Lest We Forget : The Lusitania


by Jim Kalafus, Michael Poirier, Cliff Barry and Peter Kelly

Gare Maritime

Tuesday 7th May 2013


Table of Contents

…if it wasn’t for the worry I could say we’ve had a lovely trip.
Nellie Huston, Lusitania Victim

Lusitania
Image courtesy of Harald Advokaat

Contents

Intro

1. Introduction

William Uno Meriheina
Nellie Huston
Henry Needham

The Survivor

2. The Survivor

Barbara and Emily Anderson

The Families

3. The Families

Part 1 : Cecilia Owens; Reginald and Ronald Owens; Helen Smith; Alfred and Elizabeth Smith; Pearl family; Crompton family; Dorothy Allan; Charlotte and Marjorie Pye; Gertrude and Joan Adams; Rose Lohden; Emily, Albert and Edgar Palmer; Minnie Smith; Hodges family

Families 2

Part 2 : Norah Bretherton; Paul and Elizabeth Bretherton; Ruth and Robert Logan; Thomas and Annie Marsh; Thomas Marsh Junior; William Docherty; Mabel Docherty; Margaret Hastings; Ronald Greenwood; Jane and Grace Macfarquhar; James Haldane; Matron S. Leitch; Inez Wilson; Virginia Bruce Loney, Allan and Catharine Loney; Alfred and Elizabeth Mainman; Mainman family

Part 3 : Annie and Edith Williams; Rose Howley; Lydia and Eva Grandidge; Alice and Arthur Scott; Walter and Howard Tijou; Elizabeth, Duncan and Mary MacCorkindale; Samuel, Mary Jane and George Sharpe
Terence and Stuart Grey; Francis Luker; Cyril, Phyllis, and Nancy Wickings-Smith; Edward Lander; Sarah Fish; Fish family; Elizabeth Rogers; Thomas and Margaret Brownlie; John Moore; Walter Dawson and Jeanette Mitchell

4. The Struggle to Abandon Ship

Part 1 : James Brooks; Albert Bestic

Part 2 : John Idwal Lewi; James Sidney Arter; Maitland Kempson; Charles Bowring; Harold and Lucy Taylor; Dora and John Wolfenden

Part 3 : Walter Dawson, Albert and Agnes Veals, Frederick Isherwood; Thomas Sandells; Anna Ruane; Delia Stenson; Catherine Gleason; Emmie Hill; Willie Inch; Reverend Cowley Clarke; C.T. Hill; Marion Bird; Fannie Morecroft; Laura Martin; Hugh Donald Whitcombe; George Smith; Mary Beatrice Popham Lobb;Robert Leith; David McCormick

5. The Port Boats

Stones; Lund; William Mounsey; Eunice Kinch; Joseph Myers; Francis Kellett; Mary Maycock; Robert Dyer; Frederick Gauntlett; Albert Hopkins; Samuel Knox; Hammond; Faulds; Annie Sharp; James Leary; Thomas Boyce King;   Boat 14 Essay Norman Ratcliff; George Kessler; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bruno

6. Passengers of Distinction

Part 1 : C.T. Jeffrey; Isaac Trumbull; Albert Norris Perry; Frederick Perry; Edwin Twinning; Anne Shymer; Henry Pollard; Albert and Gladys Bilicke

Part 2 : Douglas Hertz; Dorothy Connor; Walter Fisher; D.A. Thomas; Robert Rankin

Part 3 : James Tilley Houghton; Fullerton Riemer Boyd; Josephine Brandell; Mabel Crichton; Maude and Elbridge Thompson; Charlotte Luck and children

Part 4 : Rita Jolivet; Lest We Forget film essay; Edgar Hounsell; Edward Barry; Dwight Carlton Harris; Herbert Light; Royal Gwent Singers; Harwood and Elaine Knight; Amelia Baker; Charles Williamson

7. A Hint of Scandal

Part 1 : Henry Sonneborn and Leo Schwabacher; Thomas Snowden and Eva Finch; Aino, Carl and Jan Antila; Constance Stroud; Rose Ellen Murray and Patrick McGinley; George Harrison

Part 2 : Carl Elmer Foss; Alfred Russell Clarke; Katherine Hickson and Caroline Hickson Kennedy; Albert Lloyd Hopkins; David Loynd; Maurice Medbury; James Williams; John Napier Fulton

Part 3 : Joseph and Evelyn Dredge

8. Earlier Voyages

Part 1 : First wartime eastbound crossing. Turbine sabotaged; Chased by military vessel; American high society flees Europe; Lusitania overdue, feared lost at sea; Bomb fears add to extra security on Christmas crossing.

Part 2
Lusitania raises American flag during eastbound voyage;  A very tense crossing, Lusitania flees at high speed under the cover of darkness, trapping her pilot onboard; A blizzard; Heightened security; A zig-zag course; The final completed crossing.

9. The Warning

Barbara McDermott; James Longmuir Ward; Sarah Helena Wiggins; Michael Byrne; Belle and Theodore Naish

10. In The Water; A Lethargic Drift into Death

May Barrett and Miss Macdonald; F.W. Schwarte; Allan H. Adams

11. Gone Forever: The Dead and the Missing

Part 1 : Sister Isabelle Wise; Carlos Gauthier; Amelia Macdona; Annie MacHardy
Carlton Thayer Brodrick; Evan Jones; Jane Worden; amond Proudfoot; Lockwood; Edith Robshaw; Beatrice Goodall and children; James and Kate Barr; Elizabeth Seccombe, Percy Seccombe...

Part 2 : Catherine Willey; David and Alice Loynd; Henry Garnet Bullen; Jane Travers; Catherine Dougall
Frank and Alice Tesson; Henrietta  Pirrie; Richard Preston Prichard; Martha King; Katherine Dingley

12. The Morning After: Post Traumatic Stress

Gerda Neilson and John Welch; Daniel Virgil Moore; Allan Beattie; Jessie Taft Smith; Angela Pappadopoulo; Beatrice Witherbee; Inez Jolivet Butler; George Butler; Francis Bertram Jenkins; Frederick Milford; Percy Rogers; Edwin Friend; James and Annie Gardner; Willie Gardner; Eric Gardner

13. Casualties of War

Barbara McDermott; Phoebe Amory; Mary Higganbottom; Martha Whyatt; Arthur Burdon; Cyril and Mary Anita Pells; John Pells; Cyril Wallace; Jeannie Fyfe; Barty and Ruth Wordsworth; Table of War Victims

14. Happy Ending/Immortality

Barbara McDermott; William Harkness

Appendix A. Cunard confidential list of unidentified victims
Appendix B. Table of families aboard the Lusitania
Appendix C. 1915 arrivals
Appendix D. Dates of death

Lusitania

Dedicated to Barbara Anderson McDermott and Lawrence Jolivet.



Introduction

Lusitania

Each May marks the anniversary of one of the 20th century’s most notorious events; the sinking, by torpedo, of Cunard Line’s Lusitania off the coast of Ireland with the loss of 1198 lives. While she lived, Lusitania was known as one of a pair of outstandingly beautiful record breakers, and after her death she became best known as a symbol. First of brutality or duplicity, depending upon which side of the fence one stood, and, more recently, of intrigue, conspiracy and governmental wrongdoing. The human element of this most horrible of events has been largely overshadowed.

We have grouped stories with common themes together, which, we hope, will help newcomers to the Lusitania better understand the human aspect of the events of May 7, 1915. The unifying theme of the accounts, we feel, is the incredible waste that the destruction of the ship represented. 

The death of Barbara Anderson McDermott, on April 12, 2008, marked the moment when the Lusitania disaster died as well.  With her went the last first person memories of a seminal event in twentieth century warfare; upon her passing, the disaster became archival, rather than living, history.

Mrs. McDermott, “Barbara to my friends,” was as nice a lady as one is ever likely to meet.  We regret that she did not live to see this work completed, for she took an active interest in the two older articles from which it germinated; but more than that, we regret losing a loyal friend who never missed an opportunity to say or do something nice, if she could, and whose door was always open to us. 

We’ve opted to keep the portions of the article pertaining to Barbara in the present tense, and not change “is” to “was.”  A tribute, if you will, to a truly lovely spirit who will continue to be a living presence for as long as anyone who knew her remains.

We begin with three first person narratives, given by second class passengers, which give an excellent overview of what happened between 2:10 and midnight that day.

Deck


William Uno Mereheina, 26, a racecar driver and General Motors Export representative, was en route to South Africa in May 1915.  Meriheina was articulate, and gifted with excellent powers of recall, and his account of the disaster is historically important, and readable. 

Mr. Meriheina saved a diary-style letter, composed during the crossing; one of several known to exist. However, his notes written on Lusitania postcards while he drifted atop an overturned collapsible are the only known on the spot reporting of the disaster.

The diary letter he wrote for his wife, Essie, reads:

The Lusitania-Saturday. On way out of New York Harbor, and everything is O.K. At Ambrose Lightship we pass the British man of war, Bristol; then sight the British converted cruiser Caronia. We stop, and a boat load of “Tommy Atkins” come on board, presumably for mail and exchanges of messages. No wireless is used. Received wireless from General Motors Company. When I say that no wireless is used, I mean that we receive messages but can’t send any. Later in the afternoon we passed the American Line steamship New York, also bound for Liverpool. Then we sighted a French battle cruiser of the super-dreadnought type, and this cruiser turned and followed us, but gradually was left behind. We are making about twenty-five miles an hour.

Had a grand lunch and dinner. What delayed us on our start was the fact that the Anchor Line sent up about three hundred passengers that were booked to go on board one of their ships, and at the last minute the ship was called out of passenger service, presumably for transport purposes. Feel fine, and am going to sleep well.

Sunday- Woke up, had a dandy salt water bath. Enjoyed a grand breakfast. Sunday services were held on board. Foggy day and quite rough ocean. At noon Sunday our log recorded 453 miles, or half way to Newfoundland Grand Banks. Day passed with concerts in the drawing room. Plenty of seasickness on board, but I feel splendid. Lunch and supper fine. Because of rough weather, nearly every one turned in quite early. At midnight I understand we passed a British cruiser. I noticed a great deal of light signaling going on. Evidently we are being carefully convoyed all the way across. Still, no ships are in sight for any length of time. We have passed quite a few vessels bound both ways. Owing to our great speed we don’t stay in sight of any one ship very long.
Monday- Feeling great. Fog is prevalent. Dandy meals- passed a bunch of ships. We had a concert, games, races and drive whist, and various other entertainments.

Rolling quite a little, but am not effected in the slightest. Have an M.D. - surgeon- as room mate. We have become quite good friends. He is going to offer his services to the Allies as surgeon. He is Dr. D.V. Moore. He is well educated and proves a good, companionable, room mate.

Several of the passengers are grand singers and players, and they keep every one interested. I am studying my work and think my trip will do me good.

Tuesday-resumption of games on deck today. Dandy sunshine weather- feel fine.

Meriheina composed a second letter, ashore, on May 8th, at the Queen’s Hotel in Queenstown:

We were eating lunch at the time when suddenly, with absolutelyno warning, we felt a heavy explosion up forward, near the first cabin section; a grinding and ripping. The boat immediately lurched toward the side that you were looking at as we were tied to the New York dock. She settled so much that dishes fell off tables and it was difficult to walk the aisle between tables. There was little panic- individuals moaned and cried, and just a suggestion of a rush for exits.

About five seconds after the first crash a second one came along, with the same sinking sensation on the one side. The men did a great deal for the women and children, but remember, the boat sank to the bottom in less than twenty minutes.

The lifeboats that were lowered were either overturned or smashed against the side of the boat, dumping the human loads into the ocean. I don’t pretend to describe the total scene; it was too horrible, but I did everything I could to help the women off. I placed a lifebelt on myself and placed several elderly women in life rafts that might tear loose from the decks when the boat sank, which they finally did.

The people who reached the decks were the only ones saved, as the ship sank in a flash when she finally started nose downward. On sinking, her boilers blew up and deck roofs blew off. I had faith in the boat not sinking and therefore remained on the back bridge ‘til I was washed off.

The internal pressure created in the hull by the inrush of water was sufficient to blow out port hole plates, and the air shot out of these like steam. I saw many bodies floating away deep in the water. Just before the final plunge the back of the hull lifted away up out of the water, revealing to me the propellers and bottom of the hull. At this time I was probably 175 feet above the surface of the water. All the time up to the last second several other fellows and myself were loosing the rafts, so that they would float and not be carried down with the hull. Our labor was for naught, as only a couple of the rafts tore loose, and in doing so smashed themselves to pieces, anyway.

The sight of the people falling overboard and sinking, with apparently no effort to swim, was maddening. Well, when the final plunge came I believe that I was the last, or one of the very last, to get off. And I tried to jump, but got fouled with the angle of the deck and the rail posts and was washed off, only to be slammed back downward with the hull. I lost consciousness and then I came to with the bright sun shining in my eyes.

It was cold, and I felt stunned, but I struck out for an overturned lifeboat that was about a city block away. There were people all around, both live and drowned. On reaching the boat I hung on to the side by the rope for a minute or so, when a man, grabbing my neck, placed his arm over my shoulders and pulled me off. I turned and hit him. He weighed over two hundred pounds, and I could not shake him off, so I sank purposefully and he let go at once. I again reached the boat and the man also had a finger grip on the rope. Several others were hanging on. 

One after another, we managed to climb up on the slippery sides and lie on the keel. I finally reached out and helped this particular man up on the boat, and several others. We finally had about twenty men and women on the overturned lifeboat and she threatened to sink, when another overturned boat came near and some of the men made for it. We kept these two overturned boats together, loaded with humans half dead and some dead.

Then a broken raft was forced near us, and we placed all of the women and children thereon. Right near us was an upright lifeboat, but entirely submerged so that only the oar locks were visible at times. This boat contained about a half dozen women and twenty men. We finally got the women off of her on the raft, and the men remained, several drowning within.

We had a lot of trouble with our crew of these two overturned lifeboats and one upright lifeboat and one raft- the crew I mean were the people thereon.   Some wanted to paddle to shore, which looked twenty miles off, and others wanted to save their strength. We sang “Tipperary” a couple of times (sacrilege) and then, due to the women’s crying and begging us to stops, we sang “Lead Kindly Light.”

All this time we could see other lifeboats at a distance, either upturned or straight, but all loaded to the water’s edge. Only about ten boats were afloat, and more than half were overturned and the rest were broken or half submerged. I did not see one good lifeboat afloat.

I counted the boats and estimated their inmates as nearly 500. We had nearly one thousand nine hundred altogether. By the way, sing “Tipperary” and think you are adrift on the ocean with death everywhere in evidence.

Then after more than three and one half hours, the fleet from Queenstown came into view. They picked most of the other boats first as we were farthest away, and then came to us. All this time we were constantly adding to our crew, and sinking deeper and deeper. In the three and one half hours agony I found time to take out my fountain pen, which I still had, and dug out a couple of wet postcards from the drawing room of the boat. I wrote my impression very mildly on two of them. The rest of my time was taken up either pumping arms up and down or squeezing some poor “half-gone’s” wet clothing. We finally had more than seventy on our improvised combination raft consisting of raft, overturned and submerged boats

Then they picked us up. The Indian Empire was our rescue boat. We were landed in Queenstown at half past nine, about seven and one half hours after taking to water.

Lusitania PostcardMeriheina’s two postcards read:

Ship sunk. Seventy of us on a raft. Believe lost will amount to half of passengers. May we all be happy in our destiny.

And

Steamship coming; also sail boats. Hope most of us will be saved. May they be glorified with a crown of life and death. Hope the lives of the lost ones will pay the score.


Nellie Huston, 31, was returning to England after spending nearly a year in Chicago, Illinois. Miss Huston died May 7th, never to be found, like hundreds of other passengers. 

A woman’s handbag was later recovered from the debris drift, and in it was a four page, incomplete, unsigned diary letter detailing the events of the final crossing. Excerpts from it were published, and from names mentioned in the text, Nellie Huston’s parents were able to identify their daughter as the author.
The letter was filled with small talk that, in retrospect, makes it one of the saddest of all Lusitania documents.

By the courtesy of Geoff Whitfield, Miss Huston’s family have generously allowed us to quote the letter in full:

On Board the Cunard
RMS Lusitania
May 1st 1915

My Dear Ruth,

I’m just going to bed and thought I’d start a little letter to you and let you know how I’m getting on.  Cold though and it’s a good thing I had my heavy coat. I’ve met some awfully nice girls and we’ve been toddling around all day.

We were late starting this morning because we took passengers off a boat called the “Cameronian” so I can tell you we are feeling crowded. I’ve got the first sitting for meals so I’ll have to be up at 7am breakfast at 7.30.

My! The mail I got today. The steward who was giving it out was amused. He said it might be my birthday.

I do hope the bouquet came out alright. Just don’t get yourself tired out with sewing again – you are certainly a monkey. How did you make that waist? - - something about making it but it doesn’t look possible to me. I’m going to try it on. I had a pair of silk stockings from Prue and a piece of silk from Aunt Ruth and a rose. I had cards from Nellie Casson, Will Hobson, Tom, Edith Klaas and a nice letter from Lu which I’m going to answer. I had letters from Kate, Mother and Arthur. They weren’t sure if I was really coming on this boat but wrote chancing it. I’d rather have  it that way than have them worrying. I’m so surprised to hear that Will and Bee cried, I didn’t think it would worry them. I was so afraid Aunt Ruth would think I was acting funny. ? ? a baby and I do hate to cry like that. I’ve felt like doing it quite a lot since I’ve left.

I had a note from aunt Alice and she seemed pleased because you had been out to see her. They came down to see me off this morning. Tell Charlie that it must have been an awful bang, it must have been done between
your house and the station. I hope it hasn’t smashed the doll’s head in. If so, I think they ought to pay for it.

We have passed 2 cruisers – one was the “Edward VII” I think I’ll write you a little note every day and this will be quite a budget.

Good night.

TUESDAY

I didn’t write a letter each day you will notice. On Saturday night after I’d written to you I went to bed and had a fine night. I’ve got the top bunk and really I don’t know if I was supposed to be able to spring right into it but I tried and couldn’t so had to ring for the steward to bring me some steps. They seem to be short of everything so I had to wait quite a while. He tried to persuade me to jump in but I’m too heavy behind.

I went to Church on Sunday in the 1st saloon, it was awfully nice. The orchestra played for hymns. The writing room was too full on Sunday night for me to write.

It rained most all day Sunday and Monday. We had a jolly whist drive last night and I got 2nd prize. It was a manicure set something like the one I got from Lucy for Christmas. The sun is shining today and it is much pleasanter. I felt rather like being seasick last night but the feeling past off.

WEDNESDAY

Just about half way over. I wonder if the folks will meet me? I’ve made quite a list of friends. The bedroom steward off the “Cameronian” is on this boat and he was surprised to see me. He’s a fine fellow and looks after us fine. I think I’ll do a little sewing today.

THURSDAY

I’ve had a splendid passage up to now. Lots of people have been sick but I haven’t yet. We had a fine concert last night and were up till about 12.30am. We are having another whist drive tonight.

This morning we have all the lifeboats swung out ready for emergencies. It’s awful to think about but I guess there is some danger. We expect some ?? coming to meet us today. What a crowd there are in the boat and all English. I was so pleased to see the Union Jacks on this boat when we were in New York, there are quite a lot of distinguished people in the 1st class but of course you couldn’t touch them with a soft pole! There is a Vanderbilt, one or two bankers. I have made lots of friends
and if it wasn’t for the worry I could say we’ve had a lovely trip.

Lusitania


Henry Needham, recently of New York, was returning to his family home in Sidcup, U.K. when he sank with the Lusitania.  His brothers had recently enlisted, and like many of the male passengers, Needham was doing his duty and planned on enlisting upon arrival:

We were two hours late in leaving New York, and we had a bigger passenger list in second cabin than the Lusitania had ever carried before. This was partly due to the fact that one of the boats due to sail that day had been commandeered by the government and had been sent up to Canada for troopship purposes, and all her passengers had been turned over to the Lusitania.

The crossing was a pretty good one for the time of year, though we did not get much sunshine. Just off the Irish coast we ran into a fog, and had to slow down to about half our normal speed. For three hours or so, our foghorns were going, so that any German vessels in the neighborhood had full warning that we were coming along.

The haze lifted, and we had a clear view of the Irish coast, but although our speed was increased it was not so great as it had been earlier, and several of the passengers spoke about it.

We were about half way through lunch when we heard a dull thud. We were some distance from the spot where the boat was struck, so could only hazard a guess at what had happened, though of course the Germans’ threat to torpedo the boat was uppermost in everybody’s mind.

It was just as if she had struck a rock. People at once rose from their seats, women picked up their babies, and quite a wail went ‘round.  We tried to reassure them, and I saw the last of my friends at that time.

I proceeded to the main deck. It was impossible to get near the boats to render assistance because of the press, so I climbed on the bridge at the stern of the boat that is used when they are backing out of harbors, and from this spot had a good view of what was happening all the way down the port side of the ship.

She had a heavy list. Men were shouting that the captain had stated that the boat was all right and would not sink, at which there was quite a cheer. I noticed several women with young babies sit down on the deck with a sigh of relief.

The first boat on the davits was full of people when they started lowering her.  I have an idea that there were very few of the actual crew assisting with it. She started quietly, suddenly set off with a rush, hit the side of the ship, struck the sea and was reduced to matchwood. I could see the people struggling in the water and gradually being carried away by the current. Some were wearing lifebelts; they looked like corks bobbing among matchwood. The others gradually disappeared.

The second boat also met with disaster. One end broke away as she was part of the way down, and the other was held firmly. Eventually someone cut the rope away, and she dropped into the sea and smashed up. The third or fourth boat to be lowered had one end smashed in. She was full of people, and immediately filled and sank.

By this time the starboard side must have been on a level with the water, and a few minutes later I saw the forepart of the vessel break away. A mass of people was swept into the water.

By this time I thought I better get to the boat deck. I narrowly missed being swept into the sea by a collapsible boat which suddenly swept into the sea with a rush. At this time steam was pouring out of the port holes and the noise was awful.

I merely had to step from the ship into the ocean. When I came to the surface, I saw one of the collapsible boats floating upside down. I managed to swim out to her and a steward who had just clambered on gave me a helping hand. I looked round for the Lusitania, but she had disappeared.
There were perhaps a couple of dozen boats and masses of wreckage within a radius of a mile. People were struggling in the water all round us. Several made for the upturned boat, and we were able to help them on. One woman with a child was none-the-worse for her experience. She had secured a lifebelt.  In about a half an hour we had about thirty people on the boat. One little chap had his leg broken and he cried pitifully for his mother.
We picked up a few more people and gradually drifted out of the wreckage. A crowded boat some hundred yards to our right was sinking. They called to us to help them, but it was impossible for us to do anything. All we could do was sit there and watch them sink. The moaning of the people in the water was terrible to hear.

We were wondering if the S.O.S. had been picked up, and began to look around. A steamer was sighted about six miles away heading due south. We cheered our companions in misfortune by telling them she was coming to our aid, but she never altered her course, and it was obvious that she had no wireless on board and from that distance could not see boats low down in the water.

It was about four o’clock when we finally saw boats approaching from the Irish coast- about an hour and a half after I got into the water. We first saw a smoke stack, and then all around we could see steamers coming in a cloud of smoke showing they were putting on every ounce of steam.

Henry Needham returned from his WW1 service, only to become a victim of a second wave of German attacks on civilian targets; dying in an air raid on Sidcup on July 4, 1944.



Barbara McDermott

There are two known Lusitania survivors alive at this writing. (January 2008)  Barbara McDermott, a personal friend to us all, appears in several segments narrated in the first person. We have chosen not to use our names in these portions. Cliff Barry, Mike Poirier, Jim Kalafus and Tim Yoder were present, in different combinations, during each of the six get-togethers which went into the creation of her segments. The “I” in the narrative is not any one of us in particular. We wanted to keep this a story about our friend, and not create a vanity project into which we inserted our own names as frequently as possible, with Barbara reduced to co-star. Barbara has said, on occasion, that the only good thing to have come out of the disaster has been the many friendships formed, and many kindnesses show to her over the years, as a direct result of the Lusitania. In that spirit, we would like to dedicate Lest We Forget to her.

Barbara Anderson

We are sitting at the dining table of Lusitania survivor Barbara Anderson McDermott. Outside, sunlight dances on the surface of a large swimming pool, and from her sun porch can be seen a vista of well-tended gardens and sunny blue skies. It is a beautiful May day not, we have noted, unlike the one 91 years before on which she, and her mother, and nearly two thousand other people saw their lives suddenly reduced to a matter of minutes and luck. Barbara’s mother, Emily Anderson, a true beauty, gazes serenely down on us from a pre-disaster portrait given a place of honor in Barbara’s living room. I cannot help shifting my eyes from the photograph to Barbara to see which of her mother’s features she inherited. I observe that, in repose, mother and daughter both wear the same expression. The resemblance must have been striking when Barbara was in her late 20s. An antique clock, a wedding present, keeps time from a wall hung with pictures of grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

                                           Barbara's home in Bridgeport, which she left forever in 1915.

The conversation is genial. Three of us have visited Mrs. McDermott before; the fourth member of our group is meeting her for the first time. She shows him a framed photograph, most likely taken on May 8th 1915: Barbara Anderson being held in the arms of Assistant Purser William Harkness, the man who saved her. Harkness is smiling for the camera; Barbara is not. “He died young” she tells her new friend. And so he did, surviving the Lusitania by only 23 years. The photo hangs at eye level behind her dining table, and one cannot miss it. Her new visitor is a cat person, and comments on Barbara’s collection of china and fabric cats. She laughs pleasantly, and they hit it off.

When one visits Mrs. McDermott, “Barbara to my friends,” one leaves well fed. As the five of us converse, Barbara has produced fresh sliced ham and cheese, bread, and side dishes. “Have another sandwich” she urges as we finish our respective seconds. We settle down to discuss new developments in our ongoing Lusitania project. our third sandwiches of the visit. She comments, with interest, on various new discoveries we have made, and mentions a brief fragment of memory that recently came to her, of looking down at men from a height, perhaps from the ship towards the pier before departure.

Barbara is a naturally cheerful person. She is an optimist. But, today, a touch of sadness enters her voice, which is surprising for its rarity.

“My mother was a good person. She was very kind. A good person. I was not with her long, but I do remember her and I’m glad that I can. Because no matter what happened I always knew that she loved me.” 

I think of what a remarkable moment this is. Once there were many who could have echoed the same sentiment. Arthur Scott, who lost his mother. The three surviving Mainman children who were orphaned and lost their older brothers as well. The orphaned Gardner boys. Edith Williams. Helen Smith. They are all gone now. The only other remaining survivor was an infant and has no recall of the disaster, or of those she lost that day. The final living link capable of recall is sitting there a few feet away from us, expressing the impact of an awful chain of events that left her stranded, with a dying mother, two thousand miles from home for the duration of the war.

Barbara McDermott Locket

Barbara McDermott and the locket...

I find myself wondering what else is tucked away, beyond conscious recall, in Barbara’s memory. She may have heard Hilda Stones sing, at a performance given in second class the night before the tragedy. Hilda’s voice was described as beautiful. She died the following afternoon. Barbara remembers the moment after the torpedo struck, as the people in the second class dining room began to rise from their tables, but I wonder what else is there, hidden away, that she witnessed. She was in Lifeboat 15, when its occupants pulled Ogden Hammond from the water; did she see the rescue? Did she notice a pretty mother, pregnant, holding another little girl and pleading with a pair of men on the staircase, as she was carried towards the lifeboats? Did she see a handsome young man in a green spring suit calming a hysterical young woman, and leading her towards a companionway to the boat deck? A little girl, perhaps wearing a white dress and hat, searching the crowd for her absent parents? Once thousands of people knew, and loved, those about to die who surged and jostled and cried around Barbara and her mother. And, once more than 750 survivors remained to bear witness to their pathetic final moments. Nearly a century later all of the others capable of recall have gone, leaving Barbara’s fragmentary memories the only living record.

“….no matter what happened I always knew that she loved me.”

Barbara McDermott

Barbara McDermott's short time in England after the disaster has never been discussed outside of her family and a few close friends,. She speaks of it now because she wants to leave a record that hers has been a happy life. We’ve always been impressed by Barbara. She was two years and eleven months old in May 1915, and her memories are exactly what one would expect a three year old to retain. She has never added “coloring” to her story, and when she is repeating something she was later told about the disaster by her mother or relatives, she says so. There are no improbably elaborate lines of recalled dialogue. No step by step “this is exactly what we did” recreations. And this paucity of detail is what makes Barbara a treasure, because when she speaks we know that we are getting a word picture of an actual memory from that afternoon.

Barbara has recollections of a small room on the Lusitaniawith two beds hanging off a wall, presumably the cabin she shared with her mother. She can remember looking through the railings of the balcony above the second class dining room, on the day of the disaster, and seeing a long table full of men having their lunch. And, she can remember the explosion.


Barbara McDermott

We lived in Bridgeport then, my mother, my father and I. I can remember that before we left, my mother bought me a special dress to wear when we got to England, and I was allowed to wear it once. I can remember the sun shining through the window, and wearing that dress. You know, I wasn’t even three years old yet. But I remember some things. We stood on deck during sailing and I looked back at the dock and there was a large crowd. I looked for my father in that crowd of men, but couldn't see him. I then remember we left the deck and entered the ship. Our room had two beds in it, one on top of the other on the wall.

Barbara Anderson with her father and mother

I can remember the dining room. We were seated on the upper level, and that is the only reason I am alive today to tell you about it- because when we were torpedoed my mother was able to take me and walk straight out on deck.

Barbara described their table as very small and that it was just the two of them at the top of the balcony. The table, she said, faced the doorway leading to the corridor. She also said there was a table, with just men seated at it, near theirs.

I got up out of my chair and stood next to my mother, and faced the rail. I could look down and see all those people at the long table talking and eating their lunch. I can remember the noise, the explosion, and looking through the railing at the people in the room beginning to get up from their tables. I can remember being in the lifeboat. People sat facing me. You know, all through it, I held on to my spoon from the dining room. When I got to my grandparents house, I still had that spoon. My grandparents saved it, but when I came back to the United States, I did not take it. I don’t know what became of it.

Barbara does not recall the mechanics of her escape from the ship. She was told by her grandparents, and perhaps by her mother, that Emily and Assistant Purser Harkness, jumped from the ship together, with Harkness holding Barbara. Barbara can remember their arrival in Liverpool, and passing through a yellow tunnel to where her Anderson grandparents and her beloved Aunt Edith waited to meet her.

I remember this most clearly. There was a long yellow tunnel we walked up when the boat got to Liverpool. And our family was waiting for us at the end. After the disaster I went to live with my Pybus grandparents. I don’t think my mother had much to do with my father's parents. But I do remember spending time with them when my mother was sick.

Barbara Anderson and Emily Anderson

Emily Anderson lived less than two years beyond the disaster. She was pregnant when she and her daughter escaped from the Lusitania, but her child, a son named Frank, died in early 1916. Emily contracted a lung disease, of the sort referred to by the generic terms “consumption” or “a wasting disease,” and although she was brought home, she lived in a wooden house at the back of the Pybus’ garden and Barbara was not allowed to see her.

I did not really see much of my mother as she was very ill when we got back to Darlington; I remember her being in a wooden out house in a bed. I was brought to see her, once, when they knew she was dying. I can remember her holding arms out to me with a beautiful smile on her face. I will never forget that hug or smile. It was Christmas time and she gave me a doll carriage. My mother was a good person. She was very kind. A good person. I was not with her long, but I do remember her and I’m glad that I can. Because no matter what happened I always knew that she loved me.

The doll carriage, Barbara’s final gift from her mother, holds a place of honor in her living room.

Emily Anderson (left) died in 1917; Barbara Anderson, just before she left England, in 1919.

Barbara’s grandparents and extended family tried to make her life as normal and pleasant as possible during the time that Emily lay dying, and gave her a supportive and loving environment after her mother died in early 1917. She recalls her time in England fondly:

I went to Bradgate School in the town center and can remember that our class rooms were divided by green and brown cloth. There were lots of soldiers and the school closed down soon after. There were German prisoners of war in Darlington, and Grandpa Pybus told me once that I was not allowed to speak to the prisoners that walked past my school. When I returned to America my teacher used to ask me to stand up in front of the class and read out loud, I had always been a very good reader. My grandfather Pybus used to take me to school on a horse and cart, he worked for a family in the local area. Once I was with my best friend Eileen and we were chased down a hill by a baby pig. We hid in a cart and we could hear the pig grunting outside - we were giggling. Christmas time was spent between the Pybus and Anderson houses - both were at opposite ends of the town, I clearly remember walking between the two. Once I was walking down a wide street and a man on a bike knocked me over. I ran to my Aunt Edith's house, I hid under the dining table, she came up from the basement, I told her what happened - I wasn’t hurt, just upset.

Barbara has always maintained that she did not want to leave England. Her father wanted her to return to America, and so she had no choice but to go. Rowland Anderson had remarried, and was in the process of initiating a claim against Germany in the U.S. Mixed Claims Court. Barbara recalls that her grandparents did not want to part with her. She can recollect that her uncle, William Pybus, was fatally injured during the time that the arrangements to send her back to the United States were being made, and her grandparents were upset.

She departed in late December, 1919, aboard the MauretaniaFellow Lusitania survivors George Walter Bowers- Bartlett, his wife,  Irma Florine, and Third Engineer Andrew Cockburn, now Chief Engineer, were also aboard. Barbara clearly remembers sitting at the Captain’s table. She shared a cabin with a "horrible woman" who, on arrival in America, tried to stop her from running to meet her father.

Oh, that woman was horrible! I don’t know where they found her, but I was to share a cabin with her. She was supposed to keep an eye on me until we got to New York. I can remember there was a place where we were able to get off the ship, to walk, before we started across the ocean, and this woman actually went, and went to the bathroom right there in a ditch next to the road. That was the kind of person she was. She said to me “How do you expect to recognize your father when we get to New York?’ You won’t remember him” Now, why would she say something like that? Of course I would recognize my father. I can remember the library, and being able to look out the window and see the ocean. I was seasick, and the Captain found out about it and I was invited to eat as his table. His name was Captain Rostron. When we got to New York, on Christmas Day, they were waiting for me on the pier. And I knew right away who my father was, and that woman tried to hold me back but I ran to him. And they had a doll for me, and they took me home.

Barbara admits that there were adjustment problems at first between her and her stepmother. She got along well with her step-grandfather. Rowland Anderson had left Bridgeport during the war years and settled in East Haven, Connecticut. Barbara remembers her house there fondly. She was educated in a commercial high school, where students were taught job skills along with the standard academic curriculum.

I was given classes in elocution. I am grateful for that. I always loved to read out loud, and the classes improved my diction. Everyone should take elocution classes if they can, because a good speaking voice is very important, and it gives you confidence and gets you over being shy.

Her happiest memories, outside of confidential family stories, are of the years she spent working at Grants, one of the leading department stores in New Haven. She had a boss, Mrs. Champagne, who took the time to mentor her, and who was adept making just the right kind gesture at the right moment. Barbara still speaks of her fondly. A local newspaper ran a profile of Barbara, in which she spoke of her Lusitania experiences, in the 1950s. It was not until after the death of her husband, Milton, that she began extensively discussing the disaster in public. She has appeared at conventions, been interviewed for television and radio, and featured in books.

 “It’s funny. For most of my life I’d tell people that I was on the Lusitania, but I could tell that they didn’t believe me.”

I look again at Emily’s portrait. I think for a moment about May 1, 1915. The Andersons most likely took an early commuter train to New York City from Bridgeport, Connecticut. The notorious German Embassy warning about unrestricted submarine warfare appeared for the first time that day, in the morning edition of the daily papers in New York City, and so logic dictates that Emily probably did not learn of the warning until she was already aboard the ship.


Emily Mary Pybus Anderson

Emily Mary Pybus was born on July 22, 1888, the youngest daughter of Robert and Margaret Pybus of Newton Morrell. Her parents had lost several children in the previous years, and at the time of her birth, there were only two surviving children, William and Margaret. The family moved to Woodside Gardens on the outskirts of Darlington soon after Emily’s birth.  Emily began attending Harrowgate Hill School at the age of six, and at ten was presented with a book as a reward for 100% attendance, due diligence, and satisfactory conduct, by Mr. Ivor Hall, Chairman of the Darlington School Board. This book is still in Barbara’s possession. Emily went to work at the fashionable “Parisienne Mantel” haberdashers on High Row in Darlington, at age 14. Barbara has a photo of her mother posed formally with the other shop girls, among who is her sister, Margaret.

Emily became acquainted with Rowland Anderson, a 21 year old student at Darlington Technical College, in early 1909 and the couple soon became engaged. Roland immigrated to the United States, with his brother Percy, in 1910 and began setting up a home for his prospective bride in Derby, Connecticut. Emily followed in early 1911 on the RMS Caronia. Friends of her fiance had been corresponding with Emily prior to her departure for the U.S., and she stayed with a Mr. and Mrs. Morris until she married Rowland in June 1911.

Emily and Rowland’s daughter, Barbara Winifred, was born in Derby on June 12, 1912

Emily decided to return to Darlington, to see her parents, despite the war that was gathering pace in Europe in the spring of 1915. She was five months pregnant, with a baby due some time in September, when she and Barbara boarded the Lusitania together.

From a negative in the Jim Kalafus Collection

Emily gave an interview to a reporter from the Northern Echo upon her arrival in Darlington. The reporter was evidently quite taken by her, and commented on how hard it was to believe what she had just endured, in light of her beautiful and healthy appearance. Emily described the voyage as 'splendid.'  She said that only a few of the passengers regarded the submarine threats seriously.

“I was in the saloon at the time and made for the boat deck at once. Someone carried my little daughter up the stairs to the deck or I might not have got there. The deck was at such an angle that we slid down towards the boats. I got into one with the covers on, but I was ordered into another one, (#15) which was ready. There was no panic and the rule of women and children was carried out. There was no need to lower the boats, for they were touching the water. They simply cut away the ropes from the davits".

Much of Emily's interview was paraphrased. She described her friend, Mrs. Cox, accidentally dropping her baby, Desmond, on the deck. Minnie Wilson caught the infant when he was thrown into boat 15. Emily said she was afraid that they would go down with the Lusitania as they were so close to the side of the ship.  She was also afraid of the funnels, which hung over the lifeboat, but the ship went down quite smoothly. All of this information was imparted, however, in the reporter's voice and not Emily Anderson's.

One wishes that Emily had left a more detailed version of her story. Boat 15 effected a last minute escape from the ship. Had Assistant Purser Harkness not found the two, and placed them into the boat, they would probably have been washed from the deck about two minutes later as it submerged. Where had they been before Harkness found them? What had Emily seen? Had she played an active or passive role in trying to save herself or her daughter? We will never know, barring the discovery of one of Emily’s lost letters from May and June 1915.

Emily and her daughter were transferred into another boat, in which two men were bailing. They landed at Queenstown in the evening of May 7th. They were met by Rowland’s parents upon arrival in Liverpool and taken back to Darlington. Emily immediately went to her parents in Woodside Gardens.

Emily gave birth to a son named Frank Rowland, on September 30, 1915. The child became ill and passed away of bronchial pneumonia on March 16, 1916. In that year Emily also lost two of her cousins, who were serving in the Australian Army.

Emily’s health began to decline in 1916. To the trauma of the disaster, the separation from her husband, and the death of her son, was added a respiratory disease. She died on March 11, 1917, at age 28. Barbara has always directly attributed her death to effects of the Lusitania disaster.  When Rowland Anderson filed claim against Germany before the Mixed Claims Commission, German lawyers  unsuccessfully tried to establish that Emily had been tubercular before the disaster and that, therefore, the disaster was not a contributory factor to her death. They did establish to the satisfaction of the court that Emily died of type D or type E tuberculosis, and not from the effects of prolonged immersion as her doctor in England stated in an affidavit.

Her funeral took place at a nearby cemetery in Darlington, with Emily’s parents and sister, and Rowland Anderson’s family, present. Rowland was unable to attend. Further tragedy struck the Pybus household when Emily’s brother, William, died from wounds in Cologne, Germany on September 14, 1919.

Emily Anderson, and her son, Frank, were buried at church expense. Rowland Anderson listed the cost of burying his wife as one of his grievances, in his claim against Germany but, in fact, he never purchased the plot. The precise location of her grave was forgotten with the passage of time.  Barbara was aware that her mother was interred somewhere in Darlington, but did not know in which cemetery.

Grave
(Courtesy of Cliff Barry)



Cecilia Owens...

Cecelia Owens.
Courtesy of Carol Keeler
Ronald and Reginald Owens.
Courtesy of Carol Keeler
Alfred Smith.
Courtesy of Carol Keeler
Cecelia and Hubert Owens.
Courtesy of Carol KeelerCecilia Owens; Reginald and Ronald Owens

Terrible as certain aspects of Emily Anderson’s story were, she was actually among the more fortunate of the Lusitania mothers. Her daughter survived, she found a place in a lifeboat, and she lost no one that day. Only a handful of the Lusitania’s families, and we are expanding the term ‘families’ to include mothers traveling with children, survived intact. Most did not survive at all. Circumstances that day worked against children, and against easy evacuation of entire families. No war zone precautions were in effect among the passengers. It was not suggested that families stick together, and children were allowed to move about the ship at will. Lunch was in the process of breaking up when the torpedo struck. People had dispersed to enjoy the final beautiful afternoon at sea, and a common thread among the accounts left by parents who survived was the horror of trying to find children, who could have been anywhere, during the liner’s final 18 minutes.

Cecelia “Cissie” Owens, of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, boarded the Lusitania on May 1, 1915, with her sons Reginald, 10, and Ronald, 6, her brother Alfred Smith, sister-in-law Elizabeth Jones Smith, and niece Helen. The Smiths' infant is commonly refered to as Elizabeth “Bessie” Smith, but Helen Smith rcalled that the baby was a boy named Hubert, and the family monument is inscribed as such. The extended Smith family had immigrated piecemeal to the United States from Swansea, Wales, over the prior ten years. They settled first in Yonkers, New York, and later in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. That May, two branches of the family were returning to the United Kingdom. It was said that the Alfred Smith family had grown disillusioned with American life and were permanently resettling in Wales. Newspaper articles claimed that Cecelia Owens and her sons were simply returning to her ancestral home for a visit.

The afternoon of May 7th found Cecelia minding the Smiths' infant in her cabin, while Reginald and Ronald Owens played on deck with their cousin Helen. Shortly after two, the boys appeared at the door to request an extension of their play time. Cecelia would later recall their last words as being

"We are playing on deck and we are enjoying ourselves. Helen is with us and it is such fun!"

She granted them permission for another half hour on deck.

Cecelia interpreted the initial blast as being the ship running aground or perhaps striking a rock, but there was no mistaking the second stronger explosion for anything other than what it was. Joining a crowd of ‘scampering’ passengers, and carrying Hubert Smith, she climbed upward to the open second class decks hoping to find her sons. She encountered, instead, her brother and sister-in-law, who were searching for their missing daughters. Cecelia returned Hubert to them, and then the Smith family and Mrs. Owens parted, each setting off separately to find the missing children.

Cecelia moved around the deck calling for her boys and Helen. A stranger stopped her and affixed a lifebelt at some point, and after that Mrs. Owens was tossed into a lifeboat. It capsized, and she was thrown into the ocean along with the other occupants. Cecelia swam with two men to a swamped collapsible, from which a fishing trawler rescued her some hours later.

Reginald and Ronald Owens died in the disaster, as did Alfred and Elizabeth Smith and their infant. None of the bodies were ever recovered or, if recovered, identified. Cecelia’s only consolation came when she was reunited with Helen Smith at her hotel in Queenstown. Helen saw her at a distance and called out “Why, here is auntie!”

Mrs. Owens traveled on to Swansea, where she was described as being in a very nervous, shocked state. She composed a letter to Arthur Smith, back in Yonkers, in which she said:

I will try and write a few words to ease your mind & my own. You know of my dreadful trouble. I am thankful to God I am alive & no limbs are broken.

My darlings are gone, also dear Alf Bessie, Baby. Helen & myself left…I swam for my life & was picked up by some fellow pulling me on a collapsable boat (I can’t spell today).

I had a terrible experience. I am thankful I have my mind also limbs which are bruised all over. I am under a doctor’s care and feel better than I did, but oh my heart aches & will always.

My dear boys were with me five minutes before it happened but I never saw them again……

Oh Arthur this is a dreadful blow. Everything I possess is gone and my darlings as well. Also our dear Alf and his lot……I am trying to be brave. God will still give me strength to overcome this as he saved me for some purpose.

Your broken hearted sister. CE

How must dear Hubert feel? I have not heard yet. Only cablegrams.

There was one additional sorrowful burden for Cecelia. Her older son had not wanted to make the trip. He wished to remain with his father in Pennsylvania, but had been compelled to go.

 


A page from the Helen Smith scrapbook kept by the Arthur Smith family of New York,
showing the most widely reprinted photo of Helen.
Helen Smith and Ernest Cowper
Helen Smith and The Owens Brothers.
Courtesy of Carol Keeler
Smith family

Helen Smith; Alfred and Elizabeth Smith

The photograph of Cecelia Owens’ niece, Helen Smith, 6, wearing her white hat and holding her doll remains one of the most frequently reprinted, and best known, of the Lusitania disaster images. In its day, the photo charmed royalty, and induced a substantial number of adoption attempts in the weeks following its initial publication: 90 years later it retains much of its original power to charm, and elicit sympathy for the young orphan.

Alfred and Elizabeth Smith likely remained aboard the Lusitania to the last. It is reasonable to assume that, after parting company with Cecelia Owens, they continued to search for their missing daughter until time, and escape options, ran out. They died not knowing that Helen had been rescued, with relative ease, in one of only six lifeboats successfully lowered.

 It is difficult to imagine what Helen Smith must have experienced that afternoon. Alone on deck, awaiting the return of her cousins, she would have heard, and possibly seen, the explosions forward on the starboard side. She would have felt the ship beginning its first roll to starboard, and may have witnessed the first lifeboat to upend and eject its passengers. She would definitely have seen the waves of passengers coming up from below. What she did not see in the mass of people, was any sign of her parents or extended family. Fate interceded, and Helen’s life was saved by the appearance of Toronto newsman Ernest Cowper:

I was chatting with a friend at the rail about two o’clock…we both saw the track of a torpedo, followed almost instantly by an explosion. Portions of splintered hull were sent flying into the air… A little girl, whose name I later learned was Helen Smith, and whose age is only six, had become separated from her parents in the rush and appealed to me to save her. I put her into a lifeboat and looked for her parents but could not find them. Whether they were saved or not I do not know.

Survivor Elizabeth Hampshire recalled being with Helen in the lifeboat.

I had a little girl on my knee in the lifeboat. She told me she was called Helen Smith.

As they waited for rescue, Helen turned to Elizabeth and her foster sister, Florence Whitehead, and said,

If I can’t find my Mamma and Daddy, I’ll go with you ladies.

It seems that Ernest Cowper served as Helen’s unofficial guardian in Queenstown. A photograph of him holding the child was printed in dozens of newspapers. He was mentioned, and quoted, frequently in newspaper columns and through him it is possible to document much of Helen’s immediate post-sinking experience:

Ernest S. Cowper, a Toronto journalist who saved Helen Smith…said that he had given her up in Queenstown to a well-dressed woman whom asserted that she was the child’s aunt:

“I think that it was just simply a wealthy woman who read the story and wanted to adopt her,” he added, “because later I had twenty two offers in Liverpool through the Cunard Line, from people wanting to take Helen Smith. Before I left London I received a letter from Queen Dowager Alexandra, asking me to take her to Sandringham, but I could not go as I did not know where the child was, and my wardrobe was not exactly fit for making calls on Queens living in royal palaces.”

Although the Royal Invitation story seems to be a newspaper fabrication at first glance, a letter from Queen Dowager Alexandra inquiring about Helen survives in the Smith file in the Cunard Archive.

There was at least one Helen Smith newsreel produced during the week after the sinking.

Helen was claimed by her uncle, Captain Smith, and returned with him to Swansea. There she was allowed to fade from the limelight and lead as normal a life as possible under the circumstances. A clipping from the 1920s quoted Ernest Cowper as saying that he kept in touch with Miss Smith and that he was proud that she had received an award for academic excellence.

A bizarre footnote to Helen’s tale appeared in the early 1930s. A female “Lusitania orphan” close in age to Helen, had been murdered and cemented under a garden pool by her adoptive father, who committed suicide by jumping from a ferry the day the bodies of the girl and her mother were uncovered. Whether the girl truly was a Lusitania orphan as early press accounts claimed, and what her true identity was, remains to be discovered. However, it can be said with assurance that she was not Helen Smith. Helen had married John Henry Thomas, a wholesale department manager, in Swansea in late 1931. They had at least one child, a daughter, and continued to live in peace and comfortable obscurity for the remainder of their lives. She kept in contact with friends in Ellwood City well into the 1940s. She was interviewed by Hickey and Smith (credited as Helen Thomas) for their book, and survived more than a decade beyond its publication, dying in Swansea, where she had been born in October 1908, on April 8, 1993.


Frederick Warren Pearl; Amy Pearl and children

Amy Pearl Frederick Pearl

Amy Pearl, Frederick Pearl

Surgeon Major Frederick Warren Pearl embarked on the Lusitania’s fatal voyage with his wife, Amy, four children: Stuart, Susan, Amy, and Audrey. Two servants, Alice Lines and Greta Lorensen were traveling with them were. The Pearl party was more fortunate than most, although two of the children, Susan and Amy, and one of the servants, Greta Loresen, were lost. Major Pearl’s checklist-style deposition, although spare, captures the horror facing separated families during the final eighteen minutes.

Major Pearl died on January 2, 1952, at age 83 in London, England. His wife, Amy also died at age 83, on February 1, 1964. Their son, Stuart, 5 in 1915, outlived his mother by little more than a month, dying in Arizona at age 54, on March 13, 1964. The Pearl’s infant daughter, Audrey, is one of two known survivors still alive as of 2008.


Paul and Gladys Crompton, and children

One of the most tragic stories of the Lusitania disaster was that of Paul Crompton, his wife Gladys, their six children and nursemaid Dorothy Allen. The Cromptons were perhaps the most widely traveled family aboard the liner: Mr. Crompton’s business had taken to points as far removed from their native United Kingdom as Vladivostok, Russia, and Brazil. They had spent nearly a decade living in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Their governess was an ambitious college graduate from a well-to-do American family. None survived.

Crompton Family

Gladys Crompton and Family

Paul Crompton was born on August 20th 1871, one of two sons born to Barrister Henry Crompton, and his wife Lucy Henrietta Romelly. Paul and his younger brother, Davis, spent their childhoods at Churt House, Frensham, Surrey. Both were fluent in French and German, having been taught by their governess. Henry Crompton eventually became the Clerk of Assizes on the North Wales Circuit. The family continued to reside in Frensham.

Paul Crompton’s wife, Gladys Mary Salis Schwabe, was born on February 3rd 1878 at Cumbersall House, Lancaster, daughter of George Salis Schwabe, Major of the 16th Lancers, and his wife, Mary Jacqueline James. Gladys’s travels began almost at birth: as the daughter of an army officer, she and her mother and siblings followed Major Schwabe to various posts across the United Kingdom. By 1898 Schwabe had been appointed Major General of the Royal Hospital Chelsea; home of the famous Chelsea pensioners.

It was while in London that Gladys Mary met and became engaged to Paul Crompton – by then a successful merchant. They were married at St Luke’s Church Chelsea on October 24th, 1900.  The couple moved into Paul’s home in Mecklenburg Square, Clerkenwell after their honeymoon.

The Crompton's Home at Mecklenburg Square
Courtesy of Cliff Barry

The Cromptons spent a great deal of time in the Far East during the first years of their marriage. Paul learned to speak Chinese during their time in China. In 1902 while in Vladivostok, Eastern Russia, their first child Stephen was born. Their daughter, Alberta, was born in New York during the return leg of a trip to Brazil. By 1905, the family had expanded to include Catherine Mary, who had been born in London, while the family, who were living in China, had come home for a family funeral.

Crompton Family

1. Peter Crompton, 2. John Crompton, 3. Alberta Crompton, 4. Catherine Crompton, 5. Dorothy Allen, 6. Stephen Crompton
Courtesy of Cliff Barry

The Crompton family settled in Philadelphia, where Paul worked as Vice President of the Surpass Leather Company. He was based in the company offices at 901 West Moreland. The Surpass Leather Company manufactured most of America’s kid leather, and had a virtual monopoly on patent leather. The president of the company was Charles Booth, who offered Paul a directorship with Booth Steamship Company.

The family continued to grow, with Paul Romilly born in 1906, and John in 1909. Chestnut Hill, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, seemed the ideal place for the children to grow up. Paul Crompton became a member of the Philadelphia cricket club. His brother, David, lived with the family and was based in the New York office of the Surpass Leather Company, and served as the company treasurer. Gladys Crompton engaged the services of a young Mount Holyoke graduate, Dorothy Allen, to provide games and activities for the children in early 1913. Dorothy left her position with the Crompton family a year later, but soon returned to serve as governess.

 

Dorothy Allen
Courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections 

Gladys gave birth to her last child, David, in 1914.  Less is recalled about Mrs. Crompton than of her husband. Her life seems to have been similar to that of any well to do mother of her era. She maintained affection for the Orient, and after her death one of the reported ’human interest’ details about Mrs. Crompton was that she was well known for shopping at the Chinese department of Wanamaker’s department store.

Business continued to take Paul Crompton back and forth the Atlantic, and on nearly every occasion his wife and children accompanied him. They usually traveled aboard the Lusitania. It became apparent to Mr. Crompton, by early 1915, that his financial interests in England made it imperative that he reside there. It was later said that the Booth Steamship Company had made him a handsome offer, the specifics of which possibly required the move.

Crompton initially took passage for himself and his family on a Dutch steamer, but because it did not provide direct passage to England, he cancelled the booking. He then booked passage on the Lusitania. The family intended on taking up residence at 29 Gilston Road, Kensington, Middlesex, upon arrival in the United Kingdom.

The family traveled up from Philadelphia accompanied by Hollister Sturges, a business associate, who waved them off after the gangplank had been withdrawn. They were allocated cabins on the Upper Deck, D58/60/62/64, which were located by the main entrance to the first class dining saloon, on the port side. It may have been this young boisterous family that had caused Theodate Pope, in cabin D54, to seek a quieter cabin on A Deck She later wrote of a noisy family who made her stay in D-54 unpleasant. Mr. and Mrs. Crompton would dine in the first class saloon, while the children ate in their own dining room on C Deck.  It was later said that, during the voyage, Paul Crompton had received a cable from Alfred Booth telling him to disembark at Queenstown and proceed directly to London.

Theodate Pope

Theodate Pope

There were only two recorded sightings of the Cromptons on the day of the disaster. The Reverend Cowley Clarke said:

Whole families have been lost. One American family, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Crompton, Philadelphia father and mother, and six children, down to a baby of eight months, were lost. I tried to find one of the children, but it was absolutely hopeless to find anybody. 

Samuel Knox, of Philadelphia, remembered seeing the family and recorded:

Paul Crompton

Paul Crompton

I saw Paul Crompton, of Chestnut Hill, with four belts for his little children. He was trying to fasten a belt around the smallest, a mere baby. One of his older daughters, a girl of around 12, [possibly Alberta] was having trouble with the belt she was trying to put on herself. ‘Please will you show me how to fix this?’ she asked unconcerned. I adjusted it, and she thanked me.

Immediately after the disaster Charles Booth cabled Hollister Sturges in Philadelphia for any news of the Cromptons, but to no avail. It quickly became apparent that none from the large party had survived, and a photo of Mrs. Crompton and her children was released to the press and became an iconic image in the Lusitania story, and an effective piece of wordless propaganda.

The funeral cortege for the body of Stephen Crompton, identified as body 134, left the Cunard Offices in Queenstown, at 11 o’clock on May 13th, for the old church graveyard. The Chairman and Town Clerk of Queenstown, and town official representatives were in attendance. A number of prominent Queenstown residents were also present. The body was interred in a private grave large enough to hold the entire family should it be needed.  The bodies of 6 year old John, # 192, and 9 month old Peter, # 214, were buried on May 16th. The remains of the rest of the family, if found, were never identified and the grave was closed.

David Crompton, who was in Philadelphia at the time that the Paul Crompton branch of the family was eradicated, closed the house in Chestnut Hill and let the servants go. He then returned to London. Probate was awarded to Paul Crompton’s mother and brother as none of the direct family had survived. Paul Crompton’s estate was valued at £30, 158, 5s, 9d; net it was worth £28, 709, 1s, 7d. Neither the Crompton nor Schwabe families made application for compensation after the war.

Crompton Grave

The Crompton's Grave
Courtesy of Cliff barry

Today row 15, grave number 12 marks the final resting place of the three young Crompton brothers. No headstone exists but metal railings surround the grave, slowly rusting away. The final picture taken of Gladys Crompton and her six children was publicised worldwide to highlight the horrors of the German atrocity; a purpose for which the image is used to this day. Perhaps it is a fitting tribute to such a young family cut down in their prime.


Dorothy Ditman Allen remains best remembered as a footnote in the tragic tale of the Crompton family. Dorothy was the middle daughter of Dr. Richard Allen of Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Allen sisters were afforded “rare educational advantages,” with two becoming teachers upon graduation from college and the third, Dorothy, becoming a governess to the Crompton children in 1913, after her graduation from Mount Holyoke. The ‘acting bug’ may have bitten Dorothy, for she appeared in at least one college production.

Miss Allen was lost, and very little detail survives regarding her final seven days. She was seen to be crying on sailing day, which is often attributed to the behavior of her charges.  However, she had worked for the Cromptons for two years at that point and was, presumably, used to the childrens’ high spirits. It is more likely that her tears were induced by some other factor; fear of the German warning, and of a wartime crossing, perhaps? No one who survived recalled seeing Miss Allen. Three of the Crompton children were recovered and buried in Queenstown, but Dorothy Allen was never found. Her family sent the consulate a description in hopes of identifying her body. They said she was “five feet, blue eyes, stub nose, twenty six years old.”

Dorothy had helped to support her widowed mother, Hettie, with an annual contribution of approximately $300.00. She had spent her free hours helping her sisters to maintain Hettie Allen’s house. In 1924 the U.S. Mixed Claims Commission awarded Mrs. Allen $7500.00 for Dorothy’s loss, plus a second sum of $1267.00 to be awarded to her as Administratrix of Dorothy’s estate.

More fortunate than Dorothy Allen was Gladys Crompton's maid, Jenny Murphy. Miss Murphy gave notice before the voyage that she was resigning from her job, after six years, to marry Patrick Gallagher, an estate gardener. They wed shortly after the Cromptons left Philadelphia. She declined to comment about the Cromptons in public after their deaths, saying that it would seem out of place. 


RMS Lusitania
Image courtesy of Harald Advokaat

Charlotte Pye was a young mother from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, traveling in second class with her infant daughter, Marjorie. Her husband, William, remained behind to tend to the family tailoring business, the Pan-Co-Vesta Pantorium, while his wife paid an extended visit to her parents in the United Kingdom. It was to him that Charlotte sent a graphic account of the disaster a few days after her safe arrival in London:

 Marjorie Pye

Charlotte Pye and Marjorie Pye
Courtesy of Kevin Spaans

I scarcely know how to begin this letter, so much have I gone through since I parted from you…we were sitting at luncheon when the torpedo struck us. A few minutes earlier I had been talking with a woman who sat opposite me, and I told her I intended upon staying on deck all night as we were in the danger zone and I feared something might happen. ‘They daren’t do any such thing’ (meaning the Huns) and then the crash came. Everybody stood up, and my friend shouted ‘She’s going down!’

I picked up Marjorie and ran on deck. The ship had listed to starboard and the decks were slanting so much that it was almost impossible to walk on them. My head was banged several times, but I still managed to hold on to Marjorie… I saw the poor women running up and down…I did not have a lifebelt, but a gentleman took off his and strapped it around myself and the baby. When my turn came to get into a boat, Marjorie was taken away and handed in first, and I followed. Barely had I got into the boat and taken the baby into my arms when I looked up and saw the big ship coming right over on us, with people jumping for their lives. Then our boat suddenly keeled over and we found ourselves in the water. Marjorie gave one piercing scream and we both went down together. The suction underneath the water dragged her out of my arms and she was gone forever. I shall never forget the agony of it: while I was under the water I felt my end had come.

Charlotte rose to the surface only to be dragged under a second time, losing consciousness. She awoke in a field of debris, and clung to wreckage until three men pulled her atop an upturned lifeboat.

On one side of the boat a lady was lying dead, and all around us in the water were the dead bodies of people who only a few hours before had been bright and happy.

Mrs. Pye was rescued by the vessel Flying Fish and brought with the others into Queenstown. She traveled on to England. Searchers in Queenstown eventually found Marjorie’s body, which was buried in Private Grave #5, row 17, with the body of an unidentified 12 to 18 month old female sharing her coffin. Charlotte coped with her loss by throwing herself into the War Effort, appearing as a speaker at several recruitment rallies: a film of one of these appearances has survived. She wrote a letter to the mother of victim Richard Preston Prichard, months after the disaster, in which she spoke of how tight she had held her daughter under water, not relaxing her grip until she lost consciousness, and of how her life no longer seemed to have any meaning with Marjorie dead.

Charlotte Pye Bergen was awarded the sum of $3265.00, in the Canadian courts, for her injuries and losses aboard the Lusitania, in 1926.

Late in her life, as Charlotte Kelly, she granted an extended audio interview during the course of which she related her Lusitania experiences. She died in Vancouver on January 18, 1971, at the age of 84.


Gertrude Adams
Daily Sketch
Jim Kalafus Collection
Joan Adams
Mike Poirier Collection

Gertrude Adams’ experience paralleled that of Charlotte Pye. Mrs. Adams, a second class passenger returning to Bristol, England after a stay in Canada, was in the dining saloon with her two and a half year old daughter, Joan, when the explosion came. She described it as a “dull boom” and a “slight tremble” and told of how, as the passengers started for the doors, a crewman tried to calm them by speculating that perhaps they had run aground.

Gertrude Adams 1910

Gertrude Adams (seated centre at back) in 1910
(Courtesy of Roger Pollett)

Mrs. Adams made her way to the boat deck, and from there followed a group of passengers obeying a “women and children this way” order to the Promenade deck. Mr. Basil Wickings-Smith gave her his lifebelt when he saw that she had none. Gertrude witnessed another young mother and child hurled down the sloping deck, as the ship listed, landing against a flight of steps. Shortly thereafter the Lusitaniasank and both Mrs. Adams and Joan were pulled down with her. Mother and daughter came to the surface together, and Gertrude swam to a piece of wreckage upon which she placed her daughter.

But I could not help her more than hold here there.

The water, although not as quickly fatal to those immersed in it, as was the water into which the Titanic victims were plunged, was dangerously cold and Joan soon began to fade.

Then, I had to watch her die. A young fellow near offered to take her while I tried to reach a tank that was floating a little way off, but my baby had passed away then and I felt I must kiss her goodbye.

Mrs. Adams, the young man and several other people clung to the tank in the numbing water for hours.

One of the men later capsized the tank and I and the others were again in the water. It was twenty-five minutes after of two when I first entered the water and I was picked up at ten minutes of six. A boat took us to a trawler, and by that time I was delirious, awakening to find myself in a bunk of the trawler with the recollection of what seemed like a horrible dream in my mind.

Robert Henry Duncan confirmed part of Mrs. Adams’ storybefore Lord Mersey:

Q: You rescued a lady, I think?
A: A Mrs. Adams of Bristol, I found out...There was another lady and gentleman on the tank, but the gentleman died from exposure and the lady got hysterical and we lost her too.

Mrs. Adams was taken to Queenstown, and from there journeyed on to her mother’s home in Bristol. She was joined there by her husband, a stretcher bearer with the 4th Battalion, Central Ontario Regiment. She would later write to the mother of victim Richard Preston Prichard that at least she, Gertrude, had the small comfort of knowing her child’s fate, unlike so many other Lusitania parents who were forever left to wonder.

Gertrude Adams

Gertrude Adams in Australia in the 1960s
(Courtesy of Roger Pollett)

Gertrude Adams' Account

Some months after my husband went with the Canadian  forces to the war, I left our home in Edmonton, Alberta, to visit my parents in Bristol, England. I wanted to sail on the biggest boat which made the run, and I had many pretty clothes for myself and my baby.

The war was still remote to me. When I stood at the wharf with my bags, a stranger said to me "Don't you know there is a war on? It is not safe to sail!" But, I had no doubts about my safety. When the ship was camouflaged, I did have a moment of worry, but not for long, and as we neared home I worried less.

We had just finished lunch in the second saloon when the explosion came. There was a violent explosion, furniture crashed about the saloon, and women screamed. I grabbed my baby. I remember a young woman who put out her hand to help me as I struggled with my baby up the stairs. I reached the deck and found a boat covered with canvas, and a man standing by it. The sweat was running down his face, and he was saying that he could not get the canvas off by himself. "I can do nothing for you, missus' he said. The ship tipped right over to one side, but I hung on to the boat and sat my baby on the canvas cover. She did not cry.

Someone called to me to follow, and I took my baby off the boat and ran with a man and another woman with a baby to the first class deck. Nobody told me where to go to get a boat, but I remember picking up a traveling rug someone had dropped and thinking I would need it for my baby- later.

The woman with the baby fell down on deck, and rolled, and  a wave took her and the child. The man asked a steward to get me a lifebelt, but the steward replied "She will have to get her own." The man took off his belt and gave it to me, and the next minute he was gone down the deck himself. He came from somewhere near London- Blackheath, I think. He left a wife and a little girl.

Then I went down the deck and I was washed overboard. I held on to my baby and I seemed to go down, down to the bottom of the ocean. When I came up, I still had the baby, but had lost the rug. I found a board floating in the water, and  I put my baby on it. I floated there with hundreds of people all around me....there was no way of getting to the boats, and they were all overcrowded anyway. Then I saw that my baby was dead, and I let her go, and slipped back into the water. I felt there was no use struggling anymore, but three seamen on a tank reached out to me. One man was balancing the tank, and the rest of us clung to the edge. I heard them arguing as to whether I was dead or alive, but they held me up.

I remember seeing a barrel floating, and thinking "If only I could get to that barrel, if only I could" but, of course, it was quite impossible. I had thick plaits of hair, and felt that my hair was holding me down in the water. I do not remember anything much until we were picked up by a boat from the coastal steamer Bluebell.

Well, everything was lost, except my husband. He secured a special permit and came from the front line to spend four days with me in Bristol, and saved me from going mad.

Gertrude Adams had three children after the war, and emigrated to live in Hurstville, Australia. She died there, on December 20, 1981, at the age of 91.


Sarah Rose Lohden, of Balmy Beach, Toronto survived the disaster, as did her eleven year old daughter, Elsie:

All during the voyage we were all talking of submarines. It seemed people could do nothing but discuss the possibility of attack. I had a presentiment we would be struck. I could not sleep night after night, but walked the decks, thinking what must happen.

On Friday, immediately after a meal I was on the promenade deck with my daughter. Looking over the deck I saw the periscope of a submarine…

A big explosion followed. It was then ten minutes past two. There was a scene of great confusion. Many boats failed to get off.

 
Survivors photographed at Queenstown
Left to right: Mr. Collis, Mrs. Wolfenden, Mrs. Plank, the Lohdens, Mr. Milford. 

A young Spaniard, Vincente Egana of Bilbao, showed great gallantry. He saw Elsie and myself into the last boat that left, then went back and brought other women and children.

The scene as the ship sank was terrible. The whole surface of the water seemed covered with floating articles, particularly deck chairs, among which multitudes of struggling people fought for life. As the ship heeled over, a funnel came almost on top of us, brushing by me.  We were caught in the wireless rigging, but finally got free. We were four and a half hours in the open sea before our boat was rescued with about twenty men and women, and two children.

The most moving case I witnessed was Mrs. Adams; I believe the wife of a soldier. She had a two year old baby. She fell into the sea clasping it; caught a steamer chair; put the baby on it and held it there, she floating by its side.

As we drew near we saw the baby was already dead from drowning and exposure. We went to pull her in to the boat. “Let me bury my dead child first” she whispered. She let the babe sink as we dragged her in.

How the U.K. and much of the U.S. viewed the disaster.
Under the headline are shown (left to right) child survivor Elsie Lohden; a photo taken at one of the morgues in Queenstown showing the remains of waiter Charles Gilroy, infant Sheila Ferrier (on Gilroy's chest) and infant Walter Dawson Mitchell Jr, and the omnipresent photo of Helen Smith. In the cases of Sheila Ferrier and Walter Dawson Mitchell, the children were survived by a mother widowed by the sinking.
Copyright The Daily Sketch. Jim Kalafus collection.

Sarah Lohden Pinden died on October 20, 1932, in Toronto, Canada. Rose Lohden Green died in Peterborough, Canada, on November 24, 1987.


A police report discovered by Peter Kelly details a story as grim as those of Mrs. Pye and Mrs. Adams.  Four bodies were recovered along the south coast of Ireland, and upon being brought ashore were examined and photographed. Three proved to members of one family: Mrs. Emily Palmer, and her sons Edgar (an infant) and Albert. The report is full of minute details and one horrible one. Mrs. Palmer stood 5’2”, had light blue eyes and an oval face, and died wearing a blue corded skirt and brown tweed jacket. Her 7 year old son also had blue eyes, and wore a Lusitania souvenir badge. Mrs. Palmer had time to “attach” her infant to her body while still aboard the ship. When all three were recovered, they were lodged beneath an overturned lifeboat found drifting off Baltimore, Ireland. A notation found elsewhere indicates that his grandmother identified the boy’s body, using the photograph that remains with the report. Emily’s husband, Mr. Albert Palmer, and their four year old daughter, Olive, were never found.


"Those dirty hounds murdered my wife and her unborn babe. They may get me, but I will wipe out my score first." 

So said Constable William Smith of Hamilton, Ontario, as he resigned from his job and enlisted, on May 13th, 1915. His wife, Minnie, had been a third class passenger aboard the Lusitania, and by May 12th there was no chance that she and her unborn child would be found alive.

 

Norah Bretherton and family
Courtesy of Paul Latimer 

A fairly large number of pregnant women boarded the Lusitania on May 1st. Florence Padley and Gertrude Wakefield were both within days of giving birth, and would each deliver a healthy son soon after reaching shore. Margaret Kay was also days away from giving birth, but reached the boat deck just in time to be washed overboard as the ship sank, and was never seen again. Emily Anderson and Norah Bretherton each survived to give birth to sons in the fall of 1915. The child that Amy Pearl was carrying when she sank with the ship was born late in the year. Annie Elliot lost her husband, Arthur, on May 7th, but carried their unborn child full term.

Nina Holland gave birth to a daughter, Eileen, in September. Catherine Henry gave birth to a healthy son in the fall of 1915, who she named Michael Lusitania Henry. And the luckless Minnie Smith? A unidentified body, buried in the Old Church burial ground at Queenstown, was described as such:

186. Female. 32 years, pregnant, stout strong build, fair complexion, round face, good looking; long light brown wavy hair; height 5’9”.

Wore blue serge dress with red jersey underneath jacket, blue check bodice, black button boots, cashmere hose.

Property. Gold wedding ring and keeper rings.


William Sterling Hodges, of Philadelphia, was one of several passengers on the fatal voyage to have crossed on the Lusitania’s final completed trip, which commenced in Liverpool on April 17th 1915, and ended in New York on the 25th.

William HodgesSara Hodges Hodges Boys

William Sterling Hodges, Sara Hodges and the Hodges Boys

Mr. Hodges, 36, had been in the employment of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for 16 years in May 1915. He first worked as a draftsman for the company, then in sales, finally becoming a mechanical engineer. He represented his company in China and Russia. In community life, he was the organist at Harper Memorial Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where his family resided at 2936 West Lehigh Avenue.

Hodges had been appointed manager of his company's Paris offices, in which capacity he made at least two transatlantic crossings. One odd note: William Sterling Hodges appears on a December 1914 Orduna passenger list, the next passengers upon which sequentially are the Mrs. Mary Hoy and her daughter, Elizabeth, whose deaths aboard the Laconia in 1917 finally propelled the U.S. into World War I.

Mr. Hodges was to take charge of the Baldwin office in Paris, where he would sell locomotives to the French government and supervise the assembling of engines sent to France in pieces. He had set up a household in Paris; his trip to New York was to be a fast turnaround, for the sole purpose of shepherding his family to Europe.

He had an important sales meeting in Paris on the May 10th,and subsequently had only five days to spend in the United States. Passports were applied for and given to Mrs. Hodges and her two sons on April 27th. The day before he sailed with his wife, Sara, 32, and two sons, William Sterling, 7, and Dean Winston, 4, Mr. Hodges signed a new will appointing Sara his heir. The will also contained the ominous note that should they "all die simultaneously or on or about the same time" his estate, consisting principally of an $11,000 insurance policy, would go entirely to his mother.

The family boarded the Lusitania and was assigned cabins A16/18. It is known that they spent time during the crossing with Mr. Harry Keser and his wife  Mary. It was rumored, but never confirmed, that Keser, who was Vice President of the Philadelphia National Bank, was engaged in business with Mr. Hodges’ firm.

One account of the sinking briefly mentions an encounter between Mrs. Maud Thompson, survivor, and the Hodges family in the crowd climbing the stairs to the boat deck. Another states that Mr. Hodges was later seen exiting his portside A Deck cabin with lifebelts in his arms.

Maud Thompson

Maud Thompson

Initial reports stated that 4 year old Dean Hodges was the sole survivor of the family. His uncle told the Philadelphia Enquirer that he intended to stand by the boy and raise him, but the rumors proved to be false and his body, like that of his father, was never recovered. There were photographs of Mr. Hodges and his sons in The New York Times, Sunday, May 8, 1915 edition.

Sarah Hodges and Children

The Monday, May 17th, issue of The New York Times said that Dean’s body had been recovered and identified. The body, #220, proved to be that of his brother, William. Sara Hodges' body, #209, was interred in common grave B, on May 16th, as one of the unidentified. She was subsequently identified, too late to be brought back to the United States. Department store magnate John Wanamaker interceded on behalf of Sara’s parents, who wanted Sara exhumed and brought home. Letters were exchanged in which Cunard and Queenstown authorities repeatedly reminded Wanamaker and his lawyers of the great costs, and many legal hurdles, to be faced in disinterring Mrs. Hodges, and eventually the matter was dropped and she remained buried in the mass grave.

The body of William Jr. was brought back to the US, on May 26th, aboard the SS Philadelphia and interred in Monument Cemetery, Philadelphia. Monument Cemetery was demolished in 1956/’57 and the bodies buried there, including William Hodges Jr., were exhumed and reburied elsewhere.

William Sterling Hodges’ mother gave an interview in which she stated

I felt that it was foolish and risky for them to start off on that boat with all the doings of the Germans around the English coast. Of course my son had to go because business demanded his presence in Paris, but did not seem sensible for his wife and children to go too. My son is only thirty six years old, and he has been away for such a long time.

Sara Hodges’ recovered personal effects were returned to the U.S on the RMS Cameronia, which sailed from Liverpool to New York on September 26, 1915. They were handed over to William Hodges’ mother and brother. They consisted of:

1 Diamond ring - value £15.00 1 Small diamond ring - value £5.00 1 Wedding ring - value £1.05 shillings.

Compensation was awarded to William Sterling Hodges’ mother to the sum of $9,000.00 and to Sara Hodges’ father, Levi Greissmer, the sum of $2,500.00, on February 21, 1924.

 



Norah Annie Bretherton...

Did the young leaves wonder
If the year were all spring,
With flowers there under
And birds to sing;
with no sigh of trouble
Or hint in the tune
That life is a bubble
 And death comes soon.

 ~Algol (Cyril Herbert Emanuel Bretherton)

Norah Annie Bretherton, 32, embarked aboard the Lusitania, with her two children, out of necessity. Her husband, Cyril, a journalist and a lawyer in Los Angeles, had recently found a newspaper job “At a hopeless wage” but with potential for advancement. Norah, in a post sinking letter, described their financial situation as “having gone from bad to worse”  and Mrs. Bretherton, four-to-five months pregnant, was traveling to her sister’s home in Bexhill-on-Sea to spend her “confinement.”


Norah Bretherton and family
Courtesy of Paul Latimer

Convent educated Norah immigrated to the United States in 1910, via Antwerp, aboard the Kroonland and had traveled to Los Angeles to marry her fiance, Cyril Bretherton. Their son, Paul, was born in January 1912 and their daughter, Elizabeth, ca. February 1914. The family resided in Santa Monica, while Cyril worked at establishing himself as a journalist. Norah, despite her apparent misgivings over the family’s finances, supported her husband’s ambition, and in a cache of Bretherton family papers on file at Harvard there exists a draft copy of one of Cyril’s short stories with editorial input offered by his wife.

Little remains to document the Bretherton family’s seven days aboard the Lusitania. The family occupied cabin C-14. Norah made the acquaintance of Mrs. Helen Secchi, of New York City and, by her own account, won the ship’s Second Class whist contest. Chances are good that like the other mothers in Second Class she passed most of her time tending to her children: Betty, at 15 months, was attempting to walk and talk, while three year old Paul would have been energetic, and at the exploring stage which requires constant parental attention.

Mrs. Bretherton had a singularly unpleasant time on the afternoon of May 7th:

I had lunched at the first sitting and taken my little girl up to Deck B to play, and put the little boy to sleep in cabin on C Deck. She was on the staircase when the explosions came:

I begged and implored dozens of men on the way to go down and get Paul- they took no notice. One man looked right at me and I knew he had played with Paul, and I said, “You know Paul. Get [word omitted] in the cabin” but he went on. Then I forced baby into some man’s arms who had got to the stairs (I saw a man pull a woman by the arm and get up in front of her) then I ran down to Deck C…I reached my cabin, smoke was coming up through the floor in the hallway and in the cabin, seized Paul and carried him to Deck B. I dragged the boy along- not one of the men who rushed by offered to help me and I saw a woman with a little baby fall and slide along the deck but saw no one help her up…

Norah’s sister offered a detail Norah never made public, in a May 1915 interview. Once she reached the boat deck, Mrs. Bretherton had encountered the man into whose arms she had thrust Elizabeth, but the man no longer had her infant. Elizabeth was lost in the sinking, although whether she was placed into one of the upset lifeboats or simply abandoned by her ‘benefactor’ and lost when the ship foundered cannot be determined.

I heard men’s’ voices saying “Lower, for she’s full, get into the next boat.” I had a friend in that boat, a woman who called out for them to let me in- and she tells me the men did not want me in. This friend, a Mrs. Secchi was the second person to get into the life boat- she found a man already in it. We had a splendid seaman in charge and another of the regular lifeboat crew- there were otherwise 22 men, and 20 women and five children. We pulled away just as a terrific explosion occurred and the Lusitania went down.

Mrs. Bretherton gave birth to a son, Cyril Junior, the following October. Mrs. Bretherton’s days as a Californian were over: Cyril soon joined her in England, enlisted, and although they brought suit against Germany as United States citizens (eventually being awarded $7500.00 for the loss of their daughter and $1500.00 for the loss of their effects) they lived out their lives in the United Kingdom. Cyril Bretherton became a prominent journalist and author, and among the family’s adventures was an incident in which the government had to intercede to save Cyril’s life after he wrote several inflammatory anti-Irish articles during the 1916 uprising.

Paul Bretherton, himself a journalist,served as a wartime correspondent, and wrote the forward to Poems By Algol, a 1945 anthology of some of his father’s better works.  Paul married Margaret Clingan in 1944, with their child, a daughter named Teresa, being born in 1945. Relatives of Margaret Clingan informed Mike that the marriage was short lived, and that Paul Bretherton would not have been welcome in their home after the divorce.

Norah, who was residing with her son, John Christopher, in Ramsbury, died of degenerative heart disease on April 29th 1977, at the Cheriton Nursing Home in Swindon at the age of 94. Paul outlived her by only three years, dying of bronchiopneumonia, as a complication of cancer of the vocal cord, on August 19th, 1980, at 68.

The grave of Elizabeth Bretherton at the Ursuline Convent in Cork.
(Peter Kelly)


 

The Lusitania's Starboard Boat Deck (looking forward).
From a negative in the Jim Kalafus Collection.

Ruth Logan was returning  to Ayr, Scotland, for the duration of the war, along with her two year old son, Robert. Her husband, James, had enlisted early on, had been wounded in Ypres, in November 1914, and by May 1915 was once again at the front.  Mrs. Logan was leaving their residence of one year, in Paterson, New Jersey, for the security of her girlhood home. Mother and son traveled in third class, and Ruth Logan survived the disaster. Her account remains among the best of the few left by third class passengers; it begins on a staircase where, at the moment of the torpedoing, the young mother was making her way to the open deck with her child walking ahead of her, so that if he missed a step he would not fall far:

I never let him out of my sight, as I was afraid something might happen to him. There were people coming behind me, and when the shock came we were all jolted about. I immediately seized Robert and ran on deck. The vessel had a considerable list to one side, but she righted herself for a few minutes and several men clapped their hands and tried to reassure us that she would keep afloat. The day before the disaster there were sports on board and as Robert was too wee to take part in the general amusement, I took to running after him crying as I did so “I'll catch you!” And, oh! The tragedy of it all. When the rush for lifebelts came Robert could not understand it all and lisped the words I had used the day before.

Everybody seemed to be running around, and everybody seemed to be getting lifebelts. I appealed to several, but no one in the excitement heeded me until a sailor came along. I took him to be an officer. “Wait a second and I'll get you one” he said, and he immediately reappeared with a life jacket and he put it around me. I said to him “What about the child?” and he replied “Put him in along with you” and he lifted my child and put him inside the jacket which was around me. He immediately began to struggle, and wanted down on the deck, and another sailor passing me a minute later advised me to put him down till he could get the jacket put on right. I asked him to get a lifebelt for the wee chap, and he hurried forward to get one, and at that moment the ship went over. I held onto his hood and we went down together, and I still had a grip of him when we came to the surface, but the child's struggles and the struggling of hundreds of others in the water around me caused us to be separated.

Mrs. Logan was in the water for nearly five hours before she was picked up, unconscious, by a torpedo boat, around 7PM. She was still unconscious when she was brought ashore later that night. She awoke in Haulbowline, where, at first, she assumed that her memories of the tragedy were of a horrible dream. She was able to identify her son's body in Queenstown, before traveling on to Scotland. Robert Logan, body #42, was buried in Common Grave C, in Old Church Cemetery.

Mrs. Logan's husband, Corporal James Logan of the Gordon Highlanders, survived the war, and they returned to New Jersey together. They had several more children, including a second son named Robert, but their life together was not to be a long one: the 1930 census lists James Logan as being a widower.


The Marsh family, of Toronto, was returning to their former home in Westgate, England. Thomas and Annie Marsh, and their infant son, Thomas Junior, were among the 601 passengers in the overbooked second class. A few days after the disaster, Mrs. Marsh remembered  that her husband had a nightmare  in which the Lusitania was destroyed, on the evening of May 6th. She said, of the disaster in which her husband and son were killed:

We came from Toronto to New York and took a berth on the Lusitania, which was sailing on the morning of May 1st; I, my husband, and my eighteen month’s old baby. Mr. Marsh was told that torpedo boats and destroyers would escort the ship some part of the way.

I was sitting, sewing, after I had dressed my baby, when I heard the explosion. Rushing to the steps I saw my husband, who took me to the second class deck. I remained with my husband as long as I could, and tied the baby around me. The first explosion caused the ship to list heavily, which made it difficult to get to the deck. In doing so, many people were thrown down and injured.

I took to the water as the vessel was sinking fast. Within a few minutes the baby got loose, and I lost him. After being in the water for over a half-hour, and only being kept afloat by holding on to two large pieces of wood, I heard a man callout “Come on, lady!” One of the stewards was in the boat, and he assisted me in to it. Later, we were taken to Queenstown.

Annie Marsh was in the lifeboat recalled by several other survivors, in the bottom of which were a dead infant, and several adults, who died of exposure after being pulled aboard.

Annie Marsh Wood died in Faversham, Kent, in early 1977.


Mabel Docherty

Mabel Docherty

Five week old William Docherty, of New York City, was one of only four infants to survive.  His mother, Mabel, 29, a former maid, sent this account to her one-time employer, with whom she remained on good terms:

I took the baby down to lunch with me. We had just ordered dessert, and he was asleep. I said to Jessie, ‘After lunch I will take him to the cabin.’ Then the crash came and immediately everyone jumped and made a dash for the staircase.

I stood back with baby. Jessie said ‘Come along, the boat is going down fast.’ The steward took my arm and helped me and took baby up the stairs, and helped us along the deck over a rope ladder into the last boat, just as the funnels came down. Our boat was between them.

We were only about fifty yards from the boat when it went down, and the German submarine was sailing around watching all the people in the water.

The crew was fine, and helped every one, but there was not much chance as she went down in fifteen minutes.

We were picked up by a fishing boat and then by a mail steamer and taken to Queenstown. All this time I never let anyone have baby. I clung to him like glue.

The American Consul took us to his house in Queenstown and treated us beautifully. Then we had to go to Dublin and over the Irish Channel to Liverpool before we got home.

Every one was crazy about baby, as he was the youngest one saved, and at Queenstown the Irish women nearly ate him up. Of course, we have nothing left. All baby’s clothes and mine are gone. But, thank God, we are safe.

Mabel Docherty returned to the United States, where she died at age 77, in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, in May 1966. William Thomas Docherty, Junior, the youngest survivor of the disaster, died in Haverford, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 1972, at the age of 57.


A mother’s love placed Margaret Hastings, of New Rochelle, New York, aboard the Lusitania. Mrs. Hastings had been widowed some years previously. With several children to care for, she chose the best available option and emigrated from Northern Ireland to the United States. She lived with her brother in Westchester County, New York, and worked as a doctor’s housekeeper. Her children remained in Ireland, with her parents. Mrs. Hastings soon saved enough money to bring her oldest son to New York, where he found work in construction.

Margaret Hastings

Margaret Hastings

Margaret often read about the mounting human toll of World War One, and became concerned that her younger son might be forced into service, or enlist. So great was her fear, that she took her entire savings and purchased passage to New York for the boy. She intended to see to it that he arrived safely, and so purchased herself round-trip passage aboard the Lusitania. The North Street travel agent from whom she bought the third class tickets later described her as “preoccupied” and “fearful” about the war. Margaret Hastings was lost in the disaster, and whether her son remained in Ireland or immigrated to the United States has not yet been determined.


Ellis Wilson Greenwood, of South Boston, saw his eleven year old son, Ronald, depart aboard the Lusitania on May 1st.  Wilson had lost his wife the previous September.

I only hope my little boy is safe. The boy became very lonesome and even his school days at the Lincoln school could not break his melancholy.

A few months ago his mother’s people in Halifax, England wrote me and said that if the boy longed for somebody to take his mother’s place to send him to them.

Ronald saw the letter before I did and he plagued me to let him go back to England. I told him to wait till warmer weather came, so two weeks ago he again tried to have me send him. So I got his uncle Mr. Spencer of Lawrence, to book passage for my boy and he sailed.

An article in The Boston Globe spoke of how Mr. Greenwood had arranged for a second class steward to look out for his son on the crossing:

Mr. Greenwood was unable to go aboard the Lusitania at New York, but the little fellow was courageous to the end, and with a cheery "Well, never mind, dad, I'll go aboard alone and find the steward," he trudged up the gangplank, halting at the top to turn and call back an affectionate "Goodby, dad!"

That was the last father and son saw of each other. Mr. Greenwood knew nothing about the warning, published by the German Embassy against taking passage on the Lusitania.

Boston Globe, May 9, 1915.

Ronald was en route to Northowram, Halifax, Yorkshire, when he died in the disaster.


Mrs. Jane Grant MacFarquhar, a woman of about 53 years in 1915, was traveling to Scotland to settle some family financial matters when she survived the Lusitania disaster.

Jane had inherited her father's estate in Burghead some years previously.  Mr. Grant's will allowed his wife, Jane's stepmother, the right to use the estate he had left to Jane while she, Mrs. Grant, lived. Mrs. MacFarquhar had learned that the 83 year old woman was seriously, and likely terminally, ill and, in anticipation of her death, was traveling to her paternal home to oversee the eventual disposal of the property. Her youngest daughter, Grace, 16, accompanied her.

 

Grace MacFarquhar

Grace MacFarquhar, Jane MacFarquhar

The MacFarquhars booked second class passage on April 27, 1915, and planned for a long stay, of undetermined time, in Europe:

I boarded the Lusitania with all faith in the Cunard Co., as I believed they would never leave New York with so many passengers without being prepared for any emergency. I also trusted in British protection through the war zone, and I thought that a boat of such value to the country would never be left to the mercy of the enemy with its large number of passengers and cargo.

Jane described the voyage as being an extremely pleasant one. And, like many other passengers, Jane would relate that there was a sense of unease as the ship entered the war zone:

The voyage across the Atlantic was ideal. I think a happier company of passengers would be impossible to find. They were of all ages: a large number of babies in their mothers' arms, children of various ages and men and women up to the age of seventy.

Games were heartily enjoyed on the decks during the daytime and concerts were enjoyed in the evenings-sunshine and happiness making thoughts of danger almost impossible. We had every assurance from the employees that nothing could harm the Lusitania.

On Thursday morning I felt rather uneasy when I discovered that the lifeboats were hung over the side of the ship. On inquiry, I was informed that it was essential that they should be so - according to law. I thought it rather strange that they had not been put ready after clearing New York instead of waiting until we were so near the other side. I noticed the other passengers did not seem to bother, so I also began to forget the lifeboats.

