Mehigan, William Joseph

Mehigan, William Joseph (William)

Sailor

SS Maritima (London), Merchant Navy

Died as the result of enemy action on Monday 2 November 1942 (aged 48)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 68)

Donaghadee and District War Memorial (as Mehegan W.)

BIOGRAPHY

In some records his surname is spelt Mihegan and in others Mehegan.

It is as Mehegan, W. that Sailor William Joseph Mehigan is commemorated on Donaghadee and District War Memorial.

William Joseph Mehigan was born on 4 July 1894 in Bow Street, Donaghadee and he was a son of James and Ellen Doyle (Helen) Mehigan (nee Quigley).  Records show that James Mehigan, who was born around 1857, worked as an electrical wireman and also served in the Royal Navy.  James and Ellen (Helen) Doyle Quigley were married on 5 May 1892 in Newtownards Roman Catholic Church.  James Mehigan, a naval petty officer from HMS Howe, was a son of Timothy Mehigan, a coastguard.  Ellen Quigley from Donaghadee was a daughter of John Quigley, a diver.

James and Ellen Doyle (Helen) Mehigan (nee Quigley) had at least three children:

William Joseph (born 4 July 1894 in Bow Street, Donaghadee)

Ellen Elizabeth (Helen, born 29 August 1896 in Bow Street, Donaghadee)

Timothy (born at 5.30 am 26 March 1900 at 38 Greenfield Street, Govan, Lanarkshire; died of cerebral convulsions at the same address at 8.15 am on 9 July 1902, aged 2 years and 3 months)

William Joseph Mehigan’s sister Ellen (Helen) was living at 6 Victoria Terrace, Donaghadee when she and John McVeigh of 54 McCleery Street, Belfast were married on 29 April 1919 in Newtownards Roman Catholic Church.  John McVeigh was a soldier.

Successive generations of Mehigan men were seafarers, both Mercantile Marine and Royal Navy.  Some of them served with HM Coastguard and in the 1800s there were Mehigan families living in Cork, Wexford, Donaghadee and Portaferry.

The following Mehigan men were related to William Joseph Mehigan who was killed in the Second World War:

Timothy Mehigan (born 16 July 1826 in Coolmore, Co. Cork), served with HM Navy (No. 30151) and was the father of Timothy Mehigan (born 13 December 1855 in Donaghadee)

Jeremiah and James Mehigan (born in County Cork in the 1830s) also served with HM Navy.  Jeremiah Mehigan (born in the 1860s in County Wexford) served with HM Navy (Coastguard) and was a brother of William Joseph Mehigan’s father James.

William Joseph Mehigan’s uncle, Timothy Mehigan (born 13 December 1855) and Hannah Reilly (in some records spelt Riley) were married on 10 May 1883 in Newtownards Roman Catholic Church.  Hannah Reilly was born in County Cork; her father was a coastguard and the Reilly family moved to Donaghadee where Hannah worked as a dressmaker.  Timothy Mehigan served with HM Navy and he and Hannah had at least three children:

James Francis (born 4 September 1888 in Shore Street, Donaghadee)

Guy Mainwaring (born 25 November 1890 in Shore Street, Donaghadee)

Daniel Riley (born 13 June 1895 in Tara, Portaferry)

In 1911 James Francis Mehigan was a leading signalman aboard HMS Colleen in Queenstown (now Cobh), Co. Cork.  After her husband Timothy died, Hannah Mehigan moved to Downpatrick Street, Crossgar.

Sailor William Joseph Mehigan was a career seaman and there are records outlining his many voyages.  For example, on 5 July 1926 he sailed from Birkenhead to New York via Havana aboard the ship San Leopold.  On 23 January 1929 he sailed from Liverpool aboard the ship Ocean Prince and arrived in New York on 6 February 1929.  On 17 June 1941 he sailed from Belfast aboard the ship Karabagh and arrived in New York on 9 July 1941.  On the ship’s manifest it was noted that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 150 lbs and had no physical marks, peculiarities, or diseases.

In 1942 William Joseph Mehigan was a sailor aboard the SS Maritima.  This was a British Cargo Steamer built in 1912 by Hawthorn, Leslie and Company Ltd., Hebburn-on-Tyne, Newcastle.  Originally named SS Port Lincoln, she was renamed SS Cambrian Baroness in 1927, SS Clan Graham in 1930 and SS Maritima in 1938 for Neill and Pandelis Ltd., London.  At around 8.00 am on 2 November 1942 she was in Convoy SC-107 on route from New York to Glasgow via Sydney, Nova Scotia with a cargo that included explosives when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-522 about 500 miles northeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland.  Fifteen ships in the convoy were sunk by the German submarine wolf-pack Veilchen – the heaviest loss in any trans-Atlantic convoy during the winter of 1942/43.

Sailor William Joseph Mehigan (aged 48) was among more than 30 men who died that morning.  In the Register of Deceased Seamen his last recorded place of abode was 66 Glenalmond Street, Glasgow.

Sailor William Joseph Mehigan is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London and on Donaghadee and District War Memorial (as Mehegan W.).