The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

John Arthur Meigan

MEIGAN, John Arthur

John Arthur Meigan was born about 1891 in Port Melbourne to Patrick Meigan and Rosanna Conway, both of whom had been born in Co Wicklow, Ireland. Patrick and Rosanna had married in Sydney in 1884 and the family returned to that city the year after John was born. John was the fifth of eight children, six boys and two girls. He was working as a Carpenter, and the family was then living in Mallet Street, Camperdown, when he enlisted in the Australian Army in February 1915. His two eldest brothers, Michael and Robert, also enlisted as well as his cousin Richard. Robert died in 1916 in France and Michael was wounded. The four featured in the Sydney Evening News of 28 October 1916 as “The Fighting Meigans of Camperdown”.

John left Sydney in June 1915, but was in hospital with an injured eye the following November. He was back in France by March 1916, but was wounded again in the thigh in November and sent to England. Recovering, he was in reserve until September 1917 when he was sent back to France. He finally went on leave to the UK at the end of September 1918, and it was while returning from that leave that he was travelling on RMS Leinster on 10 October.

John Arthur MeiganWhen the ship was torpedoed, John Meigan got to a raft and was rescued after being in the water for about an hour. In his report to authorities later he said that there were fourteen others clinging to the raft and all were washed off by a large wave, and not all regained its relative safety. Meigan was later brought to the Morgue in King George V Hospital in Dublin to help identify Australian casualties. He was able to positively identify Private Michael Smith, who was personally known to him, also identifying his gold ring. It was May 1919 before John Meigan returned to Sydney. He was in Fontainbleu Street in the Sans Souci suburb of south Sydney from the early 1920s where he continued his trade as a carpenter. From 1930 (the earliest available) the Electoral Rolls show that he had called his house ‘Leinster’ and that his parents and some of his siblings were also living in Fontainbleu Street. These Rolls also show that John had married a Margaret, and the later ones show three children, Mary Kathleen, Terence Patrick and Thomas Duffy. Neither the marriage nor these births can be found in the records. Margaret died in May 1967 and John died exactly a year later. They are buried in the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

  Photos: courtesy Margery Feltham



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