On Friday about an hour before the boat was struck, I stood on one of the upper decks. The view was grand, the sun shining, the water smooth and land visible on either side. As I gazed around the beautiful scene, I thought “Where is the spoken of danger? The end of the voyage is almost in view and we have had no sign of danger whatsoever.”

Jane and Grace spent their final day aboard the Lusitania preparing for disembarkation the following morning. They carefully laid out changes of clothing for themselves before attending luncheon in the Second Class Dining Saloon:

While seated at luncheon, my daughter by my side, I should think about 2:15, I suddenly heard a rumbling noise right underneath our table or so it appeared to me. The noise proved to be the torpedo striking the vessel. Instantly all passengers rose from the tables and made for the staircase as fast as they could. We were amongst the last to ascend…it was with difficulty that we reached the top of the three flights of stairs which led to the deck where the lifeboats were.

Following the crowd to the high side of the vessel and seeing the large number of passengers all along trying to get to the boats, I said to my daughter “There is no chance of safety here, we must try to get to the low side”……it was dare or die. We made the attempt. At one point my daughter went slipping right down to the edge where she caught the iron railing- thus saving herself from landing in the water below. Meantime a steward called for me to go ahead while he assisted my daughter back to where I was. Next we had two first cabin saloons to pass through, which we did from chair to chair. On nearing the entrance which led to the lifeboats, an officer who stood there said “Ladies, stand where you are.” We obeyed and in almost a minute he told us to come right on.

A lifeboat was right in front- almost full; another lifeboat, covered over, lay between. Climbing on top of the covered boat I saw one on the davit about three feet from the sinking vessel…there I made a spring, landing somehow in the lifeboat. I thought my daughter was following my example, but she was stopped, being assisted further back on the boat. The Lusitania had sunk so bad that our lifeboat, when lowered, had only a few feet to reach the water. The sailors had no sooner got the oars when a great cry came from the deck of the sinking vessel- “Row for your lives!” I gave one glance to see if it were really possible that the Lusitania was going down so soon. I quickly turned my head away. The sight was too terrible to see - a deck full of people sinking into the ocean- no fate for them save drowning.

After our boat had been rowed out of danger I turned my head for a last glance. The stern was alone visible. It was crowded with people who seemed to make for the last piece of the wreck left above water, while others unsuccessful in their efforts to gain this temporary safe place, were falling over the side. All around were wreckage and human beings struggling for life. A number of hands were to be seen raised in a signal for help from the boats. Three of these were taken into our boat- all aged people. That was all our boat, with safety, could take on board. I think more were saved from the water than saved from the deck; so many boats were overturned in the lowering.

A British patrol boat eventually picked up the MacFarquhar’s boat, and they were landed at Queenstown around 9PM.

Jane and Grace remained in Scotland for more than three years before returning to Mr. MacFarquhar, and their home in Stratford, Connecticut, at the war's end. Life was comfortable for the family at first. Grace studied nursing in New York, and graduated as a registered nurse from Metropolitan Hospital in 1924. A biographical sketch of the MacFarquhars published in the 1930s claimed that an unnamed “nervous condition,” which Grace and her mother blamed on the Lusitania experience, deferred her nursing career.

John MacFarquhar, Jane's husband, was seriously injured during the summer of 1926. He was burned on the face and neck when an elevator motor he was repairing, at the Columbia Records manufacturing plant, in Bridgeport, exploded. He was hospitalized through September 1926. On Christmas day of that year, he went out to his work room, in a small, separate, building behind his family home; Jane found him, near death from a heart attack, on his couch a half hour later. He died before reaching the hospital.

Jane and Grace's fortunes declined precipitously after John MacFarquhar's death. They sued Columbia Records, blaming his terminal decline on the injuries suffered in the explosion. Their case was dismissed, then reinstated on appeal. If a settlement was reached, the newspapers did not report it.  By the mid 1930s they were living in a small but comfortable duplex at 199-201 Hollister Street in Stratford. One of Grace's arms was partially paralyzed and Jane, in her 70s, was supporting the two of them by tilling her small vegetable garden at the home she “owned clear.” They were the subject of a newspaper profile on the anniversary of the disaster, which may have exaggerated their penury for human interest, but which contains their last known, and bitter, public statements about the disaster. Jane died, at age 79, on April 21, 1942 and was buried beside Mr. MacFarquhar at Stratford's Union Cemetery.

Grace MacFarquhar may have returned to nursing after her mother's death. Details are sketchy, but a letter written by her brother, Colin, in the early 1970s reveals that by then she was under the care of her niece, Mrs. Jane Peck, of Bristol, Connecticut. She died in New Britain, Connecticut on February 9, 1979, at age 80, and was returned to Stratford for burial beside her parents in Union Cemetery. The MacFarquhars share a single stone and are the easiest grave in the cemetery to locate; they are literally the first grave on the left as one passes through the entrance.

Macfarquahar


James Haldane, en route to Glasgow from Quincy, Massachusetts, survived to relate the final moments of an unknown, doomed, man and child:

Many women put the lifebelt around their waist. As a consequence, they were unable to keep their heads above the water and were speedily drowned.

The most pathetic sight of any which I witnessed was that of a man who strove bravely to save his child- a wee mite of eighteen months or so. I was swimming some distance away from them when they first came under my notice. The man had got hold of a hatch cover and had lifted the child on to it. He himself was in the water clinging to the wreckage with one hand, while with the other he held the child, keeping her in a sitting position.  Their case seemed hopeless. The child was about done for when I saw them, and the man was palpably near the extreme stage of exhaustion. He was as white as a ghost.

I turned on my back to rest, and when I looked again the man and child had disappeared, and the wreckage to which they had been clinging was floating away… the impression made on my mind by that little tragedy stamps it the most vivid of all my recollections of the awful time I spent in the water.

Believe Lusitania Survivor Killed

Quincy Man Enlisted to Avenge Outrage.

James Haldane Saw Birth and Death of Big Liner

Aug. 29, 1918:  The "J. Haldane" of Quincy, whose death in battle was reported by the Canadian authorities, was probably James Haldane, who was a passenger on the Lusitania when she was sunk off the Irish coast. He was probably the only man who saw the birth and death of the great ship.

Haldane worked on the Lusitania when she was building, several years before he came to this country. He was one of the last men to leave the ship when she was sinking, for, brought up where men build ships, he lived by the creed of "women and children first." He went overboard when there no more lifeboats or life rafts left.

He was reported drowned at that time, and gave his friends here a pleasant shock when he cabled news of his rescue. He came back to this country several months afterward, and enlisted in the Canadian Army.  Reports from him since then have been a bit irregular, and unconfirmed accounts of his death have come here from time to time.


Matron Leitch, who was transferred to the Lusitania from the Cameronia on sailing day, encountered a mother forced into the horrible position of having to abandon one child to possibly save another, as she attempted to escape from the sinking liner.

Just about the time when we were first struck, I, Mrs. Craigie and Mrs. Phillips were in our cabin. We were resting before lunch when the crash came, and Mrs. Craigie said “Come, and get up!” Just then, the water bottle came into the middle of the room, and she said “For God’s sake, come on!”

We ran upstairs, and saw the passengers rushing up….there was a great crowd on the stairs, and we climbed up the steam pipes leading to the bridge.

We found a woman with a little boy, anxious about the welfare of her other child, but we told her to be content with the one she had already rescued. Mrs. Craigie and I took the little chap upstairs with us.

Mr. Jones was lowering a boat, but one side went down first and it filled with water. I then went through the drawing room to the other side, and on the way I met a man coming up with some lifebelts. He gave me two, and I gave one to another woman.

Just then came the second report, and I was swept off the deck.  I could not swim, but when I came to the surface a man said to me “Hold on to this chair, and I will look after you.”  This man stuck by me while I was in the water for about two hours, and the last thing I could remember him say: “For God’s sake save this girl; she’s dying.” I was then lifted into a little boat, and from there taken to a trawler.

Margaret Craigie and Mary Phillips survived as well, but the identity of the mother and child they attempted to save cannot be determined.


Inez Wilson, 46, who was traveling to Shornecliffe to visit with her husband, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, spoke of another doomed family in her account:

Our lifeboat was almost dragged down with the ship. We could have touched her with our hands, and one man pushed our boat away with his oar against the Lusitania’s side.

We helped in rescuing the people swimming and floating about, ‘though there were over 80 in our boat alone and she was full of water.

A man with another child was trying to get into that boat, too. Before we left the ship he was nearly frantic. “My God” he cried, “I want to save my darling, but they won’t let me in to the boat.” I said “Give me the baby” but he would not give it to me. I could have saved the child, I think, if he had parted with it to me. The poor man was quite distracted, shrieking “My God, they won’t take me.”


Virginia Loney Lusitania Survivor

Virginia Loney

When one hears the phrase, “poor little rich girl”, it normally conjures thoughts of Shirley Temple, Mary Pickford or Gloria Vanderbilt, but no one is more deserving of the title than Virginia Loney. She was born, on May 19, 1899, to a life of privilege. Her parents were Allen Donnellan Loney, a one time member of the New York Stock Exchange, and Catharine Wolfe Brown.

Mr. Loney had sold his seat on the stock exchange shortly after the birth of Virginia, his only child. He continued to work as a bond salesman and stockbroker, generally earning $10,000 a year. Though well off, his wealth was far surpassed by that of his wife.

The Loneys traveled frequently, alternating between their homes in New York, Maryland and Northamptonshire, England. They are known to have traveled aboard many famous liners, such as the Cedric, Amerika, George Washington, Campania, and Mauretania.  They arrived in New York aboard the Olympic on April 10, 1912. Several days into her next voyage, she would receive an S.O.S. from the Titanic.

Their home in England, Guilsborough House, had a stable with twenty hunters, and Allen Loney was considered one of the best riders in the area, and was described as an “excellent whip.” Catharine and Virginia were proficient riders, as well. Virginia learned how to swim while summering at their lake house in Skaneateles, New York.

Virginia and her parents returned to New York, aboard the Celtic, in September 1914, after summering in Northamptonshire.  They took up residence at the Gotham Hotel, on Fifth Avenue. Allen Loney returned to England shortly afterwards. He joined the British Ambulance Corps, and supplied his own automobile, which was equipped as an ambulance. He and his chauffeur spent much time in France and Belgium, helping out however they could. Catharine Loney decided return to England and work in a convalescent home. She was to spend the summer caring for wounded soldiers. She also gave permission for two of her cars to be donated for use as ambulances.

Catharine Loney

Catharine Loney

Her husband did not want his family traveling alone, and so sailed back to the United States, aboard the Adriatic, to escort them. They booked passage on the Lusitania on April 21, 1915. Catharine revised her will shortly before they sailed, leaving her daughter an estate worth over $1,000,000. The family paid $1,020.00 for cabins B-85, B-87, which included a private bath.

Virginia spent most of her time during the voyage with her maid, Elise Bouteiller. Her parents were friendly with Canadian Joseph Charles, of the Musson Book Company, and his daughter Doris. The two families frequently sat in the lounge together, although Virginia had little in common with the older Doris, who was being taken overseas as a precaution. She was involved in a romance with a man named Elliott Lawler, and her parents felt that, at twenty-one, she was too young to get married.

Virginia was resting in her cabin after lunch with her maid, on the day of the disaster:

It all happened so quickly. When the Lusitania was torpedoed, I was in my stateroom. I had no idea what had happened, but joined in the rush for the deck. There, everything was in confusion. My father went down to get some lifebelts and returned with a number, which he distributed around, but did not keep one himself.

 The family stood on the portside of the boat deck at the back of a crowd.

There was a lifeboat being lowered and he [her father] saw there was just one place left. He ordered me to get in. I protested, but finally obeyed. It was the last lifeboat launched from the ship.

Virginia looked up from her place in Boat 14, and saw her parents standing at the rail. Years later, she told Adolph and Mary Hoehling that Alfred Vanderbilt was near them. It was a difficult descent, for the liner was listing to starboard. The boat cast off, but the plug was not in and water entered the lifeboat, making it unstable. Boat 14 capsized as the Lusitania sank beside it.

Virginia Loney and Doris Charles
Jim Kalafus Collection
Virginia Loney, ca 1917
Mike Poirier Collection

The lifeboat was overcrowded and was only a few yards from the Lusitania when the big liner went down. Suction from the sinking vessel caused the lifeboat I was in to capsize. With other passengers in the boat, I was drawn ever so far down in the water. When I reached the surface again, there was nothing to be seen of the Lusitania. People were struggling in the water all around me. I swam to another lifeboat, which was not far away, and was pulled aboard.

She was rescued by a fishing trawler that brought her into Queenstown. There were no sign of her parents or her maid. Joseph and Doris Charles took responsibility for her:

Mr. Charles and daughter, of Canada, who were rescued from the Lusitania were very kind to me, taking me to London with them. I stayed in London overnight, then a maid arrived from my cousins, with whom I was to visit.

Virginia was taken to Guilsborough House. She turned sixteen, but there was little to celebrate. She then booked passage to the United States on the St. Paul.  Mrs. Harry Sedgwick escorted her while on board the ship. Many Lusitania survivors were aboard that voyage, including Joseph and Doris Charles, Ernest Cowper, Maud Thompson, James Leary, Charles Sturdy, Ogden Hammond, Daniel Moore, Herbert Colebrook and Percy Rogers,who had also been in Boat 14 with Virginia, among others.

A submarine began following the destroyer assigned to protect the St. Paul during the voyage, People stampeded on deck when they heard that a submarine was sighted. Lifebelts were handed out and lifeboats were readied for lowering. Miss Sedgwick said, “There’s a submarine!” Virginia grasped her arm and cried, “No, no, I can’t stand it again.” The ship arrived on June 13th, and Miss Loney was taken to  Huntington, Long Island to be with her maternal uncle, George McKesson Brown. He assumed responsibility for the girl, as did Mary Chamberlaine, who oversaw her care.

Virginia Loney received, outright, property worth $45,000: her mother’s jewelry that did not go down with the ship; $12,000 trust from a great-aunt, and an automobile, among other things. An itemized list of essentials for Virginia’s upbringing was brought to the court’s attention. The list included:

Rent…$5,000
Food and supplies…$4,000
Clothing…$3,500
Three servants…$1,200
School, music and languages…$2,500
Summer vacation and travel…$2,500
Automobile and chauffeur…$2,000
Recreation…$1,500
Maid…$600
Doctors and dentists…$500
Insurance…$200
Incidentals…$1,000

Total…$25,500

The Mixed Claims Commission awarded Virginia $26,700 for the loss of her parents. Her uncle George was given $15,450 as executor of Cathe4rine Loney’s estate. Mary Chamberlaine received $1,235 as the executrix of Allen Loney’s estate.

She met Robert Howard Gamble, of Jacksonville, Florida, a few years later, while overseas. He was ten years her senior. Mr. Gamble was an aviator and served in the Naval Reserve. His family was originally from Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. The two were married on April 27, 1918.

Virginia Loney

Virginia Loney from a passport application photograh

Virginia inherited $1,452,000 from her late mother’s estate, when she turned 21. She gave birth to two children, Robert and Catharine Gamble, but all was not well with the marriage, and Virginia and Howard separated. Finally, they divorced in the Paris courts in the spring of 1923.

Virginia and her children returned from France on the Aquitania. A few months later, Robert Gamble went to Huntington, New York and took his children to Jacksonville. Virginia reported them kidnapped. The scandal made its way into the newspapers. Virginia’s ex-husband vowed to fight a custody battle in the Florida courts. A custody agreement was eventually reached, and when Virginia married Paul Abbott, on January 29, 1926, her ex-husband allowed their children to attend the wedding.

The Abbotts honeymooned in Akin, South Carolina before returning home to Long Island. Virginia then gave birth to her second son, Paul Abbott. She continued to live the life of a gracious Long Island matron, though sadness returned when her married daughter predeceased her. Paul Abbott, Sr. died in 1971 and Virginia passed away on April 4, 1975 in Southampton, New York.

Virginia’s shipboard acquaintance, Doris Charles, died on February 6, 1969, in Toronto, Canada. She had eventually married Elliot Lawler, the man from whom her parents had tried to separate her in May, 1915. She was 76.

Virginia Loney Abbott
Courtesy of Kit Mead


A.R. Mainman.
Alf Mainman.
John Mainman.
All above courtesy of Mr. Paul Latimer

The Mainman family, of Edmonton, Canada, was on a journey described as being “associated with a great deal of romance.”

Alfred Reid Mainman, age 55, had received word in early 1915 that his parents, John and Mary, had passed away in Exeter, England. He was their only child and he inherited their considerable estate. The press reported that his parents’ solicitors had found over $10,000 in cash in the house. Mr. Mainman realized that with his parents' money, and the additional funds generated by the sale of the estate, it would be to his family’s advantage to relocate to England. He resigned from his job with the City of Edmonton’s Treasurer’s Office, and made arrangements to dispose of any household items from their Jasper Street home not needed in England. There were formalities to be completed, and his employers forwarded a sworn photograph of Mr. Mainman to the solicitors to assist in identification.

The Mainmans were used to moving. As a young man, Alfred Mainman had settled in Victoria, Australia, in 1882. He married Elizabeth Sarah Dowsett in 1893. She gave birth to their first three children in Victoria; John, ‘Jack,’ 1894; Alfred Shaw, ‘Alf’, 1895; and Mary Frances, ‘Molly’, born September 1, 1898. The family then immigrated to Canada and first settled in Fort Saskatchewan before establishing their permanent home in Edmonton. Elizabeth gave birth to twins on October 4, 1907; Edwin Richard, ‘Teddy,’ and Elizabeth Sarah, ‘Betty’.

The family booked second class passage on the Lusitania’s May 1st voyage. There is little known of their shipboard activities, or experiences in the disaster. Molly gave a brief account in which she said that she and the twins were able to get in a starboard lifeboat. She was handed an infant, about three months old, just as the boat was lowered, and she held on to it until they reached Queenstown. Commander Chaytor of the HMS Ariande and his wife then took charge of the three. An acquaintance who visited them said:

Nothing can equal the love and tender care which this worthy couple are bestowing upon these bereaved children who are now most comfortably housed and clad and I am sure that the little ones appreciate, in their own way, the great kindness of their new friends.

Molly had the responsibility of searching the temporary morgues in Queenstown, where she found only her brother, Jack. He was buried in Queenstown on May 13th. The rest of the family was not recovered. When the Mainman children arrived in England, they were housed with Mr. and Mrs. Ellison of Liverpool. John Mainman’s personal effects were forwarded to Mr. Ellison, who returned them to the family. They also received a 25 pound grant from the Lusitania Relief Fund. Their final destination was the home of Mrs. Clarence Merrett, a relative, who lived at Montrose, St. Thomas’s Hill, Canterbury. Mr. Brown, the family solicitor from Exeter, oversaw their inheritance.

Molly Mainman was now the matriarch of the decimated family. She saw to the care of her siblings, and never married, dying in late 1973, at age 75. Elizabeth and Edwin settled in the Liverpool area. Elizabeth was wed to John Kennedy in 1936 and Edwin to Doris Holmes in 1937. The twins lived long lives. Edwin Mainman passed away in January 1976 in Beccles, Suffolk and Elizabeth Mainman Kennedy died in late 1983 in Lancaster.



Annie Williams...

A family group on the Lusitania
Jim Kalafus collection.


Annie Williams and her six children boarded the Lusitania in defeat, facing an uncertain future, in sad contrast to the Mainman family who set out for England with bright prospects.

John and Annie Millman Williams were married in Manchester, England in 1896. They immigrated to the US in April 1904, settling in New Jersey. The record of the William's suit against Germany claimed that their infant, David, was their ninth child, but only six are named in the case; Edith; John Edward; George Albert; Ethel; Florence and David.


Edward Williams, who along with his sister Edith, was one of only two of Annie Williams' children to survive.
The Daily Sketch

John Williams was employed as a groom until early 1915, when he entered service for Cunard as a steward and departed NYC aboard the Lusitania's final completed eastbound crossing. Edith said in interview, in later years, that he was deserting the family. Williams, in his testimony, claimed only to be traveling on ahead to set up a home for his wife and children in England. According to Adolph Hoehling, Annie Williams’ financial situation was such that her neighbors in Plainfield, New Jersey, “passed the hat” to raise funds to return her, and the children, to her paternal home in England.

Edith later recalled taking a walk with her mother the evening before the disaster. The following day, Edith would remain aboard the ship until the last and would be swept from a ladder connecting the boat deck to the funnel deck as the ship sank under her. She held on to her sister, Florence, until the suction described by many other survivors pulled the child away. Passenger Rose Howley rescued Edith Williams.

Edith and her brother, John, were the only members of the Williams family to survive. Neither Annie, nor any of her other children, were recovered or identified. Later, an attempt was made to engineer a reunion between Edith and Mrs. Howley, but Rose said that she had only done her duty as a Christian, was not a hero, did not see the need for such a get together, and would not participate. Edith and John were taken back to the U.S. by their father in 1916, and settled once again in New Jersey. They soon returned to the United Kingdom. An account in Dunsmore’s book claims that Edith ran away upon her father’s reappearance in England, which, if true, would suggest that this move was not a happy interlude for Miss Williams.

John Willliams filed suit in the United States, requesting from Germany $40,000.00 for the loss of his wife and four children, and $250.00 for the loss of their personal effects. His suit was dismissed, for as a U.K. national he was not entitled to make his claim in the U.S. courts.

Edith and John Edward Williams' suits failed on the same grounds in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Pain and suffering caused by the loss of a loved one were not cause for a financial settlement by 1925 standards. Neither child could prove direct financial support provided by Annie. Their father, who was suing in the same court system, would not have been likely to admit desertion at the possible cost of his $40,000.00:

The record is barren of any statement of fact which would enable this commission to measure the damages, if any, sustained by the two surviving children of Mrs. Williams and resulting from her death.

There is not a scintilla of evidence in the record throwing any light on Mrs. Williams’ character, pursuits, habits, relations to and influence over her children, or any fact on which the commission could base a conclusion that the surviving children had suffered pecuniary damages resulting from her death.

It must be assumed that no such evidence of damages exists. At all events the claimants have wholly failed to discharge the burden resting on them to prove their case.

It seems that a grant of 5 pounds John Williams received from the Lusitania Relief Fund was the extent of their financial settlement.

Edith Williams completed 15 years of schooling. She eventually married and divorced, and she retained her married surname, Wachtel, for the rest of her life. She lived in Carmichael, CA, and worked as a registered nurse for 49 years. She died of cardio-respiratory arrest on May 12, 1992, and was cremated, with her ashes scattered at sea near San Francisco.


Rose Howley
Courtesy Cathy Higgs

Rose Howley, Edith’s rescuer, had been visiting her niece, Mrs. Arthur Leary, in New Rochelle, New York for over a year before the disaster. She had come to the U.S. to care for Mrs. Leary during the final months of her pregnancy, and then stayed on to help run the household. She injured her arm while living with the Learys, and was under a doctor’s care for a time. Mrs. Howley decided to return to england in April, 1915. Concerned with the German threat, she had made inquiries and was assured that the ship would not have any trouble with submarines. The Learys escorted her to the ship on May 1st, to see that she got aboard safely. Mr. Leary, a New Rochelle police officer, would tell the papers, on May 8th, that Rose was a woman of “surprisingly strong opinions”, and that he had no doubt that she, of anybody, would survive, despite her injured arm.

Her hometown paper gave this detailed account worth quoting in full:

There were quite a number of Irish people on board and they naturally became very friendly. On getting within sight of their homeland Mrs. Howley remarked, "Look at the green hills of Ireland. God save Ireland." and they with one broke out with "God save Ireland" and "The Land of the West."

After this, Mrs. Howley and another woman were walking along the deck when they heard a tremendous explosion and felt that something had struck the side of the ship... The two women promptly made for the bow, but there was a rush of passengers, who tumbled over each other and knocked the two down. Mrs. Howley shouted, "Be quiet; better be drowned than killed on board." Mrs. Howley and her companion managed to get to the spot where the sailors were launching the boats. An officer behind her, whom she recognized as the captain was appealed to for assistance, and he replied, "You must do what you can for yourself. Go into that room and get a lifebelt." A man was just coming out of the cabin and put a small belt round Mrs. Howley's neck. She felt disinclined to join in the rush for the boats. The people around her were saying, "She's sinking fast." She turned to the other woman and said, "Well what are we going to do?" "I don't know," came the anguished reply and Mrs. Howley rejoined, "Well let us stand here and die together."

Just then, Mrs. Howley caught sight of a rope hanging over the ship's side and as people were jumping overboard, she seized the rope and slid down into the sea. By this time the ship was sinking rapidly and almost as soon as she entered the water there was a big explosion as if the ship's boilers had blown up. People were blown into the air and the sight was a terrible one. When the ship went down Mrs. Howley - she had by this time lost her companion- was drawn under by the suction but through her lifebelt came to the surface and all around people were struggling and calling for help. For a second time Mrs. Howley was drawn down and on rising again she touched a hard substance, which proved to be an upturned boat, to the keel of which two or three men were already clinging. She appealed to them for help and they encouraged her to retain her hold. She did so, and eventually one of the men managed to pull her partly in the boat.

While she had been endeavoring to get a firm hold of the boat, Mrs. Howley felt something tugging at her dress and looking around she noticed it was a small girl. She exclaimed, "Oh, it is a child" and with the assistance of the men, the girl was pulled up as well. Mrs. Howley then recognized her as Edith Williams, one of a family whom she had become acquainted on the ship. They were the mother, five girls (sic), and a boy and only the boy and Edith were saved. They clung to the boat for four hours before assistance reached them. Little Edith was in an exhausted state when she was pulled onto the upturned boat but one the men spared no pains in rubbing until she was revived.

At Queenstown, the streets were lined with sympathetic crowds like on Parish Feast Day at Keighly, and some of them were so touched on hearing Edith's plaintive inquiries, "Where's Mother? Where's baby?" The rescued survivors were taken to hotels and well cared for and the American Counsel made inquiries whether any were American citizens. Mrs. Howley calling his attention to the fact Edith Williams was born at New Jersey, he took charge of the girl and on Saturday morning a lady came from Cork to relieve him of his charge. It transpired that the Williams family were going to rejoin the father who was in the neighborhood of Manchester.

Rose Howley’s family remembers her as a stern but loving, woman, who would bless each room in her house with Holy Water during thunderstorms. She died on December 23, 1945 in Yorkshire, England, at age 79.


Arthur and Lydia Grandidge
Copyright Yonkers Herald
Jim Kalafus Collection.

The ladies of The English Ivy Lodge, Daughters of St. George held a Bon Voyage Reception for club officer Lydia Grandidge on April 27, 1915 at the Richard Armistead residence, on Cedar Street in Yonkers, New York. Lydia and her three year old daughter, Eva Mary, were to depart aboard the Lusitania on May 1st for an extended visit to Yorkshire, and the party was of enough social significance in the Yonkers English community to be covered by the city press.

Lydia and her husband Arthur had emigrated from Leeds, Yorkshire, England to Yonkers in June 1912, aboard the Caronia. Lydia entered the United States under the name of “Nancie” Grandidge. Perhaps Lydia was her middle name, or a nickname by which she preferred to be addressed. The Grandidges joined Lydia’s father, Nathan May, and her sisters, Mrs. Richard

Armistead and Mrs. Samuel Dawson, all of whom were already living in Yonkers. Arthur Grandidge, although a coachman by profession, found work as a janitor in the Weller Building in Yonkers, and as jack-of-all-trades in his neighborhood. Their home was at 8 Highland Avenue, at the corner of Broadway, in what was then a solidly working class, and predominantly English, section of the city.

Lydia’s sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Stead, of Leeds, had visited with her  family in New York during the winter of 1914/1915, returning to the England “in poor health” aboard the Lusitania on her February crossing. Lydia was traveling to Leeds, with Eva Mary, to pay a nursing visit to Mrs. Stead. They meant to return to Yonkers in September. Neither survived the voyage and, as far as we can determine, no one who survived left  record of how Lydia and Eva spent their final week.

What remains from that time is a sympathetic record in the Yonkers press of Arthur Grandidge’s efforts to learn anything of his family’s fate. On May 8th, the shaken Mr. Grandidge informed the press that neither he nor Lydia had seen the German warning. It was reported in Yonkers, on the 9th,  that Mrs. Grandidge had been saved, but on the 10th a follow-up story revealed that friends of the Grandidges had read the name “Mrs. Candlish” on the list of survivors and had been struck by the (admittedly slight) similarity of sound between the two names.

Mrs. Lydia Grandidge. Heavily built; hair “light sandy.” Scar on inner side of one wrist. Jewelry: Four rings on fingers; one wedding ring with three small stones inscribed “Lydia May.”

Miss Mary Grandidge. Age 3½ years. Ankles scarred. Jewelry: coral bead necklace.

Arthur Grandidge and Nathan May continued to inquire at the Cunard offices throughout the month, but no trace of Lydia was ever found. Eva Mary’s body was eventually identified, after having been buried in the mass grave in Queenstown. Her personal effects, most notably her necklace,  were shipped back to her father via the Carpathia in July, 1915.

The 1930 U.S. Census shows Arthur Grandidge as still living in Yonkers. He had married a woman with a large family, and had become a widower for a second time. He and his younger step-children were living with his married step-son in a pleasant, middle class district of the city, near the race track.


Alice and Arthur Scott

A happier, but still bittersweet, ending lay in store for Arthur Scott, senior, of North Adams, Massachusetts, whose wife, Alice and son, Arthur junior, were third class passengers aboard the Lusitania.  As with Mr. Grandidge, the local press kept watch with him as he awaited word on his family.

Alice Scott Arthur Scott

Alice and Arthur Scott

Mr. Scott emigrated from Lancashire in August, 1914, with his wife and son joining him in November. They lived with Mr. Scott’s aunt, Mrs. William Elliman of Adams Street, and Mr. Scott worked as a weaver in the Hoosic Woolen Mills. Life in Massachusetts had not agreed with Alice Scott, and her husband’s later statements were contradictory as to whether she was traveling to Nelson, Lancashire for a visit with her parents, or returning to England, permanently, in advance of her husband.

Mr. Scott and the Ellimans later recalled that on the night before she and Arthur junior departed for New York City, Alice had a nightmare in which she saw the Lusitania destroyed by fire. Her relatives took the dream lightly, and Alice’s only surviving comment on the matter was that she could only die once and was not afraid to make the trip.

Arthur Scott, “haggard, worried and tearful,” was overjoyed to see Mrs. Scott and child in an early list of survivors.

So great was the effect that the apparently good news had upon him, that he clasped his hands to his head and fell across the table at the home of his aunt, Mrs. William Elliman… when he recovered himself, overcome with joy, he heartily shook hands with everyone present…

A joy that was soon halved upon receipt of a telegram announcing that Arthur had survived and, apparently, identified his mother’s body in Queenstown.  The press, and Mr. Scott, assumed that the discrepancy was the result of Alice being brought ashore alive and dying of exposure or injuries later.

Alice Scott’s death was covered, in great detail, in Hoehling’s The Last Voyage of the Lusitania. Her cabin mate, Elizabeth Duckworth, survived and gave several extended accounts of her escape from the ship.  She and Mrs. Scott had gotten Arthur into one of the six starboard side boats successfully lowered, and had then boarded a boat themselves. Elizabeth became disturbed by the trouble the crew seemed to be having as they began to lower the craft, and climbed out. Alice Scott remained in the boat, and was thrown out with the rest of the passengers when one of the ropes gave way and ran through the tackles. Alice Scott never came to the surface, according to Mrs. Duckworth.

Elizabeth Duckworth took care of Arthur while he remained in Queenstown and saw to it that he was safely sent off to his grandfather, John Hay, in Nelson.

Arthur Scott, junior, died in Hamilton, Ontario, on June 19, 2001, at age 94. His whereabouts as an adult had been a mystery to researchers, and upon his death it was revealed that his Lusitania experiences were something he chose never to discuss. His own children had not known of the connection until, as adults, relatives from England doing family research contacted them.


Walter Tijou Howard Tijou
Newsclipping, paper not identified, collection of Mike Poirier

Mrs. Walter Tijou, of Bromley, spent the latter half of Friday, May 7, anxiously awaiting word of her husband, Walter, and son, Howard, both of whom were returning from the United States aboard the Lusitania.

 

Howard Tijou had enjoyed an adventurous, and fortunate, life until that afternoon. The previous summer, while away at school in Europe, he had been trapped by the outbreak of war and, according to his mother’s account, escaped by train after his father went behind enemy lines to recover him. A few years prior to that, while accompanying his father on a business trip, he had been caught in Mexico during Pancho Villa’s revolution. He had made eleven transatlantic crossings, the last of which was the Lusitania’s westbound voyage of January 16th-23rd 1915. Now, on the return voyage, at the end of a business trip with his father, Howard’s luck ran out.

Walter Tijou returned to Bromley alone, his 43rd crossing at a tragic end. Sick from his experience, and full of regret at not finding his son before the ship sank, he spoke to the press through his wife:

 

Walter was in the bathroom when he heard the explosion. He found the door jammed, but by his strength and three pulls he got the door open and ran with two lifebelts on deck shouting ‘Howard! Howard!’ But there was no answer, and Walter waited until the boat turned over and he had to jump into the sea. Some man pulled him on an upturned boat, then a small fishing smack brought them to land.

 

The Tijous would learn that their son had been playing on deck with some other boys when the ship was torpedoed. His body was never recovered. Walter was awarded $5,000 for his injuries and $500 for lost possessions. He was advised by doctors to move to a “warm and dry climate”, so in November 1919 he moved to the United States. Walter Edgar Tijou passed away in Van Nuys, California on July 21, 1941.



A family on the deck of the Lusitania


Included in the official list of the second saloon passengers on the Lusitania were the names of Mrs. Daniel MacCorkindale, her seven year old son, Duncan, and a five month old baby.

On inquiry last night at the home of her sister in law, Mrs. Frazer, Springburn, Glasgow, it was ascertained that no word had been received so far as to their safety and it is feared that they have all perished.

The loss of Mrs. MacCorkindale and her family, if confirmed, will make one of the most poignant episodes of the great tragedy. A daughter of the late Mr. Ritchie, baker, Dumbarton, Mrs. MacCorkindale was at one time a school teacher in the district, where she was well known and highly esteemed.

For the past three or four years she had been a resident near New York with her husband, who is also a native of Dumbarton. Only recently a letter had been received from her stating that she was coming home on Holiday on the Lusitania.

33 year old Elizabeth MacCorkindale, of Chromo, Colorado, and her children, Duncan and Mary, were all lost on May 7th, and none of their bodies were identified if recovered.

Friends of Daniel MacCorkindale, in New York, relayed to the press that he had enlisted in order to avenge the death of his family a few weeks after the disaster.


Samuel and Mary Jane Sharpe, of Burton, and their son, George, were one of the few families to come through the disaster intact.

Samuel Sharpe, staying with relatives on Belvedere Road, described his experiences:

We had been to America, and left Liverpool on February 18th on the Lusitania to pay a visit to my son in the states. We decided to return on the same vessel, and the whole of the voyage was uneventful until we arrived off the coast of Ireland.

Just before the vessel was struck, I was standing leaning against the gangway gazing out at the sea. Suddenly, my attention was drawn to something rising out of the water.

In appearance, it was like a whale, and when I fist sighted it, it was about 200 yards away. I did not realize that it was a torpedo until a sailor near me said “Look out, there’s a torpedo coming,” I heard it strike the forepart of the vessel with a thud, right between the first and second funnel.

I made for the second class deck, and pieces of debris began to fly up in all directions. Then I heard the second torpedo hit the Lusitania amidships, which caused it to heel right over and made it impossible to launch the boats on one side.

I shall never forget the last moments on the sinking ship. Passengers screamed, and rushed about with white faces.

There was no time to secure life belts, and I found myself in the sea amid wreckage and a number of passengers struggling for life. I looked round for my wife and son, but could see nothing of them.

Being a good swimmer, I was not sucked down in the whirlpool caused through the vessel sinking. I caught hold of a piece of wreckage, and held on. Looking around again, I was astonished to see my son come up after his immersion, and within a couple of yards of myself. He swam towards me, and clung to the raft. We then clutched hold of an airtight galvanized tank.

We remained in the water in an exhausted condition for about three hours, and were then picked up by a government patrol boat. On the boat were 53 other passengers who had been picked up, and we were all conveyed to Queenstown.

At that time I was ignorant of my wife’s fate, and I believed her to be one of the victims. I stayed at the Queen’s Hotel in Queenstown, but was too ill to go out in search of my wife. A friend, however, consented to do so, and after a careful search he discovered her at the Rob Roy Hotel.

Mrs. Sharpe recalled little about the disaster. She was pulled from the water in deep shock.  She had been in her cabin and was on her way back to the deck when the explosions came.  She could remember passengers running about on deck, and that she was placed into a lifeboat. One of the ropes gave way and she was hurled out with the other occupants. She had no memories at all from that point until she came to in the Rob Roy Hotel.

Samuel Sharpe died at age 63, on March 25, 1925. Mary Jane survived him by nine years, dying on May 10, 1934 at 73. George Sharpe passed away on July 1, 1978. All three died in Burton-on-Trent, England.


Terence Florence Gray and her son, Stuart
(Paul Latimer)

Terence Florence Gray, of California, boarded the Lusitania with her son Stuart, 3, and father- in- law James Paul Gray. Mr. Gray’s wife, Carrie, was abroad, visiting the ancestral home in Scotland, and the three were to join her there for an extended vacation. James Paul Gray survived, injured, by clinging to an overturned lifeboat, but his daughter in law and grandson were lost without a trace.

The Grays later learned the details of Terence and Stuart’s final moments aboard the ship, which perhaps gave them some small comfort. Mrs. Gray and her child had at least gotten clear of the Lusitania, and were not trapped below decks when it foundered.

Terence had just put Stuart to sleep in a deck chair when the torpedo struck. She was together with her shipboard friend, Mrs. Maud Turpin, for the duration of the sinking. Presumably, they searched for their missing relatives as long as time permitted. What is known for certain is that, at the end, the two women stood with Stuart Gray on one of the upper decks and stepped into the sea together as it washed towards them. Only Maud Turpin survived; she was reunited with her husband in Queenstown, and later gave account to the Gray family.

James Paul Gray never fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in the sinking, dying in September 1922. The Mixed Claims Commission awarded his widow a settlement of $10,000.00. William Hiram Gray received $25,000.00, for the loss of his wife and son, in January 1925.


Francis Luker
(Daily Sketch)

Francis Luker; Cyril, Phyllis, and Nancy Wickings-Smith

The following account, with a bizarre twist ending, details the rescue of one of the few infants to survive the Lusitania disaster. Francis Luker's 1915 account of the disaster seems full of fanciful details, yet enough of it rings true, or corresponds to what is known from other, less flamboyant, sources to warrant inclusion:

During the voyage, I picked up with two young fellows with whom I shared a berth and all three traveled together. My two friends went below to get a nap, but I stayed on deck. About 2:30, p.m., as I was standing in the covered alleyway on the third class deck, the periscope of the German submarine was seen about 140 yards ahead. The noise of the explosion was as loud as a big gun. Smoke and steam came up from the side of the ship in clouds. The passengers all rushed over to the side of the ship to see what happened, and the lurching of the great wounded liner threw them all in a heap. Another violent lurch of the ship threw hundreds of people into the sea. I held onto a piece of iron fixed to the woodwork on the deck and was thus able to save myself from being away as the people were thrown past me.

I made my way to the second-class cabin to see if I could find a lifebelt, and, passing by the nursery, I noticed a little baby inside which had evidently been left there while the mother went to look for help, intending to come back again and fetch the child. I went forward to get hold of the child, but as I did so, the ship gave another terrific lurch and the door of the nursery was jammed tightly so that I was unable to save the child.

Unable to find a lifebelt, I made my way back to the second-class deck, where the crew were making attempts to launch some of the boats. Owing to the heavy list which the ship had taken this operation was most difficult, and the boats had to be swung so far out in order to avoid the ship, that it was most difficult to get the people into them. The first boat was too full to take me. Another was capsized through the ropes breaking so that the passengers were thrown into the sea. The boat was afterwards righted and the people were got back into it. The list of the ship was so great that I had to take a tremendous jump, which I successfully accomplished. I then grabbed a boat hook and pulled the boat in nearer to the great liner, which more passengers were able to get into it.

It was then that I managed to save Mrs. Wickings-Smith's baby. She was trying to get into a boat with her baby, but they were holding her back, when I shouted to her to throw the baby to me, which she did. I caught the child, and handed it over to the care of some of the other occupants of the boat. I also caught another child safely, but had no idea whose it was. Mrs. Wickings-Smith was fortunately saved, but I had no idea until two or three hours later.

Before reaching land I changed boats five times, in order to leave more room for wounded passengers and women. One boat that I had got into had a defective plug and it was nearly waist deep in water. The first boat I was in was so close to the ship that they had to hold on to the wireless masts and push the wires away in order to prevent the boat being dragged down by them when the liner sank. She went down with very little suction, but when the boilers exploded, the passengers were smothered in soot and looked like niggers. After the ship had disappeared, the water all round was just as if it was boiling and everybody thought that their last moments had come. However, we managed to get safely away from the whirling waters and started to render much assistance as we could to other who were still in the water.

Commander Jones was in charge of the boat in which I was finally rescued, and the boat became so full that we to refuse to take any more on board. I was able to render assistance to a lady, Miss Leipold, who escaped from the ship but had both legs injured. She came alongside the boat, and I reached out my hand to her, and for some time towed her along in this manner, afterwards having to grip her by the shoulder when she became exhausted. Eventually, they managed to make room for her in the boat by getting some of the men to lie down in the bottom.

And so things went on in this way until were sighted by a fishing smack and were taken aboard. About 100 from the different boats were got on board this vessel. After we were safely on board we could just discern smoke of the other vessels, which were coming to our assistance. We remained on the trawler for about an hour during which time the sailors did everything they possibly could for our comfort, attending to the wounded and giving them whiskey, etc… We were then transferred to the paddle-steamer Flying Fish and taken to Queenstown. We arrived at Queenstown about 11:30 pm or nine hours after the Lusitania sank.

Luker returned to Saskatoon by way of New York City, aboard the Orduna, in mid-September, 1915. He resumed his job as a letter carrier, and for the next two years lived quietly. He did not marry, and had no immediate family in Canada. His tragic end was such that decades later it was featured in a New York City newspaper profile. If ever a death can be deemed ironic, Francis Luker's certainly was:

After being fortunate enough to be rescued from the ill-fated Lusitania, F.J. Luker, a post office letter carrier in Saskatoon, was drowned within a few minutes after entering the Saskatchewan River yesterday afternoon.

Luker, at the time of the torpedoing of the Lusitania, was in the cold water of the ocean for about two hours, but on this occasion, he never came to the surface after he dove.

About five minutes before 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, Luker came to The section of the riverbank below the power house, where a few boys and Henry A. Berger, 220 Ave., D, N., were swimming. He questioned Berger about the condition of the water and was told it was fine. Berger said he saw him dive and when he never came up within a few minutes he became anxious.

Berger sent some of the boys for police assistance and proceeded to dive for an endeavour to locate the body, but was not successful. In about 25 minutes, Sgt of Police Macintosh located the body. Doctor John A. Valens was on the scene, but Luker was beyond assistance.

During an interview, Berger stated that it was his opinion that Luker was drowned by falling into a hole in the river bed containing weeds. Coroner John A. Valens decided that an inquest was not necessary and attributed the cause of death to drowning owning to cramps. Instructions regarding burial are being awaited from England.


Phyllis Wickings-Smith was an exceptionally fortunate woman, by Lusitania standards; both her husband and her daughter, Nancy Eileen, were saved. The Wickings-Smith party was comprised of Cyril Wickings-Smith, his wife Phyllis, their daughter Nancy, and his brother Basil. Basil was lost in the disaster. It is known, from the Prichard letter collection (Imperial War Museum) that Basil had managed to go below decks for life preservers without being trapped. One of his lifebelts was given to Mrs. Gertrude Adams. 

Phyllis lived less than five years after the Lusitania tragedy, dying January 19, 1920. Cyril, her husband, died just short of the 50th anniversary, on April 3, 1965. Nancy Wickings-Smith Woods, the infant saved by Francis Luker, lived until May 1993.

 
Left: Cyril Wickings-Smith, middle : Phyllis Bailey Fenn (Courtesy of Richard Woods); right: Mrs. Phyllis Wickings-Smith and her daughter Nancy


Edward Harris Lander was born on November 23, 1882 in Glen Ochil, Scotland to an Irish father and an English mother. The family settled in Bristol, England in 1901, from where Robert emigrated to the Untied States ca. 1907. He met and married a woman named Christine in Chicago; they had one son, Robert. They lived in New York where he worked as the U.S. representative of a London firm.

Lander’s 1915 trip abroad, which began with a crossing aboard Lusitania, combined business and pleasure, for he planned to visit his family in Bishopston, Bristol. He made the acquaintance of Elizabeth Rogers and her sister, Sarah Fish, during the crossing. Mrs. Fish was bringing her three daughters back to England for the duration of the war, while her husband, Joseph, served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Mrs. Fish’s daughters were Eileen, age 10, Marion, age 8, and Joan, about 6 months. Mrs. Fish recalled that there was much banter regarding the German warnings, for no one she met took them seriously.

Edward Harris Lander
(Michael Poirier)

Cunard Daily Bulletin May 6 1915

On the day of the sinking, Edward Lander and Elizabeth Rogers finished their lunch and went for a walk on deck with baby Joan. Sarah Fish continued to dine with her middle child, Marion, while Eileen played on deck. Lander was standing by the rail with his friend when someone turned his attention to the wake of the torpedo:

The missile headed straight for the Lusitania, and hit her about mid ship. Someone cried out, 'It's got us,' and upon contact with the vessel, the torpedo exploded with a dull sound, not making a big racket. We saw a big cloud of smoke; the engines of the Lusitania stopped, and the vessel took a list to starboard.

[Authors’ note: Although Lander said the ship listed to starboard, he claimed that he saw a torpedo strike from the port side.]

We crawled onto the first cabin deck and with many others with us, and soon there was lot of water on part of the deck.

I gripped the baby and held the young lady by the wrist, and we managed to scramble to the deck where the boats were. That deck seemed pretty clear. The lady and I found a lifeboat, into which we got, and I kept the baby in my arms. The boat was crowded with members of the crew, so there was not much room to turn round in her. Then somebody came alongside and said, 'It is all right. She's on the bottom.' Thinking it safe to return to the ship, we all got off our boat and again went aboard the Lusitania.

Doubt arose to the safety of the ship and people began to get into the boat again. Suddenly, the Lusitania sank. Our boat was attached to her by a rope, and we went down with the steamship. The baby was wrenched out of my arms and it seemed, in going down into the sea, as if I turned over and over again. Then I felt myself coming up again. I came to the surface, but sank once more. Coming up a second time, I struck out a little and saw an over turned lifeboat a little way off. One man was on it. I reached her, and getting on her, lay for a little while. I was very nearly unconscious.

When I recovered somewhat we saw a woman's dress in the sea- merely the back of the garment was showing. The man in the boat got hold of the woman's head and I held on to her clothes, and we pulled her on to the flat bottom of the overturned lifeboat with us.

Soon after, we saw a collapsible lifeboat, with six men on her- members of the crew, I believe. Her side was stove in, but she kept afloat. We hailed her; she came to us and they took us aboard. I was shivering greatly, and one fellow who seemed in command, told us to take an oar. The pulling worked up a little circulation and made one feel better. Then, someone else took a turn at pulling and I was put back on the bottom of the upturned lifeboat again. There were many people floating around, and we saw two men and a woman hanging on to a tank boat. Those were afterwards rescued by the collapsible boat.

The lifeboat on which I was allowed to drift for a time and for a time was secured to the collapsible by a rope. Boats dotted the sea, and hope was raised by a little fishing smack that could be seen off the Irish coast. There was not much wind, however, and the smack went towards the coast instead of coming to us. Possibly she had as many people aboard as she could take. There were lots of deck chairs floating around, but we saw only one that as being used as means of support and that by a woman who also had a lifebelt. Then we arranged to cry 'Help' in chorus. H.M.S. Bluebell, a government tug or patrol boat, came to our assistance…

Eileen Fish headed for for the second-class companionway at once, when the Lusitania was torpedoed. She met her mother and sister, despite the confusion, and the three made their way back on deck. A stranger came along and handed Sarah a lifebelt, which she gave to Eileen. Eileen would not take the lifebelt away from her mother, so the stranger gave Sarah his own belt, allowing each woman to have one. The three stood waiting together until the Lusitania foundered, and were dragged under as she did. Sarah held onto Marion until they reached the surface. She could not see Eileen.

Sarah spotted a boat in the distance, but when it approached, its occupants claimed that they were full and could not take in Mrs. Fish or her daughter. An oar floated by and Sarah placed it under Marion's arms. A little while later, the occupants of the lifeboat relented and took the mother and daughter aboard.

Marion appeared to be dead, and the people in the boat said she must be put overboard. However, Sarah was proficient in artificial respiration and worked for over an hour until Marion revived. Sarah and Marion Fish were eventually transferred to a collapsible, where they found Eileen.

Eileen swam to the collapsible after the Lusitania, and latched on to a lady's cape that was hanging over the side. She held on until she was pulled aboard.

Elizabeth Rogers remembered little of her time in the water. She said she went down and down, and to her surprise came back up despite the heavy coat she was wearing.

Sarah Fish was very grateful to Edward Lander for his attempt to save Joan, but he never forgot the child’s death. He booked passage on the Saxonia and returned to his family.

Landers' experiences on the Lusitania did not deter him from traveling and he continued to sail. The Lander family eventually settled in Wa Keeney, Kansas. Edward referred to the Lusitania infrequently and never at length. He did keep one memento; the May 6, 1915 Cunard Daily Bulletin that was in his pocket when he went overboard. Edward Lander passed away on January 31, 1973 at age 90.

Marion Fish Whiting, 47, died from the effects of cirrhosis, in Bathavon, England, on June 1, 1954.  Sarah Fish died at age 73, in Bridgewater, England, on October 24, 1955.  Eileen Fish, 78, died on November 12, 1983, in Wandsworth, England.


A Rutherglen Victim

Mr. Thomas Brownlie, whose mother resides in Castle Street, Rutherglen, and his wife were passengers on the Lusitania. Mr. Brownlie had been at Winnipeg for about eight years. Some time ago he came home on holiday and married a Rutherglen lady.

Mr. and Mrs. Brownlie had made up their minds to return to the old country in consequence of the bad state of trade in Canada. They booked passage on the Lusitania, and duly sailed from New York.

At the time of the disaster, both were on deck. The excitement was intense, and everyone rushed for lifebelts. Mrs. Brownlie was supplied with one, and while her husband was searching for another one for himself the ship gave a lurch and Mrs. Brownlie was thrown into the sea. She kept afloat but became unconscious, and when she regained her senses she was in one of the rescue boats. Her husband was never seen again, and it is concluded that he perished.

Mrs. Brownlie arrived in Rutherglen yesterday in a complete state of nervous prostration.


John Moore

John Moore was born in Belfast, Ireland and was one of six children. He and his siblings grew up on a farm in Ballylesson above the river Lagan. He worked as a grocery store clerk as a young man, and was well known in the area as a football player. Mr. Moore decided to emigrate to America, at age 19.

He booked passage on the Lusitania, and settled in Manchester, Connecticut. His sister, Jeanette, also known as Nettie, moved to Newark, New Jersey shortly thereafter with her new husband, Walter Mitchell.

John learned out that the Mitchells were going back to Ireland in 1915, and he decided to join them for the visit. They booked second-class passage on the Lusitania.

A few details of their time on the ship have survived. The Mitchell family and John Moore sat together during meal times, and Mr. Moore and some shipboard friends frequently played cards to pass time during the voyage. Moore finished lunch on the day of the disaster, and went to continue the card game. When the ship was struck, he put the score sheet in his pocket and hurried on deck. He said that from the outset he felt that the ship was doomed, and that many of the passengers he encountered were hysterical. He watched a boat being lowered, and the line jammed in the block. The boat overturned and sent its occupants into the water. Looking about, he saw a partially filled boat and jumped in. He heard a “sickening snap” and the line in the block parted. The boat swung crazily from the forward davit as the aft part of the boat dropped down. John clutched at the gunwale as the people and equipment from the boat fell into the sea.

People jumping from the deck hit him, as he clung to the rope, but he managed to hold on. He moved hand over hand up the rope until he gained the boat deck of the Lusitania. A lifebelt was lying on deck and he put it on. The ship suddenly dived and he found himself in the water.

John was swimming blindly when he came across a young boy crying, “Save me!” He placed the child's arms around his neck and swam towards an overturned boat. They clung to the craft as people dropped off. None of Moore's newspaper accounts name the boy, or say if he survived.

Jeanette Mitchell Walter Dawson Mitchell Walter Dawson Mitchell jr

Jeanette Mitchell, Walter Dawson Mitchel and Walter Dawson Mitchel jr.

John Moore was eventually taken aboard the Indian Empire. He claimed to have met his sister aboard the rescue ship in some accounts, while in others he said that he found her unconscious in Queenstown. His brother-in-law and nephew perished in the disaster: a photo of the body of Walter Dawson Mitchell, Junior, appeared in the press soon after.

Moore remained with his family for a few months before booking passage back to Connecticut, aboard the Carpathia. They were off the Irish coast, on Sunday, July 18th, when a periscope was sighted. The British patrol fired at the submarine. Joseph Thompson, another Lusitania survivor who happened to be aboard that voyage said that the Carpathia continued on a zig-zag course until after dark. John had very specific memories of his voyage home. “I also nearly escaped sinking on a coast vessel crossing to Liverpool from Belfast and, believe it nor not, another sub tackled the Carpathia on which I was returning to America. We sank the submarine with six shots.” Captain Prothero of the Carpathia stated that he thought the patrol were at target practice, not firing at a submarine.

John Moore worked as a meter tester, and married in 1924. He was interviewed by a reporter in the 1930s. Moore owned his own home and said that he felt he was doing well in life. He saved the Cunard Daily Bulletin, dated May 6, 1915, that he carried off the ship with him and over the years showed it to anyone who was interested. The headline- “British Success in the Dardanelles.” He passed away on May 27, 1946 at age 54.

Jeanette Mitchell eventually remarried, to a man named William D. Watters. She lived in the Ravenhill area of Belfast, and died on January 19, 1966.

Mitchell

Grave of Jeanette Mitchell Watters
Courtesy of Gavin Bell



Robert William Whaley...

Lusitania

One of the few fortunate aspects of the Lusitania disaster was its timing. The majority of the passengers were high up in the ship, relaxing after lunch, or finishing their meals in the centrally located first and second class dining rooms when the explosion came. There was a brief crush on the stairs in the first few minutes, but it soon eased.   Nearly everyone had gotten clear of the lower decks by the time the electricity failed. Those who risked going below for lifebelts described the stairs as clear and the corridors as largely deserted. Few, if any, were alive and trapped below when the ship sank.

The Lusitania listed severely at first and then recovered. This heel and recover pattern would repeat at least twice as she foundered. The list was severe enough, at times, to throw people off balance and give those inside the ship the impression that they were about to start walking along the walls, but most accounts agree that there was a relatively long period in which the Lusitania sat nearly normal in the water.

Evidence from accounts given by a few survivors, among them Major Pearl and Mrs. Bretherton, indicates that the Lusitania was on fire, for a time, during her death throes.

There is an asymmetry of information regarding the behavior of those on board during the disaster’s progress.  The crew would later claim that panicked passengers and a careening ship hampered them.  The passengers would, almost unanimously, claim otherwise. The details in separate passenger accounts reinforce one another, whereas the details provided by crewmen tend not to match from one account to the next.

Some passenger accounts state that there was crying and jostling on the boat deck as the ship sank, while other accounts say that there was an almost eerie calm among those trapped.  Reconciling the two extremes is not difficult, since very few passengers or crew ranged far around the upper decks once they emerged from the interior, and what was true in one area might not have been true elsewhere. The important detail to be gleaned from both view points is that, at their worst, those who waited to abandon ship did not cross over in to mob behavior, even in the final moments when the outcome was evident to all.

The evacuation was catastrophically bungled. At least six boats overturned in lowering, ejecting their occupants, and scant evidence suggests that a seventh boat broke in half. One port side boat was struck by the Lusitania and overturned, as the liner sank beside it, and one starboard boat was loaded, but crushed against its davits and destroyed as the foundering ship pulled it down. Ultimately, seven boats were successfully lowered; six starboard, one port; and several collapsibles washed clear and were utilized by some of those who sank with the ship.

Emily and Barbara Anderson, Assistant Purser William Harkness, and at least eighty other passengers and crew members effected a last minute escape from the ship in Boat 15. Dozens of first person accounts by passengers in 15 have been preserved, and most agree on the important details: the water came up so fast that the boat barely needed to be lowered; the dying Lusitania heeled violently to starboard, throwing water over those in the overcrowded craft, as the huge funnels loomed above them. It seemed as if the funnels were going to crush the boat, and several occupants stated that they seemed almost close enough touch. Others later described covering their eyes in anticipation of the crushing death that seemed only seconds away. However, the liner righted herself as she slid downward, the funnels swung away,  and Boat 15 rowed clear. The radio antenna swiped across 15 as the Lusitania vanished, and Assistant Purser Harkness pushed it away.  Many more people were soon pulled in from the ocean, bringing the total on board to close to one hundred; nearly one-in-eight of those who survived. All agreed that the boat was so overloaded that less than six inches of freeboard remained. Many of those in Boat 15, including the Andersons, were transferred to Boat 1, which had been lowered with only three or four men in it, when she drew near.


Eighteen minutes after the torpedoing, seven lifeboats, a like number of swamped collapsibles, an overturned port side boat, and perhaps 1600 people drifted within a crescent shaped debris field that was rapidly dispersed by the strong current.

Robert William Whaley, a 31 year old electrician from Victoria, British Columbia, was a second class passenger. He seems to have been one of the survivors pulled into Boat 15 immediately after the liner sank:

I was in the deck smoke room when the first torpedo struck the Lusitania. As soon as ever the noise was heard, there was a cry of ‘submarine.’

The boats were lowered immediately. I was on the high side of the ship when she listed, and I saw there was trouble in getting the boats into the water from that side. One boat, with about twenty or thirty people, which they tried to lower, was dashed against the side of the hull, and the people were flung in to the water.

I could see there was no chance of escape from that side, so I crossed over to the other side of the liner. I helped to lower the last boat that was put off. I could not get into it, but I eventually swung myself down into the water by the rope fall attached to the davit. Once in the water I lost the rope, and down I sank.

When I came up again, the Lusitania was lying right on her side. I cannot swim a stroke, I found myself entangled in the wireless apparatus, but managed to get free. At that instant a boat passed, and I succeeded in grabbing the gunwale, and was dragged into it.

The boat was full of people. We tried to keep away from the suction of the sinking vessel, although as far as I could see there did not seem to be much suction; just a ‘boil’ all over the surface of the water. I could see hundreds of people shrieking and struggling in the water around us, but we could not help them. We took up everyone we could, but it was appalling to see the hundreds for whom there was no help.

Our boat was picked up by a minesweeper, which took us to Queenstown.

Robert William Whaley died in Vancouver, B.C., on October 24, 1952. 


James Brooks, of Bridgeport Connecticut, gave this statement a few days after the disaster:

On the morning of the 7th May there was a fairly heavy fog which caused them to continually sound the fog horns and reduce the speed of the ship very appreciably. At eleven o’clock a.m. the fog had lifted to such an extent that over the top of it the coast of Ireland was visible- approximately ten miles away- and speed was gradually resumed until at one o’clock when I left the deck for lunch it was estimated that the ship was going 15 to 18 knots per hour. In connection with the speed of the ship it might be well to state here that at no time during the voyage was there more than three batteries of boilers in operation, being the three forward batteries.

James Brooks

I had finished luncheon at 1:45 p.m., and walked up the grand staircase to the boat or “A” deck as it was termed, and came out on the starboard side, had one or two turns the length of the deck and was then called to the Marconi deck by friends. This was practically amidship and between the four funnels.

After mounting to this deck and talking with friends I crossed over to the port side at the rear of the Marconi house and was called back immediately, and as I approached the rail on the starboard side of the Marconi deck I noticed about 150 yards away the wake of a torpedo approaching on a diagonal course towards the ship.

I said to my friends who were standing near me “torpedo” and stepped to the rail to watch its course. The torpedo was practically 10 to 15 feet long and two feet in diameter, traveling at a speed of about 35 miles per hour. I watched the torpedo until it passed out of sight under the side of the ship, expecting to see the explosion, or the result of the explosion over the side.

Almost instantly, but still with an appreciable interval of time after the torpedo disappeared under the counter of the ship there was a dull explosion, followed instantly by a large quantity of debris thrown through the decks just aft of the bridge and by the side of the forward funnel, followed immediately by a volume of water thrown with violent force which knocked me down behind the Marconi house.

The explosion seemed to lift the ship hard over to port, and was almost immediately followed by a second rumbling explosion entirely different from the first, and the ship was enveloped in dense, moist, steam through which it was difficult to breathe at the point of the Marconi house. After waiting until the steam had blown away from the ship, I went down the ladder on the port side from the Marconi deck to the boat deck, and walked aft to where they were launching the last boat on the port side of the first cabin deck. This boat was filled with women and children and had a few men, including at least three of the crew, aboard. The ship at this time was still moving ahead, but it began to describe a large circle to the port, the Captain evidently having turned his ship towards the Old Head of Kinsale light house which was approximately 10 or 12 miles distant. This boat was lowered to within six feet of the water when the forward tackle jammed and the stern tackle was let go, spilling everyone into the sea with the exception of three men who clung to the boat.

I found standing, in some cases with folded arms, about fifteen of the crew the majority having life preservers on. I asked a group where they obtained life preservers and one replied “over there.” I asked one man if there were any more, and he said he didn’t know.

I then walked through the smoking lounge and through the concert room to the grand staircase. The ship by this time had sunk until the forward deck was nearly awash and it was rather difficult to maintain a footing except by holding on to chairs as I went through.

I came out of the grand staircase again to the starboard side, and walked forward to the bridge, standing within 12 feet when Captain Turner  with a life preserver on, standing on the bridge, raised his hand and said “Don’t lower any more boats, it’s all right.”

I remained on the starboard “A” deck watching the efforts, which were entirely detached and not concerted or directed in any manner by any officer of the ship, to launch the remaining boats on the starboard side. The ship had lost way long before this, and was headed towards the Old Head of Kinsale lighthouse, and the sea to the starboard side was covered with a large amount of small wreckage.

I remained amidship on the starboard side until the boat deck was awash and the remaining starboard side boats were in the water but still attached by the tackle and fall and chain at both bow and stern. There had been no effort by the crew to distribute life preservers. There were two in my stateroom but on “E” deck it was absolutely impossible to reach them after the explosion from the position in which I stood, as the ship filled so rapidly. There seemed to be no surplus supply on the upper decks.

The starboard side was not very crowded with people when it became awash, and at this period I assisted quite a number of ladies into one of the boats which was afloat but still attached to the davits; after this boat was filled, with no men in it at all with the exception of two sailors in the bow and one in the stern, I jumped into the stern and endeavored to assist the sailor in releasing this chain and tackle, having noticed that the two sailors at the bow were endeavoring to do the same thing. We were absolutely unable to do anything with them with our hands, and there was no tool or hammer with which to knock the pins out which were holding the chain.

The ship at this time was continually sinking on the starboard side, and the sailors and myself still continued trying to release the boat from both the chain and the tackle until the davit reached the position of crushing the boat in the middle, and seeing there was no possible chance to get it clear, the sailor in the stern and myself stepped to the rail and dived overboard.

We swam as fast as possible towards the wreckage, fearing the funnels might fall but got well clear until as the ship rolled over on her starboard side I noticed the wireless descending through the air and was struck by it as it went down. The sea at this time was filled with wreckage of all kinds, dead bodies of all ages, many with life preservers on. My watch stopped at 2:19 Liverpool, and the ship went down an estimated 8 to 10 minutes after I left her.

Mr. Charles Lauriat, Jr. of Boston, Mass., with two sailors and myself swam to a collapsible boat which had been washed from the deck and climbed aboard. The two sailors cut the cover off, and then we began to pull people from the water until a total of 34 people were on this collapsible boat. Then we attempted to raise the sides but found that the iron work was broken and that while we could raise the sides we were unable to make them stay in position until we picked up some pieces of wreckage and placed it under the seats which held the sides up.

There were no oars in this boat although row-locks were provided, but this difficulty was overcome by picking up five oars floating about in the water. We then rowed away towards the only sail in sight, which was reached at about 4 o’clock. It proved to be the sailing trawler P.L. 12 of Glasgow, which took us aboard with many others, until she was accommodating all she could get on, and also took in tow two other boats and started for Queenstown Harbor.

At six o’clock we were taken off by the regular mail steamer belonging to the Cunard Line, out of Queenstown. We arrived at the wharf in Queenstown at exactly 9:30, and were kept waiting for twenty minutes before being permitted to land.


Detective Inspector William J. Pierpoint had crossed to New York on the Lusitania’s final completed voyage; his presence was commented on in several accounts of that trip. He and James Brooks were briefly in the same lifeboat. Detective Pierpont was one of several survivors who were sucked into the submerging funnels, and then expelled, as the liner heeled and recovered for the last time:

William John Pierpoint
William John Pierpoint
Courtesy Wendy McCawley/Mike Poirier collection

The band in the dining room had just responded to an encore of “Tipperary” when the valet of an American millionaire passenger shouted “Look!” I looked through the window and saw the torpedo coming straight at the ship, and knew at once it could not escape. One seemed to stand spellbound and hopeless.

The torpedo must have been fired from a good distance, and it split the water aside as it rushed along, finding its true target. The explosion occurred almost immediately after the striking. No submarines were seen about, and while it has been said that a British cruiser had been in the vicinity, cannot say from my own observation what convoy was provided for the Lusitania.

Not once was there any panic onboard, though the liner began to sink down straightaway and we knew that she was doomed. Going to my stateroom for a lifebelt, soon found myself having to walk at a curious angle, but managed to get to one of the decks.

Some thirty or more people had been put into a lifeboat. I was the only one remaining onboard thereabout, and decided to jump in. then the Lusitania plunged and the lifeboat, being still attached to the davits, was pulled down into and under the water. What the fates of the thirty people were, I cannot tell. I know that I was under the surface a little time, and when I came up it was to find the top of one of the huge funnels coming at me.

It was a curious experience. What the precise sensation was, one could not describe. Somehow or other I regarded it all with a detached sort of feeling, as an outsider who is looking on at something extraordinary but is not in it himself. I was carried down the funnel, and then was shot up again, apparently by the rush of escaping air from the ship. Later on I discovered that another passenger went down that, or some other, funnel, and we both came up blackened with grease.

I drifted to an upturned boat and was pulled on to it by a steward. He [words omitted] were party of eight - not to count the body of a woman who did not survive her rescue very long - and we were taken off three hours later by a torpedo boat. The sea, strewn with the dead and the struggling living was an appalling sight. We had some trouble with a lady who was in our party of eight. She was violently sick, and then she became hysterical and had to be restrained from jumping off.

William Pierpoint died at age 86, in Liverpool, on May 8, 1950.


“To me she was my dream ship. I saw her first when in her regal beauty she sped along the surface of the Clyde upon her trials. My boyish heart went out to her in admiration.”

That was Albert Arthur Bestic's first impression upon seeing the new Lusitania. The next time he saw her, he was on a small windjammer. As he looked up at the liner, he saw, “a photographic impression of four big funnels, tiers of decks, fluttering handkerchiefs, the name Lusitania in gold letters, and a roaring bow wave.” When the ship “streaked by”, it created a large wave that sent all the men into the lee scuppers. The sailors began cursing at her, but not Bestic. He vowed one day that he would stand upon the bridge of that ship!

Albert Bestic

Albert Arthur Bestic

Bestic itself is not a name of Irish origin. The branch that Albert descended from was originally Huguenot French, from the Normandy region. He was the second child of Arthur and Sarah Bestic, born on August 26, 1890. He had an older sister, Olive, who was born in 1888. The family resided in Donnybrook, Dublin South. His father was a banker and a wood worker. He was educated at the Portsmouth Grammar School and the St. Andrew's School.

The sea called to Bestic at an early age, and he joined the sailing ship, Denbigh Castle as an apprentice. It sailed from Cardiff, Wales for Peru. The ship had a treacherous crossing. The Denbigh Castle encountered many storms, and at one point a sailor on board said that Davy Jones had been “foiled again”. The ship was feared lost until it finally sailed into Fremantle, Australia and proceeded to its final destination of Peru. It had taken well over a year to get there. This did not deter Bestic and he continued to work his way up. He also became acquainted with Annie Queenie Elizabeth Kent, originally of Belfast but living in England. They continued their courtship and were married in early 1915.

He sailed to the US as an officer aboard the Leyland liner Californian. He was then informed, to his great surprise,  that his next assignment would be as the Junior Third Officer of the Lusitania- his dream ship! Looking around at his new surroundings, he thought to himself, “Would not fate put me in command of her someday?”

Lusitania Officers
Left to right:
Arthur Rowland Jones, Albert Bestic, John Idwal Lewis.

Quick introductions were made to his fellow officers. He found Staff Captain Jock Anderson friendly, and that put him at ease. First officer Arthur Rowland Jones, of Flintshire, had a grimappearance. His relaxation was perusing his five volumes by Conrad in his cabin. Percy Hefford, like Bestic, had recently been married. Bestic was advised to avoid socializing too much with the passengers, especially the ladies.

The boat drill was held but, as he later noted, his lifeboats were not lowered because a coal barge was directly underneath them.

Junior Third Officer Bestic settled into his duties once the ship sailed.  These included his watches on the bridge, completing meteorological forms, the log book, late night tours with Hefford, and baggage room detail, which he detested.. His preferred off duty activity was playing bridge in the officer's smoke room with whichever officers might be available. He remembered one game being interrupted by a knock on the door.

“The quartermaster appeared at the door with a four-stranded Turk's Head in his hand. 'Captain's compliments and he says he wants another of these made.' The bridge had to be stopped and we spent the rest... trying to remember how it was made.”

One night before the disaster always stuck out in his memory.

“Looking into the ballroom where dancing and gaiety held sway, my thoughts flew to that famous dance given by the Duchess of Richmond in Brussels on the eve of Waterloo... I still wonder if it was a premonition of disaster.”

He was on the 8-to-12 watch on May 7th, and took the soundings due to the intense fog. He also telephoned down about the fire drill. Ex-Chief Stevens then took his place, and Bestic left and had his lunch at 1 o'clock, as he always did. Baggage master Crank came to him soon after and informed him that, “he was about to get the baggage on deck preparatory for discharge on our arrival at Liverpool, and that already a working party awaited my arrival.” Realizing that he was in his good uniform, he went back to change into his old one that he used for such work. He had just finished changing, and was in the officer's smoke room, when the Lusitaniawas struck.

“I heard an explosion... and went out on the bridge and I saw the track of the torpedo. It seemed to be fired in line with the bridge and it seemed to strike the ship between the second and third funnels as far as I could see... the possibility of the Lusitania being doomed never entered my head. A crippled engine maybe, followed by a limp into Queenstown would be, to my mind, the climax of disaster. Then inexorably, the facts were forced into my brain. The heavy list, the settling down by the bows... I heard the order, 'hard-a-starboard' and I heard Captain Turner saying, 'lower the boats down to the level of the rail' and I went to my section of boats... My section was from 2 to 10.”

Researchers have relied on a book that purports to quote Bestic as saying that the list caused the lifeboats on the port side to drop onto the deck and slide down towards the bow, supposedly leaving a trail of broken and bloodied bodies in their wake. However, reading through Bestic's testimony and the many accounts that he wrote, we found no evidence that he ever said such a thing. Whether he stated this in his unpublished and now lost manuscript, Waveswept, or authors added this detail to his story is unclear.

Staff Captain Anderson was by Bestic's side trying to assist in getting the boats away. They were trying to lower boat 10, but it didn't quite make it over the side of the deck.

Captain Anderson was beside me and he said, 'Go to the bridge and tell them they are to trim her with the port tanks.' I made my way to the bridge and sung out that order to Mr. Hefford, the second officer. He repeated it and came back again and no. 10 boat was on the deck. We tried to push it out but could not.

He later noted that when trying to lower the port boats they would scrape down the side of the “sloping hull” rendering them unseaworthy.

A dreadful cry arose which chilled my heart and blood. I turned rapidly and looked aft. The stern of the mighty vessel had risen out of the water. Like a flash I whipped around. The bow was gone.

Looking over the side, he saw that the boat deck was only a few feet above water. He stepped over the side, with no lifebelt, and began swimming away. He found him self being drawn down in a “hole” in the ocean. He was going downward in the whirlpool. Finally, he felt the suction cease, and he began his swim upwards. He broke the surface, but was briefly pulled back down again by a drowning person. The next time he came up he cracked his head. Unable to see, he wondered if he was blind, but soon realized he was underneath an upturned boat. Diving downwards, he came up alongside the boat and was pulled in by a crewman named Quinn. No sooner did he began to get his bearings, he realized many people were trying to clamber aboard. The craft was in danger of sinking, so he took to the water again. Using a side stroke, he took off and swam right into a collapsible. It was awash, but nearby he found some floating water tanks to help the buoyancy of his refuge. “I knew I was saved.”

He helped rescue other people from the water and a few hours later was picked up by the trawler Bluebell. He soon found himself face-to-face with Captain Turner. Their encounter was brief and the officer congratulated his captain on his escape. Turner, in his gruff way, turned to Bestic, whom he always called “Bisset,” said, “You aren't that fond of me.”

Bestic was back in his native Ireland, but under tragic circumstances. His stay was short, and soon he was back in England preparing for his testimony before Lord Mersey. He was questioned on the seaworthiness of the lifeboats. He testified that he checked the gear, but that he was unaware of the condition of the boats themselves.

A year after the sinking, his wife gave birth to their first child, Desmond Arthur. The war was raging and Bestic was serving in the Royal Navy aboard minesweepers. He suffered losses when his mother died in 1917, and his sister ran away with a boy she met at college when both families disapproved of the match. They disappeared without a trace, much to his regret. His second son, George Stephenson, was born in Scotland in 1919.

Bestic’s career at sea continued, and he served as the captain of several relief vessels with the Commissioners of Irish Lights. His last child, Alan Kent was born in 1922 in Richmond. The Lusitania was never far from his mind and in 1932, the Railey expedition contacted him to join them to explore the wreck. Unfortunately, the expedition never went anywhere.

A few years later, Captain Henry Russell financed by the Argonaut Corporation invited him and fellow survivor Robert Chisholm to join him in exploring the wreck. He joined the expedition as chief officer aboard the ship, Orphir. He noted there would be a number of false trails, but he was confident that Lusitania would be located using Cunard data, Captain Turner's notes and his own memories. They were using a new Marconi detecting device that would aid them in finding her. He predicted that because the ship would be on its side, it would be somewhat flattened due to pressure. The Orphir encountered such a horrific storm that Bestic ordered the wireless operator to prepare to send a message. Visibility was non-existent and green waves washed over the decks. The wind whipped through the mast and roared down the ventilators. The former Lusitania officer was in charge of the port side boats, just as he had been twenty years before. He ordered his crew to stand-by. Heading back to Kinsale, they had a near collision with a Dutch boat, Parnevele, when it crossed the Orphir's bows.

The expedition divers would be Jim Jarrett and Ernest Pope. A reporter on board the expedition, Gilbert McAllister, described the diving gear as “weirder than Frankenstein”. The reports from the expedition fascinated people. Survivor Robert Timmis was now blind, but listened to daily radio reports of the expedition while, Lady Rhondda declared she would like to dive to the Lusitania herself.

A barrister named James Burke was interviewed, for he had seen the Lusitania sink from the shore. His roommate at University College, Cork, was the Lusitania’s Dr. McDermott, who was drowned. Burke added the curious detail that the locals refused to eat fish for over a year as the fish had been feedingoff the Lusitania victims.

The expedition turned perilous as Jim Jarrett was diving. An anchor was caught by the currents and flung against his suit, just missing the glass of his helmet. He was raised back to the surface after his near-death experience, but soon asked to try again. Sadly, in the midst of the expedition, the owners fired Bestic, for he refused to give up his book rights. He went ashore in September of 1935.

The ship was found in October. The new chief officer, Horn, requested that the Orphir  range 500 yards out of its limits, “just for luck”. The able seaman at the helm soon shouted, “There's something Sir.” The graph showed an outline of a large shipwreck.

Jarrett finally dove to the wreck. He saw little due to limited visibility, but had the remarkable experience of walking across the liner's “slime covered plates”.  Although the ship had been located, dreams of finding and recovering the gold supposedly aboard the sunken vessel were unrealistic and the expedition was soon ended.

Bestic kept himself busy, and in an exclusive interview he conducted for the New York Times, he talked with Captain William Turner about their experiences aboard the Lusitania. Bestic asked Turner if he thought the ship would be torpedoed.

Yes, I was distinctly worried. I was advised by the Admiralty that I was to keep a mid-channel course. As you remember, we were warned by wireless that there were six submarines waiting for us in mid-channel. That was the chief reason I closed in on the coast. I thought that if the ship were sunk near shore, the top deck might be above water, allowing the passengers to escape... I am certain she was struck twice.

The former officer, turned journalist, asked about the rumor of gold aboard. Turner replied,

No gold of course, but there must be a lot of money and jewelry in the purser's safes. I am quite sure of that.

He chuckled about his own property left aboard the ship.

There are 15 (British pounds) that belong to me. That is all. But there is an old sextant I value. It's in the left hand drawer of my desk on that ship.

Bestic found his former commander to have the same “alertness of manner and the same quick penetrating look in his sharp blue eyes. But his quarterdeck manner had softened considerably.” He also wrote that Turner said he was “distinctly worried” about being torpedoed on that voyage. Bestic made the error of saying in the article that he was the only surviving officer. This prompted a newspaper rebuttal by the senior third officer, John Idwal Lewis.

A final disaster nearly killed Bestic. He was serving as commander aboard the Light ship Isolda when she was bombed and sunk in December 1940. Six men were killed. Poor vision and a touch of heart trouble forced him to retire from the sea and he found himself writing more articles as a new career. He helped Adolph Hoehling with certain details of the 1915 shipwreck, for a book called The Last Voyage of the Lusitania. His own book about his adventures aboard the Denbigh Castle, called  Kicking Canvas was published a few years later and was well received. He now lived in Bray and was considered a local authority on the sea.

Bestic wrote an article about the documentary film of the Light expedition to the Lusitania. The article became a reunion between several survivors, some of whom Bestic had not seen since 1915. It was entitled, So I Shall See the Lusitania Again. He was finally able to see footage of his lost “dream ship.” Bestic took ill as Christmas time approached, and passed away on December 20, 1962. He was buried in family vault in St. Michan's Parish Church in Dublin.



John Idwal Lewis...

Lusitania

John Idwal Lewis started his sea-faring career in sail. The native of Portmadoc, North Wales was first signed aboard a three-masted bark He later remembered receiving a daily ration of a pound and a pint- eight ounces of butter, marmalade and sugar, and a pint of lime juice to ward off scurvy; but he never complained. Since he was slender and only stood about 5'6 in height, it was easy for him to work in tight places.

He finally went to sea, “in steam,” as he put it, on the Moss Line, and the Blue Funnel Line, in 1912. The following year, he earned his master's certificate. He joined Cunard in September 1914 as intermediate third officer and a month later he was assigned to the Lusitania, and he would remain with her until the end.

Recalling his duties, he stated:

“There is a daily inspection on all the ships that I have been in this line, at half past ten. I used to attend on them everyday. I attended the whole of the ship, there was six of us going on this inspection; the staff captain in full charge, the senior surgeon, the assistant surgeon, the purser, the chief steward and myself. It was to begin at half past ten outside the purser's office on B deck. Then we would start to go all around the passengers' rooms; we would inspect a room here and there, all the bath rooms, boilers and alleyways, and see that everything was clean and in order, and go right around each deck right down to the saloons and the galleys down to the steerage; the same thing in the crew's quarters and the firemen's quarters.”

He continued

We were all together and met on B deck. We all went together through the B deck section right fore and aft, and down to C deck, and the same thing through C deck, and then we all went down to D deck, and there we divided forces…

The staff captain and the assistant surgeon and myself went through the forward end of the ship, through the sailors' quarters and the third-class and steerage quarters and the stewards' quarters forward and the store room, and we came along up C deck and went down through the third class entrance and followed the other route through the saloons and kitchens up into the second cabin and met outside the second cabin entrance of C deck, and we went along and went down into the firemen's' and trimmers' quarters which had the entrance on C deck; we went down there.

After we finished there, we used to pump back again and go up to A deck in through the verandah café and the smoking room and the house, and were dismissed when we got outside.

The Lusitania’s appearance on the final voyage made a strong impression on John Idwal Lewis. When asked, he would say, “A black hull, black funnels.” He was not the only one to describe the ship as having been re-painted from the traditional Cunard colors. Thomas Slidell described the funnels as “giant gray tubes.” Sarah Lund, in her charges against Cunard, claimed that the superstructure was painted gray. Lewis would disagree, while testifying on behalf of the company, and say that superstructure itself was still white.

Sailing day was especially busy and Lewis had to make sure several tasks were carried out.

The morning we left Liverpool we had a Board of Trade mustering drill just before we sailed, under the supervision of the Board of Trade Supervisors; just to muster all hands and all the ship's members and swing the boats out on both sides, and swing them inboard again.

He was in charge of the starboard side during the drill, boats 1 to 11, which was next to the quayside, and his boats could not be put in the water. He was not sure if the boats in the port side were rowed in the river. Crew members were assigned a certain boat when they signed on, receiving, “a metal badge with the number of a boat on it.” Boat lists were also provided on the ship. “The names of all the crew put outside their boats. The boat list is a paper and the diagrams for the boats on the port and starboard side with the names of the crew. If I remember rightly, there were three posted aboard the ship. They would be in the living quarters of the different staff for instance where the stewards have their quarters; they would be even down to the glory hole facing them and you cannot mistake them going downstairs.” They were also “in the firemen and sailors quarters… Each officer had a book with the name of the boat, corresponding to the sheets.”

The Lusitania was ready to sail, following the transfer of passengers and crew from the Cameronia, whose voyage was cancelled when she was requisitioned for naval service. Lewis remembered years later, on a television appearance, that he looked out and saw a woman running along the dock. “I saw the gang plank being raised and then lowered again… I happened to be the mail officer on the ship and just when coming on board, after checking the mail, a shout came from the shore, 'Wait! Wait a minute! Wait a minute!' And I happened to turn around and saw a lady coming up the gang plank.” He said he later learned that it was Alice Middleton.

Lewis may have become familiar with the stories of the crew members with whom he came in contact, as the voyage progressed. Staff Captain Jock Anderson had his nephew, George Edward Latham, aboard as an electrician. Second purser Percy Draper's wife was expecting a child, the birth of which was expected to coincide with his return to England. Albert Bestic, the junior third officer, was to have joined the Leyland Line for his first ship assignment as an officer, but was transferred to the Lusitania. Second officer Percy Hefford, a graduate of the famous Rugby School, had married three months earlier. Extra chief officer John Stevens had recently received word, while chief officer of the Cephalonia, that his wife had died. He had to complete another voyage on the ship and then he was allowed to return home- on the Lusitania. Stevens was lost on May 7th, as were Latham, Anderson and Hefford.

There were daily boat drills, but not for the passengers:

Q. Had there been any boat drills during the voyage, prior to May 6th?
A. Yes, an emergency drill… Well, we have two special boats in the ship that are always at sea swung out… I think they were 13 and 14; I am not absolutely certain; we used to have special wire guys spread out between the two davits with a life line attached to these reaching down to the water's edge. Every morning, or usually every morning the whistle would go and these men went back to muster at the emergency boat. Whichever side of the ship was the lee side. There was a picked crew from the watch… Then after these fellows would stand at attention in front of the boats and I would say, “Man the boats,” and these men would get into the boats and put their life belts on and sit in the number of their place in the boat. After I saw that everything was all correct, I would dismiss them from the boats. This was done under my supervision, daily.

Q. Let us go back a moment, and tell us what the signal for the emergency drill was?
A. The steamer's siren; they used the blow the steam whistle… a long blast and a series of short blasts.

Q. What did the pursers and stewards have to do at this drill?
A. The pursers look after the ship's papers and the stewards attend to provisions, and so forth, and were attending to blankets and there were the stretcher guard, the ambulance guard. The lifeboats were readied on the morning of May 6, as the ship approached the war zone.
Q. When the boats hang in the davits with these short chains on them how high up are they above the deck?
A. Well, they should be--the boat should be about 8 feet from the deck.

Q. Could anybody get into them at all?
A. Well, I suppose I could if I jumped.

Q. And when the boats were swung out the morning of May 6th, you say they were lowered down to be on a level with the collapsible boats?
A. Yes.

Q. How high would that bring them down above the deck?
A. The collapsible boats would be about 3 feet--about five feet; you have to go over the collapsible boat to get into the lifeboat. The lifeboat was not lowered to the level of the deck, but to the collapsible boat; just a matter of 2 feet.

Q. Could the lifeboat be lowered after that was swing out, to be level with the collapsible boats, with out disengaging these chains to which they were hung in the rocker?
A. Impossible.

Q. Won't you describe the collapsible boats?
A.  A collapsible boat is something similar to a life raft, rather flat bottomed, it only raises about 18 inches from the deck… just like an ordinary (boat)--two bows on it and wider in the beam and flat bottoms. The wooden part of the boat is only about 18 inches deep… Decked over, watertight tanks, inside. Above that there is canvas sides that you raise up, like opening a concertina, fixed up with iron bars to raise the seats up.

 Lewis testified that “All the ports were to be closed and not only that, all the windows at night were to be closed and darkened and all the doors leading to the decks were to be closed at night.” Lewis was careful with his wording while testifying, lest he be contradicted by other witnesses:

Q. Were any ports open, so far as you know?
A. No, not as far as I am aware of it, no.

Q. On the day of the accident
A. As far as I am aware of it, no.

Q. Of course, you were not in any passenger's staterooms to notice the ports?
A. No.

Q. But the ports in the alleyways and in the places you were in were in what condition?
A. They were closed, all those ports; one or two of these might be open on C deck. They open on to the shelter deck; there were men detailed every morning to clean the brass work on those ports, because they open on to the third class passengers' promenade deck and there are two men specially detailed off to clean the brass, and probably they were cleaning them at the time, and there might have been one or two open, but if any water came in there it would go down the wooden deck and would run out through the scuppers.

Q. Did you attend on the night inspection of May 6th?
A. Yes, I did

Q. At what time?
A. From about half-past eight until ten o'clock

Q. What was the condition of the ports that night?
A. They were closed as far as I could see; some places of course I couldn't go.

Q. To what do you refer?
A. I refer to some of the staterooms of the passengers.

Q. Had there been orders to have all ports darkened?
A. Oh, yes

Q. Were you running without lights?
A. We were.

 Lewis had an unenviable shift the day of the sinking. “I was on from 4 to 8 in the morning… on the bridge… with the chief officer… I remember that when I went on watch in the morning that I had my overcoat on and was glad of it too. Yes it was foggy.”

He had a quick breakfast, and from there was off to the baggage room:

Q. Where was the baggage room, by the way?
A. It was down - the entrance is on C deck, it is right in the bottom of the ship.

Q. Were you down there continuously, or were you up and down?
A. I was going up and down.

Q. Were you on deck at all?
A. I was out on deck, on C deck

Q. On the side, so you could see the condition of the weather?
A. Oh, yes, you could see all around… It was, as far as I can recall it, foggy all morning.

Q. What was the conditions of things then, as far as being able to sight the land was concerned?
A. Well, the weather was clear, but hazy over the land... I could see land all right, but I didn't take too many particular notice what it was; I knew were we out to be, so I guessed where we were.

He finished his duties about quarter of one, and proceeded to his cabin to change for lunch. He was going to join first officer Arthur Rowland Jones in the first class dining room. His table was “on the port side… the after table of all on the portside… It was right from the side of the ship, right to the door of the grill room, to the entrance of the grill room, a square table.”

Q. Did you notice anything about the ports in the dining room while you were having your lunch?
A. No, they were shut on my side, as far as I could see.

Several passengers in the dining room contradicted Lewis. James Brooks:

On my left, I sat facing the bow and very near the entrance on the left of that section of the dining room that was all open. That would be just the same as these windows are here, and I sat on the port side of the center line at the dining table; they were open on that side. Rita Jolivet: They were open. Frederic Gauntlett: Nearly all were openWell, I left my coffee and nuts and rose from the table and shouted to the stewards to close the ports. Oscar Grab: I noticed that they were open. Charles Lauriat: Yes, because there was an electric fan right over my head, and with the portholes open, the draft and the fans going at the same time made it very drafty. Isaac Lehmann: It was a beautiful day and all the portholes were open.

Lewis was finishing his lunch when there was an explosion: “I should say it was just like a report of a heavy gun about two or three miles away from us.”

Q. From what point on the ship did it appear to come?
A. From the fore part of me on the starboard side. A few seconds afterwards, whether it was an explosion or not I couldn't say, but there was a heavy report and a rumbling noise like a clap of thunder… It was accompanied by the sound of broken glass, like glass breaking. That was on the starboard side again, forward of me, but closer than the first one was, further aft than the first one. I stood up and looked around and both of us walked out of the saloon. Of course, we couldn't run out, there were too many people ahead of us.

The ship began listing immediately:

I should think it would be about 10 degrees when I was on the staircase. I went up along the main saloon staircase up to C deck. The only difficulty was that the place was crowded with people ahead of me. I came out on to the C deck on the port side and went up on the boat deck along the outside ladders, the outside staircases.

One of the first people he saw was Mr. Piper, the chief officer, standing by No. 2 boat:

Q. Had the ship begun to swing over toward the land yet?
A. She must have, because when I went over on to my own station I could see the land.

