Articles Hierarchy


John OHalloran

John O’Halloran

O’Halloran entered the navy on 2nd August 1850, when he signed as a Landsman in HMS Trafalgar, a 110 gun 1st rate ship of the line; he gave his place of birth as Ballyclamassy(?), Kerry. The ship’s description book records that this was his ‘first entry’ in the navy and gives his physical description as 5’ 6’’, brown hair, blue eyes and of fresh complexion. Although not given here, a later service record states that he was born in January 1828.

On the 30th November 1850 he was rated as an Ordinary Seaman, and then on the 6th July 1854 Able Seaman. It was while serving on HMS Trafalgar that he went to war in the Crimea.

In August 1854 even before the campaign got underway, cholera, which was to kill more men in the Crimea than enemy action, ravaged the fleet, with Britannia, Trafalgar, Albion and Furious experiencing the highest mortality rates. To give an idea of the scale of this epidemic HMS Britannia was to lose 112 men to the disease in just three days!

On the 17th October 1854 HMS Trafalgar, as part of the combined British, & French fleet, with the paddle ship Retribution lashed to her unengaged side to provide propulsion, took part in the bombardment of the forts protecting the entrance to Sebastopol harbour. This action opened at 13.55 and continued until the recall at 17.30. Despite a fierce exchange of fire between the fleet and the shore-based forts Trafalgar only suffered two casualties, while Fort Constantine was silenced.

For his service during this phase of the conflict O’Halloran was awarded the Crimea medal, together with Turkish Medal.

On returning to England he was paid off at Sheerness and the next day, the 28th April 1855, signed on for service in the Baltic aboard HMS Hawke, under the command of Captain Erasmus Ommanney.

Although Hawke was not directly involved in the bombardment of Sveaborg, it is likely the O’Halloran witnessed the attack by the gunboats attached to the fleet, amongst which was HMS Biter, tender to Hawke.

On August 10th 1855 HMS Hawke and the 8 gun HMS Desperate had a brush with some batteries and gunboats near the mouth of the Dwina; and, on the 14th Hawke, and HMS Conflict landed parties ashore, destroyed several vessels, and repulsed a body of troops near Dome Ness, at the mouth of the Gulf of Riga.

While not as well known as the battles in the Crimea, the naval operations in the Baltic ensured that the Russian capital of St Petersburg was constantly threatened, tying up valuable troops, which could have otherwise been sent to Sebastopol. For his service in Hawke O’Halloran was awarded the Baltic medal.

On his return to England in May 1856, he signed up for service in HMS Waterloo, where he was rated as ‘Captain of the Mast’, a rate equivalent to a Petty Officer in today’s modern navy. It was during his service in Waterloo that O’Halloran signed on for a Continuous Service engagement in the navy, being allocated the CS number of 33,652; prior to 1853 seaman could only sign on for the period of a ship’s commission, after which they were free to move to the merchant navy where the pay was better, and the discipline less harsh, or reengage in the next commissioning Royal Navy ship.

On the 10th August 1857, O’Halloran moved to Ireland and the Coast Guard service, which was effectively the Royal Navy’s reserve of manpower. During the Baltic campaign seaman were in such short supply that the navy had to fall back on this reserve, to the extent that on one ship during Sunday service, when the men removed their caps, an observer commented on the number of baldpates that were on display!

A full record of his naval and CG service is set out below:

NB: I have been unable to find some of the CG stations referred to in Halloran’s service records, and the names are my best effort to read very poor copies of original documents.

30/11/185005/07/1854Ordinary Seaman
06/07/185427/04/1855Able Seaman
Hawke28/04/185520/05/1855Able Seaman
Waterloo20/05/185609/08/1857Capt. of the Mast
Coast Guard10/08/185731/12/1857Boatman (AB)
Ballycotton St.01/01/185821/11/1859Boatman (AB)
Cashen River St.22/11/185931/08/1861Boatman
-01/09/186108/03/1866Com. Boatman
Ballymacaw St.09/03/186631/12/1866Com. Boatman
Royal George01/01/186716/10/1869Com. Boatman
Ballymacaw St.17/10/186924/02/1871Chief Boatman
-25/02/187131/12/1873Com. Boatman
Vanguard CG
Lambay Island (?)01/01/187307/05/1874Com. Boatman
Malahide08/05/187430/09/1875Chief Boatman
Iron Duke
Malahide01/10/187516/07/1877Chief Boatman
Malahide17/07/187711/02/1878Chief Boatman
Ventry12/02/187824/11/1881Chf Boat’n in Ch.
Barracon (?)25/11/188124/02/188? (DD)Chf Boat’n in Ch.

Awarded three good Conduct badges:

Despite the record of his service in CS 33,652 showing Halloran taking his pension in January1878, his subsequent service record in ADM/188 (Official Number 76600) has him continuing to serve until being Discharge Dead (DD) in 188?

His later service record also has the rather enigmatic notation ‘Traced’, which is an indication that at some point in his career he had been awarded the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

1 Comment · 13895 Reads · Print  -> Posted by crimea1854 on August 17 2007


#1 | jdonovan on 16/05/2010 20:40:02
Hello, My Greatgrandfather, William Donovan served on the Iron Duke and the Vanguard at the same time as John O'Halloran. His transfer of service from Vangaurd to Iron Duke corresponds with the day Iron Duke rammed and sank Vangaurd of the Kish Bank in the Irish Sea! I notice that JOH trnasferred around the same time.

My greatgrand father subsequently went to the Valiant and left the Service in 1880.

Post Comment

Please Login to Post a Comment.