Michael Thomas ‘Tom’ Carroll was born on 29 August 1874 at 17 Wilbraham Place, Everton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England the son of Patrick and Annie Carroll (née Larkin).
In late 1903 he married Mary Kelly and they had nine children throughout the course of their marriage. The family home was at 24 St John’s Road, Bootle, Lancashire.
He had sailed on the Lusitania before, and engaged for what would be her final voyage to New York on 12 April 1915 and reported for duty in the engine room at 8am on 17 April - the day she left the River Mersey for the last time. As a leading fireman in the Engineering Branch, his monthly rate of pay was £7-10s-0d (£7.50).
He survived the sinking and his youngest daughter Mary Cartwright, in a letter to the author in 1998, described the family’s reaction to the news of the disaster:
“I believe my mother heard the news of the sinking from a neighbour, (others had been trying to keep it from her until she heard it officially). Seemingly, however, mother’s reaction was ‘I know Tom will be all right’ and fortunately he was, especially as there were five young children at the time, between the ages of 3 months and eight years.”
In common with all crew members, survivors or victims, he was paid up until the 8 May, 24 hours after the sinking. The balance of wages owing to him was £6-0s-11d (£6.40).
Following the sinking, he continued to go to sea for the rest of his working life, but not with Cunard, and certainly not with Captain Turner, whom he obviously blamed for the sinking. Mary Cartwright told of this:
“I was told that he would never speak of his experiences, (I would love to know how he got away), beyond saying that he would never sail with the Captain again. To the best of my knowledge, he then left the Cunard.
I just remember him as a white haired, moustached man - he was 50 when I was born - quiet and reserved, a good husband and father, who sailed to the Mediterranean ports and would bring me little presents of interesting hard backed picture booklets - I still have two of Naples and Pompeii - and delicious Turkish Delight.”
Suffering from recurrent stomach ulcers, Tom Carroll retired from the sea just before the Second World War and died on 21 April 1941 at 36 Exeter Road, Bootle.He was aged 66 years. He was buried in Ford Roman Catholic Cemetery, in Litherland, Liverpool. His widow Mary died in 1946.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, Mary Cartwright, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345.