Lewis went to the bridge, where he found the quartermaster. “I sang out to the quartermaster and I said, 'What is the list on the telltale, on the compass,' and he told me 15 degrees.” He had no lifebelt. Percy Hefford, the second officer, had thrown him several from the bridge, but he gave them to other people.

He went to his station, boats 1-11 and found Mr. Jones there, on the starboard side, as well. One of the first things he noticed was that lifeboat 1 “was lowered into the water before I got up there, but the tackles were fast to it, the after fall was a bit tighter than the other one, so the boat was heading out to sea and had been drawn sideways along the ship, but it was floating in the water.” There were two sailors in it. He did his best to fill the boats in his section, but almost none got away. “Well, filled them up with passengers, with people; I don't know whether they were passengers - I filled it up and lowered it down… The list of the ship would swing the boat out from the edge of the ship… When we had taken the women passengers on to the edge of the collapsible boat to get into it the distance was such that they rather drew back instead of getting in it; we had to use our best judgment to try and get them into the boat. Some were afraid of attempting to go across.”

Q. How many people do you think were in?
A. Well, it was loaded, as far as I could see, full; of course, I didn't stop to count them; I ordered them to lower away and it was lowered away… I saw it unhooked and settle in the water. When I was standing on the deck I saw a fishing schooner way over inside, and was looking at that and wishing it was a bit nearer, and I could swim for her, but I could see the land too and was wondering how I could make it.

 Not everyone was cooperative:

When I was getting one boat out, I forget the number, I was standing on top of the collapsible boat seeing it lowered down and it was full up and these fellows when they saw the boat being lowered tried to rush it. Of course, I had to stop them.” He made his way down the deck to work on the forward boats, and was opposite the first class entrance: “I filled that boat; I saw that they started with the filling that boat, because when they were getting well under way there, I went further aft again and saw Mr. Jones and I said, 'I had better give you a hand there, because they are filling mine up here,' and that was one of the boats that he and I lowered. He took charge of one and I took charge of the other end, so that these people were lowered down properly.

Following that, he claimed that he went back to his own section. “I was continuously between no 1. and no 9. after that, going from one to the other, seeing that they were going all right.”

Q. Did you get 9 down safely?
A. It was lowered into the water safely.

Q. And unhooked
A. And unhooked.

Q. And away?
A. Well, whether it drew away from the ship's side, that was something I don't know. I didn't see it exactly going out, but I saw it in the water. I simply gave orders and said, “All right” and when the boat was in the water I said, “Get out with her.” A lady passenger was in the boat there, and I was standing on the deck and the boat was just away from the ship's side and screwed up, and she stood up and sang out, “For God's sake jump.” I looked at her and said, “Good-bye and Good luck. I will meet you in Queenstown.”

Working back and forth, the last boat he went to was 3. He said there were very few people left on the deck.

Q. Were they able to stand up?
A. No, not without hanging on to a bit of the hand rail on top of one of the houses; in fact, it took all I could to stand on the deck.

 Looking about he saw:

“the water was on the bridge deck and rising fast; I made an attempt to go aft and missed my footing, but I got hold of a collapsible boat…… I was standing up to me knees in water, practically.”

To his surprise, he spotted a tiny gold watch, no bigger than the size of a quarter being swept along the deck by the water. He reached down and pocketed it.

I fell in the water on the deck and got hold of the collapsible boat and scrambled on it and got hold of the rail on the funnel deck or hurricane deck, and got over there and tried to make my way across to the port side to take a dive off, but I was just about half way across when she went down under me.


Q. When the ship went down were you drawn under?
A. I must have been, because I didn't see anything of the ship and I was in the fore end of her; when I came up to the surface there was no sign of the ship at all.

 He grasped a piece of a boat chock when he rose to the surface:

“Sometimes I was on top and sometimes I was underneath it, and eventually I got alongside of a collapsible boat that was just floating stem up, about one-third of the boat sticking out of the water, and I got on top of that and was there half an hour when a trawler picked me up.”

He landed in Queenstown, and left the next afternoon for England. He gave several sets of testimony during the Liability hearings. The fact that so few of the boats got away did not escape the lawyers:

Q. I notice in the book that Mr. Lauriat wrote, I believe it was written while he was there in Great Britain after the disaster, he says (page 49): He speaks of seeing in the slip six lifeboats, inside the wharf at Queenstown. He mentions the numbers 1, 11, 13, 15, 19, and 21; did you notice at any time notice the numbers of the boats after you got to Queenstown, the ones that were brought in?
A. I never saw them in Queenstown.

Q. Do you, yourself, know how many lifeboats you actually got away from the ship with passengers?
A. No.

John Idwal Lewis remained with Cunard after the disaster. He rose, during the war, to the position of chief officer; one of his ships being the Carpathia. He eventually attained the rank of Captain, and then was made the assistant marine superintendent of the Cunard White Star Line.

He married a woman named Sophia and had two children, Henry and Joan. He made his home in New York and vacationed in Inverness, Florida. He was a member of the Pyramic Lodge, number 490, of New York City.

Lewis came across a newspaper interview that fellow officer Albert Bestic conducted with Captain Turner, and was miffed that Bestic assumed he was dead. Bestic wrote, “I am the only surviving deck officer of the Lusitania and with the anniversary of the great liner's loss arriving, it occurred to me to go to Liverpool to see my old commander and find out how he was faring.” Captain Turner was described as alertand made several interesting statements.

Lewis's rebuttal came a few days later:

I was third officer of that ship and standing by my station amidships, when she heeled to starboard and went down bow first. We managed to launch 6 lifeboats in which 700 person were saved. Three deck officers were saved besides Captain Turner. A.R. Jones, the first officer who was drowned later in the war, and Bestic, a young Irishman from Dublin, who was making his first trip in the Cunard Line - I think it was his last, because I never heard of him afterward. He was the junior third officer.”

John Lewis had a reunion with several fellow crew members on the 20th anniversary of the disaster. It was held in his office at the New York Cunard White Star building. He met with Richard Wylie, assistant marine engineer of the line, and William Ewart Gladstone Jones, chief electrical engineer of the Scythia. Alexander Duncan, Chief Officer of the Berengaria, and Charles Dunn, Chief Engineer of the Bantria joined them later. They planned on drinking a silent toast to all their shipmates who went down with the Lusitania.

He retired in 1950 and moved to California in 1956, as both of his children lived there. He settled in Stockton in 1960. The “short, taciturn” sailor spent his time sketching ships and working in his garden. Towards the end of his life, he suffered from illness and in his last year, stayed in the Lodi Convalescent Home.

John Idwal Lewis, the last surviving officer from the Lusitania's final voyage, died on October 21, 1974.

One interesting piece of Lusitania history, preserved on kinescope, is a fall 1955 appearance by John Idwal Lewis on the American television show This Is Your Life. The format of the show was simple: a celebrity and a lesser known person would each be given a segment in which the host told their life stories and reunited them with long-forgotten figures from their past. Milton Berle and Alice Middleton, Lusitania survivor each had a segment on the episode.

It is interesting viewing for a vintage TV buff, but frustrating for a Lusitania researcher. Berle’s segment ran overtime, and so Miss Middleton was given very little chance to speak during hers. Where normally she would have told her Lusitania experiences in the first person, Ralph Edwards, the show’s host, faced with a very limited amount of airtime, instead told her tale at a staccato pace, allowing her brief time to comment:

(Paraphrased)

RALPH EDWARDS Do you remember being on the deck of the Lusitania as she took her final plunge and being pulled so far down into the water that it seemed you would never come to the surface?
MIDDLETON: Yes.
EDWARDS And, do you recall that when you came to the surface you witnessed many terrifying things before finally, mercifully, losing consciousness?”
MIDDLETON Yes.

However, the show is not without its surprises. For one thing, it reveals that Middleton was not a Red Cross nurse, as other accounts state, but instead a nurse in the child-rearing sense: she was reunited on camera with the children for whom she cared in 1914-1915. It offers filmed greetings from the Irish doctor who saved Alice’s life, who was present when she was nicknamed “Marvel” for her survival. And, best of all, it offers an appearance by John Idwal Lewis, who is actually given more time to speak on camera than Alice Middleton!

Lewis seems at ease, has a distinguished speaking voice, and confirms that Alice Middleton was the woman who dashed up the gangplank at the last second on May 1st, 1915. The show ends with Alice Middleton being given a diamond necklace and a brand new 1956 Mercury automobile, as well as a kinescope of her appearance and a sound film projector on which to show it. It was through the courtesy of Alice Middleton’s family that we were allowed to view This Is Your Life Alice Middleton, from her own print of the show, and get to see John Idwal Lewis in person."


Lusitania

William McMillan Adams, 19, of New York and London, was traveling in first class, with his father Arthur Henry Adams, 46.

I am an American; my address in England is 5 Cumberland Terrace, Regent’s Park, N.W.

I was traveling with my father. He was lost. Our births were first-class D37 and 45 on the starboard (side).

I was up in the lounge at the time of the explosion. I rushed up into the hallway and looked out to sea on the starboard side. The water was pouring down from the water chute. As I was standing there, there was a big shock. I thought the mast or something had fallen down. A man passed me who said he had seen a torpedo.

My father came up and met me. We went over to the port side on the upper deck and started to try and launch the boats. All the men were trying to push these boats over. We did not succeed.

I saw two boats launched on the port side- both unsuccessfully. The first boat fell absolutely the whole distance. The man let go of the ropes and it crashed down. I know one of the survivors who is still at Dublin- Mr. Ogden H. Hammond. The other lifeboat fell in quite the same manner.

Finding that owing to the list on the vessel we were unable to launch any boats on the port side, I said to my father “We shall have to swim for it and we had better go down and get our lifebelts.”  We went down to D deck, but could get no further than the stairs, for the water was pouring in all the portholes on the starboard side. It was impossible to get to my cabin.

Arthur Henry Adams and William McMillan Adams

We had some difficulty in climbing upstairs again, but we got to B deck. We went into every cabin on B deck trying to get lifebelts. I got one, but my father could not get one.

We saw they were launching a boat on the starboard side. We went up, and got all the women in sight into the boat. We then jumped into the boat and they stared to lower it. They lowered it very well, until we were about twelve feet above the water, when we fell. As the Lusitania was going forward, the boat filled with water at once. There was way on the ship at the time. Deck was then level with he water.

My father looked up and saw that the ship was going to fall over on us.

Next I found myself in the water, I came to a collapsible boat, quite empty and in perfect condition. I got half on to it, but could move no further either way. The mast came down and severely grazed my nose and face, and went straight through the boat just like paper, and put me down again.

I imagine a great many people were killed by things falling off the deck. I do not think many people knew the Lusitania actually went over on its side.

I got hold of a plank, then I swam to another piece of wreckage, a big box; and after about three quarters of an hour I came to an upturned collapsible boat with about ten people on it. They pulled me on. Then we were afterwards taken on to a collapsible boat full of water. We managed to bail this out, and we picked up something like forty people. Most of them were practically incapable of any work. We fished buckets out of the sea and bailed the boat out with them. We did not find anything in the boat to bail out with, but the boat was full of water. We rowed to a fishing smack, and we put the women and men who were very bad into the boat she was towing.

By this time, about six o’clock, the whole sea seemed full of tugs and torpedo boats. I reached Queenstown about 10:30. There were others before us; other oats passed us on the way to Queenstown.

My watch stopped at twenty-five minutes past two, when the boat went down.

Staff Captain Anderson said  “Do not lower the boats,” and “Clear the decks.” It really rested with the passengers to find their way to the boats. It was the stokers who let down our boats, and I saw stokers letting down other boats.

People kept their heads. There was no panic.

When I was in the water shortly after the ship sank, about three quarters of an hour after, there were sixteen boats in sight of any type or description, all from the Lusitania; but no ships came up to rescue us until about two and a half or three hours.

There had been some fog in the morning; I was awakened by the fog horn about six o’clock. There was bad fog still at eight o’clock. The fog lifted at about 10:30. After that it was brilliantly fine.

In my opinion the ship was going slower than usual. I noticed there was very little vibration.

I saw no guns aboard the Lusitania.

I heard we were carrying shell cases.

The Missouri Historical Society has a memorial card, commemorating Arthur Henry Adams, in its archive:

Mrs. Harry Adams and Mr. William McM. Adams
announce with deepest sorrow
the foul murder of their husband and father
Arthur Henry Adams
on the
“Lusitania”  Friday, May 7th, 1915
By order of the German Emperor
“The bloodthirsty hate the upright
But the just seeketh his soul.”

William McMillan Adams died in Princeton, New Jersey, on May 10, 1986


James Sidney Arter was one of several Lusitania passengers to have commenced their journey home with a transpacific crossing. He arrived in Seattle aboard the Aki Maru on April 23rd, and boarded the Lusitania eight days later, as the final major leg of his trip home to Mosseley, England:

Mr. Arter stated that he was just finishing lunch when the liner was torpedoed. A muffled explosion was followed by the ship taking an immediate list. Everyone hastened to their cabins to get the life saving jackets, but he saw no signs of panic.

Mr. Arter was lowered from the sinking ship in a boat, in which he stood up, being let down from a height of 80 or 90 feet on the port side. As there was not sufficient room in the boat for all, he dropped off into the sea wearing his life saving jacket, and managed to keep afloat for about an hour before scrambling on to a capsized boat. He was only 15 or 20 feet from the stern of the Lusitania when the latter disappeared under the waves.

A number of other people were on the overturned boat which he eventually reached, and three hours later they were picked up by a rescue boat. Mr. Arter did not see any submarine, but he heard of passengers who caught a glimpse of the enemy craft.

Mr. Arter has been abroad for some years, and was returning on the Lusitania for a holiday with his relatives in Mosseley. He is little the worse for his trying adventures, and stated that before the submarine attacked the liner the voyage had been a pleasant one.

James Sidney Arter died in the Federated Malay States on August 18th, 1932, at age 47. 


Maitland Kempson, 55, of Birmingham, was returning from a business trip to the United States and Canada when he survived the sinking of the Lusitania. He was the director of the carpet manufacturing firm Mssrs. Woodward, Grosvernor and Co., LTD., and traveled in first class.

Along with three friends I was at lunch about a quarter past two on Friday afternoon and was just finishing when the liner was struck by the first torpedo. Of course, we all knew immediately what had happened. It was a frightful crack, like a crack of metal and metal, and the huge liner after giving a sort of a quiver immediately started to list. We all rushed to the staterooms for the life preservers…and as I was descending the staircase [ascending the staircase?] the vessel had listed to such an extent that it was almost impossible to get along. I was bumped first against one side and then the other.

When I got to the boat deck passengers were hurrying towards the sides. The deck was crowded with men, women and children. There was no real panic as far as I could see, but many of the women and children were crying. There was a whole crowd of women at one end and by this time the boat had listed over ore than ever.

I saw there was no chance of the liner floating and new that in a very short time she would go down, therefore I decided to look after myself by taking my chance. The lifebelt was around me and I jumped off the deck into the water, a distance of thirty feet. I swam for a little distance away from the liner and clambered in to one of the lifeboats with the assistance of some men.

The boat filled immediately; in fact, it was overcrowded and capsized and I found myself in the water again. I managed to swim about, and then I saw one of the collapsible boats a short distance away containing several survivors, and I struck out for it.

I looked round and saw half of one of the huge funnels which appeared as if it was going to fall on the little boat, but fortunately it did not. Passengers were struggling in the water all round, and we pulled as many into the boat as we could.

In the course of a very short time the great vessel heeled over and disappeared from view. She sank without any fuss whatever, as quietly as possible and there did not appear to be any suction, which we all feared as we were too close to her. When she had gone down there was, I think, and explosion, because there was a great rush of water and the people and boats seemed to be pushed away from where the last of the liner was seen.

We sighted a raft, and as our boat was so crowded and just level with the surface of the water we thought the best thing to do would be to make for it. We did, and lashed it to the boat and then we fished up more people. It was difficult work to get along as the load was so great, and water began to pour into the boat, and some of us were practically up to the waist in it, but still the boat kept afloat.

Whenever we had the opportunity, we hauled women and children into the boat and on to the raft. Some of them appeared to be dead, but fortunately the sun was powerful, the sea was calm, in fact it was a lovely day and after restorative methods had been adapted, these poor creatures revived.

The boat and raft floated about for two hours, and ten we sighted a fishing boat some miles away. Not long afterward, we saw smoke from the funnel of one steamer and then another.

Two destroyers were the first to arrive, followed by three steam trawlers.

The rescued passengers were transferred from the lifeboats to these vessels. I and the survivors in our boat were taken on board the Bluebell about 7:30 p.m., and the she proceeded towards shore other passengers were picked up out of the water.

Some of the scenes were awful and almost beyond description. As we passed along, we saw hundreds of dead bodies. Many of them had lifebelts on, but their heads were under the water. These must have succumbed to exhaustion.

Maitland Kempson died in Birmingham on February 15, 1938, at the age of 77.


Charles Bowring, of the prominent shipbuilding family, witnessed the debacle of the port side boats, and swam clear of the sinking Lusitania from her starboard side. He wrote a long account, in letter form, for his wife:

We had a splendid passage, calm as possible, sighting land about eleven o’clock Friday morning. Fog before that, but bright and sunny from 10 on.

Charles Bowring

I was at lunch when there was a concentrated thud. My first thought was “They have got us!” and I went out of the saloon to the companionway. The explosion was close to where I was sitting on the starboard side, D deck, at Purser McGovern’s table. Only two at the table, Miss Paynter and myself, out of six were saved.

The explosion broke the ports and I saw the column of water, so the devil must have hit us just by the elevators almost exactly amidships. There was, of course, a crowd rushing up the companionway, excited, but no panic and no yelling. Dr. McDermott, who you remember on the Carmania, was in the companionway telling everybody to keep calm and all would be well.

I got to B Deck and went to my cabin and got two life belts, and then went up to A Deck, port side. There was an enormous crowd, it seemed to me mostly steerage passengers, awful excitement but no panic, sailors in the boats which had been swung overboard the day before and helping women and children in. I gave the two life belts to two women and then saw Mr. and Miss Paynter who Fred Bush telephoned to you about. She had on a life belt, but wrong, and I fastened it properly.

I then made up my mind to get as many life belts as possible and I went down to B deck again and got two out of a stateroom and picked up a third in the passageway. I got up to A deck and tried to get out on the port side, but she had listed badly and the jerk threw me out of the starboard door on this side, which was then getting very close to the water. There were very few people, and I only saw one woman, to whom I gave a life belt, and a man grabbed the other and I put on the third. I saw that she was doomed and soon kicked off my shoes and jumped in, not more than five or ten feet.

I made for a lifeboat, but saw she was not clear and the davits were falling in to her and so I swam away from the boat. I looked back and thought I was caught by the second funnel, but cleared that and then thought the third had got me, but just cleared that by what seemed like a few inches.

She sank by the bow but was turning on her starboard side and went down that way. I do not think I exactly saw the last of her as I was trying to swim clear.

I swam to a flat bottom boat and scrambled, helped by a steward, on top. The canvas cover was still on, and we ripped this up and tried to put on the canvas sides. We found, however, on opening her that her bow was stove in, and we were only kept afloat by her tanks or water tight sides. Oars were got out, but she was waterlogged and we could do nothing.

By this time, we had hauled on board four women and about ten men. She looked as if she would go under us, but providentially an upturned flat bottom boat floated by, and we fastened her to our boat and moved the women, and part of the men including myself, over. She was flush with the water and we stood in her three hours and a half, water washing over our ankles. We were practically helpless, but managed to get two more women off some wreckage and three men, who were drifting by, on our two pieces of wreckage. There was nothing in sight. We simply waited for something to turn up.

After three hours, we saw a motor boat pick up some people a mile from us and then saw a number of smokes coming from Queenstown way. My watch stopped at 2:39 and a man on the Bluebell told me it was 6 o’clock when they picked us up.

It was perfectly calm, luckily, for had there been any sea we could not have held on, and only those few who got away in the lifeboats would have been saved.

It took us four hours to get to Queenstown, and we had to wait another hour while another trawler was landing survivors and bodies. We did not get ashore til nearly 12.

Saturday was awful. The bodies were in three different places and coming in all the time. I tried to identify all I knew for the sake of their families. It was a terrible job, but one could not think of self under the circumstances.

Mr. Bowring had been a ship owner and a ship agent for about 25 years in 1915. The family companies were Bowring & Co., of New York; C.T. Bowring Company of Liverpool, and Bowring Brothers in St. Johns, Newfoundland.  The Bowring family had a fleet of 46 ships at the outset of the war.  Charles was called to testify at the Limitation of Liabilities hearing in NYC, in 1918, and the most interesting portion of his court appearance was his detailed account of the troubles encountered in lowering the lifeboats:

I should say that the way the boat was going, it was almost impossible to get the boats safely into the water, loaded as they necessarily were with a full complement of passengers.

I saw the first boat that I got quite close to the companionway-- they were just filling it and as they started to lower it the passengers were very excited, naturally. They were not panicky, but they were very excited and they were around the ropes interfering with the working of the ropes and getting in the way; and the first boat was going down, and the officer said “Let her go a little faster by the stern” and the man that had charge of the falls evidently could not let it go quick enough, so he threw a bight of the ropes off the cleat and the stern absolutely lost control then. And the boat went right down stern first, held up by her bow. I looked over the side and saw the passengers being spilled into the water. That was the first boat.

She dragged from the falls; there was nobody to clear her; she was held up by the forward fall; she was dragging along in the water.

It was the boat I was-- I think it was a little aft of the main companionway on the port side.

The three I saw attempted to be launched were 12, 14 and 16; that is to the best of my recollection.

The next boat that they started to lower, and she went down on an even keel and got, I should say, halfway down when I was looking over the side and saw that they evidently lost control of her, the falls, and she went down straight on an even keel, right down on top of the people that were in the water out of the first boat.

She dropped, I should imagine--the last twenty feet she went down absolutely straight, about as fast as she could go, and dropped right into the water.

It must have hurt the people that were in the first boat; the time was very short between the time they lowered that boat and the second.

Oh, it was a question of fractions of a minute; I should imagine that they were putting people into the two boats at the same time, and they practically started at almost the same time. The boat had gone so far ahead that the people had dropped out of the first boat when the others were coming down; I should imagine it was a question of seconds.

The third boat I saw, they tried to lower her, but the list had become greater, and the stay between the davits broke and the davits and the boat had swung inboard. It was at that time I made up my mind that owing to the momentum of the Lusitania the chances of lowering boats were very slight, and I thought the best thing was to go and see how many life preservers I could get.

He said, of the starboard side:

One boat -I think it was probably 7, that was there; they were trying to lower her, and there was a steward just aft of 7 or 9, who quite calmly remarked to me “Mr. Bowring, wouldn’t you like to be on the Stefano right now? I was with you in her on one of the trips last year”; but she went down, and they were having great difficulty in getting her in, and after I jumped I looked back and didn’t think she’d get away from the ship. The davits were then practically right in the boat.

Charles Warren Bowring, 69, died in New York City on November 1, 1940.


Third class passengers Harold Taylor, 24, and his wife Lucy, 19, of Niagara Falls, New York, were on their honeymoon, and en route to a visit with Harold’s family in Manchester, when they survived the Lusitania disaster. Harold’s account remains one of the best given by a passenger who escaped from the starboard side:

Harold and Lucy Taylor
Harold and Lucy Taylor
(Courtesy Wes Taylor / Mike Poirier collection)

We were informed on Friday that the light would be put out so that we could make a dash in the dark for Liverpool. So in the middle of the day I and my wife went into the cabin to pack our things. We were doing this when there was a sudden shock which threw me against the side of the cabin. We rushed into the dining saloon where lunch was on, but as I had forgotten the lifebelts I had to go back to the cabin for them. When I returned to the saloon the ship was listing heavily. There were few signs of panic, though people were of course rushing out of the saloon to get on the decks.

I and my wife got on the second deck, and as my wife ran I managed to fasten a lifebelt on her. We had no instructions on what to do in case of an accident, so we followed the crowd and made for the low side.

Only women and children were allowed to get into the boats. The first two capsized as they were being launched. I managed to get my wife into the third, which was number 15. The boats hold 50 people, but my wife tells me that there were 86 people in her boat. There was no plug in the boat, and she took I water so that it was necessary to bail. Shortly afterwards, some of her passengers were transferred to another Lusitania boat.

When my wife left, I noticed that all of the boats that had been launched were full of passengers except for the last two, and they rapidly filled. The crew seemed to be struggling with these. I saw there were too many, and I just held back on the deck and waited. The last boat to be launched caught the davits and all its occupants were thrown into the sea. I was on deck when the vessel went down, which was not more than eighteen minutes after she was struck.

After she sank, a minister’s wife, myself, and another man were sucked in to one of the funnels and we were all shot out again immediately after as black as soot. Members of the crew afterwards explained that the expulsive force had been a rush of steam from the boilers. I then got caught in the suction and dragged down. I seemed to be revolving all the time. I kept going down and down- for how long I cannot say, for I was practically unconscious.

When I came to the surface I managed to grab hold of a broken oar which was floating past. This enabled me to get my breath again, and certainly saved me from drowning.

Then I drifted against a waterlogged boat with the bows broken in. I clutched at it, and by great effort got inside. Two ladies and a man were holding on to the other end. I dragged in the two ladies and the man got in himself. Then two stewards floated alongside and got in.

There was water in the boat up to within six inches of the top. We had to start bailing at once. We used a small bucket we found in the boat, an old hat, and the glass of a lamp, and later we secured another bucket that was floating in the water. We were bailing for 2 and a half hours, the water running in as fast as we threw it out. The ladies, standing knee deep in water, did a splendid share of the work and set us a very good example.

We picked up yet another man. The water seemed to be full of dead bodies and wreckage. Doors, chests of drawers and all sorts of things were floating about. Our boat was stationary. We could not work her; only keep bailing out the water. It was two hours before any relief vessel came in sight. We were eventually picked up by a destroyer and taken to Queenstown.

Mr. Taylor’s parents were expecting him and Lucy to arrive aboard the Megantic. Saturday morning, the day after the disaster, the family received a letter from Harold advising them that they would be arriving aboard the Lusitania instead. The Taylors were thrown into a very “agitated” state that was alleviated later that morning when a telegram announcing that Harold and Lucy had survived was delivered.

Harold Taylor advised his relatives in the United States not to attempt a crossing, and decided that for the time being he and Lucy should remain in Manchester. The Taylors eventually returned to Niagara Falls, where Harold died on June 10, 1960 at age 68, and Lucy died on April 5, 1976 at age 80.


Dora Wolfenden, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was among the fortunate passengers who escaped from the Lusitania during the last minutes, in the overcrowded Boat 15.

John Wolfenden

John Wolfenden

Mrs. Wolfenden was born Dora Mills in Mossley, Lancashire, England. Her first husband was a Mr. Roberts, and with him she had two sons, Arnold, later of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and William, later of Micklehurst, Lancashire. She worshipped at Mossley Methodist Church and was a teacher at the Sunday school there.

She married John Charles Wolfenden, of Mossley, after the death of her first husband. They immigrated to the United States of America, in 1908, and took out American citizenship. Their new home was Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

The Wolfendens decided to return to England permanently in the spring of 1915, perhaps because of the Great War. They intended on living in Ashbourne. They booked as second class passengers on the May 1st sailing of the Lusitania.

John Wolfenden was killed when the liner was torpedoed six days later. Dora Wolfenden survived, and was landed at Queenstown.

When Mrs. Wolfenden arrived at Ashbourne, it was only to discover that her family had journeyed to Liverpool to meet the ship and then remained there for information after they learned of the disaster. 

Dora Wolfenden later related her experience of the sinking:

We had no idea of any danger until we had just finished lunch shortly after 2 o’clock on Friday, May 7th. My husband, who had just shaved, was in his shirt sleeves when the first explosion occurred. We joined in the general rush for the deck. Just as I was getting on deck, my foot slipped and I fell back into the bottom. My husband returned and helped me on to the deck, which we reached just as the last boat was being lowered. Within two or three minutes of the first explosion a second occurred, and everyone felt that the ship was doomed. I said to my husband, “We’re going down”.

I wanted to stay with him, but he pressed me to go, and at last threw me over into the boat, where the crew safely caught me. Neither of us had a life-belt; there was no time to get one. I kept calling for my husband to come, but he refused as there were still women and children to be saved. By this time the ship had listed very heavily, and the deck sloped as steeply as Jacob’s Ladder (a very steep bank in Mossley). My husband waved his hand to me, and said “Good-bye”, and then disappeared with the ship.


Survivors photographed at Queenstown
Left to right: Mr. Collis, Mrs. Wolfenden, Mrs. Plank, the Lohdens, Mr. Milford.

The crew of our boat had barely time to cut the ropes before the vessel went down. Fortunately there was very little suction, or we might have been drawn down with it. I had a full view of the ship as it disappeared. We were so near that one of the great funnels, which broke loose, toppled right over our boat and sank on the other side. It covered us with soot and the water which it threw up drenched us to the skin. The surface of the water immediately became covered with luggage, wreckage and struggling men women and children. The shrieks of the latter were terrible. The amount of surrounding wreckage was so great and our boat so overcrowded that any attempt at rescuing others was out of the question. Our boat scarcely made any progress for about three hours. Then we got assistance from another boat, to which I and others were transferred. After sailing some distance, we were transferred to a fishing smack and then to a motor boat called the Silver Cloud, landing at Queenstown at 10.30 on Friday night.

We had sat in open boats for over eight hours, drenched to the skin. We had lost everything, and were taken to a hotel and supplied with a change of clothes. On Saturday morning I went to view the dead bodies which had been brought ashore. It was a terrible time, and my husband was not amongst them.

We left for Dublin by the 10.30 a.m. train on Saturday, and were taken to a hotel there. We were to leave by the midnight boat. Many of the women and children were hysterical, and were afraid to go on the water again. They had to be pushed on board. We made a good passage, arriving at Holyhead in three hours. Although I was never actually in the water, I was wet through, and badly bruised through being shaken about in the small boat.

Dora and John Wolfenden lost $400.00 when the Lusitania foundered, and in the summer of 1915, Dora Wolfenden successfully applied to The Lusitania Relief Fund, administered by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, for financial relief. She was granted the sum of £4-0s-0d. on June 4th.

Mrs. Wolfenden died on March 15, 1918.



Walter Dawson...

Lusitania Trials

Walter Dawson had lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, for two years in 1915. The twenty-three year old housepainter and paperhanger was returning to Yorkshire to visit with relatives, when he found himself trapped aboard the sinking Lusitania. He was taken to the home of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Billington, in Ellford, and confined to bed under a doctor's care. He left the following account:

I was at the stern of the ship for a start. A pal I met on board, Frederick Isherwood, of Atherton, near Manchester, and I had removed a package there. Afterward, I left him and met with a party near amidships, who were looking over the side for porpoises. The weather was bright and clear, and the steamer was going at a speed of about eighteen knots, nothing like the top speed.

The party consisted of myself, Mr. and Mrs. Veal, Mrs. Veal's brother, and two young ladies.  At that moment, Mr. Veal pointed out a little white streak coming across the water towards the ship, and following the streak I saw the periscope of a submarine.

The torpedo struck the ship a bit forward of us, and the explosion threw up a huge volume of water which absolutely drenched the six of us. I climbed up to the boat deck, and being unable to get downstairs for a lifebelt, I returned to the starboard side.

The ship had listed heavily, and I had to crawl up the deck tot eh port side, where Isherwood and I helped the men with the lifeboats. With my pal I then went round the saloon cabins looking for lifebelts, but we could not find any. Isherwood persisted in the search, but I went on deck, and I fancy he got trapped below. I have not seen him since.

After the first explosion, the ship seemed to right herself, and the captain gave orders for no more boats to be lowered. Then she heeled over again on her starboard side, and within three minutes she was going down by the nose.

I thought it was time for me to be getting a move on. I ran to the stern of the port boat deck. I stayed there as long as I could before I dived. When I came up again, I seem to have swallowed gallons of water, and the next thing I saw was the disappearing stern of the great ship.

Being without a lifebelt, I though I had no chance of being saved. I swam about for a time and got hold of a little kiddie, but I lost him later in helping a boy about seven years of age.

Walter Dawson's friends, Albert and Agnes Veals, survived, but Frederick Isherwood was lost in the disaster.


By this time the starboard side must have been on a level with the water, and a few minutes later I saw the forepart of the vessel break away. A mass of people was swept into the water.

Claimed Henry Needham, in his account that appears in the introduction to this article.

Although the bow of the Lusitania is unquestionably still attached to the wreck, several accounts beyond that of Mr. Needham state that, in the final minutes, something occurred forward and along the starboard side that gave the impression that the ship was breaking up as she sank.

Thomas Sandells was shaving in his cabin when the explosion came. He helped lower lifeboats and jumped from the ship into one of the later boats to escape:

A steward rushed up with a little boy about three years of age - God knows where his parents are - and threw him to me. The steward followed. After we had rowed away, the Lusitania began to sink head foremost.  Smoke roared through the funnels, and the starboard side of the ship seemed to break right away. It was the strangest thing I ever saw.

Other survivors along the starboard side, or with a vantage point from which they could view the starboard side from the water, mentioned that one or more of the funnels “fell with a crash” in the last moments. But, the position of the funnels in the debris field indicates that they remained attached to the ship until she came to rest on the bottom.  It is safe to say, from the number of early accounts which agree on this point, that a minute or so before the end there was a sizeable disturbance forward on the ship. However there seems to be no concrete evidence upon which to venture a guess about what caused it


Anna Ruane, or Rowan, of Joliet, Illinois was on her way to visit her parents in Carrane, Tourlestrane, County Sligo, Ireland, when she survived the disaster. She had lived in the United States for six years. Two weeks after the disaster she wrote a letter to her aunt, with whom she had lived in Joliet. It seems, from the details in her account,  that she may have been in the first starboard boat lost:

My Dear Aunt:

Your letter to hand on Wednesday last. I am glad to be able to write to you. I surely gave you all a shock, but you can all be happy again. I am all right---just as well as ever. I must describe my homeward journey to you. We went along the usual way until that awful day when we received that fatal blow. It was just about 2 o'clock after dinner. I went down to my cabin to finish some letters I was writing to all my friends at home, as we expected to land that night.

We saw land that morning and all day until our poor ship was sent to the bottom. I was sitting in my bed writing when the blow was struck. I ran up on deck and needless to tell you, all was confusion. I didn't think of being saved, but I thought I'd keep alive while I could. I was just going to get into a lifeboat when I was asked by someone where my life belt was. I didn’t have any. They told me to go inside and get one. I turned around and there was a man with two in his hands. I asked him for one; he gave it to me and one of the ship's nurses put it on for me. (That was the belt that saved my life.) All was utter confusion. I did not know which way to go. Then I noticed a man who looked like a priest standing beside me. I asked him if he was, and he said he was. Then I asked him to bless me and he did.

Then I got into the lifeboat, already full to overflowing. The noise and confusion drove the people almost mad. The boat was carefully lowered and was half way down when one of the ropes refused to work. The other ropes worked, however, and we were all pitched into the seas, just like you would empty a pail of water. Women and children screamed in despair. After I came to the surface I drifted, well about three blocks from the ship. I looked around me and saw the poor Lusitania, her decks lined with shrieking people, lurch and sink. Then I heard a voice at my side. An old lady, 75 years old, the oldest passenger on board the ship, had clung to me all the time in the water. I cheered her as best I could. An old box floated by and I grasped for it. I drew it in. That with my strength enabled us to keep afloat and saved our lives.

We drifted and drifted. It seemed as if we were in the water for hours. We found out later, however, that it was not more than forty minutes. We did not know if we would ever be seen. I cannot describe to you how happy I felt when I saw the lifeboat coming towards us as though it was flying. They saw the box and came with all possible speed, as they thought it was an up-turned boat. Myself and my poor companion were brought to safety.

Then they took us to Queenstown where we were met by hundreds of cheering people and treated very nicely. We remained in Queenstown that night and the next morning I went through the temporary morgues that contained the bodies of the dead that were brought in during the night. But I didn’t know anyone. They were all so changed in death. There is one of Austin Stenson's daughter's named Bridget on board. She is lost.

We left Queenstown Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock and reached Dublin at 7:30 o'clock. I didn’t want to stay in Queenstown until Monday, and that's why I had to take such an indirect route. We left Dublin one hour later and arrived in Sligo at 4 o'clock Sunday morning. I lost everything belonging to me except the dress I had on. Your affectionate niece.

 Anna Ruane’s acquaintance, Bridget Stenson, was actually Delia Stenson, of Boston.

Delia Stenson: about 50 years; fair complexion; hair fair, most all turning gray. 5 feet high, about 170 lbs weight. Good features, with a large brown mole exactly on top of her nose. Teeth good; one eye tooth capped with gold. Had a gold-filled Waltham watch with initials D.E.S. on it. Sister, Mrs. M. Gill, 915 Albany Street, Roxbury Mass, desires information.

Anna Ruane was ticketed with Katherine Gleason, of Chicago. Miss Gleason was returning to Ireland that May to visit her family in Killmallock, County Limerick. She wrote to her relatives in Yonkers, New York, that “I’m sure you’ll want to come to the pier to see me off.” None came: Kate Gleason accidentally addressed the letter to Mrs. Johanna Murphy of 48 Yonkers Avenue, New York City, rather than Yonkers, and by the time the letter was forwarded to the proper address the Lusitania had already sailed. Miss Gleason died never knowing that it was by accident, and not intent, that her family did not accept her invitation.


Emmie Hill was one of the more difficult survivors to trace. Her first name was incorrectly given as Caroline in the 1915 newspaper accounts and lists. She was born in 1879, in Lincoln, England, to John Henry Haynes and his wife, Mary. Her family moved to Peterborough several years later, where she met and married Richard George Hill. Self-conscious about her age, she claimed to have been born in 1884, a fiction she maintained for the rest of her days.

Richard worked for the firm of Joseph Baker and Sons of Willesden. In 1913, he was sent to America to work as one of their representatives. The couple became friends with Richard's co-worker William "Willie" Ernest Inch. Willie planned on returning to England in May, 1915, and the Hills decided that Emmie would go as well, with Willie acting as her escort. They booked passage aboard the Lusitania, and both survived.

Emmie gave the following account when she returned to her parents' home at 89 Eastgate, Peterborough, Northampton:

I've been away from Peterborough a year and eight months, traveling with my husband in Canada and the United States. It had been my intention to go to California, but one of the office staff was coming over to England and Mr. Hill thought it would be a good opportunity for me to come over at the same time. I had been at Schenectady and came to New York last Saturday, my husband seeing me off before he went on his journey to California. I was not warned at all that anything was likely to happen to the boat and I never saw an advertisement about it or I should not have come. Many more no doubt would have delayed their voyage had they known of the warning, because there were so many women and babies on board. On Thursday evening many of the people knowing we were approaching the Irish and English coasts seemed afraid to go to bed, and the ship steamed along in total darkness. On Friday morning there was a dense fog, but our spirits rose as the day got brighter for we knew that we were to land in the evening.

Emmie and Willie finished their lunch and went to the second-class lounge. They chose a table near the balustrade of the staircase:

My friend and I were in the rest room, about two o'clock. We were writing postcards and joking about what we had put on them. All at once, we heard a terrible thud. My companion caught hold of my arm and the ship listing over, we practically had to climb for our lives. People who had been sitting at the second lunch streamed up from the dining room, and we could see water running off them even then.

The scene on deck was indescribable. Some people were kneeling and praying, but I told them they had no time to stop and pray; they must pray as they went along, for the ship was going down. I got to one of the lifeboats, but my friend pulled me back and said it was already overloaded. Almost as soon as he said it, the lifeboat was lowered and the ropes breaking, it fell into the water and many women and children in it must have been drowned.

I got into the last lifeboat which was launched in company with a minister and his wife (Reverend Herbert Gwyer and his wife Margaret) and the purser (William Harkness). As we got down, we felt the vessel coming over us. We saw her funnels and the masts gradually overwhelming us, but as the wireless apparatus came over us, the purser grasped hold of the wire and we just missed being crushed by a hairbreadth, the wire just touching the end of our boat. As the vessel disappeared, it smothered us with water, and it is a mercy I am here today but I shall carry the memory of those funnels and masts coming over us to my dying day.

We continued to keep our heads. In less than five minutes from the ship's disappearance beneath the waves, the water was like a sea of glass and nothing was to be seen; only chairs, trunks and other loose articles from the ship. When we got a little way off, we saw the German submarine come to the surface, and the crew hoisted their flag, staying a short time above the water to witness the awful scenes of which they were the cause.

We were eventually taken into another boat, which had a leakage, and although a plug was put in the hole, we had to keep bailing the water out. I was transferred four time altogether, whilst on the water, to different boats and didn't land until ten o'clock at night. When the disaster occurred, I had a heavy coat over my dress, but this I gave to a man who had nothing on his back. When I got off at Queenstown, I had only my blouse and skirt and a gentleman took off his overcoat and gave it to me.

I might mention that when the minister's wife saw the ship coming down over us, she leapt down the funnel and disappeared. The minister was praying for her the while of time and you can imagine his joy on landing at Queenstown to find his wife there and alive.

Willie Inch also gave an account of their time together:

I was bringing back with me Mrs. Hill, the wife of a colleague of mine. For some reason or other - it was a sudden impulse - I dissuaded Mrs. Hill from getting into one of the boats which was being lowered. Had she done so it is almost certain she would have been drowned for that boat was swamped. I helped all the women, including Mrs. Hill into the last boat. As the boat was being lowered, she appealed to me with tears in her eyes to jump, but I refused saying I would 'swim for it.' Again, Mrs. Hill appealed to me as I stood on the fast-sinking vessel. I had not a lifebelt and this time she was so insistent that I should go and help them to row that I jumped. I should not have done so unless she had been the wife of my friend and made such a pathetic appeal. As it was, this boat was struck by pieces of falling wreckage from the liner and several occupants were killed and injured. We had a further miraculous escape for as we were floating away the vessel heeled over, our boat being between one of the funnels and the mast. Both missed us. As we were drifting away, I saw a German submarine rise to the surface and hoist the German flag.

He gave a similar account to another paper:

Mr. Inch said the catastrophe occurred whilst the second sitting of passengers were at lunch. He and a lady friend were on deck writing. The ship's paper had been circulated and they were chatting and joking over the Germans' threats, when suddenly the vessel was brought round in an arc and immediately afterwards the first torpedo struck the boilers but without exploding. The ship immediately began to sink and the unfortunate people in the second sitting of diners must have been drowned like rats in a sewer. The crew and passengers, especially the women, behaved with admirable calmness, coolness and fortitude, the only screaming being that of the children on board. Many were speechless with fright, others numbed with fear, but Mr. Inch, like the majority, hardly realized the danger, his mind being so fully occupied with doing all that was humanly possible for the women and children. He said he felt no fear and repeatedly urged his friend not to worry, as he was sure the vessel would not go down. He went on to say that he owed his rescue to her appeals. He had put her in the last boat and was busy getting other ladies and children to safety, when she called to him to jump. He had previously divested himself of unnecessary clothing so that when the end came he could make a swim to something -- a boat or piece of wreckage. The boat was now nine to ten feet away and he successfully jumped without upsetting it or injuring anyone.

It was only by a miracle that the boat escaped destruction. When the vessel sank, the boat was in between the masts, and if the Marconi wire had not broken, the boat and its wet, hungry and exhausted freight would never had escaped. There were from 80 to 85 persons in this boat when it was rescued by a fishing trawler some four hours after the Lusitania[had] sunk. Those who did not row rendered great service by reviving those who were picked up half dead, and did nobly, hampered as they were by lack of stimulants, etc. Everything that Mr. Inch had, with the exception of some money which he had in his pocket, was lost, and his friend, like many others, lost everything.

Willie and Emmie returned to the United States separately. He arrived aboard the St. Paul on September 2, 1915, along with several survivors of the Arabic sinking. She too returned aboard the St. Paul, on September 30, with Lusitania survivors Agnes Crosbie and Sarah McLellan.

A bond formed between the Hill family and Willie Inch. They moved to Philadelphia together, where they remained for several years. Emmie Hill and her daughter, Sylvia, took a trip to England and returned on the Berengaria with Willie. When Sylvia came of age, Willie asked for her hand in marriage. She accepted, despite the sixteen-year age difference, They raised a family in White Plains, New York. Her parents lived with them, according to the 1930 census.

Richard Hill passed away in 1938, with his wife surviving until January 1968. Willie died in June 1973. The three were buried together in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. Sylvia Inch moved to Briarcliff Manor, New York, dying there in January 2001.

  
Graves of Willie Inch and Emmie Hill
Courtesy of Michael Poirier / Jim Kalafus


Reverend Charles Cowley Clarke, 64, was returning to his diocese in Clifton, Bristol, after having spent the previous three months traveling in New York and Canada. He traveled in first class, and survived to give the following account:

Father Maturin and I were together at a few minutes before the awful accident and nobody afterwards could have the smallest hope of finding any-body. I am sorry to think he was lost. We left the dining room and he then went on his way and I mine. By an accident I found myself on the promenade deck, and as the vessel listed to starboard I half found myself on the slippery deck which was then at an angle 45°. I went into one of the boats with a crowd of fireman and third class passengers with the exception of D A Thomas, the well known Welsh coal owner, who was directed to get into the boat by his secretary Mr. Rhys Evans. We were in the boat for 1½ hours when we were picked up by a Manx fishing vessel and kept on her for two hours. She also picked up four other boats, and then we were all taken on board the Flying Fox and landed at Queenstown at 10 o clock that evening.

I was on the verandah, outside the smoking room when the first torpedo struck underneath the second cabin. It shook the vessel like a mine - as I did not see the torpedo coming to the liner. The second torpedo struck the vessel in its most vital part, underneath the second funnel forward. I think it was twenty minutes at least before the whole ship went down. There was a scene of the most indescribable confusion and only 55 first class passengers- were saved. Whole families have been lost. One American family, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Crompton, Philadelphia father and mother, and six children, down to a baby of eight months, were lost. I tried to find one of the children, but it was absolutely hopeless to find anybody.

I can never forget the experience. Whilst in the boats the funnels were hanging over us, and came nearer and nearer to the boats. It seems an absolute miracle that the boats were not overwhelmed by the funnels.

Reverend Clarke also recalled a conversation he had with an officer on the morning of the disaster:

During the mist in the morning of Friday, an officer told me we were not traveling at more than 12 knots an hour. It seems to me - of course that it is not very difficult to measure those things - that we were not going fast at the time she was struck. One of the officers told me that six of the boilers were out of commission - that is not being used - and that we could not move more than 22 knots an hour, and that they saved 1000 tons of coal on the journey by having these six boilers shut down. We had 292 miles to go at 12 o clock on Friday - we were struck at 2.15 - and were told we could not be at the landing stage, Liverpool, until seven o clock on Saturday morning.

I believe that the reason so many first class passengers were lost is that they were under the impression that the vessel could not sink. Captain Anderson, Staff Captain, who went down, told me, and explained to me by diagrams, that the vessel could take one torpedo without serious injury. She had her watertight compartments and her bulkheads filled with coal, so that anything striking here the injury would be local. There was a very strong impression that she was unsinkable.

Rev Clarke returned to Bristol after the disaster, and while on a visit to London passed away on January 4, 1916.

Probate was listed as the following:

Rev Charles Cowley Clarke, of the Union Club Trafalgar, Middlesex, died 4th January 1916 at 8 Upper Brock Street Bath, Probate London 22nd March 1916. to Sydney Ernest Kennedy (Stock dealer). Total value of estate £4, 42, 4s, 1d


Charles Tilden Hill, of Richmond, Virginia, escorted his family back to the United States aboard the Lusitania's final completed crossing; April 17-25, 1915. Business in London compelled him to depart a week later on the fatal voyage.

Charles Tilden Hill

On Friday afternoon, May 7th. I left the dining saloon at 2:05 p.m. exactly, by the dining room clock. I am positive about the exact time because I had made an appointment with Miss Gale, (sic Hale) the ship's stenographer for 2 p.m. to dictate some letters, and was watching the clock and remarked to a friend  'I must hustle for I'm late.'  I went at once to the lift, but the lift boy instead of going to A deck, stopped at B as my cabin was B-110. As I stepped out of the lift I saw where I was, but noticed that Jones, the Chief Steward, was standing just outside on the deck on the starboard side, so I stepped out of the companionway to speak to him about an arrangement I wanted him to make for that afternoon.

At that moment, just as I went up to him, he turned around and said 'Good God, Mr. Hill, here comes a torpedo.' I looked where he pointed and saw the periscope of a submarine. I estimated the distance at not more than 200 yards, as it seemed to me at the time that it was a good golf shot, that is, a pretty decent drive.

The submarine was not on the surface. All that could be seen was the periscope. I saw the wake of the torpedo, the line of disturbance in the water, but I did not see the torpedo itself. The line was very plain, and formed a pronounced curve. It looked to us as if the torpedo would cross our bows, and we both said so to each other. We leaned over the rail and looked down, and saw something strike the side of the ship and heard a noise about like that made by the slamming of a door. Then immediately afterwards I heard a dull, heavy, muffled explosion. We turned and rushed aft just as a geyser of water rose over the side. This I saw, and at the same time heard a noise above as of things falling on the upper deck.

When I left Jones, I made my way through the alleyway and went to cabin 52 on D Deck, in the hope of assisting Mrs. Witherby (sic Witherbee) her mother, Mrs. Brown, and her boy, Alfred. I found the cabin empty and as the water was already coming in, I chased up the stairs back to B Deck, got in to my cabin and got my dispatch case and my overcoat. Penny, the bedroom steward, got me a lifebelt and put it on me, although he had none himself.

I then went up to the port side of A deck, where I started to get in to the fourth boat counting from the stern. The other three towards the stern had already been lowered. These boats, like all the rest on the saloon deck both port and starboard had been swung out on the davits the day before so they hung over the water, but the list had made the boats on the port side swing inboard over the deck and it was extremely difficult to force them back so they would clear the side of the ship and drop in to the water instead of on the deck. In fact, two of the boats were smashed completely, one being split in two, being full of passengers who were spilled into the water.

A lady in the fourth boat said 'Please don't come in here, we are over-crowded now.' They were not over crowded, but I went on and as there was no one to man the next boat I got into one further forward towards the bow.

The port side of the vessel was fairly clear of passengers at the time, as comparatively few came to that side. The only member of the crew in my boat was Gadd, the barber, who took charge of it. In lowering the boat, as we passed B deck going down five or six stokers jumped in who really saved us, as it came out.

The ropes at the bow got fouled, the stern being free, and the boat dropped almost vertically spilling out into the sea all those near the stern. I, with the others near the bow, were held in by the seats and the boat finally struck the water right side up and we picked up all, I think, or at least nearly all of the original occupants.

As the boat was leaking and we could find no plugs, we were waterlogged before leaving the ship. As a result, we were capsized and all spilled in to the water. This happened three times that I counted, some said four. Each time we clambered back and the boat would right itself only to repeat the operation a little later.

C T Hill

Once as I came up after being thrown out, I found I was coming up under the boat and I struck out hard to clear it and it seemed to me I was dragging something heavy. When I came up, I found that a woman with a  child in her arms was hanging on to my right leg and an old man was clutching me around the let ankle, which made me lose my left shoe. As we rose to the surface, one of the men in the boat said 'Don't pull them in- they are nearly dead anyway and we must lighten the boat.' But one of the stokers, a mere boy of 18, insisted on saving us and pulled us into the boat.

On Tuesday night before the wreck, the Staff Captain, Anderson, told me that three suspicious characters had slipped past the cordon of secret service men at New York and they afterward found them and confined them below. They must, of course, have gone down with the ship.

Charles Tilden Hill, 47, died in Neasden, England, on November 14, 1926.


Stewardess Marian “May” Bird, of Cheshire, England. had been with the Lusitania since her maiden voyage.She recalled that she got the job through a friend, who was a Chief Steward at Cunard. May transferred over to the newest Cunard liner, Aquitania in 1914, but soon found herself back on the Lusitania. Years later, recalling service during the early days of the war, she described a voyage on the Lusitania that was diverted to Queenstown after a pilot boat was torpedoed.

May once claimed that the Lusitania was so large that it took twenty minutes to get from one end of the ship to the other. She was impressed by the interiors: “The accommodation, of course, was wonderful. I’d never seen anything like it before… beautifully furnished,” and by how well the children on board were treated. One of her closest friends on the ship was a fellow stewardess by the name of Fannie Morecroft.

Looking back on the final voyage, she said it was no different from any other trip. She was aware of rumors of a possible torpedoing, but later said she had laughed them off. She was assigned to Boat 19 in case of an emergency, but did not participate in any drills. Her cabin assignments were in second class. “The starboard side on C. deck, from 1-28. The odd numbers and 28.” Some of the passengers in her care included Cyril Wallace, Robert Gray, Guy Cockburn, Canon Ernest Phair, Gertrude Poole, Muriel Thompson, Reverend Henry Wood Simpson, and Duncan Hanes. Her own accommodation was a third class cabin.

 May was standing on C Deck when there was a “terrible thud and a bang… I asked the ladies to keep calm, get their lifebelts as quickly as they could, and get on deck.” Some of the children were bewildered and began to cry and scream. She asked them to be quiet. Looking around, “there was not one person left on the deck when I left. I threw what remaining lifebelts were there out before I went on deck.” The lights went out, adding to the difficulty of her job. She made her way up the stairs and onto the starboard deck, where she found Fannie Morecroft.

Accounts differ on how the two ladies made their escape. Archibald Donald described May being in a boat that dumped its passengers in lowering:

They cut the hanging rope and the boat went into the water, but of course was water logged. The passengers seemed to be crawling up a rope netting on the lower deck, climbing higher as the water reached them… The only woman I knew in the boat was a stewardess, May Baird (sic), and she does not clearly remember what happened.

Fannie Morecroft recalled a man and a woman leaning against the rail begging, “In God’s name,” for their children to be rescued. She placed the children in one of the boats.

According to May, she and Fannie jumped into the water together and were rescued by Boat 13. May said that she saw Margaret Gwyer get sucked down the funnel and shot out again. Testifying for the Limit of Liability hearings, she had a different story.

“There weren’t very many on the boat deck when I got up. I got in the last lifeboat that was leaving. No difficulty, but she came down with the ship… She got clear. I think the Marconi wires did just foul her; they fouled one of the oars or something.” Fannie Morecroft told a similar story at the hearings. “There was only one side where you could stand, the starboard side.” The list “made us slide right across on to the rail.” She said that Arthur Rowland Jones was in charge of their boat.

At age 96, May said she got into the last boat lowered, after the First Officer saw in her in the crowd trying to get into Boat 15. He asked her if she could jump. She said she would try and jumped down into the middle of the boat. She took an oar, for she was fond of rowing. She said the ship was leaning over at a precarious angle, and they had to row quickly to get away.  They were showered with soot from the funnels. One of the saddest sights she witnessed was “hundreds and hundreds” of people in the water, many of them pleading to get into her boat.

Her last view of the ship was of the top of the funnels going under. She said that when the ship went down, the funnels were standing straight up.. She claimed to have seen the submarine that destroyed the Lusitania, while waiting for rescue.

The passengers and crew in Boat 15 were rescued by a herring boat and were transferred to the Flying Fish, the Captain of which was an old friend of May’s. She went to the temporary morgues in Queenstown, but said that she was unable to identify any friends.

Miss Bird continued working for Cunard following the disaster and, happily, she married Charles Walker in early 1919. Fannie Morecroft, who passed away on July 9, 1958, had remained her closest friend through over the years.

May, widowed, lived a quiet life, but did not mind discussing the Lusitania and continued to grant interviews well into her 90s. She died in early 1975 at age 99, in the Birkenhead area, just a few months short of her 100th birthday.


Laura Martin, 54, was returning to England after twelve disappointing months in the United States. She and her husband, Albert, had immigrated to New Philadelphia, Ohio, from Ilkeston, England in 1914. Mr. Martin died three months after they arrived, and his widow, alone in a strange country, had not adapted well.

Laura Martin

Laura Martin

Her travel agent in New Philadelphia attempted to talk her in to deferring her travel plans by saying “I am afraid there is going to be something doing. I am here to take your money, but I don’t want you to lose your life.”  Mrs. Martin replied, “I want to go; I cannot rest.”

She booked third class passage, and once aboard the ship found herself in one of the larger cabins with several other women, one of whom was traveling with an infant. Her cabin mates were kind, and attempted to comfort her, but despite the beautiful weather, “the voyage had little pleasure.”

The women in the cabin got down the lifebelts on Thursday night, and tried them on, more for fun than anything else.

Mrs. Martin had retired to her cabin with a headache after lunch on May 7th.

I was in my bunk and another lady was crocheting. It is a wonder we were not on deck. I had put my hat on after dinner and then pulled it off again, saying "I shan’t go on deck. My head aches and I don’t feel very well."  I was leaning like that (indicating the movement) and a lady was lying down, and all at once something came bang, and I never knew what it was until I was at Queenstown and I learnt that it was the looking glass that had fallen.  I said “Oh dear,” and a woman said “My God!” and I walked out of the cabin and went along and up the stairway.

The boat was listing heavily and I could not walk. There was a lady with a child screaming, and another lady with six children.

I went to where they were pulling a lady up. There was an iron bar and chain and I got hold of them and crawled up, and after they had pulled the lady up I said “Oh Mister, pull me up!”  After two men had taken no notice, two others pulled me up. Where they pulled me I don’t know, but I got up and walked to where the lifeboats were.

The ship was turning over, and my feet slipped and I nearly fell into the sea. Then a man caught hold of my hand and said “Now then, jump!” and I jumped into a boat, and when it was full it was lowered into the sea.

The ship was listing heavily towards us, and someone in the boat shouted “Oh dear, it will be upon us just now.”  The men at the oars shouted “Pull!’ “Pull!” and I buried my head in the bottom of the boat thinking to myself “If it comes on me, I won’t see it.” A parson’s wife was sucked into the funnel, but she came out again all black. We just got away in time, and the ship went down as nice as can be without making a sound.

Laura Truman Martin died in Ilkeston, on December 31, 1940. She was 80.

Hugh Donald Whitcombe, 25, resigned from his job as a chauffeur in Havana, Cuba, in April 1915, and departed for England, where he wished to join the Army. He arrived in New York on the Ward Line’s Havava on April 29, carrying with him a shipment of Cuban tobacco he planned on donating to the English armed services.

We were at lunch when the torpedo struck the ship, and we knew at once what had happened. There was no panic. The men remained in the dining saloon and ordered the women and children to go on to the deck. After that I went on to the second deck as that was near the water’s edge. The ship listed heavily to starboard the4 moment she was struck, and filled rapidly.

I then climbed to the boat deck and assisted in the placing of the women and children into the boats.

Was there any panic? No, none at all. Everyone was perfectly collected. Some of the boats went off with the women and children. In all, nineteen got away, but twelve were capsized.

After they had gone, I stood with two engineers until the water reached nearly to our waists, then we dropped into the sea. I was stuck by the wireless telegraph gear and dragged under the water, but eventually struggled free, and after swimming for a quarter of an hour reached a raft where I found the two engineers who were with me on the boat, and another lady and gentleman, husband and wife.

The water was full of struggling men and women. We managed to drag on to our raft a lady whose hand and leg had been badly crushed, and a little later a lady who was holding a dead child.  We then maneuvered our raft to an upturned boat and clambered on to it and remained drifting about until we were picked up by a destroyer.

It was a horrible time- terrible! The elderly gentleman became exhausted and died before we were picked up, and we had to take the dead child from its mother as the poor woman was growing frantic.

Whitcombe arrived at his home in Sevenoaks, Kent, seeming “none the worse for the adventure.”  He soon reported for duty, and would survive World War1.  Cadet Hugh Whitcombe died in Salonika, Greece, on July 23, 1920.


Third class passenger George Smith, 33, of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, was returning to Buckie, Scotland in May 1915 when he was carried down with the sinking Lusitania:

Along with my companion, a Dundee man named Bennett, and others, I was sitting in the steerage quarters. We were talking and smoking, and indeed passing the time quite pleasantly when of a sudden there was a crash. It was just like thunder, and my mate remarked to me “We’ve struck a mine” and added “follow me.”

We proceeded to the top deck but we had no sooner got up there than we were told to go down. We went down to one of the lower decks and when I saw people putting on life belts I went in search of one. When I returned with my belt, my companion asked me if I could get one for him, but the boat had taken such a list that it was very difficult to reach the cabins. I did, however, succeed in getting a second belt, but on my return journey it slipped from my hand and in the darkness of the alleyways I could not recover it.

After listing heavily, the liner seemed to halt and the cry that everything was alright, to some extent, allayed anxiety.

A few moments later the vessel began to go lower and lower.The greater the list of the Lusitania became, the more difficult did the launching of the boats become. Quite a number of them were damaged while being lowered, and one loaded with women and children caught on the projecting plates and all the occupants were precipitated into the water.

As I stood helping to lower one of the boats, I could see water swishing along one of the decks about six feet below. Dozens of men, women and children being helplessly tossed backward and forward. The bow of the Lusitania by this time was under water, and the next thing I knew, I was in the water, so I must have gone down with the vessel.

When I came to the surface, I espied a few yards distant a big box, which I afterwards discovered was full of biscuit tins. I caught hold of it, and in this way kept myself afloat for a time. Then I observed a partially sunk boat with a canvas cover on the top.

I let go of the box of biscuit tins and clambered on to the boat, which was of the collapsible type. And there I sat, not knowing for a few minutes whether or not I was the sole occupant. Then I discovered that I was not alone, and within a few minutes five other men had climbed on to the submerged craft.

With a knife we cut away the canvas cover with a view to bailing her out, but we found that the stern was stove in, a hole about two feet in diameter being easily discernible.

We started to row and succeeded in keeping the frail craft above water. In course of time, we espied another collapsible boat upturned, and as quickly as possible we rowed to it and tied it to our boat.

All around us could be heard the cries of those who had been precipitated into the water, and hundreds of individuals were to be seen either clinging to stray baggage and cargo, or vainly endeavoring to reach the numerous rafts and boats which cruised about in the vicinity. Several of us boarded the upturned boat, and despite the fact that it was leaking, we rowed around for a time and had the satisfaction of rescuing twenty-two people, the majority of them being women.

With the sea as calm as a millpond, we realized that we were now practically out of danger, but with the hind boat in its leaking condition uncomfortably full and the other boat, even with six occupants, always in imminent danger of being swamped we could take no liberties- albeit a steward on board so far forgot the trying ordeal as to take a snapshot of the party many of whom needless to say were in a state of complete exhaustion. The loss of life was appalling, but from what I saw, everybody did their best.

The scenes as the survivors were landed to Queenstown were most distressing. Men who had lost their wives; wives who had lost their children; children who had lost their parents. One little girl named Edith Williams, who was saved clinging to a Mrs. Howley, had lost her mother and her sisters; while a heartbroken father could be seen walking around the harbor looking anxiously for his wife and their kiddies. I asked him how he got by, and he tearfully replied, “Well, you can see I’m alright, but I can get no trace of the wife or the kids.” When I saw him the next morning he had one boy with him.

George Smith’s traveling companion, 39 year old William Bennett, of Canada, did not survive the disaster.

One observation of Mr. Smith’s worth commenting on, is the crew member who took at least one snapshot while atop the overturned boat. A number of people were known to have photographed the sinking, among them survivor Robert Leith and victim Patrick Jones, and at least two cameras were saved; those of crewman David McCormick and passenger Elsie Hardy. McCormick’s film was allegedly mostly ruined, although a pair of images said to have been taken on the final day appeared in print shortly after the disaster. Miss Hardy’s photos remain an enigma. Survivor Thomas Sumner claimed to have seen the picturess developed from her camera, yet to the mother of victim Richard Preston Prichard she wrote “the photos did not come out.”  She did not expand upon that, and so one is left to wonder whether she meant that the group shots in which Richard had joined did not come out, or if the entire final voyage roll was a loss.

Joseph and Francis Frankum
Joseph Frankum with his daughter Winifred
Newsclipping, paper not identified, collection of Mike Poirier

The father who George Smith described was almost definitely Joseph Frankum, of Detroit Michigan, who was traveling to his native Birmingham with his family. The Frankum family; Joseph, Annie and son Francis, “Frankie,” had left England some years previously. They first settled in Canada, where Frederick was born, and from there moved to Detroit, where they worked as Sunday school teachers and where their youngest child, Winifred, was born.   Mr. and Mrs. Frankum believed that moving back to England would be good for the family, and so they booked third class passage on the Lusitania.

Mr. Frankum walked ashore “a broken man.”  He had seen his wife and three children swept away when the Lusitania went down. He was wet, and he wore only a pair of pants, a slipper and one sock. In his pocket, he had his money, papers and a water stained watch stopped at 2:22. He was put up in a private home, but instead of sleeping, immediately began his search and examined body after body as they were brought ashore, with no success:

I was down aft when it happened. My wife and I had just had some tea when something went bang. I knew what it was, immediately. The vessel at once heeled over to starboard, and my little boy turned to me and said ‘What’s that, daddy?’  I didn’t answer him; it was no time for talk. I had the wife and three children to think about. My wife snatched up our three year old baby, I grabbed Freddy who was just five and took Francis by the hand.

We started for the boat deck, as the vessel was beginning to turn over. I wouldn’t wait to get lifebelts, as I was afraid we should get trapped down below.

Somehow or other, we managed to reach the deck. I pushed my wife and kiddies into a boat and said ‘You stay there while I try and get a lifebelt.’ Then I made for the second cabin saloon and got a couple of lifebelts. As I was returning to the deck, I met a man who had no life saving apparatus at all, and remembering that my people were already in a boat, I said ‘Here old man, take this’ and shoved one of them into his hands.

I wished, afterwards, that I had kept it for the wife. When I got out on deck again, I found that the missus and the children had got out of the boat. The steamer had got a heavy list, but just then she steadied a bit and I thought she might right herself.

Immediately after this she started to heel over again. I said to the wife ‘Oh my God, it’s all over. Get back into the lifeboat again!’ I just flung them back into the boat, but it was on the port side, and owing to the list to starboard it was impossible to get the boat away.

Then the liner began to go. I hoped that as she sank the lifeboat might rise in her chocks, but whether it did or not I don’t know, for the next instant I was wrenched from my hold and hurled into the water. I was sucked down very deep, but came to the surface again and struck out for an upturned boat that was floating close by. I managed to reach it alright. There were three or four fellows already on it, but I could see nothing of my wife and little ones.

After a time we were rescued by a fishing smack, and when we had got on board her managed to save several other people.

Bye and bye we were transferred to a torpedo boat which afterward picked up more people. One poor woman was in a very bad way. We did all we could for her, but she died when we got to Queenstown; and two other survivors on our boat also passed away.

I landed in Queenstown dressed in a pair of pants, a slipper and one sock. I was billeted, but I couldn’t stay in the house. I wanted to get out and do something. I went out to try and find my children. I examined a lot of bodies, but did not find my wife or the little ones. I was glad, because there may still be hope.

On Saturday morning I started to search again, and met some people who told me they thought my boy was at the Rob Roy Hotel. I went there and found Francis. It was a miracle how he was saved. To say I was overjoyed does not give an idea of my feelings, but I got no news of the others.

     

The Frankum Family

No trace of Annie Frankum or the two missing children was ever found.

 A few years after the disaster, Joseph and his son moved to Scotland. He married Jessie Elizabeth Mitchell in Kelvin, Lanark, in 1920. They later moved to Dunoon, Argyll where Jessie died in 1952 and Joseph died in 1953.  Francis passed away in 1985.


Mary Popham Lobb, of Hamilton, Bermuda, survived after she jumped from the submerging starboard boat deck and was dragged down with the ship.

The first thing I knew of the sinking of the Lusitania was a terrific booming explosion, followed by a torrent of water and coal dust on my head. I was sitting, reading, on the boat deck at the time; most of the saloon passengers were still at lunch.

On reaching the main entrance I found many people had come up and were surrounding the boats; except for a few women everyone was quite calm and talking quietly of what occurred. My cabin being only one deck below, I went down for a lifebelt and was met by a steward who said 'Take this belt and go up again.'  He pulled off the fur coat I was wearing and tied on the lifebelt for me.
On reaching the boat deck again, I found a good deal more confusion, people were struggling round the boats, the first of which was launched in such a way that she went down stern first and those in her fell into the sea.

One of the passengers (I don't know his name) came up to me and said 'I mean to get you out of this,' and made way for me to the next boat which was already overcrowded. I stood aside, but in the end was pushed towards the last boat to be launched on that side. From what I had seen of the launching of boats, I was wondering whether it wouldn't be better to go down with the ship, when the second explosion occurred. The Lusitania heeled over and a great rush of black water came up towards us from the bows.

I jumped, and in falling, caught miraculously at a lifeboat which was going down full of people. By clinging to her, I was drawn away from the suction or at any rate from the worst of it. In the end, the rush of water tore me away, and I went down for what seemed like many minutes but was probably only one or two seconds.

Coming up, I found a floating plank which gave me very welcome support; with this and the lifebelt I was wearing, I was practically safe provided help came in time.

I drifted some way out with the tide, and did not see the last plunge of the Lusitania; when I did turn my head there was nothing to be seen but a little steam above the water. It was very warm and calm; all round me were pieces of wreckage-- chairs, tables, clothes, hats and worse than all, bodies of those who had either failed to put on lifebelts or had died of shock. The cries for help--shouting of men, screaming of women and children, were terrible.

After about two hours in the water I was picked up by one of the collapsible boats-- hearing behind me the welcome sound 'All right, lady, we're coming!'  The owner of the voice was the first violin of the ship's orchestra, who had caught sight of me in the water; he and another man lifted me into the boat.

There were several of us there-, one or two women, a poor old man who seemed to be going mad, and a dead man. We were very cold, but kept our arms working to ward off chills as much as possible. Presently a fishing smack took us in tow.

By then many rescue steamers, a cruiser and a destroyer were seen coming out from Queenstown. We were picked up by a minesweeper and soon found ourselves near a fire, while mugs of hot tea were handed around by the sailors. Some of the women were too wretched to touch it, they just sat and mourned for those they had lost, there was a little boy of six, too, quite alone. One of the ship's officers gave me his sou'wester coat; they were all most kind.

We reached Queenstown about 10:30 p.m. and were taken to various hotels and hospitals, walking between lines of sympathizers and spectators.

The statement in one or two papers that the violinist gave up his place in the boat to me is an error, as there was plenty of room and he went with the rest as far as Queenstown.

Mary Beatrice Popham Lobb died in Chichester, England, on April 5, 1980. She was 96.


Robert Leith
Mike Poirier Collection
David McCormick
Daily Sketch
Jim Kalafus collection

The life of a wireless operator was not a glamorous one. The hours were long and the pay was minimal, but it was a chance to be part of progress and to go to sea. Robert 'Bob' Leith was born in Liverpool, circa 1886. He began his career the Marconi Company in 1906 and served on various Cunard and White Star ships, such as the Caronia, Franconia, Baltic and Arabic. Describing what his job entailed he said 'we receive it by sound reading and we translate it on the Morse system. We must make a record before we take the message.'

His younger brother, Samuel Alex, followed in Bob's footsteps and joined the Marconi Company. They served together on the Caronia and Alex noted how much pride his brother took in his work and how much he enjoyed his job.

Bob was assigned to the Lusitania, with David McCormick as his co-operator. They worked six hours on, six hours work off. Prior to their departure from Liverpool, Captain Turner told him that 'no passengers' messages must be sent from the ship whatsoever.' Any messages from the Admiralty were to be brought directly to the Captain.

Leith and McCormick took their meals in the second class dining room and spent their leisure time with the second class passengers. Leith's time off was from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00p.m. He recalled talking with Richard Preston Prichard about submarine attacks and the war in general. It was a standard voyage for him. Although there were government messages sent to the ship on Thursday and Friday, the majority of the traffic consisted of 'ordinary' messages for passengers. One of them was to Alfred Vanderbilt from his wife, Margaret, informing him that one of his close friends had passed away.

He had just gone to lunch on May 7th, and was settling in when the ship was struck. He was in "the after dining saloon; that is situated on D deck aft. I felt some shock or other and I thought it was a boiler explosion. I could not conclude at the time what had taken place." He immediately ran for the stairs. "I came along the boat deck from the after saloon to get to the wireless cabin. Approximately, I think it took about a minute and a half - I saw nobody on the boat deck."

He found McCormick at the wireless desk and took over sending out an S.O.S. and 'Come at once- big list'

They were sent both by the ship's power, that is power supplied from the ship's dynamo, and in addition to that after three or four minutes after the torpedo struck the ship, the power section gave out and we had to fall back upon the emergency station which is situated in the wireless cabin.

An officer came to the cabin and informed them that they were about 10 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale. The wireless coast station responded as did other stations, "but I was unable to read them owing to local noises."

Photo allegedly taken by McCormick on the morning of May 7th.
We leave it up to the reader to decide if it is legitimate or not.
Daily Sketch
Jim Kalafus Collection

A passenger, Oliver Bernard, wandered over to the wireless shack between the second and third funnels and recorded his impressions in an article shortly after the disaster.

I crossed over to the starboard side again, and on my way encountered the two Marconi operators in the emergency wireless room. They, too, were coolness personified. They were sending out their 'S.O.S' messages. The explosion had disorganized the main wireless room and they were working the emergency wireless apparatus. At this stage, all the electric lights had been extinguished. I asked the wireless operators how they were getting on, and at the present moment they received an answer to their call. A moment later their apparatus was smashed. One of the operators offered me a swivel chair to go down into the water. Finding he could do no more, a young operator, superbly humored and careless of what looked like sure disaster for us all, took up a kneeling position on the funnel deck in order to make snapshots of the Lusitania settling to its doom. A further lurch of the boat upset him and his plans, for the last glimpse I had of him was astride a chair in which he said that he was going to sit down and swim.

David McCormick gave a brief account to the papers.

I didn't know we had been torpedoed, but I knew that a hole had been knocked in the ship. I remember one act, especially of mine. A lifeboat had just been swamped in the water and men and women were struggling amidst the wreckage. I had a pocket camera with me and I made a picture of the scene thinking at the time it would be a valuable memento for me in the after life.

McCormick put the camera back into his pants pocket when the ship lurched and he went into the water. Following his rescue, McCormick brought his camera to the Daily Sketch who tried to develop the pictures. The Daily Sketch published two photos that they claimed were from McCormick's camera.

Bob Leith noted, 'The boat deck was under water at the time. I jumped into a boat that was full of water. The ship's funnel was coming down on top of me at the time, or so it appeared to be so, so I sprung from that boat to another one' He eventually ended up in boat 15. Emily Anderson recalled him reassuring the people in the boat that he had sent out an 'S.O.S.'

Shortly after the disaster, Bob was called before Lord Mersey. He testified about the types of messages sent and received, and that the log books were lost. Robert Leith was given a shore job as an inspector. He married Ann Beddome in late 1916 in Birkenhead. The couple had two daughters. He seldom talked about the disaster and his brother only knew the outline of the story of his survival. He continued with the Marconi company as an inspector till his death at age 48, in late 1933, in Birkenhead. He was buried in Wallasey. His descendants believe that he developed cancer from injuring his side while escaping from the Lusitania.

Radioman David McCormick died in Wales, at age 71, on April 25, 1966.



One enduring Lusitania myth is that of the chaos that reigned along her port side during her final eighteen minutes. Both historians and novelists have written of demoralized passengers, crewmembers struggling valiantly to push boats uphill against the worsening list, and of lifeboats crashing inward and tobogganing along the deck crushing and maiming those in their paths. And, such stories DO indeed appear in accounts written by survivors decades after the event. We were surprised, when we began collecting accounts written in the 1915-1917 time frame, to find very few references to anything resembling the popular version of the disasters alleged to have taken place along the port side.

Lusitania Port Boats

May 1912 deckshot
Courtesy of Trevor Powell.

Passengers who stood on all points along the port boat deck, bridge to stern, survived to write detailed, and occasionally very angry, descriptions of the series of events that culminated with only a single boat, which barely survived, being successfully lowered before the ship sank.  There is a consistency of detail among the personal letters and depositions of dozens of people who escaped from the port side. It is possible to determine from these that three lifeboats, and perhaps a fourth, were lost from the port side early on in the evacuation. An order was called down from the bridge to unload the already loaded boats, and crew members came along the deck and compelled the passengers to step back aboard the sinking ship. Several accounts make references to passengers being told “She is aground and will sink no further” and “She will not sink for an hour.”

Those offloaded from the boats stood and waited for additional orders that never came, as the ship listed, recovered, and began to heel again. Boat 14 was successfully lowered to the water in the last minutes, but was soon swamped and capsized. Some evidence indicates that a second port boat was lowered as the Lusitania began her final plunge, but was struck by the liner’s side and overturned as the ship sank beside it. First person accounts from 1915 show that passengers climbed back into the port boats at the last minute, without orders, probably hoping that they would break free from the ship as she went under. Yet, while the memories were still fresh and the anger still acute, none wrote of demoralized mobs or careening lifeboats.


“In regard to the launching of the boats, there appeared to be a complete lack of system,” said Norman Stones, of Vancouver, British Columbia, a few days after the disaster. “Near to us at the stern on the port side, no boat was launched except for one which fell into the water bow first. Officers and members of the crew went round saying that there was no immediate danger and that the ship would float for at least an hour. In consequence of this, a number of passengers made no effort to get lifebelts and were probably taken by surprise when the end came.”

Norman Stones, and his wife, Hilda, were returning to Ilkley, Leeds, in May 1915, after receiving word that Mrs. Stones’ mother was in poor health. Mr. Stones, originally from Penistone, was a rancher and occasional nightclub singer in British Columbia. Hilda had been a successful actress and singer in Leeds before her marriage, with lead roles in stage productions like The Country Girl, and a position with a touring opera company. She was described as a jolly woman with an exceptional voice. She married Mr. Stones, in Vancouver, in 1912.

Friends in Leeds, where Norman and Mary Hilda were well remembered, initially hoped that the German warning might have caused them to defer their plans to cross.

Hilda Stones’ final performance was at a concert in second class the night before the disaster. Norman Stones did not mention which songs she sang, but it is almost certain that the young married woman with the beautiful voice, of whom Phoebe Amory wrote in her booklet, was Mrs. Stones. Mrs. Amory recalled that the young woman sang “The Rosary.”

Norman StonesHilda Stones

Norman and Hilda Stones

We had just had lunch with the first sitting down, and had come upon deck. My wife and I were looking over the side from C Deck when I saw the track of a torpedo. It appeared to make a white, creamy, track apparently about six inches wide, and when I first saw it, it was between 200 and 300 yards from the ship. I saw no sign of a submarine, not a periscope or anything else. We watched the track of the torpedo as if fascinated, and saw it strike the ship between the funnels. We were second class passengers and were more or less confined to the stern of the ship. We were standing near to the railing dividing us from the saloon passengers, and would be at least 50 yards away from where the torpedo struck the ship. We heard the explosion and it was nothing very terrifying; we saw a cloud of spray thrown high into the air, and the next we knew was that water and wreckage were falling into the sea near us and on the decks above us. As we were not on the top deck, we were protected from the falling debris. The torpedo did not make a very big noise and did not shake the ship very much. All we felt was a slight tremor. The ship, however, immediately began to heel over to the starboard side, and so far as I know she never righted herself. I did not hear a second explosion like the first one, and am inclined to believe that only one torpedo was fired. The ship certainly gave an extra lurch shortly afterwards, but it appeared to me to be due to an internal explosion of the shifting of the cargo. At the time of the attack there were few passengers on deck, but immediately following the explosion there was a rush of passengers to the deck, and at first most of them crowded on to the port side, which was the highest out of the water.

Lustiania Deck

My wife and I walked over to the port side. There was quite a lot of excitement, but no panic- no fighting or anything of that sort. The stewards were the best of the crew, in my opinion. They certainly did not show any panic; if any portion of the crew was inclined to be panicky or excited it was the firemen and trimmers who came up from below. The stewards went round quietly serving out lifebelts. In regard to the launching of the boats, there appeared to be a complete lack of system. Near to us at the stern on the port side, no boat was launched except for one which fell into the water bow first. Officers and members of the crew went round saying that there was no immediate danger and that the ship would float for at least an hour. In consequence of this, a number of passengers made no effort to get lifebelts and were probably taken by surprise when the end came.

Norman Stones obtained lifebelts for himself and Hilda. They planned on swarming down the ropes from the wrecked lifeboat, and then swimming clear of the ship. They hoped to find wreckage to cling to, or to be picked up by a boat. The Lusitania’s final plunge came so quickly that they barely had time to get over the side and into the water. Mrs. Stones took bank notes from her purse, and placed them into Norman’s pockets. She remained calm as she took hold of the rope, cleared the side of the ship, and jumped down into the water. It was the last time her husband would see her. Mr. Stones followed his wife into the water, and both were immediately drawn down as the Lusitania sank beside them.

Norman Stones recalled wreckage floating past him as he struggled to get clear of the suction. He came to the surface and was pulled under again. The second time he surfaced, the disturbance had subsided:

I never saw my wife again. There was no sign of the ship, but the water was full of drifting struggling bodies and wreckage. I got hold of a folded deck chair, and hung on to it for about half an hour, swimming and floating and looking for my wife. At the end of that time I drifted near an upturned boat, to the bottom of which about six men were clinging. I joined them, and we drifted about for hours until we were picked up by the stream trawler Indian Empire and taken to Queenstown. At the finish, we had about 20 persons clinging to the upturned boat.

Hilda Stones’ body was never recovered. Norman Stones’ initial reaction seems to have been anger. Phoebe Amory wrote that the husband of the young woman who sang at the concert promised, in her presence, to enlist and kill a lot of Germans. A 1915 news article preserves some of Norman’s observations, and is worthy of quoting:

Mr. Stones comments on the fact that although the trawler, only an eight knot boat, landed them in Queenstown only two hours after they were picked up, it was four hours after the accident before fast destroyers arrived on the scene. In that time a destroyer could have traveled a hundred miles, and rescued passengers were inclined to ask the reason for this delay. There is no doubt that the confident attitude of the officers and crew, and there statement that the ship would float for at least for an hour – excellent though the intention was- blinded passengers to the imminence of the danger. “We should have been over the side before if it had not been for that statement, and we probably should not have been sucked down with the ship” said Mr. Stones.

Norman Stones eventually remarried. He died in Exmoor, England, on September 7, 1964.


Sarah Lund
Courtesy of Joy Hill
Charley Lund
Courtesy of Joy Hill
William Mounsey
Courtesy of Joy Hill

“Pa, I know it will sink!” said Sarah Lund, of Chicago, to her father, after they were ordered out of a port side lifeboat by a crew member who assured them that the ship would not sink.

Sarah, her husband, Charlie Lund, and her father, William Mounsey, were aboard the Lusitania on a mission that they hoped would reunite their family. The previous year, William Mounsey’s wife, Fanny, had set out aboard the Empress of Ireland to visit relatives in Keswick, England whom she had not seen in more than thirty years. She was aboard what proved to be the fatal voyage and was lost. Her body was not recovered and her family was left to grieve and to wonder.  A woman by the name of Kate Fitzgerald then surfaced in an almshouse in Ormeskirk, England. She had an intense fear of water and kept muttering the name “Mounsey.” Word of Miss Fitzgerald reached the Lunds and Mr. Mounsey in the United States, and so they booked passage aboard the Lusitania hoping that, perhaps, a happy resolution to their family tragedy might be possible. It is known that they received at least one warning, from a Doctor Roberg, who pointed out that given the danger of a wartime crossing, it might be better to solve the mystery by letters and photographs. But, the group departed as scheduled.

Sarah and her acquaintance, Eunice Kinch, were on the starboard side of the Lusitaniawhen the explosions came: “We were sitting facing where it struck, and the minute it struck we were covered with water.” She ran to the lounge, in time to meet her father, and Mrs. Kinch’s son, William Mustoe, coming up the stairs. There was no sign of Charley Lund in the crowd. The group went to the port side boat deck where they entered a lifeboat, only to be ordered out by crewmen who said that the Lusitania would not sink. Sarah turned despairingly to her father and said, “Pa, I know it will sink.”

Robert Timmis, standing nearby, heard the order, and encountered Mr. Mounsey and Mrs. Lund after they evacuated the boat. Sarah pleaded, “Sir, I’ve no lifebelt” and Timmis removed his and strapped it on to her.

Sarah and her father spent their last minutes together struggling to climb a staircase, or perhaps a ladder, between the boat deck and the deck surrounding the funnels:

I found bits of remembered Sunday school lessons flitting through my head; I tried hard not to think of Mama. There was a big explosion, and down he went head first right in front of me, and the boat seemed to fly to pieces and I went right after him. We went whirling round and round. The sensation was awful. It seemed as if we would reach the bottom of the ocean.  As I floated around in the water before being rescued, I could hear people calling and swimming; I heard a baby cry. I could feel people grabbing at my long hair and at my legs.

Sarah clung to a board for what seemed like hours before being pulled into a lifeboat. There she met Robert Timmis, who had surrendered his lifebelt to her, and he bent down to shake her hand as she lay cold and exhausted in the bottom of the boat. Timmis later described Sarah’s rescue: There was a woman further on I thought might be alive; she was face down with a belt on, but seemed shoulders high out of the water. Her golden hair which was loose over her shoulders showed up well...

Neither William Mounsey nor Charley Lund survived the disaster. Their shipboard friends Eunice Kinch and William Mustoe were lost as well. Only Charley Lund’s body was recovered. Sarah completed her trip alone and, to compound the misery of her experience, the trip proved to have been needless. Kate Fitzgerald was not her mother:

I have only one thing to regret and that is to have to part with my husband and father. My husband and I were very much devoted to each other and it is a terrible blow to me to be in England so far from home and such a bereavement to bear, I feel I could not stand it if Almighty God was not with me to bear all my sorrow.

Sarah returned to the United States where, in October 1915, she initiated a lawsuit against Cunard. She alleged that there was a large cargo of explosives illegally in the hold. She sued for $40,000 and said that Cunard’s statements that the Lusitania was fully provided with safety devices had deceived her. She married George Hornberger, whose job was to investigate Lusitania claimants, in August 1916,  Someone familiar with the details of Sarah’s case notified Cunard that she had married a man with a German surname and advised that the newly married couple be closely watched. Her suit against Cunard was futile, but she was awarded $5,000.00 by the American Mixed Claims Commission, in 1925,  for the loss of her husband and personal injury, and an additional $288 for lost property.

Sarah Lund Hornberger had no children of her own, but she proved to be a favorite aunt within her extended family and is still fondly remembered. She died at the age of 92, on April 2, 1978, in Niles, Illinois.


A bathroom steward that had given me a bath in the morning came aft, a big fat fellow with a lifebelt on, and he called out, “Everybody out of the lifeboats. We are hard aground we are not going to sink.” We got out… I think that if the Cunard Line had practiced the manning and getting away of the boats and the proper assignment of officers and crew to the lifeboats the loss could not possibly have been one third of what it was. It is nonsense to say there was no confusion. There was panic. There was no discipline at all. Worst discipline I ever saw.

So concluded Joseph Myers, one of the most seriously injured Lusitania survivors. Mr. Myers was one of several passengers to climb into a port side lifeboat as the ship began her final plunge. The extent of his injuries demonstrate the extremely violent dynamics of the sinking, and why so few who attempted this means of evacuation lived to tell about it.

Joseph Myers Joseph Myers

Joseph Myers

Myers was a lace manufacturer from New York City, whose business concerns in Europe assured that he was a frequent transatlantic passenger. He had made over 100 round trips during the course of his career, and consequently had a better understanding of how ships operate than most passengers on board the final voyage. Myers had transferred to the Lusitania from the American Line's St. Paul, believing that he would save at least a day's travel time by taking the faster liner. He realized, while aboard, that the Lusitania was traveling at reduced speed and would never make port by Friday, May 7, as he had hoped.

Myers found much to criticize about the final crossing. Describing the swinging out of the lifeboats on Thursday, he said:

The men were not efficient. I saw them trying to throw out the boats, trying to break away the boats from the davits, and it seemed to me that they were not equal to it. They were clumsy in handling the ropes. They were bossed by some petty officer; I don't know who it was, but the men did not look to me as if they had been handling the boats before. They handled the ropes and falls like men building a house; they looked more like day laborers than seamen.

 I could see it [the Irish Coast] very plainly, very plainly. I should imagine that before luncheon we must have been 10 or 12 miles away and gradually got closer to the coast. I could see very clearly the coast, and could see also, I believed, the lighthouse. Afterwards I found out that it was the Kinsale lighthouse…….it was as near as we had ever gone; I don't believe to my recollection that I ever passed very much closer to the coast, excepting once and then we went inside Fastnet. My impression was that we were nearing the coast considerably, just as if we were going to make port.

Myers took his luncheon with Francis Kellett of Tuckahoe, New York, after which both men went on deck in time to witness the sequence of events leading up to the torpedoing:

Lusitania Deck

I was standing there with Mr. Kellett. We were standing there discussing the conversation we had had at lunch with another party. I happened to see a periscope and called attention to that periscope to Mr. Kellett.

Q. What did that periscope look like?
A. Like a periscope.

Q. Had you ever seen a periscope before?
A. I had.

Q. How did you happen to see them before?
A. I had been chased by submarines crossing the channel. It looked like a chimney. It was not very large. It was very small; it stuck right up out of the water like my hand, perhaps three feet. At the time I first saw it and called Mr. Kellett's attention to it was just about in line with the captain's bridge. I said “My God, Frank, there is a periscope” and I pointed it out to him. By that time the vessel had proceeded and the periscope remained stationary. I said “My God, Frank, they have put off a torpedo. My God, Frank, we are lost” and she struck. There was water and coal dust and debris of all kinds blown up; they came through the funnel and up through the side of the boat, alongside the boat rather. I went into the Verandah Café to avoid the debris which was falling aft., I didn't avoid it all.

