Able Seaman James Cairns

Able Seaman James Aitchison Cairns, Royal Navy. He was lost at sea, aged 26, on the 26th September 1941 aboard the S.S.” Lapwing”. He had been born in Eccles, Berwickshire and was the son of Henry and Helen Aitchison and the husband of Thomasina Cairns of Langlee Cottages, Jedburgh.  He was based at H,M.S. “President” which was a shore base for those serving as gunners aboard Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships  ( D.E.M.S ). He was serving as a gunner aboard the S.S. “Lapwing” which was in a convoy from Lisbon to Glasgow. The ship was carrying a cargo of cork and pyrites when it was torpedoed by U-203. whilst she was stopped to pick up survivors from 2 other ships. Out of the 29 crew and 5 gunners only 8 crew and 2 gunners were saved. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. ( the submarine herself was sunk in April 1943 by the destroyer H.M.S. “Pathfinder”. The photos are courtesy of J. D. Smith.


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