Conway, Hugh

Hugh Conway was born in the March quarter of 1883 (Flintshire (Mold) FLNT/28/37) the eldest son of Richard & Annie Conway (nee Shaw), who had married on the 27th August 1879, Richard was of full age  and a Master Mariner, his father was Robert Conway, also a Master Mariner, Annie Shaw, also of  full age and a spinster, her father Hugh Shaw also being a Master Mariner, both from Connah’s Quay.

The 1891 census shows the little family living in Union Street, Connah’s Quay, Head of the household was Richard Conway, 35, a Mariner (Seas) born in Flint, Flintshire, Annie, 32 had been born in Connah’s Quay as had the three children, Catherine, 10, Hugh, 8 and baby Richard, 3 weeks old.

Hugh passed to go to Hawarden Grammar School,  the Admissions Register E/GS/1/10 tells us:- 15  CONWAY, Hugh born 13th January 1883, 4 Albion Terrace, Connah’s Quay, father Sea Captain, Previous school – St. Mark’s ,left July 1897 – Sailor.

By the 1901 census Hugh, now 18 years old and a Cook and Able Seaman, was at sea with his father Richard, 45, who was sadly now a widower, he was Master of the Vessel “Faithful,” a wooden  three  Masted Schooner.   They had been at the Prince of Wales Dock in Swansea on the 23rd March, 1901 as that was when the Schedule  for the census had been delivered, but at Midnight on the 31st March 1901 they were in Guernsey and the Schedule was returned to the Customs Officer – St. Lampoms, Guernsey, on the April 1st 1901.

I don’ t know how Hugh met Sarah Jane Bennett but they were to marry on the 5th October 1909, Hugh was a bachelor, now 26 and a Sailor, his address was 7, Waterloo Street, Connah’s Quay and his father was Richard Conawy, Master mariner, Sarah Jane, 26 and a spinster tells us that her address was 362, High Street, Connah’s Quay, her father, Benjamin Bennett, Master Mariner.   The witnesses were Jonathan Frederick Bennett , Sarah Jane’s youngest brother & Catherine Conway, Hugh’s elder sister.

By the 1911 census  Hugh & Sarah Jane were living far away from Connah’s Quay, at 3, Clarence Place, Docks, Cardiff (6 rooms), they were in the household of Joseph CORNS, his wife Mary Jane, 1 son and 2 daughters were HUGH CONWAY, Boarder, 29, (Married 2 years),  Mariner (Ship’s Officer), born Pen-y-llan, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire.   Sarah Jane CONWAY, Boarder, 28 (1 child born, still living), born Connah’s Quay Flintshire and Annie CONWAY, Daughter of above age 10 months, (no place of birth stated.)

Hugh was to pass his Certificate of Competency as Only Mate for Foreign-going Steamships only in 1906, his Certificate of Competency as First Mate for Foreign-going Steamships in 1908 and his Certificate of Competency as Master for Foreign-going Steamships in 1909.

It seems that Hugh was in WW1 by the article in the newspaper below, telling us he was a Lieutenant in the Navy.

Tom Coppack’s book, “A Lifetime with Ships,” tells us a little about Hugh’s character and also tells a different story of Hugh’s death from the newspaper report that is below too.   Tom tells us that” he was machine-gunned standing in his bridge wing, scurrying out of Rotterdam, and shot in the head.” whilst the newspaper report in the Chronicle dated the 25th October 1941 states “on May 11th May as the ship was steaming homeward through the North Sea, it struck a mine and sank.  The Captain never left the ship and was last seen standing on the bridge.    Six members of the crew were saved.”

This was in the newspaper report of when Hugh’s widow and their 2 children came to Connah’s Quay as they had a new vestry erected in Hugh’s memory at the Presbyterian Chapel in Golftyn – the inscription was “To the glory of God and in memory of Captain Hugh Conway who was lost at sea by enemy action on May 11th 1940.   This memorial  vestry was erected by his wife and children.”

Connah’s Quay Mariners were in the news fighting off German submarines in March 1918 near Littlehampton, taking food and military goods to LeHavre.   Edward John Hughes and Samuel Shaw were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross at Buckingham Palace in 1918, they also received the Lloyds Medal for Bravery.    They were Masters of the Mary Sinclair and the Mary Mandell.    If anyone wants any more information on their exploits, please contact the website.

Our local mariners were mostly doing coasting trade although some did go further afield, and in WW2, 2 Steamers were destroyed by the enemy, one the “S.S. Farfield,” a Steamer was attacked by an Enemy Bomber near Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninuslar, nearly all the crew died in the enemy action, the only body recovered was Frederick Edwards, age 36 years, he is buried in Connah’s Quay Cemetery.   John Hughes also died, age 41 years.  One of the crew survived and was able to tell the story

The other Steamer was the “S.S. Maurita,” with its Master Robert Hutton from Connah’s Quay.    The Ship struck an enemy mine and sank off the North Wales coast in the river Dee near Hilbre Swash.   All hands lost.   Robert was age 37 years he is remembered on Connah’s Quay & Shotton WW2 War Memorial, his family suffered a lot through the 2 wars.    Please click on the links to read their stories.

Hugh Conway was one of these brave men, sailing along the coasts of Britain to keep supplies going.   He was awarded a Medal Card  – 1914 – 1925, which proves that he was in WW1.

Hugh’s Casualty Card gives us more details: –  It gives his address in Scotland as 2, Kendal Ave., Giffnock (Glasgow), Renfrewshire, his birthplace as Connah’s Quay and he was Master of his ship the “S.S. Tringa,” Registered in Liverpool.   This source also gives us the answer to what happened –“Ship sunk Enemy Action, Killed or drowned (having been sunk by enemy action on the 11th May 1940).   Age 57 years.

The website – Ships hit by U-boats on event               

At 14.00 hours on 11 May 1940 the unescorted Tringa (Master Hugh Conway) was hit aft by one torpedo from U-9 and sank immediately one and a half miles from the West Hinder buoy at the mouth of the Scheldt. The master, 15 crew members and the Belgian pilot were lost. Six crew members were picked up by HMS Malcolm (D 19) (Capt T.E. Halsey, RN) and landed at Ramsgate on 13 May. – The Scheldt (/ʃɛlt/, French: Escaut [ɛsko], Walloon: Escô, Dutch: Schelde [ˈsxɛldə]) is a 350-kilometre-long (220 mi)[4] river that flows through in northern France, western Belgium, and the southwestern part of the Netherlands, with its mouth at the North Sea. – The U-9’s fate – Sunk at 1030hrs on 20 August 1944 in the Black Sea at Constanza, in position 44.10N, 28.41E, by bombs during Soviet air raid (VVS VMF).

He is on the ‘UK, Shipping and Seamen WWI and WWII Rolls of Honour, 1914-1945’ and the ‘UK, Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939 -1953,’ see below.

By the time the Commonwealth War Graves Commission completed Hugh’s details, it seems that Sarah Jane was still in Scotland.    I do not know when she died.  Any help would be gratefully received.

I was surprised and saddened that Hugh was not remembered on the Connah’s Quay War Memorial for WW2 Servicemen, so I hope that when another plaque is added to the memorial his name will be added then.

His name was put forward for the Hawarden Grammar School Roll of Honour for WW2 and he was the oldest ex-pupil to lose his life for our freedom, another reason he must be remembered for his sacrifice.

He was obviously loved and missed by his family.



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