1. Memorial:Tower Hill Memorial London
2. Book:The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918Pg.121
3. Memorial:The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour16A GQS

Awards & Titles:


Family :

Son of the late Michael and Norah Donovan; husband of Sarah Elvina Donovan, of 32, King's Rd., Canton, Cardiff.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: SS Wellington 

Mike: While serving in French waters, escorting a large slow convoy to Great Britain, SENECA 's crew initiated one of the most heroic and tragic rescue attempts in history on September 19, 1918. A torpedo struck the SS WELLINGTON, a large British cargo vessel, ripping away the forward 30 feet of the ship. The crew of 36 was rescued by SENECA, but before they had even been taken aboard, LT Fletcher Webster Brown, USCG received permission from his captain to call for volunteers to go upon WELLINGTON and if possible, take the ship the remaining 300 miles to Great Britain. Every man of SENECA's crew volunteered, but only 18 were chosen. The 18 SENECA crewmen boarded WELLINGTON and were later joined by 2 of the Wellington's original crew. Soon, with Coast Guardsmen manning the aft gun, engine room, and bridge, the WELLINGTON was underway toward Great Britain making approximately 5 knots. The ship maintained the speed throughout the evening, and SENECA left her to resume her duties with the convoy. By midnight, however, the weather had deteriorated significantly, and the seas had begun to rise. Shortly after midnight they lost the bet; the rising seas burst the forward bulkhead and the WELLINGTON went down with 10 of the heroic volunteers from SENECA aboard. A memorial plaque was erected at Gibraltar in honor of the valiant efforts of the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SENECA

Action : Naval Campaign 

Naval Campaign is defined as to include all sea operations where attrition rates are in ones and twos and which do not fall within specific naval battles such as Jutland, Coronel, Falklands etc. This includes Merchant Navy losses.

Detail :

Donovan Claire 10/12/2010 "My great grandfather (William Christopher Donovan) was the captain/master of the Wellington. He went down with her when she was torpedoed - he was posthumously awarded the Lloyds Medal."

DONOVAN, WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER (38), Master, SS Wellington, Mercantile Marine, †17/09/1918, Son of the late Michael and Norah Donovan; husband of Sarah Elvina Donovan, of 32, King's Rd., Canton, Cardiff, Memorial: Tower Hill Memorial.

Allen Tony 28/06/2010 WELLINGTON SS was a British cargo steamer of 5,600grt that was on route from Newport for Naples with a cargo of coal when she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-118 when 175 miles Nw of Cape Vilano."
Jan Lettens 10/12/2010 "After the torpedo attack, Wellington stayed afloat and her escort, US Coast Guard cutter Seneca attempted to save the Wellington. 11 from Wellington's crew and 20 Seneca volunteers boarded and attempted to make the port of Brest, France, while Seneca departed to join the convoy. With her bow full of water, the pumps fighting the water, the engines were making only 7 knots. The company was unfortunately struck by a major storm and all abandoned Wellington and took to the rafts when she sank. Many were drowned in the cold and heavy seas. Seneca lost 11, while 5 of the Wellington crew were lost including her Captain (Donovan). All survivors were picked up by USS Warrington. See also Searle Canada.

Read more at: Wrecksite EU.

Epitaph Friends of Cathays Cemetery: "In Ever Loving Memory of Captain WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER DONOVAN drowned at sea through Enemy Action 17 September 1918 Aged 38 years. Life's duty well done. Life's crown well won. Then cometh rest. Also of ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER HAINES the Beloved son of the above who died 19 May 1914 aged 6 weeks."

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Bute No. 960 E.C.South Wales

28th January 1911
15th November 1911
6th February 1912

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2019-11-11 14:35:08