Ordinary Signalman Alexander Anderson of H.M.S. Pembroke, Royal Navy, Service No. C/JX 214092, died on August 19th 1941, aged 25.
In the photograph, Alexander's cap bears the name H.M.S. Ganges. Until the start of WW2, Ganges was the shore training establishment for boy entrants into the Royal Navy. From 1940 it was used as a centre for 'Hostilities Only New Entry Training'. Alexander's wearing of this cap suggests that the photograph was taken during his training.
Alexander's parents moved to Dunstan relatively late in life and Alexander never actually lived in the Craster area.
His family have in their possession a leaflet relating to the unveiling ceremony of a memorial tablet at Sunderland Head Post Office in memory of the 'Postal and Engineering staff who lost their lives in the 1939 to 1945 war'. Alexander's name on the list of fallen indicates that he worked and lived in the Sunderland area.
The tablet was dedicated on December 10th 1950.
H.M.S. Pembroke was the name given to a number of shore barracks at Chatham, Harwich and on the Forth. Given that Alexander was commemorated at Chatham, it is likely that was where he was based. However, he was lost enroute to Gibraltar on board SS Aguila, when the convoy was attacked by U boats off the south western coast of Ireland. The convoy, OG-71, consisting of twenty-three merchant ships, two destroyers and six corvettes was attacked on the evening of August 19th. The Aguila was torpedoed just after midnight and sank immediately. 145 lives were lost in the sinking, including 22 WRENs, who were in transit for Gibraltar.
Before the Convoy reached its destination, eight of its ships had been sunk, plus two escort vessels, including the destroyer, H.No.M.S. Bath, with a loss of nearly 400 lives. The Bath, launched in 1918, was formerly U.S.S. Hopewell and was transferred to Britain in 1941, when she was manned by the Norwegian navy from April of that year.
Alexander is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Alexander Anderson
Royal Naval Museum - SS Aguila
War Sailors - A Norwegian site recording a history of the convoy.
The Nightmare Convoy
The Story of the Lost Wrens
By Lund, Paul and Harry Ludlam