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Map ReferenceSG61SE
Grid ReferenceSG6670613658
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
Period20th Century

The wreck is reported to lie broken up and collapsed, lying with its keel orientated approximately east-west (reports vary from 045/290 degrees to115/295 degrees).

Event and Historical Information:
The KIRKBY was a steel-hulled steamship built by Ropner and So , Stockton on Tees, in 1891. Technical and configuration specifications are given as 3034gt, 1976nt; 315ft length x 40ft 5in breadth x 20ft 2in depth; 1 deck, 5 bulkheads, passenger deck 33ft, quarterdeck 98ft; screw propulsion powered by 2 boilers linked to triple expansion engine producing 256hp; machinery by Blair & Co Ltd., Stockton. In 1888, Robert Ropner had bought the Stockton yard of Matthew Pearse. Ropner was the son of a Prussian army officer who had stowed away on a Hamburg steamer in 1846 intending to pursue a life in the merchant navy. He changed his mind after the sea crossing and became first a baker and then, eventually, a partner in the ship-owning, coal exporting company of Thomas Appleby. In 1874 Ropner branched out on his own, establishing his own fleet of 5 vessels to work in the Baltic trade. Renamed Ropner and Son, the Pearse yard built four new steamers for the family fleet in 1889, and a further 18 steamers over the next 6 years, the KIRKBY being amongst them. At time of loss on 17 August 1915, the KIRKBY was still part of the Ropner fleet (Sir R Ropner & Co Ltd) and was carrying coal from Barry to Manchester. The ship was captured by U-38 and torpedoed 20miles west-southwest of Bardsey Island. This wreck, believed to be the KIRKBY, was examined by HMS BEAGLE in November 1980 and again in July 1981.
The KIRKBY and GLENBY (NPRN 274830), both owned by Ropner, were amongst 10 vessels sunk on 17 August by U38. The U-boat had begun its patrol in April in the North Sea, passing north around Scotland to then come south to cruise between southern Ireland and Ushant, France. This patrol accounted for 5 trawlers, 3 sailing vessels and 22 merchant ships. Max Valentiner and U38 go on to be amongst the five most successful commanders and German submarines of the Great War.


Sources include:

Great War at Sea: The QUEEN sunk 17 August 1915, People's Collection Wales
HMSO, 1988, British Vessels Lost at Sea 1914-18 and 1939-45, p.11
Koerver, H J, (ed), 2012, German Submarine Warfare 1914-18 in the eyes of British Intelligence, p.175
Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002
Lloyd's Casualty War Losses Return 1914-18, p.23
Lloyd's Register Casualty Returns, 1 July - 30 September 1915, p.8 (i)
Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1 July 1915 - 30 June 1916, number 596 in K
Mercantile Navy List, 1900, p.196
Mercantile Navy List, 1910, p.281
Mercantile Navy List, 1915, p.322
U-Boat Project: Commemorating the War at Sea
UK Hydrographic Office Wrecks and Obstructions Database. ? Crown Copyright and database rights. Reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office and the UK Hydrographic Office (

Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, June 2019.

This record was enhanced in 2020 with funding from Lloyd's Register Foundation as part of the project ‘Making the Link: Lloyd's Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales’. Visit Lloyd’s Register Foundation Heritage and Education Centre for more resources.