Arthur Graham ‘Jo’ Elliott was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1895, the son of Arthur Henry and Mary Elizabeth Elliott, of 61 Moscow Drive, Stoneycroft, Liverpool.
He first went to sea on windjammers in 1910 and was an apprentice on board the square rigger
Beeswing, owned by JM Walmsley and Co of Liverpool, for more than four years. During this time at sea he acquired the nickname ‘Jo’ Elliott. Having been paid off from the Beeswing in December 1914 he engaged on another Walmsley barque, the
Naiad, which left Liverpool in March 1915 bound for Australia via New York.
Whilst in New York, he and some other shipmates, who were becoming fearful that the war would be over before they would have time to make a significant contribution to it, jumped ship. On 30 April 1915 he engaged as an able seaman in the Deck Department on board the Lusitania. Elliott’s monthly rate of pay in this rank was £5-10s-0d (£5.50).
His duties were mainly those of a signaller and lookout, and when Schwieger’s torpedo struck the vessel on the afternoon of 7 May he was the extra port side lookout.
What happened next was described more than 50 years later by Leslie Morton, in a 1968 book 'The Long Wake'. In May 1915 Morton had also been an able seaman and had already served alongside Jo Elliott on both the Beeswing and the
"My place was extra lookout right up in the eyes of the ship on deck; my responsibility being the starboard side of the bow from ahead to the beam. My mate on the extra lookout with similar responsibilities on the portside was Jo Elliott, with whom I had served nearly five years in sailing ships. We were, of course, as close as brothers after all that time."
Jo Elliott was never seen again after the ship went down, so he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing, at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 19 years.
Able Seaman Leslie Morton later described the ordeal of having to go and see Elliott’s parents after his safe return to Liverpool, to tell them of their son’s part in the tragedy:
"At the instigation of an aunt of mine in Liverpool, I went up to Jo Elliott’s home in Stoneycroft, Liverpool, to break the news to his mother and father, and although I was very young I remember feeling what a difficult task it was going to be.
I went up to the house and rang the doorbell. Jo Elliott’s mother came to the door and I had a feeling that she had already been informed, which proved to be quite true; she had been informed by the Cunard Company only that morning. When she saw me she was very distressed and took me in and I did my best in a very immature way to comfort her and Jo’s father, who came in while I was there.
I was able to tell them of his ten minutes on the extra lookout on the bows of the ship and that up to the time of the explosion I knew that he was all right and well and had gone to his boat station, but beyond that point I had no information and I understand that those were the last few minutes of his life of which they could learn with complete certainty."
In August 1915 Jo Elliott’s parents received the balance of wages still owing to him in respect of the
Lusitania’s final voyage.
Both of his previous ships, the sailing ships Beeswing and Naiad, were also lost during the First World War. Both were sunk by German submarines having been first captured, Beeswing, on 2 May 1917 and
Naiad on 15 December 1916.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, The Long Wake, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 334.