The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Anthony Jones

JONES, Anthony

Anthony William Jones was born on the 8th of September 1901 in Waterville, Co Kerry to William Jones and Amelia Bennett. William, born in Kerry, was a Telegraphist at the Cable Station in Waterville, and Amelia from Sneem in Co Kerry was a Teacher. Anthony was the third of their six children, all boys except for the youngest.
By 1900 telegraphic communication was well established, with both European and transatlantic underwater cables laid. With commercial success came competition, not least in Kerry. The Waterville station was owned by an American company, the Commercial Cable Co., while from 1911 the Valentia and Ballinskelligs stations were owned by the Western Union Telegraph Co. The outbreak of war in 1914 brought two major changes to these stations. One was the volume of traffic increased enormously, meaning staff numbers increased and long hours of work were required. Secondly, censorship was imposed and censors or ‘Post Office Technical Staff’ were present in the stations, eleven in Valentia and six in Waterville. Each station was surrounded by barbed wire and kept under military guard.

The Irish School of Telegraphy was set up in Cork by Thomas O’Sullivan, who had worked in the Waterville station. The curriculum provided “training for cable as well as wireless telegraphy, and students can qualify for shore, sea or air appointments”, according to the School’s advertising.

In October 1918 Anthony Jones had just finished his initial training in Cork and was on his way to London to take up an appointment with the Commercial Cable Co. He was accompanied by Anthony Baker and Ralph Murray who had also just finished their training in Cork. The fathers of all three worked as Telegraphists in Waterville station. All three young men stayed the night of the 9th in the Grosvenor Hotel in Dublin and took the early boat train to Kingstown on the 10th.

Another group of three Telegraphists was also on board the Leinster. William Heller, Thomas Richards and Wilfred Paul were all from Penzance and were working in the Valentia station. They were destined for a holiday at home in Cornwall. The two groups may have known each other already, and in an affidavit to a probate hearing on Anthony Baker in December 1918, Thomas Richards said that they met up on board the ship. Of the six, only Richards survived the sinking, though the bodies of Anthony Jones and William Heller were recovered.

The body of Anthony Jones was identified on Friday the 18th, one of the last in the morgue, by Catherine Baker, sister of Anthony Baker, who was a nurse in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. His remains were taken to Cork that night where they were brought to St Patrick’s Church by students of the Irish School of Telegraphy. He was interred in St Joseph’s cemetery on Saturday. He is remembered on the Kilmore Quay Memorial in Co. Wexford.


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