John Ritchie Cargill was born in Gourdon, Kincardineshire, Scotland on 6 July 1892.
He was the son of fisherman John Cargill, a native of Forfarshire, and Johana Black of Kincardineshire and had at least five siblings. By 1901 the family lived at Bare Road House in Bervie, Kincardineshire.
He went to sea around 1908 and joined the Royal Navy Reserve sometime around 1911; in July that year was an able seaman aboard Cunard’s Saxonia.
In April 1912 he was serving as an able seaman aboard the eastward-bound voyage of the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic.
During WWI he continued working at sea and during that time earned the nickname “Sergeant,” which persisted for the rest of his life. He became a sergeant in the Black Watch and was awarded the Military Medal. During WWII he again served with distinction and was awarded the DCM.
John was married in his native Kincardineshire in 1920 to Mary Milne Lownie, with whom he raised a family.
After a career at sea lasting half a century, Cargill retired in 1959. He died a widower in Gourdon on 16 January 1981 and was buried in Bervie Cemetery.