In memory of Louisa Parry

Portrait of Louisa Parry of HolyheadLouisa Parry was born in 1896, one of the nine children of Owen Parry and Catherine Williams. Owen was a stonemason and later a coal porter for the London & North Western Railway, which operated trains and ferries from Holyhead. The family lived at 5 Fair View.

Louise was educated at Park School. Aged 15, she left Holyhead to train as a nurse, moving to Gloucestershire and later Yorkshire. In 1914 she returned to her home town and became a stewardess on ships of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Co. Two of her sisters worked for the company.

On 10 October 1918, she departed from Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) on the passenger ship RMS Leinster, bound for Holyhead. She wasn’t rostered to work on that day but did so in place of one of her sisters.

Less than an hour into the sailing, the ship was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine and began to sink. Louisa and her colleagues helped passengers to prepare to leave the ship. She went below deck to help a woman and child in a cabin. The cabin door shut behind her and couldn’t be opened, despite the efforts of crew members outside, because too much water had poured into the cabin and the ship was at a severe angle.

Louisa drowned, aged 22. Her body was never recovered.

The portrait of Louisa was taken shortly before she died and appears to show an engagement ring. It’s believed that she was engaged to an army officer.

A memorial plaque, given to the family in her honour, is on loan to Holyhead Maritime Museum, where it forms part of the museum’s RMS Leinster display.

With thanks to Barry Hillier and to Simon and Jon McClean (great-nephews of Louisa)

Return to Holyhead war memorial page

Return to Holyhead Maritime Museum page

Return to Women’s History in Wales page

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