SS Shamrock

A little story from those days – and every word is true. Ireland was neutral. Nonetheless invasion was feared. There were gun batteries protecting every port and likely landing place. A new, young, officer was concerned that procedures were lax. He went to the gun emplacement protecting Dublin port. It was manned by an LDF unit. (Local Defence Force, later known as FCA). He brought some military police with him. He wasn’t pleased. The place was untidy, uniforms were unkempt and he doubted that procedures were being followed. For example they were meant to stop every ship entering and ask its name and cargo. While he was berating them, the SS Shamrock sailed in. Shocked at a ship entering unchallenged he demanded to know why. “But that’s the Shamrock, Sir, she always does that, three days every week”.
An aside: the SS Shamrock took solids from sewerage treatment plants and dumped them far out at sea. This practice continued until the early 1950s when it was stopped following pressure from the Isle of Mann.
“Demand her name and cargo” he bellowed. The signal was sent. The Shamrock just continued upriver. “Fire a warning shot across her bows” he ordered. At this the sergeant in charge of the gun exclaimed “Oh sh!t”. “Arrest that man” the officer instructed the MPs. He was arrested. There was a court martial. The LDF were part-time volunteer soldiers. This sergeant was a prominent businessman and a veteran of the war of independence. There was no way that he would be convicted. When asked why he used that expletive, he explained: “The officer asked her cargo”. Case dismissed.