Leinster 1918

  • Digital Collection


Another "Leinster" cover is of interest because it does not carry the salvage hand stamp but is repaired with three white "FOUND OPEN (OR TORN) AND OFFICIALLY SECURED" labels put on in Dublin with very faint date stamp 13 OCT 18 and m/s endorsement in ink (twice) "Recovered from RMS Leinster". Registered London F.S. 15 OCT 18 and Indian pattern arrival FPO No 350 4 JAN 19.

The Maritime Museum at Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown), Eire, from which port Leinster started on her ill-fated voyage, exhibits one of these covers. It is much water-stained and spoiled, but it has the special interest of having been sent by the Curator and at the time was an exhibit of personal interest to him.

The Irish mailboat Leinster was sunk by a submarine on 10th October, 1918 when outward bound from Kingstown for England. She carried 650 passengers and a crew of 70, of whom about 450 were drowned. Two torpedoes were fired, the first struck her near the bow almost cutting it away. She began to settle and an effort was made to tow her back to harbour. A second torpedo was then fired, striking her in the engine room and tearing away the cabins, and she sank in a few minutes. An attempt was made to launch the boats but several of them were upset. Mr. Balfour described the torpedo-ing of the Leinster as "an act of pure barbarism, pure frightfulness, deliberately carried out".

Hesperian, Leinster and Mongolia are the only casualties of the war where the ship's name is shown on the salvaged mail.

Hoggarth & Gwynn report that more covers have come to light recently, but with only 10 to 19 known, they are considered scarce.