Leckey, George McClelland

Leckey, George McClelland (George)

Second Officer

SS Kenbane Head (Belfast), Merchant Navy

Died as the result of enemy action on Tuesday 5 November 1940 (aged 27)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 60)

Holywood and District War Memorial

Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church (as George Leckie MN)

Brother of Sister Muriel Emily Leckey (No. 208615)


George McClelland Leckey was born on 8 June 1913 in Marine Parade, Holywood, and he was a son of Henry (Harry) and Mary Ann Leckey (nee McClelland) who was born on 22 September 1877 in the townland of Cloven Eden, Co. Armagh.  Harry Leckey and Mary Ann McClelland were married on 20 June 1906 in Loughgall Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Luke’s), Co. Armagh.  Henry Leckey, a grocer from Holywood was a son of James Leckey, a carpenter.  Mary Ann McClelland from Cloven Eden was a daughter of George McClelland, a farmer.

Harry and Mary Ann Leckey (nee McClelland) had at least six children:

James (born 1 July 1907 in Cloven Eden)

Eileen Elizabeth (born 7 June 1909)

Muriel Emily (born 26 June 1911 in Marine Parade, Holywood)

George McClelland (born 8 June 1913 in Marine Parade, Holywood)

Henry (born 7 April 1918 at 53 Prospect Road, Bangor)

William Edward (born 31 July 1919)

In 1910 the Leckey family moved from County Armagh to 2 Church Avenue, Holywood and the first four children were baptised in First Holywood Presbyterian Church.  The last two children were baptised in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor.

George was the first of the two Leckey siblings to die as the result of enemy action during the Second World War.

George McClelland Leckey was the husband of Susan M. Leckey of Breezemount, Park Avenue, Holywood.

During the Second World War George McClelland Leckey served with the Merchant Navy as Second Officer aboard the SS Kenbane Head.  This ship was built in 1919 by Workman, Clark and Company and was owned by G. Heyn and Sons Ltd., who operated the Ulster Steamship Company (Head Line).

In November 1940, the SS Kenbane Head was sailing from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Great Britain in Convoy HX-84 with more than 30 other merchant vessels escorted by the armed merchant ship HMS Jervis Bay.  The convoy was intercepted by the German battle-cruiser Admiral Scheer which had been commissioned in November 1934.  Hopelessly outgunned, HMS Jervis Bay engaged the enemy and was sunk in the process.  However, this gave the convoy time to scatter and the Admiral Scheer was only able to sink six other ships, five from the convoy (Beaverford, Fresno City, Kenbane Head, Maidan, Trewellard) and one sailing independently (Mopan).  The SS Kenbane Head sank off the coast of Greenland with the loss of 23 men.  The tanker San Demetrio was set on fire by the Admiral Scheer and later salvaged.  Other crew members with local connections who lost their lives aboard the SS Kenbane Head were James McNeilly Belshaw from Ballywalter, Reginald John Primmer from Portaferry and David John Pritchard from Ballyhalbert.  On 9 April 1945, the Admiral Scheer was capsized in Kiel harbour, Germany by RAF bombs dropped during a raid.

Second Officer George McClelland Leckey died on 5 November 1940 and he is commemorated on Holywood and District War Memorial and in Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church (as George Leckie MN).