Anderson, William Sloan

Anderson, William Sloan (Billy)


Miss Betty, Pilot Launch

Drowned in the Bangor Bay Disaster on Saturday 8 May 1943 (aged 21)


Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor, Co. Down (Section 4 U Grave 12)


Bangor and District War Memorial

Wesley Centenary Methodist Church, Bangor


Three men from Donaghadee along with one man from Bangor were drowned on Saturday 8 May 1943 in what came to be known locally as the ‘Bangor Bay Disaster’.  There were no survivors.  The four men died when the Pilot Launch Miss Betty capsized and sank while returning to port after responding to a call from a ship entering Belfast Lough.  The four men who died worked on the pilot boats that were based in Bangor.  These pilot boats were in constant service, not only for merchant shipping coming into Belfast, but also for many of the naval vessels using Belfast Lough.  At the outbreak of war Miss Betty was requisitioned by the Admiralty from Jim Davidson, Donaghadee.

The three Donaghadee men who died were Harry Aiken, William George Nelson and William White.  The Bangor man who died was William Anderson.  Aboard Miss Betty on the day they died, William White was the pilot and William George Nelson was the coxswain.  William Anderson was the engineer and Harry Aiken was the deck hand.

The Pilot Launch Miss Betty was around 40 feet long and the disaster was witnessed by Bangor Harbour Master John H. Corry and Customs Officer G.A. Coppard.  Miss Betty was owned by the Admiralty but crewed by civilians under naval direction and she left Bangor in moderate weather conditions at 8.55 am on 8 May 1943.  During the trip the weather deteriorated and, on the way back to Bangor, the crew had to contend with a strong north-easterly gale and a heavy breaking sea.  At 11.40 am, when they were only about 60 to 70 yards from the safety of Bangor harbour, the disaster happened.  The boat successfully negotiated several strong waves before being overwhelmed by a broadside hit on the port side.  Miss Betty capsized, turned over in the water and remained upside down.

William Sloan (Billy) Anderson was born on 25 July 1914 at 90 Albert Street, Bangor and he was a son of William John and Martha Anderson (nee Sloan) who were married on 11 July 1911 in Wesley Centenary Methodist Church, Bangor.  William John Anderson, a stoker from Church Street, Bangor was a son of Alexander Anderson, deceased.  Martha Sloan from Albert Street, Bangor was a daughter of William Sloan, deceased.

William John and Martha Anderson (nee Sloan) had at least three children:

William Sloan (Billy, born 25 July 1914 at 90 Albert Street, Bangor)

Sophia (twin, born 4.15am 2 April 1918 at 39 Albert Street, Bangor)

Annie (twin, born 4.45am 2 April 1918 at 39 Albert Street, Bangor)

Later the Anderson family lived at 15 Crosby Street, Bangor.

Billy Anderson’s body was washed ashore at Portpatrick in Scotland on Tuesday 15 June 1943, some 38 days after the accident.  His funeral to Bangor Cemetery took place at 6.30 pm on Friday 18 June 1943 and the inscription on his gravestone reads:


In Loving Memory of our Dear Son

William (Billy)

 Who Lost His Life in Bangor Bay Boating Disaster

 8th May 1943

 Aged 28 years

Engineer William Sloan (Billy) Anderson is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial and in Wesley Centenary Methodist Church, Bangor.