Francis Kellet

Francis Kellet

I went forward, and going along into a companionway of some sort, Mr. Kellett and myself. I went forward and he went aft to obtain life preservers, because I stated to him that we would never attempt to go below. I feared very much that we would never come up if we did go below…he seemed to have been the lucky one in finding the lifebelts. I tried two or three stewards lockers and tried to see if there was a room that had a lifebelt in it, but I was not successful forward. Mr. Kellett went aft and called to me, stating that he had one for me. I came to him and adjusted his lifebelt on him, and he helped me with mine. We got them on wrong. It was very singular that we should, because they had plenty of printed notices how to put on a lifebelt in each room…I had never thought of putting on a lifebelt, and never anticipated any trouble on the Lusitania. I never heard anything about the warning or anything of the kind…

There was great confusion and lots of excitement. Everybody was pouring up through the companionway. The second class was coming up from their quarters trying to get on our deck, and they succeeded, and finally one of these passengers came up with a boy and asked if I wouldn't help her into one of the lifeboats. I assisted her in, and assisted her boy in, and she begged me to come in the boat with her, because at that time there were very few men in that boat. She said ,“We really will require some men; for God's sake come in and help me with my boy. Please don't let this boy drown.”

Mr. Kellett and I finally decided to get in that boat with these passengers and we stayed with that boat. There was nobody there to lower it...You had to get into that boat over the collapsible boat; there was a collapsible boat attached to the deck, and we climbed over it to get into this lifeboat that was swung out….She had plenty of room to go down if there was anybody there to lower her. A bathroom steward that had given me a bath in the morning came aft, a big fat fellow with a lifebelt on, and he called out, “Everybody out of the lifeboats. We are hard aground we are not going to sink.” We got out.

I was becoming a bit uncomfortable on account of the crowd that was coming up from all over. They were coming from the bow and the stern and crowding up around us, and I said to Mr. Kellett, “Frank, the best thing we can do is get into this boat again and wait until she goes over.” … I did get back into this boat and waited for the big boat to go down, and I thought this would be the safest place to be thrown away from, but it was so aft that when she did go down we were thrown out. ..There were ropes around my body and I was being dragged down. I sat up in the bow of this lifeboat, underneath the davit. The block and tackle were right above me…and the ropes happened to be underneath me, and what happened I don't know, except that these ropes were around my body and dragging me down. I couldn't do very much because I had my ribs broken and my leg broken and my arm very badly hurt. I laid in the water, and finally there was an overturned lifeboat coming pretty close to me, and I managed with my left hand to work my way over to this boat and hang on.

Joseph Myers was rescued by the Katrina later that evening, and brought into Queenstown. Francis Kellett was lost, and his body never recovered. Myers wrote his mother a lengthy account of the disaster while in Queenstown, which corresponds to his 1917 testimony and contains a more personal look at his experience than he allowed himself to give at the Limitation of Liability hearings:

The Golding Nursing Home Cork, Ireland May 22, 1915

My Dear Mama: Marie wrote to you last week and I can now do so, although I am in bed and have been so for two weeks on my back. Oh, how it hurts. Well, I suppose you want to know what is the matter with me. My right leg is broken, my left leg is torn, the nerves all exposed under the thigh, three ribs broken front and back on the left side and two on the right, my right arm badly torn. This all happened after the second explosion- I am sure we were torpedoed twice. I saw the first leave the submarine and saw the submarine dive and saw the torpedo strike us and saw everything else. My God, what a sight. In twenty minutes we were gone. I went down with the ship. How long I remained down I don't know, but it was while I was under water that I so badly got knocked about. Wreckage bumped me up against the ship under water and I fought like a devil. The face of my dear wife and our little boy was before me and I said to myself over and over again, 'I can't go. I must fight this out and win out for their sake.' and that is what gave me strength and courage.

Well, I was four hours in the water swimming and floating about with a broken leg and ribs, but not until I was pulled on a boat did I feel that I was hurt. They thought I was about gone. They took all my clothes off and rolled me about until I cried for help and mercy, then they found that I was injured, threw me into the engine room and left me there without anything on. We arrived in Queenstown the next morning at 2:30, just twelve hours after we went down. They put me in a naval hospital, where I remained until Sunday evening and was then transferred here without any clothes and now am on the road to recovery.

Not until Monday did the Cunard Company report me as saved, although I sent them my name on Saturday at 3 A.M., but their office in Queenstown can only be compared with the confusion on the Lusitania. When we were struck, all the officers lost their heads, boats could not be launched. Only two got away safe, all the rest were lost. Those four hours in the water, I shall never forget. I saw my friends and acquaintances float by dead or almost so and I could not tender any help; I was too weak; it almost drove me mad. Thank God it was such a fine day and the water so warm. I had on a lifebelt and can swim and float. At 6:30 P.M. I was pulled on a Greek steamer which picked up fifty-two survivors and I was the last one saved.

Your loving son,
Joseph L. Myers


MaycockPalpable anger emanates from the letter survivor May Maycock, 23, wrote to the mother of missing passenger Richard Preston Prichard.  Miss Maycock, who was returning to Buxton, England, after spending several years in Harrison, New York, assured Mrs. Prichard that the men behaved wonderfully, and then corrected herself by adding that she referred only to the male passengers. Miss Maycock had been loaded into a port side boat, and then was ordered out by crew despite protestations. The passengers stood and waited for the order to re-enter the lifeboat until the ship sank under them, and she was washed over the rail.

A second letter, made available to the newspapers, was less critical:

It is the greatest miracle in the world that I am here. I was just finishing writing to you when the vessel was struck. It was impossible for me to get a lifebelt as she began to list right away, and there would have been no hope of my getting up again. I managed to get out on the top deck and get in a lifeboat, but as soon as we were all in, some of the crew came along and told us to get out as the ship had settled and would be towed to Liverpool. However, we had no sooner got out than there was another explosion.

It was impossible for me to get in the boat a second time so I climbed up to the top deck of all and clung to the rail. I was right by the funnels when the engines burst. I hung on until I should think I was almost the last one. Then, as the boat was sinking, I had to let go or be pulled down with her. It seemed I was under water for an eternity, although I suppose it was only for a few minutes, I felt around and managed to get hold of a piece of wood about as big as myself. I got on top of this and lay flat on it. I floated about in this way, with no lifebelt, for about four hours, and was picked up about 6 o'clock by the Indian Empire, reaching Queenstown about 9.30.

The people I was most intimate with on board were picked up by the same rescue boat. It was a happy meeting, and we all came here together and were accommodated in the same room. They had great difficulty finding room for us all. It was wonderful the way we met, as I never saw them while the boat was sinking or while I was on the water. The crew of the Indian Empire were most kind, doing all they could for us. You would have laughed any other time if you had seen us sitting round a big can of tea, with a chunk of corned beef in one hand and a ship's biscuit in the other. I guess I have come through a lot luckier than some. There was no panic on board.


Robert Dyer

Robert Dyer, of Pittsburgh, was in the process of entering a port side boat, when a boatswain came along:

“Go easy” he said, “the bulkheads are alright.” All the same, I got up along the deck and climbed a piece up the mast…then the ship sank, and I sank with her. It seemed that I was below water for an hour, but I got clear of the rigging and the wreckage around me at last, and floated away up to the surface. Finally I swam to an upturned lifeboat. The thing that troubled me was the poor women and helpless children drowned without a chance for their lives.


Fred Gauntlett, Samuel Knox, and Albert Lloyd Hopkins were in the dining room when the torpedo struck. Mr. Gauntlett was a long time employee of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, of which Mr. Hopkins was the president. They were en route to England:

For the purpose of trying to make arrangements with the builders of a certain submarine, with a view to building them legally in this country; we were going largely at the insistence of the Secretary of the Navy.

Samuel Knox

Samuel Knox

Gauntlett left an excellent eyewitness statement, including details of the loss of boat 20 on the port side:

…I stayed behind, calling to the stewards to close the ports, which call I repeated several times, but without effect for as far as I could see no port was closed. I then left the dining saloon and made my way to the boats on A deck, and left the companionway on the port side, which was the high side of the vessel, she having taken a very heavy list to starboard by this time…

Fred Gauntlett Fred Gauntlett

Frederic Gauntlett

One of the lifeboats was about full of people, mostly men, and two of the crew were about to lower away. I watched the lifeboat going down, when the man handling the forward falls lost control and the boat was dropped into the water, a distance of about fifty feet. The forward end being so much lower than the after end that people were thrown either out of the boat altogether or into a struggling heap at the low or forward end. The boat was smashed and everyone thrown into the water.

I then helped to line up and put into the next boat a lot of women and children, and becoming convinced that the vessel was doomed to sink, decided to take a look at things from the starboard side. The starboard side had been comparatively deserted, and I walked forward and saw that the bow was under water and the vessel’s starboard side very near the water. Decided it was time to get my life belt.

I then went to my stateroom and found my belt on the lower berth, the other one having been taken. From this I concluded that Mr. Hopkins, who shared my room, had already been there and secured his belt. l had not seen him since he left the dining saloon, nor have I seen him yet.

I then went up to A deck again on the starboard side and by this time B deck was under water. And in a minute at most, the boat deck or A deck was submerged in the final roll of the vessel.  I slid down the deck and grabbed a boat davit to save myself from being thrown into the water…climbing on the rail, I swung myself by the fall from the deck of the Lusitania into a boat that was empty of people and which no one had attempted to lower away. A woman and a man with a baby were thrown into the water, and these I pulled into the boat, but the boat davits immediately came over on the boat and carried it down with the Lusitania leaving me in the sea.

I turned round and saw one of the funnels apparently coming right down on top of me and swam as fast as possible out of the way of it.  I was then caught across the back by one of the antennae of the wireless, and turned over and grabbing the wire with my hands pushed myself away from it.

I then took hold of an air tank, probably from one of the lifeboats that had been smashed, and looked around to see if there was not some more secure wreckage to which I could hang on until relief reached me. I saw one of the collapsible lifeboats, canvas cover still on, a short distance from me and swam to it.

Gauntlett was the first to reach the collapsible, but was soon joined by other survivors. When they attempted to get their craft into working order, they discovered that it was in poor condition:

…the working parts were so stiff or rusted we found it impossible to do this [By this, Gauntlett meant rig up the sides] and some of the parts were broken which made it impossible to raise the sides and seats so that they would stay up. We then picked up wreckage and put it under the seats to prevent them from collapsing, rigging out the oars, and rowed around picking people until we numbered thirty two in all. Mr. Knox was the last person but one we picked up.

Gauntlett, Knox, and the rest were picked up by a fishing boat, which rescued the occupants of two other lifeboats for a total of at least 100 rescued. They were transferred to the paddle vessel Flying Fish, and brought in to Queenstown by 9:30.

Mr. Gauntlett became the Washington representative of Newport News Shipbuilding after he returned to the United States. He died in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at 81 years old, on August 9, 1951.

Lusitania Deck


Ogden and Mary Hammond, of New York City and Bernardsville, New Jersey, were passengers of Boat 20; the first port side boat to be wrecked in launching. Mary Picton Stevens Hammond was probably the wealthiest woman aboard; her personal assets, independent of her husband’s fortune and their shared properties, totaled more than two and a half million dollars. She was descended from two prominent “old families,” and was a woman of great beauty and determination.

Mary Hammond

Mary Hammond

Ogden Hammond’s reaction to his wife's decision to travel to Europe in order to do war-related charitable work has not survived. However, his reluctance to sail aboard the Lusitania is well documented. He attempted to enlist Cunard’s NYC general manager, a personal friend, as an ally in his efforts to get Mary to alter her plans. He testified that the scheme did not work as hoped: I asked him if he thought it was perfectly safe to go over on the Lusitania, and I remember his statement was, "Perfectly safe; safer than the trolley cars in New York City." They booked passage on  April 26, 1915, and occupied cabin D20, for which they paid $524.

Mary Hammond’s descendents claimed, in a recent biography of her famous daughter, U.S. Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick, that a German official relayed a message to Mary though her aunt.  Mrs. Hammond was warned not to sail on the May 1st voyage. Her response was, “We are sailing on the Lusitania. Her family made a final attempt to persuade her to change her booking, but the Hammonds sailed as planned.

Mary altered her will aboard the ship, before she sailed, protecting the inheritance of her children; Mary, Millicent, and Ogden Hammond junior, all of whom who remained behind in Bernardsville, New Jersey, in care of their governess.

The voyage would mark a milestone for Mr. and Mrs. Hammond; May 7, 1915 was their eighth anniversary.

Ogden Hammond returned to New York alone. He testified:

I was in the lounge on A Deck. The blow felt like a blow from a great hammer striking the ship; it seemed to be well forward on the starboard side. We were then at the time with Lady Allan of Montreal with her two daughters and Mr. Orr-Lewis. I took Mrs. Hammond and Gwendolyn Allan, and Mr. Lewis took Lady Allan and Anna Allan. We found no life preservers and could not get any. In a minute or two Lady Allan's maid came with two life preservers for her, and Mr. Lewis' valet came with one for him, which he gave to one of the Allan girls. Mrs. Hammond and I then started back on the deck looking for life preservers. We could not find any.

Ogden and Mrs Hammond

My wife and I went out on deck and there was a good deal of confusion. We looked for life preservers, naturally; I couldn't find any. I wanted to go down to my stateroom and get my own, but she did not want me to leave her, so I stayed with her, and we walked back to the end of the A deck, and as we got to the end of the deck and found no life preservers we noticed them beginning to lower the end boat on the port side. We were told to get in. A petty officer, I should say, standing by the lifeboat, said “Get in,” and everybody at first held back. Finally I should say ten women got in. My wife refused to go without me, and we waited and waited and finally I agreed to get in, and I think I was the last man in, right up near the bow of the boat. The boat was half filled, about 35 people in it. They started to lower the boat, and the man at the bow let the tackle slip, and I remember I grabbed it and that it pulled all the skin off my right hand. The bow dropped, the stern tackle held, and everybody fell out of that boat from the top deck, which I think is about 60 feet above the water.

I finally came up and someone grabbed me around the neck, as I remember, by my necktie, and I finally got rid of the man and I got an oar. When I got my breath back and recovered myself I floated on this oar back out into the channel, and from there lying out in the channel I watched the Lusitania go down, probably about three-quarters of a mile away from me at that time. Well, in addition to my hand, I had a broken rib that I found afterwards. When I got to Dublin I found it, and my neck was badly hurt, probably in the fall.

Mary Hammond was never found, but a body matching her general description closely enough to be interesting, appeared in the 1916 Cunard Confidential Report’s list of unidentified dead:

#101. Female, 34 years, dark hair, slight make, height 5'4" Property- 1 gold curb padlock bracelet; 1 9 carat square locket (engraved); 1 22 carat gold wedding ring; 1 18 carat gold plain ring, with heart; 1 9 carat signet ring with initials "M.H." and 1 9 carat gold necklet. Buried Queenstown, May 10th; Grave C, 6th row, upper tier.

However, a direct quote from Ogden, dating from late May 1915 implies that he did at least some searching in the Queenstown morgues, and probably viewed #101: I examined a number of watches which were taken from drowned passengers and many of them had stopped between 2:30 and 2:35 PM.

Ogden Hammond, who remarried, served as U.S. Ambassador to Spain. He died in 1956.


Andrew Faulds, of Yonkers, New York, was hospitalized in Queenstown for several days after the disaster. He was injured when he was thrown from a collapsing Lusitania lifeboat. His survival, and that of his wife, was among the more miraculous of that afternoon.

Mr. and Mrs. Faulds were aboard the Lusitania en route to their native Scotland, where they intended on visiting Mrs. Faulds’ sister, Mrs. William Peacock of Glasgow. They wrote to Andrew’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Faulds, after the disaster, to assure her of their safety. Their first person account has not survived, but Mrs. Faulds allowed the Yonkers press access to the original letter:

They said they never heard a word about the threatened torpedoing of the vessel before they went on board at New York. When the torpedo struck, Mr. Faulds was lying in his bunk, and Mrs. Faulds was on her way up to the deck. Mrs. Faulds rushed back and told her husband to hurry up, as something had happened. They left the cabin without any thought of lifebelts, or anything else. Mr. and Mrs. Faulds had to fight their way through a crushing mass of passengers. A gentleman handed Mrs. Faulds his lifebelt, but Mr. Faulds was still without one. Both scrambled into a boat that was being lowered into the water, but suddenly one of the ropes gave way and the entire occupants were precipitated into the water, a distance of about 40 feet. Mrs. Faulds was in the water two and a half hours, and Mr. Faulds for three hours before being rescued by different steamers. Four times they got into a boat which capsized through filling up with water, and it was when the boat capsized on the fourth occasion that the two got separated. Mrs. Faulds floating way and ultimately being pulled on to the bottom of an overturned boat by a steward. Among the many pathetic scenes witnessed by Mr. and Mrs. Faulds was that of a young woman who was observed holding a dead baby close to her breast. Latterly, the woman lost consciousness and the body of the child slipped from her grasp and floated away on the water.

Andrew Faulds died in Yonkers, New York, on March 30, 1942, at age 55. His wife, Margaret died in Florida on May 8, 1968, at age 80.

The woman with the baby who Mr. and Mrs. Faulds witnessed as they struggled by the capsized boat, coincides with a detail in an account given a survivor from #14, the only boat known to have repeatedly capsized.

Faulds

(Jim Kalafus collection)


Annie Sharp was returning to the United Kingdom from Boston in May, 1915. She was one of perhaps 60 people lowered from the port side in Boat 14.

The lifeboat was not properly plugged and began to fill with water. A woman bailed it out with her handbag.

I did not have a handbag and felt helpless. One man wearing a pork pie hat wasn’t doing anything with it, so I took his hat off and began to bail with it.

Boat 14 soon overturned, and Mrs. Sharp found herself struggling in the water, surrounded by its other occupants. Most of them managed to climb aboard again, but the lifeboat soon overturned for a second time. And a third.

During one of the capsizes, Annie Sharp found herself struggling beside a family who had been in the boat. The mother and father were lost, and she found their infant thrust into her arms:

I looked at the baby after, and I was sure it was dead. Its eyes were all glassy. Another wave threw us over and I went under with the baby. That was the last I saw of it. I must have been under the water a long time. The men got back on and I hear them talking. I heard one say “Good God, she’s alive.”

Boat 14 capsized several times that afternoon; Annie Sharp would remember six. Only a handful of the original sixty occupants remained, by the time the survivors were taken off by another boat. Mrs. Sharp lived in England until the mid-1960s, at which point she moved to Canada to live with a married daughter.


James Leary
Leary and King Cabins (B-14 King, B-16 Leary)
(Courtesy of Paul Latimer)
Lusitania's Elevators
(Scientific American)
The coffins of victims Thomas Boyce King and Lily Lockwood, photographed in Queenstown. King would be returned to the
United States, while Lockwood, a child who was lost along with her mother, Florrie; brother, Clifford; and aunt, Edith Robshaw , was buried in one of the common graves.
Grave of Thomas Boyce King
Greenwood Union Cemetery, Rye New York.
We were standing right below the captain's bridge, and Staff Captain Anderson was standing on this little bridge and he was shouting instructions to the different seamen; so I remember he hollered “lower no more boats. We have closed certain bulkheads in the ship and she won't sink, and we can get into port.”

… As it was going down, this lifeboat that was in front of us that the people got out of after the captain had given instructions, and though some insane idea I had I jumped in, and she was tied there, and that was the way I went down.

James J. Leary, of Brooklyn was a buyer for Brokaw Brothers. He embarked on the Lusitania with his friend, and fellow Brokaw employee, Thomas Boyce King, and survived to give graphic testimony about his Lusitania experiences.

Leary and King, in common with most of their fellow travelers, did not learn of the German warning until they were aboard the ship. Details of how they spent their time aboard the Lusitania are few, and with the exception of Leary winning the ship's mileage pool, it seems that their voyage was pleasantly unexceptional.

Leary spent the final morning walking on deck after having breakfasted in his B deck cabin. He observed that the Irish Coast was clearly visible. He also noted that the Lusitania was traveling at a very slow rate, a fact on which nearly all of the surviving passengers agreed:

They had a drill one morning, about 10 or 12 men out on the starboard side. Mr. King passed the remark to me “How would you like to take your chances with that crowd in case we are torpedoed?”

Mr. King and myself went down to the dining room and we had out lunch; it was his custom to leave right after lunch to go and take some medicine, and I went to a table with Mr. Campbell, Mr. Battersea [sic: Battersby] and Mr. Hardwick….that was right inside the dining room three tables from the entrance. We conversed a little while and then we started out to the deck, and just got out the threshold of the doorway when we got the explosion of the torpedo. It sounded to me like a terrific explosion like what you would hear in an excavation in the subway. I went up top C deck, and the stairway was quite crowded, and then I went over to the side of the ship, to look out, to try to find where the torpedo hit. I saw this tremendous hole, and I saw the people jumping off and lowering the lifeboat, which seemed evidently cut away from the side of the ship, and this boat was filled with passengers and they were all thrown in the sea, and the boat swung in the air on one rope.

The lurid tale of first class passengers trapped in the ship's elevator cages and sinking with the ship has become an integral part of the Lusitania legend. Although it surely could have happened, the earliest account of this aspect of the tragedy we have found is contained in Leary's flamboyant testimony:

When I came from this entrance where I went out to look at the hole in the side of the ship, I looked at the ventilators (elevators) and looked up and noticed that they were between the two floors, filled with passengers screaming, and evidently they could not go up or down because the boat was on such a list, and I imagine that is the way they died.

The next paragraph must be viewed with skepticism. Recall this passage when reading Leary's 1915 account, which follows:

I started to look in the different rooms for a lifebelt; they were all gone. My room was so far forward and the boat was on such a list that I thought it would be impossible for me to get to it, so as I went along I saw an officer coming along with a lifebelt in his hand…everybody was running around and screaming and looking for a belt; so I saw him I met him in the companion (way) going towards this room and I was trying to get the lifebelt. I had exhausted every place and could not get a belt, and saw him with one in his hand. I asked him for it, and he said “you will have to go and get one for yourself; this is mine.” I said “I thought according to law passengers come first.” He said “Passengers be damned; save yourself first.” I tore it away from him, and I said “you can find one quicker than I can, and if you want this one you will have to kill me to get it.”

Pressed to identify this officer, Leary could not. Nor could he give a detailed description, and even his general description was vague. The event may have happened as Leary said it did, but it seems likely that the man in question was simply a member of the crew.

I went up to A deck to look for Mr. King. I said to him “Well, Tom, we finally got it.” And he said “Yes, I knew it all the way over.” I started to put my belt on and got it upside down and this chap came along and said “if you got in the water that way you would be feet up.” So he put it on for me. You are supposed to put it on like a vest, and I put my hands in it. There is a collar that fits in the back of the neck and I had it on front.

We were standing right below the captain's bridge, and Staff Captain Anderson was standing on this little bridge and he was shouting instructions to the different seamen; so I remember he hollered “lower no more boats. We have closed certain bulkheads in the ship and she won't sink, and we can get into port.”

I met McCubbin the purser. I had all my valuables in the safe with him, and I said “how about my valuables” and he said “young man. If we get to port you will get them, and if we sink you won't need them.”

I met Mr. King again. And we stood there, and there was a lifeboat in front of us and we had to lean up against the wall on account of the boat being on such a list……I said “I think we had better take our chances on deck” so we did not try for the lifeboat. Then just a few minutes after the was another explosion that seemed to me like the boilers. Of course all the soot and coal dust and different things came through the ship, and everybody got covered with it, and then she took a plunge.

As it was going down, this lifeboat that was in front of us that the people got out of after the captain had given instructions, and though some insane idea I had I jumped in, and she was tied there, and that was the way I went down. As the boat went under water something caught on my leg; I think it was the oars that criss-crossed and held me fast, and it seemed to me I went down as far as the ship did. There was a terrible drag from this thing holding me, and she seemed to settle more then and I kicked myself free and came up.

I saw an upturned lifeboat and swam to it and hung on to it by my fingers. There happened to be three or four stokers or seamen hanging on with me. We were 20 in all, and we decided to turn her over, and we got on our stomachs and turned it over, and when we got it turned over she was covered in canvas and ropes all through different parts, so it was impossible to take the covering off. So we stood on that and a wave would come along and we would go over, and would be pulled back, and we did that for half an hour. Every once in a while we would miss one or two, and the bodies would float around, and we would push them away when they were dead. We went on for four and a half hours before we were picked up by a British destroyer. There were only six of us left in the end.

Leary's 1917 testimony is extremely dramatic, and one suspects that a degree of grandstanding occurred as he spoke. His 1915 account tells essentially the same story, but in a considerably more spare manner, bereft of lurid details such as the passengers trapped in the elevators, the interlude with the officer refusing to part with his lifejacket, and the hole in the side being visible:

At lunch on Thursday the lifeboats were swung out. That night all lights were extinguished or observed. A Mr. Winters who was connected with the Cunard Company said that morning wireless messages had been received and that there would be no more lights allowed at night. From about 1:30 AM to 2:30 AM on Friday I was on deck and saw a light some distance away a beam which gradually disappeared as we left it behind. I was berthed on B deck (Leary was in B-16) and found a blotter placed over my skylight that night to obscure the light. I dressed and came on deck on Friday at about 12:30 PM. I left the luncheon table at about 2PM and was just outside the dining room door when I heard an explosion, and felt a very heavy shock after which all the lights went out. Everyone hastened up on deck; there was no panic.

The torpedo struck on the right hand side; the rails and deck were a mass of wreckage about amidships. The crew lowered the life boats; women and children only were allowed in them. I didn't realize the danger and went to my stateroom for a life preserver, but couldn't get one in the dark. I searched for two but couldn't find any so got one from a member of the crew. I then found Mr. King, Thos. B. on A deck and said to him that “we'd got it” meaning that we'd been struck by a torpedo. He assented calmly; there seemed to be no excitement. The staff captain announced from the bridge “lower no more boats” and said that he could reach port before the vessel sank. Officers and crew carried the same word to the passengers. In less than 5 minutes there was another explosion. Mr. Alfred Vanderbilt's suite was full of black smoke and wall dust.

Then the ship took a list and the passengers got excited and not more than two or three minutes afterwards the ship went down. I lost Mr. King. One of the lifeboats was already swung out and I jumped in, but there was no one to lower it. I went down with the boat and my foot was caught in some wreckage. When I came up, I reached an overturned lifeboats and was on it for four hours, with twenty others slipping off and on all that time. At six o'clock PM we were picked up by a torpedo boat. There were only six of us left, all exhausted. We were then well taken care of and brought to Queenstown.

James Leary

James Leary

Both accounts tell the same story, yet one if left wondering about the various details added to the 1917 rendition. Did Leary embellish, or was he simply able to expand upon his 1915 story because the 1917 version was given verbally rather than in manuscript form?

James Leary died on September 12, 1933, in Hollywood, California.

Thomas Boyce King, Leary's friend and coworker from Brokaw Brothers, did not survive the disaster. His body was recovered, and a photo of his coffin was printed in the UK newspapers. One photo caption described him as an “American millionaire” but, in fact he was merely comfortably well off. He had earned approximately $9500.00 per year for the last five years of his life.

He was buried at Union Cemetery in Rye, New York, near the home he shared with his wife, Anna, and son Thomas Boyce King, junior. Mrs. King married a UK national by the name of Samuel Stansfield, who survived only into the 1920s and who, upon his death, was buried beside Mr. King. Anna King Stansfield died in 1946 and now rests with both of her husbands. Thomas Boyce King, junior died in November 1974, at age 71, in Yonkers, New York.


Lifeboat #14. One of the keystones of the Lusitania disaster story is that no boats escaped from the port side, save for those collapsibles that washed free of the ship as she foundered. However, Boat 14 was successfully lowered during the final stages of the sinking, and carried three or four of her original passengers to safety. The rest of her complement was dispersed, as she repeatedly capsized and ejected them into the ocean.

The experiences of those from Boat14 who survived paint a grim picture of men and women in a futile struggle; bailing with their hats, handbags, shoes and probably hands; as a single missing plug and, perhaps, structural damage, allowed their boat to fill with water and overturn.

Virginia Loney was resting in her family’s cabins, B 85-87, accompanied by her maid, Elise Boutellier when she heard the explosions.  "I had no idea what had happened, but joined in the mad rush for the deck." She found her parents, and waited with her mother, Catherine Loney, and her maid, while her father, Allen Loney went below to get lifebelts.

Charles Hill’s first instinct, after the explosion, was to check on his friends Beatrice Witherbee and Mary Brown, a mother and daughter traveling to a new home in London with Beatrice’s young son Alfred. He found their D Deck cabin empty, and noted water coming into the ship from the porthole in the passageway. He ran to his own cabin, B-110 to get his dispatch case and overcoat.

Teenager George Wynne was in the ship’s vegetable locker when the torpedo struck. He ran down the alleyway to the kitchen, and could hear the pots and pans falling from the stove and clattering to the floor as he exited the room. His first instinct was to find his father, Joseph Wynne. George made his way aft to a crew area on C Deck, where he located him. The two men went to the boat deck, to see what could be done. Joseph Wynne realized that his son could not swim, and told him to stay put while he went to the crew’s quarters to get someone.

William McMillan Adams Arthur Henry Adams

William McMillan Adams and Arthur Henry Adams

William McMillan Adams and his father watched the crew, and "saw only two boats launched from this side. The first boat to be launched, for the most part full of women, fell sixty or seventy feet into the water, all the occupants being drowned."

But, finally, the Lusitania righted herself. The crew, seeing this as a last chance to get a port side boat away, began filling Boat 14 as quickly as possible.

Robert Cairns found #14 swinging inboard. He joined others and, taking five or six paces back, pushed the boat over the side of the ship so that it could be loaded.

The Lusitania’s barber, Lott Gadd found a crowd waiting at Boat 14. He took charge of the boat, for no one else seemed to know what to do.

Lott Gadd

Lott Gadd
Courtesy Caroline Windsor

 

Charles Hill ran aft along the deck. He tried to enter a lifeboat, but was rebuffed by a woman who told him that it was too full. He noticed that only a few people had entered #14, the next boat aft,  and so he jumped in.

Virginia Loney was standing at the perimeter of the crowd at Boat 14 with her family. Her father noticed that there was still space in the boat that was about to be lowered. She edged forward, and “He (Allen Loney) ordered me to get in. I protested, but finally obeyed.” She felt the boat begin to lower, as soon as she got in. She was surprised that the crew did not wait for others, such as her parents, to enter.

George Wynne was still waiting by the rail for his father when a man told him that, with the ship about to sink, it was no use waiting for anyone. The man urged him to jump into the lowering boat, which he did. Joseph Levinson, standing on the B Deck promenade, watched the boat making its descent. He jumped in as well.

Robert Timmis was one of those attempting to help with the lowering of Boat 14. He stood among the crowd, and "kept them clear of the lowering rope, when suddenly it began to pay out like lightning. I got clear and then rushed to the side and looked over; the boat was safely in the water with its passengers."  Robert Cairns, aboard #14, felt the boat tilt up, and saw a few passengers fall out. He noted that the boat began to leak immediately upon entering the water. Charles Hill recalled that Lott Gadd loosened the block holding the rope to the lifeboat prematurely, causing the boat to slip down the falls: "She dropped almost vertically, spilling out into the sea all those near the stern." Mr. Hill thought that it was the impact with the water which started the craft leaking. Gadd denied that, saying that all it did was make the boat bob around in the water for a few moments. He claimed that the boat was damaged as it scraped over rivets along the ship’s side.

Annie Sharpe, a passenger in #14, recalled that the boat immediately began filling with water. She believed that the boat’s plug was not in. Miss Sharpe saw a woman begin bailing with her handbag, and felt annoyed when she noticed a gentleman sitting and doing nothing. She grabbed his Porkpie Hat and began to bail with it. George Wynne took off his slippers and tried his best to bail with the flimsy apparel. Robert Cairns waited until the water rose up to his knees, before he jumped from Boat 14, along with several other occupants.

Virginia Loney believed that it was suction from the Lusitania going down that capsized #14, for the boat was only a few yards away from the liner when she took her final plunge. Miss Loney had been looking up at the ship, where she believed that she could see her parents on deck, when she was suddenly catapulted into the water. She was “drawn ever so far down” by dying Lusitania’s wake.

Many of Boat 14’s occupants climbed back aboard the damaged craft, but with each subsequent capsizing, passengers were lost. Annie Sharp kept count each time the boat rolled over, and noted that by the sixth time most of the original occupants had disappeared. Annie had a baby thrust into her arms by a drowning mother, but noticed that its eyes were glassy. When the boat capsized, again, she let it go.

Charles Hill watched Lott Gadd swim away from the overturned boat, and realized that he had not paid the barber for his week’s shave. An old man, and a woman with a child clung to him as he tried to climb back aboard #14.

George Wynne held on to one of the lifelines, before hauling himself back into the boat. It capsized again. Wynne eventually lost consciousness.

Joseph Levinson, after being ejected from the capsizing boat, "found that I could keep afloat quite easily by treading water, just like walking the street, so I moved among the people telling them what to do and in this way I think I saved some lives."

Virginia Loney saw a lifeboat picking up survivors and swam to it. She was pulled in, and was soon aboard a fishing smack. George Wynne awoke aboard the vessel Indian Empire, and was told that he had been found tied to some wreckage. He would later learn that he had placed on the wreckage by Sixth Engineer Dunn. 

Charles Hill and Annie Sharpe were among the few people who remained with the waterlogged Boat 14 until rescued. Elizabeth Duckworth, in her well known account, recalled coming across a swamped lifeboat with only a few people in it when she, and a crew of men, returned to the disaster scene to search for survivors after the arrival of rescue ships. She was told that the other occupants were somewhere back in the water, lost when the boat repeatedly capsized. It is likely that Mrs. Duckworth was referring to Boat 14.


…and the next instant the keel of the ship caught the keel of our boat, and we were thrown into the water.

Accounts by George Kessler, a New York wine merchant, and Norman Ratcliff, a London businessman, hint at the possibility that a second port side lifeboat was lowered in the last minutes only to be destroyed as the ship sank beside it. The details of Kessler’s accounts remain consistent from telling to telling, but are not entirely consistent with accounts left by survivors from Boat 14. Kessler’s boat had some sort of accident in lowering, as did #14, but he was emphatic that the boat he was in was struck by the sinking ship and overturned almost as soon as it touched the water. Survivors from Boat 14, as well as those who watched from aboard the ship, were consistent in their statements that the boat survived long enough to struggle clear of the ship, fill with water, and capsize. Details of Mr. Ratcliff’s account correspond with the majority of others left by portside survivors, and he too was in a boat that was struck the ship as she plunged downward. It seems that a boat filled with crew, and a handful of passengers, among them George Kessler, Norman Ratcliff, and Mr. and Mrs. Bruno (referred to as “Berth” in his early account, and by their proper names in a later retelling) may have free-fallen from the port side boat deck very late in the sinking, only to be struck by the hull of the Lusitania, and capsized, as the liner foundered.

Norman Ratcliffe

Norman Ratcliff

English businessman Norman Ratcliff left an excellent account of the disaster, containing another reference to the disastrous “The watertight compartments are holding out” canard used to calm passengers. Mr. Ratcliff, of Gillingham, worked for the London manufacturing firm of Messrs. Stern, Ltd., and was returning from an extended business trip to Japan, when he found himself trapped aboard the sinking Lusitania:

I had been out to Japan for the firm on business since the beginning of the year, and was on the return journey having spent some time in San Francisco before I reached New York. When the Lusitania started, there was some talk among the passengers about the threat by the Germans that the ship would be attacked, but it was regarded as a piece of bluff, and no one was alarmed by it. We had a delightful trip, but a few hours before the disaster occurred we were in a dense fog, and the horns were continuously sounding for a couple of hours. Then the fog cleared away, and we were going at a moderate speed.

I was sitting at lunch in the main dining saloon, when I heard a sudden report, for all the world like that (striking his fist) We knew that it was an explosion of some kind- it was like a muffled explosion- and we wondered what had happened. Nearly everybody in the saloon immediately got up from their seats, and started for the next deck. The stewards called out “Take it gently! Let the ladies get out first!” There was no confusion or panic, and everyone left the saloon as quietly as could be.
When I reached the deck I saw that the big ship had immediately listed over. All the boats - twelve on either side - had been swung out two days beforehand and the passengers who had already provided themselves with life belts were getting in to the boats. The stewards called out “Don’t lower any boats. We’re all right. The watertight compartments are holding out” Some of the passengers began to leave the boats, but the ship listed still further and they got into the boats again as speedily as possible.

Something went wrong with the first boat that was lowered. It tipped upon one end, and all the occupants were thrown into the water. The ship was gradually settling down, and when I saw that the inevitable was coming, I took off my coat and waistcoat and boots and threw them on the deck. There were some rafts near the boats, and I cut three of them free with my knife. When the deck upon which I was standing was only six feet above the water, I jumped into a boat which was nearly full of people. I had just succeeded in cutting away the falls when the ship came right over and our boat was struck and went under.

What happened then I don’t know, but I came to the surface and found that the boat had disappeared. The water was full of people all around me, struggling to catch hold of anything. It was impossible to do anything for any of them. I was somewhat dazed for a time, through going under the water, but I soon recovered my senses. On looking around, I saw a ship’s locker about thirty yards away, and I swam for it and hung on to the side of it for a considerable time. Another man who I believe was one of the ship’s crew followed me and held on to it in the same way.

After about an hour I made a desperate effort and succeeded in clambering up to the top of it, and this gave me a rest. I grabbed and secured an oar that was floating by, and as I was drenched through and very cold, I worked the oar to keep myself warm. My companion in distress was too heavy to get on top, but he continued his hold and was one of the saved. To add to our troubles, another swam up to the box and caught hold of it, but he was almost gone. With the assistance of the first man who joined me, I pulled him on to the top of the locker, and he laid down on one corner and myself on the other, waiting for help.

We kept in that position for a good time, and we were all right when we remained so, and I picked up another oar. The poor fellow was too far gone, and he didn’t have the strength to use the oar. Then the locker suddenly rolled over and we were all three thrown into the water again. The man who had been on top with me disappeared and I never saw him again, but my first companion regained his hold and again I succeeded in getting on top, and I afterwards opened one of the cupboard lids and remained on that. There were corpses floating all around us owing to the cold and exposure. It seemed a terribly long struggle until, we saw trawlers coming up in the distance and making for the boats full of passengers. Eventually we were rescued by a boat that returned from one of the trawlers, and taken on to the trawler Bluebell.

Mr. Ratcliff died in Maidenhead, England, on November 9, 1959 at the age of 80.


George Kessler remembered:

I saw the crew taking the tarpaulins from the boats, and I went up to the purser and said “It’s alright drilling your crew, but why don’t you drill your passengers?” The purser said he thought that it was a good idea, and added “Why not tell Captain Turner, sir?” So, the next day I had a conversation with Captain Turner, and to him I suggested that the passengers should be given tickets with a number denoting the number of the boat they should make for in case anything untoward happened, and that it seemed to me this detail would minimize the difficulties in the event of trouble. The Captain replied that this suggestion was made after the Titanic disaster, but that the Cunard officials thought it over and considered it impractical. He added that of course he could not act on the advice given, because he must first have the authority of the Board of Trade.

George Kessler

I talked with the Captain generally about the torpedo scare which neither of us regarded as of any moment. The Captain - you understand that we were smoking and chatting - explained his plans to me.

He said that we were then slowing down - in fact we were only going eighteen knots - and that the ship would be slowed down until they got somewhere further on the voyage, and then they would go at full speed and get clear of the war zone. I asked him what the war zone was, and he said “500 miles from Liverpool.” According to the next day’s run, about two hours before the disaster occurred, we were about 380/390 miles from Liverpool, so we were in the war zone and we were only at a speed of about eighteen knots at that critical moment. For two days previous, as well as I remember, the day’s run had been 506 and 501, and on Thursday it was 488. I was playing bridge on Friday when the pool was put up on the day’s run, and I heard twenty members go to 493. I thought it would be a grand speculation to buy the lowest number, because we were going so slow. I did but it, and paid $1.00. The sum of the pool was between $300 and $350 and I was the winner. The steward offered to hand over the money if I would go to his cabin, but I said he could pay me later.

Shortly after the steward had left me, I was on the upper deck looking out over the sea. I saw, all at once, the wash of a torpedo, indicated by a snakelike churning of the surface of the water. It may have been about thirty feet away, And then- thud! Mr. Berth, and his wife, of New York, first class passengers, were the first I spoke to. I should say that about this time all the passengers in the dining saloon had come up on deck. The upper deck was crowded, and of course all the passengers were wondering what was the matter- few believing the truth. Still, the crew began to lower the boats, and then things began to happen very quickly. Berth was trying to persuade his wife to get into a boat. She said she would not do so without him, and he said “Oh, come along, my darling. It will be alright.” I added my persuasions to his. I saw him help her into a boat, then the falls suddenly slid through the davits. I fell into the boat and we slipped down into the water over the side of the liner which was bulging out, the list being the other way. Then the boat struck the water, and after a few seconds- it may have been a minute- I looked up and cried out “My God! The Lusitania is gone!” We saw the entire bulk of the liner, which had been upright just a few seconds before, suddenly lurch over away from us. And the next instant the keel of the ship caught the keel of our boat and we were thrown into the water. There were about thirty people in the boat, and I should say that all were stokers or third class passengers. There may have been one or two other first class passengers; I cannot recall who they were.

When the boat was overturned, I sank and I thought I was a goner: however, I had my lifebelt on and rose again to the surface. There I floated for possibly ten or fifteen minutes when I made a grab at a collapsible lifeboat at which other passengers were also grabbing, and we managed to get it shipshape and climbed in. There were eight or nine in the boat, stokers, except one or two third class passengers. It was partially filled with water. In the scramble the boat was overturned, and once more we were pitched into the water. This occurred, I should say, eight times, the boat righting itself usually, and before we were picked up by the Bluebell six of the party of eight or nine were lying drowned in the bilge water which was in the bottom.

My God! What can America do? Nothing will bring back these people to life. It was cold blooded deliberate murder, and nothing else; the greatest murder the world has ever known. How will going to war mend that? I hesitate to give an opinion on matters which are purely technical, but still it seems to me, as a landsman, and one who has crossed the ocean many times, that the safety of the Lusitania lay in speed.

We were in the war zone by 140 or 150 miles, and every moment that we dawdled at fifteen or eighteen knots was an increase of our risk of being torpedoed. Again - and of course I merely make a comment - I can’t understand why there were no destroyers or patrol boats about. We certainly had been led to expect there would be when we reached the war zone.

George Kessler had been noted for his high living before the disaster, and had garnered much press space for his lavish parties in both New York City and London. He recalled, after the disaster, that while adrift he had determined that he would make a difference, by channeling his money and time into helping war victims.

Kessler’s opportunity to make a difference presented itself when he met newspaper publisher Sir Arthur Pearson. Pearson, a blind man, had founded St. Dunstan’s; an organization that aided men blinded in the war. George and Cora Kessler founded The Permanent Blind Relief War Fund. They met, and were endorsed by, Helen Keller.

Their fund, which was called to action again during World War 2, survives today as Helen Keller Worldwide. George Kessler died at age 57, on September 13, 1920.



Abraham Ellis...

The Lusitania is best remembered as the shipwreck in which author/philosopher Elbert Hubbard, theatrical producer Charles Frohman, and socialite Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt lost their lives. Yet there were many more passengers, in all three classes, who could have been described as leaders in their respective fields. Industrialists, actors and actresses, inventors, songwriters, real estate moguls, all found themselves thrown into the same life-and-death situation on May 7th, 1915. Their stories, not widely remembered after 1915, are as compelling as those of Hubbard, Frohman and Vanderbilt.

ABRAHAM ELLIS IS DEAD AT 84; 'HATCHECK KING' IN THE 1940'S

said the headline in the July 20, 1985 edition of the New York Times.  Abe Ellis had been well known in his day, as a frequently mentioned, behind-the-scenes character in the NYC nightclub and theatre world.  He had become wealthy by buying the hat-check concessions in first class nightclubs, theatres and hotels.  He paid Billy Rose $10,000.00 for the rights to staff, manage, and keep the profits from the coat room at the French Casino, and expended similar sums in many equally exclusive venues to expand his business. Buried deep in his obituary were the lines:

His big break came shortly after his marriage in 1926 to Yetta Samuel, the daughter of a turn-of-the-century Yiddish actor who died on the Lusitania. Mr. Ellis used $5,000 of his wife's inheritance to buy the hatcheck concession at the Brooklyn Elks Club.

Abe and Yvette Ellis, whose true names were Abraham and Yetta Samoilesco Ellisburg, had divorced in 1946.

Yetta’s father, actor David Samuels, had indeed died aboard the Lusitania. His widow, Lizzie, had tenaciously pursued a case against Germany before the U.S. Mixed Claims Commission, and each of her surviving children had received a substantial settlement in 1926, making it likely that the facts related in the obituary were correct.

Dave Samuels was a singer and comic Yiddish monologist.  He was born in Panciu, Romania, 1877-1880, as David Samoilovici. He gave birthdates of July, 1880, July 15, 1870, and June 19, 1879, on various passport applications.

Samilescu Family
(Courtesy of Peter Berlanny)

He was the third child of six born to Berla and Anna Wasserman Samoilovici. His father was well to do, and ran a store which sold groceries, wine, hats, flour, and imported Parisian shoes. Berla’s granddaughter recalled him as a loving man, as he interacted with her, but also as a tyrant who was feared and respected by his wife and children. She told a story that revealed a softer side of Mr. Samoilovici, in which Berla returned home with a friend late on a winter night to discover an impromptu performance by his sons underway, with eldest son  Haim, later known as Leon, playing the violin, youngest son, Jerome, playing the flute, and David singing and dancing.  Berla’s eyes reportedly teared up as he watched, and he later asked his friend not to tell anyone about his display of emotion. Berla and his mother had fled Russia, on horseback, around 1848, when he was three years old. He would recall that his mother took him to Romania to avoid his being conscripted into mandatory military service. It is likely that anti-Semitism was a factor in their departure as well. The Samolovici’s beautiful home in Panciu was destroyed by an earthquake in 1940, as was the cemetery in which Berla and Anna were buried. The only surviving link to the family, by the 1970s, was a home for the indigent elderly Berla had endowed; an inscription on its façade still reading The Berla Sam House for the Aged. The structure existed as recently as 2004, but has been renamed and is now a tuberculosis hospital.

It is not clear how, when, or why David Samoilovici left his father’s prosperous and comfortable home. He was living in the heart of the Lower East Side of New York City by the time he was twenty. Virtually no biographical material regarding his teen years has come to light, and the few clues he left in his various passport applications and naturalization forms are contradictory, leaving the story of his journey from “beautiful” house to tenement untraceable.

David Samoilovici would later claim to have immigrated to the United States in November, 1894, from Liverpool, on an unnamed ship.  He would also claim to have immigrated in 1901, aboard the Rhodesia, out of Liverpool. His November, 1914, passport gives an immigration date of December 10, 1899, aboard a ship named De Spacia out of London.  A 1905 arrival aboard the Lucania showed David as a third class passenger and a recent resident of Manchester.  He carried passports as David Samuels, David Samuelesco, and David Samoilesco, between 1909 and 1914.  He was 5' 6½", with blue eyes, fair hair, a straight nose, and a tattoo on his right arm.

David Samilescu David Samilescu David Samuels
(Courtesy of Peter Berlanny)

The earliest record of him in the United States is this citation found in the American Jewish Archives, in Cincinnati, Ohio:

167.  Zigmund Faynman.  _Der shtumer oder Lebedik bagrubn_ [The
Deafmute, or Buried Alive'].  Copied by David Samoilescu, Mar. 15, 1900,
New York.  Ms. notebook. 111 pp.  Neat hand. 8 1/2" x 6 3/4".
 
We know from this, and other citations, that David worked as a copyist of Yiddish plays.

His marriage is easier to document. He and Lizzie Finkelstein were married, in New York City, some time between 1900 and 1903. Lizzie was also Romanian, born in Jassy in 1885. She was a singer before her marriage and continued working as one for a time afterward; perhaps performing with David. They first lived at 40 Delancey Street, but as David’s career improved they moved to the more upscale address of 227 St. Anne’s Avenue, the Bronx, NY, and, later, to 430 East 149th Street.

Their first child, Yetta, was born on August 20, 1903, Freida was born around 1904, their son, Julius, who later went by the name of Jerome, was born around 1906, and their youngest child, Hannah, was an infant in 1914.

Dave Samuels Samilescu in Australia
(Courtesy of Peter Berlanny)

The one constant in all of David’s papers was the date he became a United States Citizen. He was naturalized, as David Samoilesco, at the U.S. District Court in N.Y.C., on November 22, 1905. Lizzie did not apply, but was impressed with U.S. Citizenship by her husband’s naturalization. They were then living at 40 Delancey Street, on the Lower East Side.  David listed actor as his occupation, and his father-in-law and agent, Adolph Finkelstein, of Orchard Street, served as his witness.  He gave November 7, 1882 as his birth date, and June 19, 1897 as his date of arrival in the United States.

Virtually none of David’s alleged arrival dates can be verified through Ellis Island records.

Their U.S. citizenship was very important to David and Lizzie, and however vague he was with all of his other biographical details; his naturalization date was always pin-point accurate.  A letter from Lizzie survives, requesting a duplicate copy of David’s naturalization certificate, which was lost with the Lusitania; she needed it as continuing proof of her impressed citizenship.

David relocated to London less than two years after becoming a U.S. citizen. He initially resided at 128 Whitechapel Road East, in London, and was represented by the Variety Artists Federation. Lizzie was with him, for a time; they applied for a joint passport in 1909 when they were “Traveling to Roumania to see my (David’s) mother, who is dangerously ill.” Their London address, as of 1910, was 52 Burton Road, S.W. They returned to the U.S. in 1912, aboard the Caronia, and it seems that Lizzie and the children remained in N.Y.C. thereafter. 

David and Lizzie Samuels
David and Lizzie
(Courtesy of Peter Berlanny)
 

Lizzie and her four children visited with David in London during the summer of 1914. They returned to the U.S. without him, aboard the Adriatic, in September, 1914. He joined his family in N.Y.C. in October, crossing aboard the Lusitania on her October 3rd sailing. He returned, alone, to his London address, at 18 Charing Cross Road, on the Lusitania’s December 5-11, 1914, voyage; the trip was made under heavy security after a bomb threat. He listed his profession as Music Hall Artist upon entering the U.K.

David returned to the United States for the final time on April 6, 1915, on board the Transylvania. The reason for his visit is not spelled out on his immigration form, but when he boarded the Lusitania on May 1, he was carrying with him a substantial sum of money, amounting to nearly five thousand dollars, as well as much of his personal jewelry. His cash and jewelry would be recovered, and shipped back to Lizzie aboard the Orduna in July.

David was one of the hundreds who died unnoticed, with no survivor later speaking of him in interview or letter. A brief mention of him, in a widely reprinted wire service story about the crowd gathered at the Cunard Line‘s London offices, might have raised Lizzie’s eyebrows had she read it:

Mrs. Cohan, an American woman, sat in the office through the night, waiting for news concerning Dave Samuels, vaudeville artist, who was engaged to a beautiful young girl who sat with Mrs. Cohan.

The brief mention was never followed up, and the truth of the account now cannot be determined. Perhaps it was a mistake, or perhaps the Samoilesco’s marriage had failed by 1915. Lizzie presented her marriage as happy, and rock-solid, in her subsequent claim against Germany and, save for this odd newspaper detail, there is no evidence to suggest that it truly wasn’t.

He was identified, as body #99, and buried, by the Jewish Burial Society, in Cork, Ireland.

The 1920 U.S. census found Lizzie and her children living in Brooklyn, NY. She was unemployed, and keeping a boarder at their residence.

Her claim against Germany, filed in the early 1920s, makes for very interesting reading. Mrs. Samoilesco estimated her husband’s overall worth at no more than $1000 in her original, 1916, claim against Germany. However, when Mrs. Samoilesco filed her second claim after the war had ended, her estimate had expanded a great deal. She claimed damages of $520,000.00, of which $20,000.00 was for lost personal property, including $15,000.00 in lost English gold currency.

She appended an additional claim of $10,050.00 for her own jewelry lost aboard the ship.

"Among her jewels.....was a platinum brooch set with diamonds ($3500.00) a platinum afternoon ring ($1500.00) a solitaire ring ($1000) a pair of earrings ($2500.00) and etcetera.”

The Mixed Claims Commission’s decision on this aspect of the Samoilesco case:

The Cunard Steamship Company returned to the widow personal property found on the body of the decedent, including all of his personal jewelry, some of which he was not wearing at the time of his death. If any inference may be drawn from this circumstance, it is that had the decedent taken with him the valuable jewels of his wife, whom he left behind in NY, they would have been found on his person with his own jewelry. There is no evidence that he deposited any valuables with the purser, and it is highly improbable that he would have placed in his baggage valuable(s) of small compass and weight.....although required to do so, claimant has failed to state from whom any one of these items was purchased or how she arrived at the stated valuations.....calls no one, not even her children, to corroborate her statement that she ever possessed them....or that the decedent took any of them with him.....

And the Samoilesco's lifestyle? Lizzie testified that he earned upwards of $500.00 per week, of which $300 was allowed to her for personal expenses. She also claimed he sent the family on a $2000.00 two months vacation each summer. The Court ruled:

On his death we find his family living in a New York 'apartment' the rent for which, the widow testifies, was either $25 or $35 per month and it is fair to assume in absence to the contrary that their other expenditures were in proportion to the rental paid.

Here Lizzie may have been referring to the long visit she and her children had made to London in the summer of 1914, when she spoke of a $2000, two month vacation.

 David's personal effects?

Lizzie: ....there was lost with him a deluxe wardrobe, including a fur coat, lined with sable and trimmed with beaver collar and cuffs, which he had bought a short time before sailing and for which he had paid $3000.00."

Court: She does not know from whom it was purchased, and produces no witnesses who ever saw the decedent in possession of such an article either on board the Lusitania or elsewhere. 

The court allowed, however, that it could be reasonably expected that David was traveling with the conspicuously up-to-date style of wardrobe befitting a show business personality.

David’s lost gold?

The claimant testified....before the decedent left England for America he took from the safety deposit vault where he kept his valuables a large quantity of English Sovereigns and brought them to NY with him; that 'he did not change any American money into British money- he brought the British money over here;' that the decedent had on his person at the time of his death $4,729.00 in American paper currency which was subsequently returned by the Cunard Steamship Company; that this American currency was the proceeds of the English gold exchanged by the decedent on the claimant's suggestion for American currency, but that the particular sovereigns claimed to have been lost were brought by the decedent from England to America and not exchanged for American currency, and he was taking them back with him. She claims that these 2,500 British gold sovereigns were in a little sack which, according to her best judgment she estimates as weighing three pounds.....the testimony of Lizzie Samoilescu is uncorroborated, conflicting and unconvincing...

The court ultimately awarded Lizzie Samoilesco: $25,000.00.  A settlement of $25,000.00, to be divided, was paid to her children, and Lizzie was given a $2000 fee as administratrix of David’s estate.

Lizzie fades from the narrative after 1929. That summer found her mentioned in the newspapers because of a suit filed by her Lusitania claim lawyer. Mrs. Samoilesco felt that the percentage of the settlement money she had legally agreed to pay him was too high, and had declined to honor the agreement. The judge ruled against her and her adult children, but ruled in favor of a reduced percentage in the case of Hannah, Lizzie and David's youngest child. 

Lizzie Samuels lived with a man named Berkowitz, and had a son named Addie with him. She began going by the name of Lisa after she was widowed; a 1915 letter is signed as such, and that is the name by which her descendants know her. She died, of stomach cancer, during the war years.  Yetta/Yvette Ellis can be traced further. Her Lusitania settlement money started her husband on the road to financial success. Abe Ellis was frequently in the newspapers, so certain pleasant aspects of Yetta’s life can be documented. She had children. She and Abe wintered in Florida. They owned Oscar Hammerstein's former Manhattan Opera House, on West 34th Street in New York City.

The Ellis divorce, in the 1940s, was not  amicable, and details about it found their way into the tabloids.  Yetta apparently kept in contact with the family of David’s brother, Haim Samoilovici. Haim had changed his first name to Leon Berlanny, and relocated to London just after 1900. The Berlanny family has a photo of Yetta/Yvette, looking well-tailored, taken on a 1961 visit to England. Yvette Ellis gave her occupation as “dilettante” when she entered the U.K., aboard the Mauretania, in June, 1957. Family members remember her as a very elegant woman,  a scholar of Greek and Latin who spoke with a refined voice, who would take her nieces and nephews to the theater in New York.

Yetta briefly followed in her father's footsteps, and appeared on Broadway, in the play Rutherford and Son, in 1927.

David's son Jerome also briefly headlined on Broadway, in the 1930 play The Challenge of Youth.

Jerome Samuelson did not get along with Lizzie's common law husband, Al, and at the age of 13 he left home to live with relatives. He struck out on his own at age 16, leaving high school and moving into the Y.M.C.A.  His settlement money from the Lusitania claim allowed him to survive. He met his wife, Goldie while working as a soda jerk. Relatives remember that he regretted leaving school, but that he continued to study on his own and was very knowledgeable about classical music. He and Goldie lived out their lives in Astoria, Queens.

Hannah Samuelson worked in a bakery. Her extended family remembers her as being a very nice person, but are unsure if shhe ever married or had children.

Archivist Catherine Gerbrands, at The Stage, provided us with an incomplete listing of his United Kingdom performances between 1908 and 1914. Gaps in the record might indicate periods in which he was performing on The Continent or in The United States. David was in Melbourne, Australia, in January 1912. A notice in the Melbourne papers announced that his popular engagement was coming to an end, and alluded to a prior long run in Sydney.

David’s act was almost always favorably reviewed. The focus of his performances seems to have been on comic parodies of popular songs, and comic “Hebrew monologues.” Several of the songs he parodied are named in reviews but, unfortunately, his “clever and amusing” rewrites were never quoted. His comic asides and stories were never quoted from, either, leaving the specific nature of his comedy unknowable.

Mr. J.L. Graydon’s “Lightning Programme,” which is enjoyed by full houses, has several scintillating features this week, a notable newcomer being Mr. Dave Samuels, who has been retained for a further week. Mr. Samuels, who is making his first appearance in England, is a Yiddish vocal and patter comedian, reaching England via America, and he musty be highly gratified by the reception meted to him by the local patrons, who have established him quite as a favourite. Mr. Samuels is distinctly versatile; he can sing- and sing well- tell some good stories, and dance as eccentrically as the best. His opening number is a mock-serious ditty, “I’m An Unlucky Jew,” after which he fires off some several funny stories, and includes in his first efforts a quaint parody on “Love Me and the World is Mine,” which Mr. Dave Carter is popularizing so much just now… Mr. Samuels should soon be busy on this side.

The Stage. October 17, 1907. 

He was popular enough, in the final years of his career, to share a stage with Marie Lloyd, and to top the bill, repeatedly, at the London Palladium. 

Dave Samuels'  Known Performances

February 6, 1908: Empire (probably in Middlesbrough);    April 23, 1908: Regent Theatre (probably Salford.);    May 7, 1908: The Pavilion, Glasgow;    May 14, 1908: Belfast Hippodrome;     May 28, 1908: King's Theatre, Belfast ;    June 4, 1908: Hull;    July 16, 1908: The Empress, Brixton;   November 5, 1908: The Balham Hippodrome;   December 17, 1908: The Palace, Grimsby;   March 17, 1910: The Willsden Hippodrome;  April 7, 1910: Kilburn Empire;   June 9, 1910: Top of the bill at Hull Hippodrome;   July 7, 1910: Sheffield;   August 11, 1910: King’s Theatre, Edinburgh;   September 22, 1910: The Empire, Portsmouth;   May 1, 1911: The Holborn Empire. George Robey is on the same bill;   January 1912: Notice that David Samuels is finishing his popular engagement appears in Melbourne, Australia, newspapers;   February 19, 1913: Hippodrome (possibly Warrington);   April 3, 1913: David was one of the top billings at The London Palladium;   May 8, 1913: Billed with Marie Lloyd and others at the Royal Hospital Gardens Chelsea on June 3 ;   May 22, 1913: Booked by Jack Goodson Limited, for three tours of Moss Empires;   May 14, 1914: David was again a top billing at the London Palladium. George Robey was also a top billing;   July 23, 1914: Salford Regent;   August 31, 1914: Salford Hippodrome;   May 13, 1915: The Stage published a notice that David was not on the list of survivors on the Lusitania.


Charles T. Jeffery, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is better known as an interim figure in an automotive corporation whose legacy spanned 1897-1987, than he is for being a Lusitania survivor.

C.T. Jeffery

C.T. Jeffery

Charles was the son of Thomas Jeffery, an English immigrant who founded the Rambler Bicycle Manufacturing Company in 1878. The Rambler was the second largest selling bicycle in the U.S. for a time. Thomas Jeffery began assembling the Rambler automobile in 1897, and by 1904 his automobile company was only surpassed in production by Oldsmobile.

Thomas Jeffery died in 1910 and, soon after, Charles T. Jeffery assumed control of the company. Under C.T. Jeffery, Rambler became a public corporation. The Rambler name was discontinued In 1913, and the new, larger, 1914 model was renamed the Jeffery. The car was not a failure, but it did not enjoy the success that its predecessor had.

The afternoon of May 7th found Jeffery in the Lusitania’s smoking room:

When the explosion came, I was in the smoking room of the vessel. It was severe, abrupt, and it seemed as if the ship was raised a little. Directly, she began to list to starboard. All the passengers rushed out on deck. Efforts made to get off the boats on that side were not altogether successful. I saw one boat throw its occupants into the water. We must have been under way at that time, for I saw a woman who had fallen out of the boat struggling in the water.

The crew handled the passengers admirably up to the last. Although most of the passengers went to the starboard side, where the boats were being lowered, I chose the after bridge for, as the ship was sinking by the head, I concluded that this would be the last place above water. And so it was. I didn’t want to jump, for up to this time there was no debris upon the water to which one could hang for support. But a great many passengers did jump at first. The only person who sat at my table who was saved was a young woman from Liverpool. I saw her jump sixty feet from the deck with all her heavy clothes on.

When the ship went down it sank with incredible swiftness. I could not believe that so large a vessel could sink so quickly. I was drawn under probably ten to twenty feet. I have an idea that I did not go any farther down than twenty feet because I think the ship’s bow had reached the bottom at that time. I sank twice, but I had the chance, in the mean time, to get my lungs full of air. It was on going down the second time that I gave up hope. There was not a sign of a boat on the horizon. Persons struggling in the water covered a vast area.

C Jeffery

CT Jeffery

On coming up for the second time, I floated around for a while. Then I found an empty can, which gave me some added buoyancy. As I held to this slight support, two men clinging to a cask drifted near me. Later, an old gentleman who looked to be about 75 and a boy of 17 hanging to a plank came slowly towards us.

We kept looking, always, for signs of a ship on the horizon. Once we saw the smoke of a tramp steamer off to the south. None of us would admit that she was not coming our way, yet we all knew that we could not count upon receiving aid from that quarter. Presently we drifted near a partially submerged collapsible boat. It had been stove in, but it was better than the support we had. It took the combined efforts of all five of us to reach it in about twenty minutes ‘though it was only a short distance away.

Our party, supplemented by three men and one woman who had drifted near us, made a load for the boat that kept us in water up to our chests. Thus we floated, while minutes that seemed like hours passed. Finally, a trawler picked us up at 6:10 p.m. Then the trawler cruised around in the vicinity for half an hour, looking for other survivors, but found none. I noticed that most of the people in the water wearing life belts were leaning back in the water, floating without any effort made for possible aid.

My first thought when aboard the trawler was to get warm, so I sat directly over the cylinders. We had no bodies of dead on board, but there was one boy about fifteen who had a broken leg, which was set by a doctor on the trawler before we arrived in Queenstown. Not one of the men I knew on the Lusitania was saved. I particularly regret the loss of a young man of the name of Silver, [Thomas Silva- authors] who was from Texas, and to whom I had become much attached.

Just as the ship was listing and women and children were being put into the boats, I saw a decidedly cool young man of about twenty calmly taking photographs along the deck with a pocket camera. I don’t know whether this young man was saved or not.

A second account by Jeffery gives more details about the time he spent adrift on the collapsible:

At first there had been cries and shouts. Everyone expected that help would come within a few minutes. “When will help arrive?” I heard women floating on their backs calling. Then the cries ceased. People floating on the water’s surface seemed to grow fewer and fewer. How long this lasted, I can’t tell.

The weight of people was making our boat sink lower and lower. One man we rescued weighted, it seemed to us, 25 hundredweight. An enormous, paunchy man, he almost swamped us. We were now up to our waists in water.

1915 proved to be the last year of the Jeffery automobile. In 1916, C.T. Jeffery sold his company to Charles Nash, who expanded operations under his own name. By the mid-1920s, Nash was one of the premiere automobile manufacturers in the United States.

Nash was one of the few independent manufacturers to survive the depression; offering beautiful, streamlined cars in the medium price range that bristled with features unavailable on competing luxury market cars. Nash returned in fine form, post World War II, but styling that grew progressively odder, and crippling competition from Ford and General Motors, doomed the large Nash models. Salvation came when Nash revived Thomas Jeffery’s Rambler.  The Rambler was America’s first successful compact car. It offered good fuel economy, and featured quirky styling that many people found cute and appealing in the era of chromed, finned, behemoths.  The Nash automobile was discontinued after 1957, but Rambler survived; remaining in production through 1970. The corporation formed by the 1954 merger of Nash and Hudson, American Motors, endured until 1987.

Mr. Jeffery died at age 59, on November 10, 1935, in Philadelphia, PA.


Isaac Trumbull, 33, was, like C.T. Jeffery, the owner and president of an automobile manufacturing firm. He died aboard the Lusitania, and his car, the Trumbull, died with him.

Isaac Trumbull

Mr. Trumbull was a native of Hartford, Connecticut. He and his brother had operated the Trumbull Electric Company, of Plainville, and he was the founder, and treasurer of the Connecticut Electric Manufacturing Company. The Connecticut Electric Manufacturing Company outgrew its original plant in Bantam, Connecticut, and moved to an expanded complex in Bridgeport. Isaac, his wife, Bertha, and his teenaged daughter, Priscilla, relocated from Plainville to Bridgeport in late 1912 or early 1913.

Isaac Trumbull drew a yearly salary of approximately $10,000 from his manufacturing firm. He maintained a large number of shares of Connecticut Electric Manufacturing, but his dividend was reinvested into the company each year. Trumbull was an organizer of the American Cycle Car Company of Bridgeport, which was founded in 1913. The first car the fledgling company produced was the Trumbull. A cycle car was, basically, a motor cycle with a closed body and four tires. The Trumbull was an extremely small car, with rather jaunty, for 1913, lines. It was evidently successful enough to warrant a second year of production, and May 1915 found Isaac Trumbull aboard the Lusitania en route to England, where he hoped to open a new market for the American Cycle Car Company and its sole product, the Trumbull.

Isaac Trumbull

Isaac Trumbull did not survive and, as of yet, no references to him made by any of the survivors have surfaced. His body, #137, was identified and shipped back to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Joseph Trumbull, Isaac’s brother and business partner, issued a press release that was run, in its entirety, in several New England newspapers:

President John H. Trumbull of the Trumbull Electric Company of Plainville, brother of Isaac B. Trumbull of Bridgeport, who lost his life on the Lusitania, admitted Tuesday that the company is seriously considering the manufacture of rifles and other munitions of war for use by the allies against Germany, thus making possible the avenging of the death of Mr. Trumbull. The company is in a position to receive large war orders and the acquisition of adequate machinery to accomplish the manufacture of the implements and incidentally to avenge the death of Mr. Trumbull is being seriously considered. It has received opportunities to bid upon large supplies of rifles, shrapnel, and other munitions of war. The cost of the special machinery necessary is now being figured by the officers of the company. Mr. Trumbull regards the death of his brother and the other passengers on the Lusitania as deliberate murder. He does not believe, however, that the sinking of the vessel is sufficient cause for war on the part of the United States, and is inclined to criticize the naval authorities of England for their failure to have convoys for the ship.

The Trumbull automobile was discontinued before any of the 1915 models were assembled. Bertha and Priscilla Trumbull brought suit against Germany. They established before the Mixed Claims Commission that Isaac had drawn a salary of $10,000.00 per year from Connecticut Electric, and $10,000.00 per year from the American Cycle Car Company. Bertha was able to prove to the court’s satisfaction that she was allowed $6000.00 per year as her household budget. The commission eventually awarded Bertha Trumbull $50,000.00 and Priscilla Trumbull $25,000.00 as compensation for Isaac’s lost earning potential.

The Trumbull electric car was rare when new, but at least two are known to have survived, one of which is on display at the History of Trucking Museum in Middletown, Connecticut.

Trumbull


Albert Norriss Perry was another Lusitania passenger with ties to the fledgling automotive industry. His future looked bright in May 1915. Perry had been in the auto business, in London, since 1903, and he had just secured a position with Pierce Arrow, one of the top three luxury car companies in the United States.

Albert Perry Fred Perry

Albert and Frederick Perry

Perry was born at home on May 17, 1889, at 31 Mayton Street, Islington. His father, Charles, was a prison warden and his mother, Julia Norris Perry, stayed at home to look after the small but growing family. Albert left school at the age of 14, and started working at Messrs Napier & Son, Motor Manufacturers of Acton Vale and New Burlington Street, London. He had become a Sales Manager with the firm by 1910, and visited America for the first time that year. He met and became engaged to 26 year old Jessie Couper, of Gretna Vale, in 1911, and on June 15, 1912, they married in the Parrish of East Acton, Middlesex. Their only child, Ruth, was born at home on February 26,1914.

Perry remained employed by Napier, and by the time the couple moved to 51 Grafton Road, Acton, Albert was already one of their most popular Sales Managers. Napier & Son, while continuing to manufacture motor cars, also began producing aero engines on behalf of other companies.

Albert sailed to America, in early February 1915, accompanied by his younger brother Frederick “Fred” Perry. Their destination was Buffalo, New York, where Albert would take up a position with the Pierce Arrow Company. Pierce Arrow, along with Packard, was America’s leading producer of hand-assembled luxury cars, and was endowed with an aura of prestige equivalent to that of Rolls-Royce.

The brothers boarded the Lusitania, destination- Liverpool, on May 1st. Albert N. Perry was to reunite with his family, and his wife and daughter would be returning with him to America on the Lusitania's next voyage, on May 15th.

Albert Norriss Perry drowned, but his brother, Frederick John Perry, survived and gave his account of the disaster to a reporter of the Acton Gazette on May 14,1915:

Both my brother and I were returning from the states together. Before we left New York we read in the papers the notice issued by the German Ambassador, and as everybody else did, we pooh poohed the idea of the vessel being torpedoed. There was a general discussion of the matter throughout the whole of the morning. There was a great crowd at New York to see us all off, and as the ship began to move away from the landing stage the splendid Welsh choir which had been touring the States sang to their friends on shore.

That and all the following days up to the day of the disaster were beautifully sunny. We had a very good voyage over. On the Thursday evening before the sinking of the vessel, we had the usual weekly concert among the first class passengers and after a splendid entertainment by the Welsh choir, the chairman, who was one of the director’s of Messrs Vickers, made a splendid appeal for the Liverpool Sailors Orphanage and referred to the dangers through which we were passing. He said that he was quite sure that every man, from the Captain down to the stokers would be willing to lay down their lives for the passengers if need be. This resulted in a record collection at these concerts for the Liverpool Orphanage.

On the following morning, quite early before anyone was about, the fog horn was sounding and it continued sounding up to 12 noon. It certainly was misty, but in view of the danger zone we were in it seemed a trifle absurd to blow the fog horn furiously as they were doing. At noon it cleared, the sun shone beautifully and one could see for miles. The south coast of Ireland was well in sight. At one o’clock the lunch bugle sounded and everyone went down to lunch.

 My brother, an American friend who was traveling with us for his health and who intended to return with my brother on the Lusitania next Saturday as my brother was taking up a permanent position with the Pierce Arrow Co, were lunching with me, and as we were finished quite early we went up several decks to the lounge for a smoke. It was then ten minutes to two. Shortly after two o’clock, just before the people began to get up into the saloon there was a terrible impact, marked not so much by the noise as the force of the explosion. It shook the vessel from stem to stern as though we had struck a rock or collided with another vessel. We immediately realized that we had been hit by a torpedo.

Our American friend was not with us at the time, but my brother and I walked through the lounge to get down to the boat deck. We were met at the entrance to the lounge with a fearful volume of smoke and steam, caused by the explosion, which apparently had reduced the speed of the ship very suddenly. Before we could realize the position, there was a second shock, which came within a minute or two of the first. By this time there were many people coming up the stairs from the lower decks and the dining saloon. We managed to get out onto the boat deck, which was then very crowded, considering the majority of the people had been in the dining saloon. Most of the people appeared to have come from the second saloon over the communicating bridge. My brother and I then got separated, nor did I see our American friend, Mr. Brown who had gone down into the library after dinner to write some last letters before landing.

 I walked to the starboard side and helped people get into the boats. One boat was being lowered, but when it was nearly half way down one end seemed suddenly to stop, and the other end continued with the result that the people – between fifty and seventy of them – were simply shot out, like coals out of a sack, into the water. The boat then followed them down to the water, stern foremost, and thus immediately began to fill with water. The bows seemed to be held fast by the ropes, which were still over the davits. The boat thus lay useless alongside the ship.

 Another boat further along towards the captains bridge was lowered a few seconds afterwards and when nearly down to the water it appeared as though it was going to behave as the first had done, but righted itself and reached the water safely There were not more than half a dozen people out of the previous boat within reach of the second. They were told to catch hold of the second boat, but I did not see whether any managed to get in or if I did see, I don’t remember it. I remember that one of the difficulties of lowering the first boat was that an iron ring had jammed round a staple and one of the crew could not release it.

 I jumped into one of the boats to help in releasing the ropes preparatory to filling it with the women who were round, when I suddenly heard a cry “All out of the boat”. Looking round I saw an officer on the very top deck of all, but could not hear his orders distinctly. Immediately we jumped out onto the boat deck and then it appeared that the ship was simply righting herself, probably through the water finding its own level, and I suppose the watertight doors were closed. I then saw my brother for the last time, away towards the captain’s bridge and near the lounge entrance. I notice he was, like myself, fully dressed, but had on a lifebelt of the kind supplied in each cabin. I asked him where he had obtained it, and he said, “Inside the main entrance,” I looked in and found there were a large number of saloon passengers there, all with belts on, including some of the ships officers. Not seeing any belt lying about and not caring to run the risk of going down to my cabin and being caught like a rat as the ship went down, I went on deck.

Then the ship made another lurch to starboard, the side on which it had been torpedoed. With this I made for the boat deck again. I obtained one of the white cork life-belts, but gave this up later to a boy of about eight who was running along the deck and put him into a boat. The ship was now sinking fast. It appeared to me we should never get a boat away and that even if we reached the water, the ropes would not be detached. I decided to wait until the water reached a certain porthole and when it was a case of “everyman for himself” to dive overboard. This I did from the port side which was of course very high in the air. I dived striking the boat which had previously emptied the people into the water.

After an awful struggle in the water too awful to describe I came to the top fighting for something to get hold of. After a few seconds I saw a boat near me and immediately made a plunge forward to get hold of it, but was quickly pushed off by some stokers, who declared “There’s no room for a single person.” I was thus back again in the water, but made a second effort to get hold of the small ropes looped round all the boats. I gripped so tightly that you can see the marks on my fingers now. Thus I was pulled along by the boat for some considerable time. When I was giving out I put an arm through one loop for better support.

I was taken out of the water about 4.30 pm, having been in it for two hours according to the time at which my watch had stopped. I was rescued by a small fishing boat, and the fishermen were very kind, giving me some hot tea. After waiting for about an hour, we were taken off by paddle steamer and arrived in at Queenstown at 9.20pm. We were very kindly treated there and I was taken to the hospital. I should like to say that there was no panic at all.

When I saw the people on the boat deck everyone seemed to be struck with grief rather than fear. Ladies and children were crying, but not screaming. This was really marvelous to me considering the time the people had been thinking what might happen to them. No, I cannot say whether the little boy I spoke of was saved or lost. Nor do I know if a gentleman I knew, Mr. Nedbury, (Medbury-author) a Surrey man was saved, but I do not see his name on the list of survivors. I did not see the ship go down, but I think it had gone when I came to the surface. I seemed to be an awful time fighting in the water, but after I had risen the second time I seemed to know that I had got to strike out. I can only just swim and could not have reached the boat if it had been any distance away. My elder brother, Norriss is an excellent swimmer, I never saw him again after he was at the lounge entrance. I have heard today that his body has been recovered and is being sent over from Queenstown to Acton for the funeral which will take place at St. Dunstan’s Church and Acton cemetery, if possible on Saturday afternoon.

I returned from Queenstown only today. I have been lying in the Queen’s Hospital Queenstown, with a broken collar bone, bruised legs and arms and a bad back. My brother Harry, though he had no address to work upon, came over to Queenstown to find me and brought me back at three o’clock yesterday afternoon and we arrived at Euston at six o’clock this morning. I have been examined by a local doctor and I think I am fortunate to get off so lightly. It is appalling to realize the exceptionally large number of women and children who have been brutally sent to their deaths by a country calling itself civilized.

Albert Norriss Perry's body was one of seven recovered by the skipper of a trawler and brought ashore at Castletownshend.  The bodies were move to Queenstown, where Perry was identified by the contents of his pockets. Observers noted that Albert's eyes were closed but swollen, indicating some sort of blow to the head. Albert Perry was listed as body #162:

Well dressed male, 30-35 years old, 5’10, and clean shaven. Auburn hair, stout, wearing a pale green suit, white shirt with black stripe, brown golf shoes. Property: Diamond ring on finger, invest pocket a gold half hunter keyless watch-stopped at 2.35pm attached to a gold kerb chain, small links, I leather sovereign purse containing 2 gold sovereigns plus £8,10s in English currency and $180.00 in dollar bills, and two 1st class tickets from Liverpool to London and a silver cigarette case bearing an inscription showing that it had been presented to him by "a few colleagues of Messrs. D Napier and Son" and dated Xmas 1914, some letters were also found on him, one addressed to Mr. G.F. Heath, Heaths Garage Ltd, John Bight Street, Birmingham, and another addressed Gerald Dugdale Esq., 8 Market Place, Manchester.

Albert’s body was returned to Acton on May 14th, with his funeral taking place the next day at St Dunstan’s Church. The internment followed at Acton Cemetery, next to the small chapel by the entrance gates. Those in attendance included his widow, Jessie, his parents, and his brothers, John and Harry.

An application for probate was granted on July 19, 1915, on behalf of his widow and daughter.  Albert’s estate was valued at £10, 493, 14s, 4d.

Jessie Perry's younger brother, James, died on  June 6, 1955,. Albert’s grave was reopened and her brother interred with him. Frederick John Perry continued to work for Napier & Son until his retirement. Frederick moved to a nursing home in Sunninghill, Berkshire after the death of his wife, Violet, and passed away peacefully on January 25, 1971 aged 85.

Napier & Sons continued to produce motorcars until 1924 when it switched production to aircraft engines, eventually closing its doors in the early 1960's. Pierce Arrow maintained its reputation for flawless, hand-crafted luxury, but ultimately could not survive the Great Depression. A handful of 1937 models were assembled, and it is possible that one or two 1938 Pierce Arrows may have been produced before the company vanished.

Perry Grave

Albet Perry's Grave


William Uno Meriheina, profiled earlier, was a race car driver who had parlayed his career into a job as a General Motors Export employee.


Edwin Twinning, 19, of New York had worked as a mechanic specializing in race cars and, in that capacity, frequently traveled. He sailed in third class aboard the Lusitania, and vanished without a trace; his body was not recovered and no one who knew him on board left an account mentioning him.


Anne Shymer, 36, of New York City, was the president of the United States Chemical Company. She was aboard the Lusitania en route to London, where she was to be presented to King George and Queen Mary at the Court of St. James.

Anne Shymer photographed by her family aboard the Lusitania. May 1, 1915

Mrs. Shymer was born in Logan's Port, Indiana on May 30,1879. Her mother, Grace, made sure that Anne and her younger sister, Maibelle, were well educated, and she encouraged Anne's interest in chemistry. Anne studied at Cornell University, and she likely transferred to, and graduated from, another institution for Cornell does not have her recorded as a graduate. She was married to a man named Paterson for a short time and lived abroad until he died.

Anne returned to the United States and continued her experiments in a private laboratory in New York. She remarried on January 16, 1911, to Robert Shimer. They lived together as man and wife for a period of four weeks and then separated. He took off for parts unknown, and she anglicized her last name to Shymer.

Anne was a successful chemist, and formed the United States Chemical Company. She discovered formulas for textile bleach, and invented a germicide intended for hospital use. Anne presented her discoveries to King George's physician in early 1915. She dined with Premier Asquith, and his wife, during her London visit. Anne returned to New York to make final preparations to expand her company's business in London. The chemist joked with friends and family that she was to be presented to the King and Queen, "Scientifically if not, socially.”

Anne had returned to the United States aboard the Lusitania, and chose to sail back aboard her as well, because it had been such a pleasant crossing. She carried her formulas with her. Her family came down to the pier to see her off, and photographed her aboard the Lusitania, standing on the B-deck promenade, near her cabin, B-98. She had not been able to locate her husband, and commence their divorce proceedings, before she sailed.

Her actions aboard the Lusitania are unknown; however, when the ship was struck, she may have gone to her cabin to retrieve her jewelry. Her body was among the first recovered, and was numbered 66. The jewelry found on her remains was estimated to be worth $3,900. It was handed over to Mr. Thompson, a Vice-Consul at the American Consulate, Queenstown, but was lost in transit between Cork and the American Embassy in London.

Anne Shymer

Anne Shymer

Anne Shymer's remains were sent home on the steamer Philadelphia. Grace Justice-Hankins and her daughter, Maibelle Heikes Justice, filed claims against Germany for lost property, and for the formulas that Anne was bringing to London. Robert Shimer learned of his wife's death and filed a claim for $50,000. Grace Justice-Hankins passed away in 1924, before a judgment was made. Commissioner Edwin Parker immediately dismissed Robert Shimer's case, for he and Anne had not lived together as husband and wife since 1911. Parker noted that since the chemist had not filed for a patent for her inventions, he could not award her estate any money for them. He rendered his decision on October 30, 1925 and granted her estate, which had previously been awarded $3,900 for the missing jewelry, an additional $7,525.00. Her mother's estate received $7,500, as did her sister Maibelle.

Anne Shymer's sister, Maibelle Heikes Justice, was a successful author and screenwriter. May 1915 found her in Los Angeles, where she received a happy letter, from her mother, describing Anne's departure.

Maibelle Heikes Justice"The letter came but a few minutes before we heard of the terrible fate of the Lusitania. It was such a happy letter. Mother tells me how  sister was overjoyed at meeting an old friend who was in Mr. Vanderbilt's  party. It was a jolly crowd.

The ship was delayed in starting. Mother stood on the pier and sister leaned over the railing. The sky was overcast. Just as the gangplank was going up, a messenger boy ran on the dock and, dashing up to Mr. Vanderbilt, handed him a note. It was a note of warning, telling Mr. Vanderbilt not to sail at peril of his life.

Mr. Vanderbilt laughed quizzically and showed it to the rest of the party. At that instant, the sun burst forth. It played directly on my sister, Anne. Mr. Vanderbilt laughed, and declaring it was a good omen, threw the anonymous letter away.

The picture of my sister Anne standing there with the sunrays shining directly on her, was the last my mother saw of her. We have had no good news, nothing but messages telling us to keep up hope.

I am sure my brother-in-law was not on board, or my mother would have mentioned it in her letter. And I think he is busy right now on some proposition that would have kept him from sailing.

The ship's records have his name, but not my sister's. They must mean Mrs. R.R. Shymer, and not her husband. She is reported as missing, and there is very little hope for any of the passengers that have not been saved already.

Anne was starting for London to organize a branch office for a large chemical concern of this country. She is a university graduation widely known as a student of chemistry.

Maibelle Haikes Justice wrote films for stars such as Tom Mix, Mary Miles Minter, and Buck Jones. Her career in Hollywood ended around 1920. She died at age 54, in 1926.


A second inventor traveled aboard the Lusitania, but his intent was considerably less benign than that of Anne Shymer. Henry 'Harry' Pollard was returning to England with a formula for poisonous gas to offer to the British government.


Henry Pollard
(Michael Poirier)

He was born in Bradford, one of several children of Mr. and Mrs. of Edwin Pollard. The family moved to Old Corn Mill, Silsden where spent most of his childhood. He was educated as an engineer's draughtsman. He was also an inventor and was said to have obtained several patents. One of his later discoveries involved the use of liquid ammonia in the manufacturing of ice.

Pollard left the United Kingdom, in 1914, to work on projects in the United States. He traveled aboard the Transylvania, which arrived in New York on December 16, 1914. His destination was Washington D.C. where he was to stay with an acquaintance named Middleton and work in the Victor Building.

Henry was installing machinery for an ice plant when an explosion occurred. It left several men unconscious and another near death. The cause of the explosion intrigued Pollard, and while investigating its origins, he believed that he found something that could help offset the effects of the gas bombs used by the Germans. He spent much time refining his discovery, and as he did so, the nature of its potential changed. Pollard began refinining his discovery for use as a weapon, and when he was done, he believed that it would prove to be far more destructive than anything invented by the Germans. He booked first class passage on the Lusitania, determined to offer his formula to the British government.

Henry Pollard’s plans to help in the war effort were not to be, for he was lost in the shipwreck. His brothers Frank and Lewis traveled to Ireland, but despite their relentless search, they found no sign of Harry. The exact nature Pollard's discovery has not been preserved; his notes were apparently lost with him. However, his work immediately before the disaster investigating the explosive potential of refrigerant ammonia suggests of what his gas weapon may have consisted. Although one regrets the loss of Mr. Pollard, it is perhaps for the best that his discovery was never utilized.


Albert Bilicke, pioneer, successful Los Angeles real estate developer, and Lusitania victim, has survived to the present as a minor character in every book written about the O.K. Corral shootout.

Albert Bilicke

Albert and Gladys Bilicke

Albert Bilicke's was a success story straight out of the Old West. He was the son of German immigrants, who settled in the boom town of Tombstone, Arizona. Albert and his father opened and operated the Hotel Cosmopolitan during the mining years, and the family prospered. Albert became friends with Wyatt Earp and his family, and testified on Earp's behalf at the infamous trial following the gunfight at the OK Corral. Bilicke swore at the trial that he saw Tom McLaury, one of the outlaws killed in the shootout, with what appeared to be a gun in his pocket. Albert was no stranger to violence, having once shot and killed a man who threatened his father with a gun.

The Hotel Cosmopolitan burned, and the Bilicke family moved on to California. Albert operated a hotel in Santa Rosa, and then went on to Los Angeles where he ran the Hollenbeck Hotel. He met and married Gladys Huff, of Illinois; 1915 newspaper accounts claimed that she was his private secretary.  Albert Bilicke began plans for his most ambitious project,the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, shortly after his marriage, Ground was broken for the new edifice in 1904 and it opened a year later, soon becoming one of the leading hotels in California.

Alexandria Hotel Alexandria Hotel

Alexandria Hotel

He next formed a partnership with R.A. Rowan, co-founding the Bilicke-Rowan Fireproof Building Co. They built the Rowan Building and bought many properties in downtown Los Angeles. Albert began investing in property in Kansas City, Missouri, where his holdings were reported to be over $1,500,000.

The Bilickes had three children: Carl, Albert, and Nancy. Their home was 699 Monterey Road in South Pasadena, California. Friends and acquaintances received a lasting impression of beauty and permanence when they visited the estate. The house stood amid orange groves, and the lawns behind the house were terraced to a height of 50 feet over their residence. Below them, the valley rolled away to a view of the distant ocean.

Gladys Bilicke
(Michael Poirier)

Albert Bilicke
Bilicke Cabin (B-48)
(Paul Latimer)

Albert became ill and needed abdominal surgery in early 1915. His physicians advised that he and Gladys should take a short, recuperative trip. Their short journey was cross country, terminating in New York. En route, they visited with friends and relatives in a number of cities. They stopped in Kansas City for a few days, and intended to return in time for the grand opening of the elegant Muehlenbach Hotel.

They decided, while in New York, to cap off the pleasant short trip with a voyage. Albert sent a telegram to his real estate agent, C.H. Barber, saying: “Too strenuous for me here. Am sailing on the Lusitania. Barber did not like this turn of events at all and wired back to the Bilickes that they should not sail. It was too late: the couple had booked cabin B-48 and were ready to depart.

Albert wrote a postcard to his friend, Leonard Brown, while waiting for the ship to sail: “We are off and this is certainly a fine ship. Have crossed twice in her and am acquainted with her speed and officers. Expect to get much rest from this trip…”

The couple was resting in their cabin, after lunch, when the ship was struck. They made for the deck. Gladys and Albert entered a lifeboat, supposedly the first from the starboard side to be overturned while lowering. According to their grandson, Gladys fought her way to the surface and grasped at some floating wreckage. The family lawyer confirmed this in an interview, and said that she held onto a spar with several men. She scanned the ocean for any sign of Albert, but could not see him, and surmised that he may have been trapped underneath the wrecked lifeboat.

Several hours later, Mrs. Bilicke was brought to Queenstown. She did not rest: she later told her grandson that she spent hours walking from place to place looking at bodies, trying unsuccessfully to find her husband. A description of Mr. Bilicke was given to the American Counsel in Queenstown based on Gladys's memory of what he was wearing that day:

Age about: 53. Height: about 5 feet 6 inches. Eyes: blue. Hair: sandy and thin. On abdomen, 2 scars from operation. Clothes: Suit, dark material. In the pocket, wallet with gold mountings containing English money and papers. Little notebooks in pockets. Watch and chain, gold and platinum. On watch is monogram, A.C.B. Ring, turquoise and two diamonds. Underwear: Linen mesh, short and drawers. Abdominal belt, silk hose, caught up with gilt clasps. Shirt marked on sleeve by monogram "A.C.B." and back of shirt marked "Sulka & Co., Paris & New York." Cuff buttons set with light blue sapphires. Collar, white turnover. Neck tie, dark. Stick pin, emeralds surrounded with diamonds.

