Robert Henderson

Military Information

  • Date of enlistment:
  • Place of enlistment:
  • Service no:
  • Rank: Donkeyman
  • Service Occupation:
  • Awards:
  • Regiment/Service: S.S. Active
  • Unit/Ship: Mercantile Marine
  • Place of Death:
  • Age at Death: 41
  • Date of Death: 26.12.1915
  • Burial Country:
  • Cemetery:
  • Grave/Mem Ref no:

Personal Information

  • Date of Birth:
  • Place of Birth:
  • Address: 11 Peep 'O' Day Lane, Dundee
  • Occupation:
  • Mother:
  • Father:
  • Siblings:
  • Spouse:
  • Children:

More about Robert Henderson

The Active was a Dundee Whaling ship originally built in 1852. In 1914 she made her last whaling voyage and only discovered the country was at war on 4 October when she met the United States vessel Pelican at Hudson Bay. She was requisitioned by the government and altered to carry conventional cargo. On December 13th, 1915, the Active, left Leith for Archangel with a cargo of armaments for Russia. She was last spoken to on December 24th, 1915 and not heard of since. She foundered off the Orkney Isles with the loss of all 20 crew. The first crew picked for the voyage refused to sail on her as they believed she was unseaworthy.

“Nine Dundee men were lost when the ship sank and this was reported in the Peoples Journal on 8 January 1916. Two bodies were washed ashore on the Orkney Island of Rousay and are buried in the Glebe Churchyard there. One was James Scott Jamieson and the other was Dundee man, Peter Begg Brymer who lived in Strathmartine Rd.

The other Dundee men were:- Robert Nicoll Victoria Rd, John Innes Constitution Rd, David Bernard  Mid St, Robert Henderson Peep o Day Lane, William Wilkie, Robert Walker, F Mansell and J Rose.

Only two of these men are recorded in the Dundee City Roll of Honour. None are mentioned in the C.W.G.C. Register or on the memorial to Merchant Seamen at Tower Hill London.” (Courier & Advertiser 03.02.2016)

The Dundee Men were:-

David Bernard 42, Steward, 14 Mid St, Dundee

Peter Begg Brymer 60, 1st Engineer, 155 Strathmartine Rd, Dundee

Robert Henderson 41, Donkeyman, 11 Peep ‘o’ Day Lane, Dundee

John Innes 53, Engineer, 43 Constitution Rd, Dundee

Francis Morrell 27, Carpenter, 184 Hilltown, Dundee

Robert Nicoll 58, 2nd Mate, 20 Hilltown, Dundee

John Rose 32, Fireman/Trimmer, 10 Dens Brae, Dundee

Robert Walker 51, Fireman/Trimmer, 1 Couper’s Alley, Wellgate, Dundee

William Wilkie 35, Cook, 95 Alexander St, Dundee

(Full list of men, courtesy of “City of Dundee and the Sea, Roll of Honour)

Robert Henderson lived at 11 Peep’o’Day Lane in Dundee. The SS Active was one of the last Dundee Whalers and sailed from Dundee for Russia with a war cargo in late December 1915. She sank during a storm off the Orkneys. Nine Dundee men lost their lives. A report of the sinking was written in the Peoples Journal dated 8 January 1916. Like the crew members of the SS Morning they are not commemorated at the Tower Hill Memorial in London. The loss the SS Active is only recorded in the Dundee City Roll of Honour. Another crew member wrote a very poignant last message to his family and this can be found online.

Information supplied by Gary Thomson, additional information, City of Dundee and the Sea, Roll of Honour.

Further information supplied by Iain Stewart and Iain Birnie

Can you tell us more about Robert Henderson'? Some additional facts, a small story handed down through the family or perhaps a picture or an heirloom you can share online. Contact our curator...

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