The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)
Drowned at Sea
10th October 1918
Although not Irish, Frank died in one of the worst maritime tragedies of the Great War, when the RMS Leinster on which Frank was a military passenger was sunk by torpedoes in the Irish Sea, 16 miles east of Dublin. It was shortly before 10am on the morning of 10th October 1918, on its outbound journey of 100km [68 miles] from Kingstown [now Dun Laoghaire], Dublin, to Holyhead, Anglesey, North Wales.
Frank was born in Dulwich London on October 1890. He landed in France with the Royal Fusiliers on 4th November 1914.
Frank was plagued with ill health during his time overseas and by June 1916 he was passed fit for clerical duties and was posted to the East London Recruiting Area.
In October 1918 Captain Winterbourn was aboard the RMS Leinster (City of Dublin Steam Packet Company), probably returning from recruiting duties. On the morning of the 10th October 1918, she left Kingstown, headed for Holyhead with 680 passengers and crew.
Only a few hours out she was torpedoed by a German Submarine and sank with the loss of 480 lives. Two torpedoes struck the ship,the first exploding near the bow, the second penetrated her engine room. The weather was bad with a very heavy sea, nevertheless an attempt was made to take the ship in tow but she foundered.
Officially 501 people died in the sinking, making it both the greatest ever loss of life in the Irish and the highest ever casualty rate on an Irish owned ship. Research to date has revealed the names of 529 casualties.
In the days that followed bodies were recovered from the sea. Funerals took place in many parts of Ireland. Some bodies were brought to Britain, Canada and the United States for burial. One hundred and forty four military casualties were buried in Grangegorman
Captain Winterbourn’s body was either recovered or washed ashore, as he is buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery
Please see below a short film from RTE’s ‘Out of the Blue’ series 1998 regarding the sinking of the RMS Leinster