Mitchell, Robert Ririe

Mitchell, Robert Ririe (Robert)

Engineer Lieutenant         

HMS Laurentic, Royal Naval Reserve

Drowned at sea on Thursday 25 January 1917 (aged 31) 


Holywood Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 574)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Holywood and District War Memorial

High Street Presbyterian Church Holywood


Robert Ririe Mitchell was born on 10 October 1885 at 59 Cotton Street, Aberdeen and he was a son of William and Jane Mitchell (nee Ririe) who were married on 20 June 1879 in Trinity Free Church, St Nicholas, Aberdeen.

William Mitchell was living at 66 St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen and his parents were James Mitchell, a crofter, and Elizabeth Mitchell (nee Littlejohn).

Jane Ririe was a domestic servant living at 24 Blackfriars Street, Aberdeen and her parents were James Ririe, a farmer, and Jessie Ann Ririe (nee McDonald).

William and Jane Mitchell lived at 50 Urquhart Road, Aberdeen.

William Mitchell worked as an iron ship plater journeyman and he and Jane had at least five children:

William (born around 1880)

Jessie Ann (born around 1881/1882)

Jane Agnes (born around 1883/1884)

Robert Ririe (born 10 October 1885 at 59 Cotton Street, Aberdeen)

Alice Edith (born around 1888/1889)

After Robert’s mother, Jane Mitchell, left Aberdeen she lived at 3 Church Avenue, Holywood.  In 1912 his brother, William Mitchell, was living in Holywood.

During the Great War Engineer Lieutenant Robert Ririe Mitchell served with the Royal Naval Reserve and he was 31 when he died on 25 January 1917 aboard HMS Laurentic.  He was buried in Holywood Cemetery and is commemorated on Holywood and District War Memorial and in High Street Presbyterian Church Holywood.

Steam Ship (SS) Laurentic was built by Harland & Wolff for the White Star Line and this ship entered service between Liverpool and Montreal on 29 April 1909.  She gained fame in 1910 because of her role in the capture of murderer Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen who was travelling to Canada aboard the SS Montrose.  SS Laurentic outpaced the SS Montrose and, with police aboard, she arrived in Canada in time to intercept and arrest the then-fleeing suspect.

At the beginning of the Great War SS Laurentic was requisitioned by the Admiralty and as His Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Laurentic she was used as an Armed Merchant Cruiser.  On 23 January 1917 she left Liverpool bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Her cargo included more than 3,200 bars of gold (weighing around 40 tons) which was going to pay for munitions.

On the morning of 25 January 1917 the ship made a short stop in Lough Swilly and when leaving the Lough that evening she struck a mine.  HMS Laurentic sank and more than 350 of the 475 people aboard died.  Between 1917 and 1932 all but a few of the gold bars were recovered.

Lieutenant Thomas Steele whose wife lived in Bangor died in the same incident.