The School Ship: Canadian Pacific
SS "Beaverford" - 2

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The passage below has been reproduced from the files of the Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald. The issue is dated 26 May 1944. It has been reconfigured using today's punctuation conventions on order to make it more easier to read. The actual service took place on 20 May 1944.




On Saturday a memorial service was held at Downhills Central School, Tottenham, to commemorate the gallant action of the SS "Beaverford" which was lost with all hands on November 5th, 1940.

The "Beaverford", a 10,000 ton Canadian Pacific cargo liner, was adopted by the school in 1936, and until the outbreak of the war visits were made by the scholars to the ship when in dock and members of the crew often visited the school.

The school hall was filled to capacity with parents, past and present scholars, and relatives and friends of the crew to do honour to their memory. Ald Morell JP, Chairman of the Tottenham Education Committee, presided and spoke of the valuable work done by the Merchant Navy and the debt we owe to them.

He introduced the speakers and referred to Mrs Pettigrew, the widow of the late Captain High Pettigrew, as "a gallant mate to a gallant Captain".

After the singing of "Eternal Father," Miss FAS Ward read selected verses from Psalm 107 and prayers for those at sea.

Mr CF Strong MA, Director of Education, speaking on the subject of the School and the British Ship Adoption Society, emphasised the value of getting first hand information of various parts of the world, through members of the crew, and thus making geography alive to children.


Mr Hemstock BSc, a former member of the staff, gave an account of the School's association with the ship and read extracts from letters received from members of the crew, ending with a stirring account of the "Beaverford's" last fight with a German pocket battleship.

After the destruction of the "Jervis Bay," the "Beaverford" engaged the enemy for five hours and thus allowed the rest of the convoy to escape.

Mr NS Mercer BA BComm, the headmaster, spoke of the inauguration of the Memorial fund and the spontaneous response to the appeal. He thanked all those who had helped with the arrangements, particularly Mr TW Hancock, who had acted as Secretary.

Capt RN Stuart VC DSO RD ADC RNR referred to his friend, Captain Hugh Pettigrew and his gallant crew of 76, and then called upon Mrs Pettigrew, the widow, to unveil the Memorial.


The Memorial is a watercolour painting of the "Beaverford" coming round the Nore into the Thames Estuary. Under the picture is a bronze plaque bearing the inscription:

SS "Beaverford,"
Our Ship,
Lost with all hands
In action.
5 Nov, 1940.

Miss FA Wilson, a former senior mistress at the school, welcomed the Old Scholars present, and said she had received letters and donations from Gibralter, Malta and Canada, as well from all parts of the British Ilse.

On the platform with her was Radio Officer Emsen, an old scholar from the school, whose interest in radio was aroused by his visit to the "Beaverford," and who had just returned from 27 months service in the Pacific.

Miss Wilson asked Mr Emson to make the presentation of a cheque for £125 to Mr FA Lyon, Secretary of the Seamans' Hospital Society. Mr Lyon having suitably acknowledged the gift, the singing of the national Anthem brought the proceedings to a close.

In Memory of
S.S. Beaverford (London), Merchant Navy
who died on
Tuesday 5 November 1940. Age 60.

Additional Information:

Son of James Pettigrew and of Margaret Pettigrew (nee Culbert); husband of Mary Gardiner Pettigrew, of Glasgow.

Cemetery: TOWER HILL MEMORIAL London, United Kingdom

Grave or Reference Panel Number: Panel 15.

Visiting Information: The Memorial Register may be consulted at Trinity House Corporation, Trinity Square (Cooper's Row entrance), which will be found behind the Memorial. Tel: 020 7481 6900

Taken from The Debt of Honour Register, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.