b. 1892 Hurlford, Ayrshire, Scotland. d. 27/02/1929 Buenaventura, Colombia.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 27/02/1929 Buenaventura, Colombia.
Alexander was one of five children of James and Mary Johnston (nee McKie) and they grew up in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. His name is on the family grave at Kaimshill Cemetery, Kilmarnock.
The s.s. “Tritonia,” of Glasgow, with a general cargo on board and a quantity of explosives in No. 3 hold, arrived at Buenaventura, Columbia, on the 27th February, 1929. On the following day the discharging of the cargo was begun, a shore gang being employed for the purpose. During the afternoon a fire was discovered among the cases of dynamite which were stowed in the bridge space of No. 3 hold; the alarm was at once given, and the shore gang with most of the crew left the ship. The Master, Officers, and a few members of the crew who remained on board immediately took steps to deal with the fire. Unfortunately they were unable to control it and the ship had to be abandoned owing to the intense heat and dense smoke as well as the danger of explosion. Upon reaching the shore the Master, after consultation with the Port Authorities, decided to try to sink the ” Tritonia,” because of the danger of serious damage to persons and property in the port if the explosives on the ship blew up. Accordingly the Master and the Chief Engineer and Second Engineer (Mr. A. Johnston and Mr. W. Hall respectively) went back to the burning ship. The two Engineer Officers went on board for the purpose of opening the sea cocks. The launch drew off and waited until it was seen that the two Engineers.were approaching the ship’s side in readiness to leave again. The launch was about to proceed to the ” Tritonia ” to take off the two officers when the ship blew up and both Engineers were killed. The launch was severely damaged and those on board were taken on to another launch which cruised about for some time in a vain search for the missing Engineers before returning to the shore. The two Engineers, fully aware of the very serious risk they ran, sacrificed their lives in a heroic attempt to prevent the explosion.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
ON FAMILY GRAVE IN KAIMSHILL CEMETERY, KILMARNOCK, AYRSHIRE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.