|Memorial .||Plymouth Naval Memorial||23||Devon|
Awards & Titles:
Family :Son of Samuel Muir Brown; husband of Mary E. Brown, of 63, Kingfield Rd., Orrell Park, Aintree, Liverpool.
Unit : HMS Laurentic
Action : Naval Campaign
BROWN, James Robert, Engineer Sub Lieutenant, HMS Laurentic Being in Montreal when the war began, Laurentic was immediately commissioned as a troop transport for the CEF. After conversion to armed merchant cruiser service in 1915, she struck two mines off Lough Swilly north of Ireland on 25 January 1917 and sank within an hour. Only 121 of the 475 aboard survived.The Laurentic was delivering cargo to Nova Scotia for Canadian and American governments as payment for munitions. 45 minutes after leaving port she was struck by two mines laid by the German U-boat, U-80. It was the second time that her commander had been maltreated by enemy action. Captain Norton was in command of H.M.S. Hogue when that cruiser was torpedoed in the North Sea. The Laurentic had only left harbour about an hour and a half before, and was steaming full speed ahead with Captain Norton on the bridge, when a violent explosion occurred on the port side abreast of the foremast, followed within a few seconds by a second explosion abreast of the engine-room. The latter stopped the dynamo, plunging the ship in total darkness and rendering the wireless unworkable. After telegraphing Full speed astern, he sent up a rocket, and ordered the boats to be swung out for immediate use, if necessary. When it was found impossible to beach the vessel, and that she was gradually sinking, the men were ordered into the boats. To make quite certain that not a living soul remained on board, Captain Norton searched the ship in company with the chief steward and by the light of an electric torch. The most terrible experience of all was yet to come. Although it is very probable that a few of the ship's complement of 470 men were killed as a result of the two explosions, the majority got safely away. Of these only 120 survived the bitter weather. The remainder died of exposure. One boat, containing seventeen frozen bodies, was picked up many hours later ; in another there were only five survivors out of twenty. In addition to her passengers and crew, the ship was carrying about 35 tons of gold ingots stowed in its second class baggage room. At the time the gold was valued at ?5 million, (approximately ?750 million in 2009 values). Royal Navy divers made over 5,000 dives to the wreck between 1917 and 1924 and recovered all but about 1% of the ingots. Still to this day 22 bars of gold remain on the sea bed, perhaps under parts of the hull, The last of the gold recovered was some 10 metres under the sea bed, thus the remaining gold must be difficult to reach. 11 Freemasons lost their lives on HMS Laurentic; GODFREY Robert Rodger Chief Carpenter JAGO William Henry Chief Petty Officer TAYLOR C. Chief Petty Officer HURST Charles Edwin Engineer Commander CARLISLE James Engineer Lieutenant GIBBINS James William Engineer Lieutenant LARMOUR E A Engineer Lieutenant CATON Peter Engineer Sub Lieutenant BROWN James Robert Engineer Sub Lieutenant MIDGLEY Edward Ernest Engineer Sub Lieutenant ROCK Frank Ernest Surgeon Sources; Daring deeds of merchant seamen in the great war - Wheeler, Harold F. B 1918
Naval Campaign is defined as to include all sea operations that do not fall within specific naval battles such as Jutland, Coronel, Falklands etc. This includes all Merchant Navy losses.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Evening Star No. 3644 E.C.||Cheshire|
20th December 1916
17th January 1917
Records at the United Grand Lodge of England show "Drowned 21.2.17"
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Book : 1921 - Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918 - Oxford University Press
- Document : 1933 - Masonic Roll of Honour - Freemasons' Hall Vestibule - United Grand Lodge of England