Third class passenger, Miss Violet James, of Edmonton, Alberta described meeting Mrs. Bilicke, in a surprisingly insensitive letter:

I came along with a party of survivors to London. One of the first-class passengers, an American woman, lost her husband. She hung on to me all the time and she got on my nerves. We went to the Ritz, and she pleaded with me to stay, but feeling as I did, I couldn't, for I wanted sleep. My throat sore - limbs aching. I brought her up, looked after her all along, and considered I had done my duty. However, I hadn't left her long before a special messenger called me back, but my doctor came to my rescue and 'phoned saying I was too ill and must stay in bed for a few days. He came to see me twice yesterday and again today. I have promised Mrs. Billick (sic), to return with her to Los Angeles, California, within the next month, so I shall have to pay you a rush visit. We sail under the American flag next, and will make sure of it, too.  

Mrs. Bilicke eventually abandoned her search and sailed for home on the Philadelphia; arriving in the United States on June 3, 1915.  She was met in New York by a maid and a nurse, and from there returned to California and her family. Her sister, Ella, went to Chicago to meet Gladys' train. Mrs. Bilicke's told Ella of the greatest fear she experienced while awaiting rescue, which was that she suspected she was being carried out to sea by the strong current.

When Mrs. Bilicke arrived in California she was surprised, not pleasantly, to learn that her husband's will had been probated and that her sister-in-law, Louisa, was fighting for a share of the estate. Albert's will was settled in 1922,  with his wife and children prevailing. They received $3,521,540.00.

Gladys filed claim against Germany before the Mixed Claims Commission. She had been injured in the disaster, sustaining sustained several abrasions on her head and contusions on her body, although it was mainly for loss of support that she was claiming. The court noted that her husband's net worth, in 1891, was about $16,000, and that at the height of his career, Bilicke was worth $2,706,864. Judge Edwin Parker awarded Gladys $50,000 and each child was awarded $30,000.

Mrs. Bilicke remained active socially, and maintained a residence on West Adams, a fashionable street in Los Angeles. The Lusitania was rarely mentioned in her presence, and she would only talk about her experiences in the disaster with great reluctance. She passed away on March 3, 1943 at age 77.



Douglas Hertz...

Lusitania Promenade

Photograph taken 24th April 1915 showing final configuration of the boat deck

Douglas Hertz, Lusitania survivor, may well have led the most colorful post-disaster lives of any of the passengers. Newspaper columnists loved to profile the likeable bon vivant, and Mr. Hertz was apparently not shy about supplying them with fresh copy.

Hertz was born in England in 1893. He would later tell reporters that he ran away to sea as a youth, and made two voyages, one as a cabin boy on a ship bound for Africa, and one as an oiler. He then settled down in a respectable position as a correspondence clerk at his father’s wholesale chemist and druggist business in London.

Douglas saved his money and, he would later tell reporters, traveled to the United States in 1910 seeking adventure. He aspired to Broadway success, but instead found himself as part of a touring group. He studied for the bar while living in St. Louis, Missouri, and after passing his exams in 1913, spent a year as a practicing attorney.

Hertz would claim that patriotism, and a desire to avenge the deaths of two of his brothers in the war, placed him aboard the Lusitania’s fatal voyage. He traveled in second class.

The moment that the explosion occurred, I got up from my seat and made for the deck. I had hardly taken a dozen steps when the second torpedo struck us with such force that I was knocked off my feet.

I made my way on deck as speedily as possible, and there I found everyone doing what they could to get the women and children into the boats, but unfortunately it soon became apparent that few if any of the ship’s boats could be successfully launched, as the vessel was listing so badly to starboard that the port boats hung right in over the decks and the starboard boats were swung out so far that it was nigh impossible to get into them.

I grabbed a half dozen belts from the first cabin I entered and returned to the deck to give them to women and children. Altogether I must have made six or seven trips below, bringing up lifebelts, before I realized how fast the boat had been sinking, but the last time I came up I had lifebelts in my hands and found nobody aboard to give them to. Then it dawned on me that I had but a few seconds in which to get clear, and for some reason that I have never been able to explain, I forgot to put a belt on myself but dropped all six on the deck and jumped overboard and set out to swim away from the ship.

I knew that she might sink at any moment and swam for dear life for the first minute or two without looking back. Then I turned on my back and witnessed the most tragic sight of my existence. The great vessel had gradually sunk by the bow until she was completely submerged to the fourth funnel, and she was now turning over, her starboard rail now being under water. Then, without warning, she lurched, hesitated a moment, turned over and was swallowed by the Atlantic.

I turned away from the terrible sight, and swam to the nearest piece of wreckage, climbed upon it, and sat there for eight hours until I was picked up by the patrol boat, Julia, of Queenstown.

Douglas Hertz was atop the same overturned lifeboat as Cyril Wallace and Belle Naish. Mrs. Naish sat beside Mr. Hertz, and would later testify that he signed his name to her shoe so that she would not forget it.

Douglas Hertz enlisted, and was granted a commission as second lieutenant in the South Lancashire regiment. He recounted that he saw action in the Dardenelles, and spent time training recruits. Suffering from “nerve paralysis,” he resigned from service at some point in 1916.
Details regarding the next portion of Hertz’s story are hazy, but during the summer of 1916, he returned to the United States aboard the New York, bringing with him his wife, Mollie, and infant daughter, Mary Madeleine. He also brought with him a motion picture, Fighting For Verdun, that he had produced.

Hertz passed his next few months promoting his film. A small article in the New York Times features Captain Douglas Grant Hertz informing an audience before on screening that he had personally seen the German submarine Bremen captured and brought to port in Wales prior to his departure for the United States. Reviews of Hertz’s film reveal it to have been a documentary, the principal flaw of which was a lack of either fighting footage or Verdun footage. Fatal omissions in a film titled Fighting For Verdun. The review in Variety quoted an audience member as telling Captain Hertz that she really enjoyed the orchestration that accompanied the screening.

Hertz then did film work at the various NYC area studios, appearing (unbilled) opposite Marguerite Clark, Pauline Frederick and Elsie Ferguson. He worked at Liberty Bond drives, as well. 1918 found him serving as a machinist’s helper at the Morse Dry Dock and Repair Company, in Brooklyn, NY. His Lusitania experiences, and autobiography up until that time, appeared in the company’s in house magazine, Dry Dock Dial, in October 1918.

Douglas Grant Hertz entered the United States in 1921, aboard the ship Panhandle State. He listed his occupation as publisher. The purpose for his trip to England has not been determined.

To capture the flavor of the rest of Hertz’s life, a newspaper column from 1940 serves best:

If you should happen to encounter on your wanderings in New York, a man nearing sixty who has a polo mallet in one hand and the world tied to the other, his name will be Douglas G. Hertz, possibly the most bizarre human being among all the millions who call this water-girt island their home. Bizarre is scarcely the word. His record treads like something thought up by Achmed Abdullah. Listen:
 

Served as a Captain in the British Army…was on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed…saw action in Gallipoli campaign…managed the negro heavyweight champion Jack Johnson…dropped a fortune trying to organize a Pan-American oil cartel…acted in silent movies opposite Marguerite Clark…has raced turtles in Miami and pigs in Los Angeles… introduced dog racing to Staten Island…recently completed a deal with Turkish Army for 20,000 donkeys…tried to buy the famous Tombs Prison and turn it into a wax museum…drinks only champagne for breakfast…dines chiefly on fowl…is president of a music publishing firm and owns a swing band… is now producing a Latin American film on Long Island…is a real estate operator…owns the Pegasus Polo and hunt Club at Rockleigh, New Jersey… club has sanctuary for famous old mares and stallions which have made names for themselves in theatrical work… one of these was Anna, a mare who carried the late Valentino through The Sheik…Anna died there recently and was interred with honors. Anna was also famous as an opera star…owns a nightclub named after the horse Sun Beau….great love is polo…says he will bring the son of the late Will Rogers and his polo team east soon to compete at Pegasus….dreams of a vast chain of polo fields from coast to coast  “So polo can become the average man’s pleasure rather than the rich man’s fun."


Mr. Hertz has recently been dubbed “Barnum on Horseback” by his press agents. They like to refer to him as “A cosmopolite Paul Bunyon” which no doubt he is. Certainly at 60 he defies analysis. He says he sleeps only three or four hours out of twenty-four, and consumes strong spirits at a rate of two quarts daily. His arena at Pegasus is said to be the largest indoor arena for rodeo and polo on earth. Actually, it is a vast airplane hanger which Mr. Hertz transferred to Rockleigh from Floyd Bennett Field. “My losses” he admits casually, “are about ten grand a month, but then what’s ten grand when you’re having fun?”


This statement perhaps explains him better than anything anyone else could say.

There are several such articles about Hertz’s alleged frivolity, that span the final thirty years of his life. What is not contained in any of the copious press coverage, is exactly how Mr. Hertz made the jump from shipyard worker to beloved member of the New York area polo set as quickly as he did.

There are many serious articles about the man as well. He owned, for a time, the now-all-but-forgotten New York Yankees football team. He and a partner made a killing when they purchased the unwanted collection of U.S. Patent Office models, some dating back to the eighteenth century, and began direct marketing them thru the Gimbel’s Department Store in New York City. Among the first items made public was a patent applied for by Abraham Lincoln in 1849. Hertz quickly sold the model collection to a group of investors for $75,000.00, who were left holding the bag when interest in the curiosities dried up and sales collapsed. He offered NYC $850,000.00 for the slated-for-demolition Tombs prison, which he hoped to turn into a “museum of crime” in time to cash in on the 1939 World’s Fair: the offer was rejected.

Mr. Hertz was married at least six times. He mentioned, in 1915, that he had a wife and child in St. Louis. This could be Mollie, and Mary Madeleine, who returned from England with him in August 1916, although Mary is listed as being an infant on the voyage manifest. He later spoke of a wife who died in a train wreck. He entered the United States aboard the Aquitania, in 1938, with a wife named Modette, of Fort Cobb, Oklahoma. His immigration records from that voyage state that he became a U.S. citizen in 1937.

Douglas Hertz died in Novato, California, on November 28, 1967. His obituaries recalled him as a fun loving individualist who enjoyed polo and spinning a good story.


Lusitania Menu

A menu from the Lusitania, April 1915


“How wicked of me to drown when my mother needs me in Oregon.” These words echoed through Dorothy Connor’s head as she was dragged down by the sinking Lusitania. How did the Wellesley Graduate, on her way to help with the war effort, end up in such a precarious situation?

Dorothy COnner

Dorothy Connor

Miss Connor lived the sort of life of which films are made. A typical well-to-do young girl of her era, her war experiences matured her into a purposeful, resourceful, and adventurous lady, and hers is among the most endearing of all Lusitaniabiographies. She was born in September 1890, to Charles and Katharine Connor of New Albany, Indiana. The Connors lived in a large Victorian home they named “Daisy Farm,” and led a prosperous existence.  Dorothy attended school in Germany during an extended family trip abroad. Dorothy’s older sister, Sara Katharine, married Dr. Howard Lowrie Fisher, Dartmouth graduate, and Dorothy’s son believes that, as a five year old, she served as the flower girl.

Katharine Connor moved her family East, to Rye, New York, after her husband’s death around the turn of the century. Dorothy attended prep school, and was accepted to Wellesley, where she pursued a History degree. She was active on campus beyond her studies, participating in activities ranging from theatre to an eating club. She was a member of the Phi Sigma Sorority. She planned to become either a secretary or a teacher upon her graduation in 1912.

Katharine and Dorothy Connor moved together to Medford, Oregon, where one of Mrs. Connor’s sons was a successful orchardist. They bought a 55 acre farm in the Rogue Valley, and built a home there which they named “Sundown Hill.” They became active in Medford society: Dorothy took part in Society Vaudeville with golfer Chandler Egan as her partner. A photo of the two dancing together is on file at the Southern Oregon Historical Society. She jokingly wrote to friends at Wellesley, “I haven’t even taught Sunday School. I have no occupation, but I am very, very busy.”

But, the young woman was about to take her first steps towards independence. Dorothy had earned her degree in first aid by 1915. Her sister, Julia, was living overseas with her husband, the future Sir Harold Reckitt, and Dorothy, interested in helping with the war effort, decided to travel abroad and utilize her skills. Dr. Howard Fisher, her brother- in- law, was going overseas, and so it was arranged that the two would meet and take the next available ship- the Lusitania. They booked two inside cabins, E-50 and E-63, on April 28, 1915, for $285. Katharine helped Dorothy pack, and lent her a suitcase and a trunk. She told her mother, in jest, that she was, “afraid something might happen to them.”

Howard Fisher

Howard Fisher

Dorothy Connor and Howard Fisher arrived at the pier early, on the morning of May 1st. Fellow passenger, Thomas Home, recalled that there was a lot of baggage and that tickets were being thoroughly examined as people boarded the ship, which he believed caused a slight delay. Dorothy sent her mother a color portrait postcard, from the ship’s writing room, labeled Lusitania and Mauretania. She wrote: Expect a cable before Saturday or Sunday as we are not due in until Saturday. I thought it was Thursday, but since they have no competition it seems they don’t have to hurry! It is now eleven-thirty and they haven’t started yet though I don’t know why. I wish they would, it’s a rather chill, damp day…Dorothy.

Miss Connor went on deck to learn the reason for the delay but, after talking with a few people, did not find a conclusive answer. She returned to the writing room and, to pass time, composed a long letter to her mother. It read, in part, “The Lusitania is now being held up and there is a report that the captain has lost his nerve, but I think we will get off all right.” The delay, in fact, was because of the transfer of passengers, baggage, and crewmembers from the Cameronia, whose voyage had been cancelled upon her requisitioning. The Lusitania departed for Liverpool at about 12:30 in the afternoon.

Dorothy and Howard settled into the daily routines of shipboard life, and began to make friends and renew acquaintances. They met Charles Plamondon, Chicago social and civic leader and a friend of Howard Fisher’s brother, Walter. They found their tablemates in the dining room, D.A. Thomas and his daughter, Lady Margaret Mackworth, agreeable; they were returning to South Wales after a business trip to the United States. The crossing proved not to be as exciting as Dorothy had hoped it would, and she wrote in a letter to her mother, “I’d never seen a more uneventful or stupid voyage.” Margaret Mackworth recalled that the submarine threat had been discussed, and Dorothy commented, “I can’t help hoping that we get some sort of thrill going up the channel.”

Dorothy spent the Lusitania’s final morning packing. When she dressed for lunch, she chose a fawn-colored tweed suit with matching boots. She accessorized with her sapphire and pearl pins, and a treasured ring; an owl carved of gold, with diamond eyes. She, D.A. Thomas, and Lady Mackworth arrived on time, but Howard Fisher was delayed. Miss Connor recalled that she ordered squab. When Fisher arrived, he explained, “All trunks were ordered on deck by 10pm, so I told Dorothy that I would pack mine in the morning and get it over with. The trunk was packed with difficulty and delayed me.” He, too, ordered squab.

Lady Mackworth and her father finished their lunches, and then goodbyes were said. D.A. Thomas recalled Dorothy’s remark, and as he and Margaret made their way to the elevator, he commented “I think we might stay up on deck tonight, to see if we get our thrill.”  (Dorothy Connor’s family revealed to Mike, that she consistently and emphatically denied having made the famous “thrill” remark. - authors)

Dorothy vividly described the moment the Lusitaniawas struck: It was while Howard was finishing his lunch and I was sitting waiting for him that the explosions came- two, apparently right under us. Everyone dashed and Howard and I did, too, though I did not realize for a minute that it was a submarine. Howard Fisher recalled the explosion: Bang! Came a rather dull sound like a soft blast, a slight rock and in a few seconds a listing of the ship to the side on which we were struck. Dorothy said ‘What is that?’ I replied ‘That is what we came after- a torpedo; we must go on deck.’

There was a severe list as they climbed the stairs to the boat deck. The two thought that it might be safer on the high side, and so exited through the port door. Margaret Mackworth soon emerged from the entrance: As I came out into the sunlight, I saw standing together Dr. Howard Fisher and his sister-in-law Miss Connor. I asked them if I might stay beside them until I caught sight of my father.

“Everything was confusion,” Howard Fisher would say of the scene at one of the port boats. “Men jumped on women and children trying to get into it.” Fisher would not allow Miss Connor to join the crowd, nor did she wish to after seeing the lifeboat overturn while being lowered. She later wrote to her mother: I won’t tell you about the lowering of the boats for the carelessness, the inefficiency, and the ignorance of the deck hands that did it was too terrible. Lady Mackworth turned to her friend and commented, “I always thought a shipwreck was a well organized affair!” Dorothy replied, “So did I, but I’ve learned a devil of a lot in the last five minutes!”

Dr. Fisher went below to grab life jackets for himself and Dorothy. He got as far as D Deck and was shocked to find: My cabin deck was already flooded, so I returned to the deck above, rushing here and there in the dark, for the electric lights had already gone out, trying open cabins for a chance lifebelt left behind by its owner. Miss Connor and Lady Mackworth waited on the boat deck for him to return. A crewman came by, announcing, “The gates have been closed, the ship is not sinking. There is no danger. Help is at hand. No more boats will be lowered.” The ship began righting itself, and a sigh of relief passed through the crowd. “Well, I guess you’ve had your thrill,” said Margaret. “I never want another one!” replied Dorothy.

Howard Fisher, hurrying back on deck, was accosted by a man who attempted to steal his life jackets. He did not succeed, and the Doctor joined the two women who waited for him. The Lusitania began to heel to starboard again. Dorothy noticed the concern on Margaret Mackworth’s face: One gets very close in three minutes at such a time, and just before we jumped I grabbed her hand and squeezed it to try and encourage her.

Dr. Fisher and Miss Connor went to the rail and prepared to jump, but Margaret Mackworth, afraid to jump, hung back on the perimeter of a small crowd, which soon blocked her way. Howard Fisher slipped through the rail, while his sister-in-law climbed over it. She said: We jumped just before the high side was submerged, and we were sucked down, down, down. I thought when we first shot in, that perhaps we’d come up again, but in the melee of things whirling around, I was caught by ropes and bars and all sorts of things that held me so fast I made up my mind that I was going to drown. Howard Fisher remembered being “Twisted and turned like a bug in a whirlpool.” Margaret Mackworth had time to undo her skirt, a dangerous impediment, before the water surged through the rails and over the side of the ship and engulfed her.

Dorothy Connor rose to the surface, unconscious, and drifted in her life jacket. Passenger Clinton Bernard, and an English nurse, spotted her from a drifting lifeboat and, suspecting that she was still alive, had her hauled on board. “Imagine my surprise to come to hours later and in my very dim consciousness discover that I was lying at the bottom of an upturned lifeboat.” She and the others atop the boat were rescued by a minesweeper, and were taken to Queenstown, where they arrived around 10pm. She used her remaining strength to walk to the Queen’s Hotel, where she calmly asked for “A single room and bath” and was surprised when “They laughed at me.” She recalled, for Adolph Hoehling, that she also received a lecture on being selfish. Her eventual roommate was a woman from third class.

Clinton Bernard

Clinton Bernard

Howard Fisher found Dorothy the following morning, and was so overjoyed that he fell on her neck with relief. Her injuries, although painful, were relatively minor: I’ve bandaged up my leg, which was rather badly gashed and has now gone to sleep. I seem to have bruised and wrenched every part of my body. Later, in London, a doctor would have to remove four large cinders ~ from the funnels~ from her ear. Dorothy’s clothing was returned to her cleaned and pressed, and when she visited with Lady Mackworth the woman commented that her outfit “looked as smart and well tailored as if it had just come out of the shop.” The foursome had dinner together, as they had every night aboard the Lusitania, and exchanged stories of their experiences during the disaster.

The following day, Dr. Fisher and Dorothy Connor departed for England. Miss Connor met Clinton Bernard aboard the train, and made plans to see him again. They were met, in London, by Dorothy’s sister, Julia Reckitt, who saw to their every comfort: She looks after me like a baby. Reflecting on items she lost, she most missed her owl ring: My dear little ring is gone- it must have slipped off when my hands got smaller in the water. But, she realized that they were just things, and that she and Howard Fisher were; the most fortunate people on the boat- we didn’t lose anything but things, and they don’t matter.

Miss Connor and Dr. Fisher kept in touch with a number of other survivors while in London. Clinton Bernard visited several times; they visited with Mrs. Lasseter after a chance meeting in Bradley’s store, with Dorothy later commenting that the disaster had aged the woman by ten years. Dorothy Connor and survivor Theodate Pope were part of a theater party that attended a performance of Rosy Rapture. And, she accepted an invitation to visit with Lady Mackworth and her father in Llanwern.

Dorothy returned to the United States in October 1915, aboard the Rochambeau. While she was home, she itemized a list of personal effects lost aboard the ship, among them:

1 Cross stole, fox $40
1 Lace evening gown $45
1 Silk gown $25
1 Velvet evening coat $50
1 Sapphire and pearl pin $25
1 Carved gold ring,
2 diamonds $50
for a total of $2,160.00.

 She would file a claim against Germany for lost effects and pain and suffering, requesting $25,000 for the latter. One Lusitania-related health problem she testified to was a dilated heart. Her claim was settled, in 1924, for $15, 801.71.

Dorothy, the young woman who jokingly wrote of having “no occupation” in early 1915, and who survived a nightmarish experience shortly after, neither slipped into depression nor aimless frivolity in the months following her return to the U.S. 1916 saw her back in Europe, near the battle front, helping her sister, Julia, run the canteen she had established at Braine, not far from the Ainse River. She embraced the hard work and remarked, “The work is most interesting and I already feel very much at home.” Her duties ranged from rolling cigarettes to serving coffee: Doing the cooking and looking the part of an immaculate and dignified directrice is often difficult. She was amused by the conduct of the soldiers, who could be rowdy and who would sometimes not omit indelicate lines from the songs they would sing. She said that it was just as well that she, “did not know all the fine points of the French language. Same old story of keeping one’s eyes on the skyline.”

She wrote that when she looked out of her window, she saw: Paris buses painted gray, camions, camionettes, kitchens on wheels; gun officers on horseback and in carts and automobiles, horses going to water in the sewer which skirts our garden….I see two huge guns, one named “Marie” and the other something else, followed by ammunition wagons. Exploring the countryside, she found herself behind three guards escorting German prisoners: “Are you a prisoner, too, madamoiselle?” the French soldiers asked jokingly. She visited Brenelle, “a sweet little town half shot to pieces in the attack last month.”

Dorothy described moments of great excitement, in her letters home. The police came to search the canteen looking for a deserter. A German plane crashed in the woods after falling from a height of 3000 feet: “The German machine fell about ten-thirty in the morning. About one- thirty we found it in the woods- or what was left of it…one man escaped with a broken arm, while the other was killed.” The soldiers encouraged Dorothy to “come right up” and view the body, but she declined.

Shrapnel once struck the doorstep of the canteen and four men were killed right across the street. The pressure at the canteen proved to be too much for many staff members, and the turnover was high. Dorothy dutifully wrote home to her mother, and joked that she, “would be glad to hear what you do when Dorothy is away and you do as you please.”

Dorothy Connor was awarded a medal, her family believes a Croix de Guerre,  for her bravery, at the war’s end. Miss Connor married Lieutenant Greene Williams Dugger, Yale graduate, in 1923. They met when Dorothy and her mother were guests aboard a battleship, while traveling in Panama. The Duggers had two children; a son, John, and a daughter, Mary Anne. Being a Navy family, they moved frequently, and Dorothy wrote to her Wellesley friends, “Travel is such an every day occurrence to me.” John would graduate from the Naval Academy, and Mary Anne from Wellesley.

Greene Dugger died in August 1941. Howard Fisher, Dorothy’s beloved brother-in-law, died in July 1946. Dorothy enrolled in George Washington University, taking courses in education. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of America, the Washington Wellesley Club, and the League of Women Voters. She once said, “I still find the world full of interest and excitement.” When she passed away, on August 9, 1967, her friend, Nell Cohen, would say in tribute, “It is good to know that right up to the end of her life she maintained her beauty, her charm and her dignity.”

James Reckitt, Dorothy Connor’s brother in law, published a book about his wartime experiences: V.R. 76; A French Military Hospital in 1921. Dr. Howard Fisher contributed this account:

A RECOLLECTION

The outbreak of the Great War found me in distant Oregon. Though I knew but little of the warring nations, I was, like most Americans, intensely affected and mentally placed my sympathies where they have ever since been. I was pro- British from the time the first cablegram found a place in the daily papers.

I was pro-British for several reasons. First, I had lived among English people in British India for six years and had learned to appreciate their real worth; I had an English brother-in-law; I had lived nine months as a student in Berlin and despised the Prussians and, finally, the rape of Belgium was a crime against humanity that could not be forgiven. Then, as the months went by, though the war touched neither me nor mine, the brutality of the Germans, the call for medical men and more medical men, quickened a slumbering impulse to thrust myself into the conflict.

When, in 1915, Mr. and Mrs. Reckitt commissioned Dr. Lewis Conner to select a medical staff and equipment for a field hospital to operate in Belgium, I wrote Dr. Conner. When my letter reached him, the staff was full and for the first time I realized how great was my desire to serve, how keen my disappointment.

Again the days went by as usual. I had settled down to a normal life. Then came a cablegram to me from Mr. Reckitt, "Come at once." I was to take a part in Germany's defeat.

There were many notable passengers on that last voyage of the Lusitania, among them Lord Rhondda (at that time Mr. Thomas) and his daughter, Lady Mackworth. Madame du Page, the wife of Belgium's Surgeon-General, was also on board. So long as I live I shall never forget this lady's sad, anxious face. She had just finished a tour of the United States and was returning to her ravaged country with a money contribution for the Belgian hospitals. Had she some prophetic vision of the coming disaster? Her son she had given to the war. Her husband was daily in the fighting-line. She was lost with the sinking of the ship, but her frail body reached friendly hands, I am told, and she found a last resting-place in the soil of her beloved country, out on a lonely and desolate stretch of sand dunes that Belgium still held as her own.

 
Lady Mackworth I saw in the wild confusion that followed the wounding of the ship and its great list to starboard. She was alone, anxiously searching for her father in the crowd that rushed here and there. She, with another woman and myself, stood on the larboard side and, after watching the ill-fated attempts to lower the lifeboats, decided to jump
into the sea rather than await the terrific rush and impact of water that would follow as the ship plunged headlong to the depths.

Lord Rhondda was returning from a munitions mission to Canada and the United States. He was very grave, ate sparingly and neither at table nor elsewhere was inclined to casual conversation. That he was masterful and shrewd in his own affairs and in those of his country, there could be no doubt, but he met his match in a raw Irish- American in the Queenstown Hotel on the night of the disaster.

It was the one humorous incident of that tragic day.

It was past midnight. The hostelry was full of the Lusitania's ill and wounded, who were just finding the quiet and rest so much needed. There were but three of us in the parlour, Lord Rhondda, the Chief Surgeon and myself. I had said good-night and was lying under a table rolled up in a blanket, the other two were engaged in quiet talk, when in burst this wild Irish-American. In some miraculous way he, his wife and little child had been saved from death, though they had all been swept into the sea. He was celebrating his own, and their, escape. His pockets were full of whisky, his stomach equally full. He was celebrating and, willy-nilly, the two men must celebrate with him.

He burst into song and my companions added angry remonstrance to their refusal to drink.

“Drink with me and I'll shut up."
A second curt refusal followed. 
“Then I'll raise hell!” said the tipsy, hysterical man, “for I still have my wife and baby."
Then he spied me under the table and dragged me out as he would a sack. "You too," he said, “drink! "
"No!”  I replied.
As he was about to let out a war-whoop, Lord Rhondda reached for the bottle, took his drink and the surgeon and I followed in his wake.

There was one other bit of humour incident to the sinking of the Lusitania that still makes me grin when memory brings back those tragic days. That was the crestfallen looks of the porters as they ran along the London railway platform, ready to pounce upon the luggage of the travelers.

But it was the Lusitania special and of luggage there was not a trace.

The reception of my sister-in-law and myself at our hotel was no less comic. The night watchman at the door all but refused us entrance, for we were a bedraggled pair of vagabonds, disheveled from a sleepless night and without kit; I with a black eye and garments much the worse for bad usage. The watchman stood perplexed. I looked at my sister-in-law, with her little paper bundle under her arm, and grinned at what I saw. She looked at me and my queer make-up and smiled at the picture she beheld. Then we mentioned the Lusitania and the doors flew wide and hot baths, food and soft beds made us forget we were among strangers.


D. A. Thomas

D. A. Thomas, father of Lady Mackworth and tablemate of Dorothy Connor, left this account:

Let me give you a consecutive narrative which I hope will assist the Government, the public and the Cunard Company to come to correct conclusions. I will avoid harrowing details as much as possible.

We got on board the Lusitania at nine a.m. on Saturday, May 1. She had been advertised to sail at ten: she actually left the Cunard pier at a little after twelve noon. We had seen in the press that morning an advertisement inserted, it was said on the authority of the German Embassy at Washington, notifying passengers sailing on British vessels that they did so at their own peril and that the German Government would accept no responsibility for anything that might happen to the passengers who disregard the notice after reaching the war zone. Curiously enough, this advertisement appeared in the New York Times in the column next to and in fact directly along side the advertisement of the sailing of the Lusitania that morning. There also appeared a  statement by the representative of the Cunard Line pooh-poohing the threat, and giving an assurance to those sailing that the Lusitania would be well taken care of when she reached the danger zone.

Some of her passengers are stated to have received private intimation from German sources of the danger, but I received no such notice myself of any kind beyond what I saw in the press.

Well, I do not claim to be possessed of more than average courage, and I confess I felt some degree of nervousness when approaching the Irish coast, in fact, I determined to remain on deck with my daughter the whole of Friday night.

 At the same time, after the assurances we had received and other information given apparently with official authority, and also after the statement that the Transylvania, a boat belonging, I believe to the Anchor Line, had been conveyed recently after reaching Ireland, I had no serious apprehension of the terrible disaster that afterwards occurred.

We had a smooth passage from New York. Only a couple of occasions did the sea become in the least bit rough. The weather was a bit foggy soon after leaving New York and again foggy shortly before reaching the Irish coast. The Lusitania hooted, and I remember remarking to a friend on board, "That gives our whereabouts away, but I suppose we are being well looked after.”  That was on the Friday morning, when we were in the fog.

The fog lifted, the sea was particularly smooth, and the sun was shining very brightly without a cloud in the sky when we sighted the Irish coast about eleven o'clock. We appeared to be about fifteen miles off the Irish coast, sailing a course a good deal further away than on her outward trips when I had crossed before.

We left the luncheon table a little after two (ships time) and had barely reached the lift, there being a number of passengers about, when we heard the torpedo strike. It did not make any great noise where we were standing. I had always been led to believe that the Lusitania was unsinkable, and that it would take more than two torpedoes to finish her. We all realized immediately what had happened.  I went up to 'A' deck to get more accurate information, and as we had previously arranged, my daughter at once went to her cabin to get her lifebelt.

All was quickly turmoil on the port side of the A deck. The boat soon began to list and I went down below to get my lifebelt. I did not succeed in reaching my cabin which was one of the parlour suites on the port side of B deck. I again went to A deck. By this time the steerage passengers had rushed up onto A deck, and they and others were crowded around the boats. There was absolute confusion everywhere, and an entire absence of anything in the way of discipline or organization.

I may say here that no attempt was made to close the port holes in the dining room deck.

I was told that the bulkheads had been closed, but in view of the very rapid submerging of the Lusitania I should require some strong evidence of this. I came quickly to the conclusion that my chance of getting into one of the boats was very remote. I, therefore remained away from the crowd, and a friend, meeting me and seeing I had no lifebelt, volunteered to go to his cabin and get me a blow-out belt.

We went together to his cabin and got it. I blew it up and put it on, and it did not give me any impression of security, as I felt it would at any moment collapse. I, therefore, determined to make another effort to get into my cabin. I succeeded, for the staircase and passages were quite clear. To my astonishment I found that the lifebelts I had left on the bed were gone! It appeared afterwards that one of the lifebelts had been taken up by my daughter to give to me, but she failed to find me, just as I failed to find her. The other lifebelt had been taken by someone.

I however, remembered that there were several in the wardrobes, and on opening these I found three. I put one on, and two of the Officers coming into the room at that moment I gave them one each. By this time the list on the ship had greatly increased, and, finding it difficult to walk up to the port side, I went to the starboard side on deck 'B', which by then was almost flush with the water.

Just opposite what was known as the grand staircase a boat had been lowered and was about three parts filled with people. It was about four or five feet away from the ship's side, and was still held by the davits. There were a couple of women and a child opposite the boat. One of the women and the child jumped into the boat. The other woman became hysterical and screamed, "Let me jump, let me jump!" but was afraid to jump. I pushed her, and I made her jump, for I could not make my jump until I had seen her in the boat. Fortunately she reached the boat safely. I then put my foot on the ropes and made a jump well into the boat, which was then six or seven feet away from the ship's side. On clearing the wreckage I helped to pick up two men and a girl, Miss Luny, who were clinging to the side.

We quickly cut ourselves away. Then another danger, which at the moment looked quite insurmountable, occurred. One of the huge funnels slowly descended towards the middle of the boat, and it did not look as if we had the smallest chance of escaping it. What happened then I can hardly say, but I shouted loudly to many nearest to me to push her away. This was done, and the funnel seemed to slide away from us as the ship went down. We were then between two funnels.

Though I believe I kept my feelings perfectly under control, I was suffering intense excitement and under such circumstances it is difficult to keep time accurately, but it could not have been more than fifteen minutes after she was first struck when the Lusitania went down bodily. I thought that it was inevitable that the suction would have brought us down, but it is a very remarkable thing to my mind that the sinking of the ship produced no effect at all on the steadiness of out boat, which then contained 50-60. It could not have held any more.

We at once moved away in a sort of way. As an old rowing man I tried to put a little organization into the business, but this was resented by two or three of the crew of the Lusitania who were with us, so I left it to them. The sea was absolutely calm; otherwise we should not have kept afloat for five minutes. The boat leaked, and we began to take in water. I helped to bail this out. It gained on us until it was up to our ankles. But after about twenty minutes bailing there was no more trouble in that direction.

We rowed in a sort of fashion for the coast, which appeared to be about fifteen miles away south west of Kinsale lighthouse, which was plainly visible in the sunshine. Soon we observed a little sailing vessel, and we made for her, going at the rate of a mile or so an hour. The smack was coming directly towards us but there was so little wind that her progress was also painfully slow.

By the way, before I forgot to say that I had set my watch to the ship's time some little time after noon that day, and it pointed 2:25 immediately after the Lusitania sank.

We also saw the smoke of a steamer far away to the south, but after appearing to get nearer it went away again, evidently not having seen any of the boats. On clearing the wreckage I counted nineteen boats, some of them turned upside down and large pieces of wreckage with a number of people on each. In about an hour and a half, somewhere before four o'clock, a sailing boat came up to us and turned out to be the Wanderer P.L11 a Manx fishing boat of fifteen or sixteen tons. Captain William Bell, with a crew of four or five.
Captain Bell was an intelligent man. He took about 50 survivors off the boat, and about eight or ten of the crew, including two or three stewards, returned to the scene of the disaster in the boat. We, on the Wanderer, also moved in that direction, and picked up survivors on two other boats, casting the boats adrift. By this time the little smack could hold no more. We however took two more boats in tow.

A number of steamers were now coming up fast from several directions. The first one reaching the scene of the disaster about five minutes past five. We were some miles away but I could see that the steamers stood around in a circle with a diameter of several miles for some little time. Then I saw them all move in the direction of the scene of the disaster. We were then taken off by a tug called the Flying Fish and made for Queenstown, which we reached about 9.30 pm.

I had not seen or heard from my daughter since we parted at the foot of the staircase of the deck, she going for her lifebelt. I looked round for her for some time before going back for my lifebelt the second time but failed to see anything of her in the crowd and confusion. Also in my boat was my secretary Mr.  Rhys-Evans. May I never suffer such agonies again. At about eleven o'clock the Steward, T. Godfrey of Seaforth, a gentleman who I am never likely to forget who had been waiting upon us on the Lusitania came up to me to say that Lady Mackworth was on a boat, the Bluebell, and she was safe but greatly exhausted. Captain Turner was also on the Bluebell.

David Alfred Thomas, Lord Rhondda, died in Wales, at age 62, on July 3, 1918. His daughter, Viscountess Margaret Mackworth, died in London on July 20, 1958, at the age of 75.


"When G.E. Co. claims Bob, the electrical world may expect a shock."
......Cornell, 1904

That jocular prediction came from Robert Rankin's Cornell class year book. He was born on March 23, 1882, as the first-born son born of George and Sarah Rankin of Ithaca, New York.  Rankin was fascinated by electricity, and upon graduating high school he enrolled at Cornell University. When he was not studying, he was actively involved in sports, which resulted in multiple scholarships; so many, in fact, that his friends joked that he was bankrupting the Cornell treasury.

Robert Rankin Robert Rankin

Robert Rankin

Rankin began working for Westinghouse soon after college, all the while experimenting with electromagnets and their properties. He was hired by the San Paolo Electric Co., of Brazil, which meant frequent travel.

He met socialite Enid Scott on a voyage to South America. Enid's father was Simon Scott, a New York merchant and art collector. She and Robert married the following year.

Robert Rankin became friends with Dr. Frederick Stark Pearson, owner and manager of Pearson Engineering Corporation. Rankin's professional dealings and friendship with Dr. Pearson led him to take the Lusitania on her last voyage. The Doctor and his wife had already booked passage, and recommended to Rankin that he should make the crossing as well.

May 1st was a dull, overcast day and Rankin did not wish to linger on deck. He was led down a maze of corridors to inside cabin E-43.

Mr. Rankin found his table companions for the voyage agreeable, and became fast friends with Clinton "Bill" Bernard, who told him that he was on his way to Greenland on a geological expedition. Rankin also spent time with the Pearsons, Robert Dearbergh, and Thomas Bloomfield.

The afternoon of the 7th was a clear, sunny day and at about noon, Rankin went to the writing room to write a long letter to his wife. Dr. Pearson passed through while he was writing, and stopped to talk with him. They discussed the sudden alteration in the ship's course. Robert Rankin later said, "The ship turned northward from the course she had been holding making a huge semicircle and heeling well over to port." The letter finished, he took a quick walk along the boat deck before lunch. He saw Fred and Mabel Pearson taking a stroll as well.

Robert Rankin was standing on the starboard side at some point after 2 pm, with Thomas Bloomfield and Robert Dearbergh, when one of them caught a glimpse of something unusual. "There's a whale," he heard. Looking out onto the dazzling blue sea, he knew at once what the black ridge was. A white, foamy streak shot out from the submarine.

"It looks like a torpedo," Dearbergh exclaimed.

"My God, it is a torpedo," said Bloomfield.

The three watched, as it cut through the water. Rankin described the excitement of the moment in great detail:

It came straight for the ship. It was obvious it couldn't miss. It was aimed ahead of her and struck under the bridge.  The explosion came with a terrific crash, clear through the five decks destroying the boiler room and the main steam pipe....A mass of glass, wood, etc came pouring on our heads, 200 feet aft. We ducked into the smoking room shelter and I never saw my companions again.

Robert Rankin believed from the start that the Lusitania was doomed. He crossed the smoking room to the portside, where he aided some men who were trying to push a lifeboat over the edge. But he thought that it was a useless task, for the ship was listing too far to starboard, and he abandoned this effort. He entered the companionway and made his way down, trying not to bump into the people who were rushing up the stairs. He got as far as D deck and heard the disconcerting sound of water very close to where he stood. Looking down, he saw that E deck was already flooding. He crossed the darkened passageway on D deck to a porthole, and to his horror, saw that the water was within twelve inches of the port.

Rankin came across Clinton Bernard in the stairwell. Bernard asked him, "Have you a life preserver?" to which he shook his head, "No." They tried a few cabins, but found that the life vests were gone. The two decided that if they found one, they would share it, "fifty-fifty."
The two friends found quite a few passengers milling about and waiting to be told what to do, as they walked along B deck. They mounted the stairs to A deck and watched the crew beginning to load boats along the starboard side. Boat # 1 drifted away with what appeared to be just one person aboard, to their dismay,. Rankin came across one of those "doughnut life preservers" attached to the rail and presented it to Bernard. They prepared to jump overboard with it when a steward approached them and claimed that there was an old lady who needed it. The gentleman unselfishly gave it away.

The last minutes were a blur to Rankin:

By this time the boat was sinking rapidly and Bernard said, 'Goodbye old chap' and grabbed me by the hand at the same time pulling out his money and throwing it away. The sixty foot deck was, by now, within six to ten feet of the water and I pulled off my coat and jumped, feet first, as far as I could and started to swim on my side. Looking straight up I saw the funnels coming over and thought that I would certainly be hit on the head. Then the funnels went back and the bow plunged and the ship went down.

The water felt like ice to Rankin. He noticed that he was covered with a layer of soot from the funnels. He swam to boat #11, which was packed with more than sixty people. The assistant deck steward pulled him in, despite the crowding. Boat #11 drifted with the tide and wind, for it had no rudder. Finally, the Wanderer, of Peel, came to the rescue and pulled them aboard. They were later transferred to the Flying Fish and taken to Queenstown.

The arrival at Queenstown was striking, as the wet and weary survivors walked between a line of townspeople. The crowd cheered and applauded as they made their way forward. Rankin felt a lump in his throat as the magnitude of the tragedy hit him. A "jacky-tar" gave him a drink of hot whiskey and put him to bed.

The next day, he made his way through the town looking for his friends. He found Clinton Bernard, who had swum to a collapsible and rescued many people, among them Stanley Lines and Dorothy Conner. Rankin found Dr. Pearson lying in a makeshift morgue and arranged for his embalming. Rankin and another shipboard acquaintance, Robert Timmis, motored over to Kinsale the Sunday after the disaster to help identify bodies, but found no one that they knew.

He gave a brief description of his experiences to the American Counsel, which was sent to the State Department in the form of a deposition:

At 12 pm ship began zigzag course off Irish coast. Walked deck till 1:30. Went to lunch 20 minutes. Arrived on rear starboard A Deck at about 2:00 pm, ships time of night before. At exactly 2:10 pm one of our group of four sighted submarine rising about 1/4 mile to starboard bow. Lusitania going slow all morning. Had been blowing fog horn till about 10:00 am and was still going about 15 knots. Torpedo left submarine almost instantly after sighted and traveled rapidly toward boat, leaving white trail. Struck ship not far from a line below the bridge and through boiler room. Explosion tore through deck, destroying part of forward lifeboat. A boiler exploded immediately. There was no second torpedo. Boat listed immediately and began to fill through open ports as well as the hole caused by explosion. Ship sank at 2:33 by watch of passenger who jumped in sea. Torpedo fired without warning and while most of passengers were below at breakfast.

Mr. Rankin arrived in London on Monday afternoon, intent on keeping his business appointments, although he had lost all his papers. He returned to the United States aboard the St. Louis, along with survivors Oscar Grab and Charles Hardwick; they arrived in New York on June 7, 1915.

Oscar brag

Oscar Grab

The Lusitania disaster did not deter Rankin from traveling. He left San Paolo Electric, and he and his wife moved to Peking, China where he was appointed vice president of both Anderson Meyer and Co and the Willard Straight Co. He also served as the director of the Chinese American Bank of Commerce. Relations between Robert and Enid deteriorated, and they separated and then divorced. His ex-wife moved back to New York and wrote a book titled Dominions of the Air. It examined the causes of war and offered suggestions on preventing future wars. She passed away a few years later at age forty-three. Apparently Rankin and Enid adopted a Chinese child named Peter, but he is not mentioned in either of their obituaries.

Robert Rankin retired in 1920 and began traveling, to relax and to forget about his failed marriage. He met a woman named Hilda Master Rigby and they were wed on February 24, 1923. They settled in Angmering on Sea, Sussex, England.

Robert Rankin filed a claim for compensation for lost effects and was awarded $1,362.00.on February 21, 1924.

The Rankins moved to St. Catherine's, Ontario, where they remained for many years. Robert became a father, at age fifty-two, to a girl who they named Virginia. He went to Washington, D.C. during World War II, to work as an engineer for US Government, and he became a technical adviser to Evans International Corp after the war. Robert eventually returned to retirement back in St. Catherine's, Ontario. He began vacationing in Provincetown, Massachusetts in old age, where he could, no doubt, look back and smile at life filled with promise well realized. Mr. Rankin passed away in Provincetown on August 10, 1959 at age 76.



James Tilley Houghton...

James Tilley Houghton was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, on July 23 1885. His father was James Warren Houghton, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.  He was prepared for college by private tutors, and went to Harvard University in the fall of 1904, where he was a member of the Pi Eta society and took lead roles in several of the society's shows. He received his college degree in 1908 and three years later his medical degree.

James Tilley Houghton James Houghton

Houghton went to work at City Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. It was there, in February 1913, that his father was admitted for surgery after falling ill with appendicitis. The operation was not a success and Justice Houghton died on February 14, 1913.

Dr. James Houghton was working for the Belgian Red Cross by 1915, under the supervision of Dr. Antoine Depage at his hospital at La Panne. He boarded the Lusitania on May 1st, joining Marie Depage, wife of Dr. Depage.  Madame Depage, who was the head of the Belgian Relief Society, had been touring the United States, appealing for funds to help the Belgian relief effort.

Two telegrams were waiting for Dr. Houghton in his cabin, E64, which read: Best wishes, fine trip and speedy return. Cable address, will miss you terribly. God protect you - Hugh Caroline.  Goodbye and good luck - Teresa.

The voyage passed uneventfully. Houghton renewed his acquaintance with Lindon Bates Jr. and Major Frederic Warren Pearl, both of whom worked for the Red Cross. He also met fellow a Harvard graduate, Richard Freeman, class of ‘09. Dinner each night was spent in the company of Madame Depage, and Theodate Pope and Edwin Friend, both of Connecticut.

Houghton was interviewed upon reaching Queenstown, and gave the following account of the disaster:

I may say that I had a dreadful foreboding that we were torpedoed and was not surprised when I got on deck to be informed by an Officer that we had been attacked by a German submarine. By the time I had reached the deck the vessel had decided list to starboard. I remained standing on the deck for a moment or two and was joined by Madame Depage.

The boats were by this time being lowered. An Officer told us that there was no danger. The vessel would be heading for Queenstown and would be beached there, if necessary.

The liner was again struck, this time forward of the main bridge. The first torpedo had struck midships. The second attack was evidently of a more deadly character than the first, as quite suddenly the big vessel began to settle by the head. Orders quickly came from the bridge to lower all the boats. This work was at once commenced.

Women and children were being rushed to the boats and were being lowered, some of them successfully, but others not. Many people were thrown into the sea. I saw the time to leave the ship, now well down by the head. I said to Madame Depage that we had better jump overboard and trust to be picked up by one of the rafts or lifeboats. This we both did. As I struck the water my head came into contact with a piece of wreckage which stunned me and I commenced to sink.

Happily I came to the surface again and I struck out for a damaged raft that was not far away. My first thought was to try and see Madame Depage but no trace of her was to be seen and I can only conclude that she was drowned.

Quite a number of people were on the raft and it was sinking under us. One poor fellow lost his reason altogether and jumped into the sea and was drowned. We were about 100 yards from the Lusitania when she foundered. It was an appalling sight to witness as her decks were still crowded with passengers frantically rushing about in a frenzied state. The spectacle in the water was even worse when scores of people were struggling to keep afloat and some shouting for help. But we could not give any assistance.

We were eventually picked up by a trawler and transferred to the tug Stormcock. We were then brought ashore at Queenstown. It was an awful experience and I thank providence for my escape.

Marie Depage was lost, but her body was found and identified. Her husband traveled over from Belgium, and her body was embalmed and taken to the La Panne hospital, where she was buried.  An interesting aside about Madame Depage, is that on May 8th 1915, a completely believable and lucid survivor account given by this definite victim ran in several newspapers, which highlights one of the pitfalls of newspaper-based research.

The Boston offices of the Cunard Line sent a telegram on May 11th; Ask Dr Houghton, survivor when he last saw Richard Freeman and if Freeman left the steamer uninjured. The same office received a telegram on the 13th stating: Dr Houghton states he and Freeman jumped into the sea together and were separated, Freeman was uninjured then, but regret there is no trace of him. Freeman did not survive the disaster, and his body was not recovered. The "poor fellow" who lost his reason and jumped into the sea was recognized as another first class passenger, George Ley Vernon.

Houghton traveled on to London, where he went to the American Embassy, and then returned to the United States aboard the Cameronia, arriving in New York on June 7th. He never returned to La Panne to help Dr. Depage.

Houghton was eventually awarded $12, 372, 00 in compensation as a result of the disaster.

He went to the Mexican border in 1916, with the Old 69th Regiment of New York, under Colonel William Haskell, and it was also in that year he married Mabel Parsons. The following year his son James Tilley Houghton, Jr., was born.

He immediately returned to the 69th Regiment when the United States entered the war in 1917, and traveled overseas with them in the Rainbow Division. He returned to the United States when the war ended.

Houghton went to the South Sea Islands in 1921, on a treasure hunt. In 1923 Colonel Haskell asked him to join his staff on the Red Cross Relief work in Greece. He worked in a plague-infested area of Macedonia. He was knighted by King George of Greece and received the Order of St George. Houghton relocated to Honduras, in 1924, to take charge of a new hospital at La Ceiba.  He knew that a revolution was under way, but went just the same. He found the hospital woefully inadequate, with only an emergency kit and a few medicines with which to treat and operate upon 450 wounded. He performed several successful operations using only a razor blade.

Houghton chose the wrong side of the revolution. He managed to escape capture by retreating into the forests, and eventually escaped by boat to the safety of Guatemala. Houghton resumed private practice upon his return from Central America, and held an important position within the Travelers Insurance Company. He divorced his first wife, and in 1929 he married Caroline H. Pritchitt. Together they had a son.

Dr. Houghton became seriously ill in early 1931. His family and friends told him that he was suffering from Undulent fever, but in fact he was suffering from streptococcus in the blood stream. He died in New York City on March 25th, 1931, at the age of 45.


There was a Lusitania crew member with an interesting link to Germany aboard the fatal voyage.

Fullerton Riemer Boyd, 37, listed on the crew manifest as a barkeeper, had led his family in Joliet, Illinois, to believe that he was the Lusitania’s assistant purser. His family had not seen him in nine years, although his sister- in -law had visited with him aboard the Laconiain 1913. They received a letter from Boyd, mailed on May 1st, in which he wrote that he was not in the least apprehensive about the coming voyage, and that the passengers were being warned.

Fullerton Boyd

Fullerton’s name did not appear in the initial list of those saved, which was reprinted in midwestern newspapers. His brother-in-law Edward Kobbe, an official of the New York office of the Hamburg-American Line, was able to determine that Boyd had survived, and sent his family a telegram reading “Thank God Fullerton Is Among The Rescued.”  Kobbe told his in-laws that he had received the news through his London offices.

Boyd died in Southampton, England, on October 17, 1929, at age 51.


Josephine Mary Brandell was a rising stage star in 1915.

Josephine Brandell

She was born November 26, 1891 in Bucharest, Romania. Her family came to America in 1900 and settled in New York.  She dreamed of stardom, like many young people,  and made an attempt to break into show business on the New York stage while in her early teens. However, she abandoned her efforts to establish an acting career when she married Dr. Bernard Black Brandeis, on February 15, 1907, at age fifteen. The marriage was short lived and the couple divorced in September 1910.

Josephine became involved in the theatre again, following her divorce. She was soon cast in a production of a comic opera by Johann Strauss, Night Birds, which toured Europe and America. A newspaper compared Brandell to the star, Fritzi Scheff, saying that she was ‘commensurate with Miss Scheff’s prestige.’  She was starring in the London Opera House’s production of Come Over Here by 1914,.

Miss Brandell crossed the Atlantic aboard the Lusitania several times.  She was aboard the Lusitania’s February 1915 crossing, and chose the Lusitania, again, for her return to London in May. Josephine’s friend, Mabel Crichton, was booked on the same sailing.  Mrs. Crichton was to provide Josephine Brandell with much emotional support. The actress was among the handful of passengers who remained worried throughout the crossing.

Josephine did not feel confident that the ship could outrace a submarine and, as she put it, was “in a state,” for a good part of the journey. She and Mabel became acquainted with their tablemates; Max Schwarcz and Francis Bertram Jenkins. She could not get over her feeling of dread, despite the pleasant company. Jenkins did not alleviate her fears by pointing out the lack of lifebelts.

Josephine Brandell
Daily Sketch
Jim Kalafus Collection.
Mabel Crichton
Courtesy of Paul Latimer.

I had just finished making a collection for the musicians and sat down to finish my lunch where Mrs. N. Crichton , Mr. Jenkins and Mrs. Schwartzs, an American, were sitting, when I heard the explosion. We all jumped up, poor Mrs. Crichton exclaiming “They have done it!”  In fact, I was nervous during the whole trip; so much so that I kept worrying my friends about fearing the submarines.

Thursday night I was in a state that I could not sleep in my own cabin, so I asked Mrs. Crichton if I could sleep in her cabin. Poor soul, she was only too happy to be of any assistance to me and did all she could during that whole night to quiet my nerves.

The next morning, I heard the hooting of the horn, as it was foggy. Everything went well until I sat down to lunch when the explosion occurred. The people rushed for the stairs. I heard someone shouting to be calm. I looked up and saw that it was one of the captains. I cannot say whether it was the first or second.

When we finally reached the top deck, I saw very few of the first class passengers. I was simply horrified with fright. Mr. Schwartz’s trying to calm me, when Mr. E. Gorer (the art dealer of Bond Street) rushed over to us and put a life belt on me, which was my means of being saved, and told me to be brave.  He returning for other life belts and Mr. Schwartz, after putting me into the boat where Mrs. Crichton was already sitting, went to help other women. That’s the last I saw of those two brave heroes.

Just then, our boat was lowered but immediately it hit the water it upset throwing all its occupants out.  About six were saved from that boat which contained sixty or seventy passengers.

The sights I saw when that boat upset is too awful. Words cannot describe it. A rope was thrown to us, which a few caught hold of. I then remember a few of us getting hold of an oar, but some of them soon dropped off.  The cries for mercy, the people drowning and coming up again within three minutes time barely touching me was too terrible.

Somehow, I caught hold of a deck chair which was floating near me and held on until I became numb when I was picked up by Mr. Harkness, the assistant purser, who afterwards told me he thought I was gone when he first looked at me. 

Josephine Brandell came ashore in hysterical condition, and one survivor in the same hotel room later remembered asking her to calm down. She found Francis Bertram Jenkins the following day, but there was no sign of Mabel Crichton, Max Schwarcz, or Edgar Gorer. Josephine took it upon herself to inform William Crichton of his wife’s last moments. He could not be consoled, and passed away a year later.

Josephine did not fulfill the promise of her early stage career. She chose not to pursue starring roles after the disaster, and acted only occasionally. She helped with the war effort, and following the Armistice, she accepted the proposal of John Ormiston Lawson-Johnston. They were wed on May 19, 1920. The marriage was not a happy one and ended in divorce. She was married yet again to George John Seymour Repton on June 1, 1929. George Repton attained the rank of Captain during his service in the Irish Guards. Miss Brandell was well known during World War II, as the founder and chairwoman of The American Friends of Britain. Captain Repton died on May 10, 1943.

Josephine married once again, on December 7th, 1945, to Beresford Cecil Bingham Annesley, 8th Earl Annesley and 9th Viscount Glerawly.  He was a Pilot Officer in the service of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War II. He had previously been a Lieutenant in the service of the 6th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. Their marriage lasted until his death on June 29, 1957.

Countess Annesley returned to the United States and spent her final years living in New York City, dying there in August 1977.

Josephine Brandell age 15
(Shelley Dziedzic)
Josephine Brandell's Grave at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY
(Michael Poirier)

Maude Thompson, one half of an extremely appealing young couple parted by the disaster, eventually became the second of three Countesses among the Lusitania’s survivors.

Maud Thompson

It was clear from the day Maud Robinson was born, October 25, 1882, that she would be afforded many excellent opportunities in life. Her parents were affluent residents of Long Branch, New Jersey. She was descended from Martin Kalbfleish, a two term Mayor of Brooklyn. Maud believed in being assertive, even penning an article on the problems of sensitive girls and how they may overcome their handicaps: “Pity the sensitive girl… give me the jolly girl who is perfectly natural and who takes on the world as she finds it and the people as she finds them, too, without worrying over the impression she is making.”

It is not clear how and when Maud Robinson met Elbridge “Blish” Thompson, but they married in 1904, the same year he graduated from Yale University. The ceremony took place on March 31st.

Elbridge Thompson was born on October 2, 1882 in Seymour, Indiana. His family owned the prosperous Blish Milling. He attended Andover and Lake Forest, and studied Metallurgy at Yale.

The couple moved to Colorado shortly after their marriage; Blish was interested in developing  mining property there. They moved back to Indiana a year later, and he was elected secretary of Blish Milling. The Thompsons were active in politics, and Elbridge was a leader in the Republican County Organization. He and ‘Maudie,’ as he affectionately called her, took part in community affairs such as ‘The Festival.’ He drove his roadster, uniquely decorated as a battleship, while his wife good-naturedly rode by his side.

The Thompsons planned a three month trip, combining business and pleasure, on which they would tour England, Scotland, and Ireland. They booked passage on the Lusitaniaand were assigned cabin, A-21. A few days later they upgraded to a suite with a private bath, B-68, for which they paid $500.

Maud and Blish enjoyed their vacation, spending time with other couples, such as Harry and Mary Keser. They befriended a pair of families with children; the Hodges and the Lucks. It turned out to be a wonderful voyage for them, comparable to a second honeymoon. They made plans to awaken early on May 7th to watch the sun come up:

"Blish" Thompson.
Courtesy Charlotte Sellers.
Maude Thompson
Mike Poirier Collection

About 4:30 or 5:00 A.M., the day of the disaster, husband and myself had dressed and were standing on ‘A’ deck to watch the sun rise. At that time, we saw a battleship off on port side and traveling in the same direction as the Lusitania. The latter was moving very fast at this time. The battleship was close enough so that we could see the whole vessel and its lines distinctly.  The fact of the presence of this battleship has not been mentioned, to the writer’s knowledge, by anyone.

We were eating lunch at the time the torpedo struck the ship. Just a few minutes previously I had noted the ship’s clock in order to set my watch, and I remember that it was just 2:05 P.M.

The impact of the torpedo against the ship could be plainly felt; the noise of the impact, however, was not like that of an explosion but made a “jamming noise” like a heavy boat will make in rubbing against a piling, for instance. There was no noise at any time like an explosion, and no further sound following the striking of the torpedo.

My husband and I immediately jumped up from the table, the former exclaiming “we are torpedoed!”

We immediately ran up the stairs leading from the dining saloon. On the stairs was the only time and place that we saw any of the ship’s stewards or officers (except one). They told us to take out time and keep calm.

We went immediately to B deck and helped Mr. and Mrs. Hodges and their two small boys. The entire Hodges family was lost. After arriving at b deck, Mr. Thompson went to his cabin, B-68, to get life belts. He returned with two life belts, also coats and sweaters, which we put on. After a moment he went back again to his cabin for his passports and money.

After rejoining me, we went up on the A deck. On A deck we saw the Keser family of Philadelphia, and also Mrs. Luck and her small sons. Mrs. Luck had no life belt, and Mr. Thompson removed his and together we put it on Mrs. Luck. These were the only people whom we saw at this time and place.

While on the A deck, the single member of the ship’s crew above referred to came past us. He was telling the crowd, “The ship is perfectly safe. You are alright.”  at this time and place, also, the writer heard the order given from the bridge “Lower no more boats.”

After we had been on this deck about ten minutes the boat sank, plunging bow foremost with extreme suddenness. The plunge was entirely without preliminary warning. Previous, the ship had listed to starboard to such an extent that it had been difficult to walk up stairs. Impossible to say how far the ship had settled prior to sinking.

When the ship plunged, it stood up almost perpendicular and thereby swept everyone overboard in a mass, and we were swept half the length of the ship. The writer does not remember striking the water. The first sensation came to her under the water. Did not see her husband again after the ship plunged.

The writer was in the water only a short time and was picked up and taken on a small raft, on which there were fifty others, of which only a small number, about fifteen, were passengers. Was pulled about the raft by Guy R. Cockburn, 10 Warrington Crescent, Mada Hill, London W. England.

We were three hours on the raft and were being carried out to sea when the party was picked up by the tramp steamer Kretnia [Katrina- authors] The crew on this boat did everything possible to assist those whom they had rescued. We were taken to Queenstown.

Maud was taken to the Admiralty House with Amy Pearl and Rita Jolivet. Rita claimed to have taken the two women down to the Queens Hotel to care for them and Lady Allan. There was no sign of Elbridge, so she sent home a telegram that read, ‘Maudie safe.’ Unfortunately, it was transcribed incorrectly, and read ‘Maud safe I also.’  The following day, she sent another saying,‘ I am safe waiting news from Blish.’ The family, confused by the contradictory messages, questioned the telegraph operator from Mays, Indiana and learned that a mistake had been made.

Maud continued searching, but could not find any trace of her husband. She sent another telegram asking for advice as to what to do. She finally decided to proceed to London, to the house of her friend Mr. Raikes, to await any further developments and to convalesce.

She was ready to come home by June. There had been no word of her husband for almost a month so there was no sense in remaining overseas any longer. She booked passage on the St. Paul, which was to arrive in New York on June 13, 1915. The St. Paul carried home many Lusitania survivors; James Leary, Charles Sturdy, Herbert Colebrook, Doris and Joseph Charles, Percy Rogers, Ogden Hammond, and Virginia Loney, listed as Virginia Sedgwick. Two Titanic survivors, Robert and Eloise Daniel were also aboard. Maud’s sister and some Thompson relatives met the ship.

Elbridge Thompson’s memorial service was held on June 18th, at the First Presbyterian Church in Seymour. Reverend Lewis Brown, who delivered a short address on “Immortality,” conducted it.  People from all walks of life attended the service; from employees of Blish Milling to Blish’s roommates from Yale. Soon after, Maud endowed Yale with a scholarship of $600 annually to the Sheffield Scientific School, which was to be awarded to graduates of Shields High School, Seymour, Indiana.

Blish’s two cars sat in the garage of the Thompson home. Maud decided that she would have the National roadster rebuilt as a scout car. She took the other National, a touring car, to France herself and turned it over to the Red Cross. She decided to stay and work with the humanitarian organization throughout the war. She met Count Jean de Gennes, a French fighter pilot. He was twelve years her junior, but despite their age difference, they fell in love. The two married on November 17, 1917 in Paris. She gave birth to a son, Jean-Marie, on December 20, 1919.  When the child was a year old, Maud and the Count took him to visit with Blish Thompson’s relatives. Maud still had an active interest in the Blish Company,  and she occasionally returned for board meetings, but she considered France her home.

Maud’s marriage was a happy one but, once again, tragedy struck. Her husband, a pilot for Compagnie Aeropostale, was killed in a plane crash in 1929. She was left with a nine-year-old son to raise. She may have considered moving back to the United States to be near her family, but she ultimately chose to stay in France.

Maud remained in Paris through World War 2. Her son, Jean,  joined the Free French, crossing the Pyrenées in November 1943, and was soon fighting for RAF, aboard a Halifax on bombing raids over Germany  

The Countess de Gennes returned to the United States aboard the French ship, Desirade, in early 1946, and settled in New York. Her son was working for Air France by that time. She spent the remainder of her days in Sunnyside, Queens, passing away on May 17, 1951. Her final wish was to be buried in France, and so she was buried in Paris, beside her husband, in the Montparnasse Cemetary.


Charlotte Luck

Charlotte Luck, to whom Blish Thompson surrendered his lifebelt, did not survive, nor did her sons Elbridge, 12, and Kenneth, 8. Charlotte and her children had stayed in San Francisco with her mother, Mrs. Field, during Arthur Courtland Luck’s extended business trips abroad, although their home was in Worcester, Massachusetts.  None of the bodies were recovered, and Mr. Luck was eventually awarded $20,000.00 for the loss of his family. Frances Lapham Field, Charlotte’s mother, was awarded $5000.00 for the loss of her daughter’s financial support.



Rita Jolivet...

Rita Jolivet, stage and screen actress, remains one of the most frequently referenced of the Lusitania passengers. Unlike many others survivors, she apparently assimilated the memory the disaster quite well. She spoke frequently of the sinking, but she did not seem haunted by it, and the nightmares, panic attacks, guilt and anger which plagued the later years of so many of the Lusitania's survivors do not seem to have been a major factor in her life. Her fame as a survivor has outlasted the acclaim of her dramatic career.

Rita Jolivet had her first success on the London stage, but was best known in 1915 for her long run Broadway in the hit, Kismet ,and her critical success in A Thousand Years Ago. Her first major motion picture, The Unafraid, by Cecil B. de Mille, had just opened when Rita boarded the Lusitania that May. The film has survived, and shows that Miss Jolivet’s vibrancy onstage made the jump to the big screen. She seems perfectly at home before the camera, and her acting style is subtler than is often found in films of that era.

Miss Jolivet, according to her family and contemporary reviews, was a born raconteur. Vivacious, expressive, and quite flamboyant, the Lusitania disaster lectures she gave in conjunction with her Lusitania movie, Lest We Forget, were given high marks as both entertainment and education. Rita’s 1918 testimony at the United States Limitation of Liability hearing remains the best, and least fanciful account of her experiences on May 7, 1915. It is presented here in its original Q&A form:

Q.  When did you make up your mind to sail; when did you go on the ship?
A. At 8 o'clock in the morning I made up my mind to sail, and I arrived at the dock at five minutes to ten. She was due to sail at 10 o'clock. The reason for my doing so was because the Lusitania was supposed to go quickly, and I wanted to see my brother before he left for the front.

Q. Had you expected, or thought of going on the St. Paul that same day?
A. Miss Ellen Terry had suggested my going, and I said no, that I was in a hurry and was on schedule time and was afraid of not seeing my brother.

Q. When did the steamer finally sail, as far as you recollect?
A. She finally sailed about 1 o'clock.

Rita circa 1910.
Jolivet Cabin (D-15)
(Courtesy of Paul Latimer)

Q. Your stateroom was on what deck?
A. On Deck D; it was a very bad room, because it was the last moment, and I had to take an inside cabin.

Q. Were you alone?
A. Yes, but to my great surprise I found my brother in law was going back too. I met him on the boat. He had also decided to hurry back to his wife, and she was in England.

Q. There was no special circumstance on the voyage up to the day of the torpedoing?
A. Not at all, except for rumors.

Q. On that day, on the 7th of May, Friday, did you notice anything about the speed of the vessel, as compared with her former speed?
A. Yes, I noticed that she had slowed down.

Q. On Friday do you recollect seeing the shore at all, and if so, about what time?
A. I saw the shore when I was in the water.

Q. Did you see it while you were on the steamer at all?
A. No sir, because I had not slept well the night before and I had just got up for luncheon, and as I had an inside cabin I could not see the shore from my cabin

Q. Where were you at the time the torpedo struck the ship?
A. I was down in my cabin on deck D.

Q. Did you feel one shock or two shocks?
A. I felt a great shock, and I was thrown about a great deal, and she listed tremendously.

Q How soon did she begin to list after the shock?
A. It seemed almost immediately; I didn't think we were torpedoed, I thought we had struck a loose mine.

Q. What did you do after you felt the shock?
A. I looked out and saw a woman putting on a lifebelt, so with great difficulty I climbed up and got hold of my lifebelt which I carried in my hand.

Q. Where did you get it?
A. From the top of the wardrobe; I climbed up on my bunk and got hold of the lifebelt. I believe there was a second one there, but I couldn't reach it very well. Then I climbed up on deck; I wanted to meet my brother in law who was waiting for me on deck A.

Q. You have spoken of the list that came immediately. Was that before or after you left your cabin?
A. Before I left my cabin; with great difficulty I walked through the corridor and walked up the four flights of stairs to deck A.

Q. You found whom there?
A. I found my brother-in-law and Mr. Charles Frohman, and a Mr. Scott. I believe there was another gentleman behind, that they said was Mr. Vanderbilt, but I don't know; I am not sure of that.

Rita Jolivet
Jim Kalafus Collection

Q. Did you put on your lifebelt then?
A. No; my brother-in-law said “Did you bring any others?” and I said “No,” because I couldn't reach the other. In fact, I didn't know that there were other lifebelts in my room; there were, but I didn't know at the time, in the hurry I just grabbed the first one. Then Mr. Scott went downstairs to deck B and he got up four lifebelts, and gave one to my brother-in-law, and one to Mr. Frohman, and one he kept for himself. And while he was helping Mr. Frohman on with his, and my brother-in-law was helping me with mine, someone stole his, Scott's, lifebelt, and Mr. Scott went down a second time and brought up other lifebelts from deck B, and he gave his away to an old woman. We all offered him ours, and he said no, he could swim better than any of us, and if we had to die we had to die; why worry?

Q. Did you see any of the lifeboats lowered while you were up on deck A?
A. Yes. We agreed to stick together and I looked out on the deck and I saw a lifeboat being lowered, but the guard slipped; it was not lowered evenly, and the women and children were thrown out.

Q. Do you remember which side of the ship that lifeboat was on?
A. I am not quite positive; I am not quite positive but I think it was on the side that was nearer the port, nearer the shore.

Q. That would be the port side?
A. Yes, that would be the port side.

Q. Did you notice anything about the list of the vessel as you stood up on deck A, whether it listed the same or whether it increased or not?
A. No, it did not remain the same. She righted herself. She seemed to right herself. It was only noticeable at the beginning.

Q. How did you finally get off the ship?
A. My brother-in-law took hold of my hand, and I took hold of Mr. Frohman, and we went out through the door on to the deck, and the water swept me away from my brother-in-law and from Mr. Frohman, swept me with such force that my buttoned boots were swept off my feet. I was struck under the water. I sank down twice. When I got up again there was an upturned boat on which I put my hand and clung to…the boat I clung to had canvas on it, and as a great many other people were clinging on to it we were sinking, and then came from under it a collapsible boat that carried away the extra people. We remained out there for three hours and a half, and were picked up by a Welsh collier.

Q. Was this lifeboat you clung to a regular lifeboat or a collapsible boat?
A. It was a regular lifeboat.

Q. When you went over the side was the water up to the deck?
A. It was the water that swept me away.

Q. Water came on the boat deck?
A. Yes.

Q. That part of the ship was down practically at the water's edge?
A. Oh, it had already sunk; it was the water coming up, you see.

Q. The lee side was under water then?
A. Yes.

Q. On what part of the deck were you?
A. I was in the middle of the deck.

Q. In the middle from side-to-side?
A. In the center near the elevator; near the lift.

Q. From side to side?
A. Yes; then we went out on to the deck and saw the ship was sinking right away, and waited ‘til the last moment, you see, and then she sank…

Rita, while in Queenstown, was in the company of Amy Pearl, who was pregnant and who had who lost two of her four children; Maud Thompson, widowed by the disaster; and the injured Lady Marguerite Allan, who lost both of the daughters accompanying her on the voyage. It is likely that Miss Jolivet was also in the presence of survivor Beatrice Witherbee, who lost her mother and son in the disaster, although she is not mentioned in any of Rita;’s accounts. Rita remained in touch with Amy Pearl for time, and Amy's daughter recalled that the two often visited one another. She may also have kept in contact with Lady Marguerite Allan, for she married Sir Montague Allan's cousin, James Bryce Allan, in the 1920s. A private film of the wedding was made and has survived, unlike most of Rita's commercial output.

George Ley Vernon, Jolivet's brother in law and another victim
Rita, circa 1918

The Lusitania survivor with whom Rita kept in most constant contact was Beatrice Witherbee.  Her husband had placed Mrs. Witherbee in a nursing facility, after she sank into a deep depression. When Rita Jolivet learned of this, she had Beatrice removed from the facility, and brought to the Jolivet family mansion in Kew, England.

Jolivet Marriage

Marriage of Rita Jolivet to James Bryce Allen
(Mary Jolivet / Mike Poirier collection)

Beatrice Witherbee married Alfred Jolivet, Rita’s brother, in 1919. The Jolivet family matriarch, Pauline Vaillant, raised both of her daughters to be “great ladies” in the French tradition: artistic, well read, temperamental, and demonstrative. The Jolivet family remembers, with amusement, that Rita’s brother became the polar opposite of his sisters, and was the intelligent but reserved “perfect English gentleman” who occasionally found their flamboyance irritating.


Beatrice and Alfred Witherbee Jr.
Courtesy Lawrence Jolivet

Rita had made her stage debut in London while still a teenager. She was later guarded about the details, and did not care to name the play in interviews. She described it as “a discouraging disaster.’’ But, by 1915, West End, Broadway, and film success had been achieved, and when she boarded the Lusitania, her future prospects seemed unlimited.

She married Count Giuseppe de Cippico in 1916, while at the height of her film career. The pairing of Hollywood and nobility was irresistible to movie magazines, and the couple garnered much press space.  Rita made films in the United States, France, and Italy, generally to excellent reviews. Yet, as a 1935 profile in the New York Daily News stated, the career momentum that seemed to be propelling her towards superstardom before the disaster, afterwards faltered, and in the end it can be said that she remained well known, but never made the jump into stage or screen legend.


Scotland, early 1930s

Left to right: Trixie Witherbee Jolivet, Lawrence Jolivet, Alfred Jolivet, Lady Jose Bebb,
Count Henri Gaillard, Gladys Lee, Rita Bryce-Allan, Jimmy Bryce-Allan.
(Lawrence Jolivet)

Rita’s career as a performer tapered off by the mid 1920s, and thereafter, she concentrated on her work as a critic with the Paris edition of The New York Herald, her social obligations, and her travels. Her marriage to Count de Cippico ended early in the decade, but her charm, vivacity, beauty, and creativity with dates soon won her the hand of James Bryce Allan. Rita’s gentle deception was an open secret and James Bryce Allan would never discover that Rita was quite a bit older than she had claimed to be. The pairing of the reserved Scotsman and the flamboyant English-raised French actress proved to be successful and lasted until his death. They lived a rarified existence, with a castle in Scotland, an apartment on Central Park West in New York City, a yacht (the Scotia), and a retreat in Nice.

Beatrice Witherbee (right: in San Remo).
Courtesy Lawrence Jolivet

Rita and Beatrice Witherbee Jolivet’s friendship became strained over the years, due in part to their greatly differing personality types. Rita’s habit of introducing her brother Alfred, nearly a decade younger than herself, as “my older brother” with its implication of  “….and his older wife” annoyed Beatrice and her husband a great deal. Lawrence Jolivet, Rita’s nephew, recalled his aunt’s annual Christmas gathering, and charity show, in Edinburgh, as being a family obligation that his parents more endured than enjoyed. Rita’s diary, in turn, contains a reference to “that horrible Witherbee woman….a divorcee!”  Lawrence Jolivet told Mike that, at one point, the relationship between Rita and Beatrice deteriorated to the extent that Pauline Jolivet stepped in and forced a truce.


Rita Jolivet and her husband, James Bryce-Allan aboard their yacht, the Scotia in the mid 1930s.
The captain, who is the gentleman on the right side of the frame, ironically bore the last name Turner.
(Courtesy Lawrence Jolivet)

Lawrence Jolivet and his wife visited with Rita, in Nice, during the 1960s. He described her as being “moon faced and happy.” A letter from Rita, written during this era, survives in the Ward Morehouse collection, at the Billy Rose Theatre Library in NYC. Mr. Morehouse had  written to Rita enquiring about her Lusitania experiences and asking if the Frohman quote was true; she wrote back, confirming the quote as true and giving an outline of what befell her on May 7, 1915. She stated, emphatically, that the stories later published about the submarine surfacing amidst the debris field were true; she had seen it herself.

Beatrice Witherbee in 1917

Rita died in surgery on March 2, 1971 after being injured in a fall while dancing. She was demonstrating that she could still dance a jig, when she stumbled and broke her hip. Beatrice Jolivet, upon learning the details of her sister- in- law’s fatal accident remarked, “Oh well, she would go like that.” True to form, Rita’s last words were a lie about her age; “I’m only 77,” although she was actually in her 80s. One of her final films, a surreal French comedy by the title of Phi-Phi (1926) surfaced during the 1990s, and was screened in Europe in 2003 to critical acclaim that doubtlessly would have pleased her.


LEST WE FORGET   Rita Jolivet’s magnum opus, her contribution to the “blockbuster” film cycle of 1916-1918, and her most lamented lost film, was the epic semi-autobiographic Lusitania thriller, Lest We Forget.

Rita, and her husband, Count de Cippico, formed Rita Jolivet Productions in 1917 for the sole purpose of bringing Rita’s war experiences to the screen. Six months, $250,000.00 of Jolivet family money, more than one thousand extras, and the combined forces of the United States Navy and War Department were combined to what contemporary critics called spectacular results.

The plot, as determined from various 1918 reviews, was extremely broad, and only marginally related to Rita Jolivet’s actual life. She plays Rita Heriot, famed French opera star, who is loved by an American millionaire and lusted after by a lecherous German diplomat. She works as a volunteer telegraph operator. Captured by the Germans, she is to be shot Edith Cavell style, and refuses to be blindfolded. An Alsatian guard, forced into German service, rescues her when an exploding shell provides a momentary distraction, and she escapes to Holland. The Germans will not admit to this embarrassment and Harry, her American fiancé believes her to be dead and joins the French Army to avenge her.

Rita travels to New York after being told, by the German diplomat who lusts after her and who has pursued her to Holland, that Harry has been killed in action. She becomes the theatrical toast of New York, but when she announces that she plans on returning to London aboard the Lusitania, Baron von Bergen, the German lecher who continues to follow her, warns her not to board the ship. She and Charles Frohman sail anyway. Von Bergen wires information to the submarine. The Lusitania is torpedoed. Great panic reigns, but Charles Frohman remains calm. He remarks, “Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure in life.” The ship sinks, hundreds are seen struggling for their lives. The lost liner is shown resting on the sea floor. Frohman is lost, but Rita Heriot survives.

Harry, who is not dead, learns of Rita’s survival but misunderstands and thinks that she is a German supporter. Von Bergen plans to rape and then kill the lovely Rita, to cover up his role in the Lusitania affair. He fails, for not only does she protect her virtue, but she also proves her heroism and patriotism to Harry when she strangles the German diplomat with her own bed sheet. To erase the horrible memories, she devotes herself to war service, and in a hospital, she discovers that Harry is alive and wounded. They are happily reunited at the end. 

Rita and Giuseppe forged a vehicle in which every conceivable German atrocity was lavishly re-created. Villages were destroyed. A cathedral was shown being ransacked and then demolished. A German high command banquet, somewhat resembling a melding of Henry VIII and Caligula, and celebrating the destruction of the ship utilized scores of extras and was heavily publicized. A sequence showing a Zeppelin raid on London drew much public comment. Rita herself stood in for Edith Cavell, but survived. The U.S. Army supplied Rita with 300 soldiers, playing “themselves” for authenticity in a battle scene shot in Yonkers, NY. One assumes that a like number of non-military extras were enlisted to play The Huns.

The centerpiece of the film was the extended Lusitania interlude. Rita Jolivet Productions was given “rarely granted permission” by the War Department and the U.S. Navy, to use one of the impounded German liners in New York harbor as a floating prop. These agencies took the step of endorsing both the script, and Miss Jolivet, as “outstanding examples of patriotic ideals.” Rita and Giuseppe commissioned a model of the Lusitania, said by them to have cost $50,000.00, for motion sequences as well as the sinking footage. The German liner, Martha Washington, was used for deck shots, the loading and lowering of the lifeboats, the on-deck panic footage, and the final words of Frohman. The sinking culminated with a shot of hundreds of people struggling amid debris after the ship sank. An overhead platform and over one hundred swimming extras were employed for that one image.

Reviewers praised the “horrid realism” of the sinking sequences, and the most highly praised “haunting” visual effect of the whole film was a tank shot of Rita’s 40 foot long Lusitania model at rest on the sea bed, which was cut to after the mass drowning footage. A 1917 article said, emphatically, that 150 paid extras were used in the water scenes, shot in the Hudson River. The film’s press material claimed 450.

Lest We Forget opened at the Lyric Theatre, on Broadway in New York City, in January 1918. Reviews ranged from favorable to ecstatic. Even the city’s Communist paper, The Call, no supporter of war films, praising it for its relentless emphasis on the horrors of war and its refusal to sugarcoat. Rita Jolivet Productions and Metro Films, which Rita had chosen as her distributor, soon published a small booklet of the film’s rave reviews to distribute to theater owners and critics across the U.S. and Canada.

A few reviewers qualified their raves by saying that although Miss Jolivet was engaging and the Lusitania sequences breathtaking, the bulk of the film was simply too lavish, too frenetic, and too packed with plot contrivances surrounding German atrocities to be 100% satisfying. A blurb from the film’s press book captures much of the spirit of Rita Jolivet Productions’ advertising campaign:

Oh ye of little faith, of faltering courage, who question America’s reasons for waging war against the Huns! Find here the answer to your doubts in this dramatic story of Rita Jolivet, fair daughter of France to whom that well-beloved American, Charles Frohman spoke his last immortal words: “Why fear death? Death is the most beautiful adventure in life!” Lest we forget ~ The Sinking of the Lusitania ~The Rape of Belgium ~The Night Attacks on London ~The Wreck of the Cathedral at Rheims ~ The Upheaval of Russian Democracy WILL AMERICA BE NEXT?

Rita Jolivet, as owner/producer of the film, set out to promote it with characteristic vigor. She appeared in person at all of the major openings, and a surprising number of minor ones. She spoke “plaintively” about her experiences on the ship and “forcefully” about the need for vigilance and patriotism, while carrying her Lusitania life belt and the pistol she had with her on board. The critics were unanimous in praising how “energetic” and “delightful” the “piquant French beauty” was as a speaker, even when the film drew mixed reviews. Count de Cippico announced that he would personally carry prints of Lest We Forget to Europe and distribute them to front line soldiers who were normally isolated from films.

Lest We Forget opened at first run theatres during most of 1918, and worked its way down through the theatrical feeding chain throughout 1919, with its final, brief, reviews appearing in 1920.

It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to see a hugely expensive recreation of the Lusitania disaster starring one of its best-known survivors. The plot seems overwrought and more potboiler than serious entertainment: A title card, displaying dialogue between Harry, the hero, and Von Bergen, the villain, read Yes, she is made to love. But, why marry her?  Yet, judging by her surviving performances, Rita Jolivet was capable of contained, subtle, screen acting, and even the least favorable reviews of Lest We Forget stressed that she was compelling in the role and that the film was worth watching if only for her talent.

Critics sated by spectaculars’ released in the wake of Cleopatra and A Daughter of the Gods struggled for adjectives adequate enough to describe the film’s visual and visceral impact. It must be noted that the less enthusiastic reviews all came at the end of the film’s first run, late 1918, when critics and the public were weary of the German Atrocity film cycle that had dominated theaters the previous summer.

An early Pop Culture column in the magazine, Motion Picture World, would explore each month’s ten most frequently asked movie questions, posed by audiences. “Each letter, we realize, represents the thoughts of an additional 600 film goers.” One of the March 1918 questions, asked by several hundred readers, was, “Was Rita Jolivet really on that boat?” The answer: “Yes, Rita Jolivet was really on that boat-and she’s awful pretty, too.”

The film has now been missing for 88 years, but with recent discoveries of several other lost Rita Jolivet movies, hope remains that it might emerge from some obscure archive or private collection and allow a new generation of film fans the chance to experience “The Greatest War Film of All Time.”


One wonders if movie theater owner Edgar Hounsell opted to bid on Lest We Forget as a feature attraction at his Imperial Picture Palace in West Bromwich, U.K.  Hounsell was the manager of the Midlands Exclusive Film Company, of Birmingham. He and his business partner, Edward Barry, were returning from a trip to the United States, where they had been acquiring U.K. distribution rights to popular American films, when they survived the disaster. 

The men were in the second class dining room when the disaster commenced. Hounsell described it thusly:

I was having lunch at the time the ship was torpedoed. There were two sittings at luncheon in our saloon, consequently one half of the second class passengers were on deck and the other half below.

So far as I could find out, only one torpedo struck the ship. I have not come across anyone who heard two torpedo explosions. There was a second explosion but that was caused by two of the boilers blowing up. The sound of the torpedo exploding was just a heavy dull thud. Immediately after she was struck, the ship listed over.

All the plates and dishes rolled off the table. The women started to scream. Everything was thrown into confusion, and there was an immediate rush for the upper deck. Had they made direct for their staterooms and put on their life preservers, of which one is provided for every person, I feel sure a great many more would have been saved. I stayed in the dining saloon until the rush had cleared off a bit. Then I went to the deck below, where my cabin was, and put on my life preserver. Mr. Barry did the same.

The electric lights went out just as I was proceeding to my cabin. As quickly as possible, I made my way to the upper deck. When I reached there, most of the boats that could be launched had already got away.

Owing to the big list of the ship. The boats on one side were rendered useless so they could not be launched. It was impossible to stand upright on the sloping deck. We were hanging on like flies, and people were rolling across the deck to the side.

I saw the ropes of two boats get jammed in the blocks as they were being lowered. One end dropped down, and all the occupants of the boats were shot into the water. Women and children were put into the boats first, and a few of the older men.

It was twenty minutes after the torpedo struck her that the ship sank. The torpedo tore a great hole in her side, and the portholes on the upper deck being open, when she listed the sea simply poured in through them. She was torpedoed at 2:10 p.m. and my watch stopped at half past two when I entered the water. As I could not swim, I thought there was not much chance for me, so I lit a cigarette and waited.

As the ship was sinking, I thought I would get clear of the suction, so I jumped off the stern, but the suction pulled me against the side of the vessel and seemed to pin me there. I could not get away and was dragged down with her, but as she sank bows first she also turned to one side. This seemed to release me, or although I went on down, I was not held by the boat. The pressure of the water hurt me, and I had a buzzing sound in my ears.

Suddenly I shot up to the surface again, at such a rate that part of my body came right out of the water. A second but weaker suction took me under again, and when I once more came up there was no sign of the Lusitania. The sea was covered with wreckage, among which people were floating about. I caught hold of a bit of timber, and clung on to that for about an hour.

Then I floated against an upturned collapsible boat, and held on to the side of it. I attempted in vain to climb on top of it, where there were three men clinging, but after a time one of the fellows managed to give me a hand and helped to pull me up.

We had been on this about half an hour when two more collapsible boats, one on top of another floated along. There was no one on them, so we clambered on and put up the canvas side of the upper one. Then by rolling the boat from side to side, we managed to get it to slide off the other one into the sea.

We were now fairly secure, and after we got rid of some of the water we had swallowed, we began to rescue some of the other people who were still floating around. One by one we hauled them into our boat the best way we could, and when a trawler came along we had no more than forty seven people in the boat.

Hounsell also detailed his reunion with Edward Barry:

The last time I saw him was as we dropped off the side of the ship together. I had almost given him up as lost when I did not come across him in the vicinity of where the ship disappeared and, as I learned afterwards, he had the same fear with regard to me. You can imagine my surprise and joy when, on Saturday morning he came to the hotel and we met again. He had been making the rounds of all the places to see if he could find me among the saved.

Mr. Hounsell died in Solihull, England, on January 26, 1947, at age 60.

Edward Barry, described at the time as “one of the best known men in the motion picture world” gave a brief but still interesting account of his experiences:

We were just finishing lunch when we heard a dull thud. Everybody jumped up, and I turned to Mr. Hounsell, with whom I went out to America, and said “That’s a torpedo or we have struck a rock!’ At the time we were in sight of land.

The stewards told the passengers that the watertight compartments were closed. The ship took a terrible list and everything glided off the tables. It was difficult to walk. Women and children started to rush about, and Mr. Hounsell and I went to our cabins and put on our life saving jackets, for everyone realized that the liner was doomed.

We helped a number of women and children to put on their jackets. I was struck by the orderly way in which people acted, the stewards calling out “This way to the boats” just as the man outside a picture house would shout “This way to the pictures.”

Barry and Housell spent some time cutting a collapsible boat free, before climbing the rail and jumping for their lives.

At the very moment I struck the water everything came crashing down from the deck and I was hit in the back. In the hurry, I had put on my life jacket upside down, and that probably saved my life for whatever hit me recoiled off the pad which was still in the middle of my back.

I struck out as hard as I could. There was nothing of the ship to be seen, but I observed various boats. A child floated by, and I caught hold of it and made for an upturned collapsible boat, at the side of which a steward caught my hand and held on until I had sufficient strength to scramble on to it.

Barry found four women on the craft, one of whom was an American widow and another of whom had been injured by debris. He could very well be describing widowed Belle Naish, injured Lady Marguerite Allan, and Rita Jolivet, all of whom drifted together atop an overturned collapsible.  The child he attempted to save died of an injury to the left side of the skull.

Edward Barry was landed at Queenstown, and soon traveled on to Birmingham, where he arrived on Sunday morning “none the worse for the wear” except for some cuts on his lower legs.


H.B. Harris’ Kin Safe

Dwight C. Harris, a theatrical manager, who was an uncle of Henry B. Harris who lost his life in the Titanic disaster, is one of those who were rescued after the Lusitania sank…

Dwight Carlton Harris, 31, departed for England that May “in connection with his theatrical business.”  He was also to meet with his fiancée, Aileen Foster, daughter of Colonel Sir William Yorke Foster, third baronet. Like many other passengers, Harris passed time during the long delay on May 1st. writing letters and postcards to be mailed from the ship. A letter to his mother and grandmother survives, a light and chatty note in which he observed, among other things, that the Lusitania seemed very small after being on board the Olympic.

