Allen Percy Hilton

Date of birth: 1878
Place of birth: Freemantle, Southampton
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine Reserve
Vessel: HMS Laurentic
Rank / Service No: Greaser, 884190
Died: 25th January 1917, aged 38 years
Commemorated: Plymouth Naval Memorial


Allen was the youngest of 3 siblings born to John Preston and Jane Cooper Hilton (nee Christopher), who married in Weymouth in 1866.


John was born in Jamaica in 1831 and he died in Southampton in 1883.

Jane had been born in Bincombe in Dorset in 1842 and she passed away in the city in 1930.


Jane and the family were living at 109 Firgrove Road, Shirley at the 1911.



Christopher Fayle   b. 1871 Shirley  d. 1914 Southampton   Married Lily F. Miles in Southampton in 1911.

Catherine Elin   b. 1874 Freemantle   d. 1958 Winchester

Allen Percy


Allen married Elizabeth Mary Bambury in Shirley in 1908. The couple had 3 sons and lived at 17 Imperial Avenue, Freemantle.


Alan Preston   b. 1909 Shirley   d. 1993 Southampton   Married Grace C. Rose in Eastleigh in 1931.

Archie Edward   b. 1910 Shirley   d. 1990 Southampton   Married Edith D. Blachford in Southampton in 1933.

Albert Henry   b. 1912 Shirley   d. 1993 Southampton


Lizzie was born in Southampton in 1887 and she remarried after Allen’s death… George A. Grantham in 1921.

She passed away in Winchester in 1966.



Laurentic was built in Belfast in 1908, as the Alberta. The White Star Line purchased her before she was finished and changed the name.


Laurentic was one of the fastest vessels of its time, able to out-run all the various German submarines in service in WW1. This speed was also to prove useful in the successful running-down of Dr. Crippen in the St Lawrence Seaway.

She was a luxury liner, running between the UK and New York. At the outbreak of war, the Admiralty turned her into a transport vessel bringing P.o.W’s and raw materials from West Africa to the UK.


At the end of 1914, Laurentic was equipped with 6 inch deck guns and recommissioned as an armed merchant cruiser.


Laurentic worked in the Far East and the Indian Ocean for 18 months until the end of 1916.

Upon her return to Liverpool, Laurentic was selected to transport 43 tons of gold bullion to Halifax, Nova Scotia to pay for much-needed war minitions.


On 25 January 1917, Laurentic left Liverpool; as she passed Fanad Head in Northern Ireland, she struck her first mine, one of 6 laid by UB-80 earlier in the month.

It was not long before the ailing vessel hit a second mine and began to sink. This second mine killed nearly all the personnel in the Engine Room, including Allen.


Of the 470 crew, 350 persons lost their lives that night. Many died from exposure whilst in lifeboats, because the weather was very cold and windy.



Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 29th September 2016


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