George Alexander Pirie

M, #5307, b. 15 July 1914, d. 16 April 1942
     George Alexander Pirie was born on 15 July 1914 at 77 Portknockie, Banffshire, Scotland.1,2 He was the son of David Pirie and Helen Mair. His family was known by the tee-name of "Buxer". George Alexander Pirie was a merchant seaman. He was an Able Seaman aboard the steam merchant vessel Empire Howard, in convoy PQ-14, which was torpedoed by U-boat U-403 northwest of North Cape, Norway, at 14.45 hours on 16 April 1942.3 George died on 16 April 1942 at sea aboard rescue ship 'Lord Middleton' at age 27.4,5,2 He was buried after 16 April 1942 at Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery, Trondheim, Norway. His name is also recorded on the Portknockie War Memorial.6,5,7


  1. [S4126] George Alexander Pirie, Register of Births in the District of Seafield in the County of Banff, "Twin George Alexander Pirie, 1914, July Fifteenth 9h 30m A.M. at 77 Portknockie, Seafield (Rathven), Male. Father: David Pirie, Fisherman. Mother: Helen Pirie M. S. Mair, married 1912 September 13th in Seafield. Informant: David Pirie, Father. Registered: 1914, August 1st at Seafield Manse, James McIntyre, Registrar."
  2. [S772] Robert Mair, Neil Pirie, Information kindly supplied by Robert Mair of Durham, England.
  3. [S4156] Gudmundur Helgason, website,
    'At 14.45 hours on 16 April 1942 the Empire Howard (Master John McDonald Downie), the ship of the convoy commodore in convoy PQ-14, was torpedoed by U-403 northwest of North Cape. The vessel sank in 57 seconds. The Commodore E. Rees DSC RNR, three of his staff, 18 crew members and three gunners were lost. The master and eight crew members were picked up by the British armed trawler HMS Lord Middleton (FY 219) (Lt R.H. Jameson) and 21 crew members, three gunners, two of the naval staff and two passengers were picked up by the British armed trawler HMS Northern Wave (FY 153) (Lt W.G. Pardoe-Matthews) and landed at Polarnoe near Murmansk.'
  4. [S4155] George Alexander Pirie, Return of Deaths reported to the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, "Name of Ship: Empire Howard. Official Number: 168975. Date of Death: 16.4.42. Place of Death: At Sea Aboard Rescue Ship "Lord Middleton". Name and Surname of Deceased: George Alexander Pirie. Sex: Male. Age: 27. Rank or Rating, Profession or Occupation: A.B. Nationality (stating Birthplace): Portknockie. Last Place of Abode: 60 Horsley Hill Road, South Shields. Cause of Death: Collapse after Immersion and Exposure. Passenger or Member of Crew: 257, Crew."
  5. [S6949] George Alexander Pirie, Monumental inscription, "G. A. PIRIE, Able Seaman, S.S. "Empire Howard", 16th April 1942, Age 27."
  6. [S4157] Debt of Honour Register and certificate, Casualty No 2186311, "In memory of Able Seaman George Alexander Pirie, SS Empire Howard (Greenock), Merchant Navy, who died 16 April 1942 Age 27. Son of David and Helen Pirie, of Portknockie, Banffshire; husband of Doreen Pirie. Remembered with Honour. Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery. Commemorated in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission."
    Grave Reference: A IV British. D. 14.
  7. [S4295] Ian Pirie, Neil Pirie, Information kindly supplied by Ian Pirie of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England.