Harris wrote to his mother again on May 10, 1915, from Jury’s Hotel in Dublin. He began by describing the disaster as an awful experience that had left him in shock which was only beginning to lessen somewhat as he commenced writing. 

Thank God I’ve come safely thru the most awful experience anyone could possibly imagine! I can hardly write about it. I am suffering rather badly from the shock, but fortunately feel better this morning.

The voyage up to Friday at 2 was perfect. I have never seen the ocean so calm. In bad fog Friday morning from 7a.m. to about 11. Superb clear sunny day after. I got up at 11, and read on deck for a while. About 12:30, I went to the Purser’s office and got the package of jewels and money; $500 in gold. I went to my cabin, hung the diamond and pearl pendant around my neck, also the engagement ring and the emerald ring. I pinned the big diamond brooch inside the pocket of my coat, and before leaving the cabin unlocked the canvas bag that had my life belt in it! I put the $500 gold in my trouser pocket, and then went down to lunch!

While at the table, I had a most intense, nervous, feeling come over me, and I got up and left without finishing my lunch. I went to my cabin, took the book, and came out on the port deck. Walked back around to the starboard side; when about half way up the deck I saw the torpedo coming! A white and greenish streak in the water. I stood transfixed.

A moment later, a dull explosion which shook the ship and sent a huge column of water twice as high as the ship; sea water, coal, splinters of wood, etc. came down on our heads. I flattened up against the side of the ship, but got soaked.

I rushed back around the end, and by the time I got to the main entrance the ship was listing well over to starboard. I was afraid to go in, to my cabin, as I thought she was going down; so made for the bow. I climbed over the rail and down on the deck- I could hardly stand, the ship was listing so.

I took off my shoes, and threw away my coat and hat and book. I took a look at things, and decided I must have a life belt, so I climbed up again and rushed to my cabin; secured the life belt I got at Wanamaker’s and put it on, and went down again to the bow.

By this time the water was almost up to the deck. An officer called to me from the bridge to come up, but I shook my head. I got up on the rail, and when the water got right up to the deck I jumped overboard, and swam away from the ship as much as possible.

I was carried the length of the ship, and saw everything that happened. The first lifeboat that was in the water (had) only two sailors in it! They called to me to swim to it, but I kept on. The second boat was suspended, and hanging straight down. Evidently, the ropes at one end had jammed. The third and fourth were crowded with people- I think both of them reached the water safely. The fifth boat upset as they started to lower it, and everybody fell out. I think the sixth boat got safely down.

By this time I was astern. When I was going past the 4th boat, the captain’s bridge was level with the water, and the stern rose rapidly, and the ship plunged forward like a knife blade into the water. Then a great swirling, greenish white bubble formed where the ship went down- which was a mass of struggling humanity, and wreckage. The bubble got bigger and bigger, and fortunately came to within twenty yards of me, shoving wreckage with it.

I was making for an overturned boat when I heard a little boy scream for his father. I swam to him; told him not to cry and to take hold of my collar, which he did. Bravest little chap ever saw! I managed to reach the upturned boat, got the little chap on it with great difficulty, and then got up myself- pretty nearly played out. I could hardly move my limbs, I was so cold.

We were on the upturned boat about ten minutes when some sailors came and took us off in a damaged life raft. We picked up about 10-12 people, but couldn’t take any more as the raft looked like it was going to sink any moment - it was half full of water!

We headed for a sailboat in the distance. The cries for help from those in the water were most awful. Not a ship in sight when the steamer sank; only the little sailboat for which we were heading. I never expected to reach it, as I thought we would sink any moment. One of the undamaged lifeboats got to the sailboat before we did, and put people aboard and then started back; picking us up after we had been on the damaged raft an hour.

Soon afterwards a mine sweeper, the Indian Empire, picked us all up and returned to the scene of the disaster, rescuing a great many. I am glad to say the little chap I found was returned to his mother, father, and brother, all of whom were picked up by our boat.

We started back for Queenstown after 7- ready to dock safely at 9:30. The periscope of a submarine was seen once or twice while we were at the rescue work! But fortunately it did not try to torpedo us, a far as I know!

Fortunately, I did not see the harrowing scenes on deck. There was no panic exactly, but naturally great excitement. The most frightful thing of all was the innumerable dead bodies floating about in the water- men, women, and children!

The first thing I did on land was to cable I do hope you got it soon after hearing the news! I can imagine the horror with which the news was received in the city. I gave in my name at once, and an officer took me to one of the hotels. I could hardly walk as I bruised one of my feet.

The townspeople cleared the street and applauded us as we passed. Every available accommodation was packed. I slept, or rather laid awake, at the Hotel Imperial in a room with six men. One, a Canadian, found his son in the hospital with both legs broken. Another in the same room rescued his sister, but her husband was lost. The scenes at the Cunard office there were indescribable.

Evidently, none of the people, 4 in number, that sat at my table were saved. An awfully nice Englishman and his wife, named Grudge, who lived in British Honduras- they were going to England for a month to see their little girl! Another English lady, Mrs. Watson, who had come from Hong Kong, and a Canadian man, Mr. Chabot, from Toronto. I made enquiries everywhere, but could not find them and their names are not on the list of saved. We all used to play the Characters game, after tea in the afternoon in the lounge, and also that Game of the World! Friends of theirs, Mr. and Miss Painter, used to play, too. Miss P. was saved, but not her father.

Saturday morning, I got up at 8, and went out and bought a suit of dry clothes. I bought a dry undershirt, pajamas, socks and cap the night I landed! I got a blue suit, and a soft shirt and collar, and a rain coat. While I was fitting myself out, a young American about 18 came in to the shop; said he wanted some dry clothes. The shop keeper asked him if he had any money, and when he said no, he was sending him away. So I called him and told the shopkeeper to fit him out, which he did, and you have never seen anyone so grateful. He had such an awful expression on his face, I will never forget it. I asked him if he had hit his face, but he said no, and then I realized he must have lost someone. I asked him, and he said it was his mother. Poor fellow- I thank God you weren’t with me.

I came up to Dublin by the 3 p.m. train, and have been in bed since I arrived, utterly done up. I had the Dr. yesterday- I am stiff from head to foot, and my feet are very sore. I cut my right foot, and it looked yesterday as if it was a bit poisoned so I sent for the Dr. He has treated it, and it looks much better already.

I am going to London tonight. Train leaves 8:10, and I get there 6 a.m. The boat crossing, which I dread, is only 2 hrs and 40 min. 

Dwight Carlton Harris had an excellent eye for detail, and an equally good memory. Nearly everything he claimed to have witnessed can be verified through other sources, and most of the people he described identified.

Boat 1 was lowered with only two or three men in it. It later took in survivors from the water, and from the dangerously overcrowded Boat 15. the sequence of boats wrecked, and the sequence of boats lowered successfully is correct, as well. 

A letter published in a 1915 Butte, Montana, paper gives a probable identity to the boy Harris rescued. Thomas Henry Richards wrote that when he and wife and three children were thrown into the water from A deck, starboard, in second class, he was able grab one of his boys; Cecil. His other son, Percy, was swept away by the turbulence as the ship sank, but was later found alive. He had been pulled on to an overturned lifeboat by a man who found him struggling in the water, and had been brave, crying only for his father. The Richards’ infant daughter, Dora, was torn away from them when the family was washed overboard, and lost.

Harris was put up in a room in Queenstown with several other survivors. One was a Canadian man, whose son had survived with "2 broken legs"; this was probably George Hook, whose son, Frank, had broken his arm. The man who had saved his sister but lost his brother in law was possibly John Moore, whose sister, Jeanette Mitchell, was rescued but who lost her husband and infant son.

Harris searched for his shipboard acquaintances. He recalled an “awfully nice” English couple named Grudge, en route from British Honduras to visit their little girl in England. This was actually Joseph and Evelyn Dredge. Completing the table were Mrs. Katherine Watson, an English lady traveling from Hong Kong, and Mr. David Chabot from Toronto. All of Harris’ tablemates were lost, as he feared, but Miss Irene Paynter, a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Dredge who would join their games, survived. Her father, Charles, the final member of their group, did not.

The young "American" man Harris met in the tailor's shop could have been Allan Beattie, 18, Stanley Taylor, 14, or one of the Gardner boys.

As for the claim made in some 1915 newspapers that he was the nephew (or uncle) of Henry B. Harris? The truth of that is undetermined at this time. Dwight Carlton Harris’ father, William, was born in Chicago and was deceased as of 1916. Henry B. Harris was born in 1866, in St. Louis, Missouri. His father was William Harris. Both names are common and there is no evidence, yet, other than the 1915 accounts to bolster or negate the supposition that Dwight Harris’ father might have been William Harris junior, brother of Henry B.

Dwight Carlton Harris’ only on-board acquaintance to survive the disaster, Irene Paynter, died at age 82, on February 14, 1967, in Devon, England. A letter she wrote to the mother of Richard Prichard reveals that Mr. Paynter was evidently killed by a blow to the head.

Percy Richards, the young boy who Harris saved, committed suicide in Cornwall, on June 24, 1949, at age 40.

Dwight Carlton Harris married his fiancée, Aileen, as planned. They resided in England for a time, and after they settled in New York, continued to travel back and forth to Europe; making over a dozen crossings between 1919 and 1939. They had two children. Mr. Harris died in New York City, on December 7, 1970, at the age of 86.


Herbert Light, actor, was returning to his native Southampton after learning of his mother's death, when he survived the sinking of the Lusitania. Light was his stage name; his true name was Herbert Light Berks.

Herbert Light

Iinterviewed nearly a decade later, in his dressing room before a performance, Light spoke of his experiences on May 7th, 1915:

He was in the lounge of the great ship when the torpedo struck the side of the boat and shook it for several minutes. The quivering stopped, and the craft began to sink, and within twenty minutes' time the Lusitania was completely submerged, he declared. Unable to swim at that time, he held on to the rail of the ship, which came loose. He was soon unconscious and remembered nothing until he was picked up by a sailor manning a lifeboat. He was taken ashore after much difficulty and rushed to a Queenstown hospital where he remained for five days. Light asserted that he recalled the experience as though it happened yesterday. He recounted the pitiful cries of women and children who sought in vain to be saved. He said it was only through unusual luck that he was spared from their sad fate.

Mr. Light subsequently starred in touring productions of Broadway hits, being best remembered for his turn opposite Fay Bainter in East is West. He co-starred with Florence Reed in The Mirage, and in Success with Brandon Tynan. Broadway stardom eluded him, and a search of theatrical databases shows that he never headlined in New York City. He became a vaudevillian at some point in the 1920s, as a song and dance man, and toured the Orient as part of a troupe.

Herbert Light left the stage, and by the early 1930s was operating a florist's shop in Los Angeles with his partner, Elmer Knott. They left Los Angeles in 1933, and moved to the small town of Quartzite, Arizona, where they ran the El Adobe Inn and Filling Station.

Light later operated a boarding house and restaurant in East Blythe, CA, and was working as the desk clerk at the El Solano Hotel when he suffered an incapacitating illness. He died at his home, in East Blythe, on October 15, 1959. He was 76 years old.

Bert Light, as Herbert was known, was described as a cheerful man with a clipped English accent who was always willing to help out with community theater programs. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen the May before he died; telling friends that he had started the process several times before but had been too busy to complete it. He was cremated and interred at Palo Verde Cemetery. Friends said that Light never failed to mark May 7th, and a 1915 newspaper with a cover story about the Lusitania was found in his personal effects after his death.


John Preston-Smith was a member of the Royal Gwent Singers from Wales, but he was not Welsh. He was born in Southbanks, Yorkshire, but as his wife Anne later noted, “He was connected with the 'Welsh Singers' for so long, he seemed one of them.”

The Royal Gwent Singers had spent several months touring in the United States in early 1915; performing in the principal cities and giving special recitals before President Wilson, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller. They remained in Brooklyn during March and April, performing in various churches around the borough. There were fourteen singers in all, and they were to have sailed back to England together aboard the Transylvania, but nine of them transferred to the Lusitania. Dewi Michael explained why. “Some of us, too, thought as a matter of fact, that it would not only be more expeditious but safer to travel with the Lusitania.” Survivors remembered the choir standing at the rail when the ship sailed. They sang, “Star Spangled Banner” and “Wales, My Wales.”

The gentlemen of the choir performed in the Lusitania’s concert. Reverend Henry Wood Simpson had brought along his viola and violin and provided their musical accompaniment. Dewi Michael later recalled the final song led by their conductor George Davies. “He was so loved by us… Strangely enough, the last song he sang was 'Down with the Salamander.' A strange coincidence that he should have been singing that when he himself would be going down. He sang it well too; I fancy I can hear his beautiful bass voice now.”

The group was at lunch when the torpedo struck. They stayed together only a short time, and then became separated in the confusion. Preston-Smith was with Beatrice Williams and they ran back downstairs to get lifejackets. Miss Williams was placed in a boat and told to get out again.

“The ship was listing so heavily,” she said, “that I had to jump. Mr. Preston-Smith jumped with me and I was picked up and put on a raft.” The end of the Lusitania came quickly and Preston-Smith noted, “I got washed away about 100 yards, and then I got a hold of deck chair on which I rested for about 20 minutes before I got on a raft. I helped four others to get on it, but the raft was over-loaded and began to sink so I took to the water again, as I was the only swimmer. I got on a little iron tank, and held onto that for two hours, though it toppled over several times… It was a Yorkshire man who pulled me out of the water at last, and for half an hour after being rescued, I was utterly helpless. They also pulled out an Irishman named Doyle, who was singing Irish songs in the water. He had gone quite daft. We pulled six women and three men out of the water, and two of the women subsequently died. Whilst swimming towards the raft, and almost done up, a woman swept past me propped up with lifebelts and deck chairs all around her. She asked for assistance, but I was too done up to help her, because by now I had lost the use of my legs. She said she was about done too, 'But, I am going down like a Briton,' she added. Just then, a raft came by and picked her up, and all the boys on the raft gave a hearty cheer. They just went crazy with joy at being able to rescue her.

William 'Spencer' Hill claimed that he, Thomas 'Risca' Williams, William Gwynn 'Parry' Jones, and John Preston-Smith managed to get to the same raft and began singing, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow:” I don't think I have ever heard it sung with more feeling. Then some of the women began to cry and as that would not do, we struck up 'Tipperary,' and then they laughed. Spencer Hill may have been misquoted or was incorrect in claiming that John Preston-Smith was with them. Preston-Smith was one of 11 people rescued by the Heron and brought into Kinsale.

John Preston-Smith married Anne and continued to tour with the choir; sometimes together and sometimes in smaller groups. Risca Williams gave lectures on the group's survival, as late as the 1930s. The Preston-Smiths moved from Wales to Racine, Wisconsin in the 1940s. John had a stroke a few years later that left his right side paralyzed. When Adolph and Mary Hoehling were writing The Last Voyage of the Lusitania, they contacted the couple. Anne dutifully sent the answers to any questions with which John could help, and provided clippings about her husband's involvement in the disaster. She also noted that they were still friendly with Beatrice Williams Harper, whose life John had helped save, and also with 'Parry' Jones. John Preston-Smith passed away on February 9, 1957 and was buried in Mound Cemetery in Racine. Anne Preston-Smith moved back to Wales, and died there in 1973.


 
  Charles Harwood Knight
(Nancy Dorney)
 
 

Knight Cabins (D-32, Harwood, D-35 Naina)
(Courtesy of Paul Latimer)

Millicent Harwood Hartt, of Dedham, Massachusetts, received a letter posted from aboard the Lusitania by her uncle, Charles Harwood Knight, and aunt, Elaine 'Naina' Knight, during the week of May 1, 1915. It was a thank you letter acknowledging the hospitality the Hartts had shown the Knights during their recent visit, and a sentimental keepsake, for the Knights were summering in Paris and would not be seeing Millicent again for some time. Naina had sealed a copy of the First Class passenger list in with the letter, as a souvenir of the voyage they were about to take.

Millicent Hartt, the former Miss Harwood, had been orphaned while in her early teens. Her father died of tuberculosis, and then her mother, who had contracted the disease while caring for Mr. Harwood, died as well. Millicent was sent to live with her only surviving relatives; Charles Knight, known by his middle name of Harwood, and his sister Elaine.


Elaine "Naina" Knight
(Nancy Dorney)

The Knights, both of early middle age (he was 39, she 41 at the time of the disaster) led a genteel life. They were originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but had resided in France for several years, while Harwood studied piano. Harwood gave public recitals, and it is also said that he worked for the piano-manufacturing firm of Sanders and Stayman. Millicent resided with them in until her marriage in 1910, at which point she settled in Massachusetts. She remained in friendly contact with her uncle and aunt although, as the eventual court case pointed out, she received no additional financial support from them after she married.

The Knights returned to the United States, by way of Marseilles, in 1914, and their extended visit ended with a stay at the home of their niece and her husband in Dedham. They boarded the Lusitania intending to return to their Paris flat.

Charles Harwood and Elaine both died aboard the Lusitania. Their bodies were never recovered and no details of their final seven days have eversurfaced; gone without a trace. Millicent Hartt saved their letter, and the passenger list, which remain in the family to this day. She was the sole beneficiary of both estates, and was granted an additional $1750.00 by the Mixed Claims Commission for their lost effects.


Amelia “Millie” Baker was another Lusitania passenger with show business aspirations. She had not, at age 27, achieved the same level of success as Rita Jolivet, nor had she garnered favorable reviews to compare to those of Josephine Brandell, but she had completed several years of schooling as an opera performer;  studying under Trabadello in France, and Madame Giulia Valda in New York City. Her public debut was to have been in Madrid, in the fall of 1914, but war fears induced her to postpone the performance and return to New York. She was returning to Europe hoping to make her debut at the Opera Comique.

Amelia Bakr

Miss Baker, who had been adopted from a New York City orphanage, grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. She kept in contact with friends and family there, and had last returned home at Christmas, 1914. Friends in Duluth received letters and post cards she mailed from the ship on May 1st. Her widowed mother, Mrs. Alfred Baker, was left with “I want you to always keep this letter, dear, from your own darling Millie” as her daughter’s final words. Millie wrote to her friends that she was eager to resume her musical studies, and looking forward to her public debut. She closed her final letter to her friend, Mrs. Horace Davis, with “By By. Love to all. Millie.”

Amelia Baker was lost in the disaster. Maryann Baker, her mother, collapsed at the news, and remained immobilized with depression. Miss Baker’s friends in New York and Europe promised her mother that they would do all they could to find Millie, alive or dead, but in the end no trace of the aspiring opera singer was ever found. Millie was the sole support of her mother, and it was to her that Miss Baker’s $2000.00 life insurance policy was left. Mrs. Baker was granted $15,000.00 by the Mixed Claim Commission, $14,800.00 of which covered the estimated value of Millie's lost jewelry and wardrobe.

There was a side of Millie not preserved in the official record, and perhaps not known by her grieving mother. The unknown opera student was traveling in a very select circle, as the only quote we have located regarding her aboard the ship attests:

Presently, a party of us came together: Vanderbilt, C.F. Williamson, a dealer in antiques of Paris and a great personal friend of Mr. Vanderbilt; Edward Gorer, an art dealer of Bond Street; Mr. Slidell, a newspaper correspondent; and a lady known to us all, who lives in Paris, Miss Baker… ~George Kessler

Millie Baker

The phrase “A lady known to us all” has a sense of familiarity to it uncommon in 1915 accounts. One cannot imagine it applied, with its mild sexual subtext, to Mary Hammond or Lady Marguerite Allan, by any of the survivors. One notes that in contemporary interviews men were always very specific concerning the nature of their relationship with women other than their wives, mothers or sisters to avoid casting aspersion (“Who was the wife of a business acquaintance” “Who was introduced to me by Mrs. ___during the voyage” “Who sat at my table in the dining saloon” being typical of this) and it seems that Mr. Kessler may have been intentionally casting aspersion. Miss Baker was ticketed with C.F. Williamson, who paid for her passage, and they traveled in cabins that faced one another across the same hallway. They shared the same Fifth Avenue address, and applied for their passports with one another.


C.F. Williamson, 40, was officially described as being an “art dealer, connoisseur and commissionaire.” He had realized at least $92,000.00 from the sale of a collection he exported to the United States from France in late 1914, and doubtlessly that sum allowed him to live his described 'affluent' lifestyle.

Charles Williamson

Charles Williamson

Williamson was personally friends with the highest levels of New York society, and his friendship with Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt had brought him brief notoriety, when he became a player in what was perhaps the greatest scandal of Vanderbilt's life. Vanderbilt’s mistress, Mrs. Mary Agnes Ruiz, committed suicide in London when things soured between them. Williamson, who was described as Mrs. Ruiz's “agent,” and who was renting her Paris residence, hurried to London, dismissed her servants, took charge of her affairs and supervised the disposal of her possessions. He gave a deposition at the inquest, but the court sealed the details. The verdict was “suicide while of unsound mind.”

It was discovered after Williamson's death, that he owed large sums in the form of unsecured loans made by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, George J. Gould, and others. It was also discovered that Williamson died close to broke. His family assumed that he must have hidden his never-to-be-located wealth somewhere outside of Paris, to prevent it from falling into German hands, but the fact that no books or accounts were ever found to document Williamson's personal or business worth implies that, perhaps, he may have been a charlatan.

The disposal of his estate brought in $140,500.00, which allowed his debts to be paid off at the rate of .82 on the dollar. Williamson contributed to the upkeep of his aged father, and gave generously to the support of his sister, who was married to a terminally ill man. These illustrations of the better side of his nature allow one to suppose that, if they were together during the disaster, Williamson stuck with Millie until the end. However, their story has been lost, leaving Kessler's odd remark as the final word on the couple.



Sonneborn and Schwabacher...

The sinking of the Lusitania had the undesired effect of laying bare the personal lives of those on board. Whether it was having to make one’s financial status public before the Relief Committee, or having to return to one’s wife after the death aboard the ship of the mistress with whom one was eloping, many of those who survived saw aspects of their lives best kept submerged placed in full view. Bigamy, embezzlement, adultery, unmarried cohabitation, financial incompetence and probable homosexuality were among the private stories suddenly made a matter of public record.

The posthumous calumny directed towards Henry Sonneborn by a member of the U.S. Government’s judicial branch was perhaps the most unfortunate exposure of a Lusitania passenger’s private life. Mr. Sonneborn and his friend Lee Schwabacher were most likely in a long term gay partnership. They lived and traveled together for at least fifteen years, and died together in the disaster. A decade later, after a scathing case summary by a U.S. Mixed Claims Commission judge, a distorted version of their friendship became legitimized.

Schwabacher and Sonneborn
Courtesy of Paul Latimer
Henry Sonneborn
Henry B. Sonneborn
Leo Schwabacher
Leo Schwabacher

Schwabacher seems to have possessed considerable property. The substantial provision made by his will for his friend, Sonneborn, suggests a possible source of income to the latter, supplementing that from his own slender estate and enabling him, in middle age, to embark on the cultivation of his voice in Paris.

So spoke Umpire Edwin B. Parker, of the U.S. Mixed Claims Commission, on January 7, 1925. With these words, he posthumously doomed Lusitania victim Henry B. Sonneborn, of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. to an eternity of being an inside reference, for want of a better term, among researchers who have read through the Mixed Claims Commission Lusitania Case Summaries. Two men traveling together, who were “fast friends” enough to have named one another sole beneficiaries in their respective wills, who arranged to be buried together in the same mausoleum, and one of whom the court stopped just short of calling a “kept man” in its final judgment of the case seems, on the surface, to be one of the more scandalous affairs exposed by the disaster.

 We approached the story of Mr. Sonneborn and Mr. Schwabacher from a sensationalistic angle in an article, and when Jim received an email from a member of the Sonneborn family a year or so later, he was initially uncertain of how his reception would be. Mark Praetorius, Henry Sonneborn’s great-nephew, proved not to be angry that we had dragged “the family skeleton” out of the closet. In fact, he quickly revealed that the relationship between the two men had never been the family skeleton. Henry and Leo had not been ostracized within the family during their 15 years together (Henry’s mother considered “Lee” a second son) and they did not become something best left not discussed within the family after the harsh official judgment in the 1920s.

Henry Becker Sonneborn was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Philip and Wilhelmina Becker Sonneborn, on October 14, 1872. The Sonneborn family ran a tavern on Light Street in downtown Baltimore and lived in rooms above it. Henry was a graduate of Baltimore City College, and along with his brother, Louis, half owner of a successful coal distributing company.

Leo “Lee” Schwabacher was the son of Henry and Virginia Schwabacher, born on January 14, 1873, in Peoria, Illinois. The Schwabacher family made their fortune as liquor merchants, and were more than comfortably well off. The details of how Lee moved from the multi-servant family estate on Perry Avenue, Peoria, to Baltimore have not survived. He was working, as of 1900, as Louis and Henry Sonneborn’s bookkeeper, and boarding in a room over Philip and Wilhemina Sonneborn’s tavern.

Wilhelmina and her family moved from Light Street to a larger and far more elegant house at 896 Battery Avenue, after the death of her husband, circa 1900. Bookkeeper Lee Schwabacher moved with them, still being referred to as their boarder. Simultaneous to the Sonneborn family’s move, Henry Schwabacher died, leaving each of his children a share of his estate large enough to generate $10,000.00 per year income, through interest.

Henry B. Sonneborn and Lee Schwabacher began traveling together in 1906, and after 1910 Henry sold his share of the family coal business. The two men moved to Paris, France, with one another in 1911, allegedly to allow Henry to pursue a singing career.  They returned to Baltimore in October 1914 for an extended visit prompted, in part, by unease over the escalating war in Europe. Lee Schwabacher purchased a mausoleum in which they would one day be entombed together, before their return to Paris in May 1915. Both men altered their wills at this time, each naming the other his sole beneficiary. Schwabacher traveled to Peoria, where he spent time with his relatives while liquidating his remaining assets there; he planned never to return.

A small article about guests of the Gotham Hotel, on Fifth Avenue in New York City, who sailed aboard the Lusitania's fatal voyage, listed Mr. Sonneborn and Mr. Schwabacher among those lost in the disaster.

Wilhemina Sonneborn traveled to New York City and boarded the Lusitania to make a last minute effort to persuade her son to cancel his passage. His response, along the lines of “A submarine? Don’t worry- we’ll send a telegram when we arrive safely” was quoted on both May 2nd, after the ship had sailed with Mr. Sonneborn and Mr. Schwabacher aboard, and again on May 8th after they died together.

Henry and Lee vanished from the record when the Lusitania sailed on May 1, 1915. Their bodies were never recovered, and as of yet, no account by anyone who knew them has surfaced to fill in the details of their final days. George Kessler later wrote of two men, rumored to be “German spies” who kept to themselves: one can make the case that this was the German surnamed Mr. Sonneborn and Mr. Schwabacher and, if so, that their final week might have been less than pleasant.

Mark Praetorius has speculated on what his ancestors’ reaction to the loss of both men must have been. The family was proudly German and to lose loved ones in an act widely condemned by anti-German forces must have led to a number of conflicting emotions. A 1915 news clipping, kept by the Sonneborn family, is an interesting window into how the Sonneborns may have felt:

For a year Mrs. Sonneborn’s health has been gradually failing, and her sons and daughters are now experiencing the added anxiety of shielding her as much as possible from the shock of news of the ship’s disaster although the bare fact has not been kept from her. Mrs. Sonneborn, in spite of her anxiety, is bearing no resentment towards the German torpedo boat that brought disaster to the Lusitania. She was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, nearly 80 years ago and lived there with her father when he was a professor at the university until she was 20 years old. Before her marriage, she was Miss Becker. She believes that Germany has given sufficient warning to all prospective travelers on this side of the ocean of the risk they were running to place the responsibility entirely on their shoulders when disaster occurs. This opinion is also shared by Mr. Sonneborn’s sister, Mrs. Philip Praetorius who, with her husband and children, makes her home with her mother. Their German blood makes it impossible for them to forget that the Lusitania is an English liner.

Perhaps the article offers true insight into Mrs. Sonneborn’s mindset two days after the death of her son and a man she reportedly viewed as a “second son.”  Yet, one wonders how, if she was being kept in seclusion and denied news of the disaster, she managed to form so definite an opinion and how she managed to articulate it to a reporter. One also wonders if, in the first stages of shock at losing their family member and friend, any Sonneborn, no matter how proudly German, would voice a blame the victim sentiment to the press. Another odd detail is that Mrs. Sonneborn, described as being “in decline” had managed to travel to NYC to plead with her son not to board the ship, as reported on May 2nd. Neither Mrs. Sonneborn nor her son was anything approaching a celebrity, which vouches for the veracity of that particular story: the press would have had no reason to invent it before the disaster had it not actually occurred. Our interpretation is that no matter how pro-Germany Wilhelmina was, she was also afraid of what Germany might do, and made a last minute attempt to keep the two men off the ship. Would an ailing woman, who made a long train trip in an unsuccessful attempt to save the life of her son and his traveling companion, be inclined to let the world know that they had brought their deaths upon themselves, just nine days later?

The Mixed Claims Commission’s posthumous opinion of the two men, particularly Mr. Sonneborn, was harsh. The most damaging part of the case summary was the declaration that Henry Sonneborn was a man of slender estate, unemployed, and seemingly being supported by Leo Schwabacher. “The inferences from the meager statements contained in the record are that the resources of decedent were slender and his income small. The property of his estate, both real and personal, inventoried only $13,107.653.” One wonders what criteria Umpire Parker was using to judge “slender.” Sonneborn’s yearly income, prior to the sale of his share of the coal business was listed as $8,400.00, a more than adequate amount upon which to survive ca. 1910, and only $1,600.00 per year less than Mr. Schwabacher was earning in interest on his inheritance. $13,100.00 was one of the larger estates left by any of the American victims. Mr. Sonneborn’s lost personal effects were valued at $2,230.50. It may be noted that Allan Loney, socially well connected Lusitania victim, was described in the record as having the earning potential of $10,000.00 per year as a broker and bond salesman, of having lost $1235.00 worth of personal property in the disaster and “…died intestate…his daughter inherited his entire estate which does not appear to have been large” without any additional editorial comment being made by the commission. Likewise, the fact that Charles Williamson not only died broke but also owed a large sum of money to some of the most socially correct residents of New York City was allowed to pass without remark, as was the fact that he was traveling with a woman to whom he was not married. It would seem that Mr. Parker was basing his evident disapproval of Mr. Sonneborn on something other than dollar figures, because by 1925 standards, Henry was far from poor.

It is apparent from the financial data presented in the case summaries, that the two friends were more or less on equal footing, and although there is no known surviving evidence of who paid for what, other than that Mr. Schwabacher bought their shared mausoleum, it is obvious that this was not a case of an opportunistic poor man bleeding a well off friend.


Thomas Snowden, of Lynn, Massachusetts, was another survivor who saw a personal scandal made public as a result of his Lusitania experiences.

The shoemaker was returning to his native Leicestershire, where he was born in 1885, to visit with friends and family and, perhaps, to enlist.  His excellent first person account omits but a single significant detail regarding his experiences aboard the ship:

I never want to go through such an experience again. To see men, women and little children drown in hundreds is a sight one will never be able to blot from one’s memory. I have worked hard since I left Leicester, and with hundreds of others on the boat was looking forward to a happy holiday and a happy re-union with my friends. To think how happy we all were up to the moment of the disaster, and now - it seems like a horrible nightmare.

I had just got up from lunch and was making my way along the second-class deck when there was a terrible crash and the ship shivered, as it were, from stem to stern. In a moment there was pandemonium. People were running around in all directions, and probably the majority of them realized that the ship had been torpedoed. The captain and officers certainly realized it for steps were immediately taken to put the women and children, or as many as were possible, in the boats.

 I and my friend did what we could in this direction and whilst we were assisting a very heavy lady, there was much screaming. I ran to the side and looked over. Then I knew the cause of the agonizing cries. About 50 women and children were struggling in the water, appealing for help. It was heartbreaking to see them sink and disappear. The ropes of the boat had gone wrong, and the boat had been smashed against the side of the ship.

There was another crash. Everybody seemed to realize that it was a case of life or death. As many of the women and children were ‘collected’ as possible, but there were hundreds of poor things who never got a chance. I realized that the ship would sink, took my boots and coat and waistcoat off, and when I felt her going - dived. It seemed eternity before I struck the water. When I came up, I seized a piece of wreckage and held on to it. In the meantime the great ship disappeared. She went with a plunge - nose first.

Some distance away, there was a life raft. When I reached it there were some twenty-four of twenty-five other persons on it. The number was gradually added to and eventually this too began to sink. Far out was an overturned boat. I jumped off and swam to it. Others were doing the same. I reached it and with help got it righted. Those who were with me then began to pick up others. Among those I helped to pull in was Lady Allan. Another man I pulled in was called Beauchamp. Eventually we found the third assistant engineer among us, and he took command.

The boat contained seventeen men and five women and it was two and a half hours before we were picked up. What our condition was then, few can imagine. What our feelings were, no-one can express. When in the water I saw the body of a young fellow - Charlie Hurley - float by, apparently dead. He was from Brockton, Mass., and was coming to Leicester to work. He told me he was going to a Mr. J. Wine, 132, Tewksbury Street, who I presume, is a relative. I have looked in the list of those saved and as I cannot find the name, I presume that he was drowned.

We were picked up by a Greek steamer, flying the Greek flag. She, too, was evidently expecting to be torpedoed, for her boats were kept ready to be launched. Eventually we were landed and among the first things we were asked was whether ‘Anybody had taken a snapshot of the sinking ship?’ Sure if that fellow had not gone by quickly, he would have been molested.

I lost everything except my watch and money. I never thought we should get through. Our boat was fast making water, and could not have kept afloat half-an-hour longer. But we were very lucky, although luck is not the right word for it. You know what I mean. I am thankful, and so is one left back in America - my mother!

Snowden gave a second account to the local newspaper in Lynn, Massachusetts, on the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster:

When the torpedo hit, the ship shivered from top to bottom and from stem to stern. The concussion knocked me and everyone around me to the deck. The Lusitania immediately took a severe list to the starboard as thousands of gallons of water flooded into the hole made by the torpedo. I immediately joined other men in putting the women and their kids into the lifeboats. A lot of the boats were lowered about half way when suddenly something snapped the lines and they smashed to pieces against the side of the ship and in the water. The women and youngsters were spilled into the water and most of them drowned. Only two or three of the boats were lowered without incident. There was no question about the men escaping in the boats. There just weren’t enough!

It was clear that my only chance of surviving was to jump overboard, so I took off my shoes and socks and jumped the 40 foot from the deck to the water. It was cold. I spotted an overturned lifeboat with about 20 or 30 people holding on to it. I am a good swimmer and didn’t have any trouble reaching it about 50 yards away. We stayed in the cold water for about eight hours and during that time I saw 300 to 400 bodies scattered all over the horizon.

Finally, we spotted a ship coming towards us. The vessel named Kintina (sic) might have been an old tramp steamer but she looked beautiful to us. She was flying a Greek flag but was actually a British ship raising the German blockade. The crew, all East Indians, lowered their small boats to scoop us out of the water. Then they took us into Queenstown. When I got ashore, I refused medical care and told them all I needed was a good drink of whisky to stir me up. I decided to return to the United States, after realizing how sweet life was. I figured war work making military boots was just as vital as anything else.

No mention was made, in either article, of the fact that Snowden had been married for several years in May 1915.

Mrs. Marion Snowden sued her husband for divorce in early 1916, on the grounds of cruel and abusive treatment.  She revealed, in court, that her husband had abandoned her to elope to England with another woman, from Lynn, but that she did not wish to draw the name of the woman- who drowned- into the public eye.

Mrs. Snowden, perhaps gleefully, revealed the woman’s name to the press upon receiving her settlement,. Thomas Snowden had informed his wife, around April 1915, that he was leaving her and returning to Leicestershire with Mrs. Eva Finch. Mrs. Snowden did not object, in light of the abusive treatment she had received during the course of her marriage.  A 1916 newspaper trenchantly commented:

Snowden and Mrs. Finch sailed on the Lusitania. When the vessel was torpedoed, Snowden was rescued but Mrs. Finch was drowned. At the time, reporters noted that neither Mrs. Snowden nor Mr. Finch expressed any interest in the fate of their mates.

Thomas Snowden died in Lynn, on February 15, 1966, at age 81.


Aino Antila had immigrated to the United States from Finland at some point prior to 1910. She had two sons, Carl in 1911, and Jan ”John” in 1912, in Rockledge, Michigan. She and her sons were deported to Hanko, Finland by way of Liverpool during the summer of 1914; traveling aboard Cunard's Carmania as part of a large group of Finnish deportees. The Antilas arrived in Liverpool on August 7, 1914, and a day later were placed aboard the Cunard liner Laconia and deported from England back to the United States. The entire family was detained upon arrival in New York, on August 17th, and hospitalized at Ellis Island. The separate paperwork pertaining to the nature of the illness, and who among the family was ill, has not been placed online. Cunard, as the shipping line which accepted these undesirable immigrants, was compelled to pay Ellis Island for their upkeep. The Antilas were detained at Ellis Island until January, 1915,  and then held elsewhere until the following April, when they were again deported. They boarded the Lusitania, as third class passengers, and on May 7th were among the handful of families to survive intact.

The Cunard Line  later sued the U.S. government for the approximately $50 it paid for the upkeep of the Antila boys during their internment at Elis Island. Their rationale was that only Mrs. Antila was a ward of Cunard; the boys, as U.S. citizens, were not the company's responsibility. The suit was decided in Cunard's favor, and the cost of maintaining the brothers from August, 1914 thru January, 1915 was refunded to the company.


“Constance Eda Stroud gave birth to a child of which your petitioner is not the father...”

They say looks are deceiving. Edward Stroud, his wife Constance, and daughter Helen appeared to be a typical family sailing home aboard the Lusitania. Passengers they encountered had no reason to believe otherwise. In reality, the fair haired couple with the red headed daughter was divorced, and the reason for the divorce was an illegitimate child - Helen.

Edward Percy Wallace Stroud was born in early 1877 to Colonel Henry and Ann Stroud. He grew up in Ramsgate and Eastbourne as the middle child of eleven children.  When he was of age he signed up for the Navy and served in the Mexican war as a ACV/Sub Lieutenant. A few years later, he met Constance Eda Simpson, daughter of Charles and Alice Simpson of Streatham. They were married in a civil ceremony on August 19, 1907 at the Christ Church in Mexico City, Mexico. A second ceremony followed less than a month later, on September 3rd. They settled into their lives, while he first worked as the manager of the American Creamery Co. and then as the marine superintendant of the Anglo Mexican Petroleum Co.

Constance made frequent trips home to visit her family, and on March 19, 1912, she gave birth to Helen Wallace Stroud at the hospital in Westminster. A year later, Edward Stroud sailed home on the Oceanic, and began divorce proceedings in June. He wrote out the reason in his deposition:

“That the said Constance Eda Stroud had frequently committed adultery with a man whose name is unknown to your petitioner. That on March 19, 1912, at the Westminster Hospital in the county of London, the said Constance Eda Stroud gave birth to a female child of which your petitioner is not the father.”

How he came about this information is unclear. Did a friend or family member warn him? Did Constance send a confession? Did he always suspect the child was not his? Although a co-respondent was not named, the court felt that Edward had proven that Constance had committed adultery, and agreed for the dissolution of the marriage. The final decree was reached on December, 19, 1913 and the marriage dissolved on June 29, 1914.

That was not the end of the marriage, however. Constance began a series of regular trips to Mexico, with Helen, to visit Edward, with the first commencing less than a month after the final decree. Was  a reconcilliation in the works? It is hard to say. The final trip was in March 1915, and the three of them booked passage on the May 1 crossing of the Lusitania. Mrs. Stroud and Helen traveled from Mexico to New York separate from Mr. Stroud, aboard the San Urbano, and checked in to the Phildelphia Y.W.C.A., before traveling on by train.

Second class was over-booked, but the ex-spouses were befriended by the gregarious Archie Donald and Mr and Mrs. Cyril Pells. Edward, having served in the Navy, chatted with several men who were going overseas to join up.   People apparently did not know the Strouds were divorced, and it was not noted as such. They appeared to blend in with the many young families with children.

Edward was on deck when the torpedo struck, and Constance was below. He brought his family on deck, and made two subsequent trips down to the cabins for lifejackets. The final trip back on deck had him climbing on his hands and knees due to the sharp angle. Archie Donald saw them on deck, and watched as Edward stripped Constance of her clothing so that she would be able to swim better. He held Helen in his arms during the plunge, but lost his grip. Edward and Constance survived, but Helen was gone. The former Mrs. Stroud supposedly lamented to Donald, “Well, we will have another.”

Whatever bond that tied them together soon evaporated, and by the end of 1915, Constance had married Francis John Newton Dunne. Edward married Dora Williams a few months later . Both of these marriages would be short lived. Francis became a Captain in the Royal Field Artillery. He died on December 9, 1918, possibly of an injury suffered during the war. Constance was overcome by the news. She ingested a narcotic that put her into a coma, and passed away on December 10.

History repeated itself, and a year after Edward had married, he was in court divorcing his second wife on the grounds of adultery. This time a co-respondant was named.

Having received an opportunity elsewhere, he boarded a ship in 1923 bound for South Africa. He became a Senior Cultivation Protector. While there, he met Ethel Mary Bisgers. They married and had a son, Edward Peter. They decided to raise their family back in England, and  returned in October 1930 on the Llangibby Castle.  Ethel died in the first quarter of 1941 on the Isle of Wight. Several years later, when Edward was living in Wimbledon, the pain of the past was erased when he succumbed to mycardial degeneration on March 9, 1949.

Constance Stroud Dunne's grave
Courtesy of Peter Kelly


Rose Ellen Murray, of Dublin and Boston, became a minor celebrity after she survived the Lusitania disaster. However, her celebrity proved to be her undoing twenty years after the vessel was destroyed.

Rose Ellen Murray

Rose Ellen was the wife of a U.S. Naval officer, Christopher Murray. She loved ships and travel, and crossed the Atlantic at least fifteen times between 1910 and 1926. She would claim 34 crossings, a number which remained constant in her press releases between 1925 and 1932, despite other voyages made in the interim.

Rose Ellen Murray

Christopher Murray and Rose Ellen Murray

Mrs. Murray’s frequent appearances in the papers hinged on her claims of being a survivor of both the Titanic and Lusitania disasters.  She would tell eager reporters of her long wait for the Carpathia, and of her hours spent atop an overturned Lusitania lifeboat.  The latter, at least, could be proved true. She had jumped from the sinking liner and been saved from atop a lifeboat, as had her brother, Patrick Ginley.  Mrs. Murray was a good sport, gave great quotes about how she loved “the sea to the extent that she cannot now sleep on land” …and if her Titanic story seemed sparing in details compared to her Lusitania account, no one questioned. She was also aboard the Celtic when that liner was involved in a minor collision and apparently added that tale to her recitation at some point.

Mrs. Murray maintained a home for her husband and two of her brothers on South Circular Road, in Dublin.

One day, in July 1935, Mrs. Murray was accosted at her residence by three young women who said that they were there to escort her to a mental institution. Mrs. Murray refused to go with them and, instead, went to The Four Courts in Dublin, in order to discuss the situation with her lawyer and to instigate legal proceedings against an unnamed party.  There, she was again confronted by the three women. A scene ensued when Mrs. Murray learned that they had been sent to take her to Verville, a private mental hospital. She was forced to her knees and her arms restrained. The women pulled Rose Ellen into a taxi with great difficulty, and broug

ht her to the facility. She remained in Verville from July 5, 1935 through October 10th.

Mrs. Murray was released after a sanity hearing determined that she was sane and capable of maintaining her own affairs. Incredibly enough, it seems that someone used Mrs. Murray’s frequently told Titanic, Lusitania and Celtic stories, and an incident in which Rose Ellen had been blackmailed over some indiscretion, to have her committed.  She proved by affadavit and other evidence, that all four claims were partially true and not melancholy ravings, and was released.  The identity or identities of whoever had her committed was not made public, but the fact that Mrs. Murray thereafter lived apart from her husband and brothers seems to point a finger.

Her actual Titanic story, as sworn in court, was that she was supposed to have been aboard the ship, but did not sail due to a missed train.  This was far different than the tale told to the pier side press in NYC and Boston, and conceivably true.

Mrs. Murray sued Dr. Sullivan, of Verville, in November 1939, claiming that she had been falsely committed, and was physically assaulted by another patient while in the hospital. She had been punched in the face, driving her eyeglass in to her eye, and when she complained was told that she had to learn to watch out for herself when “in a place like this.”   The jury found in favor of Doctor Sullivan in December, stating that Mrs. Murray had been legally committed with papers filed June 28, 1935, and that the assault was not due to specific negligence on his part.

Rose Ellen Murray was found dead on the floor of her home at Merrion Square, Dublin, on January 12, 1942.  She was 62 years old. Rose left an estate of three thousand five hundred pounds. Her husband and three brothers were bequeathed fifty pounds each, and the bulk of her money went to charity.  Her brothers opposed the will, and in July 1942 were each granted an additional two hundred pounds. Her husband, still in naval service, wrote the court to say that he in no way wanted to interfere with his late wife’s wishes.

I love the sea. It’s strange. When I’m on land I’m all nerves. Often I can’t sleep. Time after time, I live through it all again. When I’m at sea, I forget it all.

I remember that Rita Jolivet and I had been taking up a collection for the ship’s musicians. My brother rushed to me with a life belt.

The ship was about to stand on end. I leaped from one of its highest decks. An old man caught me by the hair. He was clinging to some wreckage. In a few moments, he went under.

I swam to an overturned lifeboat, and crawled across it. I lost consciousness.

They wrapped me in a blanket and took me to a hotel in Queenstown. There someone gave me a pair of pajamas.

I took a train that afternoon to my old home in Belfast. Still wearing the pajamas, without shoes or socks.

Rose Ellen Murray; disembarking from the Caronia. NYC, 1926.

Patrick McGinley, Rose Murray’s brother, was formerly a teacher at St. Gall’s National School, Clonard. He had been an employee of Park and Telford in New York City for five years as of May 1915, and was returning to Belfast for his first visit home since emigrating:

I had lunched at the first table at one o’clock, and then I came on deck and chatted with a gentleman friend. Everyone around was in the best of spirits.

Shortly after two o’clock as I was still talking to my friend, I noticed a white object about 100 yards off on the land side. It was directly at right angles to the liner. I called my friend’s attention to it, and he said “That appears to be a periscope.”

I saw a white streak coming towards the vessel. “My God, there’s a torpedo” exclaimed my friend.  I saw it come quickly through the water until it struck the ship, which shook like a reed in the wind and heaved to one side.
Everyone was rushing to and fro and there was a good deal of excitement but not all that much under the circumstances. The people got into the boats as quickly and with as little crushing as possible. When they had been there for about five minutes, an order came from the captain, indirectly, that the passengers should leave the boats as everything was safe and they were going to make for land.

I at once went down to my stateroom and secured two lifebelts, thinking they were the best thing in the circumstances. On coming up, I fixed one on my sister, Mrs. Murray, who was already in a lifeboat and I fastened the other on myself. I remained in the boat, which contained about one hundred people. Orders were then given to lower all the boats quickly, as the ship was sinking very fast.

Something went wrong with the pulley on the boat in which we were, and a young man cut the ropes thinking, of course, that the boat would fall on its keel in the water. Instead of that, however, it turned upside down and we were all precipitated headlong into the water.

I went down ever so far in to the sea, and at last I began to rise again. On coming up, I felt something resting on top of my head, and on putting up my hand I discovered it was the upturned boat from which we had fallen.  With great difficulty, I managed to get from under it, and I then started swimming around in the hope of finding my sister. I could find no trace of her, though bodies were drifting past me all the time.

In the meantime, the Lusitania had disappeared.

After I had been swimming for a considerable time, I managed to get onto a raft and drifted for about half a mile. I saw a lifeboat upside down and with about forty people clinging to her, and I thought if I could get to that boat I should be alright. I sprang from the raft and swam the one hundred fifty yards which separated me from the boat, and I was dragged aboard.

We were on that boat almost an hour- seven women and the rest all men. One of the men had his arm torn almost completely off, and a young man severed it for him with a pocket knife.

As we were floating about, I saw a lady and a gentleman clinging to a piece of raft and coming in our direction. When they came near the boat, the lady lifted one hand and said “For God’s sake, save me!”  One man on the boat said “If you bring any more on the boat, it will go down” I said “We can’t see people drown, let’s get them on!” Mr. Wyle, a steward, and I helped the lady on, and also the man. The lady, it afterwards transpired, was Lady Allan.

Patrick McGinley died in 1951, at Cathcart, Scotland.


Several accounts bolster the unbelievable-seeming claim McGinley made about the crewmember with the severed arm. George Harrison, a third class passenger, gave this account to his local newspaper:

A young Ryhope miner, was among the survivors of the ill fated Lusitania, was bravely unselfish in the hour of his greatest danger. His name is Mr. George Harrison, of 8 Thompson Terrace, Ryhope, and he was returning from Coal Creek, Canada in order to join the army. When the vessel was torpedoed he twice gave up a lifebelt he secured, in each case to a young married woman with a child.

Mr. Harrison in an interview, said after the explosion he went to his bunk to get a lifebelt, and heard water like a river rushing into the ship. "I hastily reascended" he remarked, and happily found another belt in a first class state room.

Upon reaching the deck Mr. Harrison saw the first boat launched, but it broke up against the vessel's side as the Lusitania rapidly listed. There were four people in the boat and one of them, a man, had his face smeared with blood. A second boat was also launched but it met with the same fate.

"Immediately afterwards," said Mr. Harrison, "I dived into the sea with a lifebelt. When I came to the top again the Lusitania's stern was lifting and the propellers showing partly out of the water. A few seconds later the great liner lurched and dived into the depths.

"The ocean was calm, and I clung to some broken boxes. Then I saw a young Irish girl floating near, and I managed to get hold of her. Another young fellow joined me later, and eventually we made our way to an upturned boat, which was supporting 48 others. We were the last to join it.

"Dead bodies were almost everywhere," commented the surviving miner," and we sometimes collided with them. Men, women, children were floating head downwards all around us, and some were wearing lifebelts. There were scores of them, and the sight was awful. For over two hours I and the other passengers clung to the upturned boat, and then we were rescued by a merchantman.

"One man” concluded Harrison, “had his arm severed just above the elbow. He was one of the crew and said he received the injury through being in the part of the ship struck by the torpedo."



Carl Elmer Foss...

Dr. Carl Elmer Foss, of Montana, was one of a group of doctors traveling on behalf of the Red Cross.  His fall from grace a few years after the sinking is made all the more surprising when it is contrasted with his behavior on May 7th, 1915. 

Carl Elmer Foss

After joining the Lusitania we saw warships outside New York harbor, and we spoke with one man of war with whom messages were exchanged. Towards the latter half of the voyage, I was told a battleship had passed us, and that some time on Thursday night our officers had received some sort of message, but as to its substance I know nothing. During Thursday night, our ill fated ship steamed with portholes covered and lights down.

About an hour before the catastrophe I was on deck. I saw something about a quarter of a mile distant, which looked to me like a boat. I could not imagine, however, that a small boat would be so far out, so I got an open glass and with the aid of this glass I could discern that this distant object was causing quite a wave of water on the shore side of the Lusitania. More than one of the watchers said “That looks like a submarine.” We were going slowly, probably at a speed half to two-thirds less than at an earlier stage of the run from America.

Luncheon was being served to the second luncheon party. Just as we finished the meal I, and many others, heard what I should describe as a loud boom. Everybody in the luncheon saloon realized that we had either struck a mine or had been torpedoed.

We were not particularly excited, but when we went on deck, the Lusitania, we found, was already beginning to list and every succeeding moment the listing movement became faster. I managed to get hold of a life preserver. Several of the crew were getting into life preservers themselves.

I jumped from the high, or port side, in to the sea, and I struck water not far from the propeller. Suddenly, down came a boat from the davits with a crash. Several people were in it. It was smashed, and I noticed one man clinging for dear life to the wreckage.

In the turning over of the boat, of which I spoke of being smashed, one man was killed. In three instances I tried to restore animation but without success. The victims were beyond human aid. While trying to drag one man away from the revolving propeller, I felt a blow in the back. This was from a piece of floating wreckage. I felt the blow severely for a time.

By this time both women and children were coming overboard, throwing themselves from the port side, with a sheer drop of at least 50 or 60 feet. I left the injured man still hanging by the rope of the wrecked boat and got hold of a woman and child who were nearest me.

I noticed that another boat had been lowered and was standing on its keel. I just held the woman and child until I got close to the second boat. I got them both on board. I noticed that the boat was manned. There were four or five men in it. They were sailors.

As the Lusitania took her final plunge the boilers, I think, must have exploded because an immense amount of steam and smoke were emitted.  As she finally disappeared from view, I noticed that several lifeboats were still attached to the blocks.

I swam off towards a lifeboat, which was afloat 200 or 300 feet away. There were women in it. They were much distressed, and I did all I could to pacify them. The boat was in such condition that bailing was necessary.

The men became excited when they realized that it was sinking. At last it capsized completely. I held one woman on to the keel of the upturned boat. We got it righted. Several women were still in the water.

Suddenly I spied what I should call a canvas raft, very nearly a quarter of a mile away. I seized an oar, and getting one of the women on to one end I grasped the other, and in that way piloted the waterlogged boat to the raft. Upon the raft were four or five men. By the time I reached it, I was not able to climb over its slightly raised sides, and I was assisted. One of the women appeared to be in dying condition.

I told her I was a doctor, and I would do my best to help her. This I did, working away for some time. After the lapse of nearly forty minutes I had the satisfaction of finding that I had been able to revive her.

A short time elapsed and a steamer, the Indian Empire, I believe, came up. I did what I could to assist the rescuers, but I was so exhausted after the effort that had to be pulled aboard myself. In the boiler room there were at least fifty survivors.

I think that on the whole there was more disturbance among the crew than among the passengers. Had all the boats been lowered, there would have been a greater saving of life. The passengers were most active in assisting in getting the boats lowered, and members of the crew did that too, So far as I know there was only one boat drill during the trip.

Carl Elmer FOss

Dr. Carl Foss returned to the United States, where he resumed his practice in Havre, Montana, in July 1916. He became embroiled in a bitter property dispute with neighbor Jake Krause, which culminated with Krause being gunned down in November 1917, shortly before the dispute was to be heard in court.

Foss and his ‘gang’ were arrested for the murder, and in October 1919 he was sentenced to one year and one day in Leavenworth Penitentiary for his role in the affair. Paroled, Carl Foss returned once again to Havre, where he died of acute nephritis, after an operation for appendicitis, on February 25, 1924. He was 36 years old.


“This looks like a fine boat and I cannot help feeling proud that the British flag rules the British waves, and I have no fear of the German submarines. There is quite a crowd on this boat and apparently they are not afraid.” 

Alfred Russell Clarke, a first class passenger, wrote in a note to his son Griffith before the Lusitania sailed. He did not have time to be afraid of submarines; he was too busy with plans to expand his business by securing leather contracts with British Army.

Clarke was an ambitious man. Born in Peterborough, he moved to Toronto at age 18 and founded A.R. Clarke & Company, Limited, which eventually became the foremost producer of patent leather in the British Empire. His factory employed over 350 people, and produced leather linings, leather vests, moccasins, and other articles of leather clothing. He was married to Mary Louisa, and had a son, Griffith, and a daughter, Vivien. He belonged to many organizations including the Riverdale Business Men's Association; Toronto Housing Co.; Toronto Civic Guild; Canadian Manufacturers' Association, Ontario Motor League; and Masonic Order. He was also the treasurer of the Metropolitan Methodist Church.

Clarke was comfortably settled in a chair on the top deck, on May 7th:

There came the sound of a loud explosion. Fragments and splinters flew all around and a great torrent of water was forced up by the explosion and poured over the deck. The ship instantly took a severe list... The stairway was already crowded with people trying to get life preservers... I started to go to my cabin, but found it difficult owing to the angle and I returned to the upper deck.

Clarke stood at the back of the crowd, adhering to the rule women and children first, and did not push his way forward. Talking with others, he heard that the Captain had ordered that boats not be lowered:

As the list grew greater, I again tried to reach my cabin for a lifebelt. The cabin was utterly dark. I felt to remain there I would be caught like a rat in a trap. The cabin door closed as I entered... I was distressed to find the door jammed... I could not open it owing to the acute angle of the ship, but got out through a side door, and mounted the deck again.

(Author’s Note- He had a small inside cabin, D-3, which on the original deck plan for the Lusitania appears not to have had a connecting door. However, one may have been added later or, more likely, he may have upgraded while onboard to a cabin that did.)

He met a young man who had sat his table in the dining room. He was tying on a lifejacket and asked Clarke if he wanted one:

I took it and as it was impossible to stand upright, I suggested to my companion that we should take no more chances, (and) to try for a boat... He said: 'Oh no,' and that was the last I saw of him...Glancing over I saw two boats being lowered jammed together and trying to get free. The other boat was trying to shove off from us. The four great funnels were now hanging at such an angle as though they would soon touch the sea. Then I was torn down in the whirlpool. I seemed to touch the very bottom of the ocean.

Clarke felt something gripping his chest, “Crushing me. Something else seemed to wrench me around. I was twisted and racked. All this time I was fully conscious. I remember hoping this would soon come to an end. Suddenly, what was holding me let go, and I rose rapidly to the surface.” The next thing he recalled was floating near a boat, and two sailors pulling him aboard. The only person he recognized was fellow Canadian Leonard McMurray. “The sea was full of people. There were perhaps five or six boats around. Bodies floated by us. The corpse of a baby clung to the bottom of our boat. We could not reach it. A woman floated by, foam coming from her mouth. I put out my hand, but as I touched her hair, she passed away.” They drifted about for three hours until they were rescued.

Leonard McMurray

Clarke did not remain in Queenstown long before making the trip to London. He called for doctors to attend to his injuries once settled in the Hotel Cecil. They discovered that he had a broken rib, and he was taken to the Fitzroy House Hospital. His temperature rose to 102 and the doctors found that the broken rib had affected a lung and pleurisy had developed. His wife, Mary Louisa, was sent for at once, and she sailed for England; arriving in London on June 12.

Pneumonia set in. Mrs. Clarke at first was optimistic about her husband‘s condition. She sent telegrams home saying that his improvement was “more than maintained” and that great hopes were entertained for his recovery. Griffith Clarke intended to come also, but his mother told him it was not necessary.

Alfred, unfortunately, took a turn for the worse. His family received two telegrams. The first: “Your father very weak. Mother very discouraged. Time very short. Advise you not to come” and the second, received shortly thereafter; “Mr. Clarke is sinking rapidly. We are with your mother and will give her every attention.”

Alfred Russell Clarke died on June 20. A family friend cabled Griffith and Vivien, “Your father passed peacefully at 9:20 tonight. We will take care of your mother and arrange everything for her, including her passage and your father's home. Cable me any instructions.” Mrs. Clarke came home on the Lapland and proceeded to Toronto with her husband’s body.

Clarke left an estate of $521,825.28, part of which was comprised of $34,845 in life insurance and $50,000 in accident. His real estate holdings were valued at $41,140 and the fair market value of the stock in A.R. Clarke and Company, Limited was shown to be $393,000. Griffith Clarke was appointed managing director of the A.R. Clarke Company.

Griffith died in 1923.  His mother alleged that he ran the family business into the ground, in her case against Germany. She sued for compensation on the grounds that had her husband survived, the business would have prospered. How true this is, cannot be determined, but what is known is that Mrs. Clarke herself had an active interest in the company. She took full charge when her son died,. She was drawing a salary of $24,000 a year at the time of the 1925 hearing. Mrs. Clarke’s claim totaled $125,000. Commissioner James Friel was not sympathetic to the various claims and awarded the widow $7,500, which he deemed 'fair compensation.' He stated that “the insurance money alone at her age would have purchased for her an annuity of over $6000 a year. I do not think it can be said she suffered any pecuniary loss resulting from the death of her husband.”


Hickson’s, a styling house in New York City that specialized in both high fashion and select ready-to-wear, was another internationally famous business run into the ground by an heir, after the death of its founders aboard the Lusitania.

Caroline Hickson Kennedy, 53, and Catherine Hickson, 57, were sisters.  Mrs. Kennedy had advanced her brother, Richard Hickson, a sum of $800 to establish himself in the women's garment industry in 1902. She began working for the company at an approximate salary of $50 per week plus expenses, which by 1915 had increased to the sum of $5000.00 per year.

Catharine Hickson Caroline Hickson Kennedy

Left: Catherine Hickson; Right: Caroline Hickson Kennedy

Miss Hickson had subsequently been brought into the company at the same initial rate as Mrs. Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy apparently designed the apparel sold by Hickson and Co, but the bulk of the money went to her brother who had a yearly income from the business of $30,000.00. The Hickson’s showroom was at Fifth Avenue and East 52nd Street, directly across the street from the William K. Vanderbilt mansion.

The sisters were embarking on an extended Parisian buying trip for their business when they were lost. Caroline Hickson Kennedy had traveled to Europe aboard the Lusitaniaon one of the early 1915 crossings, and her presence aboard the ship had prompted the Cunard Line to urge other fashion buyers to get over their war fears and head to Europe for the spring buying season. One of the sisters was quoted, on May 1st 1915, as saying, “They wouldn’t dare!” regarding the submarine threat.

Neither sister survived. Lost with them was a wardrobe and jewelry collection valued at $14,000.00. Church bells along Fifth Avenue were tolled in their honor a week after their deaths. Caroline Hickson's body was recovered (#160) and returned to NY aboard the Cymric on June 2, 1915. She was buried alongside her parents in Toronto's Mount Hope Cemetary.

The profits of Mrs. Kennedy's designs in the last completed work year of her life were $125,587.56, according to the paperwork provided at the subsequent court case. The net assets for Hickson, Inc. for 1915 were $179,078.98 "exclusive of goodwill" but after that, things fell apart, and by 1920 the business had failed.

Richard Hickson claimed it was Caroline’s "genius as a designer of women's apparel and her peculiar and exceptional business abilities" which had kept the company afloat. The court pointed out the odd disparity between what she brought in by her labors and what she was paid by her brother, and also pointed out that released from her "exceptional business abilities" Richard Hickson had withdrawn $50,000.00 from the company to establish a fashion industry magazine for his son which was "a complete failure and the investment a total loss" and had also spent about $100,000.00 on furniture and fixtures in 1915/16. Richard Hickson would be awarded $14,000 for the lost personal effects of his sisters.


Shipbuilder Albert Lloyd Hopkins, 44, died aboard the Lusitania leaving a wife and a seven- year- old daughter, both named May. The resolution of the case that Mrs. Hopkins, who remarried and was going by the name of Mrs. Ellison Gilmer, brought against Germany was one of several that make present day readers feel vaguely uncomfortable.

Albert Hopkins

Albert Hopkins

Albert Hopkins had worked for the Newport News Ship Building and Dry Dock Company since at least 1904, a year in which his salary was $4,000.00. He was the president of the company by 1915, and earning a yearly salary of $25,000.00. He was physically slight, but healthy and active, and his life expectancy was measured at 25.5 years beyond 1915.

Hopkins’ death left his widow and daughter in dire financial straits:

In the testimony offered on behalf of the claimants great emphasis is laid on the fact that the responsible position which Mr. Hopkins occupied in the business world, and his station in life, necessitated his spending his entire salary in maintaining himself, his wife, and their child. As one witness expressed it, “the demands and scale of living imposed on Mr. Hopkins in his home life by reason of his high connections in the business and social worlds” consumed his entire salary. Another witness testifies that there were “no signs of Mr. Hopkins having passed from the stage of a salary-consuming man of business to the stage of a saving and investing man of business.” The inference is that business as well as social considerations influenced him in spending his entire salary, which constituted his only source of income, in maintaining his domestic establishment.


He carried a life insurance policy of $10,000.00 payable to his estate, which was collected and disbursed by his widow as administratrix   in paying the debts of the estate and the costs of administration. This left his widow and her young daughter without any source of income save the widow’s personal exertions and the generosity of members of her family, who were not, without personal sacrifice, financially able to support them.

In other words, the Hopkins were what a future generation would call “$50,000.00 per year millionaires;” living a showy lifestyle, but without savings or investments and carrying substantial debt.

The court award of $80,000.00 to Miss May Hopkins seems just compensation. But, in light of the hard line taken with Edith and John Williams by the court, the award of $50,000.00 to the remarried Mrs. Hopkins seems inexplicable, since her dire financial straits were, ultimately, half of her own doing, and several other remarried widows saw their settlements negated by the fact of their remarriage.


David Loynd, Baptist missionary and Evangelist, and his wife, Alice Grimshaw Loynd, led a roving life.

David and Alice Loynd

David and Alice Loynd

Their travels took them from Africa, to Canada, to Chattanooga, Tennessee. But, they always returned to David’s hometown of Bolton, in the U.K.  Their known travels within North America consisted of:

1896:  David, single, arrived on the Majestic. Listed as an “Evangelist," en route to Chicago.
1896:  David and fellow missionary left Chicago for Lake Chad, Africa, via NYC.
1900:  David, single, arrived on the Germanic, as an "Evangelist" en route to Newburgh NY.
1905:  David and Alice Loynd, Mary Grimshaw, entered Canada as "Missionaries" to Hamilton, Ontario.
1906:  Same party, to England via NYC.
1907:  David and Alice Loynd, Mary Grimshaw, plus entire Loynd family; consisting of David's widowed mother, brother, sister in law, niece and sister arrived on the S.S. Sicilian. Glasgow to Boston. The family was en route to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
1910-1911:  Preached at Thompson, Illinois.
1913:  David and Alice arrived on the S.S. Haverford to Philadelphia. They were en route to Mr. Pridgeon's Bible School, Pittsburgh.
1914: David and Alice arrived on the Devonian, to Boston. David was listed as a missionary, en route to Thompson, Illinois. Last US residence, Midway, Illinois.
April 1915. David and Alice left Ottawa, Illinois. David preached three weeks at the North Side Mission, Richmond, Indiana, while staying with Mary Grimshaw. They traveled to NY via Pennsylvania.

Courtesy of Cliff Barry

Go From Richmond to Make Sea Trip on Wrecked Liner
Mr. and Mrs. David Loynd Visit Miss Mary Grimshaw- Local Relatives Believe Them Dead.

Leaving Richmond fifteen days ago, refusing to heed warnings of danger, Mr. and Mrs. David Loynd, who spent a month visiting Mrs. Belle Thompson and Miss Mary Grimshaw, 134 South Fifteenth Street, are believed to have perished in the Lusitania disaster.

Miss Grimshaw, who is Mrs. Loynd’s sister, and Mrs. Thompson, a close friend of the Loynds have given up hope. Relatives in Pennsylvania cabled for information regarding the Loynds and received a reply saying they had not been located.

The Loynds reside in a suburb of Liverpool. Mr. Loynd is a Presbyterian minister and came to this country a short time ago to take a church in Pennsylvania, immediately taking out first naturalization papers.  He gave up his church in March and came to Richmond to visit while closing negotiations for a dry goods store in Liverpool.

The couple left here two weeks ago on Tuesday, stopping two or three days in Pennsylvania to visit. They proceeded to New York where they took passage on the Lusitania. He wrote for passage while in Richmond and had his tickets and staterooms reserved before leaving here.

Mrs. Grimshaw has written relatives in England asking for information regarding her sister and brother-in-law.

 

Find Loynd’s Body; Sailed With Wife Aboard The Lusitania

With the receipt of a letter saying that the body of her brother-in-law, David A. Loynd of Liverpool was recovered fifty miles from where the Lusitania sank on May 7, Miss Mary Grimshaw has given up all hope that her sister’s body will ever be taken from the sea.

The body of Mr. Loynd was recovered fifty miles east of the sinking May 21, according to the letter. Relatives took charge and funeral services were held in Liverpool where Mr. Loynd had purchased a merchandise store.

Miss Grimshaw early gave up hope that the two would be saved. Because of Mr. Loynd’s refusal to recognize fear, and confidence that he and his wife would be rescued from any difficulties, Miss Grimshaw said she believed the two would not prepare to forestall danger if it were imminent.

Mr. Loynd preached for some time at the North End Mission to accommodate the members there while the regular pastor was absent. His last sermon there was in April.

David and Alice Loynd, according to some accounts, were thrown from the first lifeboat to be wrecked.  Both bodies were recovered, and David’s was returned to England for burial. Alice Loynd, body # 75, was buried in Queenstown. A photograph of Alice Loynd, in her coffin, has been widely circulated since the 1970s.

An account by Joseph Glancy, a friend of theirs from the voyage, survives. He wrote to David’s family in Bolton:

Joseph Glancy

Joseph Glancy

As a friend of the late Mr. David Loynd and Mrs. Loynd, whom I met and had sweet fellowship with on board the ill-fated Lusitania, I offer you and all your relatives my sincere sympathy at the loss you have sustained. But while this is so, we must not forget that it is a gain to Christ. Both are at home with the Lord to-day. There were no two happier people on board - both rejoicing in the knowledge of Christ the Saviour. I gave Mr. Loynd my name and address and I also got his, which enabled the police-sergeant at the place where the body of Mr. Loynd was washed ashore, to wire me. I was also fortunate in having your address, although I was in the water for three quarters of an hour. I am sending you a copy of the ‘Belfast Evening Telegraph’ giving an account of my experiences; and a copy of (the) telegram from (the) Sergeant of Police at Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry, where the body was washed ashore. ‘The body Rev. David Loynd washed ashore here this morning; your name and address in his papers; inform his friends if you know them’ I wired back to (the) Sergeant immediately giving him your address. I also wired to you and at the same time called at Cunard Offices here and gave your address. ..... With sincere sympathy, from Joseph Glancy.

Joseph Glancy's grave
Courtesy of Gavin Bell

David Loynd was at the center of a mystery that saw him propelled into newspapers across the east coast of the United States fifteen years before his death.

An Evangelist Missing

Formerly Lived in Newburgh.

The Reverend Eben Creighton, formerly Pastor of the People’s Baptist Church of Newburgh, who resides at 16 Bridge Street, reported to the police of New York City on Weds. That the Reverend David Loynd, well known as an English evangelist and missionary, was missing and asked that a search be made for him. Mr. Loynd’s disappearance had already been reported to the police by Francis Bell, the business manager of the Christian Alliance Missionary House which has its headquarters at #690 Eighth Avenue.

Mr. Loynd came to this country on the Germanic on August 17th. He intended to do some evangelic work in Newburgh, where he had lived several years ago and from where he entered the missionary school of the Christian Alliance at Nyack to equip himself the better for the work of a mission he established at Lake Chad in the Sudan two years ago, to which he intended to return.

Mr. Loynd appeared at #690 Eighth Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 18th. He told Mr. Bell that he intended to stay with friends in Brooklyn and had ordered his baggage to be sent from the steamer to their home. He started to walk to the ferry that would take him to Brooklyn, but found that the heat made the burden of two hand bags he was carrying too great for comfort, so went into a tea store on Whitehall Street and left the bags here for safekeeping.

On the ferry he met a man connected with a banking firm in New York and they struck up so pleasant an acquaintanceship that the man accompanied him to the Brooklyn address. There he found that the friends he had intended to visit for a few days had gone to Chicago for the summer. His new friend invited him to spend the night with him, and he did.

Mr. Bell said Wednesday night that that was all Mr. Loynd told him about his new friend.

On Saturday Mr. Loynd spent the entire day looking for the baggage that the express company had taken from the steamer to the Brooklyn address.  He finally found the luggage at the company’s office in Forty-third Street, and ordered it taken to the West Shore Railroad station at the foot of west Forty-second Street.
On Wednesday he left the mission house at 9 o’clock, saying that he was going to the tea store and then catch the 10 o’clock train to Newburgh. He had ample time to get the bags and catch the train.

On Thursday night, Mr. Bell got a postal card from the Reverend Mr. Creighton, who wrote asking what had become of Mr. Loynd, as Mr. Loynd had not appeared.  Since then, Mr. Bell and Mr. Creighton have gone through all of the hospitals in the city and have searched the police records, but they have found no trace of the evangelist.

At 38 Whitehall Street is the tea store of Robert H. Reilly. A young man in the store said Wednesday night that Mr. Loynd had left his valises there on April 17 and had not called for them until Friday, August 25. This the friends who are hunting for Mr. Loynd find strange, as Friday was two days after Mr. Loynd started for the bags, and two days after he was last seen by his friends.

The young man in Reilly’s store said that Mr. Loynd had first gone into the store accompanied by Frank Reilly, a relative of the proprietor of the store who vouched that Mr. Loynd was all right. The young man added that Mr. Frank Reilly was a clerk in a bank, but said that he did not know the address. This statement is at variance with what Mr. Loynd told Mr. Bell. According to the latter, Mr. Loynd met the bank clerk on the ferryboat. According to the young man in the tea store, Mr. Loynd was accompanied by Mr. Reilly, who works in a bank, long before the ferry was reached.

The foregoing article appeared in the New York Sun this morning. The missing man, Mr. David Loynd, is not a clergyman and is not entitled to the prefix “Reverend.” He is a missionary and an evangelistic worker. When the Reverend R.V. Bingham was pastor of the People’s Baptist Church in this city, Mr. Loynd came to Newburgh, and for a time was associated with Mr. Bingham in the work of the parish. He visited among the church people and assisted in the various departments of the church work. He seemed thoroughly consecrated to Christian activity in all forms and was much beloved by all the people.

When Mr. Bingham, who was also an Englishman, left Newburgh to engage in mission work to Africa, Mr. Loynd accompanied him to Toronto, Canada. He returned to Newburgh later, and remained here for some time. The Reverend Eben Creighton succeeded Mr. Bingham to the pastorate of the People’s Baptist Church and Mr. Loynd assisted him for a time. He and Mr. Creighton were warm friends and Mr. Loynd was frequently a guest in Mr. Creighton’s home. He was always welcome among the people of the parish.

Early last year, Mr. Loynd returned to England and later engaged in missionary work in Africa.

Since Mr. Creighton retired from the pastorate of the People’s Baptist Church, he has been engaged in evangelistic work in Newburgh, and Mr. Loynd as coming here to help him. Mr. Loynd is a good vocalist and it had been arranged that Mr. Creighton should speak and Mr. Loynd sing at their meetings. On Sunday August 19, Mr. Creighton expected that Mr. Loynd would assist him at the services he conducted in the first Congregationalist Church and also at the service at the Y.M.C.A. building. He did not arrive, and Mr. Creighton was considerably disturbed until he received the following postal on Monday:
690 Eighth Avenue, New York City. 8 p.m. August 18. Dear Brother- Don’t worry about me as I have only been detained with my baggage. If I can get away on Monday, I will. Should I come to 16 Bridge Street and have my baggage expressed there? All well, yours faithfully, D.L.

Mr. Creighton also received the following postal which was written on Sunday and dated the 19th at 690 Eighth Avenue:

I came to the Alliance on Saturday to give in an order on some books and it got on towards evening. I had left my baggage in a wholesale store and on going for it to come to Newburgh as I thought, the store was closed, it being Saturday. And so the Lord cornered me here. Now I’ll wait for your reply. I have heard A.B. Simpson this morning in the Tabernacle: it’s quite a treat.

I was sick on board and hardly took any food at all, and so have been run down physically. All I desire is His will. When I reached Brooklyn on Friday afternoon, I found my old friend, a Baptist minister, had gone to Chicago and so I was somewhat disappointed. Still, I believe Romans 8-28.

David Loynd

Mr. Creighton went down to New York City on Tuesday morning to hunt up his friend. He had not arrived home this forenoon, but Mrs. Creighton expects him at any time.

Newburgh Daily Journal 8/30/1900

 

…the tea house referred to seems to be that of Mr. Robert H. Reilly, 38 Whitehall Street, and the young man Frank Reilly, a clerk in the American Exchange National Bank. Frank Reilly could not be found last evening, but a friend of his in his brother’s store said that a clerical looking man had left a handbag there several days ago but that he had taken it away last Friday. The young man said that Frank Reilly knew nothing about the Rev. Mr. Loynd and that he had not heard that Mr. Loynd had spent a night at Mr. Reilly’s home in Brooklyn.

Mr. Loynd was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England about thirty years ago.

New York Times 8/30/1900

 

Being a steerage passenger, he came through the Barge Office….

Frank Reilly, the bank detective, is equally mystified. The express man explains it all by guessing that Mr. Loynd became insane, but Reilly says he saw no signs of mental trouble during his brief acquaintance with the man.

New York Times. 8/31/1900

 

Missing David Loynd

Rev. Eben Creighton, who went to New York to search for David Loynd, did detective work on his own hook yesterday, and managed to find the missing evangelist’s trunk on the Cunard Steamship Line’s pier. He also learned that a man who gave the name David Loynd sailed for Europe on the steamer Servia a week ago last Tuesday. The Rev. Mr. Loynd was in the Christian Alliance Mission on Eighth Avenue the next day, Wednesday. Other persons who knew him say that he was seen in the city on Friday, two days later. His discovery convinced Mr. Creighton that the case was one in which the police should take some interest and he declared that night that he would go to Police Headquarters today and ask Capt. McClusky to detail Central Office detectives on it.

Mr. Creighton had not returned home up to noon today, but Mrs. Creighton received a letter from him this morning in which he communicated some facts about Mr. Loynd.

In his letter he said it seemed strange to him that Mr. Loynd should have called as late as last Friday at the wholesale warehouse for the traveling bags he had left there nearly a week before, when he was supposed to have disappeared on Tuesday of last week.

Mr. Creighton asked in the letter if any word had been received from Loynd’s relation in Cohoes to whom Mrs. Creighton had written a few days ago about his disappearance. Mrs. Creighton has not heard from these relatives and her letter has not come back from Cohoes.

Newburgh Daily News. 8/31/1900

 

Queer Case of Mr. Loynd

“Today I learned the address of the express office where his trunk order had been left. I went there and found that the trunk had been sent to the West Shore Station and had remained there for two days. As no one called for it, it was then sent to the Hudson Street office of the express company. Then, word came from an official at the Barge Office to send the trunk to the Cunard Line pier for shipment on the steamer Umbria for Europe.

Following up on this clue, I went to the office of the Cunard Line and there learned that a man who represented himself as David Loynd had engaged passage to England on Monday, Aug. 20, and had sailed on the Servia the following day. He left word that his trunk had been delayed and would not be at the pier in time to take it with him and requested that the trunk be forwarded to a place in England where Mr. Loynd would certainly not go- a place many miles from his English home.

The man in the tea store said that Mr. Loynd, the evangelist, called there on Friday and took away his valises. That was three days after a David Loynd sailed on the Servia. Now, who was the David Loynd who sailed on the Servia? I have had the trunk held on the Cunard pier, and it is there now. I think, though, it is time the police looked into this…”

Newburgh Daily Journal. 8/31/1900

 

The steamship people further say that their passenger gave his address somewhere in Derbyshire, England, but Mr. Creighton says Loynd never lived in Derbyshire, but Lancashire.

New York Times. 8/31/1900

 

The Missing Evangelist

The New York Sun had the following this morning relative to the disappearance of Mr. David Loynd, the singing evangelist for whom the Rev. Eben Creighton of this city is searching:

Chief Devery declared Friday that he wasn’t going to detail detectives to look for David Loynd, the singing evangelist who has been missing since August 21, because he, Devery, was satisfied that Mr. Loynd for some reason or other had decided to return to England and had gone back on the Servia without taking the trouble to say goodbye to his friends.

The Reverend Eben Creighton who came down from Newburgh to hunt for Mr. Loynd continued the search Friday but without result. He said he was more than ever convinced that the Loynd who sailed for England on the Servia on August 21 wasn’t the evangelist, but somebody who had impersonated him.

The clerk in Robert Reilly’s tea store at 38 Whitehall Street still sticks to his story that David Loynd called at the store two days after the Servia sailed. Mr. Creighton is very angry about what the police say about the case. He suggests that Loynd was lured away for thee purpose of robbery and declines to give up the search for him.

Mr. Creighton was in Newburgh today. He is inclined to look upon the bright side of the matter and is trying to hold to the theory that Mr. Loynd sailed Tuesday August 21, although there are many things that go against this theory. He has given up the search as he cannot do anything more. If Mr. Loynd sailed on the Servia he probably arrived in England on August 28.

Newburgh Daily Journal. 9/1/1900

And, with that, the press coverage ended. If Reverend Creighton wrote to David Loynd or his family in Bolton for an explanation, the response was not made available to the press.

The details surrounding the Reilly family, and their involvement with David Loynd, remain puzzling.  One suspects that Mr. Loynd either fell victim to a confidence game, or a blackmail attempt surrounding the night he and Frank Reilly spent together, and fled the country at the first available opportunity. Reverend Creighton’s imposter theory, although possible, makes little sense since one can think of practically no gain in impersonating an impoverished evangelist.


Several bigamists traveling aboard the Lusitania saw their double lives exposed after the disaster.

The case of Maurice Medbury was one of the more intriguing, and acrimonious affairs to go public in the wake of the Lusitania. Medbury was a dealer specializing in antique jewellery and curios. He was making on average $10.000 a month by buying jewelry from impoverished European families and reselling them to American collectors. It was rumored that he was carrying $100,000 of jewelry with him on the final voyage.

Maurice Medbury had not seen his wife, Lora, for 10 years prior to the disaster. He had made payments of between $150 and $1,000 per month during that time. There had been no contact at all between the couple in the two years prior to the disaster. The Medbury family resided at 1622 Clinton Ave., Alameda, California, from the time they were abandoned.

Medbury sailed on the Lusitania on May 1, 1915, in cabin B101. His cabin steward was Thomas Dawes. Medbury was with passenger Isaac Lehmann in the smoking room, when the Lusitania was struck. Lehmann exclaimed, "They've got us at last! Let's get outside!" Once on deck, Lehmann told Medbury to get away, as debris hit the deck and the roof of the Verandah Café. He did not see Medbury after that.

Initial letters of administration were refused by Judge Wells, in California, as there was no proof that Mr. Medbury had died in the disaster. Mrs Lora Medbury appointed attorney Milton Sheppardson to locate Mr. Medbury’s estate. Had Maurice's body been recovered and identified, Lora Medbury made it clear that she did not want it buried anywhere near the family.

According to Lora Martin Medbury, the Medbury family fortune was built up from a $100,000 foundation, which had been left to her on the death of her father, a Utica, NY, business man. Sheppardson located $30,000 in a New York bank, $75,000 in a bank in St Louis Mo., and $75,000 in a Chicago bank. Accounts were also found in Berlin, Paris, Spain and Italy.

Rumors abounded that various women friends who Medbury acquired throughout his final ten years held property for him , but this was never proved. Then, it was discovered that there was a second Mrs. Medbury, in England. The English "wife" was a lady named Mrs. Maude Hare Danby Medbury, who lived with Maurice Medbury in Horsley, Surrey. If not legally married, they gave the impression that they were.

Researcher Zach Schwarz noted that in 1913 Mrs. Hare Danby, sailed on the Rotterdam for her yearly visit to her son in Texas. The next person below her on the manifest was Mr. Morris Wallace, a US citizen. Mr. Wallace's place of birth, oddly enough, is exactly the same as Medbury's! Apparently Mr. Medbury had an alias to go along with his shady double life

Probate reports in England showed that Medbury left no estate, suggesting that his property and financial assets may have been in the name of Mrs. Danbury Medbury. Given the fact that Medbury had two wives, the question was asked; did he die, or did he survive the disaster and then vanish, with the aim of starting a new life anonymously? The fact that several large bank accounts were left untouched points to the former, but given the cloudy state of his finances and his rather unconventional lifestyle, the latter cannot be ruled out.

Lora Medbury was awarded $7,500.00 as compensation by the Mixed Claims Commission, in Washington D.C. on January 7, 1925.


Third-class passenger, James Williams, was married in England in February 1902, and had one child. He deserted his wife and child in 1905, with his wife getting a separation order on March 14, 1906. Williams went with another woman to Canada, where he was imprisoned and deported as an undesirable person. He went to the United States in 1911, and married a woman who had a daughter from a previous relationship, on December 15, 1914, in Hoboken, New Jersey. His reasons for boarding the Lusitania are unknown; what is established is that he never divorced his first wife in England. He was lost in the disaster and his body never recovered.


One of the more compellingly bizarre scandals to surface in the wake of the Lusitania was that involving a figure from the past of Canadian passenger John Napier Fulton.

Mr. Fulton died in the sinking and his wife brought suit against Germany for $80,750.00. A settlement of $30,000.00 was almost finalized when the angry Mrs. Olympe Eugenie Chanteloup Geradin surfaced. It seems that Mr. Fulton had drained her late uncle’s estate of $300,000.00, and converted it into property while acting as liquidator. "The estate worth $300,000.00 was solvent when her uncle died and after Fulton got through with it her was not a cent left for her, the sole devisee."

There was a court case following that revelation, which lasted from around 1894 onward. However, the case was deferred after Fulton was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison, commencing in September 1900, for doing the same thing to a Mrs. Coristine, to the sum of $12,541.75.

Judgment was passed in 1922 that Mrs. Geradin was owed $120,143.02. The paperwork establishing proof of the other missing $180,000.00 had been lost in the 28 years since the beginning of the case.   Things got ugly during the course of the trial, with Mrs Geradin's lawyers revealing in court, with witnesses, that Fulton's daughter was not legitimate. They established that he had fathered her with a local girl, in order to expedite a personal inheritance, which was conditional upon the birth of an heir.

Mrs. Geradin lost her case in the end, because there was nothing specific the claims court could do for her, and the property which her money had bought was placed in Mrs. Fulton's name.  With John Fulton dead, and no evidence present that Mrs. Fulton was party to the fraud, the property was untouchable. The Court however DID believe the story about the daughter being illegitimate and made it a point to say that they did not believe Mrs. Fulton on that detail.

The final score: Mrs Geradin: $0. Mrs. Fulton: $3750.00 (plus the income from Mrs. Geradin's money, so she did alright in the end) Christian Fulton Fraser (the daughter): $6,000: "....whether he was her father or not, she was dependent on him and had much to expect from him by way of bringing up and education. With everything discredible that happened in his business he was an educated man of many good qualities, devoted to his family, who had the regard of influential friends to the last."



Joseph and Evelyn Dredge

JOSEPH ALAN DREDGE 1872 – 1915 and EVELYN NORMAN DREDGE 1868 – 1915

They say that every family has a skeleton in the cupboard, this was one whose bones had been rattled a few years previous to their untimely demise aboard the RMS “Lusitania”.

Joseph Alan Dredge had been born in Hungerford, Berkshire, in early 1872, the third child of Joseph and Margaretta Dredge. Joseph Snr was an auctioneer and the family lived comfortably, employing a housemaid and enjoying the privileges of their rural life style.

Thousands of miles away, in Bengal, India, Eva Norman Graves, as she had been Christened, also enjoyed the comforts of a middle class life, albeit a much warmer one! Eva was from a highly respected Anglo Irish family whose roots went back hundreds of years in both countries.  Eva had been born in Bengal on 5th June 1868, the first child of Henry William Graves and his wife Kathleen Sophia Seale. Her birth was followed by two further children, Lillian in 1872 and Henry George in 1884.

On 28th August 1886 Eva married, at the age of eighteen in Quetta, Harry Seymour Hazelgrove who had been born on 26th December 1860 and was working towards his ultimate goal of Colonel in the British Army. In 1888 a son was born and named Norman Seymour Hazelgrove. Like the sons of many British Army families of the era, Norman was sent away to England to be educated, attending a public school in Abbotsham, Devon.

Later events would suggest that the Hazelgrove marriage was not a happy one, but the couple lived together in India until October 1902 when Harry was ordered on active service to Aden. Rather than leave Eva behind in India Harry, who had by now attained the position of Colonel, arranged for her to travel to England until his posting was over, providing her with a very generous annual allowance of four hundred pounds.

Shortly after her arrival in England Eva, who was now calling herself “Evelyn” met Joseph Alan Dredge. Joseph had long since left the family home and was working as a produce manager. He had certainly lived in Nyasaland, West Africa, at one time and the meeting must have taken place following his return to England.  Strangely, Colonel Hazelgrove’s sister appears to have been a willing participant to the affair and kept it secret from her brother. Hazelgrove travelled to England in May 1906, probably to re-claim his wife, only to find that Eva had given birth to an illegitimate child on 16th August 1904, naming one “Alexander Francis” as the father.

Eva had written to Colonel Hazelgrove before the birth of her child, but the letter appears to have gone astray and been returned to England where it eventually found its way into the Colonel’s hands. It read:

Dear Harry,

What I am now about to say to you will not, I fancy, surprise you very much, because our married life has for years past been such a farce. I do not intend at any time to return to you, as I have made up my mind to spend the remainder of my life  with a man for whom I care more than I do for you, and with whom I have lived since the beginning of last year. Because you and I have not been happy together, there is no reason why you should not be happy in future with more congenial companionship, and I hope that you will be.

Yours

ENH

This was too much for Colonel Hazelgrove and he petitioned for the dissolution of his marriage on the grounds of his wife’s adultery with Alexander Francis. The case was heard by Mr Justice Bargrave Deane in January 1907. The proceedings stated that in April 1904, Mrs Hazelgrove had communicated with a Mrs Morice of Horsell, near Woking, Surrey on behalf of a friend, Mrs Francis, who was supposedly returning from India in May for her expected confinement in August.  Arrangements were made for “Mrs Francis” to be received by Mrs Morice. In due course, Evelyn, passing herself as Mrs Francis, went to stay in Woking and was confined of a daughter. The child was duly registered on 5th November as that of Alexander Francis, shipping merchant and of Mary Evelyn Francis, formerly Dalton of The Cottage, Horsell.

