The risks of wartime sea travel were underlined this week with a tragic, unexplained incident. A local soldier fell overboard while travelling between Jersey and Guernsey, and despite an extensive search is lost, presumed drowned. What is not clear is whether Gunner Condon went into the sea by accident, or on purpose.
Thomas Michael Condon, who served with the Royal Garrison Artillery, was returning from a spell of leave in the island. He had been at the front since the beginning of 1916, being wounded twice during that time. He returned to the island around 26 November, for a few days with his parents who live at Beaulieu Lodge on Wellington Road. It was noticed the Gunner Condon was acting strangely, however, and did not appear to be his usual self.
On board, while most passengers went below Gunner Condon remained on deck. He was last seen in a precarious position on the ship’s railings. Despite an attempt made to grab hold of the soldier, he fell over the side into the water. A search was made after the vessel stopped and turned around, but, other than his cap, there was no sign of the victim.
A/E/8/17 contains extensive correspondence and reports on wartime sea travel, including plans to restrict it during the closing months of 1917 and in 1918.