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Site Last Updated October 2016

Ships of the United States Navy in Cork Ireland during World War One
(For fleet list click here)

(Caldwell Class, 1917)

USS Manley in Wartime Livery
Picture Source USNHC

The United States destroyer, USS Manley arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland in December, 1917. Queenstown was the centre for anti-submarine forces, on the Western Approaches, under the command of Admiral Lewis Bayley, Commander in Chief , Coast of Ireland. The Manley soon commenced operations

Initially there was uncertainty as to the most effective use of  destroyers. At first they were given patrol areas which they would scout, singly or in pairs. Any stray incoming merchantmen seen, were to be escorted to near their destinations. This was a most ineffective use of the force, as the chances of coming across, and destroying a lone submarine in the vastness of the Western Approaches was virtually nil.

By Summer 1917, under the urging of commanders such as Admiral Sims, Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, the convoy system was initiated. Groups of merchantmen were escorted through the war zone by flanking destroyer screens. This had the dual effect of reducing the amount of targets for German u-boats, and allowing destroyers and sloops to attack the harassing submarines.  The priorities of the destroyers were to:

Destroy Submarines.

Protect and escort Merchantmen.

Save the crews and passengers of torpedoed ships.

Anti-submarine patrols did continue also for the duration of the war, especially in the Irish Sea and close to the coast of France, where u-boats would try to sink merchantmen as the convoys dispersed.  In 1918, any destroyer in the Irish Sea, which was not actively convoying, came under the orders of The Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla, under the command of Captain Gordon Campbell VC based in Holyhead, Wales.  US destroyers  were also used to patrol the west coast of Ireland to hunt suspected gun-running ships, for Irish Republicans.

The destroyers , initially, were ill-equipped to fight submerged submarines. When they arrived in Europe they were armed with guns and torpedoes. The only undersea weapons supplied were single hand-launched 50lb depth charges which were particularly ineffective. It was the later fitting of dual depth charge racks on the sterns of the ships, Thornycroft depth charge throwers, and Y shaped charge throwers that turned them into a dangerous force. These were capable of dropping and firing a continuous patterned barrage  of 200lb, charges around a submarine's suspected position. Most of the retro-fitting of these armaments was done at Cammel Laird in Birkenhead, England.

On March 4th, 1918, Convoy HD 26, sailed from Dakar, West Africa, for the British Isles. The convoy consisted of 16 merchant ships, escorted by HMS Motagua (Captain L.L.Dundas RN), an Armed Merchant Cruiser.  By the time the coast of England was near, the convoy had reduced to 10 ships plus the Motagua.

On the morning of  the 19th of March, a mixed convoy escort of United States destroyers and British sloops approached the convoy. This escort consisted of USS Beale, USS Patterson,USS Terry,  USS Manley, HMS Tamarisk, and HMS Bluebell.

The order was given to change course towards the Scillies, but before this could be complied with, the Manley (Commander Robert L.Berry USN) approached the Motagua.  

She approached this vessel on the starboard side with the intention of throwing a heaving line to pass despatches. The Captain of the Motagua felt that the Manley was too close and signalled the Manley to gain distance. The Manley turned to starboard, but her stern connected with the stern of the Motagua.

One of the depth charges, held in a Thornycroft thrower on Manley was dislodged and exploded. This caused devastating damage to both ships, with the addition of a petrol fire on the Manley, caused by the piercing of gasoline drums on board. Further depth charges also exploded on the Manley, causing the after end of the ship to be totally destroyed.

The ships stopped and the convoy passed them.  The aft guns on both ships were blown overboard. The Manley was completely unmanageable, but the Motagua was able to make way with difficulty, having lost her steering gear.

USS Manley pictured shortly after explosion

The stern of USS Manley, seen in Haulbowline Dockyard, Cork

The sloop HMS Tamarisk made repeated efforts to tow Manley, but it was the tugs Cartmel and Blazer, that borught her to Queenstown on the 20th.  The Motagua, flanked by HMS Bluebell. HMS Polyanthus joined escort until relieved by HMS Oriole. HMS Bluebell proceeded to Plymouth with wounded of USS Manley. Motagua made Plymouth the same day.

As was the custom, separate courts of enquiry were held , a Royal Navy one at Devonport and a US Navy one  in Queenstown. In both the blame was laid at the Commander of USS Manley.

Casualties from USS Manley are brought ashore at Queenstown (Cobh) in Cork. Railway station in background

On the 18th of April 1918, a Court Martial was held on board USS Melville, in Queenstown. The finding of the court was  that Commander Berry was found guilty of ‘Culpable Inefficiency in the Performance of Duty’.

Five members of the court, however recommended clemency on the grounds that small collisions of the nature of the one between the Motagua and Manley, were commonplace at this time. It was the cataclysm of the exploding depth charges, that turned an incident into a tragedy.

The court concurred, and Commander Berry was released from arrest and restored to duty.

Unidentified USS Manley victim, on board USS Camden, bound for Philadelphia.

Thirty three men were killed on USS Manley and  30 killed  on the Motagua.

