LETTER: Information sought on West Cork crewman on HMS Pheasant

June 29th, 2019 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – I am researching the lives of the men who were lost with the sinking of HMS Pheasant on March 1st, 1917 off Orkney. The research is for a documentary film to be made in Orkney.

One man who lost his life that day was Able Seaman John Hamilton, who was born in Skibbereen, Cork, on July 1st, 1896 although he may have been two years younger and only been 18 when he died – born in 1898.

I am hoping your readers might know of descendants of John Hamilton and help us to remember him.

The documentary will look at the lives of the men and their families. It will also cover the group in Orkney who wish to erect a memorial to the men on the island of Hoy, Orkney , overlooking the site where the ship was sunk when it hit German-laid mines. The group also wishes to open up a Book of Remembrance.

We will be having an exhibition of what we have found out at the end of November 2019 at the Northlight Gallery Stromness, which will include the photographs we have of the men. As yet we do not have one of John Hamilton. 

All lives were lost when HMS Pheasant exploded and sank. Only one body was recovered that of Reginald Cotter and his grave is located in the Lyness Naval Cemetery. There is no other memorial to these men. Their loss of life has been completely forgotten.

John Hamilton’s next of kin is given as his father, James Hamilton of Droumleap, Leap, County Cork.

John was signed up to the Royal Navy on January 6th, 1914 and joined the new M Class Destroyer HMS Pheasant on November 19th, 1916. His service number was J29355.

If any of your readers can be of help, it will be greatly appreciated. We are a group of volunteers who want to tell the story of the men so that people see them, not just as numbers or as a war statistic, but as people who lost their lives in the cold seas of Scapa Flow Orkney.

One may email: [email protected] or call 0044 785 172 5012.


Fiona Grahame,

Roselea Cottage,

Lyking Road,



KW16 3HY.


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