Robert Henry Brennan, crew survivor from the Empress of Ireland

composite image of button and ID photo

Uniform button for Canadian Pacific Ocean Services, worn by Brennan in about 1915 and the photograph from his seaman’s identity card, number 122899

Robert Henry Brennan was born in Belfast in 1876. While at sea from 1900 onwards he lived in Liverpool and Wallasey.

He joined the Empress of Ireland as 5th Engineer in 1908 and then made 69 return voyages on her (one per month) before her tragic sinking in the Saint Lawrence river in May 1914.

Brennan, then junior 2nd engineer, survived the sinking, and gave evidence at the Canadian enquiry in June 1914. He was the senior engineer officer on duty during the tragedy. He was back at sea with Canadian Pacific just 5 months later.

Several of Brennan's personal effects are on display in the gallery, including a blanket that one of his rescuers gave to him after the sinking and his written report on the sinking for the Canadian enquiry, 3 June 1914. The items were all a gift of Mr G Brennan in 2003.

Extract from Brennan's discharge book with an entry for the shipwreck of the Empress of Ireland

An extract from Brennan's discharge book, shown above, reads:

'*Name of ship and official number, port of registry, and tonnage. Empress of Ireland 123972 L'pool - 8028

*Date and place of engagement. 21 Feb 1914 L'pool

*Rating; and R.N.R. No. (if any). Senr 3rd Engineer'

Accession numbers for the Brennan items MMM.2003.61.1-5