Lost on USS Manley

Brewer, Edward, Elias.   GM2c  USN  
Burke, Richard,     WT  USN
Cohen, Louis,    BM1c  USN
Corcoran, Timothy, Francis  Sea  USN
Dreja, Nicholas, M.   MM2c  USN
Edds, William, W.   F2c  USN
Fleming, Allen, Jr.   Sea  USN
Hall, Cecil    Sea  USN
Hartman, George, Clyde   E1c  USN
Hartman, Lester, Orin.   F1c  USN
Herdman, Albert, Van Nulton.  Cox  USN
Holmes, John Charles.   CM1c  USN
Ishum, Elmer, Clarke   F2c  USN
Johnson, Albert, L.   Oil  USNRF
Jones, Julius,Robert.   F2c  USN
Klahre, Charles, Herbert   MM1c  USN
Kurdt, Martin, Charles   CMM  USN
Lobmeyer, Henry Frederick.  MM2c  USN
Lowder, John, David,Jr.   F1c  USN
Magoni, Charles   WT  USN
Malewitz, Joseph, W.   F2c  USN
Mann, Claude.     Oil  USN
McGowan, Michael, Francis,   Bsmith1c USN
Miller, William,Harrison.  Bmkr  USN
Mitchell, Eugene,Davis.   F1c  USN
O’Donnell, John, Joseph.  Sea2c  USN
Ross, Albert, A.    ---  USNRF
Rozanski, Martin.   Sea  USN
Shaw, Lamorn.    F1c  USN
Sullivan, Edward, Vincent.  Csmith1c USN
Ward, Charlie.    F1c  USN
Watson, Ralph, Carelton.  Eng  USN
Wood, William, Henry.   GM3c  USN


Cagle, Charley, W.   F2c  USN
Cardin, John, Leo.   F1c  USNRF
Cecil, Albert, Wallace   F1c  USNRF
Christie, Ralph, Horton   Y1c  USN
Dechenne, Clarence, Fred  F2c  USN
Dwight, Charles, Dudley,  Sea  FNR
Gallman, Richard, E.   Sea2c  USN
Gumm, John, Frank.   F1c  USN
Hanson, Frederick.   Cox  USN
Holzhauer, George, J.   WT  USN
Johnston, William, Adren.  SC4c  USN
Landwher,Edward, Chester.  Lds.E.(R) USN
Lawson, Fred, R.   Eng1c  USN
Mercer, John,D.    F2c  USN
Morse, Kirk, W.    CGM  USN
Nelson, Earl, P.    E3c(R)  USNRF
Peters, Edward, Henry   Sea  FNR
Pierce, Charles    Eng2c  USN
Russell, Carl, C.    Sea  USN
Russell, Edward,F.   Sea2c  USN
Sinock, William,    SC3c  USN
Diggs, Isaac,    Matt1c  USN

Lost on HMS Motagua

Lee Wm, J.  Gunner  RN
Wood Charles, S.  Acting Lieut RNR
E.Beaney, Ernest  Private  RMLI
Brown Francis S.   Private  RMLI
Carver Ed J.   Private  RMLI
Powell Albert   Private  RMLI
Wykes G. V.  Private  RMLI
Oram  Bertie   Private  RMLI
Levett  Percy E.   Private  RMLI
Wyatt  Albert W.   Private  RMLI
Rowland   Harold C. Sub Lieut RNVR
Harris  Albert   Armed Crew RN
Hands  George   Ord Seaman RNVR
McMillan   John  Private RMLI

Pearson Richard, R.  PO, RN.

Mercantile Marine Ratings

Logan  Robert   Fireman
McMenamin  John  Greaser
Kerr  Thomas   Greaser
Raidy  James  Greaser
Turley   Thomas  Fireman
Gorman George   Fireman
Nolan  Edward   Trimmer
Mc Cracken  John J.  Trimmer
Rowland  Harold C.  Sub-Lieutenant RNR
Hands  George   Ord Sea RNVR
Wilkin  Clive  Ord Sea RNVR
Wells Ernest   Ord Sea RNVR
Jennings  Frederick   Ord Sea RNVR
Pollock  Robert S.  Greaser MMR


Richard Rogers  W/Tel    RNR
Arthur Swinglehurst W/Tel   RNR

Charles Hills  PO   CG
Alfred Purkis  Carpenters mate Pens
Stephen A.Davis PO   CG
John H. Slater  PO   Pens
Donald MacKenzie Ldg sea   RFR
Henry Podesta  AB   RFR
John Stallard  AB   RFR
Thomas Budd  AB   RFR
Frederick Newland AB   RNFR
Smith Dean  Ord Sea   RNVR
Frank Carter  Private   RFR, RMLI
Albert J.Field  Bugler,    RMLI
Alfred Monney  Corporal  RMLI
Frederick J. Honour Colr Sergt,  RMLI

Ernest Bliss  Chief Carpenter
Samuel  Watkins Fireman
William Mansfield Dyman’s Mate
Robert J. Pollock Fireman
Thomas Gallagher Fireman
George Ross  Fireman
Samuel Chalmers Fireman
William Mills  Fireman
Willaim R. McNae Fireman
Patrick Coughlin Trimmer
J.H.Longworth  Fireman
George V.Hunter Trimmer
E. Edwards  Assistant Steward
Alfred W.Edwards Assistant Steward

Two views of the devastation of the stern of  USS Manley, photographed in Haulbowline Dockyard, Cork

Commanding Officer, Commander R.L Berry

The US Naval History and Heritage Website has a comprehensive history of this ship, which can be found at

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Site created 24th September 2002