People on board
BASSETT, Robert John
Robert John Bassett was born in Cork on the 23rd of March 1890 to Thomas William Bassett and Emily Anthony. Thomas, a well-known Corn Merchant in Waterford had married Rebecca Anthony, daughter of a Master Mariner, in 1873. Having had five children, Rebecca died in childbirth in 1882 aged thirty-two and Thomas remarried to her sister Emily. A daughter, Grace, was born in Waterford in 1888 and shortly afterwards the family moved to Cork where Thomas opened the new Denny bacon factory. He remained there as Manager until the mid-1920s.
The family, declaring themselves Methodist, were living in Waterloo Place in 1901 when the household included Emily’s widowed mother. Shortly after, they moved to Wellesley Terrace, where they would remain. In the 1911 census Robert’s only brother Walter gave his occupation as ‘Assistant Manager Bacon Factory’, while Grace and Robert were ‘Scholars’. In June of that year Robert enrolled in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland and qualified in November 1917. He held a position as House Surgeon at Londonderry Infirmary before joining the Royal Army Medical Corps.
By October 1918 Robert Bassett held the rank of Temporary Lieutenant but it is not clear where he was serving. Presumably on his way to England after leave in Cork, he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October.
Newspaper reports recount that he had spent the previous night at Ross’s Hotel, Parkgate Street in Dublin where another RAMC man, Lieutenant Charles Duggan, and a wounded New Zealand Lieutenant Godfrey Halse were also staying. The three men went to Kingstown together the next morning and were together on the ship. When the first torpedo hit the ship it is reported that Robert Bassett put a lifejacket on Lieut. Halse and all three jumped into the sea. Halse was rescued but Robert Bassett and Charles Duggan both lost their lives. (see their stories)
Robert Bassett’s body was recovered and returned to Cork where he was buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery. His name is also included on the family plot in St John’s Hill in Waterford and he is listed in the RAMC Book of Remembrance.
Photos: courtesy Marilynn Hearne