Cole, Hugh Douglas (No. C/JX 234034)

Cole, Hugh Douglas

Convoy Signalman

No. C/JX 234034, SS Benalbanach, Royal Navy

Died as a result of enemy action on Thursday 7 January 1943 (aged 20)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent, England (Panel 70 3)

Holywood and District War Memorial

Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church


Hugh Douglas Cole was born in 1923 and he was the eldest son of Samuel Douglas Cole (born 1902 in Pontypridd, Glamorganshire) and Madeline Margaret Cole (nee Patty, daughter of Hugh Patty who worked as a gardener) of 27 Spencer Street, Holywood.  They were married on 16 August 1922 in Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and they had three children:

Hugh Douglas

Frederick (Fred)


During the Second World War Hugh Douglas Cole’s father, Samuel, and his brother, Fred, were also on active service.

Hugh Douglas Cole served in the Royal Navy and he was aboard the SS Benalbanach when he died on 7 January 1943.  Built in 1940 by Charles Connell and Company Ltd., Scotstoun, Glasgow for use as a passenger/cargo ship, the SS Benalbanach was owned by Ben Line Steamers Ltd. – William Thomson and Company.  In 1941 she was taken over by the Royal Navy as an Auxiliary Transport Ship and in November 1942 she took part in the landing at Oran in the North Africa campaign.  It was on her second trip to the Allied landing area that she sank.  The SS Benalbanach left the Clyde on 24 December 1942 bound for Bona in North Africa with more than 350 Motor Transport officers and men together with a cargo of tanks, motor vehicles, ammunition, petrol and general military stores.  Shortly after 6.00 pm on 7 January 1943 the SS Benalbanach sank north-west of Algiers after being hit by two torpedoes fired from an enemy aircraft.  The water was very cold and Convoy Signalman Hugh Douglas Cole (aged 20), along with Sapper Joseph William Ogram from Donaghadee, were among more than 400 men who died.

Convoy Signalman Hugh Douglas Cole (No. C/JX 234034) is commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent; on Holywood and District War Memorial and in Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.