John Aitken Anderson

Date of birth: 1891
Place of birth: Clackmannan, Scotland
Service No.: Not known
Rank: 6th Engineer
Service: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: HMHS Asturias
Died: 21st March 1917 aged 26 years
Death location: At sea in the English Channel


Life before the War
John was the only child born to parents John Forbes (senior) and Barbara, nee Laing.  John senior was born in 1868 in Clackmannan, Scotland, and Barbara in 1871 in Scotland.  John senior and Barbara were married in Scotland in 1892.  John senior’s occupation was Marine Engineer.

The 1901 census shows that John junior was living at home with his parents at 67 Northbrook Road, St Marys, Southampton.

In the 1911 census John junior is living with his mother Barbara who is now a widow, aged 40 and employed as a Boarding Housekeeper.  They are living at 26 Nichols Road, St Marys, Southampton.  John junior’s occupation is Marine Engineer.

Barbara remarried in 1919 to Herbert Wood.  She died in Oxford in 1941.


War Service
John was killed whilst serving on HMHS Asturias.  He received the Mercantile Marine Medal and is remembered on the Memorial at Tower Hill.

15 members of the crew of Asturias are buried in Southampton Old Cemetery, including John who is buried with his mother, Barbara Wood, Grave Ref. B.176-277.

HMHS Asturias

Built in 1907 as a cruise ship on the Southampton to Buenos Aires run.  When war broke out she was requisitioned by the Admiralty, converted and operated as a hospital ship and made regular crossings to France.  She also served in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Dardanelles Campaign returning wounded back to the United Kingdom.

In March 1917 after landing her wounded back to Avonmouth she was attacked by a German submarine and struck by a torpedo which blew off her stern killing 35 of her crew, John was one of them.

The Asturias was declared a total loss but her hull was put to use as a floating ammunition store at Plymouth for the rest of the war.  Remarkably her hulk was repurchased by the Royal Mail Line in 1920 and rebuilt as a cruise liner, she was renamed Arcadian and operated on cruising in the Mediterranean and West Indies until 1930 and was finally scrapped in 1933.

15 of her crew are buried in Southampton.


Researcher: Shaun Connolly
Published: 14th October 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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