Hughes, Robert

Hughes, Robert

First Officer

MV Mamutu (Hong Kong), Australian Merchant Navy

Died as a result of enemy action on Friday 7 August 1942 (aged 51)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Port Moresby Memorial, Papua New Guinea (Panel 10)

Commemorative Roll of the Australian War Memorial

Family grave headstone in Glastry Presbyterian Church Graveyard


Robert Hughes was born on 9 July 1891 in Portavogie and he was a son of Robert and Ann Hughes (nee Palmer) who were married on 9 January 1880 in Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church, Millisle.  Robert Hughes from Portavogie was a son of John Hughes, a blacksmith.  Ann Palmer from Portavogie was a daughter of Adam Palmer, a farmer.

Robert Hughes was a fisherman and he and Ann had at least seven children:

Mary Elizabeth (born 29 October 1880 in Portavogie)

James Mahood (born 11 November 1882 in Portavogie)

Margaret (born 25 August 1884 in Portavogie)

Hugh (born 29 November 1886 in Portavogie)

Ellen (Nellie, born 11 September 1888 in Portavogie)

Robert (born 9 July 1891 in Portavogie)

John (born 1 July 1894 in Portavogie)

All of these children were baptised in Glastry Presbyterian Church.

During the Second World War Robert Hughes served with the Australian Merchant Navy aboard the MV Mamutu.  Built in Hong Kong in 1938 this wooden motor vessel merchant ship was operated by Burns, Philip and Company as an inter-island trader.  At the outbreak of war, the MV Mamutu was engaged in the evacuation of civilians ahead of the advancing Japanese forces.  She operated as a supply ship for the Royal Australian Navy and on 7 August 1942 was shelled and sunk by the Japanese submarine RO-33 in the Gulf of Papua, near Murray Island in the Torres Strait.  First Officer Robert Hughes was one of more than 100 men, women, and children (many of them natives) who lost their lives during the shelling and follow-up machine gun fire.

First Officer Robert Hughes was 51 when he died, and he is commemorated in the Commemorative Roll of the Australian War Memorial.  This Roll takes the form of a Commemorative Book located in the Memorial’s Commemorative Area and it ‘commemorates Australians who died during or as a result of wars or warlike operations in which Australians have been on active service but who were not eligible for inclusion on the Roll of Honour (not serving in the Australian Armed Forces)’.  The official commencement and cut-off dates for the Second World War were 3 September 1939 to 30 June 1947 (the date of disbandment of the Australian Imperial Force).

First Officer Robert Hughes is also commemorated on the family grave headstone in Glastry Presbyterian Church graveyard:

In loving memory of

Robert Hughes, Portavogie who died 21st February 1923 aged 71 years

Also his wife Ann Hughes who died 29th October 1922 aged 75 years

Also Robert son of above lost at sea August 1942 aged 51 years

Mary Elizabeth daughter of above died 1st April 1968 aged 87 years

Margaret daughter of above died 17th April 1970 aged 86 years

Ellen Hughes died 4th December 1981 aged 93 years

I know that my Redeemer liveth

and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth