James Anderson Murray was born in Manchester in 1860 and educated at the Helme Grammar School. At the age of 19, James Murray went to sea and he passed his Ordinary Master examines at Liverpool in 1898 finally receiving his Certificate of competency, on foreign going ships, issued on 8th October 1898, No. 028972. During the next fifteen years Captain Murray served aboard the Elder Dempster Line in the Southern Hemisphere in places like South America, Indian Ocean, and West Africa.



By 1904 Captain Murray was now serving with the SS Lake Manitoba which had been built in 1901 but by 1903, she was purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The first voyage by the SS Lake Manitoba for the new owners was on May 5th,1903 when she left Liverpool for Quebec and Montreal.



Later, Captain Murray was then appointed to take command of the Empress of Britain in August 1906. By 1912 while Captain Murray was still in command of the Empress of Britain, it collides with the SS Helvetia a coal collier which had been specially built for the coal trade on July 27th, 1912 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  One of Captain Murray hobbies was rifle shooting. He owned his own personal target rifle a 1905 Mark II and while he was still in command of the Empress of Britain he joined the Rifle Club and he won the trophy in 1913.



For a brief period of time Captain Murray was then transferred over to the Empress of Ireland on February 21st, 1914 to April 24th, 1914, before handing over his command to Captain Henry George Kendall, who took command on May 2nd, 1914. After that, he resigned from the Canadian Pacific Railway Co where he took the position of Harbor Master at Quebec which paid him a salary of $4,000.00 per year for a brief period of time.


War broke out on 28 July 1914 and Captain Murray went to Halifax and since he was already in the Royal Naval Reserve as Lieutenant-Commander. While serving in Halifax as a liaison between the naval escort ships and the merchant vessels on December 6th, he wanted to clear up all matters of concern as a planned naval escort was leaving the next day December 7th, 1917. But that day would never come as in another 1 hour and 36 minutes the world would witness the first man made destruction that would be equivalent to the nuclear bomb that wouldn’t be dropped for another 28 years into the future.

On the morning of Thursday, December 6th, 1917 Lieutenant-Commander James Anderson Murray, R.N.V.R had been one of three naval officers who knew about the deadly munitions ship Mont Blanc. While desperately tried to get back to pier 9 where his office and sound the alarm to warn the public the Mont Blanc exploded and vanished within seconds. The world had just witness the first man made destruction that would be equivalent to the pre Hiroshima atomic bomb that wouldn’t be dropped for another 28 years into the future. This explosion killed over 1,900 people and injures 9,000 when the munitions ship Mont Blanc was struck by a steamship called Imo, including Lieutenant-Commander James Anderson Murray, who was found buried under piles of timber from what was pier 9.​

Source Public Domain,
Captain James Anderson Murray 1860 to 1917

The R.M.S. Empress of Ireland Community

Captain James Anderson Murray

Master of Both Empresses