HMS Viknor, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (British Navy)
Date Of Birth:
13/01/1915 (Died at Sea)
Samuel Gourley was the son of James and Maggie Gourley. Samuel M Gourley was born on 4th October 1893 in Portglenone.. Samuel was an apprentice shoe maker. His father became senior postmaster in Portglenone. Samuel Gourley enlisted a year before the war started on 3rd September 1913. He was living at 4 Carnegie Gardens, Port Glasgow, Scotland at the time. Able Seaman Samuel Gourley was serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on board HMS Viknor when it sank off the north-west coast of Donegal on 13th January 1915. There were no survivors. Samuel was 21 years old.
Samuel Gourley was the son of James and Maggie Gourley. James Mooney married Sarah Maggie Mooney on 12th July 1888 in Ballymena. (tbc)
Samuel M Gourley was born on 4th October 1893 in Portglenone.
Family: James Gourley, Maggie Gourley, Emma C D Gourley (born 27th August 1889, Portglenone), Annie Gourley (born 20th July 1891, Portglenone), Samuel M Gourley (born 4th October 1893, Portglenone).
The 1901 census lists Samuel M as age 7 living with the family at house 42 in Garvaghy, Portglenone, County Antrim. James Gourley was a rural postman.
1911 census lists Samuel M as age 17 living with the family at house 83 in Portglenone, Antrim. Samuel was an apprentice shoe maker.
His father went on to become senior postmaster in Portglenone.
Samuel Gourley enlisted on 28th August 1912. He was living at 4 Carnegie Gardens, Port Glasgow, Scotland at the time.
Samuel was with the Naval Marine and served in defence of Antwerp (28 Sept – 10 Oct 1914), and was one of the party which fell back on Ostend. They returned mud-stained, dirty and unshaven, to Dover from Ostend. Only a week previously he had left Dover and with his comrades. They landed in Europe and were sent direct to the trenches where they were under fire at once. Several chaps around him were struck but he escaped.
Samuel returned to Portglenone on a few days furlough on in October 1914 and before leaving, he received a presentation of a beautiful Bible from Miss Young, Portglenone House and a presentation of cigarettes and money from several of his companions in Portglenone.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 31st October 1914: A Portglenone Man at Antwerp
Samuel M Gourley, Portglenone, son of Me James Gourley, senior postmaster in Portglenone, was with the Royal Naval Volunteers in the trenches at Antwerp. He returned to Portglenone on a few days furlough. The naval marine from Portglenone was one of a party of defenders who, mud stained, dirty and unshaven, returned to Dover from Ostend. Only a week previously he left Dover, and with his comrades embarked for a port unknown. They landed in France, and were sent direct to the trenches, where they were under fire at once. Several chaps around him were struck, but he escaped. While in the trenches and during the erection of a telegraph apparatus, a hawker with postcards was caught in the act of photographing the trench, immediately afterwards being shot as a spy. On the retreat he experienced many thrilling adventures. At one time they were almost led into German lines, but through the intervention of a Belgian officer they were put on the right track, and the treacherous guide was shot. Most of them got back to England safely about eight days after they had started out; but some strayed into Holland and were interned there, others were left lifeless in the trenches. Another Royal Navy Reservist, on arriving at Liverpool from Antwerp, said when they got back to Ostend, they were just unloading the big 9.2 naval guns, which were expected to help them at Antwerp. Had they had them, the city might have been standing today. Our big naval guns would easily have beaten the enemy’s siege guns, they have a longer range and trajectory suitable to the country, which is flat.
Samuel was with HMS Victory I between 1st November and 4th December 1914.
Able Seaman Samuel Gourley joined the crew of HMS Viknor on 5th December 1914.
Able Seaman Samuel Gourley was serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on board HMS Viknor when it sank off the north-west coast of Donegal on 13th January 1915. There were no survivors. Samuel was 21 years old.
The Viknor was an Armed Merchant Cruiser, a merchantman formerly known as the ‘Viking’ and the ‘Ataro’ and owned by the Viking Cruising Company and taken over by the Navy in 1914. At the time of its loss on 13th January 1915, it was in the 10th Cruiser Squadron blockading the seas between the North of Scotland and Iceland. She had a complement of 22 officers and 273 ratings, and was lost in rough weather off Tory Island on the north-west coast of Donegal. All of her crew perished, with large quantities of wreckage and some bodies being washed ashore along the north coast of Ireland. The Admiralty could not find a reason for the loss, but apparently the ship was in the area of a recently sown German minefield.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 15th February 1915: The Viknor Victims
Another Ulsterman who perished on the Viknor was Samuel M Gourley R.N.R., son of Mr James Gourley, Portglenone. The deceased, who was 21 years of age, served in defence of Antwerp, and was one of the party which fell back on Ostend.
Able Seaman Samuel Gourley has no known grave and is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Able Seaman Samuel Gourley is also commemorated on the Port Glasgow War Memorial.
The CWGC record Able Seaman Samuel Gourley as the son of James Gourley.