Sub-Lieutenant Eric Alexander Lockhart Blair Wotherspoon served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the son of Alexander Hamilton Wotherspoon and Ronaldina Lockhart Wotherspoon of 11 Hutchinson Drive, Bearsden, Dunbartonshire.
Wotherspoon served onboard HMS Arbiter. It had spent time undergoing a refit in Belfast’s Harland and Wolff Shipyard in September 1944. By January 1945, the escort aircraft carrier joined the British Pacific Fleet. Between October 1945 and January 1946, HMS Arbiter repatriated prisoners of war from Hong Kong to Australia and the United Kingdom.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Wotherspoon’s death on 30th March 1946. In fact, the Sub-Lieutenant was missing on 2nd February 1946 when HMS Arbiter left Belfast Dock. The 28-year-old drowned at the Oil Jetty, Musgrave Channel, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
Eric’s father received intimation that his son was missing on 12th March 1946. Along with this, he received a package of Eric’s personal effects. Eric’s father Alexander Hamilton Wotherspoon had been purser on board the ill-fated Athenia. On 30th March 1946, he identified his son’s body at Belfast, Co. Antrim.
Eric Alexander Lockhart Blair Wotherspoon’s grave is in Section BS, Grave 18 of Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim. His headstone bears the inscription:
Love and remembrance.
Present at the funeral were Reverend Samuel Cochrane (Port Chaplain), WJ McConnell (Donaldson Atlantic Line) and Cyril McCaffrey. McCaffrey of Newtownards Road, Belfast, Co. Down was a shipmate of Wotherspoon. He had relieved Wotherspoon on watch at 0800hrs on 31st January 1946 and he had been in good health. An inquest on 3rd April 1946 found no evidence how the Sub-Lieutenant came to be in the water.