William Richmond

In loving memory of Captain William Richmond killed at sea by enemy action 2nd July 1940; wife Jane Brownridge died 2nd February 1953

CWGC: Master William Richmond, Merchant Navy, S.S. Baron Ruthven (Ardrossan); killed by enemy action 2 July 1940, a. 60; Z 522

William Richmond was born in Edinburgh on 30 March 1877.  He was the eldest child of John Richmond, a journalist who worked for The Scotsman for many years, and his wife Mary Guthrig. William was educated at George Watson’s College and then joined the merchant navy.  After four years at sea he obtained his certificate of competency as a Second Mate on a Foreign-going Ship in January 1899, as First Mate in December 1900 and as Master in October 1903.  After serving his apprenticeship on The Firth of Stronza, a sailing ship owned by the Firth Line of Glasgow, he worked first for Messrs Currie & Co., Leith, and then for Messrs. Hogarth & Sons, Glasgow, owners of the Baron Line.

William Richmond married Jane Brownridge, at St James, Norton Canes, Staffordshire, in 1906.  She was born in 1875 the daughter of John Brownridge, a colliery store keeper, and was living at home and working as a pupil teacher in 1891 and an elementary school teacher in 1901.  

William and Jane had a son, William John Richmond, who was born in Edinburgh in 1907.  The family lived in Eva Place for a number of years before moving to West Savile Terrace c.1934.  William John Richmond became a chartered accountant and was working in China in the mid-late 1930s.  

On 5 July 1940 The Scotsman reported that “News has been received in Edinburgh of the death in an air attack at sea of Captain William Richmond, 87 West Savile Terrace.  It is understood that his vessel was in convoy when it was attacked by a Nazi plane. A bomb exploded and killed Captain Richmond and his chief officer on the bridge, also causing other casualties.  Captain Richmond, who was 60 years of age, was in the employment of H. Hogarth & Sons, Glasgow, and was formerly with James Currie & Company, Leith.  A son of the late Mr John Richmond, formerly chief sub-editor of The Scotsman, Captain Richmond was educated at George Watson’s College.  He is survived by his wife and a son, who is in Shanghai.”

Wartime reporting restrictions mean no further details were revealed at the time, but we now know that the convoy the Baron Ruthven was part of, 0A.177G, left Southend on 1 July and was attacked in the English Channel the following day.  The Baron Ruthven was in ballast heading for Bilbao but after the attack she was diverted to Portsmouth.  The deaths of William Richmond and the Baron Ruthven’s Chief Officer, Henry Williamson, were both registered in Gosport, in Richmond’s case by the officer commanding the Haslar Hospital on 3 July. They are the only men known to have been killed when the Baron Ruthven was attacked. William Richmond was buried in the Grange Cemetery on Saturday, 6 July, after a service in Reid Memorial Church.  Henry Williamson, who also came from Edinburgh, was buried in Seafield Cemetery.


Ancestry, Masters and Mates Certificates

Ancestry, WW1 & WW2 Roll of Honour of the Merchant Navy & Fishing Fleets BT 339:1