MASTER ALEXANDER CORDINER
12TH MARCH 1918 AGE 62
BURIED: BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY, GERMANY
Alexander Cordiner was the master of the SS Heworth. At the beginning of August 1914 the ship was berthed on the River Elbe near Hamburg. At 12.15 am on the morning of 5 August the British Foreign Office issued a statement that concluded:
"His Majesty's Government have declared to the German Government that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany as from 11 pm on Aug. 4."
If, as Cordiner's inscription states, he was interned on 3 August 1914 the German Government rather jumped the gun as the two nations were not yet at war.
Cordiner and his crew were interned for the duration in Ruhleben Spandau a camp on a Berlin racecourse, which held about 4 to 5,000 internees of various nationalities. There were a total of nearly one thousand British internees held in Germany during the war, people who had been living, working or on holiday when the war broke out and who were then held by the German Government as enemy aliens.
Cordiner was one of them and after three years and seven months of internment he died of heart failure after an intestinal operation at the Red Cross Hospital in Charlottenburg, Berlin.
Born in Nova Scotia, the eldest son of Charles and Mary Cordiner, Alexander Cordiner was a master mariner. In 1881 he married Georgina Garton in South Shields, County Durham. The couple had four children, the eldest, Charles, was accidentally drowned in 1905 whilst serving as an apprentice on the barque Marion Lightbody. Georgina Cordiner died in 1925.