Wilfred Bunnell pictured in the Birkenhead News (20 April 1912)
Courtesy of Gavin Bell, UK
Wilfred James Bunnell was born at 184 Peel Street in Tranmere, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England on 20 August 1891, later being baptised on 8 October 1891 at St Mary's Church, Birkenhead.
He was the son of Joseph Bunnell (b. 1856), a master baker, and Martha Harrison (b. 1858), both his parents being natives of Pensby, Cheshire and Liverpool, respectively and who had married in the latter city in 1878.
His siblings were: Mary (b. 1880), Florence Lavinia (1881-1956, later Mrs Alfred William Hall), Joseph Edwin (1882-1946), Charles William (1883-1961), Alfred Ashton (1886-1888), Ethel Emma (1888-1959, later Mrs Joseph N. Bewsher) and Mabel Edith (1890-1918).
Bunnell's mother died in 1900 and the following year the remaining family appear on the census living at Peel Street, Birkenhead and his father was described as a bakers shopkeeper. Wilfred's father would remarry twice, first in 1904 to Marion Kirkland (b. 1876) who died during childbirth with their daughter Marion in 1908. His third marriage was in 1910 to Cicely Marrin (b. 1877 in Birkenhead).
By the time of the 1911 census Wilfred is living at 27 Lilly Street, Birkenhead with his father, stepmother Cicely, brother Charles and step-sister Marion (b. 1908); Wilfred was described as an unmarried French polisher apprentice in shipbuilding. The apprenticeship did not pan out and Wilfred left to work for a fishmonger, Mr Lloyd of New Chester Road.
Wilfred was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 47 Kingsfield Road, Southampton. His last ship had been the Olympic. As a plates steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s.
Reportedly enthusiastic about his new appointment, he had written to Mr Lloyd to tell him of his plans:
"... I am going to Belfast for the Titanic next Wednesday... I will be down again for Whitsuntide, so I will come to Rock Ferry..."
Wilfred Bunnell died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
"... He will not only be sadly missed at home, but his many friends will also be grieved to hear that he was on board the Titanic at the time of the appalling catastrophe. Wilfred Bunnell was a native of Rock Ferry, and perhaps many Rock Ferry people will be able to recall him as being the cheerful young assistant to Mr Lloyd, fishmonger, New Chester-road. He left Mr Lloyd's employ to take up a new post on the Titanic. The young fellow departed with the best wishes of his master..." - Birkenhead News, 20 April 1912
His sister Florence, a resident of Southampton, had a child the following year on 2 July 1913; she named him Wilfred Harold. The younger Wilfred died in Southampton in 2003.
His father Joseph remained in Birkenhead and in 1918 weathered the loss of his daughter Mabel. He died in 1930. Wilfred's last surviving sibling was his half-sister Marion (later Mrs John Ashcroft); she died in Liverpool in 2001 aged 93.