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Memorial to "Lieutenant Colonel Willoughby Moore of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and of those who perished with him in the Europa transport burnt at sea on the 1 of June 1854" (inscription). Sculptor: John Birnie Philip. After 1854. Marble with a brass plate. York Minster, south quire aisle.

This memorial, with Lieutenant Colonel Willoughby Moore as its staunch central figure, against a background of billowing flames, burning rigging and topling mast, commemorates a tragic event on the way to the Crimean War. Eighteen men, one woman and 57 horses died in a fire on board ship. The last part of the inscription on the edge of the memorial reads "I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea." There is also an inscription to Lieut. Henry Charles Dawson, who "died at Balaclava 5th October 1854 aged 19. The Lord gave and and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

The story of the Europa shocked the country. Field Marshall Sir Charles Yorke wrote on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army Lord Hardinge, from his office in Horse Guards, to Lord Raglan, commanding in Crimea, on 17th June:

It is with the deepest concern that Lord Hardinge has to inform your Lordship that Lieut-Colonel Moore, Veterinary-Surgeon Kelly, four sergeants, twelve rank and file, and one woman, perished on this occasion; and the whole of the horses, baggage, and equipments of the troops on board were lost. The conduct of the officers and men in the trying situation in which they suddenly found themselves is represented to have been most praiseworthy. Lieutenant-Colonel Moore remained on board the burning vessel to the last, making the best arrangements in his power for removing the men, and is stated to have been at last driven into the mizen chains by the violence of the flames, and to have there perished. His noble conduct on this occasion must add to the sorrow which the loss of such an officer would at any time have excited, and Viscount Hardinge is anxious to record his sense of it. The attention of this excellent officer was at all times devoted to the performance of his duties, and the universal regret which his death has occasioned will afford to the regiment the strongest proof that their late leader, in every act of his life, was always ready to set an example, in his own person, of that high sense of duty and of discipline which he enforced upon every officer and soldier under his command. The surviving officers and men were saved in the boats, and picked up by three different vessels, whence they were removed to her Majesty's ship Tribune, which met them at sea, and has, it is understood, conveyed them to Gibraltar or Malta. [qtd. in Smith 52]

The one woman, Mrs Parsons, does not get mentioned on the plaque.

The Times newspaper reported,

True to his duty, and mindful of his responsibility as commanding officer of the troops on board the Europa, the noble old man rejected all entreaties that he should leave the ship while one of his troopers remained alive upon her decks. In the whole of our naval and military annals there is no finer example of devotion to duty at the expense of life than the death of Col. Moore. He gave himself up to destruction with the full knowledge of the fate which awaited him. The fire was raging before his eyes — it had so raged for hours—and each minute brought him nearer to a fate inevitable if he would not consent to leave the ship. It was not in a moment of enthusiasm or under the contagious influence of example, that he persisted in his determination. There was time enough for thought and repentance - he could well measure the extent and appreciate the conseqnences of his resolution, but nothing could shake the old man's courage, or induce him to abandon his sacred trust. While a man under his orders remained on board he would remain too, and share, if he could not ward off, the death which was impending over bis followers. He remained and died, and that in a manner so horrible that the imagination seeks to escape from the details of so afflicting an event. Glory and honour to the memory of this gallant man, and to the memory, too, of those who did not abandon their duty, but remained and perished by the side of their chief." [qtd. in Smith 52-53]

Mrs Henry Duberly wrote on 6th July “We hear to-day of the terrible fate of the 'Europa.' Report at present speaks so vaguely that we know not what to believe. At first we were told that every soul had perished, and afterwards that only Colonel Willoughby Moore and the veterinary surgeon fell victims to this terrible catastrophe. A more frightful tragedy could scarcely occur than the burning of a transport ship – soldiers ignorant of seafaring, and horses crammed in the hold!" (32).

As for poor Henry Dawson he died of fever three weeks before the famous battle of Balaclava in which his regiment the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons charged with the Heavy Brigade (see Smith 23).

Links to related material


Duberly, Mrs Henry. Mrs Duberly's War: Journal and Letters from the Crimea 1854-6. Ed. Christine Kelly. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Smith, Henry Stooks. The Military Obituary 1853. London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1854. Google Books, free Ebook. [Note: Smith was the Chief Clerk of Parliament Office.]

"Vessel loss: Memorial: M1086." Maritime Memorials. Web. 1 April 2022.

Created 1 April 2022