Bain, Alexander George (No. PO/7542)

Bain, Alexander George (Alexander)

Private

No. PO/7542, (RMR/PO/1024), Royal Marine Light Infantry, HMS Bayano

Died as a result of enemy action on Thursday 11 March 1915 (aged 36)

Buried:

Ballyphilip Church of Ireland Churchyard, Portaferry, Co Down

(Grave 197)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Portsmouth War Memorial

Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral World War One Memorial Cross

BIOGRAPHY

Not everyone who was buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in the Ards and North Down area was a local person.

Seven men from HMS Bayano whose bodies were washed ashore along the coastline of the Ards Peninsula were buried in three local graveyards.

HMS Bayano was an Elders & Fyffes merchant ship that was commissioned by the Admiralty in 1914 for use as an Armed Merchant Auxiliary Cruiser and she served with 10th Cruiser Squadron.

HMS Bayano sank off Corsewall Point, Stranraer around 4.45 am on Thursday 11 March 1915 when on route from Glasgow to Liverpool after being hit by a torpedo fired from the German Submarine U-27.

It was pitch dark at the time and many of the crew were sleeping.

Around 200 men died and less than 30 were saved.

Survivors clung to wreckage in the water for more than four hours before being picked up by the SS Castlereagh.

HMS Bayano disappeared within about three minutes of being torpedoed and the majority of those who perished were sucked into the vortex created by the rapidly sinking ship.

Many of the bodies were washed up on the shores of the Isle of Man.

The seven men who were buried in three local graveyards were as follows:

An Unidentified Royal Marine of the Great War from HMS Bayano was buried in the North-East part of Ballyhalbert Church of Ireland (St Andrew’s) Graveyard, Ballyeasborough.

Also buried in that Graveyard was Leading Seaman Edgar Jonathan Spracklin of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve.

His body was found washed up on the shore at Portavogie.

Frederick William Chater, a British Able Seaman in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, was buried near the middle of the South-East boundary of Whitechurch Graveyard, Ballywalter.

His body was found washed up on the shore at Ballywalter.

Two Unidentified Sailors from HMS Bayano were buried in Ballyphilip Church of Ireland Graveyard, Portaferry.

Their headstones affirm that they are:

Known Unto God.

Also buried in that Churchyard was Private Alexander George Bain of the Royal Marine Light Infantry.

Identified by means of a letter in one of his pockets, he was buried in Grave 197.

The fourth casualty from HMS Bayano who was buried in that Graveyard was Able Seaman W. A. Wellstead of the Royal Navy.

Identified by means of having his name embossed on his belt, he was buried in Grave 198.

Alexander George Bain was born on 18 February 1879 and he was a son of Alexander and Margaret Bain (nee Healey) who were married on 26 December 1877 in St John’s Church, Forton, Gosport, Lancashire.

Alexander Bain Senior was a Bandsman in the Royal Marine Light Infantry and in 1881 he was stationed in Barracks in Forton.

At that stage he and Margaret had two children:

Alexander George (born 18 February 1879)

Daisy (born around 1881).

After that Alexander Bain Senior was posted abroad.

Alexander George Bain worked as a general labourer and he too joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry.

On 12 August 1903 he and Pricilla Westbrook were married and they lived in Landport, Portsmouth.

They had three children:

Olive (born around 1904)

Alexander (born around 1909)

Anthony (born around 1911)

At the outbreak of war, the Bain family was living in Bath Square, Old Portsmouth and Alexander George, who was then working as a labourer, was recalled to the RMLI.

He was posted to HMS Bayano.

On 25 March 1915 Private Alexander George Bain’s body was found washed up on the shore in the townland of Ballyquintin, Portaferry.

An inquest was held the following day and the cause of death was asphyxia due to drowning.

Private Alexander George Bain was 36 when he died.