Before pronouncing a decree nisi, Mr Justice Bargrave Deane declared that every enquiry had been made to find the true identity of “Alexander Francis” without avail and it was believed that the name was a fictitious one assumed to avoid discovery of the man’s true identity. Custody of Hazelgrove’s son, Norman, was also given to Harry, although it would only be a couple of years until he reached the age of twenty one.

At the time of the divorce, Joseph and Evelyn were living in West Africa where Joseph was employed as a produce manager. Their daughter, Margaret, appears to have remained in England. Over the following years they made a number of trips back to England to see the child and once the divorce was finalised were able to marry in London during the first few months of 1908. A few days after their wedding, Joseph re-wrote his will, leaving his effects to “My dear wife Evelyn” and in the event of anything happening to both of them, placing young Margaret in the care of his friend Theophilus Davies.

Possibly Evelyn wasn’t comfortable with the slight age difference between herself and Joseph as all her visits back to England indicated on the ship’s passenger manifests that she was several years younger than he. Possibly even Joseph didn’t know her true age! She invariably gave her place of birth as “London” on the manifests too instead of Bengal.

By 1915 Joseph was working for the Belize Estate and Produce Company in Belize, British Honduras. He and Evelyn planned a visit to Margaret and duly set sail for the USA from where they intended to finish the journey to England aboard the RMS “Lusitania”.

Several survivors mentioned the Dredges as “A nice couple” but little is known of their experiences during the sinking. It seems that they entered the sea and were carried out by the current.

A notice in the Personal Column of the London Times for Friday 14th May read:

“If any survivor of RMS Lusitania saw anything of Mr & Mrs Alan Dredge during the voyage & especially at the time of the disaster, he will confer a great favour by communicating with Clive Davies, 2 George Street, Mansion House E.C.”

The following Thursday there appeared in the Deaths Section:

“DREDGE – In the sinking of the Lusitania, Joseph Alan Dredge of Belize, British Honduras, son of Joseph Dredge of Barnet. Also Evelyn, his wife. They were last seen with their life-belts in the water. Indian and West African papers please copy.”

Margaret Dredge (Daughter) was cared for by Theophilus Davies and educated privately, going on to attend university.

Norman Seymour Hazelgrove  (Son) eventually settled in New South Wales, Australia.

Colonel Harry Hazelgrove (Husband) re-married and had another child.

Geoff Whitfield (2008)



Lusitania, Eluding Enemy Nears Port...

April 17

The general perception of the events leading up to May 7, 1915 is of a relatively normal service life suddenly disrupted by the famous German newspaper warning, after which came the disaster. Some authors make reference to the famous incident in which the Lusitania ran up an American flag for protection in the war zone around Britain but, for the most part, little is ever reported of the ship’s life during wartime. The warning of May 1st. marked another step in an increasingly tense phase of the Lusitania’s life, for the previous voyages had been anything but tranquil. A few excellent accounts have survived; detailing what life was like aboard the lost liner during her final ten months:

Lusitania, Eluding Enemy Nears Port:

August 8: After a dash across the ocean, during which she eluded the German cruiser Dresden, the Cunard liner Lusitania is expected to arrive here tomorrow unless she meets some mishap on the last stage of her voyage.

Wireless messages from the Lusitania state that she is making excellent time. She steered southward out of her regular course after being warned by the British cruiser Essex that the Dresden was waiting in the regular lane to intercept her.

Among the best narratives from this period is an August 12, 1914 account by passenger Herbert Corey who beautifully captured the tension of an early wartime crossing:

Eight days out from New York, the crippled Lusitania anchored in the pool of the Mersey. A naval officer climbed aboard her bridge and, after formally taking possession in the name of the government, began a supper party which lasted until 2:30 o’clock in the morning. The purser began doing thriving business, exchanging seventy-five cents in British money for each good American dollar offered. These were the crowning sensations of a passage filled with thrills- and gossip- most of the thrills being traceable to twittering nerves.

The events of the voyage may be epitomized as follows:

Ten minutes away from the dock in New York, the low pressure turbine went to smash. Obviously it had been tampered with by some emissary of Germany while the boat lay at the pier.

Fifty miles off the coast of America, she was chased by a destroyer of some sort. Captain Dow said she was a German destroyer. Everyone worried busily. By and by the destroyer was dropped by a steamer which could steam a scant nineteen knots in her one-legged form.

The wireless news went perfectly crazy. We heard of a naval battle in the North Sea in which nineteen German ships and six British vessels went to the bottom. Captain Dow sent up a rocket from the bridge. In the midst of his gratulation he sounded a note of grief:

“Poor O’Callahan” he mourned. “He went to the bottom in his flagship, the Iron Duke.”
Next day it developed that there had been no battle, no lost Iron Duke, no martyr O’Callahan. Therefore, the morning paper, which might have contained this cheering information did not appear. The ninety-eight first class passengers, a lesser number of second cabin men and women, and a hundred-odd in the steerage were left to play with their fears and surmises.

Upon the authority of the bridge the statement was made that some seafaring liar in New York had reported the Lusitania blown up and sunk with all hands. This was disquieting, to say the least. Not a man or woman on board but had friends in New York- and in London, where, according to bridge authority, the story had been reprinted- to which this fake meant the bitterness of death. But the use of the wireless was not permitted.

“We are under war orders.”  announced the bridge. “Not a word may be sent by wireless.”

At night the steamer crept along without a light showing. Even her green and red lights were off duty. Her windows were curtained. Her interior halls were dark. One groped to find one’s stateroom at night through gloomy passageways, colliding with shuddering stewards who spoke in whispers.

It was weird, an unusual experience. People who owned sensibilities began to feel them jerking. It brought home to them the fact that war is actually upon the seas- that after half a century of peace the privateer may again be regarded as a possibility, and that innocent people are exposed to the danger of capture as prisoners of war.

“Suppose we are captured?” asked Guy Standling, the actor, of the British consul in New York, previous to embarking upon the Lusitania.“In that event, what will be my status as a British non-combatant?”

“Undoubtedly,” said the consul, “you will be exchanged- ultimately.”
It was 1:15 in the morning when the Lusitania backed away from her pier in New York. To do so, steam was turned into the low-pressure turbine, which is used for reversing the propeller.

“Whang!” went the engine.

There can be no doubt that it had been tampered with while the steamer lay at the pier. A screw the size of a five-cent piece once before played hob with this delicate engine. Someone had monkeyed with the steam ports this time. The evident plan was not to prevent the Lusitania from sailing, but to cripple her that she would prove easy prey for a faster vessel that might be lying in wait.

That faster vessel- according to Captain Dow- was laying in wait. We were fifty miles off the coast and 159 miles from New York when she was sighted on Wednesday morning. Fortunately, she was at a distance estimated at six miles.

“I can only say that she was a destroyer, burning oil and that she chased us” said the officer on watch at the time. “She did not run up a signal flag giving her nationality. She merely signaled to us ‘You are captured. Heave to!’ “

But we didn’t heave to. Instead we ran as hard as a cripple chasing a pig. The sea was a bit tumbled, and in a minute a wraith of fog crept over the sea, shutting off a view of the presumed enemy. When it lifted, she was out of sight. Captain Dow had shifted his course, and eluded her.

That was the last of real happenings. We passed into the realm of the unreal. The moment that wireless news began to come in, we were treated to the wildest feats of surmise treated as fact the imagination can conceive. A battle was reported in which 30,000 Germans were killed- no wounded being reported- while 15,000 brave Frenchmen laid down their lives. Alsace and Lorraine had been regained. The Teuton hordes were in full retreat. England had sent an immense army to Belgium.

“If this is true” asked Frederick Roy Martin, manager of the Associated Press at New York, ”let me get in touch with my office. I can get the exact truth for you at once.”

“We are not permitted to use the wireless” was the reply. “We can receive but not send.”

And so we sauntered along on the slowest voyage the Lusitania has ever made- her log shows it- talking, worrying, whispering, lights out, dodging every time a fishing smack’s sail showed on the horizon, as nervous as a boarding school girl at her first party. In the safe of the vessel was $6,000,000.00 in gold (Note: That sum is vouched for by gossip only; no officer would confirm it!) not to speak of thousands of dollars carried by individuals.

The Lusitania was under government orders from the moment she passed Sandy Hook. In the Mersey she was formally taken over. Her anchor was dropped about ten o’clock on the night of August 11. A naval officer climbed to the bridge.

“When can we go ashore?” the passengers asked the purser.
“I don’t know.” said that official, yawning.
“When will we land?”
“I don’t know.”

And he didn’t care to know, apparently. Neither did any of his force. The ship was in the service of the government. This is a state of war.  The passengers and crew alike would be disposed of when the admiralty wished. There was no more to be said.

Later on the reason developed. All the buoys in the Mersey have been lifted. There was a fog on the water. It was not possible to take so large a vessel to her landing place in absolute safety. It was possible to send a tender out to her- two tenders were tied to her for hours- but no one was permitted to go ashore. Why? War!

Ashore the wildest rumors were in circulation, and came to us by pilot. Liverpool was under martial law. All Germans had been ordered to report once a day or be shot as spies. One German had been shot. Our German- a most inoffensive passenger- had been made prisoner of war. He would be handcuffed when we landed. Passengers were cautioned- by each other- not to speak German. That way danger lay. The broad port of the Mersey, usually bristling with shipping, seemed deserted under the foggy sun.

One began to sense the fact that a great war- a world war- is actually in progress.


A few days after the disaster, William Foulke, of Richmond, Indiana, composed this account of a crossing he made aboard the Lusitania. The voyage, which began September 12th, was the first she had made since the incidents related above:

The Lusitania was one of the fastest passenger ships afloat, and was the most beautifully furnished I ever saw. The rooms on the deck were like clubrooms.

The boat was painted gray for the voyage we took last fall, so as to be as inconspicuous as possible, but the captain did not order the cabin lights extinguished at night. We were subject then to possible capture by German boats, but none on the ship seemed to be afraid of that. The thought of submarines never entered our minds, as the submarine phase of the war had not developed at that time.

I was greatly surprised to learn the ship had been torpedoed. It was faster than any submarine, so it could not be run down. It looks to me as though the captain would have to have the ship shift its course continually after getting into the English Channel and the Irish Sea, so the submarines would not have known where to strike.

The ship could have gone around to the north of Ireland and down from there to Liverpool and thus it would have been less liable to destruction. The boat made the trip to New York last September in five days.

The Lusitania Commandeered as Transport.
She is to go to Halifax.
And There, the Report Declares, Take on Canadian Troops for Europe.

September 18: The Cunard Liner Lusitania, from Liverpool, reached her pier here early today under wireless orders received last night as she was nearing port, according to passengers, ordering her to make all possible speed, unload her passengers, and be ready to sail for Halifax to act as a transport for Canadian troops. The officers would not verify this report, but offered no explanation for rushing the big liner to her pier at one o’clock in the morning.

Prominent among the 1502 passengers, the majority of whom were returning Americans, were Sir James Barrie, author and playwright; A.E. Mason the English novelist; Mrs. George Vanderbilt and Miss Cornelia Vanderbilt; George deForest Lord; Marshall Field III; Chauncey Depew, Jr. and William Dudley Foulkes, president of the Municipal League of the United States.

Also on board was Ralph Moodie of Gainesville Texas, who would die on May 7, 1915. This particular celebrity-laden crossing would later feature in just about the only positive publicity the liner garnered during her final nine months:

February 1915:

The Sensible Romance of Marshall Field III “The Richest Boy in the World”

How the Future Heir of $200,000,000.00 American Dollars Turned His Back on Every Proud and Titled Foreign Beauty…and Picked Out for His Bride A Simple, Charming American Girl.

…from all accounts his engagement to Miss Marshall was the result of a brief but pretty romance aboard the ocean liner Lusitania, aboard which they were recently fellow passengers from Europe. There are stories of smooth walks on the promenade deck lasting until the early hours of the next day. It was remarked by passengers that the young man seemed deeply smitten.

Those interested passengers had their reward a day or two before the Lusitania reached the port of New York. For some time the young man had not been in evidence. Suddenly he appeared on deck- alone, but looking very happy, quite the expression of a sighing lover who had staked his future happiness on a certain answer to a certain question and had not been disappointed.

Marshall Field III, with his retinue of servants, put up at the Ritz-Carlton. Miss Marshall went directly to her home at 6 East 77th street, where young Field was observed as a frequent caller. And presently came the announcement of their engagement.

Other articles spoke of the smitten couple keeping constant company in the lounge, dining room, verandah café, and on the boat deck. Journalists, and friends of the couple, enjoyed playing up the Lusitania angle when they married in February 1915. This was the last touch of romance to attach itself to the liner. Marshall Field III and Evelyn Field remained married for about fifteen years; upon their divorce she was awarded S1, 000,000.00 per year in alimony and their New York residence.


Lusitania Sails

October 3: The Lusitania sailed today with a large compliment of notables including Assistant Secretary of War Breckinridge, and the army officers who came over on the U.S.S. Tennessee.

Everyone is glad to be on the way to the land of the free, where daily baseball scores promise much more exciting reading than the dribbles of censored war news printed here.

Miss Sarah Cooper Hewitt and her sister, Miss Eleanor Cooper Hewitt, were aboard the Lusitania; returned recently from Italy.

Jerome K. Jerome, the novelist, lingered in a corner of his room and refused to talk about a new play which he is going to launch.

Bishop Rhinelander, of Pennsylvania is also hurrying home. Other notables on board the Lusitania include Miss Elizabeth Frick; Mrs. S.R. Guggenheim and family; Mrs. P.H. Mellon and daughters; Mrs. Frederick Orr-Lewis; Mrs. V. Henry Rothschild and Mrs. Gertrude Cornwallis West, better known as Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the actress.

Aboard this voyage were at least five passengers who would be on the May 1, 1915 passenger list.  Thomas Slidell and Frederich Schwarte would survive, while Walter McLean; Lee Schwabacher, andHenry B. Sonneborn would not.

War Zone Gadabout

A brief account of the Lusitania’s next eastbound crossing appears in Walter Austin’s 1917 book A War Zone Gadabout:

FLIGHT THE FIRST October 14 — December 16, 1914

It all started back in 1898, when I tried to get into the Massachusetts militia so that I could go to Cuba and fight Spaniards. Being refused, I got a billet as supercargo on a supply ship and sailed into Santiago in time to see some of the "doings" — just enough to whet my curiosity and my taste for adventure. Then in 1904-1905, during the Japanese-Russian war, I happened to be in Japan. Here was another — and a bigger — chance, I thought, to taste adventure and to see history in the making, but a cold "turn-down" by the Mikado's government kept me from steaming away on a self-commandeered craft to the siege of Port Arthur.

In the fall of 1914, however, I had better luck, for on October I4th I sailed from New York on the Lusitania for Liverpool. I must confess that I had no better excuse for going abroad than sightseeing, but that seemed to me reason enough. The first general European war in ninety-nine years had burst upon an unsuspecting world, and I wanted to have a glimpse of those conditions that had long been talked of as possible, but that few, if any, Americans had expected would come in their day. Besides, I had wagered a box of cigars with a friend of mine that I could get to England, Germany, Belgium and France and return to New York before Christmas. Hence my determination to smell the smoke of Battle in order to puff the cheroot of Peace.

We had a very smooth passage and sighted but one vessel during the entire trip. The steamer's transformation gave us our first intimation of warfare. It was painted gray throughout, and at night all lights were carefully covered. When we arrived off the Welsh coast at night we had a sterner omen of strife, for searchlights from the shore were constantly played on us. But there was no apparent anxiety among the passengers, since that was before the days of submarine " frightfulness," and we docked safely.

From Liverpool I proceeded at once to London, where I put up at Morley's Hotel in Trafalgar Square — that quaint tavern of uncertain age and indubitable British atmosphere. The next day was Trafalgar Day. About the Nelson Monument, in front of the hotel, was gathered the largest crowd I had ever seen. At the base of the shaft were strewn wreaths, contributed by veterans of many wars, from the Crimean down to the present conflict. Among the most touching were those sent by the survivors of the Aboukir, Cressy and Hague, the British cruisers which not long before had been sunk in the North Sea by the German submarine, U-5, with a loss of 1,500 men.

Lusitania Not Heard From

October 30: The Cunard Liner Lusitania, which left Liverpool last Saturday, has not been heard from since. She was due off Ambrose Channel light ship last night, and should have been at her dock by 6 o’clock this morning. At the offices of the Cunard Line here, it was said that the Lusitania had probably been forced to reduce her speed because of a gale blowing off the coast. The Cunard officials said that they expected the steamship to report during the afternoon.

Lusitania Arrives

October 31: Anxiety regarding the Cunard liner Lusitania, which had not been heard from since she left Liverpool Saturday with 961 until she reported her position by wireless last night, was relieved when she arrived here today more than 24 hours overdue. The weather was responsible for her delay.

On board the Lusitania on this trip were Josephine Burnside, who would survive the sinking, and her daughter, Iris, and maid, Mattie Waites, who both be lost.


Lusitania is Rigidly Guarded Against Bombs

December 5: Precautions against bombs, so rigid as to be almost without precedent in this port, were exercised today by Cunard Line officials upon the sailing of the steamer Lusitania for Liverpool. She carried 1,190 passengers. All of those who were unknown personally to the officials were stopped before boarding the vessel and made to prove their identity before they were allowed to proceed.

The Lusitania carried 9000 sacks of Christmas mail.

David Samoilescue, actor, was returning to his Charing Cross Road residence in London on this crossing, after spending a month in New York City visiting with his wife and children. He would die aboard the Lusitania  five months later.



January 1915 westbound crossing...

The Lusitania’s January 1915 westbound crossing saw amongst the passengers actor Maurice Costello (great-grandfather of Drew Barrymore); poet Alfred Noyes, and at least six people who would be aboard the final crossing: Julian de Ayala; Robert Wishert Cairns; Edgar Gorer; Gerald Letts; Frank Partridge and Martin Van Straaten. Gorer, Letts, and Van Straaten would die.

Final arrival in New York

The February eastbound voyage became the most infamous completed voyage of the Lusitania's career.

Californian author Will Irwin left an account which excellently captured the social side of the voyage,as well as the undercurrents of intrigue aboard the liner and an oblique reference to the son-tro-be-notorious international incident:

On Board the Lusitania.

…the “state of war” begins, in fact, at the pier. This was no common sailing of an Atlantic liner, anyone could see that with half an eye. There was much excitement in the crowd which came to bid us goodbye, much emotion expressed and suppressed. Wives clung emotionally to their husbands; a few women, blinded by their tears, refused to wait to see us off, but ran away down the pier before the deckhands drew up the gangplank.

When, finally, the shores of America faded away in the mist, we came across our first sign of real war-- the British cruisers which for four months have stood at anchor just outside the neutral zone, monotonously waiting for something to happen. We always bestow a little sympathy, in passing, on the crew of the Essex.

…the war is settling down to its pace, the “piker” sail the sea no more. This is a passenger list of old, experienced voyagers. It had been a rough passage-- no worse, probably, than any other February passage, but no winter trip on the Atlantic is very comfortable. Besides, the Lusitania is loaded with certain mysterious and very heavy contraptions of steel she was not meant to carry, and she rolled miserably in the winter gale.

Nevertheless, the dining-saloon and the smoking-rooms have been almost as well filled in the rough days as in the smooth. These are people who got over the habit of seasickness long ago. There is the regular delegation of American buyers, over to get the advance spring styles from Paris. Most of them will not cross the Channel this season; the Parisian dressmakers will move their stocks over to London and meet them halfway. There are at least a dozen gentlemen, American and foreign, concerned in supplying the allies with munitions and clothing. There is a delegation of young and adventurous Americans billeted to our hospital at Paris: they are going to drive motor ambulances from the front to the base hospitals.

There is Mary Garden, going over to be a nurse. Elsie Janis, Joe Coyne and Frank Belcher are going to fill theatrical engagements just as though there were no war in England. Ernest Thompson Seton is on a lecture tour. He had supposed that his winter engagement was off, until he communicated with his manager in London. They spurned the idea that Great Britain was letting the war interfere with anything.

Ex-Senator Lafe Young, of the Des Moines Capital, is going over at age 66 to be his own war correspondent. The other newspapermen aboard tell him that this business of sending cub reporters to a great war has got to stop. George Doran, the publisher, is on his way to see why British authors are not writing. Mark Sullivan, editor of Collier’s is trying to inform himself first hand on the European situation. George Tyler will look over the theatrical situation. Dr. Crozier, of Winnipeg, veteran of the Boer War, finding himself too old for any more fighting, will go to the front as an army surgeon. W.D. Boyce, the Chicago newspaper publisher, is on his way to Petrograd, not so much because he wants to write about the war, as because he cannot stay away from trouble.

Senator Young remarked yesterday in the presence of Captain Dow, skipper of the Lusitania:

“It would be fun to make every one on board tell why he is going to Europe.”

“Hm” said Capt. Dow, “I’m thinking you’d get some long passages of silence.”

For we have a few mysterious passengers, who seek no smoking-room acquaintances and try to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. I cannot repeat some of the things I have heard, but there are two or three very pretty little spy games going on under the surface of life on the Lusitania…

…I suspect that as soon as we land in Liverpool, two or three of our passengers will disappear, not to be seen again until the war is over…

We have been going through the motions of a regular voyage on a regular floating hotel; but we have little heart for the game. The auction pool was a failure; the smoking-room gave it upon the fourth night. But the ship’s concert became a live issue. The men who went down on the Cressy, the Aboukir and the Hogue were naval reservists, and as such came under the benefits of the Seaman’s Fund. The mariners of England must take care of their widows and orphans. Joe Coyne and Frank Belcher started to make this the greatest concert ever held on the high seas. Fate counted them out, however. The cold sea air gave Coyne neuralgia, and Belcher, on the night of the biggest gale, was pitched from his berth and strained his ankle. However, Seton-Thompson, introduced by Senator Young as the greatest animal authority since Noah, impersonated the beasts of the forest, Elsie Janis imitated stage people until she wore out her voice, and an English conjurer favored. The collectors got almost one hundred pounds.

Now we are rolling along the milky waves of the Irish Channel. These seas, in peace time so busy and frequented by crafts of all classes, are now as barren and deserted as the open Atlantic. Since we passed daunt Rock this morning we have sighted only one sail. We shall anchor in the Mersey tonight. Tomorrow morning, escorted by a guide cruiser, we shall zig-zag through the mine fields into port. Before that, the British authorities will have put us under formal arrest, that they may search the more readily for spies and secret agents. And the least imaginative among us will realize that we are entering a world at war.

Later: Now this, at the very threshold of war, illustrates the mystery which surrounds all things European in these days; perhaps it illustrates what a world of rumor this has become. This morning, just off the Irish headlands, we slacked up and hove to. The wireless crackled busily for a few minutes, the sailors made some changes in our appearance, which I shall not mention for fear of the censors, then we proceeded again. At 10 o’clock, the regular wireless news appeared on the bulletin board. It consisted merely of the official communiqués. A little later, however, the rumor grew that ten British merchantmen were torpedoed yesterday by submarines in the English Channel. The stewards, when they talk at all, maintain stoutly that it is true. The officers just as stoutly deny it. We shall not know until the pilot brings the newspapers.

LUSITANIA CROSSES IRISH SEA UNDER AMERICAN FLAG TO ESCAPE GERMAN ATTACK
Will Probably Evoke Protest from the U.S.

February 6, 1915: The Cunard Line steamer Lusitania crossed the Irish Sea flying the American flag. The Lusitania sailed from New York January 30, arriving in Liverpool Saturday.

An American passenger said the captain claimed the right to fly the American flag because he had neutral mails and neutral passengers aboard.

While the British Foreign Office will make no formal statement regarding the action of the Lusitania until the matter is presented in definite form, a prominent British official today said that inasmuch as the British government grants ships of other nations the privilege of using the Union Jack to escape capture, it naturally feels that a similar privilege would be granted its ships in a similar emergency.

The British Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 contains the following paragraph:

If a person uses the British flag and assumes the British national character on board a ship owned in whole or in part by persons unqualified to own a British ship, for the purpose of making the ship appear to be British, the ship shall be subject for forfeiture under this act unless the assumption has been made for the purpose of escaping capture.

Parley Likely to Result

Officials read with interest unofficial reports that the British ship Lusitania had entered Liverpool flying an American flag, and it was considered probable that the entire subject of the use of neutral flags by belligerent merchantmen might be discussed in diplomatic channels with both Germany and Great Britain as the result of the charge made by Germany that a British order was in existence permitting such changes of flag.

Two notes, both in the nature of protests against Germany and Great Britain, were slated today to go forth at an early moment from this government according to official hints this forenoon.

While refusing to forecast absolutely their course on the proposed German establishment of war zones around England, officials suggested that they were not entirely satisfied with Germany’s explanatory message, as published from Berlin. Some flatly declared they did not feel that American vessels shall be endangered through misuse of the American flag by Great Britain.

Confronted by this double problem, the state department was understood to be planning a request that Germany give positive guarantees of protection to American ships in the war zone. At the same time, a protest against the British use of the American flag on the Lusitania and its alleged use on other British vessels was scheduled to produce objections from this government.

International law experts felt today that while England in some circumstances might fly the stars and stripes without violating the nation’s honor, her use of the flag at this time distinctly and directly jeopardizes American commerce and American lives. Hence, they believed there is ground for vigorous protest.

Great Britain probably will be asked within a days to furnish the United States with the facts in connection with the hoisting of the American flag on the Lusitania. This was indicated by Chairman Stone of the Senate  Foreign Relations Committee. The senator held a conference with President Wilson and although he denied they discussed the flag situation, he expressed the personal view that the use of the stars and stripes on the Lusitania was improper.

Passengers aboard this notorious crossing included future Lusitania victims Caroline Hickson Kennedy; Francis Kellett; Allan Loney and Max Schwarz; singer Elsie Janis, who traveled with her mother, chauffeur and two maids; Californian author and journalist Will Irwin; President Wilson’s advisor Colonel E.M. House, who traveled with his wife and her maid; Miss Nona McAdoo, whose father was Secretary of the United States Treasury and whose stepmother was President Wilson’s daughter, Eleanor; and Arthur Courtland Luck, whose wife, Charlotte and sons Kenneth and Eldridge would all die on May 7th.

Ships Sail in Fear of Torpedo:
Lusitania and St. Paul Sailing From England Today.

February 13- Probably not since the early days of ocean travel has there been such  nation wide interest displayed in anything marine as that which marked today’s sailings from Liverpool. It was realized there was a possibility of a German submarine attempt.

The Lusitania and St. Paul had their cabins filled. Many Americans have started home, fearing real submarine operations by Germany. Most of them were confident that the Lusitania would not be interfered with on her present voyage.

The new cargo steamer Torquay, of Dartmouth, was docked at Scarborough after being torpedoed eight miles off Scarborough Head yesterday and badly damaged. The steamers Oriole and London Trader are missing and probably sunk.

Lusitania Kept British Flag Up
February 20, 1915

The British liner Lusitania reached New York today from Liverpool having made the run, her officers said, without finding it necessary to hoist the United States flag. On the outward voyage the liner sailed under the stars and stripes while in the Irish Sea.

Fear of the German submarines kept the big vessel at anchor in the Mersey for nearly five hours after she left her dock until an hour or more after nightfall, according to the passengers. The ship’s officers said they were waiting for a favorable tide. The wait lasted from 2:58 o’clock in the afternoon till 7:47 o’clock in the evening. Then the Lusitania proceeded at full speed down the channel in the darkness.

Rough weather prevailed during the entire voyage across the Atlantic and the vessel averaged only a little over twenty knots.

Once clear of the Mersey, the Lusitania did not stop until she reached New York, but carried her Liverpool pilot, James Durant, across the Atlantic and landed him here. He probably will return on the same ship. According to Captain Dow, rough weather prevented the pilot from leaving the ship.

Aboard this particularly stressful sailing ~ unsupported newspaper articles claim that two submarines were spotted tailing the ship ~ were quite a few passengers who would board again on May 1st. Among them were Josephine Brandell; William Broderick-Cloethe; Carlton Brodrick; Joseph Friedenstein; Phyllis Hutchinson; Father Basil Maturin; Maurice Medbury; Arthur Jackson Mitchell; Frederic Orr-Lewis; Frederick Perry;
Anne Shymer and George Slingsby.  Miss Brandell; Mr Jackson; Mr Orr- Lewis; Mr. Perry and Mr. Slingsby would survive. A second account of that voyage follows:

Butte Man Tells About the Lusitania’s Race

How the Lusitania raced through the Irish Sea with her body and funnels painted black and with the American flag ready to be hoisted for protection in the event German submarines were sighted is told of by Nils Crook of Butte, a nephew of Otto Olson, a musician and mining man remembered by many old timers.

The Captain of the vessel, said Crook, was opposed at that time to hoisting the American flag.

In Liverpool he was told that the Germans intended to get the big liner, and many reservations were canceled at the last moment. The passengers were advised to be on deck when going through the Irish Sea or at least be prepared for an emergency.

“During the 12 hour dash through the Irish Sea the Lusitania did not show a light although the night was dark“. Crook said. “The great ship trembled from the maximum speed obtained. When the gangplank had been pulled up at Liverpool, the painters made the vessel black, even to the funnels.  The ship never stopped to discharge the pilot, and during the night no passengers slept and many sat up in a hysterical mood, as there had been so much talk that the Germans wanted to get the biggest English liner that we were afraid they would do so. Every stoker worked all night, and at daybreak we slowed down and sighted a British man-of-war, but no Germans. The cruiser followed us across the ocean.”

“The owners of the vessel on that trip seemed to feel she might be torpedoed, as the second class fare was raised from $75 to $125. Every one who had the money took out insurance before leaving Liverpool.”


Lusitania Safe in England After a Run In Darkness
March 6, 1915

Moving through the mist in total darkness, the big liner Lusitania, from New York, entered port today, extraordinary precautions having been taken to guard against German submarines. The Lusitania brought 475 passengers, of whom 125 were in the first cabin.

Passing through the Irish Sea last night, all lights were ordered extinguished, and cabin lights were kept burning only half an hour to permit passengers to make ready to retire. These added precautions aroused considerable anxiety among her passengers, particularly because it was reported that German submarine commanders were on alert to attack the big Cunarder.

Captain Paddy Dow, who on the Lusitania’s last trip from New York flew the American flag as he approached Liverpool, denied that he had resorted to such a subterfuge on this voyage. “But I had my locker jammed with flags” he grinned. “If it had been necessary, I would have ran up anything from a harp to the stars and stripes.”

The Lusitania’s March 1915 westbound crossing was notable for the fact that Captain Dow had been replaced by Captain Turner, and for the very large number of May 1st passengers aboard.William McMillan Adams, James Baker, James J. Battersby, Albert Jackson Byington, Isaac Lehmann, George Mosley, Angela Pappadopoulo, Wallace B. Phillips and Frederick Tootal survived, while Henry Agustine Bruno, Alexander Campbell, George Maurice, Frank Gustavus Naumann, Michael Pappadopoulo, Frederick Stark Pearson, Mabel Pearson, and David Walker, F.S. Pearson’s secretary, were lost.

Wallace Phillips

Wallace Phillips


The Lusitania’s final completed eastbound voyage, April 3, 1915, began inauspiciously with a late-season blizzard all but closing New York harbor and delaying the liner’s departure:

Snow Storm Halts Liner Lusitania

April 3: The liner Lusitania, due to sail at 10 o’clock today for Liverpool was held up at her dock by thick weather and a heavy snow storm through which objects 300 yards away could not be seen. With all passengers, cargo and baggage aboard, the vessel lay at her dock awaiting abatement of the storm. Her officers said she would be held so long as the storm lasted- ‘til tomorrow if necessary. Aboard the Lusitania are 833 passengers, the largest list since the war began.

Unusual precautions, even for wartime, were taken to keep from the passenger list any persons whose presence on board was not thought to be desirable. Every passenger had to establish his identity to the satisfaction of the liner’s officers, and no baggage was placed aboard which was not vouched for personally by those permitted to sail.

No Fear

Notwithstanding the dangers of the submarine war zone around the British Isles, the Cunard Line steamship Lusitania sailed today for Liverpool with an unusually large passenger list. Among them were Richard Croker and his bride, and Mme. Leila Vandervlede, wife of the Belgian Minister of State, who has collected nearly $300,000 here for the relief of Belgium.

Captain Turner expected that two fast British destroyers would meet the Lusitania near the Irish coast and convoy the steamship to Liverpool where she is due to arrive on Friday. Care has been taken that no suspected person should be allowed on board, and it was stated that a sharp outlook would be kept for submarines when the steamer approached the British coast.

Chicago journalist Charles Edward Russell, the noted father of mudraking, traveled to Europe in the spring of 1915, hoping to publish a series of war notes compiled during his journey. His first letter, syndicated on April 18, 1915, described his experiences aboard the Lusitania during her previous eastbound crossing. Portions of it chillingly foretell events three weeks in the future.

HOW IT FEELS TO CROSS BY SUBMARINE

Gooseflesh and Nerves Aboard the Liner Lusitania

Everybody watched the sailors. They are getting every lifeboat out of its bed and swinging it outboard all ready to launch. This looks like business: ordinarily the lifeboats rest on their beds from port to port and year to year.

Next, the stewards tack black paper over the windows, pull the shutters over the stateroom ports, screw down the deadeyes, blanket the sides in canvas and put out all the deck lights.

This is the most shivery of all; you put your head out of the cabin door and seem to be stepping in to a bale of black wool.

After these precautions, the careful male passenger takes down the life preserver from the top shelf of the closet and drills himself, and his womenkind if such there be, in its use.

Passengers are told if they go to bed that night, to have the life preserver and warm clothing handy. Open boats at night are colder than Greenland’s icy. Some of us improve on this sound advise by putting on the warm clothing, and the life preserver over that, and sitting up all night.

I may observe here that at this stage of the voyage nobody talks about submarines, battleships nor sunken vessels. By some secret psychology the whole subject is dropped. Also we bear ourselves with an elaborate unconcern. But one thing betrays us. At dinner there is some crash of machinery somewhere below, and half the company jump up breathless. Tension--we all feel it.

When we are shot fairly into the danger zone, 300 pairs of eyes sweep incessantly that dull gray stretch of water. No periscope the size of a man’s hand could escape that scrutiny of the volunteer guard. The loom of a peaceful trawler in the mist brings out every pair of glasses in the two cabins.

And now, where are those convoys? We are right in the midst of the danger field. On this spot, the Punxatawney was sunk with all hands, and over there the City of Shoreditch was struck down. Where are the convoys? Ask the winds that far away disperse the streams of hot air. One loyal Englishman hopefully suggests that they may be so far ahead of us that we can’t see them. And he’s right, inasmuch as they are at least 500 miles ahead, and somewhere in the North Sea.

The afternoon grinds away in this feverish fashion, the foggy evening descends; there isn’t any submarine, any visible convoy, any frowning battleship. We are not stopped, nor interfered with, nor observed, and so far as we can detect, if we were a German pirate we could sail right up the Mersey and shell Liverpool itself.

But when, with the lamps of the city ahead, the stewards turn on the deck lights and the boats are swung in again, you can tell what weight has been on the passengers’ minds by the cheer they raise-- a cheer and more than one huge sigh of relief.

But, how about those convoys anyway? Why, there weren’t any. The British government didn’t provide them. The ship is one of the nation’s dearest possessions and cost a staggering sum, to which the government contributed, but the government didn’t provide any guard for it, and it might have been sunk as easily as the Falaba, the Wayfarer, and the rest of the great fleet of recent merchantmen that now paves the Irish Sea.

When you are about to board a steamer for Liverpool and you read in the dispatches how all the waters thereabout are alive with submarines zealously sinking everything that floats, the news is not exhilarating. Here is an account of a steamer like yours torpedoed close by Liverpool lightship itself-- the audacious undersea raider! It jolts you up a lot inside; there’s no use denying it.

The most of us would fain die a dry death, if any, and anyway, to be spilled in the middle of the night from a warm berth into the icy waters of the Irish Sea is no way to treat a man of peace. It gives you gooseflesh to think about it.

The gooseflesh idea and the weird terrors of the German submarine fleet struck home to a flock of passengers booked for the ship I sailed on. At the last moment, the thing was too much for them and they skipped ashore. It was a new, handsome ship under the British flag, and in the neutral-flagged vessel in which these cautious ones now took refuge was a marine antique seasoned with the odors of a thousand voyages.

There was a howling old northeasterly gale, and the other ship must have navigated alternately on either end all the way across, but the actual afflictions of bilge water and tilting decks seemed to these people less than the pictures their imaginations painted of a shipload of passengers dumped into the sea while a submarine crew should watch them drown. There’s no accounting for taste.

For the honor of plain folk, I point out that all of the band that developed cold feet on this occasion were members of our highest circles and with names familiar to the financial and society reporters. This, to a group of English friends that apparently without profit had traveled among us, seemed to be a fact of great moment. One of them dwelt much upon it in the smoking room, and said learnedly: “Now, if your upper classes run away like this at the first sign of danger, you can’t have any hope for the rest of your people, you know. What would you do in a time of war?”

But, the cloud of international criticism lifted when a son of the West made answer. “Do?” says he. “Do what she has always done. Make leaders out of tanners, rail splitters, teamsters, farmer’s boys, or anyone else that is fit, and leave what you mean by the upper classes to grab off the fat contracts and sell rotten ships and eat to the government, as they always have. The kind of people that count in war time aren’t running away so you could notice it.”  There is almost always a good hardy variety of patriotism in a transatlantic smoking room.

Still, I shall always maintain that goose flesh is only in good form when roasted and brought to the table with apple sauce. It has no proper business to come bothering around when you lie in your berth and count up how many steamers have been torpedoed in St. George’s channel towards which you are now flying. So, to cheer us up, they circulated that story about the convoy of British warships (which never came) to see us across.

But, everything has an end, and finally the great Lusitania tied up at the dock in Liverpool. We are going down the gangway from the steamer to the landing stage. But, who are all these clean shaven, furtive looking men that go snooping about, plainly watching the passengers?

Scotland Yard detectives, no less; a whole drove of them; and the business of landing is drawn out five hours, that they may scrutinize everybody. They pick out six of our passengers and have them detained by the police, being under the impression--O wise detectives!-- that these are bloody-minded spies. One is a decent looking matron of Holland. She goes with the rest. The spy mania! Because of the war, it is epidemic in England now, and anybody that wears well fitting clothes and doesn’t chant his speech is liable to arrest.

Anyway, he is certain to be followed. Among our passengers was a little band of the most obvious typical tourists you ever saw, utterly harmless, and one of he Scotland Yard sleuths shadowed them about the pier and over to Birkenhead, peered into their compartment on the train, and dogged them half over a zig-zag tour of England’s show cities under the belief that they meditated mischief against the king. But when the spy mania comes in, of course all reason goes out.

Among the passengers on the Lusitania’s final completed eastbound crossing was Joseph Gallagher, of Lima, Ohio. He composed the following account of his voyage after the disaster:

Survivors’ statements that the passengers of the Lusitania were chatting and joking light heartedly up until the last moment on the submarines and torpedoes may strike the average reader as exaggerated. But by one who has sailed in the big Cunarder in war time will easily understand the confidence that her size and speed gave those on board.

I was one of those who traveled by her on her last completed voyage from New York to Liverpool, and though as one can now see  the danger from submarines must have been very real I can quite confidently say that there was not a passenger on board who took the danger seriously.

On that occasion she was detained in New York nearly 24 hours by an unusually violent blizzard, and it is true that a couple of passengers, both American, alarmed by the talk about submarines in the smoking room, cancelled their passages and crossed by the American liner St. Paul.  On the last night of the voyage, again, when we were tearing up St. George’s Channel at top speed a few nervous women refused to sleep in their cabins and spent an uncomfortable night on sofas and cushions in the saloon.

With the exception of these isolated instances, however, there was as much joking and laughter on the subject of submarines as though they were nothing more than phantom “Flying Dutchmen” and it was quite a common jest, if we saw a fellow passenger gazing dreamily at the sea, to ask him if he had “spotted a periscope” yet.

On the other hand, the official precautions that were actually taken against attack were very thorough. All through the voyage the ship was darkened at night, and when the Irish coast was neared, it was evident that Captain Turner, at least, had no illusions about the possibility of being torpedoed.

Every boat was swung out, ready to be launched at a moment’s notice, deck lights were extinguished altogether, and the saloon lights were put out at an unusually early hour. Passengers, too, were requested to remain “indoors.”

Right from New York the ship had been steaming at a comparatively slow pace, considering her real speed, ‘til we got near Ireland- indeed, we had never done 500 miles on any one day- but on the Friday before reaching Liverpool it was obvious to all of us that she was going full steam ahead for the last lap.

The increased vibration alone was enough to show the veriest landlubber that the race for safety had begun. And at noon the next day there was quite a little crowd round the log-board to see if the ship had done anything in the way of breaking record. To everybody’s intense surprise the log showed only 450 miles; figures, if anything, slightly under the average daily run we had made from New York. The mystery was explained (unofficially) later on when we heard that the run was in actual mileage 580 miles, but that we had been “zig-zagging” out of our course for the express purpose of baffling any submarine that might be lying in wait for us. I cannot vouch for the truth of this statement but it is the only explanation that seems to fit the facts.

Another singular incident occurred on the same night. In spite of the warning to passengers to avoid the decks, one of the steerage passengers persisted in remaining on the lower deck. Presently he began striking matches with the apparent object of lighting his pipe.  This he found a strangely difficult proceeding. Match after match was struck, flared up with uncommon brilliance in the intense darkness and then went out. His curious proceedings were not left unmarked, and before long one of the detectives on board- and there were few of us who even suspected the presence of these unobtrusive officials- went up to him, took him by the arm and led him away.

Whether, as the detective suspected, he was actually trying to signal the liner’s whereabouts to some German pirate, or whether he was merely a fool who did not realize the criminality of his act I cannot say. But he was certainly locked up for the night and kept under close supervision until we reached Liverpool. Of his ultimate fate, I know nothing. He was not, by the way, the only suspect on board. At least three other individuals were detained at the landing stage as suspicious persons but here again I know nothing of how they fared eventually.

I have quoted these incidents to show, light hearted as the passengers were the Cunard company were fully alive to the submarine peril and took every precaution against the danger that common sense could suggest.

There was one precaution I think no one neglected to take, little though he may have thought of the danger. And that was to see that the lifebelts in his cabin were handy and to make sure, by experiment, that he could slip one on easily at a moment’s notice. But, as I say, the dominant note that remains in my mind of the behavior of the whole ship’s company on the Lusitania’s last completed homeward trip was an unfailing lighthearted cheerfulness. Indeed, I should not be overstating the case in asserting that the precautions taken against submarine attack, so far from frightening the passengers actually added a pleasant touch of excitement and zest to the voyage.

It must be remembered, too, that nobody supposed for a moment that even a German submarine would attack without warning or that ample time would not be given all on board to escape. So that at the worst all we anticipated was a few hours in an open boat and plenty to talk about for the rest of our lives. 

Mrs. C.S. Joshua Arrives in Wales

Reverend C.S. Joshua today received a letter from his wife in which she tells of her voyage across the ocean to Liverpool, England. The letter states that Mrs. Joshua and daughter, Ruth, are enjoying the best of health and are now located at Caerthilly, where they will remain during their stay in Wales.

In the letter it is stated that the voyage was most pleasant and uneventful. No German submarine bothered the Lusitania, on which she traveled, and the ship was convoyed hundreds of miles by warships. The ship arrived in Liverpool on April 10, but all passengers were held in the ship until the following day.

New Castle PA News, April 26, 1915.


The press coverage of the final completed crossing was minimal, and mostly centered on Marconi.  The best record of the voyage is a scrapbook of onboard and pier photos kept by an English family who traveled second class.

George Chalk, 47, a dentist from Richmond, his wife Esther, and children Hilda and Harvey, were on “New York holiday” and were visiting a friend who lived on West 73rd Street in Manhattan. His relations to fellow travelers, tailor Maurice Chalk, 32, and his wife, Zarah, 21, is not known. Maurice and Zarah were on their way to join his brother, B. Chalk, at 2817 Broadway. All six Chalks appear in various combinations in the deck snapshots.

The album shows all aspects of the voyage, which appears to have been a happy one, and includes a series of photos taken of the Lusitania as she came up river and docked. The source of these photos may have been either Max or Pauline Chalk, who had arrived with their seven children aboard the neutral St. Paul, on April 19, 1915, and who were staying with B. Chalk of 2817 Broadway.

The final arrival, April 17 1915
Album courtesy of Mike Poirier


Jean Timmermeister, Lusitania descendant and researcher, provided us with this excellent account of the April 17-24 crossing, left by a group of men who traveled from Liverpool to Butte, Montana.

Five Butte men who were on the Lusitania on the last voyage from Liverpool to New York have related how the Germans had attempted to torpedo the liner on that trip. The men who took that trip on the Lusitania are Frank Butler, an importer, with headquarters on the coast, who was at the Leggat yesterday; Owen Crowley, a relative of John J. Crowley of Crowley and Lockhart; Dennis O’Sullivan, Pat Driscoll, a relative of Dennis Driscoll, and Tom O’Brion, aged 16, a son of Tom O’Brion; a former shift boss at the Modoc mine. Each man said the trip across the Atlantic was made amid many perils, and that the passengers, almost to a person, were afraid that the Germans would attempt to send the liner to the bottom.

That a German submarine attempted to torpedo the ship while it was in St. George’s Channel, between Liverpool and Queenstown, was the statement of Mr. Butler, and his story is confirmed by that told by O’Sullivan, Driscoll, Crowley and O’Brion. In Liverpool the feeling was strong that the Germans would attack the ship, and there were some reservations canceled just before the gangplank was pulled up.

“We were told that the vessel would sail from Liverpool at 2 p.m., but we did not move, although everything was ready and every stoker was at work” said Butler. “The Admiralty had an airship over the ship to locate any submarine which might be waiting to attack her. It was decided to make the race through the channel after dark, and at 9 o’clock that night we got underway. After we had gone some distance, the ship stopped. We were told later that a submarine had been reported down the channel. The airship had signaled to the vessel to stop. Later, every pound of steam was put on and we raced down the channel at the Lusitania’s best speed. The submarine took up the chase at a point near Arklow, where the channel is narrow. If the Lusitania had not outdistanced the submarine, she would have been sent to the bottom. The passengers knew that something unusual was going on. Some of them wanted the captain to hoist the American flag, but he did not do so. The next day a notice was posted that submarine had followed the Lusitania 50 miles and had been outdistanced. Just before the Lusitania started to race through the channel, every porthole was covered and every deck light extinguished. There was no mirth aboard the big vessel, although the crew tried to us that there was no danger.”

O’Brion said that many of the passengers were on deck and that frequently some frightened woman would announce that she had seen the periscope of a submarine.“If that ship had been torpedoed when we were racing down the Irish coast, not all of us would have been saved” said O’Brion. “It did not seem as if there were enough boats for all the passengers and it would have been the third class passengers who would have had to take the chances.”

O’Sullivan said many of the first class passengers felt no fear that the vessel would sink, although many expected she might be hit by a torpedo. In London, many of the passengers had been told that the ship was so excellently built that she would stand the shock of a torpedo, and that watertight compartments would keep her afloat until all the passengers were taken off.

The passengers were agreeable to all the precautions taken to keep the movement of the boat a secret. It was not until Wednesday, four days after leaving Liverpool, that any lights showed. In the smoking rooms blankets were placed back of the lamps to prevent any light filtering through. The third class passengers were ordered below each night at 9 o’clock. The fare was increased about $5 because of the war risk.

O’Sullivan said that he went all over the ship to see if she had mounted any guns, as he had heard that the Lusitania carried some six inch guns. “There was not one gun aboard as far as we could find out, and certainly none were mounted. We were told that the vessel was not carrying munitions of war and that it was simply in the passenger business” said O’Sullivan.

Shipbuilder Albert Lloyd Hopkins, of Newport News, Virginia, went to visit his ailing father in Glen Falls, New York,  during the final week of April, 1915. He assured his father that he would be alright, and that he would return in a month. The elderly Mr. Hopkins learned of the German warning, on May 1st, and became very distressed. The sickly man declined dramatically, and died within two days. His family in Glen Falls wrote to relatives in Virginia, telling about his final days and blaming his great worry over the torpedo danger for his death.

Hopkins' body was recovered, and returned to the United States. He was buried in Glen Falls, New York.



THE WARNING:  “Now, if your upper classes run away like this at the first sign of danger, you can’t have any hope for the rest of your people, you know. What would you do in a time of war?”

“What should she have done?”

3000 Accept Risk
Alfred G. Vanderbilt Among Those Who Ignore Written Warnings

The largest number of transatlantic travelers to leave New York in a single day this spring booked passage on five big liners leaving port today. The Lusitania alone had aboard nearly 900 cabin passengers and a large number in the steerage.

Apparently a notice published in New York papers over the signature of the Imperial German Embassy reminding passengers that vessels flying the flags of the Allies are liable to destruction in the war zone around the British Isles had no effect on the traveling public. There were the usual number of last minute cancellations, but no more than customary, it was said at the various steamship offices. In the absence of authentic figures, it was estimated that more than 3000 persons had reserved sailings.

Besides the Lusitania, other ships sailing were the Danish liner Bergensfjord for Bergen, the Dutch steamer Rotterdam for Rotterdam, and the American liner New York for Liverpool. Seven other liners left for West Indies ports.

When the Lusitania sailed, it had aboard 1,210 passengers. A number of the passengers received telegrams at the pier, signed by names unknown to them and presumed to be fictitious, advising them not to sail as the liner was to be torpedoed by submarines. Among the persons who received such a telegram was Alfred G. Vanderbilt. He destroyed the message without comment.

It is a beautiful fall day, and three of us have taken Barbara to a family style restaurant close to her Connecticut home. Mrs. McDermott sits facing us across the table: the calico-patterned tablecloth; the blond-wood furniture; the sunlight, and Barbara’s brightly colored fall outfit all blend together to convey an almost perfect Rockwell image of Coming Home to Visit Grandmother. Lest this seem too sentimental, the family-style restaurant is, today, literally awash in family style: the booths and tables are over-filled; the line at the restrooms stretches all the way to the New York border, and the cheerful din is all but overpowering. Our waitress is friendly, if slightly harried, and warns us in advance that, due to the overcrowding, the food preparation might be a little slow.

We speak, fondly, of Barbara’s researcher friends who she wishes could be present. We talk, briefly, about her memories of Captain Rostron: “A very handsome man.” Barbara’s early elocution training comes in handy; properly trained, she speaks from her diaphragm and not from her throat. Subsequently, she projects well, and is audible above the ever-mounting sounds of children getting restless as their food does not arrive. “Somebody must have told him I was seasick, but I really have no idea how he found out. My, it is loud in here.” We allow the conversation to ramble. The line at the bathrooms all but grinds to a halt, as one of the two rooms goes out of service. Barbara speaks of her final trip home to England, decades after her marriage. She comments on the fact that the only good thing about the disaster is that it allowed her to make new friends and get out in the world at an age where most people are not as fortunate. “I am starting to get hungry” she comments, as we scan the far reaches of the room for any sign of our meals approaching.

The conversation swings back towards her mother, Emily Anderson. Barbara wonders about how different things would have been, had her mother lived. It is not a “pity me” moment, it is simply an observation she makes. And, she wonders aloud about the infamous German Embassy Warning of May 1, 1915, and her mother: “What should she have done?” The question is not rhetorical; Barbara has been thinking about the warning, lately, and wondering what Emily could, and should, have done.

That is a question that haunted survivors and the families of those who died, for their entire lives. Starting with the song “When the Lusitania Went Down” with its lyrical accusation: “Although they were warned/ the warning was scorned” and carrying through many recent articles and chat room discussions, there has been a sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, hint of chastising and blaming those who found themselves trapped aboard the sinking liner, for ignoring the warning and putting themselves in that position.

It is not simple to answer Barbara’s question. The obvious answer, that Emily should have rebooked onto a neutral ship, is, in fact, not obvious at all. The timing of the German warning was particularly cruel. Had it run one day, two days, a week earlier, there is little doubt that at least some of the Lusitania’s passengers would have thought their situation out and rebooked. But, the warning appeared in the morning edition of the sailing day papers, leaving the passengers no time to make an educated decision. Most, apparently, did not hear of it until they were aboard the ship. Rowland, Emily, and Barbara most likely took an early train from Bridgeport, Connecticut to New York City.  There is no way that Emily could have known of the warning until it was too late, unless the Andersons bought a newspaper to read on the cab ride down from Grand Central Station to West 14th Street,.

The same situation played itself out hundreds of times that morning, as out of town passengers left their hotels or arrived at Grand Central and Pennsylvania Stations on the morning trains. What was a person who found out about the warning at the pier or aboard the Lusitania to do? Luggage was already processed into the ship. In many cases, friends and relatives were hundreds of miles away leaving worried passengers with no one with whom to discuss the warning. All but the most experienced travelers would have wondered, “If I get off the ship, will I forfeit my fare?” “How will I rebook on to one of the neutral ships, and is there room?” “How do I get my luggage back? If I can’t get it back, what will I wear for a week aboard the New York, and if I cannot get aboard the New York, how will I get my trunks back from Liverpool?” It was an awful position in which to be.

Emily did not have the advantage of knowing what was to happen on May 7th. If she took Barbara off the ship and returned to Bridgeport, what would she say to her husband? Friends? Her family awaiting her arrival in England? Defeated mother Annie Williams, who was aboard the ship by the generosity of her neighbors; what were her choices on May 1st? If she and her children sailed, and made it to her father’s home in England safely, at least there was some hope. If she did the prudent thing and walked off the ship, with no money, no home, no job, and six children, it was over. Even one day earlier, and Annie and Emily and almost a thousand other adult passengers would have had the luxury of time. Time to make alternate plans. Time to think. The warning arrived, perhaps intentionally, at the precise moment that guaranteed it would foster fear and confusion but be utterly ineffective as a life saver.

The warning was the first of its sort, yet it  was simply a restating of something of which the general public had been aware since mid-February.  A running theme in newspaper articles covering the Lusitania’s 1915 crossings was the widely held belief that the Germans were out to get the liner. The crossings were tense, and there was a mounting awareness of danger with each subsequent trip. Passengers were not blindsided by the May 1st. warning’s contents, but the symbolism of its appearance on that date and its placement directly beside the Cunard Lusitania ad was lost on nobody.

Quite a few first class male passengers were quoted in sailing day newspapers, and again on May 8th, making light of the warning. The oft-reprinted remarks: “Tommyrot” “Nonsense” “The best joke I’ve heard all day” are used as a blanket indicator of how passengers felt but, in truth, must be taken with a grain of salt. These men, socially prominent, and many with connections to Cunard Line, were mostly taken by surprise by the news. But, unlike the lesser-known travelers in all three classes, they were confronted by members of the press eager for a quote.  In an era in which massive premium was placed on both Stiff Upper Lip and personal honor, it was not at all likely that any man would say “It has got me scared- I’m considering getting off before she sails” to a worldwide audience.

Helping to assuage passengers’ apprehensions were the constant, confident, reassurances of Cunard staff members. Surviving passengers later spoke of being told of the ship’s great speed. They recalled assurances that escort vessels would ferry the ship safely through the danger zone. They spoke of discussing the warning among themselves and with the crew, and of how the confidence of those who treated the warning as a joke served to subdue the worries of those who didn’t. One wonders what the result would have been, had the warning come early enough for the United States government to officially comment on it. A running theme through survivor accounts is that, ultimately, few worried about the warning after that first morning and until the liner entered the war zone. Had the warning arrived a few days earlier, and had the U.S. government treated it as a serious matter at that point, it seems likely that, at the very least, those who were apprehensive on the morning of May 1st might have altered their travel plans.

A further factor worth considering when regarding the cavalier attitude of the first class passengers to the danger of submarine warfare, was the large number of them who had completed at least one wartime crossing prior to the May 1st voyage. At least 77 of those about to depart had sailed aboard the Lusitania since September 1914, and of these, at least 64 had crossed since January. They had, collectively, sailed under blackout conditions; sailed on voyages where it was rumored that submarines had ‘tailed’ the ship; sailed on voyages where the ship had idled in the Mersey until the fall of darkness and then dashed to safety with such urgency that the pilot had not been put off but, instead, had been carried to New York. And, it seems that what was impressed upon them was not so much the dangers of a wartime crossing, but the effectiveness of a big liner in eluding attack.

Altogether, at least 196 of the first and second class passengers, one in five, had crossed since the outbreak of war. (See Appendix C.)  The confidence and assurance of these people who had experienced wartime travel and emerged unscathed may well have served to settle the nerves of those who were rattled by the warning.

So, in that last hour before sailing a number of factors disastrously intersected. The warning was badly timed. The passengers had neither the information nor the time to make an educated choice. Group psychology and peer pressure certainly played a factor; walking off would have made one appear more hysterical than rational. Misleading statements about speed and escort vessels were made. The U.S. government hadn’t the time to advise citizens on the proper course of action. And, as of May 1, 1915, nothing like the Lusitania had happened yet, leaving Total Maritime War an abstraction to most passengers.

Jim Kalafus Collection


I have started on my travels. The weather is very lovely. I am making for New York, and sail from that port on May 1 by the Lusitania to Liverpool. Don’t think that I have not borne your warning against submarine dangers in mind, but I hear that the Lusitania makes her trip from the Irish coast to port under escort of destroyers, so the risk, if any, will just be sufficient to make things interesting.

I had quite a sorrowful leave-taking from the people at Wilkie- nothing less than a public reception. The pupils of the school lined up and gave me a cheerful send off. I am looking forward to a pleasant trip and then see the auld folks at home….

Letter from James Longmuir Ward, 27, a Lusitania victim, to his father in Shettleston, Scotland.

“She went away in very good spirits” said Miss Wiggins of Dufferin Street when speaking about her sister in law, Mrs. A.V. Wiggins, late of 18 Boon Avenue, Earlscourt, believed to be a victim of the Lusitania disaster. “We teased her many times about the Germans’ warning to sink the Lusitania, but she only said ‘You can’t scare me. They can’t torpedo the Lusitania. She’s too quick.’ “

Mrs. Wiggins’ mother died recently. She has crossed the Atlantic nine times, being aboard the Empress of Britain some time ago when the latter was rammed during a heavy fog. She was 45 years of age, had been in Canada eight years, was married but had no children. Her husband, who is now in the United States, was a partner in the firm Sumner and Wiggins, Painters and Decorators, Spadina Crescent. She has three sisters in England with whom she was to stay while there.

Sarah Helena Wiggins survived, despite the dire forecasts of the newspapers and her family. She died in Southport, Lancashire, on October 11, 1936.


Perhaps the best survivor account in which many of these factors were discussed was a letter written by passenger Michael Byrne, of New York City, on June 8, 1915.  Byrne was an excellent observer, and an articulate one as well. His letter sums up, in a single account, all of the sources of anger, frustration and disgust touched on in so many other survivors’ testimonies:

I was a first class passenger, occupying stateroom B-64...

Michael Byrne

I got on board 8:20 a.m. on May 1st 1915. No officer or any one else questioned me or asked me about my baggage.

On reaching my stateroom accompanied by my wife, a Mr. Kennedy a first cousin of mine, and a Mrs. Waters one of our tenants I immediately looked about the room and found my baggage…On finding my baggage intact, we went to the purser’s office to see if I could insure my baggage, but was told that they did not insure.  Next we looked about the lounge and smoking rooms, then went on the promenade deck.

In a few minutes I heard the cry of “All ashore.” So I kissed my wife goodbye; also bade goodbye to my friends and they went down the dock where they lined up to see the boat leave. But when the sailing time came, we were told that the Co. got a message to hold the boat to take on more passengers.

So the time dragged on until 11:30 a.m. when I told my wife that she had better go home as she was liable to take cold. After waving a fond goodbye, I returned to my stateroom and unpacked the necessary clothes and toilet articles for the voyage.

Having completed this, I went on deck and found by my watch that it was twelve noon, and the men on the dock were hauling up the lines on the ship.

So at 12:15 p.m. the Lusitania moved out into the stream and after the tugs had straightened her out we moved downriver under our own power. Then after the pilot left us in the usual way, we steamed ahead for perhaps a half hour, when I noticed we were slowing up.

I focused my marine glasses over the bows of the ship, and saw a warship off our starboard bow, and what looked like a passenger steamer lay off our port bow. On coming closer, I saw it was the Cunard steamer Caronia, now a converted auxiliary cruiser. Then I saw a boat leave the Caronia in charge of an officer who had three gold bands around the cuff of his sleeve. When he came alongside, I could not see whether he handed something to any officer on the Lusitania, or whether any officer on our ship handed him anything or not. However, in a few minutes we were under way again.

I have traveled on mostly all of the large ocean liners, such as the Imperator, Olympic, Mauritania (sic), America (sic), Celtic and numerous others. This being my thirteenth crossing of the Atlantic to English ports, and I know a steamer from stem to stern. I acquired a habit of inspecting every ship I sailed on. So at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning I walked up to the bow and looked over it to see her cut through the water. Then I turned to walk back and while dong so I took particular notice to see if they had any guns mounted or uncounted. There were none either mounted or uncounted, for if there were I would have seen them for I visited that part of the ship every day, once a day or twice, until we were sunk.

Walking aft and on to her stern where I scrutinized everything very closely, but found no guns of any kind or description.
The general conversation on board was in regard to submarines and torpedoes and everyone seemed to think that our great speed would save the ship, and I myself was under the impression that even if we did get torpedoed we would still float.

The weather was hazy, with scattering fog, and we were making between nineteen and twenty one knots until we reached the Irish coast.  Then we slowed down to not more than fifteen knots which speed was talked about by groups of passengers. You could hear, whenever you passed a group of passengers: ”Well, why are we not making full speed or twenty five knots?” as Captain Turner told us at our concert on Thursday night that we could run away from any submarine.

It was a little hazy up to twelve noon on Friday, but at that hour the sun shone out clear and the Irish coast came clearly into view with a dead calm sea. All our lifeboats had been swung out over the port side and the starboard side of the ship by the dining and stateroom stewards early that morning.

I went below and entered the dining room soon after 1 p.m., had lunch and was on deck at 1:30 p.m.  Lit my cigar and walked around the boat deck, finally stopping under the Captain’s bridge.
On the starboard side, looking out over her bows, at about 2:15 p.m. I saw what I thought was a porpoise, but not seeing the usual jump of the fish I knew it was a submarine.  It disappeared and in about two minutes I saw the torpedo coming towards our ship, leaving a streak of white foam in its wake.

Then came that awful explosion, the expansion if which lifted the bows of the ship out of the water. Everything amidships seemed to part and give way up to the superstructure of the boat deck, where I was standing, and our ship seemed to stand still. Our power was cut off, and the captain had no control. Almost immediately after being hit, the ship listed to the starboard at an angle of about thirty degrees, and was settling very fast, or going down by the head.

Most of the first cabin passengers were either in the dining room or between decks. Then came the rush on the boat deck. Most of the people seemed transfixed where they stood.

I stood with my back against the Verandah Café and watched everything that was taking place. The first command I heard was “Keep the boat deck clear” but that was impossible for, by that time, the crew and most of the first class passengers were on it.

Then next I heard the third officer say “It is all right now” and kept repeating it. They tried to put the women and children in the boats, but a great deal of men slipped in also.

The first boat I saw that they were trying to lower, the paying out rope ran so fast that the boat turned over, throwing the people in to the sea. By this time everybody was trying to launch the boats they were in, but succeeded very poorly as the ropes always ran afoul of the davits and tackle. There was no order maintained; there was no one to tell you to get into this boat or that. It was every man for himself.

I adjusted several life jackets on people who did not know how to put them on. There was only a small percentage of them who had jackets on. I buttoned my coat and put on my lifesaving jacket, making sure that all straps were properly fastened.

The first officer passed and I said to him “Are we badly damaged?” and he said they would beach her. I said “How can you do that when your engines are gone dead?”
Then when the water came to the tops of my shoes, I dived off and swam as swiftly as I could in order to get away from the suction. After swimming bout seventy five yards I turned on my back and looked back at the fast disappearing ship.

By this time her bow was just under water, then she seemed to slip quickly forward for about one hundred and fifty feet. Then she shuddered and slipped very slowly down by the head. When the water entered the first smoke stack there was a series of explosions which I heard very plainly. Then the second stack disappeared, and so on ‘til the last stack was under water. After that the stern reared out of the water and she slipped slowly until the sea closed over where the Lusitania was fifteen minutes before.

The suction was very slight. Then came all the wreckage such as spars, deckchairs, galvanized iron ventilators, and everything that was floatable. This wreckage stunned and killed a number.

I swam about, keeping clear of the wreckage. I swam through numbers of dead bodies.

Some of the boats floated around without the occupants using the oars. Others used the oars, but only went round in circles from lack of knowledge as to managing a boat. I swam for one of those and made it. When I put my head over the side, they shouted “This boat is full.” I saw they were much excited, so I just hung on to the lifeline on the side of the boat. After about fifteen minutes I pulled myself up again, and one of the deck stewards who was rowing said “Oh. Mr. Byrne, I am glad to see you.” I said “If you are, then please pull me in.” They pulled me onboard, and I sat down a while. Then I helped at an oar.

Finally, we got the same number of oars going on both sides and we steered for the Irish coast, which was about twelve miles off. After rowing for an hour we saw a fishing smack and we made for her. On reaching her we put the women and children on board first, then applied first aid to those who needed it. The same fishing smack picked up two more boatloads and then headed for shore.

Looking back to where the Lusitania had sunk, I could see about ten small steamers coming at full speed. They picked up all they could find. After another hour, the steamer Flying Fish, a side wheeler, picked us up and headed for Queenstown.

We got no warning of any kind. We saw the submarine come to the surface after the torpedo hit us. Then it submerged again. After the water closed over the ship, I saw the submarine periscope then the manhole, or entrance, at which a man’s head appeared. He seemed to survey the ocean, and the boats, for about two minutes. Then the cover was closed and the submarine disappeared to be seen no more.

From a conversation I had with one of the wireless operators, I know that the Captain knew, and the British Admiralty knew, that the submarines were waiting for our ship. The old proverb says “Forewarned is forearmed.” but absolutely nothing was done to prevent the sinking of our ship. The slightest precautions were not taken. The port-holes were all open. That alone helped the ship to sink rapidly.

When buying my ticket, I was told the Lusitania would make twenty five or twenty eight knots an hour when we would sight the Irish coast. But, she was only steaming fifteen knots when we sighted the Irish coast. The weather was perfect and there was no cause for making only fifteen knots.

Even, for instance, had the captain had an all-hands-on board drill with life preservers when we were two of three days out, the passengers would form on deck and the ship’s officers would inspect us, and anyone who did not know how to adjust his life preserver could have been shown how. A great many people traveling never saw a life saving jacket and do not know how to adjust it. They don’t even know where to find them.

I spoke to quite a number of sailors who told me they were making the first trip of the Lusitania. There was an emergency boat drill every day at eleven o’clock. Oh, it was a pitiable exhibition to look at. When the calliope gave two short blasts there would appear on the starboard side ten sailors- that is the number on each watch- five young boys, two able sea men, and three old men.

There was some motive for having the Lusitania sunk. They knew the submarines were waiting for her. Why did they not use every means at hand to offset it? Because there was a motive, as I said before. And if that motive was sympathy, then either the Cunard Co. or the British Admiralty should be held strictly to account for the lives and property of those who were lost as well as those who were saved.

I refer to the British Admiralty because when I asked the Cunard Co. about compensation for my personal effects, they said file the same claim with the Admiralty and at the termination of war they would collect it for me. In answer, I said “I bought my ticket from the Cunard Co. and not from the Admiralty.” The company knew that the danger was there. What did they do to prevent it? Absolutely nothing.

Michael Gabriel Byrne died in March 1953.


“The worst punishment I could wish for the Kaiser is that he might know for just one hour the dread of being alone when he is eighty. I wouldn’t have him killed, but I would have him put where he never again could have the power to accomplish evil.”

One of the best first hand accounts in which the warning was discussed, was that left by Belle Saunders Naish. Mr. Naish’s attempt to rationalize why the warning should not be taken seriously is, in hindsight, quite sad, and there is something almost poetic about Belle’s writing style: her description of how beautiful the sunlight looked from under the water, and of the moment when she sadly commented to her husband “It cannot be long” are among the most haunting of any remarks made by survivors.

Belle Naish Theodore Naish

Belle Naish and Theodore Naish

Mrs. Naish, of Kansas City, and her husband, Theodore, were one of the more appealing couples aboard the Lusitania, based on surviving evidence. Belle was about as far from the Victorian “Cult of the Female Invalid” as it was possible for a woman of 1915 to get. Her husband, fifty-five when they married in 1911, and ten years her senior, was a civil engineer of comfortable income, who had done well in real estate and who shared with his wife a love of the outdoors and physical activity. In an era where many women still carried smelling salts, forty-nine year old Mrs. Naish was able to accompany her husband on ten-mile hikes without flagging, and their lifestyle was described as “remarkably wholesome.”

Belle Saunders Naish
Mike Poirier collection

May 1st found the Naishes aboard the Lusitania, booked in Second Class. Friends accompanied them to the ship, and one left with them a copy of a newspaper containing the German Embassy’s warning. Mr. Naish declared to his wife:

We will not worry. No reputable newspaper would accept an advertisement of that Cunard Line size and in it put another in direct opposition. It would be like advertising ‘John Taylor Dry Goods Kansas City Missouri’ and then inserting ‘The Peck Dry Goods Company warns patrons of John Taylor Company as said goods are worthless or stolen.’ If that were official, the notice would have been posted in glaring signs, and each American passenger would have had warning sent and delivered before boarding the vessel.

Mr. Naish fell victim to mal-de-mer despite his robust physical state, and was cabin- bound for much of the voyage. Belle wrote that she spent most of her waking hours tending to her husband and therefore, except at meals, did little mingling on board. He did walk on deck with Mrs. Naish on the morning of May 7th. Both noticed the slow speed at which the Lusitania was traveling, with Theodore Naish commenting “I do not like this; it is too much like calling for trouble.” They both observed a British War vessel, when the fog burned off later in the morning, and assumed that it was an escort sent out to meet the Lusitania: “We had all been told that we were protected all the way by warships, wireless, and that submarine destroyers would escort us in the channel. A lovelier day could not be imagined.”

Mr. Naish returned to his bed, but he and Belle managed to make it to open deck soon after the torpedoing: “We had heard the vessel people telling us ‘She’s alright; she will float for an hour.’ I could see the horizon and told Mr. Naish to look ahead at it and the rail and said ‘It is not true, we are sinking rapidly we are turning very fast. It cannot be long.’ “

The Naishes remained with the Lusitania until the end:

We watched the water, talked to each other; there seemed to be a great rush, a roar and a splintering sound, then the lifeboat or something swung over our heads. I threw up my left hand to ward off a blow and then the water was up to my waist. I thought about how wondrously beautiful the sunlight and water were from below the surface. I put up my right hand, saw the blue sky and found myself clinging to the bumper of lifeboat 22. I finally sat down cold and shivering, but we were all with chattering teeth, and I remembered that deep breaths of cold air suddenly expelled will keep a person warm in very cold weather, so we all tried it to our great comfort. While we sat on overturned no. 22 the men told us to take off our shoes and stockings as we should not then feel the cold so much. I asked the man who first reached out his hand to help me out of the water to write his name on the lining of my shoe, lest in the experience to follow I might forget. He wrote ‘Hertz’. (Douglas Hertz)

Later that evening, it was Belle Naish who observed some small sign of life in the form of architect Theodate Pope as she lay among the dead, on the deck of the trawler Julia. Miss Pope, in her account, stated that it took nearly two hours of artificial respiration to fully restore her. Theodate and Mrs. Naish remained in contact with one another, visiting several times, and Miss Pope, later Mrs. Riddle, demonstrated her life long gratitude by providing for Mrs. Naish in her will.

Belle shared a hotel room, in Queenstown, with Robert Kay, a little boy sick with measles who had seen his heavily pregnant mother swept away as the Lusitania sank beneath them. She praised him for his bravery, for he only cried for his mother once, and was grateful to him for ‘sustaining’ her during the early days of her mourning, Theodore Naish having been lost.

Mrs. Naish left a second account, which corresponds with the first and fills in additional details:

My first thought was “This is the end of earthly happiness.” I saw a great volume of dirty water rise. It was filled with broken iron and splinters of wood, and though it fell all about me not a piece touched me. Then, for what must have been half a minute there was the deepest, most awful silence I ever experienced, the siren did not sound at all, in spite of what the stewardess had told me.

Finally, as realization came, the people began rushing out of their cabin doors. Two women, mother and daughter clasped each other tight in order not to be torn apart. My thought was to get back to the stateroom where my husband lay. But the stairway was blocked with the people coming up from the second cabin. A young woman stood with her arms around the post of the stairway, screaming “Charlie! Charlie!” And I was to hear the same woman still shrieking the same name in acute hysteria in an Irish hotel days later. Both her husband and father were drowned.

After the second cabin passengers had all come up, I started down the stairway and met a rush from the third cabin. They turned me clear around four times before I could get off the stairway and wait for them to pass. My husband met me at the stateroom door with our life preservers in his hand. All three sets of strings on each life belt was tied securely, but we managed to undo them.

Finally, we got them on and hurried up on deck, where we found many people. My husband aided six persons to get into their life preservers properly. One was a woman with a heavy fur coat. “Madam, you must get out of that coat.” said Mr. Naish. “The fur will sink you.” She took it off, and he tied her life preserver on again for her. Another woman was wearing a long, heavy, wool coat with a large fur collar, her life preserver outside of that and her baby tied to the life preserver on her breast. Mr. Naish told her she must take the coat off and manage differently about the baby or both would be drowned. A pitifully strange sight was a woman, glassy-eyed, mouth hanging open and emitting queer sounds. She was dragging her life belt. As we tied it on her, another woman came along, her hat tied on with a long motor veil.

By that time the ship had tipped so far we couldn’t take our footing without taking hold of something. A boat was being launched, and one end dropped letting all the people it contained into the sea. At the sight, I felt faint and asked Mr. Naish to pinch me to help me back to consciousness. He did, and I was alright again in a moment. We made no effort to get into the lifeboats. Mr. Naish had promised me long before he would never force me to get into a lifeboat unless there was room for him.

Now, I saw the water coming closer. A boatman came up and said “She’s steady. She’ll float for an hour.” But I knew she wasn’t steady, and wouldn’t float for an hour. “Look,” I said, “at the horizon and the railing of this boat. We’ll be gone in a minute.” And gone we were. The Irish coast looked far away, and the song “It’s a Long Long Way to Tipperary” kept glancing through my mind.

We took hold of the railing that penned in the lifeboats. I had my arm through my husband’s. But, as I felt the boat sinking I unclasped my hand from his, because I did not want to drag him down. At that moment the ship dipped down and over at the same time, bringing the water up to my armpits. A boat swung out and struck my head and cut it open, and I lifted my arm to keep it from striking my husband in the face. It seemed as if everything in the universe ripped and tore. The deck seemed to strike the soles of my feet hard.

 The next thing I knew, I was twenty or thirty feet below the surface of the sea. I thought “Why, this is like being on grandmother’s feather bed.” I was comfortable. I kicked, and rose faster. My head struck something that cut my scalp, and kept bumping. I got my arms around something, and when I came out of the water I was clasping the bumper of an overturned lifeboat.

Mrs. Naish was awarded $12,500.00 for the loss her of husband by the Mixed Claims commission in 1924. A 1932 profile of Belle Naish revealed that the one-time schoolteacher had channeled her grief in a positive direction. She had spent the previous fifteen years working on behalf of libraries for the blind, transcribing books, songs, and tax information into Braille. She mentioned that she still kept in touch with Robert Kay, Theodate Pope, and other survivors who she did not name. She continued to live in the Kansas City area until her death at age 84, on August 25th., 1950. Camp Theodore Naish, a Boy Scout Camp endowed by Mrs. Naish still exists outside of Kansas City.

Robert Kay died in Maspeth, Queens, on November 30, 1981. He was 73.



Passengers who sank with the Lusitania who did not drown in the first few minutes soon faced a subtle but efficient killer. The water temperature was later given as low to mid 50’s, and under a beautiful, blue spring sky on a sunny afternoon, the Lusitania’s people began to succumb to hypothermia. The human body can lose heat up to 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. According to cold water survival charts, exhaustion and unconsciousness will set in one to two hours after immersion in water 50-60F, and the overall expected survival time is one to six hours. People with personal floatation devices, or something upon which to cling, survive longer. Swimmers whose entire bodies are submerged, such as those without lifejackets, fare the worst.

A common theme among accounts left by those rescued from the water was of the fairly rapid onset of hypothermic symptoms. Limbs grew heavy. Grips relaxed. Thoughts became muddled as people sank into stupors. Men and women seemingly secure atop debris or rafts suddenly let go and drifted away, still alive but unable to maintain their grasps or, once back in the water, swim. Many survivors and rescuers mentioned people pulled from the water who were apparently dead, but were revived upon being warmed. With sunset, time ran out for those unfortunates who drifted still alive, but inert with shock, in their lifebelts.

Survivor May Barrett recalled:

We had gone into the second saloon and were just finishing lunch. I heard something like the smashing of big dishes, and then there came a second and a louder crash. Miss MacDonald and I started to go upstairs, but we were thrown back by the crowd. Then the ship stopped and we managed to get up to the second deck where we found sailors trying to lower the boats. There was no panic, and the ship’s officers and crew went about their work quietly and steadily. I went to get two lifebelts, but a gentleman standing by told us to remain where we were and he would fetch them for us. He brought us two life belts and we put them on.

By this time the ship was leaning right over to starboard, and we were both thrown down. We managed to scramble to the side of the liner. Near us I saw a rope attached to one of the lifeboats and I thought I could catch it. So, we murmured a few words of prayer and then jumped in to the water. I missed the rope, but floated about in the water for some time. I did not lose consciousness at first, but the water got into my eyes and mouth and I began to lose hope of ever seeing my friends again. I could not see anybody near me, and then I must have lost consciousness for I remember nothing more until one of the Lusitania’s lifeboats came along. The crew were pulling on board a woman who was unconscious, and they shouted to me “You hold on a little longer!”

After a time, they lifted me out of the water and then I remember nothing more for a time that seemed to be an age. In the mean time, our boat had picked up twenty others, and when I became conscious it was getting late in the evening. We were transferred to the trawler and taken to Queenstown. Miss MacDonald told me how she floated nearly four hours in a dazed state. She had little remembrance of what passed until a boat saved her. She remembered someone saying “Oh, the poor girl is dead.” She had just the strength to raise her hand and they returned and pulled her on board.


F.W. Schwarte, of Nottingham, England, was returning from a business trip to Mexico and Cuba. He was leaving the first class dining room after spending lunch with his friend and business associate, C.T. Hardwick, when he heard the explosions. He recalled that the immediate reaction was ejaculations of “Torpedo! Torpedo!” by those standing around him. Everyone, it seemed, knew exactly what was happening.

Mr. Schwarte struggled upstairs to the boat deck, where he joined in the attempts to load and lower the lifeboats. He found himself in one of the boats dragged under and destroyed before it could be freed from the rapidly sinking ship:

Either the sailor above us lost his head or he was thrown backwards, and there was only a ship’s boy in the bow of our boat, and he was unable to unhook the cables. One of the passengers got a knife and started cutting them. He cut three or four, but just as he was on the last one the ship gave a lurch and dragged us all down with her. I don’t think there were many people saved out of our boat.

I was sucked under, going down, down, down….how I got up again, I don’t know.  I can’t swim, but I struggled hard and when I came near the surface there were lots of things on top of me: people struggling and shouting in the water; pieces of wreckage and I don’t know what. There was fearful confusion.

I thought the best thing to do was get on my back and strike out. After about an hour I got hold of an oar and a piece of mast, which I worked under my arms. There was not a ship in sight when we went down, but I managed to keep afloat for four hours. I don’t remember being picked up; the next thing I knew was finding myself by the stokehold on a destroyer or trawler.

Mr. Hardwick, I am pleased to say is saved…another gentleman saved who is well known in Nottingham is an American named Mr. Myers…he was one of the first I found in Queenstown hospital when I regained consciousness. He was badly injured, having two ribs and a thigh broken, and was removed to Cork hospital.

Schwarte’s first person narrative ended here. His hometown paper inexplicably paraphrased his account of his awareness of impending death, and of the sunset which spelled doom for most of those still alive in the water. This deprived researchers the opportunity to read, first hand, the sensations felt by one of the few to watch the sun set while adrift and survive:

He did not feel the water cold, at first, but soon became numbed. The thing that struck him was the sinking of the sun and the gradual approach of darkness. Once he saw a boat in the vicinity and called for help, but whether it was that boat that rescued him he has no idea.


Mary Popham-Lobb, profiled earlier in the article, was a Spiritualist. A letter she wrote, in response to a question from Arthur Lodge, regarding what it was like, from a Spiritualist’s perspective, to come so close to death, gives excellent insight to what those adrift in the cold water experienced.

What you ask me to do is not easy, as I am only one of those who are puzzling and groping in the dark—while you have found so much light for yourself and have imparted it to others.

I would like, however, most sincerely to try to recall my sensations with regard to that experience, if they would be of any value to you.

It would be absurd to say now, that from the beginning of the voyage I knew what would happen; it was not a very actual knowledge, but I was conscious of a distinct forewarning, and the very calmness and peace of the voyage seemed, in a way, a state of waiting for some great event. Therefore when the ship was rent by the explosion (it was as sudden as the firing of a pistol) I felt no particular shock, because of that curious inner expectancy. The only acute feeling I remember at the moment was one of anger that such a crime could have been committed; the fighting instinct predominated in the face of an unseen but near enemy. I sometimes think it was partly that same instinct—the desire to die game—that accounted for the rather grim calmness of some of the passengers. After all—it was no ordinary shipwreck, but a Chance of War.

I put down my book and went round to the other side of the ship where a great many passengers were gathering round the boats; it was difficult to stand, as the Lusitania was listing heavily. There seemed to be no panic whatever; I went into my cabin, a steward very kindly helped me with a life-jacket, and advised me to throw away my fur coat. I felt no hurry or anxiety, and returned on deck, where I stood with some difficulty— discussing our chances with an elderly man I just knew by sight.

It was then I think we realised what a strong instinct there was in some of us, not to struggle madly for life, but to wait for something to come to us, whether it be life or death; and not to lose our personality and become like one of the struggling shouting creatures who were by then swarming up from the lower decks and made one's heart ache. I never felt for a moment that my time to cross over had come, not until I found myself in the water, floating farther and farther away from the scene of wreckage and misery, in a sea as calm and vast as the sky overhead. Behind me, the cries of those who were sinking grew fainter, the splash of oars and the calls of those who were doing rescue work in the lifeboats; there seemed to be no possibility of rescue for me; so I reasoned with myself and said, 'The time has come, you must believe it, the time to cross over,' but inwardly and persistently something continued to say, 'No—not now.'

The gulls were flying overhead and I remember noticing the beauty of the blue shadows which the sea throws up to their white feathers: they were very happy and alive and made me feel rather lonely; my thoughts went to my people, looking forward to seeing me, and at that moment having tea in the garden. The idea of their grief was unbearable; I had to cry a little. Names of books went through my brain; one specially, called 'Where no Fear is,' seemed to express my feeling at the time! Loneliness, yes, and sorrow on account of the grief of others, but no Fear. It seemed very normal, very right, a natural development of some kind about to take place. How can it be otherwise, when it is natural?

I rather wished I knew some one on the other side, and wondered if there are friendly strangers there who come to the rescue.

I was very near the border-line when a wandering lifeboat quietly came up behind me and two men bent down and lifted me in. It was extraordinary how quickly life came rushing back; every one in the boat seemed very self-possessed, although there was one man dead and another losing his reason. One woman expressed a hope for a 'cup of tea' shortly, a hope which was soon to be realised for all of us in a Mine Sweeper from Queenstown. I have forgotten her name, but shall always remember the kindness of her crew, specially the Chief Officer, who saved me much danger by giving me dry clothes and hot towels.

All this can be of very little interest to you. I have no skill in putting things on paper but, you know. I am glad to have been near the border; to have had the feeling of how very near it is always, only there are so many little things always going on to absorb one here. Others on that day were passing through a Gate which was not open for me, but I do not expect they were afraid when the time came; they too probably felt that whatever they were to find would be beautiful, only a fulfilment of some kind. I have reason to think that the passing from here is very painless—at least when there is no illness. We seemed to be passing through a stage on the road of Life.


Allan H. Adams, of Winnipeg, was returning to England aboard the Lusitania, hoping to find work as an electrician. His account is, perhaps, the best available in which a passenger describes his or her own death.

Allan H. Adams

Allan H. Adams

To me, personally, there was once incident in my journey, which was a very impressive dream I had on the night of Wednesday, May 5. I don’t think I am more superstitious than most, but in light of subsequent events, I feel that this account would be incomplete without this reference. On the night in question, my dream (or was it a nightmare?) was this. It seemed to me that there was great excitement on board, as we were being chased by submarines, but amidst it all I seemed to see a friend, dead and in his coffin, rise up and beckon me. The scene was so realistic that it took firm hold on my mind just then. On talking it over with my fellow travelers, in the reassuring light of morning, it assumed its true aspect as a dream, and so we laughed off the idea of any possible significance being attached to it. But still it remains q part of that awful memory which is ever present with me. The person of my dream is still alive and well, in Winnipeg.

About half an hour after lunch, when some of us were on deck but many still below in dining saloon or cabins, a tremendous blow was felt, which seemed to shake the ship from bow to stern. Cold fear gripped our hearts Shivers of apprehension sent chills down our spines, and with blanched faces, yet courageously calm in all appearance, we heard the dread news- We are torpedoed!

The greatest order and discipline was observed when the order to “Man the lifeboats” rang out. I went in the direction of the boats and found that everything possible was being done to get them filled with women and children and safely lowered. The vessel, however, was listing heavily so great care was needed in lowering the boats, and some were overturned in spite of all efforts. The difficulty being great, the deck captain ordered “Everyone leave lifeboats: ship will float” then changed the order to, “All in lifeboats stay there, but take no more.”

Just then, I realized that I had no lifebelt on, so I rushed off in search of one. The first-class quarters were handy, so I searched there, but in vain; they were all gone. On that errand I was unsuccessful in my quest, but on the way I was witness of the bravest deed I ever saw, or hope to see. A woman passenger was distracted and quite beside herself with fear. She was also without a lifebelt, and could find none. She stood there crying pitifully when up came a stewardess who had a lifebelt adjusted and ready to take a chance in the water. Seeing the passenger’s plight, that noble woman took off the belt from her own body and fastened it on the other woman. My hearty swelled with pride and deep emotion in the face of such sacrifice…If it is possible, I wish I could discover if that stewardess was rescued.

I returned to the deck and found that no more boats had been lowered. I awaited developments, and reflected that, being a good swimmer, it might help some in the coming struggle. Just then came the order to lower the boats. I got a place in the last boat,, which was practically filled with passengers from the third class section. All were, of course, greatly excited…I tried to calm them somewhat, saying that once the boat was lowered we would be in comparative safety. Even that small consolation was denied us; for whether, owing to the acute angle to which the vessel now listed, or whether that last order, “Every man for himself” was given, I know not. Either reason is quite possible, for she was sinking fast. Anyway, our boat overturned ere it reached the water.

On coming to the surface, I was quite near the ship…My first impulse was to put some distance between myself and the ship, as I feared being caught in the maelstrom which must succeed the final plunge. To that end, I bent my mind and strength, and in a few minutes paused and looked back, just in time to see the funnels disappear.

The time of immersion was one of horror. The hoarse voices of desperate men, the shrill cries of despair from women, and the pitiful wails of helpless children, together with the utter wantonness, the criminal waste of human life, go to make a situation unthinkable. The only thing with any promise of assistance in sight was a collapsible boat. Towards it I went, and found that there were about fifty people on it, and it was partly submerged… I dived, and swam around for a bit: then saw a lifeboat which seemed only a short distance off. I started in that direction, but after using my best efforts to get nearer to it, it still looked further off than when I first saw it. I looked around for something to which I might cling to conserve my strength, but the boat I had left was my only hope. Towards that I again set my face. I realized that there was now only about half the number on it which I had left there. The seas were now washing right over it. My strength was now pretty well gone, and the utter hopelessness of the situation seized me. I decided that my hour had come, that I could struggle no more; so, saying “Good-bye” to wife and children, I commended my soul to God- and sank.

On coming to the surface, however, I took a long breath, and reflected “After all, life is sweet; so long as I am conscious I will fight; I will struggle to the very end, if end this is.” It just seemed as though that momentary relaxation, when I decided all was over for me, had relieved the awful tension of heart and brain and muscle…and so I struggled on.

Still, the only hope min sight was the collapsible boat, now just visible, and only one or two of the crowd which I had left still clung to her. I decided to try and reach her again. On the way, my course was impeded by the dead bodies of my late companions, some locked together in in deadly embrace; while the cries for help rang out from those who still fought for dear life. But, no help came.

…tried to climb on myself, when the boat turned turtle and threw all back into the water. It acted on the same principal as an empty barrel, yet, being our only hope, we still struggled to get on top, with ever the same result, and ever our numbers grew pitifully smaller….During the struggle to get a hold on the upturned boat, one poor fellow seized me around the neck. As he was in his death agony, it was impossible to release myself. I had a vision of we two soon floating on this waste of waters, such as we had for company all around. There was not an instant to lose. To think was to act. I made one desperate effort and dived deep, and so managed to escape that deathly grip. On reaching the surface, I was very much spent; my strength was almost gone. When my late companion rose to view his struggle was over….there were now only five of us left, out of the fifty or sixty whose only hope of escape had lain in that collapsible boat. Our case was indeed desperate. Besides our physical sufferings from shock and exposure, battered and bruised all over as we were, our mental condition was much worse, with such harrowing sights and sounds of which we were the unwilling witnesses, as one after another of our unfortunate companions succumbed. By the aid of a dead man’s leg, I once more managed to climb on top. Once there, gasping to recover my breath, I anxiously looked to see if there was any help in sight, only to meet with disappointment. All that met my gaze as far as eye could see on that dreary waste of water was wreckage…To my nearest companion (one of the stewards from the ill-fated steamer) I said, “Let’s end it; I can fight no more.” My last spark of consciousness went then. For me the end had come. I had been three hours in the water without even a life belt.

