Hassan, Henry

Hassan, Henry (Harry)


SS Belgian Prince, Mercantile Marine

Died as a result of enemy action on Tuesday 31 July 1917 (aged 45)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London

Bangor and District War Memorial

Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque

Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum

Brother of Rifleman William Hassan (No. 10451)

Brother of Alexander Hassan


In some records his surname is spelt Hasson.

Henry Hassan was born on 8 June 1872 in Bangor and he was a son of Alexander and Eliza (Lizzie) Hassan (nee Harrison) who were married on 11 September 1871 in First Bangor Presbyterian Church.

The Hassan family lived in Main Street, Bangor and at 1 Brunswick Road, Bangor.

Alexander and Eliza Hassan (nee Harrison) had eight children:

Henry (born 8 June 1872 in Bangor)

John (born 14 March 1874 in Bangor)

Jane (born 14 March 1876 in Bangor)

Alexander (born 21 March 1878 in Main Street, Bangor)

Lena (born 8 September 1881 in Bangor)

Hugh (born 9 December 1885 in Brunswick Road, Bangor)

William (born 27 March 1889 in Brunswick Road, Bangor)

James (born 30 January 1892 in Brunswick Road, Bangor)

At least two of these children were baptised in Trinity Presbyterian Church Bangor.  Alexander Hassan Senior worked as a jobbing mason and in August 1916 he suffered a near fatal accident in his own garden when he stood on a wasps’ nest.  He was stung so many times that initially his life was thought to be in danger although he did eventually recover.

Henry Hassan went to sea and became a Captain in the Mercantile Marine.

Henry Hassan and his wife Elizabeth (nee Donnan) lived at 3 Park Road, Hebburn, Co Durham.

Henry Hassan worked for Messrs Furness Withy & Co Ltd (previously the Prince Line Ltd) and he was the Master of the SS Belgian Prince when he died.  There is significant controversy surrounding the sinking of this ship and it is beyond the scope of this biography to analyse the incident in full.

On 31 July 1917 during a voyage from Liverpool to Newport News, Virginia the SS Belgian Prince was torpedoed by a German U-Boat when she was 175 miles northwest of Tory Island. Captain Hassan was taken prisoner and some crew members who were standing on the submarine’s hull when it submerged were drowned.

A motion for leave to presume the death of Captain Henry Hassan was heard by Mr Justice Coleridge in London and this was reported in the 27 June 1918 edition of Lloyd’s List.

‘This was a motion for leave to presume the death on or since Aug 12, 1917, of Henry Hassan, master mariner, who was taken prisoner by a German submarine which was destroyed by a British warship on its way to Germany’.

Mr La Bas who made the application said that Mr Hassan who lived at 3 Park Road, Hebburn in County Durham was Master of the steamship Belgian Prince, which belonged to Messrs Furness, Withy and Co Ltd.  The Belgian Prince sailed from Liverpool on 28 July 28 1917 bound for Newport News.  On 3 August information was received by the London office of Messrs Furness Withy & Co from the Admiralty, through the War Risks Association, that the steamer Belgian Prince was sunk by torpedo in the Atlantic.  There were three survivors and they had made declarations which were placed before the Court.

Counsel said he was only permitted by the Admiralty to read parts of the declarations.  The facts he was allowed to state were that the ship was torpedoed by a submarine; that the submarine ordered the boats alongside, took certain of the crew on board, and took also the Master on board. The Master (Mr Hassan) was taken below.  Subsequently information was received from the Admiralty that that submarine had been destroyed by a British warship in the North Sea on its way home on 12 August 1917.  The obvious presumption was that the Master, if alive at all at that date, was still on board the submarine and that when the submarine was sunk all in it perished.  Nothing had been heard of Mr Hassan since.  The estate consisted of £794 and there was also a dwelling-house which was vested in him and his wife as joint tenants.

Mr Justice Coleridge granted leave to presume the death of Mr Hassan on or since 12 August 1917.  The date of death recorded on the CWGC Debt of Honour is 31 July 1917 – the date on which the SS Belgian Prince sank.

Captain Henry Hassan is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London; on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque and in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum (Page 15).