Alexander Knight

Military Information

  • Date of enlistment: April 1914
  • Place of enlistment: HMS Unicorn, Dundee
  • Service no: Clyde 2/212
  • Rank: Able Seaman
  • Service Occupation:
  • Awards:
  • Regiment/Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
  • Unit/Ship: H.M.S. Laurentic
  • Place of Death: Lost at Sea
  • Age at Death: 19
  • Date of Death: 25.01.1917
  • Burial Country:
  • Cemetery: Portsmouth Naval Memorial
  • Grave/Mem Ref no: Panel 28

Personal Information

  • Date of Birth: 11.07.1895
  • Place of Birth: Broughty Ferry
  • Address: 16 Fort St, Broughty Ferry
  • Occupation: Apprentice Fitter
  • Mother:

    Annie Knight, 16 Fort St, Broughty Ferry

  • Father:

    Alexander Knight

  • Siblings:


  • Spouse:
  • Children:

More about Alexander Knight

Alexander has no known grave but is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Alexander was serving aboard when on the 23 January 1917, the 14,892-ton liner Laurentic, which had been converted into an Armed Auxiliary Cruiser, hit a mine laid by German submarine UB-40 off the coast of Northern Ireland. In her strong rooms were 43 tons of gold, in 3211 separate gold ingots, valued then at more than £5 million, being taken to the United States to pay for food, steel, and munitions which Britain needed to continue the war against Germany. The Laurentic sank so swiftly that 354 of 745 men aboard were lost.

Alexander Knight   C2/212   H.M.S. Laurentic


Mrs Annie Knight, 16 Fort Street, Broughty Ferry, has Received official information that her son, Able Seaman Alexander Knight, is not returned amongst the saved off the Laurentic, and therefore he is concluded to be drowned.

Seaman Knight joined the R.N.V.R. at the beginning of the war, and was in the Clyde Division (Hood Battalion) when Antwerp was taken by the Germans.  On his return home he was posted to the Laurentic, and had formed one of the crew for about two years.  He was seventeen years of age when he joined up.

Dundee Courier 1st February 1917

Notification has been received by Mrs Knight, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry, that her son, Able Seaman Alexander Knight, had gone down with the Laurentic.  He was only 19 years of age, joined the Royal Naval Division on the outbreak of war, and went with that gallant corps to Antwerp.  Later he was sent to the Laurentic.  He was a fine manly lad of a bright disposition.

Dundee People’s Journal 3rd February 1917

Family Background:

Alexander`s father, also Alexander, was a fisherman who died in 1910. The family lived at 16 Fort Street, Broughty Ferry.

Service History:

Alexander joined the RNVR in April 1914 and then the Hood Battalion on the outbreak of war, serving at Antwerp. In October 1914 he transferred to sea service and then joined HMS Laurentic, an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Laurentic supported operations against the Germans in Cameroon, West Africa before patrolling in the Far East. Returning to the North Atlantic she ferried Canadian servicemen to Britain. On her final voyage she was on passage from Liverpool to North America with a cargo of £5 million gold bullion to pay Canada and the USA for war materials. On the night of 25th January 1917 she struck two mines ,laid by German submarine UB-40,off the Northern Irish coast and sank with the loss of 345 of the 745 men onboard, including Alexander.

Alexander Knight was the son of Mr Alexander and Mrs Annie Knight of 16 Fort Street, Broughty Ferry. He was an Apprentice Fitter when he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve onboard HMS Unicorn in April 1914. On mobilisation in August 1914 he was drafted to the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division and served in C Company, Number 5 Section during the Antwerp campaign in early October 1914. He transferred to sea service in late October 1914 and joined HMS Laurentic, an Armed Merchant Cruiser. His ship supported operations against German forces in Cameroon before being sent to patrol the seas in the Far East. Returning to the North Atlantic she brought Canadian servicemen to Britain before her last voyage in January 1917. HMS Laurentic was mined and sank off Northern Ireland with a very heavy loss of life. Alexander Knight is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common, the RNVR Memorial onboard HMS Unicorn and in the St James Church, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry. The wreck was declared protected 3 March 2017. Three Broughty Ferry men named Alexander Knight died in the Naval Services during the First World War.

Information supplied by Gary Thomson, additional information and image kindly supplied by Michael Caldwell and Hugh Mcrae.

Further information supplied by Iain Stewart and Iain Birnie

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