P Heenan
Able Seaman
British Merchant Navy
Lost at sea April 4, 1917
Tower Hill Memorial, London

Who was Able Seaman P Heenan? I wish I had an answer to that question but all my attempts to identify this man who gave his life for his country, have drawn a blank.

All I know is based on the Commonwealth Graves Commission records and those at The National Archives. They document only his initial and his surname and that he was on the SS Gower Coast.

The ship which weighed 804 tons, had been built by the Dundee Shipbuilders Company in 1899 for the Powell Bacon & Hough Lines Ltd.  Loaded with coal she left the Tyne on 31 March 1917 bound for Treport in France.  She was last seen in Boulogne Roads in the Irish Sea on April 4 and was presumed to have sunk , probably after striking a mine. She had a crew of 15 on board.

The body of the ship’s Captain James Clements was recovered from the sea at Le Crotoy and buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension in France.

Of P Heenan there was no trace. The only mention of his name is on the memorial at Tower Hill in London.

The Fourth Register of Seamen, which was started in 1913 is of no assistance since the entries for 1913-1917 have been destroyed. There are no crew lists of the SS Gower. Without these it will be nigh on impossible to identify this man.

He truly is lost

But not forgotten.