Bert Eyers

Date of birth: 1892
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: 766193
Rank: Trimmer
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine Reserve
Battalion: HMS Alcantara
Died: 29th February 1916 aged 23 / 24 years
Death location: At sea


Life before the War
Bert Eyers was the son of William  and Ellen Eyres.  In 1911 the family were living at 29 Ascupart Street, Southampton.  William worked as a Ships Riveter.  The census records he had been married to Ellen for 41 years.

Bert, who was aged 19 in 1911, was employed as a Ships Labourer.  He had a younger brother Ernest (aged 16) who worked as a Sweet Factory Packer.  Also living at 29 Ascupart Street was Ellen Hallem (nee Eyres), the daughter of William and Ellen.

Military  Service
Bert served as a Trimmer aboard HMS Alcantara.  The ship was originally an ocean liner, built in 1913 by Harland & Wolff and  launched a few weeks before the outbreak of war.  Her maiden voyage took place in June 1914 following a Southampton – South America route.  She  was converted into an armed merchant cruiser later in  1914 and during 1915 was armed with six 6 inch guns, anti-aircraft guns and depth charges and commissioned as HMS Alcantara.

The ship was in the North Sea when she was signalled to  intercept an alleged disguised merchant ship heading northwards.  A ship was sighted and identified as the Norwegian Ship Rena.  Having closed in the Alcantara slowed to lower a boarding party when the ship (later identified as the Greif) hoisted the German battle ensign, began to increase speed and opened fire.  The Alcantara returned fire and a shell exploded the ready ammunition for Greif’s after gun.  The Greif launched torpedoes which detonated midships on Alcantara port side.  The Greif’s crew abandoned ship 40 minutes after opening fire but HMS Alcantara was sunk with the loss of 72 crew which included Bert Eyers.   210 German survivors were rescued by HMS Comus and HMS Munster, which also sank the stationary Greif.

Bert is remembered, with pride, on the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Pier reference 20).


Researcher: Jan Thorn
Published.: 18th May 2013
Updated: Insert dates here

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