SS Bandon (Cork), Mercantile Marine
Died as the result of enemy action on Friday 13 April 1917 (aged 67)
No known grave
Tower Hill Memorial London
Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor
First Engineer Robert Mercer meets the criteria for inclusion on this website because he is commemorated on a family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
MINED AT SEA 13TH APRIL 1917
HIS WIFE ELLEN
DIED 22ND FEBRUARY 1941
DIED 23RD FEBRUARY 1953
DIED 2ND MAY 1964
EVELYN DIED 27TH AUGUST 1974
TILL HE COME
Robert Mercer was born in Clonmel, Co Tipperary around 1849/1850 (based on his stated age in CWGC records (67) and in his 1901 and 1911 census returns (50 and 60 respectively). He was a son of Richard and Maria Mercer (nee Downing) who were married on 9 February 1847 in St Luke’s Parish Church of Ireland Church, Cork. Richard Mercer, an engineer from Strand Road, Cork was a son of William Mercer, a merchant. Maria Downing from Strand Road, Cork was a daughter of Christopher Downing, a merchant.
In the CWGC Debt of Honour website it is recorded that First Engineer Robert Mercer was the husband of Ellen Mercer whose address was recorded there as 9 Mount Pleasant Road, College Road, Cork.
Robert Mercer and Ellen Corban (sometimes Corbin) were married on 30 July 1878 in St Luke’s Parish Church of Ireland Church, Cork. Ellen Corban from Barrackton, Cork was a daughter of Stephen Corban, a cabinet maker.
Robert Mercer worked as a marine engineer and he and Ellen had nine children:
Richard (born 5 May 1879 in Military Road, Cork)
Mary (born 24 April 1880 at 13 Military Road, Cork)
Margaret Elizabeth (born 15 August 1881 at 7 Ashburton, Cork)
Edith Mary (registered as Mary Edith, born 3 October 1882 in Ashburton, Cork, died 2 May 1964)
Robert Stephen (born 21 July 1884 at 65 Lower Road, Cork)
William Joseph (born 2 November 1887 at 6 Thornhill Terrace)
Henry (born 6 July 1889 in Gardiner’s Hill, Cork)
Ernest (born around 1890/1891 – based on his 1901 and 1911 census returns; died 23 February 1953)
Eveline (Evelyn, born 5 January 1893 in Gardiner’s Hill, Cork, died 27 August 1974)
In 1901 the Mercer family lived in Magnolia Terrace, Cork and in 1911 they lived at 4 Lincoln Place, Cork.
During the Great War Robert Mercer served as First Engineer aboard the SS Bandon. Built by Swan Hunter in 1910, this defensively armed merchant ship was owned by the Cork Steam Packet Company Ltd., and she sailed from Liverpool bound for Cork on 12 April 1917. The following day, around 4.00 pm, when the ship was off Mine Head, Co Waterford she either struck a mine or was struck by a torpedo fired from submarine UC-44 (reports vary). SS Bandon was damaged on the port side beside the engine room. The ship immediately began to sink and then exploded as the result of damage sustained in the engine room. Of the 32 crew members aboard SS Bandon, 28 lost their lives.
An alarm was raised by telegram from Mine Head Lighthouse and around 6.00 pm, some two hours after the explosion, a motor launch arrived at the scene and picked up four survivors from the water. One of the survivors was Third Engineer H Mercer, and it has not yet been confirmed if this was Robert’s son Henry who in the 1911 census return was described as an apprentice engine fitter.
First Engineer Robert Mercer was 67 when he died and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London, and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor.
First Engineer Robert Mercer’s widow, Ellen Mercer, died at Strathclyde, Warren Road, Donaghadee on 22 February 1941 (aged 86).