Fireman and Trimmer James Hodges Emerson served in the Merchant Navy during World War Two. Born in 1919, he was the son of William John Emerson and Elizabeth Emerson of 130 Cosgrave Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
Emerson served on the SS Kenbane Head. The ship’s name comes from a rocky outcrop, home to a historic castle near Ballycastle, Co. Antrim. He was one of 24 men on board who died on 5th November 1940, when torpedoes struck the ship. German surface raider, Admiral Scheer downed the British merchant ship off the coast of Greenland. James was 20 years old.
SS Kenbane Head was part of Convoy HX 84, which sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on 28th October 1940. The convoy consisted of 38 merchant ships with cargoes bound for Liverpool, England under the command of Commodore HB Maltby. Cargo included steel, military trucks, and maize.
At around 1630hrs on 5th November, Captain Theodor Krancke on Admiral Scheer intercepted the convoy. He sank seven ships. Admiral Scheer had been patrolling the Atlantic since 14th October 1940, aided by two Arado seaplanes. One of these planes spotted convoy HX 84.
Other ships sank by Krancke on that day included the Fresno City, SS Maidan, SS Beaverford, SS Mopan, SS Trewellard, and HMS Jervis Bay. SS San Demetrio escaped damaged.
James Hodges Emerson has no known grave. His name is on Panel 60 of the Tower Hill Memorial, London England.