Charles Gunn was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, around 1866. Nothing is known of his family or his early life other than he had a brother named John.
It is not known when he first went to sea and came to Great Britain, but by 1915, he was an experienced Able Seaman, and was lodging at the home of a Mrs. Anderson at Dennison Street, Liverpool, Lancashire. He was unmarried.
In April 1915, he signed on as an Able Seaman in the Deck Department of the
Lusitania and was on board when the great liner departed from Liverpool for the final time on the 17th April. Having safely completed the crossing to New York, he was again on board for the return voyage back to Liverpool when the
Lusitania left Pier 54 at New York harbour shortly after midday on Saturday, 1st May.
When the Lusitania was sunk off the southern coast of Ireland on Friday, 7th May, Charles Gunn was fortunate to be counted amongst the survivors, and having been rescued from the sea, he was landed at Queenstown, from where he made his way back to Liverpool.
Charles Gunn was one of those who attended the official enquiry conducted into the sinking, chaired by Lord Mersey, in June and July 1915, but there is no record of him having given evidence. A photograph of him and five other crew member survivors appeared in the national press at the time.
In November 1917, Charles Gunn enlisted in the British Army at Liverpool. From surviving records, it would appear he was overage to enlist; however, it is likely that he was recruited due to his experience as a seaman, and he was assigned to the Royal Engineers, specifically to the Inland Waterways & Docks section. As Sapper WR/314695 Charles Gunn, he served on the southern coast of England until he was discharged on the 15th October 1918 as he was no longer deemed medically fit to continue service.
Charles Gunn returned to the sea, and was still serving until 1924, after which nothing is known of him.
Cunard Records, Liverpool Echo, British Army Service Records 1914 – 1920, Graham Maddocks, Roy Makinson.
Copyright © Peter Kelly