McGrath, John

McGrath, John

Able Seaman

SS Troutpool (West Hartlepool), Merchant Navy

Died as the result of enemy action on Saturday 20 July 1940 (aged 53)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 112)


John McGrath was born on 12 August 1886 in Portaferry (according to his Seaman papers), he was a son Hugh and Margaret McGrath and he served during the First World War.  He lived at 291 Paisley Road, Glasgow with his sister Mrs Margaret Black.

During the Second World War, John McGrath served in the Merchant Navy as an Able Seaman aboard the SS Troutpool.  Owned by the Pool Shipping Company, the SS Troutpool was built in 1927 by William Gray and Company Ltd., West Hartlepool and in 1940 she was on a voyage from Rosario in Argentina to Great Britain with a cargo of grain when she sank in Belfast Lough after being struck by a magnetic mine.

The SS Troutpool had put into Belfast Lough for degaussing – a process involving the passing of an electric current through a cable round the ship’s hull (designed to reduce the possibility of magnetic mines in the water being attracted by the ship’s hull).  After re-starting her engines, the SS Troutpool was struck by two mines around 2.00 pm on 20 July 1940 and sank about a mile off the coast near Bangor.  Eleven crew members were killed in the explosions.  At low tide, the superstructure was visible and, because it was a hazard to shipping, the wreckage was dispersed with explosives.  At the time it was speculated that the mines which sank the SS Troutpool were laid by a long range Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor aircraft known to have been operating in the area.

Fireman and Trimmer Shief Ahmed was buried in Bangor Cemetery, as was Thomas Smith Beckett who was the Ship’s Carpenter aboard SS Troutpool.  Three unidentified sailors from SS Troutpool were buried in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards – one on 1 August 1940, another on 24 August 1940 and the third on 26 August 1940.  Able Seaman John McGrath’s body was not recovered, and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.