Kemp, Herbert Walter

Kemp, Herbert Walter (Bert)


SS Lady Hawkins (Halifax), Royal Navy

Died as the result of enemy action on Monday 19 January 1942 (aged 55)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent, England (Panel 51, 2)

Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s)


Herbert Walter Kemp was born on 27 January 1886 in East Dulwich, Camberwell, London, and he was a son of Richard Edwin Kemp and Elizabeth Mary Kemp (nee Monshall).  Both Richard Edwin Kemp and Elizabeth Mary Monshall (daughter of naval pensioner William Monshall) worked as GPO telegraph clerks and they were married on 15 April 1882 in the Church of St. Peter, Deptford.  They lived at 10 Lind Street, Deptford and had three children:

Ernest William (born 22 February 1883)

Florence Mary (born 10 February 1884)

Herbert Walter (born 27 January 1886)

Elizabeth Mary Kemp was 32 when she died at the beginning of 1889 and all three of her children were baptised on 14 October 1891 in the Church of St. John, Deptford.  At that time, they were living in Deptford with their maternal grandmother, Maureen Monshall.  The Kemp family moved to 12 Jerrard Street, Lewisham, London and Richard Edwin Kemp remarried – first to Anne Isabella Florey and later to Ada Louisa Goodchild.

Herbert Walter Kemp was 15 years old when he joined the Royal Navy in 1901.  In 1911 he was serving aboard the Cressy-class armoured cruiser HMS Bacchante.  He served as a Gunner during the First World War and on 13 September 1918 he was Mentioned in Despatches ‘for services in action with enemy submarines’.  He was demobilised in 1919, joined the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) but remained on reserve.

Herbert Walter Kemp and Teresa Stewart were married on 7 February 1922 in St Nicholas’s Parish Church of Ireland Church, Dublin.  Herbert Walter Kemp, an RIC Sergeant from the Depot in Phoenix Park was a son of Richard Edwin Kemp, a civil servant.  Teresa Stewart from Dublin was a daughter of John Stewart, a soldier.

Bert and Teresa Kemp moved to Bangor where they lived at 47 Grove Park and they had three children – Betty, Ernie and Reginald.  The Kemp children attended Sunday School in St. Columbanus Church Hall, Ballyholme; Ernie and Reginald were baptised in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s) on 29 November 1927 and 31 March 1935 respectively and Betty was confirmed in Bangor Parish Church in 1938 where she also sang in the choir.

Being on reserve, Bert Kemp was called up again immediately after the outbreak of the Second World War.  He was sent initially to Scapa Flow and in 1941 he had a period of home leave in Bangor at Christmas.  He was assigned to HMS Malabar, the Royal Naval Base in Bermuda, and when he was leaving home to go there at the end of his leave he said to his wife and children that it might be some time before he saw them again.  Gunner Bert Kemp was 55 when he was killed on passage to Bermuda.

Gunner Bert Kemp was killed on 19 January 1942 when the SS Lady Hawkins was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-66 between Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and Bermuda.  At the time there were more than 320 passengers and crew aboard this ocean liner which was built in 1928 by Cammell Laird and Company Ltd., Birkenhead and owned by the Canadian National Steamships Company Ltd.  One of the ‘Lady Liners’, she was on route from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Bermuda and sailing unescorted when she was hit around 1.50 am by two torpedoes.  The ship keeled over and burned for 25 minutes before sinking.  Three lifeboats were deployed but two were lost.  With a capacity for 63 people, the remaining lifeboat had 76 aboard so some had to stand.  Five people died and, five days after the sinking, the lifeboat was spotted by the SS Coamo and survivors were taken to Puerto Rica.  U-66 was sunk on 6 May 1944 by the USS Buckley.

Herbert Walter Kemp’s effects amounted to some £883 and probate was granted to his widow Teresa.  Teresa Kemp moved to 61 Meadowbank Place, Belfast and she was 66 when she died on 25 July 1959.  She was buried in Belfast City Cemetery (Glenalina Extension) Grave R1. 64.

Gunner Herbert Walter Kemp is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent and in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s).