Hugh Robertson Bryce was born in Shettleston, a small village on the outskirts of Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the 25th February 1882, the son of William and Christina Bryce (née Smith). On completing his education, Hugh became an apprentice steam engine maker and fitter before enlisting in the British Army in October 1903.
As 29115 Private Hugh Robertson Bryce, he served in the Mechanical Transport Section of the Army Service Corps until he was transferred to the Army Reserve in 1911, having completed eight years of service. In 1908, he had been promoted to the rank of lance corporal; however, he was reduced back to the rank of private in January 1911 when he broke a window of the guard house, having been arrested whilst drunk!
He married Annabella “Annie” McCrae Anderson in late 1911, probably after he was discharged from the army in October. He declared that he was married when he embarked on the Anchor Lines
S.S. Caledonia on the 23rd December 1911, bound for New York, and on arrival in the United States of America, he went to Auburn, New York, where he had relatives, and quickly found employment. His wife, Annie, joined him in April 1912, and sometime later, the couple relocated to Syracuse, New York.
Perhaps because of the Great War, or because Annie was expecting their first child, they decided to return to Scotland, and as a consequence left Syracuse to join the
Lusitania at Pier 54 in New York City, before she left the North River for the last time, just after mid-day on 1st May 1915. They travelled as second cabin passengers.
When the liner was torpedoed and sunk, six days out of New York and only hours away from Liverpool, both of them were saved and after they had been landed at Queenstown they were able to make their way to 1134, Dumbarton Road, Whiteinch, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, the home of Annie’s parents..
Hugh Bryce was able to obtain work in Glasgow fairly soon after their arrival there. As a result, in the summer of 1915, the couple was only awarded £5-0s-0d., from The Lusitania Relief Fund, administered by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, although further consideration was to be given to their case thereafter.
In September 1915, Annie gave birth to a son, whom they named William Anderson Bryce, and gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Isobel McCrae Bryce in October 1916.
On the 13th June 1919, Hugh Bryce and his family embarked on the S.S. Canada at Liverpool, bound for New York via Quebec, Canada. Their passage, like the passage of most of most of those on board, was paid for by the British government as part of a relocation scheme operating at that time to assist those emigrating from Great Britain. On arrival on the 22nd June, the family returned to their former home in Syracuse, New York.
Hugh Bryce lived the remainder of his life in Syracuse. He was employed at Kane & Roach, who were tool manufacturers, until his retirement in 1948 or 1949. He died at the home of his son, William Bryce, at 102. Palmer Drive, North Syracuse, New York, on the 20th March 1954, aged 72 years. His remains were interred at White Chapel Memory Gardens, Syracuse, New York. When his wife, Annie, died in 1963, she was interred beside him.
The official list of passengers on the final voyage of the Lusitania, published in March 1916 by the Cunard Steamship Company Limited, lists Hugh R. Bryce as Hugh
B. Bryce, but this was clearly an error.
1891 Census of Scotland, 1901 Census of Scotland, 1911 Census of England & Wales, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, 1925 New York State Census, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, 1940 U.S. federal Census, British Army Service Records 1914 – 1920, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Liverpool Record Office, PRO BT 100/345, Graham Maddocks, Lawrence Evans, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.