Tedford, Alfred Robert Hetherington

Tedford, Alfred Robert Hetherington


HMS Urania, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Accidentally drowned on Wednesday 17 April 1946 (aged 26)

No known grave   


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 90 Column 3)

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club Memorial Plaque

Family grave headstone in Belfast City Cemetery


Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford was born on 15 January 1920 at 18 Osborne Park, Belfast and he was the only son of Alfred and Mary Winifred Tedford (nee McCreight) who were married on 9 September 1911 in Lisburn Church of Ireland Cathedral.

Mary Winifred McCreight was born on 27 September 1885 in Bachelor’s Walk, Lisburn and she was a daughter of Robert and Lizzie McCreight (nee Carlisle).

Alfred and Mary Winifred Tedford (nee McCreight) had at least two children:

Elizabeth Winifred (born 31 January 1914 at The Moorings, Osborne Park, Belfast; died in 1999)

Alfred Robert Hetherington (born 15 January 1920 at 18 Osborne Park, Belfast)

Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford joined the Navy and he served aboard HMS Revenge, HMS Westminster, and the destroyer HMS Urania.

Lieutenant Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford was the first man to see the birth of the volcanic island of Urania in the Pacific Ocean.  He was officer of the watch on board HMS Urania – after which the island was named – when he witnessed the dramatic eruption.

There is one report which states that Lieutenant Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford was drowned in Sydney Harbour, Australia when he accidently fell overboard.  In one part of the report, he is designated MPK – missing presumed killed, and in another part of the report, it is recorded that he was buried in Sydney War Cemetery.  This report is incorrect.

In 1946 three men serving aboard HMS Urania died:

  • Signalman James Alfred Walker on 23 February 1946; buried in Sydney War Cemetery, Australia
  • Lieutenant Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford on 17 April 1946; missing presumed killed, commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 90 Column 3)
  • Lieutenant Hugh Dodridge on 7 August 1946; buried in Longbridge Deverill (S.S. Peter and Paul) Churchyard, England

Signalman James Alfred Walker had been swimming with others at Bondi Beach, Sydney when he was caught by a fierce undertow and sank into deep water.  He was brought ashore unconscious but failed to recover after treatment.

When Lieutenant Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford went missing on 17 April 1946 it was concluded that he had fallen overboard in the Bay of Biscay.  His body was never recovered, and his disappearance was reported in the Press:

A romance which started in Sydney ended with the mysterious disappearance of a naval officer from a ship at sea.  The officer was Lieutenant Alfred Robert Hetherington Tedford from Belfast, and his fiancée was Marjorie Hudson of Clarendon Street, Bedford, formerly serving in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS).  They became secretly engaged while both were stationed in Australia.  Miss Hudson returned to England and, while awaiting Lieutenant Tedford’s arrival, was informed that he was missing.

A Naval Board of Inquiry sat in the wardroom of the Urania after it docked at Devonport and heard the story of how Lieutenant Tedford came off watch on Wednesday 17 April as the Urania was steaming through the Bay of Biscay.  That was the last seen of him and he had not slept in his bunk.  One theory was that he fell overboard during a heavy swell.

His father, Alfred Tedford, died on 5 February 1942 (aged 65); his addresses were 8 Deramore Park, Belfast, and 58 Howard Street, Belfast.  He had been an Irish rugby international (forward) who represented the British Isles on their tour of South Africa in 1903.  He played 23 tests for Ireland between 1902 and 1908 and three tests in South Africa.  He was buried in Belfast City Cemetery (grave O. 614).

His mother, Mary Winifred Tedford (nee McCreight) died on 19 February 1966 in Lisburn.