Waterson, Arthur Hill Coates

Waterson, Arthur Hill Coates (Arthur)


SS Atheltemplar (Liverpool), Merchant Navy

Died as the result of enemy action on Saturday 1 March 1941 (aged 37)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 12)

Groomsport and District War Memorial

Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church

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


Arthur Hill Coates Waterson was born on 13 May 1903 in Groomsport and he was a son of Robert and Annie Waterson (nee Graham) who lived at 24 The Hill, Groomsport.  Robert Waterson worked as a fisherman and he and Annie Graham were married on 15 October 1901 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  Robert Waterson from Groomsport was a son of John Waterson, a fisherman.  Annie Graham from Bangor was a daughter of William Graham, a labourer.

Robert and Annie Waterson (nee Graham) had four children:

Arthur Hill Coates (born 13 May 1903 in Groomsport)

Annie (Fanny, born 22 October 1907 in Groomsport)

John (born 1 December 1911 in Groomsport)

Ellen (Nellie, born 9 November 1912 in Groomsport)

Arthur Waterson attended Groomsport National School and the Waterson family worshipped in Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church.

When Arthur left school, he worked with his father for two years before leaving Groomsport to join the Ulster Steamship Company (Headline Shipping Company).  He worked aboard the SS Kenbane Head and the SS Rathlin Head and he obtained his Master Mariner ticket at the age of 21.

Arthur Waterson and Aileen Alexandra (Eileen) Montgomery were married in 1934 in Dartford, Kent and when they lived at 2 Braemar Park, Bangor they worshipped in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s).  Their son, Brian Vigers Waterson, was born in 1937 and he too became a seaman.  He worked on the dredging boats in Belfast Lough.  Brian Waterson died in a car accident in the early 1960s when he was returning home after watching a rugby match in Dublin.

During the Second World War Captain Arthur Waterson served with the Merchant Navy and in the 8 March 1941 edition of the County Down Spectator it was reported that he had played a gallant part in the Dunkirk evacuation.  In 1941 he captained the SS Atheltemplar which was a molasses tanker built by Lithgows, Port Glasgow, Scotland and launched in April 1930.  Initially operated by the United Molasses Company Ltd., the SS Atheltemplar transferred to the Athel Line in 1940.

On 14 December 1939, the SS Atheltemplar struck a mine off the Tyne Estuary and after repairs she returned to service on 9 April 1940.  Following a refit during the winter of 1940/1941 she sailed northwards in ballast on 1 March 1941 from Methil in Scotland at the head of the starboard column of vessels in Convoy EN-79.  As darkness fell, the convoy was attacked off the Aberdeenshire coast by Heinkel He 111 bombers operating from their base in Denmark and the SS Atheltemplar was struck on the navigation bridge by two 250 kg bombs.  Fire swept through the vessel and survivors were forced to abandon ship.  At least twelve men, including Captain Waterson, died during the incident; five unidentified members of the crew were buried in New Calton Burial Ground, Edinburgh.  Survivors were taken aboard HMS Leda and the SS Atheltemplar was taken in tow by HMS Speedwell to the Imperial Dock at Leith.  After extensive repairs, the SS Atheltemplar returned to service in June 1941, and she sank on 14 September 1942 after being torpedoed by the German submarine U-457.

Captain Arthur Hill Coates Waterson was 37 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London; on Groomsport and District War Memorial; in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s) and in Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church.

When Arthur Hill Coates Waterson died his effects amounted to some £1,918 and probate was granted to his widow.

His father Robert died on 17 November 1948 (aged 75), his mother Annie died on 28 April 1968, his sister Fanny died on 30 June 1997 and they were buried in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor.