mercers business in Swansea. Frank was educated at Charterhouse School and enlisted in the 20th Hussars in 1901. He was commissioned in 1906 and promoted to captain in 1911 and was adjutant at the outbreak of war. In September 1915 he temporarily commanded the regiment when the C.O. was wounded, and he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916.

The 20th Hussars were based in Ireland from 1908 to 1911, and Frank Hurndall was an accomplished Polo player. This was undoubtedly how he met his wife Madeline (or Madine) Waldron of Melitta Lodge, Kildare, as her father, Brigadier-General Francis Waldron, was very involved in the Irish racing world. They married in London in October 1911 and their first child, John Wilfred Waldron Hurndall was born at Melitta Lodge on 12 January 1913.

In 1924 Frank Hurndall was in New York on the British international polo team, and when interviewed by the local press, described his experiences six years earlier on RMS Leinster.

He said he was travelling with his son (named Peter in the reports), his wife having stayed in Kildare because of influenza. After the torpedo struck the ship he managed to get himself and his son on to a raft, but lost consciousness and floated off. He was later picked up by a destroyer and brought to St Michael’s Hospital in Kingstown. There he was declared dead by a doctor, but Sister Bernadette, Sister Superior in the hospital, realized there was still some warmth around his heart and after three hours of rubbing alcohol he rewarded her by opening his eyes. He credited her with saving his life. Meanwhile his son, John Wilfred, had also been rescued and was taken to a nursing home in Dublin where an aunt found him three days later and took him home.

Frank and Madeline Hurndall had another son in 1923, Francis Seymour Hurndall. Meanwhile Frank had continued in the army, serving in Egypt, Gallipoli, France and Belgium during the war. He was promoted to Colonel, commanding the 2nd Cavalry Brigade. In the 1930s he and Madeleine lived at Coleby Hall in Lincolnshire, a seventeenth century mansion. Their son, John Wilfred, fought in WW2 in the R.A.F. winning a Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he emigrated with his wife to Kenya to be followed by Frank and Madeline. Both returned to England quite regularly, eventually dying in Dorset, Madeline in 1966 and Frank in 1968.



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