Anderson, William Thomas (No. PO/X 2917)

Anderson, William Thomas

Mentioned in Despatches


No. PO/X 2917, HMS Royal Oak, Royal Marines

Died as a result of enemy action on Saturday 14 October 1939 (aged 19)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire (Panel 36 Column 1)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

St. Magnus’s Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney


William Thomas Anderson was born around 1920/1921 and he was a son of Samuel and Georgina Anderson (nee Dempster) of 17 Raceview Terrace, Comber Road, Newtownards.  Samuel and Georgina were married on 22 December 1920 in Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church.  Samuel Anderson from Ballyalton was a son of Thomas Anderson, deceased.  Georgina Dempster was from Ballycullen.

William Thomas Anderson served with the Royal Marines and he died in the early hours of 14 October 1939 when the battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk at around 1.30 am by torpedoes fired from the German submarine U-47.  This submarine had penetrated the British Navy’s main anchorage at Scapa Flow in Orkney and more than 830 men lost their lives that night in the icy, oil-covered waters.  Many of them were Boy Seamen not yet 18 years old.

HMS Royal Oak was a Dreadnought battleship built at the Devonport Dockyard and commissioned in May 1916.  She first saw action during the First World War, on 31 May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland.  When Queen Maud of Norway (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the wife of King Haakon VII of Norway) died of heart failure in London on 20 November 1938 her body was returned to Norway on 24 November 1938 aboard HMS Royal Oak for her state funeral in Oslo.

Marine William Thomas Anderson (No. PO/X 2917) was 19 years old when he died and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; on Portsmouth Naval Memorial in Hampshire and also in a Book of Remembrance and on a Memorial Plaque in St. Magnus’s Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney (the ship’s bell from HMS Royal Oak was recovered in the 1970s and added to this display).