Erskine, John Gordon Morrison

Erskine, John Gordon Morrison (John)

Lieutenant Commander (E)

HMS Hood, Royal Navy

Killed in action on Saturday 24 May 1941 (aged 33)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire, England (Panel 45, Column 2)

Holywood and District War Memorial

HMS Hood Book of Remembrance in St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Boldre, Hampshire

Campbell College, Belfast

Brother of Pilot Officer (Pilot) Basil Pollock Erskine


John Gordon Morrison Erskine was born on 20 December 1907 in Hillbrook, Holywood and he was a son of Robert Magill Erskine JP and Eleanor Erskine (nee Pollock) whose later address was Donnybrook, Holywood.  Robert Magill Erskine was a travelling goods manufacturer (luggage) and leather merchant and he and Eleanor Pollock were married on 15 April 1902 in High Street Presbyterian Church, Holywood.  Eleanor Pollock from Holywood was a daughter of John Pollock, a merchant.

Robert and Eleanor Erskine (nee Pollock) had at least four children:

Robert Colin Erskine (born 25 June 1903 in Hillbrook, Holywood; died in an accident in 1950)

John Gordon Morrison (born 20 December 1907 in Hillbrook, Holywood)

Margaret Gordon (born 26 April 1911 in Donnybrook, Holywood)

Basil Pollock (born 28 September 1921)

John Gordon Morrison Erskine attended Campbell College from 1919 until 1925 and he played cricket for the school.  In 1925 he joined the Royal Navy (Special Entry) and attended Keyham Royal Naval Engineering College in Plymouth.  He became Lieutenant (E) in 1930 and Lieutenant Commander (E) in 1939.  A short biography was published in the July 1941 edition of The Campbellian:

‘By the death on service of Lieutenant Commander J.G.M. Erskine the Navy has lost an officer of great ability and promise. After passing second into the Engineering branch of the Royal Navy at the Special Entry examination in 1925, he passed out first from Keyham and followed this up by a distinguished record in the Dagger course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Most of his subsequent service until the outbreak of war was at the Admiralty. He lost his life on HMS Hood in the recent battle in the Atlantic’.

John Gordon Morrison Erskine and Nancy Brown were married on 15 April 1933 in Holywood Parish Church of Ireland Church and they lived in Holywood.  During the Second World War Lieutenant Commander John Erskine served aboard HMS Hood.  Nicknamed the Mighty Hood, HMS Hood was an Admiral-class battle cruiser built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank and commissioned in May 1920.  On 24 May 1941 HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were in the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland when they intercepted the German warships Prinz Eugen and Bismarck.  HMS Hood was hit by shells fired from both ships, but it was a shell fired from Bismarck which triggered the magazine explosion that destroyed the aft part of the ship.  With her back broken she sank in less than three minutes.  More than 1,410 men lost their lives including John Gordon Morrison Erskine and Ordinary Seaman Lambert Charles Shepherd from Bangor.

Lieutenant Commander (E) John Gordon Morrison Erskine was 33 when he died, he has no known grave and he is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial in Hampshire; on Holywood and District War Memorial; in the HMS Hood Book of Remembrance in St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Boldre in Hampshire and in Campbell College, Belfast.