When consciousness returned to me, I was being pulled aboard the trawler Blue Bell. Her crew worked heroically top save as many as possible. There were twenty or thirty of us laid out on deck when I was taken aboard, many, alas! Past human aid. Every means was used by the aid or stimulants and respiratory measures, to restore vitality where possible. I was put to bed, and well cared for. At 11 p.m., Friday, May 7, we were landed at Queenstown.

Allan H. Adams Immigration Record

Adams returned to Winnipeg, in July 1915, via New York, aboard the Orduna. His Immigration record seems to be the only one to specifically mention the Lusitania disaster. He would eventually abandon his family, and return to England. He committed suicide at age 67, in Barrow-in-Furness, England, on September 16, 1941.



Eyes picked out by birds...

An elderly lady, between 40 and 50, hair turning grey, eyes picked out by birds, face full round and freckled. Fairly stout, about 5 foot three inches, very well dressed and wearing a lot of jewelry, and had a good set of natural teeth. On the third finger of her left hand she wore four gold rings, one jeweled with white stones, the second jeweled with three blue stones and two white; the third with five pearls, and the fourth jeweled with three red and two white stones. On her left wrist was an expanding gold wristlet watch, with initials A.G.S. on the back, and the watch had stopped at 2:30. On her right hand she wore two gold diamond rings, one set with a large stone and the other with two large and several small diamonds. Also an old gold oval bangle engraved and around her neck was a long gold chain off which something had apparently been broken. She worse several small gold safety pins set with diamonds; a small black bow was attached to one, and she had a gold clip for holding a pair of spectacles…

A second lady, Miss Hickson, was badly mutilated, her eyes being pulled out, probably by birds. She had a bent wrist, but this was the result, apparently, of an old accident….

A fourth lady, also damaged by birds, was well dressed, stout….

Irish Independent

The Lusitania’s death toll was complete upon the death of infant Campbell McKechan, the final “official” victim, on September 15, 1915. He, along with his mother, Elizabeth, brother John, and aunt, Catherine Gill had sailed together for a family visit in Scotland. Only Elizabeth and Campbell returned to their home in Gillespie Illinois, in August 1915, and the infant succumbed three weeks later to after-effects of the disaster. At least 1,198 were gone, and of these, nearly 900 were carried down with the ship or swept away by the currents, never to be found.

…the rigidity relaxed into an inebriate flabbiness, and the features broke down into a preposterously animal-like repulsiveness. I was present as official witness to an autopsy performed on one body seventy-two days dead, but other corpses equaled it in the ravages they displayed. The faces registered every shading of the grotesque and hideous. The lips and noses were eaten away by seabirds, and the eyes gouged out into staring pools of blood. It was almost a relief when the faces became indistinguishable as such. Towards the last the flesh was wholly gone from the grinning skulls, the trunks were bloated and distended with gases, and the limbs were partially eaten away or bitten clean off by sea-creatures so that stumps of raw bone was left projecting.

~U.S. Consul Wesley Frost

One of the saddest aspects of the disaster was the sheer number of people who vanished, leaving only their names and booking information to commemorate that they existed at all. For instance, were it not for a single mention of Millie Baker, and a single letter posted from the ship by Elaine Knight, both of these passengers would have left no record of their lives aboard the ship or of their final moments. Hundreds died unnoticed, and only through obituaries, newspaper profiles, court cases, and sad missing persons queries preserved in the Cunard Archives can portions of their biographies be retrieved.

Sister Isabel Wise, of Kingston, Jamaica, should not have been aboard the Lusitania. Sister Wise, a Deaconess of the Church of England, and founder of St. Patrick’s Anglican Church, in Kingston, had resigned from her duties due to failing health. She arrived in New York City, aboard the Zacapa, on April 23rd, and her immigration papers were marked as In Transit, with no United States address given. However, she spontaneously decided to go ashore, to visit with friends in the city, and changed her booking to the May 1st Lusitania sailing. She explained to her friends that she knew her visit would be the last opportunity they would have to see one another, and that she suspected she would not survive the Atlantic crossing. These suspicions were not attributed to presentiment of disaster,  but to depression over her unnamed illness.

Sister Wise boarded the Lusitania, and there her story ends. Her family in Northern Ireland, friends in New York City, and the Anglican Church, made concerted efforts to find anyone who could describe her final hours, but apparently no one came forward. A memorial service was held for her, at St. Patrick’s, in Kingston, on the fourth anniversary of her death.  

John and Mary Macky, a couple who had immigrated to New Zealand, were returning home to the United Kingdom for a visit in their old age. He was 60 and Irish, she was 56 and a Scot. They arrived in Vancouver, aboard the Niagara, on April 10, and died together on May 7th, and no one, it seemed, remembered them afterwards. Argentine businessman Carlos Gauthier, 24, vanished leaving a widow, Angeline, in Chicago. Allan and Evelyn Dredge were mis-remembered by survivor Dwight Carlton Harris, who referred to them as Mr. and Mrs. “Grudge” in his letter account of the disaster. The couple had arrived in New Orleans from Belize, British Honduras, on April 26, as passengers aboard the Marowijne, and were returning to England for a visit with their daughter. Harris did not specifically mention seeing them at the final lunch, and they were never seen again.

John Macky Mary Macky

John and Mary Macky


Amelia Macdona, who had hoped to escort a favorite grandson to school in England, traveled alone and died; no one seems to have spoken of her final seven days aboard the ship. Annie MacHardy, a 31-year-old waitress who worked in Macy’s and earned an average of $18 per week after tips, boarded the ship to visit her daughter in Scotland, and vanished.

Macdona

Amelia Macdona
Courtesy of Harding Macdona


Carlton Thayer Brodrick, an unmarried 28 year old who earned $10,000.00 per year as chief geologist for a mining corporation operating in Russia, was on his way to Europe where he was to assist Herbert Hoover in the Belgian relief effort. His body was recovered, but he seems to have left no impression on anyone who survived.  Evan Jones, 65, of Iowa, was returning to his native Wales to live out his remaining days. He traveled in third class, and his final days and manner of death went unremarked upon by any survivors. His illegitimate daughter in Wales became the lawful heir to his estate.  Christopher Garry, of Cleveland, Ohio, was terminally ill with tuberculosis, and was returning to England where he wished to die under his mother's roof. Elizabeth Horton had spent a year in Cleveland, helping her daughter through pregnancy and her first months of motherhood; she was returning home with baby photos and souvenirs. Mrs. Horton died, and so did Mr. Garry.

Carlton Thayer Broderick
Carlton Brodrick


Jane Worden was a 55-year-old dressmaker from Lowell, Massachussetts. Her husband, Charles, 77, was a carpenter who had earned from $1500 to $2000 each year when in his prime. Jane brought in an additional $1000 annually through her own business. She owned the small house in which she and her husband lived, and would have been his sole means of support beyond his savings when he became too old to work any longer.

Jane Worden

The Wordens had lived comfortably, and Jane made several trips to her girlhood home in Clonakilty, Ireland. Her 1915 visit would have been brief. She intended to meet her mother, Mary Goodchild, in Clonakilty, and then escort her to a new home in the United States. They held tickets for the Lusitania’s May 14th sailing from Liverpool. Mr. Worden, and Jane’s brother, Geoge Goodchild, asked her to postpone the trip until the fall when, perhaps, the submarine menace would not have been as acute, but she assured them that everything would be alright. Jane Worden boarded the Lusitania alone, and died anonymously.


Thomas and Beatrice Agnew, both 25 and traveling in third class, were returning to Bally Mora, Ireland.  Thomas, a carpenter, had spent five years in the Pittsburgh vicinity working and saving money.  The Agnews had married in the United States, and the couple was said to have saved “a tidy sum.” They carried all of their possessions with them. A postcard mailed from the ship on May 1st. was the only trace of the couple ever found. Their neighbor in Monessen, Pennsylvania, 30-year-old coal miner Lamond Proudfoot, was returning to Greenhills, Scotland, in second class. He, too, vanished without a trace, although his hometown newspaper in Pennsylvania would later report that he had cabled friends in Pricedale to let them know he had survived. Proudfoot was missing half of his left index finger, an injury shared by none of the unidentified male bodies.


Anne Davis, a 63-year-old widow, vanished without a trace on May 7th. She lived in Benton Harbor, Michigan, with her married second son, Roger, who was a clerk in a steel-casting company. She had no job, but had spent the previous twenty-five years as the primary caretaker of her third son, David Emrys Davis. David, in the terms of the day, was described as “incompetent from birth” or, more gently, “while physically healthy has the mind of a child.” Roger, to his credit, did not institutionalize his brother after Anne’s death. The Mixed Claims Commission granted him $5000 in 1924, $2500 of which was specifically earmarked for the continuing care of David.


Florence “Florrie” Lockwood, president of the New Jersey chapter of the Daughters of St. George, escorted her children, Lillian, 7, and Clifford, 11, and sister, Edith Robshaw, aboard the Lusitania. Beatrice Goodall, a relative of the two women, joined them aboard the ship, along with her two children, Leonard, 7, and Jack, 10 months. The family party was en route to visit relatives in Staincliffe and Dewsbury. No one who survived seems to have commented on the group, and Lillian’s body was the only trace of them ever found. She was buried in one of the mass graves in Queenstown. 32 year old Emily Shaw had grown uneasy over war news, and was returning to England to be with her mother.  Charles Waring had recently lost his young wife and was returning to the U.K. in mourning. 50 year old Ella Mae Lawrence was volunteering as a nurse. All completely disappeared.


Florence Armitage, a young widow from London, had arrived in New York aboard the Lusitania in November 1914. She took long-term, lodging at the Hotel Knickerbocker while visiting with friends who lived nearby on West 43rd Street. A postcard mailed from the ship before sailing became the final known link with Florence. She is commemorated on the tombstone of her father, boxer John Burke, in London’s Norwood Cemetery. George Sidwell, of Hamilton, Ontario, seemed to be on his way up in 1915. A church organist and music teacher, he had published over one hundred songs and, finally, seemed to be making progress as a commercial songwriter. Several of his patriotic marches had sold well enough to draw attention to the tunesmith, and he was en route to London in third class, carrying his musical catalogue with him. He was to meet with publishers, one of whom, it was said, had paid him an advance of $2,000.00. Sidwell died leaving no mark on the Lusitania story, no one commented on him later. His wife was left with eleven children between the ages of 23 years old and 10 weeks. Mary Sidwell received a settlement of $8,000.00 for his loss, while his seven minor children were each awarded $1,000.00. Theatrical agent Luigi “Louis” Brilly arrived in NYC aboard the St. Louis on April 11th. He visited Philadelphia, boarded the Lusitania, and disappeared. Diego Olivar, a young clerk from Merida, Mexico, arrived in New York City on the Ward Line’s Monterey on April 25th, and traveled and died aboard the Lusitania without leaving any mark on the story.


James and Kate Barr come close to defining the “average” couple aboard the Lusitania’s fatal voyage. They were of early middle age, educated, active church members, and were returning to their native Kilmarnock, Scotland, for a visit when they died together. Kate was recovered, and buried in Queenstown but, beyond that, nothing is known of their last seven days.

James Barr Catherine Barr

James Barr and Catherine Barr

James was an engineer. Kate was a former teacher, and a church worker. They immigrated to Toronto, where they were popular members of several social organizations for Scots. Their eulogy, delivered in Kilmarnock by Reverend Andrew Aitken, seems a fitting tribute to all of the Lusitania’s “shadow people:”

Mr. James Barr, B.Sc., and his wife were passengers on the Lusitania on her last journey across the Atlantic, and as never a word has been heard from them, or about them, we can only conclude that they went down with the boat. They were children of the Grange Church, and were among its finest spirits. James Barr flung himself into Christian work with an energy and joyousness that infected others; not only did he give his best, but he spurred those around him to do the same. With principals rock-strong, he had a winning personality that endeared him to all. He had gone far in his profession as an engineer and was going farther. He was rapidly making a name for himself in Toronto, and he will be missed there.

 Mrs. Barr- or Kate Young, as she was known for many years in our midst- left us not quite two years ago for Canada, left our shores with the good wishes of the whole congregation for a long and happy life. A brighter, happier heart never lived than hers. She threw herself wholeheartedly into the work and life of the church. For many years she was superintendent of the infant Sunday school, and did splendid work. She was the living spirit of health, and a sunnier soul never entered flesh. Her gifts of song and speech were freely used and greatly valued. It is difficult to believe that they are gone from us; the world is a poorer place for us in their absence. Their memory will be green for years to come. They were “lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their death they were not divided.”


Thirty eight year old Elizabeth Seccombe, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, was one of the more admirable women traveling in first class aboard the final voyage.

Miss Seccombe immigrated to the United States in 1897, at age 20. Her father, William S. Seccombe, had moved to Peterborough in 1895, in advance of his wife and children. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen on May 18th, 1898, and through his naturalization his wife and minor children became U.S. citizens as well. Elizabeth, four months past her twenty-first birthday remained a citizen of the United Kingdom.

William Seccombe died in 1910. He was a master mariner, who had served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Spanish-American War. He had also once served as the master of the Cunard Line’s Cephalonia, according to 1915 articles. He left  “a small estate and a large family” as one contemporary source put it: Elizabeth had eight siblings.

Miss Seccombe became the mainstay of her family following her father’s death. She was trained as a nurse, and also as a housekeeper and secretary.  Miss Seccombe maintained her mother’s home, paid for the education of several of her siblings, and through savings and prudent investment had managed to put aside $7000 of her earnings for herself.

Elizabeth took her brother, Percy, 20, to Europe during the spring of 1914. They returned to Peterborough by way of Boston, aboard the Cunard liner Laconia, on its July 15th crossing.

Miss Seccombe was paying for Percy’s college education.  She and he boarded the Lusitania in May 1915, intending to enlist as Red Cross workers in Great Britain. Captain Turner, presumably an acquaintance of the late Captain Seccombe, sent a letter to their mother in New Hampshire assuring her that he would look after them.

Neither survived, but both of their bodies were recovered. Elizabeth, body #164, was buried in one of the common graves in the Old Church burial ground, while Percy was cremated and shipped back to the United States aboard the Lapland.

Hannah Seccombe brought suit against Germany for the loss of her family’s principal breadwinner, Elizabeth. Germany challenged the suit on the grounds that although Mrs. Seccombe was a naturalized American, Elizabeth Seccombe was not. She had lived in the United States for eighteen years, but never applied for citizenship. Germany maintained that the American Mixed Claim Commission was intended to rule on death or injury to U.S. Citizens, and that Elizabeth’s death fell outside of its scope.

This contention was rejected in January, 1925, and Hannah Seccombe was awarded $10,000.00 for her daughter’s loss on February 11th of the same year.

Captain Turner’s letter to Hannah Seccombe has survived, and was recently sold at auction.


A pair of letters document the search for perhaps the most famous couple lost without a trace in the disaster:

From the latest intelligence I can get from the Cunard Office, I fear that Mr. and Mrs. Elbert Hubbard on the Lusitania are not amongst us who were more fortunate, and as a fellow passenger on that boat, and as one who has known Mr. Hubbard for years, may I express to you my deepest sympathy in your sudden and terrible bereavement.

It may be some satisfaction to you to know that Mr. Hubbard and his wife met their end calmly and serenely, together. I am confident of this, for I was standing talking to them by the port rail directly near the bridge, when the torpedo hit the ship on the starboard side.  I turned to them and suggested their going to their stateroom on the deck below to get their life belts, but Mr. Hubbard stood by the rail with a half-smile and with one arm affectionately around his wife. She was quietly standing beside him, and no sense of fear was shown by either of them.

I went to my stateroom and got several life belts and came back to the place where I had left them, but did not see them, nor did we meet again on the boat deck.

Therese are poor words of consolation at a time like this, but I trust they will be acceptable to you. I never saw two people face death more calmly or almost happily, for they were speaking together quietly, and each seemed to have a happy smile on his and her face as they looked into each other’s eyes.

Yours very sincerely,
C.E. Lauriat, Jr.

 

I, William H. Harkness, of 112 St. Domingo Vale, Liverpool, in the employ of the Cunard Company, and Assistant Purser on the Lusitania upon her last voyage from New York, make oath and say as follows:

I knew Mr. and Mrs. Elbert Hubbard, of East Aurora, Erie County, U.S.A., who were saloon passengers on board the Lusitania upon that voyage, and I frequently spoke to both of them. I saw them very shortly before the torpedoing of the ship, but did not see them afterwards. I escaped in one of the lifeboats, and as an official of the Cunard Company, I had to busy myself with the landing of the survivors; but I did not see Mr. or Mrs. Hubbard amongst them, and although the fullest enquiries have been made by me, no information of them since the foundering of the ship has been obtained up to this date, and as there is now no possibility that either of them survives, their names have been registered amongst those lost in the wreck.

William H. Harkness
 

Asst. Purser, Lusitania
Subscribed and sworn to on May 14th, 1915, before Wesley Frost, U.S. Consul at Queenstown.

An Armthorpe Victim
Young Lady Coming Over to Be Married

Mr. & Mrs. Wilson of Nutwell, Docaster have sustained a very serious and sad bereavement in the loss of their only daughter who is numbered among the Lusitania victims.

The parents are well known in the Armthorpe district. Mr Wilson having been a former gardener at the Rectory.

Their daughter Miss Sarah Wilson, who would have been 23 years of age next month, was coming over to England from New York to be married, which makes her death all the more melancholy. She was engaged to Mr. Chas Bennett, a railway signalman of Bromley, Kent, and the happy event was to have taken place in a month or two.

She was the only daughter of a family of four, and was born at Wragby near Wakefield. She had been in service in London as a children's nurse, and about a year and eight months ago went out to New York in a similar capacity. She was very popular and well liked by all who knew her.

When her name figured in the lists, her fiance journeyed to Liverpool, but was unable to ascertain any tidings of her. She was traveling as a second class passenger.

The greatest sympathy is felt for Mr. & Mrs. Wilson and family in the sad bereavement.


Alfred Faulkner Wheelhouse was born in Manchester in 1892, the only son of Frederick William Faulkner and Matilda Wheelhouse. He had one sister, and his father had been a marine engineer employed by the Cunard Steam Ship Company. By 1915, his father had died, and young Alfred resided with his mother at 194. Bedford Row, Bootle, Liverpool. His sister was employed at the Post Office in Bridlington at that time.

Alfred followed in his father’s footsteps, also joining the Cunard Steam Ship Company and serving as an apprentice engineer. He engaged as 7th Junior Engineer on the R.M.S. Lusitania on April 12, 1915, at the monthly wage of £10, when the great liner made her final westward passage of the Atlantic Ocean, completing an uneventful voyage from Liverpool to New York. He was also on board when the Lusitania left New York on the afternoon of Saturday, May 1,1915, on what was the liner’s 202nd crossing of the Atlantic. Alfred had served on a number of Cunard’s vessels, including the Lusitania on several occasions, and we can assume that he was familiar with his tasks.

Nothing is known about what specific tasks Alfred Wheelhouse performed during the voyage or how he spent the limited free time he would have had, but when the Lusitaniawas struck by the torpedo shortly after 2pm on May 7th, and sunk within a very short time, Alfred Wheelhouse lost his life. There are no surviving accounts of where he was when the liner was torpedoed, or how he met his untimely death, whether as a result of injuries he might have received, or drowning, but when the pitiful survivors, and the bodies of the unfortunate victims were landed at Queenstown and Kinsale in the late evening of that day, Alfred was not among them, dead or alive.

Word of the disaster quickly spread across the world, and as most of those on board – the crew members -were residing in Liverpool and surrounding areas, it was here that the tragedy was felt most. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, children, relatives, and friends of those on board anxiously sought news of their loved ones. Lists of survivors and identified victims were circulated and posted around Liverpool as details became available, but the only lists where Alfred’s name appeared were on the lists of the missing. Thousands of people gathered wherever and whenever these lists appeared, and one of those who anxiously awaited news was the widow, Matilda Wheelhouse. One can only imagine what emotions this poor woman experienced as she sought news of her only son, Alfred. Did see gather with the crowds reading the various lists? Did she meet the survivors who arrived at Lime Street Railway Station in Liverpool in the days following the sinking, asking those who disembarked from the trains had they any account of her son, or did she remain at home, awaiting word from Cunard company representatives, surviving crew members, or friends, as to the fate of her son, or did she sit waiting and hoping that Alfred would eventually walk into her home?

We can only try to imagine what this poor woman experienced in those difficult days, and we don’t know how long it took her to realise and accept that her son had not survived, but maybe she only accepted that he was dead when word finally reached her that a body had been washed ashore near Ballyduff in County Kerry on July 24,1915, and that property found on this body identified the remains as that of her only son. A telegram was sent by the local police to the Cunard Steamship Company at Queenstown, which stated: -

Body of a man washed ashore at Kilmore. Head, arms, portion of body, feet and one leg missing. No clothes except trousers, black serge, in pockets, gold watch No. 71649 words English make, this case guaranteed to wear 10 years, Lancashire Watch Company Ltd., Prescot, England on dial, double breast gold chain curb pattern around seal suspended in centre, silver match box attached to chain with name A. WHEELHOUSE engraved on it. Sixpence in silver and one cent.”

Following confirmation that the remains were that of Lusitania victim Alfred Wheelhouse, they were given the reference number 258 on the South Coast list of recovered bodies, and it is at this point that we have evidence of the conspiracy to conceal the painful truth from Matilda Wheelhouse, not in any attempt at a cover-up, but rather to spare the poor woman from learning how the sea and the time the body of her son spent drifting in it before being washed ashore, had affected his remains.

Just how long it took news of the recovery of her son’s body to reach her, we do not know, but she was probably notified without any undue delay. Alfred’s remains were laid to rest in an old famine graveyard at Kilmore on the evening of May 24th. – a task no doubt hastened by its condition – and the property recovered from the remains were delivered to Matilda Wheelhouse, at her home in Bootle, on the 28th May. Surely, at this point, she must have fully realized and accepted that her dear son was gone forever.

Matilda Wheelhouse was not content to leave matters rest at just being notified of the recovery of her son’s remains, and enquired of the Cunard Steam Ship Company as to the details of her son’s burial. The company wrote to Sergt. William Best, who was the Sergeant-in-charge of the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Ballyduff, and who would have been responsible for dealing with Alfred’s body when it had been discovered washed ashore, seeking specific details. Sergt. Best replied:

R.I.C.
Ballyduff. Co. Kerry.
27th July 1915.
Cunard Company Queenstown

Gentlemen

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 26th inst; and to state that the body of Mr. Wheelhouse was buried on evening of 24th inst; in Kilmore Graveyard, which is on the seacoast, and adjacent to where the body was washed ashore. The burial was well carried out and a number of persons followed the remains to the graveyard, and remained until buried, and great sympathy was exhibited by those present, some of the women shed tears over the coffin.

The body was buried in a new grave in the corner next the sea. The graveyard is a neat one mostly all sand, and is about 2 miles from Ballyduff, and if anyone of the victim’s friends visits this place, I shall point them out the grave where the body lies.

I am Gentlemen
Your obedient servant
Wm. Best, Sergt.

Whether or not the burial took place as described by Sergt. Best is unknown for certain, but in those days it is safe to assume that a badly decomposed body recovered from the sea would have been interred as soon as possible for health reasons. Whether or not anyone other than the burial party attended the funeral, or whether or not women cried over the remains, is a matter of some doubt, but is obviously something which may have given some comfort to Matilda Wheelhouse.

Despite all this, Matilda Wheelhouse was not going to accept what she was being told at face value, and expressed her desire to visit her son’s final resting place. The Cunard Steam Ship Company wrote to Sergt. Best again, on the 31st July, stating:

Dear Sir,
Our Queenstown Office have forwarded to us your letter of 27th inst., relative to the burial of Mr. Wheelhouse, a “LUSITANIA” victim, at Kilmore Churchyard. We are obliged to you for the information contained therein.

Mrs. Wheelhouse, the deceased’s mother, intends leaving Liverpool on Tuesday for Kilmore in order to visit the grave. We have instructed her as to the best means of proceeding there, adding that if she calls upon you you will conduct her to the grave. We trust that you will be able to do this and extend to Mrs. Wheelhouse all the assistance that you possibly can.

We might inform you privately that we did not tell Mrs. Wheelhouse the exact condition in which the body was recovered. We thought it best for her to remember her son as he was in life and not to tell her what state it was in. We are sure you will use every discretion when she, as no doubt she will, enquire of you the condition in which the body was found.

With many thanks for the assistance you have given us in this matter.
 Yours faithfully,
The Cunard Steam Ship Company, Ltd.

From this letter we can clearly see that officials at Cunard were very sensitive in their dealings with Mrs. Wheelhouse, and their reasons for keeping certain information from the poor woman is clearly stated.

Following on from this, the Cunard Steam Ship Company made very detailed and comprehensive arrangements to allow Mrs. Wheelhouse visit Alfred’s grave, and ensure that she got every courtesy and consideration on her journey. This letter, sent to Mrs. Wheelhouse on the day of her journey, details her travel itinerary, and advises her as to the arrangements made by them, on her behalf:

CUNARD LINE
General Manager’s Office.
LIVERPOOL
August 3rd. 1915

Mrs. Wheelhouse,
194. Bedford Road,
BOOTLE

Dear Madame,

We enclose herewith a first class railway order made on the London and North Western railway Company to Lixnaw. On presenting this at the Booking Office at Lime Street Station they will supply you with the necessary ticket.

We have made enquiries at the Station as to the best means for you to travel to Lixnaw. We are afraid that it will be necessary for you to break your journey on route.

If you proceed by the 8-40 train in the evening from Lime Street, via Holyhead you will get into Dublin (North Wall) at 7.30, a.m. You will then have to go to Kingsbridge Station, Dublin, where you will get a train for Limerick at 9-15 a.m., arriving Limerick at 2.50. You leave Limerick at 2.5., arriving Lixnaw 4.57. We do not know the extent of the journey from Lixnaw to Kilmore, but it is quite evident that you will not be able to return from Lixnaw the same evening. Being a little quite village it is also quite possible that you would find much difficulty in obtaining accommodation for the night.

On the other hand if you care to travel by the train leaving Lime Street at 11-10 a.m., you would arrive at Dublin at 5-30 p.m. You would have to proceed to Kingsbridge Station where you would get the train for Limerick, leaving at 6-15 p.m. arriving Limerick 10-25 p.m. If you broke your journey at Limerick we are quite sure that you would be able to obtain the necessary accommodation. You could then leave Limerick by either the 6.15 or 10.30. These trains would land you at Lixnaw at 9.38 and 1.2 respectively.

Of course it is for you to decide by which train you will travel.

As to proceeding to Kilmore we have arranged with the railway Authorities to provide you with a conveyance. This conveyance will also bring you back to Kilmore. There will be no charges for you to pay in this respect. All you will have to do will be to see the Stationmaster at Lixnaw, and hand him the enclosed note from the L. and N.W. railway. The General Manager of Great Southern and Western Railway Co., has been requested to instruct the Stationmaster at Lixnaw to provide this conveyance for you, so that you will have no trouble in this direction.

We trust that the particulars herein contained will assist you in safely arriving at Lixnaw and later on at Kilmore and that you will be satisfied with the arrangements which were carried out in respect of the burial of your son.
You will of course remember to call upon Sergt Best of Ballyduff, who will direct you to the grave. We wrote to him on Saturday, stating that you would arrive this week, and we requested him to give you every assistance.

Yours faithfully,
The Cunard Steam Ship Company Limited.

However Matilda Wheelhouse decided to travel to see the grave of Alfred is not recorded, but there is no doubt that she completed the journey. Following her visit, Sergt. Best wrote to the Cunard Company notifying them of the fact. Where as his letter does not survive, the reply sent to him from the company does:

8th August 1915
Sergeant Wm. Best, R.I. Constabulary,
Ballyduff, Co. Kerry.
Dear Sir,

We are in receipt of your communication of 6th. Instant, containing an account of the arrival of Mrs. Wheelhouse, and the assistance you so kindly gave her. We appreciate very highly all that you have done in this matter, especially the fact that you refrained from letting Mrs. Wheelhouse learn the exact condition in which the body of her son was recovered. As we stated in our previous letter, it is much better for her to remember her son as he was in natural life, and not to have any idea of the way his body had been mutilated.

We enclose herewith Postal Order for £1.1.0 which we desire you to accept from us as a slight recompense for the services rendered, and expenses incurred by you in this matter.

Again thanking you for all you have done.
Yours faithfully,
The Cunard Steam Ship Company, Ltd.

Thus, the deception appeared to have worked, or maybe Mrs. Wheelhouse suspected all along that the details provided to her were not complete, and played along, either for her own peace of mind or out of politeness for all those who went to such great lengths on her behalf. Whatever she knew or believed, she wrote a letter to the Cunard Steam Ship Company on her return:

194. Bedford Rd
Bootle, Liverpool.
August 9th 1915.
Dear Sir or Sirs,
I have returned from my long journey. I have found the guide you so kindly sent me excellent. I do not know what I should have done without it.

Your very kind arrangements for my comfort in traveling was far more than I could of expected and I cannot thank you enough.

I met with much kindness on my journey.

Sergeant Best was very kind, if it had not been for him I never could have found the grave – as it is a wild place.

I naturally was looking for a Church but there is no Church anywhere near, it is just a piece of ground walled off. At the time I felt disappointed. Anyone always living in England would do, but the people think it quite nice. But I have never seen a place like it before for a Church yard. The Sergeant said I could have some wooden railings put round. He is seeing about it for me so that we should know the place where he is laid. I know well that it only the body there but I am very glad I have been and I have thought it well over. There are many that do not know where their dear ones are laid, but I know I can think of the place where my dear Boy’s body is laid. I am sorry I cannot ever repay you for your kindness to me, but I sincerely thank you with all my heart.

I am sorry to have intruded so much on your time, I could have told you better.

 Believe me to remain,
 Yours respectfully,
 Mrs. Matilda Wheelhouse.
 P.S. I hope I have expressed myself fully in this letter, I have tried to. M.W.

The Cunard Steam Ship Company wrote back to her, acknowledging her kind remarks, and presumably Matilda Wheelhouse lived out the rest of her days mourning her loss but taking some comfort in having visited his grave. Alfred Faulkner Wheelhouse rests peacefully in the corner of Kilmore Cemetery, where he was buried in the grave beside the wall nearest the Atlantic Ocean, which graciously gave him up and allowed his poor widowed mother some comfort. The cemetery is almost a perfect square with stone walls marking the boundary, built in the traditional coastal way. Local history tells us that the cemetery was originally used during the Irish Famine, and occasionally to bury bodies of seafarers washed up along the nearby coast. No headstones exist, save for one against the back wall of the cemetery over a clearly marked grave. My enquiries revealed that a young girl from Tralee was originally interred there, but her family later had her disinterred, and buried in Tralee. Other than that, small stones rising up from the ground mark the resting places of long-forgotten famine victims and mariners.

As for Alfred Wheelhouse’s grave, the only clue we have to its location is from Sergt. Best’s account. If the wooden railings were ever erected around the grave, no sign of them exist today, 92 years of Irish weather having eradicated any trace of them. If Matilda Wheelhouse ever caused a headstone to be erected, that too has disappeared.

Presumably, if Alfred’s sister married, then the family name disappeared, and it is not known if any relatives of Alfred Faulkner Wheelhouse survive today. Did his mother or sister ever return to visit his grave again, or am I the only person who has visited his grave in generations?

Alfred Wheelhouse’s name is recorded on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill in London. This memorial was originally erected to commemorate all those who lost their lives during both World Wars while serving with the Mercantile Marine, and who have no known graves. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was not aware of Alfred’s resting place when erecting the memorial and inscribing his name, but in recent years they have updated their Tower Hill Register to reflect the location of his grave.

He was also commemorated on a brass plaque erected by The Liverpool Branch of the Marine Engineers’ Association in the Britannia Rooms of the Cunard Building in Liverpool. Underneath the badge of the association was engraved:

Roll of Honour
LIVERPOOL BRANCH
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEMBERS, WHO LOST THEIR LIVES THROUGH ENEMY ACTION IN THE
GREAT WAR. 1914 - 1919

and then followed the names of the 226 former members, including Alfred Wheelhouse. This plaque is no longer in the building and its current whereabouts is unknown, if it still survives.

If any readers find themselves in the vicinity of Ballyduff in County Kerry, and can spare the time, enquire locally as to the location of Kilmore Cemetery, and spend a few minutes to pay tribute to a young man whose remains were given up by the sea and rests today, anonymously, in a very scenic part of our island, at peace.

The letters re-printed above are to be found in the Special Collections and Archives Department of the Sydney Jones Library in the University of Liverpool and are used by the author with the necessary permission.

-Peter Kelly.


Mrs. Rose Bird: About 5’ 5” tall; very thin; sallow complexion; black eyes and dark brown hair.

 

Wearing earrings- either Brilliants, or droppers of some dark stone. Probably wearing a dress of dark blue serge with collars and cuffs of Scotch plaid, and waist of silk with embroidered small flowers.

On last two trips across was very weak and always took her meals in her cabin. Miss Morrow, the stewardess, could identify her if latter has survived. Shoes (low) of grey leather at ankles. A broad wedding ring and probably two others; one opal ring.


Young Wife Gone

Donald Barrow, Monmouth, was returning from Canada with his wife, who was a Canadian girl only twenty years old and married only ten months ago. This morning, Barrow’s mother received a telegram from Queenstown saying “I am safe, but May is gone.” May was the name of his young wife. Barrow was returning to England to join the army.


Mrs. Jane Travers, another local Northampton victim, went to the States sometime ago, and married a German American two years ago. He had been out of work recently and his wife's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Turner, sent recently an advance of £10.00 to meet the cost of her passage home. In the light of events, it is additionally cruel that the stricken parents should have made so great a monetary sacrifice with such a terrible result.

Jane Travers, 30, lived in Newark New Jersey. Whether she was deserting her husband or simply returning to her parents until his financial situation improved has not been determined.


Memorial to Lusitania victim William Dewhurst
Courtesy of Ryan McKeefery



Two bodies...

Two bodies were recovered off the coast of Barry, South Wales, on May 12, 1915, by the steamship Kylesford, from Glasgow, and landed at Barry Docks on the 13th. Captain Duncan Graham stated that both bodies were found floating in the Irish Sea and that the body of the female, referred to as Body #1, was found floating face up wearing a lifebelt. The other body, a male, was presumed to be a steward. The woman’s remains were described as follows:

Female aged 40-50 years old, hair dyed black, 5’6 ¾” inches tall, wearing a navy blue skirt and coat with letters "CW" worked into the clothing. False teeth set in gold, and her American boots which had suede tops, written inside were the makers name F.E. Foster & Co- Chicago on the inside. Property: Gold stamped bangle with 17 diamonds, 1 American split ring, Pearl necklace with pearl screw earrings, 4 diamond rings on middle left finger and 1 platinum ring with 2 large diamonds.

An inquest was held on May 14th. by Coroner David Rees who stated that he had received a telegram, according to which, the body was assumed to be that of Mrs. Catherine Willey, based on the C.W. initials in her clothing. Her property was handed over to the American Consul in Cardiff after the body was formally identified, and was forwarded on to the family. The body was embalmed on the coroner’s instructions, by Messrs Vivian of Cardiff, and shipped back to the United States aboard the SS Lapland on May 19th. The costs incurred in shipping were $810.00. A private family burial took place at Rosehill Cemetery, Lake Forrest, Illinois.

Catherine Willey

Catherine Willey
Courtesy of Corsone Ellis

Mrs. Willey was born Catherine Dietrick in Jackson, Illinois on August 23, 1862. Her father was a doctor father in a large asylum for the mentally ill. The Dietrick family was prosperous and Catherine was given every opportunity for advancement. She graduated from Illinois College and went on to study at the local College of Music, in Jackson. She performed at numerous concerts and parties, and became regionally very well known. Catherine married Robert Bruce Sterrit, on August 1st., 1877, and moved to his home in Pennsylvania. The couple's only child, Katherine Bruce Sterrit, was born thirteen months later. Catherine had returned to Jackson for the birth, and it appears that she never returned to her husband. The couple divorced a few years later.

Catherine married Cameron Willey, but that marriage ended in divorce as well, in 1903. Her divorce settlement amounted to $7,200 per annum, which allowed her to live very comfortably. Mrs. Willey subsequently made her home in Paris, France, but made regular visits to her family in the United States.

Catherine Willey Catheirne Willey

Catherine WIlley, left: in her early 20s, right: just after her wedding to Cameron Willey c.1900
Courtesy of Corsone Ellis

Catherine Willey decided to return to Paris in April 1915, after spending several weeks with her daughter Katherine and son- in- law Robert Thorne, in Lake Forrest, Illinois. She left Chicago on April 28th, and spent two days in New York before boarding the Lusitania. She visited with friends in New Jersey, and told them that she was thinking of converting a large home she owned outside of London (Paris?) to a residence for penniless war widows. She was allocated cabin B36 on the Promenade deck. Catherine Willey’s activities while onboard are not recorded.
Rumors that Mrs. Willey was returning to France to work for the Red Cross were disproved, after her passport application and other documentation showed that she was making large financial contributions only. She was returning to manage her properties in Paris.

Compensation was awarded to Catherine Willey's only child, Mrs. Katherine Thorne, on January 14th 1925 in the amount of $15.000.00 for loss of life and $6,910.00 for loss of property.


Among the small company of artisans who arrived at Catheart from America a few weeks ago to work in the engineering shops of Messrs G. & J. Weir was Mr. Edward Dingley, an Englishman who for the past twenty-two years resided near New York.

When he came to Scotland, Mr. Dingley left behind him at Long Island his young wife who, for a considerable time past had not been in the best of health. In the belief that a stay in Britain, which Mrs. Dingley had left while quite a child, might hasten a complete recovery, the husband wrote his wife and suggested that she might join him. The lady was agreeable, and in due course it became known that she had booked to sail on board the Cameronia.

While seated at tea at his apartments on Friday evening a friend, who had been glancing over his newspaper, remarked to him “Go down on your knees Mr. Dingley, and thank God that your wife did not sail aboard the Lusitania.”

The tragic fate of the liner startled Mr. Dingley. He dismissed the fears which began to rise within, but they returned with increasing insistence. In the end he decided to send a cable to Long Island with a view to establishing the facts. To his horror the reply came next morning: Mrs. Dingley sailed with the Lusitania.  The explanation is simple. The Cameronia’s passengers at the last moment were transferred to the Cunarder.

On learning beyond dispute that his wife was one of those who traveled by the Lusitania, Mr. Dingley proceeded to Queenstown for the purpose of acquiring knowledge first hand. Last evening a telegram reached his friends in Glasgow from the south of Ireland. Its terms extinguished all hope. The message read: Burying my wife today, Queenstown.

38 year old Catherine Dingley was buried in private grave #591.


FATAL AUTO ACCIDENT

While crossing Broadway, between Broadway Place and Walnut Street shortly before six o’clock last evening, Mrs. H.G. Bullen, wife of H.G. Bullen of the Canadian Bank of commerce, and residing at suite 20, Muskoka Apartments, 110 Young Street was struck by an automobile being operated by Mrs. T. Julius, wife of Mr. Julius of Julius Bros Café proprietors, and fatally injured. She was taken to the general hospital, where it was found that she had three broken ribs and severe internal injuries. She was unable to speak, and consequently the police for a short time were at a loss to determine her identity.

At the time of the accident the automobile was traveling west on Broadway at what is described by witnesses as a moderate rate of speed. Perceiving the woman crossing the street, Mrs. Julius sounded the horn on the car. Mrs. Bullen, however appeared to spectators as confused and unable to get out of the way of the oncoming car. The car struck her and dashed her to the pavement, the wheels passing over her body.

Mrs. Bullen was a lady of about 24 years of age, and had resided at the Muskoka apartments for a short time. Her husband was notified of the accident, but arrived at her bedside too late. She died at about 7:30 p.m.

~April 16, 1915, Manitoba Free Press, Winnepeg.

Henry Garnet Bullen, ledger keeper at the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Winnipeg, was returning to his home in Cork, Ireland, to visit relatives and recover from the loss of his wife. Mr. Bullen had been in Canada for five years in 1915, and was newly married. He took a leave of absence from the bank, for he planned on returning to Canada. Mr. Bullen traveled in third class, and was lost without a trace. No one later recalled meeting him on the voyage, or encountering him during the disaster.


£25.00 Reward
Upon identification being established, a reward of £25.00 will be paid to any fisherman who finds the body of Miss C. Dougal, a saloon passenger on the SS Lusitania, and brings such body to the police at Queenstown.

Particulars: Tall, about 5 feet 10 inches. Aged 23 years. Thin body, sallow skin, loosely built, long legs, long shaped hands, very large dark eyes, long lashes, well curved eyebrows, very dark brown hair, thick, and usually waved, and parted in the centre, hollow neck. Long thin face. Probably wearing very nice and named underclothing, and may have on jewelry. Usually wore Sorosis boots. Special JEWELLERY: A set of Pink South African stones set in gold: Gold broach formed of a miniature miner's tools, pick, shovel, and pail, and a small piece of gold. Other jewelry, pendant, broaches and pearls.

Catherine Dougall left her home in Guelph, Ontario to travel to her birthplace in England. She intended on visiting relatives. Her cabin was A15, on the boat deck, and her cabin steward was Edward Bond.  The reward went unclaimed: her body was never identified.


Frank B. Tesson and his wife, Alice, died together aboard the Lusitania. Tesson was the head shoe buyer and Vice President for the Board of Trade at Wanamakers department store, in New York City. He was also a representative of the Excelsior Shoe Company, and was traveling abroad to conclude a business deal involving the sale of 3,000,000 pairs of war boots to the Russian Government. The couple was allocated Cabin D10 for their journey.  Eugene Posen, a fellow Wanamaker employee accompanied them.  It appears that the Tessons and Posen spent a great deal of time together during the voyage. Posen survived; the Tessons did not, and their bodies were never identified, if recovered. Wanamakers published an obituary dedicated to Frank Tesson in The New York Times on May 15, eight days after the disaster.  Grief stricken at the loss of her son, Emily Duncan Tesson had a memorial headstone erected in Alton Cemetery for Frank and Alice.

Tesson
(Courtesy Paul Latimer)

The Tesson estate’s case against Germany, made before the Mixed Claims Commission in Washington DC, contains many interesting details of the lost couple’s lives and is typical of the mixture of legitimate and questionable claims upon which the commission had to rule:

United States of America on behalf of S. Stanwood Menken, Admisitrator of the Estate of Alice E Tesson, Deceased, and William Atkins, Charles Atkins, and Roy Atkins, Claimants, v Germany Docket Nos. 217 and 293 United States of America on behalf of Andrew C. McGowan, Admistrator of the Estate of Frank B Tesson, Deceased, and Emily Duncan Tesson, Bertha Angeline Montgomery, Lillian Josephine MaKinney, and John Williamson Tesson, Claimants, v. Germany Docket No. 544 Parker, Umpire, rendered the decision of the Commission.

 These two cases, which have been considered together, are before the Umpire for decision on a certificate of the two National Commissioners certifying their disagreement. A brief statement of the facts as disclosed by the records follows: Docket No. 293 duplicates the claim made in Docket No. 217.
Frank B Tesson, then 29 years of age, married Mrs. Alice Atkins, then 40 years of age, in August 1895. There was no issue of this marriage, but Mrs. Tesson had three children by her former marriage- William, Charles, and Roy Atkins, then 21, 18, and 8 years of age respectively, all American nationals since birth. Roy Atkins was born and has ever remained a cripple, is unable to walk without the aid of a cane and then only with great difficulty, has no use of his left arm, is unable to perform any manual labor or do anything toward earning a livelihood.

During most of the time between 1895 and 1914 this crippled son lived with and was cared for by Mrs. Tesson and her husband in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York successively. During the years 1914 and 1915 and for short periods of previous years, when not residing with Mr. and Mrs. Tesson paying his board and furnishing him with money sufficient to provide wearing apparel and other necessaries of life.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Tesson, American nationals, then 49 and 60 years of age respectively, were passengers on and went down with the Lusitania. They died intestate. At the time of his death Tesson was assistant manager of the show department of John Wanamaker, New York, and received a salary of $10,000 per annum and in addition yearly bonuses of something in excess of $2,000. He was physically strong, of exemplary habits, frugal and industrious, and had good prospects for advancement.

There survived Mrs. Tesson her three children by her first marriage, viz.: - William Atkins, who testified in October 1923, that he is a laborer with a wife and nine children ranging in age from 16 months to 27 years: Charles Atkins, who testified in October 1923, that he is a laborer with a wife and one child, a daughter 19 years of age; and the unmarried crippled son, Roy.

There survived Mr. Tesson his mother, Emily Duncan Tesson, now 85 years of age, and a brother and two married sisters, all of whom are mature and have established homes of their owns , all of these claimants being American nationals at the time of and ever since his death.

Each of the three sons of Mrs. Tesson received from her separate estate approximately $1,800. Mr.Tesson's estate inventoried at approximately $11,500. He carried three policies of insurance on his life for $5,000 each payable "to his wife, Alice E Tesson, if living, if not, then to the Assured's executors, administrators or assigns". The proceeds of these policies were claimed by the administrator of Mrs. Tesson's estate.

After litigation, the highest court of the State of New York decided that it must be assumed that Tesson and his wife died simultaneously, and hence by the terms of the policies they were payable to the administrator of Mr. Tesson's estate. That estate, including the proceeds of the life-insurance policies mentioned, after paying all expenses of administration, was of the net value of $22,828.80, which was distributed in four equal parts to Tesson's mother, brother, and two sisters, none of whom, according to stipulation filed the life-insurance litigation, had been dependant upon Tesson for support. There is however, in the record an affidavit of Tesson's mother made in December, 1923, to the effect that her deceased son Frank subsequent to the year 1909 contributed approximately $500 per annum towards her maintenance. She had never lived with her son, but at the time of his death she was and long had been residing with her daughter Mrs. Makinney, of Alton Illinois.

It is evident from the record that if either Tesson or his wife had lived her crippled son Roy would probably have continued to receive small contributions of not more than $25 per month for his maintenance and support. Such a remittance was made by Tesson to William Atkins for the use of Roy on April 30, 1915, the day before taking passage on the Lusitania.

There was lost with Mrs. Tesson on the Lusitania personal property of the value of $2,325.00. No claim is put forward by the administrator of the estate of Frank B. Tesson for property lost with him. The awards which this Commission is empowered to make in death cases are based, not on the value of the life lost, but on the losses resulting to the claimants from the death, in so far only as such losses are susceptible of being measured by pecuniary standards. Bearing this in mind and applying the rules announced in the Lusitania Opinion and in the other decisions of this Commission decrees that under the Treaty of Berlin of August 25, 1921, and in accordance with its terms the Government of Germany is obligated to pay to the Government of the United States on behalf of (1) Roy Atkins the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) with interest thereon at the rate of five percent per annum from November 1, 1923, (2) S. Stanwood Menken, Administrator of the Estate of Alice E Tesson, deceased, the sum of two thousand three hundred and twenty five dollars ($2,325.00) with interest thereon at the rate of five percent per annum from May 7, 1915, (3) Emily Duncan Tesson the sum of three thousand dollars ($3,000) with interest thereon at the rate of five percent per annum from November 1, 1923: and that the Government of Germany is not obligated to pay any amount on behalf of the claimants in these two cases. Done at Washington February 21, 1924.

 Edwin B. Parker, Umpire United States of America on behalf of S. Stanwood Menken, Admisitrator of the Estate of Alice E Tesson, Deceased, and William Atkins, Charles Atkins, and Roy Atkins, Claimants, v Germany Docket Nos. 217 and 293 United States of America on behalf of Andrew C. McGowan, Administrator of the Estate of Frank B Tesson, Deceased, and Emily Duncan Tesson, Bertha Angeline Montgomery, Lillian Josephine MaKinney, and John Williamson Tesson, Claimants, v. Germany Docket No. 544 Parker, Umpire, rendered the announcement following:. This case is before the Umpire for decision on a certificate of the two National Commissioners certifying their disagreement. In the cases are numbered and styled as above which were consolidated, a final decree on the decision of the Umpire was entered by this Commission on February 21, 1924. The claimants in the first case have presented through their attorneys to the American Agent a petition for the rehearing praying for an additional award, which has been called to the attention of the Umpire. The rules of this Commission make no provision for a rehearing of any case in which a final decree has been entered. However in deference to the earnest insistence of eminent counsel the Umpire has carefully reviewed the record in these cases in the light of the petition for rehearing. But he finds nothing in either record or the petition which had not been taken into account and carefully weighed before the decision was rendered.

 The instant petition apparently fails to take into account and correctly appraise the pertinent considerations following: (1) The claim is grounded on damages alleged to have been sustained by claimants resulting from the death of Alice E Tesson, who, with her husband, went down with the Lusitania, the two dying simultaneously. They both died intestate. (2) Mrs. Tesson's separate estate amounted to approximately $5,400 and was inherited equally by the claimants William, Charles, and Roy Atkins, her sons of a former marriage. Mr. Tesson's separate estate, supplemented by insurance on his life collected by his administrator, aggregated $22,828.80, which was inherited by his mother, brother, and two sisters. (3) At the time of their deaths Mrs. Tesson was 60 years of age and her husband 49 and his life expectancy therefore much greater than hers. (4) Mrs. Tesson derived no income from her personal efforts and it is not established that she possessed any pecuniary earning power. Such contributions as she made to her children were made from her husband's earnings. Her two oldest sons, William and Charles, were 39 and 38 years old at the time she died and were able-bodied and had domestic establishments of their own. They were not dependent upon their mother to any extent. The contributions which she made to them were in the nature of occasional gifts, alleged to average $300 and $200 per annum to William and Charles respectively. (5) It was Mr. Tesson's death that cut off the source of the contributions which their mother had made to these three claimants, who were not his children. (6) The argument that the claimants through their mother's death have lost the insurance on Tesson's life, which was payable to her in the event she survived him, aside from being legal contemplation too remote to support a claim for damages, ignores the realities. Tesson and his wife died simultaneously. His life expectancy was greater than hers. He made no provision that the policies should be payable in whole or in part to the claimants or any of them in the event his wife did not survive him. The payments were in fact made to his heirs. The argument put forward on behalf of these claimants amounts to a complaint that one group of American nationals (Tesson's heirs) benefited at the expense of another group of American nationals (these claimants) because Mrs. Tesson died simultaneously with her husband. Germany cannot be held liable because she did not survive him but only for damages suffered by claimants proximately resulting from her death. (7) It is not permissible to speculate with respect to the pecuniary effect on claimants had their mother survived Tesson or had Tesson survived her. The fact is, as a competent court of last resort has found, they died simultaneously and the claimant's demand is based on the pecuniary damage suffered by them resulting from their mother's death. (8) But if it were competent for this Commission to indulge in such speculations they would not lead to a different result. Had Tesson been lost with the Lusitania and his wife survived, it is apparent that her interest in his small estate and her smaller estate, supplemented by the insurance on his life which was for her benefit should she survive him, would scarcely provided for her own needs and would have not put her in a position to make any substantial contributions to her sons. On the other hand, had Tesson survived his wife the record does not justify the conclusion that his contributions to the sons of his wife would have exceeded the equivalent of the award made. (9) Not withstanding this state of the record the Umpire in his opinion of February 21,1924, said: 'It is evident from the record that if either Tesson or his wife had lived her crippled son Roy would probably have continued to receive small contributions of not less that $25 per month for his maintenance and support.' An award was accordingly made on behalf of this son Roy, who was 28 years of age when his mother died, in the sum of $5,000 and a further award on behalf of the administrator of Mrs. Tesson's estate for $2,325, the value of her personal property lost, with interest on both amounts. (10) In this state of the record no award was justified on behalf of Mrs. Tesson's sons William Atkins and Charles Atkins. The petition is found to be without merit and is hereby dismissed. Done at Washington August 31, 1926. Edwin B. Parker, Umpire.


….among the passengers who are believed to have perished is Miss Henrietta Pirrie.
Miss Pirrie is known to have been one of those who sailed on the ill fated liner, and as her name is not included on the list of survivors it is feared that she has been drowned. This surmise is confirmed by the fact that her parents have received a telegram from Cunard stating their regret that her name is not mentioned among those saved.

Miss Pirrie, who was only twenty-one years of age, was born in Perth where her parents resided until some time ago. She left Scotland a few years ago to take up a position in the household of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught at Government House, Ottawa.

She was coming home to Scotland on holiday, and there is a tragic coincidence in the fact that following upon the telegram from the Cunard Company there came from her a characteristically cheery postcard which had been mailed from New York the day before she sailed and was only received in Glasgow yesterday.


Family and friends of those never found were left to ponder a wide variety of equally unpleasant scenarios. Had their missing one been among those, drifting in deepening shock, never found after sunset? Had he or she died of exposure and exhaustion, without a lifebelt? And, worst of all to contemplate, had the lost one been trapped below decks and carried down with the ship as she sank?

Richard Preston Prichard

Richard Preston Prichard

The family of victim Richard Preston Prichard was determined to find out what had become of him, if the question could be answered. His mother was haunted by the thought that he had never gotten clear of the ship. She, and his brother, Mostyn, wrote to every survivor for whom they could obtain an address. They enclosed a missing person poster, and in their letters would request any information that the recipient might be able to furnish regarding Richard.

The letter writing campaign yielded several hundred results, on file today at the Imperial War Museum. Richard was a medical student at McGill University in Toronto, returning to his native England to enlist. He traveled in second class. He was neither famous nor notorious. But, because his family asked while memories were still fresh, he was well remembered. The cumulative effect of the letters is both charming and very sad, as dozens of people recounted their memories of Richard’s final week.

Survivor Thomas Sumner recalled that on sailing morning he and Richard had stood side by side at the rail, with Richard taking snapshots with his Kodak-type box camera. They had a talk about cameras while at the rail, and subsequently maintained a casual friendship through the crossing. He remembered that Richard was always pleasant, and had participated in the obstacle race and the tug- of- war. A mutual friend of theirs, a Miss Hardy, had taken snapshots on the crossing including several group shots with Richard in them. Not only had Miss Hardy survived, but so too had her camera. Sumner had seen the photos, and urged Mrs. Prichard to write to Miss Hardy for further details. Miss Hardy eventually responded that the pictures had not come out, and would be of no use.

Olive North recalled that she and some young women had been playing a rope game on deck, and that Richard appeared on scene and was able to ‘lasso’ her quite efficiently. He explained that he had spent time on a ranch in western Canada and had acquired the skill there.

Norah Bretherton remembered that Richard was in charge of collecting the scorecards at the second class whist tournament, which she had won.

Both parties involved documented a rather interesting bit of casual rivalry at Richard’s dining room table. Miss Meta Moody, who lost her mother in the disaster, wrote Mrs. Prichard a friendly letter in which she acknowledged sitting with Richard at meals, and described him as a pleasant table companion. Miss Grace French, who sat at the same table, wrote Mrs. Prichard numerous, painstakingly detailed, letters. It is obvious from these letters that Miss Moody and Richard had hit it off and that Miss French did not care for Miss Moody at all. Grace described her in unflattering terms, although photos show Meta Moody to have been quite pretty. Grace French mentioned that once it was established that Prichard and Moody had a lot in common, conversation at the table was dominated by their talks of travel, and of California where they had both lived.

Richard, who Miss French described as being handsome, charming, sunburned, and full of life, apparently flirted with Grace on May 7th. He told her, over lunch, that there was another girl in second class who looked exactly like her and that if she, Grace, would meet him on deck after lunch, he would point out the look-alike. He went below to change into his dark green spring suit and get a hat, and Grace French went on deck to wait for him. The torpedo struck soon after, and she never saw him again.

Arthur Gadsden, Prichard’s cabin mate, confirmed part of Grace’s account. A few minutes before the disaster commenced, he returned to his cabin and found Richard changing his clothing and packing his suitcase.

The final known sighting of Richard during the disaster was by Alice Middleton. She explained to Mrs. Prichard that, at the end, she was on the promenade deck, hysterical, her “reason all but gone.” Richard had appeared, calmed her, and helped her up a flight of stairs to the boat deck, off which they were immediately washed as the ship sank from under them.

A running theme in later accounts sent to Mrs. Prichard suggests that, at some point, she received a letter, now lost, describing Richard dying on one of the swamped collapsibles. Many writers told Mrs. Prichard that, yes, people did die aboard the boats, but that they were neither thrown overboard to lighten the load, nor taken aboard rescue ships. No one in the surviving letters recalled seeing Richard die while awaiting rescue, but Mrs. Prichard’s sudden interest in that aspect of the disaster leads us to believe that at some point a correspondent said that he or she had witnessed his death.

Crew members, friends, strangers with good memories, all supplied dozens of minute details of what Richard Prichard said, wore, ate, and did during his last days. Of equal interest, are the dozens of letters by those who had no recall of Mr. Prichard, but who wanted to take the time to assure his family that the tales of panic in the press were exaggerated.  Most emphasized that it was nearly 100% certain that Richard could not have been trapped below deck. Mrs. Bretherton wrote that although five months pregnant, she had been able to run from B deck to the boat deck, and from the boat deck to her C deck cabin and back again, with little difficulty. Miss Maycock assured her that the men had behaved splendidly and that, if nothing else, Mrs. Prichard could be assured that her son had died with dignity. She then appended that she spoke only of the male passengers: the crew had been horrible.

Several of the grieving mothers, among them Mrs. Ferrier, Mrs. Pye, and Mrs. Adams wrote to Mrs. Prichard “woman to woman” about their experiences on May 7th, and to extend their sympathy to a mother who had lost an adult child. Violet Henderson shared the observation that although she and her boy, Huntley, had no life jackets and could not swim, they survived in the water, while her brother and sister in law, Mr. and Mrs. Yeatman, who could swim, and who did have preservers, were both lost. A few letters strike the reader as being quite odd. Martin Mannion wrote that he had little doubt that Richard had, in fact, been trapped below decks and died horribly, like a rat in a trap. Oliver Bernard’s letter is a hectoring, aggrieved missive and the least appealing of the cache.

Richard Prichard, a pleasant but obscure young man, is the most exhaustively documented passenger aboard the final voyage.


Mother died peacefully. Buried in Queenstown.
                                          ~Sidney and Frank.

With those words the five-day wait of Reverend W. Edward King, of Lockport, Illinois ended.
His wife, Martha, had departed for New York on April 29th, destined for a reunion in England with two of her sons; both bankers in London. Four children remained behind in Illinois.

The Kings were new to Lockport. Reverend King had taken charge of the Lockport Congregational Church in June 1914, after having served in the same capacity at Seward, Illinois for several years.  They had begun to establish roots in the community, and congregation members described Martha King as a tireless worker and a dominant force in the operation of the church.

Mrs. King was, apparently, one of those who survived the sinking and long immersion, but who was in irreversible shock by the time she was pulled aboard one of the rescue vessels. Reports were contradictory as to whether she died during the voyage to shore, or in the hospital shortly after arrival.  Reverend King said, through intermediaries, that the wording of their sons’ telegram implied to him that she had died in the hospital. He also declined to make himself available for interviews until after his sons had sent a full report of what happened. 

If the sons did send a detailed report, the press did not follow through. A search of relevant newspapers shows that hometown reporters never again interviewed Reverend King on this point .

Lockport schools closed early out of respect for Martha King on the day of her memorial service, which students were encouraged to attend.  Congregation members sang solo renditions of her favorite hymns.  Thirty old friends from Seward made the trip to console Reverend King. Martha’s body was not shipped back to the United States, but was buried in a private grave in Queenstown.


The Cunard Confidential Report of 1916 contains detailed capsule descriptions of the unidentified bodies buried in Queenstown and elsewhere. In many cases, the John Doe or Jane Doe retained so many clues helpful in identification that something very sad is hinted at: everyone who could have identified this man or woman died with them.

146. Male, 27 years, brown hair, clean shaven, height 5’ 7.” Wore blue clothes and black tie.

Property: 1 gold watch, with leather guard; 7 shillings in silver; 9 foreign coins; 1 penknife; 1 stud; 2 links; 1 fountain pen (Waterman, medium point nib); handkerchief; also unfinished letter commencing “Dear Ted, We hit New York at 7:30 in the morning, and after seeing to our luggage we made our way to Bronx Park to visit some friends of mine…”

 

167. Female,30 years, grey eyes, brown hair, short thick nose, round face, stout make, height about 5’ 1”. Wore white silk blouse and cream dress, patent leather boot (buttoned) with cloth uppers.

Property._ 1 brooch with 5 stones (1 centre and 4 outer); 1 wedding ring (18 carat), N0.9095 scratched inside, maker’s name evidently “Hemsley;“ 1 engagement ring, with 3 white and 2 blue stones; 1 keeper ring with 3 green stones and 2 white; 3 rings; and 1 metal brooch with 5 stones.

 

221. Male. 5 or 6 years, round full face, broad high forehead, small mouth, blue eyes, well shaped features. Wore while woollen singlet and white cotton combinations, check jacket and knickers of same pattern, pink woollen jacket outside with dark ivory buttons, black button boots with black socks, and patent leather belt.

Property. Gold ring with initials “J.W.P.” worn on second finger of right hand.

 

222. Male baby, 12 to 16 months, round chubby fat face, hair inclined to be red, small short nose, sunken eyes, prominent forehead, sucking tube fastened round neck with cord. Wore white woollen wrapper, white cotton bodice having red and blue stripes round edges, blue cotton overall fastened at back with white buttons and plaited down front, embroidered with dotted squares, coarse grey woollen outside jacket, with 4 ivory buttons, black stockings, shoes and straps.

 

253.  Male body, washed ashore at Kilcumin, July 17th. Very decomposed, and face unrecognizable.

Property.- Pocketbook, marked ‘Compliments, Savings Dept., The Union Trust Co., Ltd., Toronto,”; pen knife; note book (apparently) with few indistinct entries; cigarette picture of M Maeterlink; 4 plain cigarette holders; 1 ten cent Canadian coin; and two lead pencils.

Buried on beach above the high water mark, Kilcumin Strand, Brandon Bay, Co. Kerry, July 19th.

 

11. Female body, washed ashore at Ross, Carrigaholt, July 20th. Body very decomposed, breast bones, legs and arms missing, teeth in upper jaw were sound and regular, except two molars on left side, which were gold filled. There were three teeth missing in left side, and one on the right side, which had been extracted before death. The two front teeth had been knocked out since death. Besides the body, there was a corset, maker’s No. 6110955 with letters “N.H.” marked on it in ink. Pieces of white silk underclothing were adhering to the body, on one of these was printed “Niagara Maid” probably maker’s trade mark, on another piece the letter “J” and other pieces not decipherable were marked in black thread.

 



A deck view in Second Class
Jim Kalafus Collection

The Lusitania survivors, with the exception of the most seriously injured, resumed their journeys, and their lives, within a few days of the disaster. They were carried by ferry to Liverpool, and then by train to destinations across the United Kingdom and Europe. Press interest in specific survivors soon faded, and life returned to normal for the Lusitania’s people. However, the disaster left unpleasant legacies for many of those fortunate enough to survive.

The horrors of W.W.I had not yet exposed the world to the concept of shell shock and what would one day be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Generally, depression, guilt, nightmares, panic attacks, and prolonged melancholy were perceived as signs of individual weakness, malingering, attention seeking, hysteria and, among men, cowardice. Stoicism was an admired trait, and was considered to be a keystone of both English and American national character. Belle Naish wrote glowingly, in several letters,  of Robert Kay, 10, who cried but once for his lost mother. She considered him to be both a sustenance and example to her, and to others, with his manly behavior.

Robert Kay and family
Michael Poirier Collection

Survivors returned to the inner circles of their families and their home communities, where they were greeted with love and thanksgiving, and were then expected to continue with their lives to the best of their abilities. No grief counseling. No support groups. No telephone hotlines. It was not that people were treated with intentional cruelty or harshness, but it was an era in which feelings were internalized and the best course of action was thought to be “pick up, dust off, and move forward.”

The vast majority of Lusitania survivors did go on to lead normal lives. They coped, as best they could, with the memories and the nightmares; each discovering their own way to put the horrible things they once witnessed behind them. Arthur Scott, who survived because his mother, Alice, placed him into one of the few boats to get clear of the ship, coped with the loss of his mother by never discussing the Lusitania at all. His own children did not know he was a survivor until, as adults, they were contacted by English relatives. Mike spoke with the Scott family a few months before Arthur passed away, and they respectfully requested that we not approach him for an interview about the disaster; a request we understood and honored. Other survivors coped by facing the disaster head on; many discussing the events at every opportunity and granting every interview request for the rest of their lives. However, for a few, the events of May 1915 proved too horrible to assimilate.


Gerda Neilsen
Jim Kalafus collection
Gerda Nielsen John Welsh Wedding Photo
Jim Kalafus Collection

When Gerda Welsh was pronounced dead on June 2, 1961, it was a sad end to a tragic life.

Mrs. Welch was born in Norway, circa 1885, as the youngest child of Thomas Neilsen, a seaman. His wife died soon after Gerda’s birth, leaving him to raise her, and her older sister Thomasine, by himself. The Neilsen family relocated to South Shields, England, from where Gerda, a skilled dressmaker, immigrated to the United States in 1910. She contacted a friend in Brooklyn, Mrs. Gabrielson, who agreed to house her when she arrived. She set sail on the Mauretania, which docked in New York on October 7, 1910. The following four and a half years of her life are difficult to document, other than that she continued working in New York City. She booked passage aboard the May 1st. crossing of the Lusitania to visit her sister Thomasine, who still resided in South Shields.

John Welsh had traveled halfway around the globe in order to board the Lusitania. He had been working forseveral years in Honolulu, Hawaii, as a mechanic with the Marconi Wireless Telegraphic Company. He was returning to Groton, near Manchester, England, with his savings of several thousand dollars.

Welsh was not aboard the ship long when he noticed Gerda. She stood about 5’6”, had fair hair and blue eyes. She noticed him as well and they soon struck up a conversation. “We took a strong fancy to one another,” he later declared.

John and Gerda became acquainted with the Hook family during the course of the voyage, and shared their table at meal times. One of the main topics of conversation was the threat of being torpedoed. “If the worst should come,” John said, “we made up our minds to sink or swim together.” Towards the end of the voyage, “we became engaged, arranging to be married on arrival.”

“When the ship was struck, I was with my young lady, and we stuck to one another till the vessel sank.” John Welsh recalled. He escorted Gerda to one of the last lifeboats after a lifebelt on her. The boat upended, and he jumped into the sea to rescue her.

“In the water, she was braver than any man I’ve ever met. She encouraged me whilst I swam… I supported her in the water for half an hour till we reached a lifeboat. The people in the boat did not want take her in, but relented.” To Gerda’s horror, the men who lifted her into the boat wanted to leave John behind, claiming that the craft was too crowded to bring him aboard. “She pleaded with them, and finally they pulled me up.” He claimed that he “sustained some slight injury to my leg and arms.” A tugboat rescued their lifeboat, and they landed in Queenstown later that night.

Talking to a reporter from the Irish Times, he said, “Here we are together safe and sound, and the wedding bells will soon be ringing.” They took the ferry to England, and in less than a week were married at the All Saints’ Registry Office. The ceremony took place on Thursday, May 13, 1915.

The couple settled in at his home, 31 Carlton Terrace, Gorton. Their happiness unraveled, as they were unable to conceive any children. The memory of the Lusitaniaconstantly played over in Gerda’s mind and she slowly went insane. Finally, John saw no other choice but to commit her to a mental hospital. There was initially hope that she might come out of her “condition”, but she never seemed to improve. John moved away to find work after several years. 

Gerda died on June 2, 1961.


Daniel Virgil MooreDr. Daniel Virgil Moore, Creighton University graduate and lately a resident of Yankton, South Dakota, gave a spare deposition from Dublin Hospital:

1.  Noticed ship running in serpentine course at about one o’clock. At that time we could observe no cause for swerving.

2.  During the following twenty five or forty minutes, the ship resumed her usual or straight course many times. She was coursing straight more than half the time.

At one time the ship swerved so violently, she listed much to starboard side causing many to stagger.

3. During this time I observed an oblong black object, about two and a half miles from our port side. It trooded (sic) as fast as the ship for a while, then fell behind. It disappeared two or three times. It appeared to have three or four dome-like projections, many saw it. It was the general opinion that it was a friendly submarine.

4. I went to luncheon at about one forty o’clock. I ate very lightly and was leaving the table at the time of the report. The report sounded liker a muffled bass drum. The ship quaked like a house following heavy thunder.

5. The list toward starboard was marked within ten seconds. I do not remember hearing a second report.

A second, more detailed account by Dr. Moore exists, as well:

The first abnormal thing I noticed was a zig-zag swing of the Lusitania. This occurred about one o’clock in the day. It attracted the attention of several of us, and with the aid of glasses we observed in the distance some two and a half miles away, what seemed to be a black object with four apparently dome-like projections. This object cruised along swiftly at times, then slowed down, disappeared and re-appeared. During all this time, the Lusitania continued to zig-zag. The distant object finally disappeared, and our ship continued on an even course at what I judged to be a speed of about eighteen knots.
The conclusion we came to was that it was a submarine, and that it was a friendly one or the Lusitania would not have gone back to an even course.

At 1:40, I went down to lunch, and the only other vessel observable in our vicinity was a fishing smack. The land had been distinctly visible for more than three hours previously, about, I think, twelve miles distant.  At lunch there was some discussion about the objects seen, but everyone was calm and confident.

There was a muffled drum-like sound coming from the direction of the bows of the Lusitania, accompanied by a tumbling motion of the ship. Immediately afterwards, the Lusitania began to list to starboard. With such startling suddenness did it come, that we felt the heavy list before we were able to make our way out of the saloon. There was some general exclamation among the women when the noise of the impact was heard, but the men present did everything they could to reassure them. They started leaving the saloon in good order.

As I reached D Deck, I found myself in difficulty, owing to the list, which was at a very sharp angle. With other passengers I did my best to scramble to the Promenade Deck. There was no crushing, and it was entirely owing to the tilt that one’s progress was not easier.

I looked over the bulwarks to see whether I could discern evidence of the use of explosives. Beside me was a young woman struggling for her life. I recognized her as a girl who had sung at one of our concerts aboard. I gripped hold of her and got her into the boat. A moment later I was able to render a man similar help. At this juncture somebody shouted “For God’s sake, shove off, or you will go down in the suction.”

I got oars and in an almost despairing effort pushed off the boat into which I had scrambled. We drifted about fifty yards. The water was then lapping over the sides of the Lusitania and I could see that she was filling very fast.

It was necessary to bail out our boat in order to keep her floating, and I used my hat for the purpose. We did not seem to make much progress, and I clearly realized that our craft was becoming rapidly submerged. Noticing a keg lying in the bottom of the boat, I threw it out and, flinging myself over the side, I reached it and clung to it. Not far off was a young steward supporting himself by a deck chair. I urged him to let go of it and cling to the keg with me. He did so and we both hung on to it. Eventually we were picked up and taken to Queenstown.

Daniel Moore had faced his first major disaster in 1906 when, as a young graduate student, he went to San Francisco in the immediate aftermath of the great earthquake. He studied at Columbus Hospital in New York City, under Mother Cabrini, from 1910 thru 1911. He did ambulance work at the Triangle Factory fire on March 25, 1911; most likely ferrying away some of the dozen fatally injured women who initially survived the jump from the burning ninth floor. His diploma, signed by Mother Cabrini, was a treasured possession he lost with the liner.

Moore remained under a doctor’s care in Ireland for over a month. The formerly capable surgeon suffered from cardiac distress, chronic head pains described as ‘sinus infections,’ palpitations, and ‘neurosis’ so severe that he required an additional eighteen months of medical attention. He remained so ‘nervous’ that he could not resume his practice forseveral years.  His ailments read, to a latter day observer, like a catalogue of severe panic attack symptoms.  The U.S. Mixed Claims Commission later granted him a $10,000.00 judgment against Germany, for the disruption of his once flourishing medical career.

Dr. Moore established a new practice in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1920. He maintained it through 1948 and, for a time, kept a second practice in his birthplace, Fremont, Nebraska. His sister, Mary, kept house for him.

Mary Moore died in 1939. The never-married doctor described himself as “alone and lonely” in a 1940’s interview.  He died in Sioux City in early 1953, at age 73, after an illness of five years, and was returned to Yankton for burial. He had outlived six brothers and sisters, and at the time of his death, his only living relative was a niece.


Allan Beattie, 18, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada may have experienced his second personal tragedy involving a shipwreck when he and his mother, Geneva “Grace,” went down with the Lusitania.  According to 1915 accounts, three years before, his uncle, Thomson Beattie, died of exposure aboard the Titanic’s swamped collapsible A.

A Beattie family history, online, shows that Allan’s father and Thomson Beattie were not brothers, but that does not rule out the possibility that they were cousins, or more distantly related. A detailed list of those who attended Thomson’s memorial service in Winnipeg does not contain the names of any member of this particular Beattie family branch.

Allan was a clerk in the offices of the Winnipeg Street Railway, while his mother was a prominent philanthropist who had recently begun war-related work. The Beatties were bound for Scotland, where they planned to visit Captain J.A. Beattie, husband and father, who was a Chaplain of the 79th Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg. Neither found their way to a lifeboat, and when the ship sank, they were pulled down with it, tangled in a mass of rope. Beattie freed himself and managed to surface, but his mother, wearing a lifebelt, did not.

Chaplain Beattie was quoted a few days after the disaster:

I was a cowboy for thirty-five years on the plains of Canada, and I can shoot the buttons off a man’s coat at one hundred yards. When I came to England I had no intention of using my marksmanship against the enemy. But now, with my revolver, I will consider it my duty to kills as many Germans as they killed in the sinking of the Lusitania. I only wish I was of a different nationality, so that I could go to Germany and there take out my satisfaction on the Kaiser in person. It was nothing but wholesale murder of women and children. I count myself no less a Christian or churchman for thinking as I do.

Allan Beattie, like Gerda Welsh, had difficulty escaping from the shadow of the Lusitania. He was rejected by the Armed Forces due to poor eyesight, and passed through a succession of jobs before having a breakdown in 1920. A second breakdown followed in 1921, and reference was made to a third and fourth having been suffered prior to 1926. He worked for a time as a reporter for the Winnipeg Tribune. His father remarried, to a woman with whom Allan could not get along, and a distance grew between father and son. Allan Beattie drifted between several cities in western Canada, never managing to settle down or hold a job for any appreciable period of time.

Former employers testified on Beattie’s behalf, during his suit against Germany.  They swore, under oath, that his mental condition made it difficult to retain him as a long term employee and substantially reduced his earning potential within the jobs he obtained. Commissioner Pugsley, offering his decision regarding Beattie’s claim against Germany in the Canadian court system, stated: There is no doubt this young man suffered severely as a result of his experiences, and while it is difficult to assess the monetary extent of the damage sustained, the statements on file from employers to the effect that had he not been suffering from extreme nervous conditions he would have been earning a larger salary tend to substantiate the claim. I allow for this item…$15,000.00.

Allan Beattie managed to turn his life around following this public humiliation. He purchased a movie theater, apparently with his settlement money, and as of 1935 was prospering.

He died at age 72, in Miami, Florida, in April 1968.


Jessie Taft Smith's short and tragic life began in Braceville, Ohio on February 12, 1876. She was one of three children born to Hobart and Mary Taft. The Tafts were quite prominent,- theirs was one of the pioneer families of the small town, and it was no surprise when Jessie became engaged to John W. Smith, also from a well-to-do local family. They married on October 2, 1901 at the local Methodist Church, and following their honeymoon, they settled in Chicago.

Jessie Taft Smith

Jessie Taft Smith

John Smith was an inventor and one of his accomplishments was an internal combustion
airplane engine of his own design. The French Aviation Corps was using his engines in their planes by 1915, and the British Admiralty contacted John about developing similar engines for them as well. He left for England in January of 1915 to work on the "Smith Engine."

Jessie was lonely and moved back to Braceville to be with her family. Her husband summoned her to England, requesting that she bring his blueprint plans for the "Smith Engine." He cabled the Cunard agents 30 pounds to pay for Jessie's passage on the Lusitania. She boarded the ship on May 1, 1915 and was assigned an inside cabin, B-20.

Not much is known about her day- to- day activities, but on May 7, she had her lunch and adjourned to the writing room. Shortly after two o'clock, she heard a noise and then felt that the Lusitania "seemed to lift". She then noticed, "another explosion occurred". She made her way forward towards the main staircase. She was told, "Not to hurry as there was no danger". She may have had an inkling of what was to come, for on a previous day she had made sure that her lifebelt was in a handy spot in her cabin.

Darting into her cabin, she placed the lifebelt on and ran back towards the staircase. She exited the companionway onto the starboard boat deck. A steward helped her into boat 13, and within a few minutes it was lowered. Jessie turned around as soon as the boat pushed off, so she couldn't see the sinking ship, which disappeared a few minutes later. The boat picked up several people from the water, and was eventually taken in tow by a fishing boat.

Wesley Frost, the American Counsel, met Mrs. Smith on the wharf and handed her over to Dr. Townsend and his wife, who took her into their home and cared for her. John Smith learned about the sinking while in Birmingham, and was soon relieved to get a telegram from his wife. He arrived in Queenstown on Sunday and took her back to England.

Jessie seemed fine at first.  She took Sunday excursions to Sutton Park, and walked long distances in the surrounding woods. However she began to unravel over the next few months, despite the constant care of physicians. Her husband spent most of his time with her and neglected his work, which contributed to the British Admiralty’s rejection of his engine. Jessie finally suffered a complete nervous collapse in February 1916, and was sent to the South Hill Nursing Home in Birmingham. Her family claimed it was due to her experiences on the Lusitania, and also rheumatic fever.

She eventually recovered enough to make the journey home: The Smiths booked passage on the New York, and arrived in the United States on July 31, 1916. Jessie moved back to her father's farm, where her brother Robert, who was a doctor, and her sister, Florence, cared for her. The Smiths brought their case before the Mixed Claims Commission, but Commissioner Parker found the evidence regarding their financial losses to be sketchy, at best, and awarded her only $1,196 for lost effects on October 24, 1924. The couple felt they deserved more and contested Edwin Parker's decision. Finally, on December 30, 1924, Parker awarded an additional $2,500 in compensation.

The Smiths moved to Philadelphia where, on November 1, 1928, Jessie Taft Smith passed away at age fifty-two. Her body was transported back to Newton Falls, and she was buried in Braceville Cemetery after a brief memorial service.


Angela Pappadopoulo
The Daily Sketch
Jim Kalafus collection

Angela Pappadopoulo, of Athens, Greece, remains one of the best-remembered Lusitania survivors. She was a striking woman, and a number of different photos of her taken in Queenstown ran in the newspapers. This letter, written by Lusitaniasurvivor James Baker to Robert Timmis, also a survivor, just over a week after the sinking, is the best surviving account of Mrs. Pappadopoulo’s experiences, and provides a touch of gallows humor as well:

15 May 1915

Dear Timmis, I have been so full up with callers and letters and having Mrs. Pappadopoulo to look after that I have not been able to write you… I had a call yesterday from Bistis’ brother. He had been over to Queenstown but found no trace of his brother. He saw a steward who informed him that both Bistis & Pappadopoulo were in a boat that was being lowered just as the ship was sinking. The boat was smashed and they were upset and thrown into the water and were struggling in the water. Bistis tried to help Pappadopoulo to get into the boat, they held on for a while and disappeared.

 I have had a pretty bad time with Mrs. Pappadopoulo. I took her home at first, and then some friends of his offered to take her, but, as she grew worse, would eat nothing and had hysterical attacks I decided to put her into a nursing home, and am glad to say that she is now quite calm, but very weak. I hope that by Tuesday she will be well enough to start for Paris and Athens…

P.S. Since dictating the above, Mr. Baker has heard that the body of Mr. Pappadopoulo has been recovered and had to leave the office to go and see Mrs. Pappadopoulo and learn her wishes. He is therefore unable to sign this letter himself.

The gallows humor comes, of course, from the time frame in which the events in the letter took place: Angela Pappadopoulo’s breakdown, hospitalization, recovery and anticipated train-and-ship journey back to Greece, took place between her arrival in London on May 9th and the dictating of this letter on the 15th. Reading between the lines, it does not seem that she was spoiled with excessive sympathy.


Albert Jackson Byington was a 40-year-old electrical and mechanical engineer, en route to London, in May 1915.  He had spent the previous ten years working in Sao Paolo, Brazil. His promotion, construction, industrial and fruit growing operations were on a considerable scale, and he was traveling to England aboard the Lusitania in the interest of one of his Brazilian ventures.

Albert Byington Albert Jackson Byington

Mr. Byington testified to being thrown down sixty feet, from the sinking ship. He was likely in boat #20, with Ogden and Mary Hammond.  He injured his spine, landing on his back in the fall, and was pulled from the water in severe shock.

He remained in London for nineteen days, before journeying back to Sao Paolo. However, he was no longer the efficient manager he had been before the disaster. He suffered from impaired memory, loss of initiative, loss of decision, and “general impairment” of mental faciltiites as the result of his experiences aboard the Lusitania.

The Mixed Claims Commission awarded Albert Byington $10,000 in 1924, although they stated that there was little evidence in the way of medical records, or doctors’ affidavits, to suggest that he was still suffering from the after effects of his general breakdown at that point. They noted that the last papers pertaining to treatment for any disability stemming from the Lusitania disaster dated from December 1918.

Albert Jackson Byington died in Naples, New York, on September 17, 1951, at the age of 78.


Beatrice and Alfred Witherbee Jr.
Courtesy Lawrence Jolivet
Rita Jolivet
Jim Kalafus Collection
Beatrice Witherbee (right: in San Remo).
Courtesy Lawrence Jolivet

Beatrice “Trixie” Witherbee, of New York City and London, was another survivor who found coping with the memories of May 7th, 1915 too much to bear. However, unlike Gerda Welsh, she was able to pull herself out of the downward spiral, and lived to experience a happy ending.

Beatrice arrived in NYC aboard the last completed voyage of the Lusitania in April 1915. She had traveled to London to join her husband, A.S. Witherbee, and establish her new household in The Savoy to her liking. She returned to the United States  to escort her mother, Mary Cummins Brown, and her son, Alfred Scott Witherbee Junior, to their new home. Her brother in-law, Sidney Witherbee, attempted to persuade Beatrice to switch her booking from the Lusitania to the New York while visiting with her at the Biltmore Hotel the evening before departure, but to no avail. A second attempt on the morning of May 1st. proved equally futile.

Several passengers and crew were charmed by Mrs Witherbee’s attachment to her son, and left written accounts of their day-to-day life during the voyage. Beatrice was so devoted to her son that she violated protocol by having him seated with her in the first class dining room. However, no record survives to tell of what became of the small family group after the ship was torpedoed. Beatrice alone survived, and joined her husband at the Savoy, but seems to have slipped into a deep depression soon thereafter.

The means by which her depression was initially treated were quite lavish:

The accounts were kept by my husband so I have no actual knowledge of the outlay entailed. I should, however, assume that for two years or additional expenses due to travel approximated to at least Fifteen Thousand Dollars a year, in excess of our normal expenditure while living in England, or a total of $30,000.00. In addition I had a masseur in attendance from May to October of 1915, at $4 a day for services and $3 a day living expenses, or a total of $1,250.00. Also an attendant for one year at $600.00 and living expenses of $300.00 or more. Our expenses at Monte Carlo at the Windsor Hotel were, according to my best information, $50 a day or approximately $6,250.00. All of these expenses are fairly attributable to the accident and my collapsed nervous condition.

However, A.S. Witherbee began to run short of funds. The following letter reveals a great deal about Beatrice’s collapse, the demise of her marriage and the unfortunate character of her husband:

Hon. Robert Lansing,
June 20, 1916
Secretary of State, Washington D.C.

Dear Sir: In June 1912, after taking stock of my holdings in Mexico, which represented the labor of years, I considered myself to be a comfortably rich man and my future assured. In 1916 I find myself ruined, and regret to say that it has been brought about by "Watchful Waiting." I am only one of thousands of Americans similarly afflicted by this same germ.

 In 1915, my little family of three went down, as you are aware, on the 'Lusitania' when that ship was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans. My boy, a child not quite four years of age, and his grandmother, lost their lives, and his Mother, a young woman only then 23 years of age, has been hovering between death and a mad house ever since, a physical and mental wreck. She is even now in a nursing home in London, while I am over here in an effort to get our government to force a settlement of my claim for indemnity for such financial loss as it is known I suffered when the "Lusitania" was sunk.

What money I have left as the result of "Watchful Waiting" has been spent trying to save her. I have braved the dangers of crossing the Atlantic twice, to try and get a settlement, the first time in December last, and the second now. I have been received politely at the State Department, and even had three minutes conversation with you, but I have each time been passed along to someone else, and so successfully that when I was finished with the last gentleman I interviewed, I found myself on the grounds adjacent to the State Department with nothing accomplished.

I have spent thousands of dollars in my efforts to save Mrs. Witherbee, particularly in consultations with leading specialists and in travel through the south of France and in Italy, but I can go no further for lack of the funds necessary, which in itself is another tragedy as she was just beginning to improve a little, and I was encouraged. It has been since I left her last month that she has been taken to the nursing home, which fact alone has increased tenfold my anxiety regarding her. I found that Italy, and especially Rome, helped her amazingly, and I am anxious to take her there permanently. As my finances are now such as to make this impossible without help, I want to ask of the President and yourself an appointment as Consular Agent in Rome. I know that for the moment there is a vacancy through the death of the former Consul, his death having occurred while we were in Rome.

I have no desire to embarrass our government by any undue interference in any policy or plans it may have in disposing of the "Lusitania" matter, but if I must wait, it is only fair that I should find a willing hand, somewhere, that will help me bide my time until a settlement has been effected. I am as competent as any I have seen filling such positions abroad, and by birth and education am a gentleman. I have been a life long Democrat, if that makes any difference, and am fully entitled to the utmost consideration from the President and yourself.

Summed up in as few words as possible, I wish to call your attention to the desperate state of affairs, which have been brought through no fault of my own. I must do something very quickly, as I cannot remain long away from Mrs. Witherbee, especially as she is now absolutely in the hands of strangers.

Awaiting your pleasure, I am,
Very Respectfully, your obedient servant,
A.S. Witherbee

This missive was written on letterhead from the New Willard, which was Washington's most elegant, and costly, hotel in 1916. Mr. Witherbee evidently was not one to cut back, despite his claims of abject poverty,

It is not clear how long Beatrice remained in the London nursing facility, but at some point news of her situation reached Rita Jolivet, who moved her from the nursing home to the Jolivet family mansion in Kew. She remained there for over a year. She divorced Alfred Witherbee in Philadelphia, in 1919, on the grounds of desertion. She married Alfred Jolivet, Rita’s brother, late in the same year and gave birth to her second child, Lawrence, in 1920. Lawrence would tell Mike, over 80 years later, of how his mother refused to speak of her Lusitania experiences. She was a cheerful woman, and kept whatever memories tormented her in 1915-1919 well in the past. “Awww, you don’t want to hear about that” was the extent to which she was willing to discuss the disaster, and she never once deviated from that course.

Lawrence Jolivet once found a photo of A.S. Witherbee, Junior, and was told, “He was your half brother. He drowned.”  Beatrice did not expand upon the story beyond that.

We uncovered a cache of correspondence between Beatrice’s lawyers, discussing her claim against Germany. Amusing from the perspective of 2004, her lawyers spoke of how frustrating a client she was. They suspected, as early as 1923, by her sometimes-hysterical refusal to answer even the simplest questions, that she was not physically capable of recalling the events of May 7th.

Beatrice Jolivet developed inner contentment over the years, and that was all that mattered to her. Her son recalled that she had a “beautiful voice” and was always humming. The Jolivets led a sedate, formal, upper class English life. Their son related that during the 1920s they dressed in the most up- to- date fashions and enjoyed going out dancing; they were refined but not dull. They kept in contact with Rita, although her flamboyant nature sometimes irritated them. They traveled by ship, once aboard the Annie Johnson on the anniversary of the Lusitania disaster. Lawrence Jolivet opined that the significance of the date most likely didn’t register with his mother, for she had put the disaster far out of her mind.

Beatrice Jolivet died on December 16, 1977 without ever having told her family what happened to her as the Lusitania sank. Only one small clue remains: Pauline Jolivet, her mother in law, once revealed that Beatrice had confided to her that she had tried to hold onto Alfred Scott Witherbee Jr. in the water.

Jolivet

(Rev Judy Hill/Mike Poirier collection)

We have often affectionately stated that Beatrice has held her secrets well. The discovery of her legal papers was, we were certain, going to answer all questions. Hundreds of pages later, after discovering notes about her reluctance to discuss the disaster that had passed between her own lawyers, the questions remained unanswered. A creeping mildew stain on the 1900 census rendered exactly two entries on one page partially illegible: May Brown and Beatrice Brown of New York City. When May Brown’s passport application arrived in Mike‘s mail, the 1915 photo of this most elusive of victims was gone, and a note reading that the photo had been removed by family request for copying purposes was appended. The photo, obviously, had never been returned. Beatrice told her family that she graduated from a Sacred Heart School along the Hudson River in New York. There are numerous academies by that name in the region, and none with whom Mike checked had a record of Miss Beatrice Brown. The whereabouts of her formal portrait, commissioned by A.S. Witherbee, are unknown. A reference by Witherbee’s daughter, in a 1930s letter, to Beatric