Beattie, Robert Pollock

Beattie, Robert Pollock

Lieutenant Commander (Engineer)

HMS Willamette Valley, Royal Naval Reserve

Killed in action on Saturday 29 June 1940 (aged 40)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Liverpool Naval Memorial, Lancashire (Panel 1 Column 2)


In the 31 August 1940 edition of the County Down Spectator the death of Lieutenant Commander (E) R.P. Beattie was reported under the headline Bangor Naval Officer’s Death.  It was reported that the Misses Beattie of Knocklofty House, Hamilton Road, Bangor had received intimation about the death of their brother on 29 June 1940.  Before the war he had served with the Royal Mail Line.

Robert Pollock Beattie was born on 9 June 1900 at 20 Titania Street, Belfast and he was a son of James Boal Beattie, who was born in County Donegal, and Margaret Sarah Beattie (nee Pollock), who was born in County Monaghan.

Margaret Sarah Pollock was James Boal Beattie’s second wife and they were married on 10 October 1894 in Ballyalbany (Second Monaghan) Presbyterian Church. They lived at 20 Titania Street in Belfast and later in Bell-vue, Cregagh Road, Belfast.  James Boal Beattie was a policeman and later he worked as a coroner’s registrar.  James and Margaret Beattie (nee Pollock) had seven children:

Elizabeth (born 5 July 1895 and baptised in St Enoch’s Presbyterian Church, Belfast)

Mary (born 10 January 1897)

Matilda (born 8 January 1899)

Robert Pollock (born 9 June 1900)

James Boal (born 11 April 1902)

William (born 25 March 1904, died 26 July 1905 aged 16 months)

William Beattie was buried in the City Cemetery (Grave H. 4. 80), as were his parents.  James Boal Beattie died on 13 January 1917 (aged 60) and Margaret Sarah Beattie died at 1 Knocklofty Park, Belfast on 7 April 1937 (aged 73).

During the Second World War Lieutenant Commander (E) Robert Pollock Beattie served in the Royal Naval Reserve aboard the Q-ship HMS Willamette Valley (with the Royal Fleet Auxillary cover name HMS Edgehill).  Q-ships (also sometimes called decoy vessels, special service vessels or mystery ships) were small merchantmen armed with concealed guns that could be deployed quickly if they came under attack by an enemy submarine.  Such decoy ships had been used in the First World War and in September and October 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War, at least nine were commissioned immediately for use in the North Atlantic.  Built in 1928 by Napier and Miller Ltd., Old Kilpatrick, Glasgow as West Lynn and renamed Willamette Valley in 1931, she was requisitioned in September 1939 by the Royal Navy and converted to a decoy ship.  Commissioned as Special Service Vessel (SSV) HMS Edgehill (X 39) she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-51 on 29 June 1940. Lieutenant Commander (E) Robert Pollock Beattie was 40 years old when he died and he is commemorated on the Liverpool Naval Memorial.  His effects amounted to some £326 and probate was granted to his sister Elizabeth.