Bailie, David Martin

Bailie, David Martin (David)


United States of America Merchant Vessel Robert Watchorn

Died of illness on Saturday 4 November 1944 (aged 64)


National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii (Plot P Row O Grave 509)


In the Killed On Active Service column in the 25 November 1944 edition of the County Down Spectator there was a death notice which stated that David Martin Bailie, only son of the late Captain David Bailie and Ann Bailie (late of Ballyhalbert), had died at sea and been buried at Calcutta on 6 November 1944.  His death was deeply regretted by his sister Mary Thompson and his nephews and nieces at 15 Thornhill Drive, Belfast.

David Martin Bailie was born on 1 May 1880 (in some maritime records the year of David Martin Bailie’s birth is stated to be 1883 and in others 1886) and he was a son of David Bailie, a sailor from Ballyhalbert, and Ann Bailie (nee Martin) of Belfast.  Ann Martin was a daughter of Jervis Martin who was also a sailor.  David Bailie and Ann Martin were married on 30 July 1863 in Eglinton Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast and they lived in Ballyhalbert.  They had at least seven children and six of them were baptised in Glastry Presbyterian Church:

Margaret Ann (born 21 May 1866)

Jane (born 12 April 1870 in Ballyhalbert; died in infancy, 1871)

Jane (born 12 May 1872 in Ballyhalbert)

Mary (born 9 February 1875 in Ballyhalbert)

David Martin (born 1 May 1880 in Ballyhalbert)

Lizzie (born 29 October 1883 in Ballyhalbert)

Lillian (Lily) Bailie was born around 1887/88 and in April 1911 she and her brother David were living in Ardenlee Avenue, Belfast.  Lillian Bailie and Arthur W. Thompson were married on 17 October 1912 in Belmont Presbyterian Church, Belfast.

David Martin Bailie’s father, Captain David Bailie, was born about 1831 and he died in April 1894 (aged 63). There is evidence to suggest that he died aboard the Machrihanish.  This ship was a British 3-masted sailing barque built in 1883 by Robert Duncan and Company, Glasgow.  In 1908 she was purchased by a Norwegian company, renamed SV Avance and on 1 June 1911 she ran aground and foundered off Lobos de Tierra, Peru.  David Martin Bailie’s mother Ann died on 22 May 1898 and David erected a headstone in Ballyhalbert Graveyard in memory of his mother.  It bears the inscription:


In loving memory of my dear mother Ann, wife of the late Captain David Bailie, who fell asleep 22 May 1898.

Also my dear sister Lillian Thompson who died 24 Nov 1928

Asleep in Jesus

Erected by David M. Bailie

Maritime records indicate that David Martin Bailie was 5 feet 9 inches tall with fair hair and blue eyes.  He had an anchor tattoo on his right hand, and he cited his sister, Lily Thompson, of Rosetta Park, Belfast as his next of kin.  On 13 May 1901 he was granted his Second Mate Certificate of Competency:

By the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade

Certificate of Competency as

Second Mate of a foreign-going ship

To David Bailie

Whereas it has been reported to us that you have been found duly qualified to fulfil the duties of Second Mate on a foreign-going ship in the Merchant Service, we do hereby, in pursuance of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, grant you this Certificate of Competency.

By order of the Board of Trade

This 13th day of May 1901

Signed by one of the Assistant Secretaries to the Board of Trade

Countersigned by the Registrar General

Registered at the Office of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen

During his long career as a seaman there are records of David Martin Bailie serving aboard various ships, for example, Holkar from 9 May 1896 to 21 May 1900, Hardwick Hall from 22 May 1900 to 3 August 1900, Bolivar from 23 October 1900 to 11 February 1901, Prada from 26 February 1901 to 11 April 1901, Balmore from 13 July 1901 to 10 June 1902 and Glenericht from 8 August 1902 to 1 February 1904.  On 1 August 1918 he arrived in London aboard the Buruta from Lagos in West Africa and it is recorded that his country of last permanent residence was Nigeria.  This journey was made during the period of time when his application for naturalisation as a citizen of the USA was pending.  For naturalisation purposes his Certificate of Arrival in the United States was dated 15 June 1912, the date he arrived at Ellis Island, New York aboard Windermere.  He had left Cardiff on 15 May 1912.  In his Petition for Naturalisation dated 6 October 1920 he described himself as a longshoreman and his address was 175 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, New York.  This was one of the documents where his date of birth is recorded as 1 May 1886.  He had declared his intention to become a US citizen on 7 July 1915 and so had completed the five years residency requirement.  David Martin Bailie became a naturalised citizen of the United States of America on 6 January 1921 at the US District Court in Brooklyn, New York.

He continued his career as a Master Mariner and in March 1943 he was Captain of the Molly Pitcher, an American Steam Merchant Ship completed in February 1943 at the Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyards Inc., Baltimore, Maryland.  She was on her maiden voyage from Baltimore to Casablanca, Morocco via New York with a general cargo of sugar, coffee, explosives, coal, tractors, trucks and ambulances.  At 8.34 pm on 17 March 1943, some 500 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal the Molly Pitcher was hit by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-167.  The order was given to abandon ship and the Molly Pitcher sank after being hit by another torpedo, this one fired from the German submarine U-521.  Four men died and 66, including Captain Bailie, survived that attack.

Captain David Martin Bailie (aged 64) died aboard the Robert Watchorn on 4 November 1944, sometime between 7.40 am and 9.00 am.  At the time of his death the vessel was near Calcutta in the Hooghly River, India.  He was found dead and a US Army Medical Officer who boarded the vessel at Calcutta pronounced that he had suffered a heart attack.  The official cause of death was ‘coronary occlusion with myocardial infarction’ and it was reported afterwards that Captain Bailie had been interred at Lower Circular Road Cemetery, Calcutta, India (Plot CRCE, Row 5 East, Grave 4 South).  His effects were taken into custody by the Master (formerly the Chief Mate) of the Robert Watchorn which was operated by the Black Diamond Steam Ship Company.  The inventory of his effects included cash ($69), clothing and some miscellaneous items.  Buried with him were one full dress uniform, one shirt, one tie, one pair of socks and one pair of shoes.

Captain David Martin Bailie’s body was later exhumed and reinterred on 15 December 1949 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii in Plot P Row O Grave 509.  The interment report indicates that his body was brought there from Barrackpore Cemetery in India.