John William Farnan

Date of birth: 1889
Place of birth: Southampton
Date of marriage: 1911
Place of marriage: Southampton
Service No.: TBC
Rank: Fireman
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Battalion: SS Donegal
Died: 17th April 1917 aged 23 years
Death location: At sea.  His body was never recovered.


Life before the War
John’s parents were John Farnan b. 1853, a Boiler Maker from Sunderland (died in 1923 in Southampton), and Alice Farnan b. 1862 in Portsmouth.

John married Elsie Lucy Long in 1911 (b.1889 Southampton, d. 1979) and they lived at 75 Chilworth Road, Shirley.  They had two children Betty M Farnan b. 1914 and Freda E Farnan b. 1916.

In the census of 1891 John was living with his parents and 5 siblings – Edward, Thomas, Kathleen, Harry and Margaret – at 24 Elms Street, Southampton.  By the time of the 1901 census John is living with his parents and siblings at  and by the 1901 census he was living with his parents at 14 Stanford Street Southampton – Edward and Thomas are no longer at home but the family is joined by two more brothers.  All the children were born in Southampton.  John’s 7 siblings were:

Edward B b. 1879, d. 1917
Thomas b. 1882, d. 1944.
Kathleen b. 1884
Harry b. 1886
Margaret b. 1891
Charles b. 1896
Alfred b. 1897


War Service
John is commemorated on the Tower Hill Cenotaph and wall in London and on the Southampton Cenotaph.

Additional Information
Donegal was a Midland Railway Passenger Ferry constructed in 1904.  She was converted to an Ambulance Ship for service in the First World War carrying the wounded from Le-Havre in France back to Southampton.  On the 17th of April 1917 whilst under Royal Navy Escort, the S.S Donegal was torpedoed by a UC II German Submarine and sank 35km south of The Dean Light Vessel.  On-board were 610 wounded soldiers and 70 crew.  Of these, 29 wounded soldiers and 12 crew were lost, including John Farnan.

Researcher: Paul Connolly
Published.: 6th May 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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