Down Memory Lane

The funeral of EO Ballantyne, Dalkeith
The funeral of EO Ballantyne, Dalkeith

Commander Ernest Orford Ballantyne stayed at Ashbank in Eskbank, Midlothian.

He was in the Royal Naval Reserve and at the outbreak of war was given command of the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Viknor.

She had been requisitioned by the Admiralty and assigned to 10th Cruiser Squadron blockading the seas between the North of Scotland and Iceland.

On January 13, 1915, Vicknor set sail from Londonderry in Ireland, and headed out into the Irish Sea to make for her patrol area. On board her were 22 Officers and 273 Ratings mostly from the Royal Navy Reserve. The weather was bad and the sea was very choppy indeed.

HMS Viknor never reached her patrol zone, a search of the area was made and scattered wreckage was found in the sea. There were no survivors. Mystery surrounds her sinking, it was thought at first that a U Boat had sunk her, however German records showed that no such craft were in the area until the end of January.

It was officially recorded that HMS Viknor has been destroyed by an enemy mine, somewhere off Tory Island and that no one had survived. Over the next few days men from the ship were washed ashore and buried locally. In Bonamargie Friary there are four unknown graves of seamen from H.M.S.’Viknor’.

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