This ornately patterned sofa cushion is from the first class music room on the Lusitania. It was retrieved from the sea with a boat hook by a Royal Naval able seaman searching for survivors following the sinking of the Lusitania.
Able Seaman Henry Grew, then aged 17, was involved in search and rescue operations on Saturday 8 May 1915. His ship HMS Venus was not herself sent out to search, as she would have been rather vulnerable to torpedo attack. Instead her crew and the crews of other cruisers of the 11th Cruiser Squadron (based at Queenstown) were sent out on the Admiralty tugs Flying Fish, Stormcock and Warrior.
Photograph of Henry Grew, just after he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS Vanguard. © Copyright David Grew and Lusitania Online
Henry Grew found the cushion floating amid some of the bodies from the Lusitania and couldn't resist ‘souveniring’ it. Unfortunately, he tore the back of it with his boat hook in the process. The tear was repaired but is still clearly visible on the corner of the cushion.
The cushion was donated to the Merseyside Maritime Museum by Mitch Peeke of Lusitania Online (The Lusitania Historical Society on the internet) in 2003.
Accession number MMM.2003.218
Detail of the repaired corner of the cushion