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R.N.R., H.M Transport Thames.

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Aged 26


Son of Capt. John M'Leay, Letters, Lochbroom.


Joined May 1915.
Served in H.M.S. Australia, H.M. Transport Irene, H.M. Transport Thames  
Mined off Middlesborough about Aug. 14th, 1917,
the Thames being lost with all hands.


Had two brothers serving -

  • Alick M'Leay, H.M. Transport Service.
  • Kenneth M'Leay, 7th, 5th and 4th Bns. Seaforth Highlanders.


“They left us a Kingdom none can take -

The realm of the circling Sea.“

- Sir. Henry Newbolt.


Official information

Official record (CWGC)


Cemetery / Memorial: Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Portsmouth, UK.

Grave: Panel 27


Location and Map (CWGC)


Local Memorial: Ullapool, Left Panel, 18th from the top.


additional information

Official records state his position as Leading Seaman and not as Gunner.


Information kindly shared by Peter Newling:


Donald McLeay RNR also grew up in Letters. The house is now known as Lexie’s (the last of the family to live there was Donald’s sister Alexandra). John McLeay was a yacht skipper, and the 1911 census shows him there with his wife Christina Matheson and nine of their children.


Donald and his older brother Alick were yachtsmen each summer so it is not surprising that his war was at sea. Donald was one of two RNR men on the cargo ship Thames that was lost with all hands in August 1917. The Thames, 403 tons, set off from Middlesbrough to France with a cargo of pig iron. She had a crew of nine plus the two young navy men whose job was to fight the ship if necessary – to operate the gun that had been mounted on the foredeck.


Having set off into the North Sea the ship disappeared, presumed sunk. The family stone at Clachan refers to “Donald, Gunner, Transport “Thames” lost with all hands in the English Channel 14th August 1917, aged 26”. Some years after the war German Naval records show that Thames was sunk by gunfire from the mine-laying U-boat UC63 off the Humber Estuary. UC63 was itself torpedoed and sunk by HMS E52 near the Goodwin Sands on 1st November 1917.


The U-boat log gives details of the ship, time and location etc. but no hint as to why there were no survivors, though it was August and not too far from land. There are a number of possible reasons, but we will never know.


Family information

His connection with the Parish today is not known.


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