Cowan, David (No. P/UD/X 1415)

Cowan, David

Able Seaman

No. P/UD/X 1415, HMS Repulse, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Wednesday 10 December 1941 (aged 24)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire, England (Panel 60 Column 3)

Holywood and District War Memorial

First Holywood Presbyterian Church


David Cowan was born on 13 June 1917 in Ballycultra and he was a son of David and Mary (Minnie) Cowan (nee Carroll) who were married on 5 February 1915 in First Bangor Presbyterian Church.  David Cowan, a labourer and gardener from Ballycultra, was a son of David Cowan, a labourer.  Mary Carroll from Carrickfergus was a daughter of William Carroll, a labourer.

David and Minnie Cowan (nee Carroll) had two children, both of whom were baptised in First Holywood Presbyterian Church:

James (born 26 November 1915 at 48 Church Street, Holywood)

David (born 13 June 1917 in Ballycultra)

Their father, David Cowan, died of tuberculosis on 27 April 1918 (aged 28) in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

During the Second World War David Cowan served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve aboard HMS Repulse.  HMS Repulse was a battle cruiser built by John Brown & Company at Clydebank, Scotland and completed in 1916.  She operated in the North Sea during the Great War and then underwent an extensive refit that was completed in 1922.  HMS Repulse was further modernised in the early 1930s and operated in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean during the first two years of the Second World War.  Later in 1941 she was sent to the Far East and accompanied the new battleship HMS Prince of Wales to Sembawang Naval Dockyard in Singapore.  They became part of Force Z and sailed from Singapore on 8 December 1941.  While returning to Singapore on 10 December 1941 HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales were attacked by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes.  The two ships sank off the coast of Malaya within an hour of each other.  Able Seaman Samuel Smith from Newtownards who was aboard the HMS Prince of Wales was also killed.

Able Seaman David Cowan (aged 24) was one of more than 500 men who died, and he is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial in Hampshire; on Holywood and District War Memorial and in First Holywood Presbyterian Church.