Merchant Navy Day, 3rd of September 2018, was marked in Orkney with a wreath laying ceremony at the Kirkwall War Memorial on the Kirk Green. Wreaths were laid by Lord Lieutenant Bill Spence and Council Convener Harvey Johnston.
The Orkney News livestreamed the ceremony which you can watch on our Facebook page. Merchant Navy Day is coordinated by the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association.
World War 1
During the First World War the Merchant Navy was known as the Mercantile Marine, sometimes called the Merchant Service.
Orkney researcher Brian Budge said:
” During the Great War a total of 47 Orcadian sailors died serving in the Mercantile Marine, including 17 who died when the local boats Express and Ruby were sunk with the loss of all hands and one in the Royal Indian Marine.”
Brian Budge has sent us the list of those Orcadians who died serving in the Mercantile Marine in WW1 WaratSea.
World War 2
Brian Budge continued:
“27 sailors of the Merchant Navy (one Australian and one Canadian) and two of its passengers (one a nurse, Kathleen Walker) died during World War 2.”
To find out more about the Orcadians from the Merchant Navy who died during World War 2. WaratSea1939-45
The Arctic Convoys
Three Orcadian Merchant Navy sailors died serving in the Arctic Convoys.
Brian Budge has meticulously researched and put together the following information.
2nd Officer WILLIAM S. ROSIE MN, SS Waziristan, 2nd January 1942, age 21, South Ronaldsay. Panel 117, Tower Hill Memorial, London
SS Waziristan, convoy PQ-7A “straggler” (had become separated from other ship of the half-convoy, SS Cold Harbour), was sunk on 2nd January 1942 near Bear Island by a G7e torpedo fired by U-134.
The master, Reynold Tate, 36 crew members and 10 gunners were all lost. SS Waziristan was the first British ship to load military supplies (including 1,000 tons of copper and 410 Ford trucks) in the USA for Russia and had made the North Atlantic passage in convoy SC-60.
William was born in St. Margaret’s Hope on 28th November 1920, son of William Rosie and Maggie Jean Rosie (née Sinclair). William Rosie’s sister died in March 2008 and he has no close surviving relatives
Radio Officer JOHN A.P. CAMPBELL MN, SS Cape Corso, 2nd May 1942, age 22, Kirkwall. Panel 23, Tower Hill Memorial, London
SS Cape Corso sailed from Hull and arrived at Reykjavik on 8th April 1942 in convoy UR-18. SS Cape Corso did not sail as intended with convoy PQ-14, but left Reykjavik with PQ-15 on 26th April. Late on 2nd May the convoy suffered the first attack by torpedoes from Heinkel He-111 bombers, which sank three ships in minutes.
SS Cape Corso blew up with the loss of 56 of her crew, including the master Captain Walter Montgomery and John Campbell, there were only six survivors.
John’s father was a chemist in Kirkwall who died during the war. John has no close family left alive.
Bosun HUGH HUGHSON, B.E.M. MN, SS Cape Corso, 2nd May 1942, age 23, Eday. Panel 23, Tower Hill Memorial, London
See above for details of the loss of SS Cape Corso by torpedo from a Heinkel He-111 bomber, when Hugh was also killed.
Hugh Hughson was born in Toft, Shetland on 11th January 1919, eldest child of Magnus Hughson, a shepherd, and Georgina Hughson (née Barclay). Hugh was awarded the British Empire Medal in December 1941, for trying to save a sinking ship.
His family was living on Eday when Hugh was killed, moved to Kingsdale, Firth soon after. Hugh’s sister, Mary, married a Hatston based Fleet Air Arm pilot, but died of TB in June 1945, while their mother died of cervical cancer six months later.
Hugh’s youngest sister Margaret (Greta) returned to Shetland and still lives there.
The Orkney News is indebted to Brian Budge for allowing us to use his research in this article.
Reporters: Fiona Grahame and Nick Morrison