Clegg, James

Clegg, James


SS Empire Mica (Middlesborough), Merchant Navy

Died as a result of enemy action on Monday 29 June 1942 (aged 37)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 44)

Donaghadee and District War Memorial

Family grave headstone in Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Graveyard


James Clegg was born on 8 September 1904 in Castle Street, Donaghadee and he was a son of Thomas and Frances Agnes (Fanny) Clegg (nee Purvis) of Union Street, Donaghadee and later 9 Castle Street, Donaghadee.  Thomas Clegg was a seaman and he and Frances Agnes (Fanny) Purvis were married on 25 August 1897 in Donaghadee Methodist Church.  Thomas and Fanny Clegg had at least nine children:

Robert John Purvis (born 20 June 1900 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

Thomas (born 14 December 1902 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

James (born 8 September 1904 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

Philip Delacherois (born 6 July 1905 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

Florence Evelyn (born 15 April 1908 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

John (born 12 November 1910 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

Frances Agnes (born 22 February 1912 in Castle Street, Donaghadee; died of meningitis 2 November 1912)

Francis (born 14 October 1913 in Castle Street, Donaghadee)

Elizabeth (born 24 June 1915 at 18 Castle Street, Donaghadee)

Eight of these children were baptised in Donaghadee Methodist Church.

For a time, Fanny Clegg lived with her unmarried aunt Margaret Purvis.

In April 1911, when the census was taken, Thomas Clegg was in Bootle, Lancashire working aboard the SS Ida.

During the First World War Thomas Clegg served with the Merchant Navy.  He was a son of James Clegg, a seaman from Union Street, Donaghadee, and Elizabeth Clegg (nee Thompson).  They were married on 30 September 1873 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark) and they had at least six children, four of whom were baptised in Donaghadee Methodist Church:

Thomas (born 29 September 1874 in Sandy Row, Donaghadee)

John (born 7 December 1875 in Union Street, Donaghadee)

Eliza Jane (born 8 July 1877 in Union Street, Donaghadee)

Mary Anne (born 5 September 1879 in Union Street, Donaghadee)

Isabella (born 15 August 1888 in Mount Street, Donaghadee)

James (born 27 October 1890 in McConkey’s Court, Donaghadee)

Thomas Clegg died in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast as a result of a malignant stricture of the small intestine and cardiac failure on 9 December 1916 (aged 42) and he was buried in Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Graveyard.  He is commemorated on Donaghadee and District War Memorial and in Donaghadee Methodist Church.

During the Second World War Thomas Clegg’s son, James Clegg, served with the Merchant Navy aboard the SS Empire Mica and he died on 29 June 1942.  The SS Empire Mica was a steam tanker built in 1941 by the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd., Haverton Hill, Middlesborough and owned by the Anglo-American Oil Company Ltd.

On 29 June 1942 the SS Empire Mica was sailing unescorted from Houston, Texas to the United Kingdom via New Orleans, Louisiana with a cargo of 12,000 tons of vaporising oil when she was hit on the port side by two torpedoes fired from the German submarine U-67.  The attack happened at around 8.00 am in the Gulf of Mexico, southwest of Cape St. George, Florida.  The tanker caught fire, exploded and sank.  Two of the launched lifeboats were engulfed by flaming oil on the surface of the water, killing all those who were aboard.  Fireman James Clegg was one of more than thirty men who died that morning.  Around 15 survivors were rescued and landed at Panama City, Panama.

Fireman James Clegg is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London; on Donaghadee and District War Memorial and on the family grave headstone in Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Graveyard.  The inscription reads:

Erected by Thomas Clegg in memory of his daughter:

Frances Agnes Clegg born 22 February 1912 died 2 November 1912.

Also the above named Thomas Clegg died 9 December 1916 aged 42 years.

Also his beloved wife Frances Agnes Clegg died 14 July 1938 aged 63 years.

Also his son John Clegg died 12 May 1939 aged 28 years.

Also his son James lost at sea through enemy action 29 June 1942.