Robert Rowden OBE - Mariner

Robert Rowden was born on 29th November 1886 in Ringsend, Dublin, Ireland the third son of William John Rowden and Sarah Jane Elliotte. Their first two sons, William and George, were followed by Robert and then a further 10 children by the year 1905.

Robert was a student at the Hibernian Marine School from the ages of 11 to 17. This school was not far from home, on Ropewalk Place, in Ringsend, south of the River Liffey, Dublin.

With school behind him he was first apprenticed on the "Forrest Hall", a four masted sailing cargo ship of 1,999 tons. By comparison, a modern day submarine is over 9,500 tons. He sailed all over the world and earned his Master's Certificate in 1912. During this time he joined the Royal Navy reserves and on 22nd November 1915 joined the Royal Navy. Here he served for almost 4 years during World War I being discharged on 20 May 1919.

It was during the war years that Robert married. A year his junior, May Victoria Stanley became his bride in 1916 at a wedding in South East London. Their only child, Muriel Victoria, was born two years later.

Between 1919 and 1923 Robert worked for various ship companies but in 1923 joined the Limerick Steamship Company and began service on the "SS Knockfiernan" as First Mate. By July 1926 he had made Master.

During 1930, with the advent of the depression, the ship was laid up and Robert was unemployed for 2 years. However in 1932 he found employment again serving on board the "SS Kerry Head" until the September of 1936. He went on to serve on the "MV Seino", a Greek registered ship in the Mediterranean Sea. It was there he caught typhoid and was sent to Alicante, Spain to recover.

During 1939, Robert was serving aboard the "Baltannic" sailing to and fro across the Baltic Sea. World War II broke out during this year and the ship made it out of Gdanya (Gdansk), Poland just 3 days before the Nazi's invaded. From November 1939 until March 1947 Robert worked for the Counties Ship Management Co. and served as Master on several ships. He brought 2 "Liberty Ships" home, one from San Francisco, and one from Vancouver, B.C. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean many more times before retiring in April 1947, working for the Board of Trade for 2 more years.

For his War service, and service to his country, Robert was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

Robert died on 12th February 1954 in Swanley, Kent aged 67 years. His wife May, survived him by 31 years.

green arrow Find Robert and his family in sept 15 pedigree chart.