Michael Joseph Cushion was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1894, the son of Michael and Mary Cushion. His father was a marine fireman.
In 1913, he married Catherine McFarlane in Liverpool.
He signed on as a trimmer in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania at Liverpool, on 12th April 1915 for what would be the liner’s last ever voyage to America and reported for duty at 8 a.m. on 17th April, the day she left the River Mersey. As a trimmer, his monthly rate of pay was £6-0s-0d. and upon engagement, he was given an advance on his pay of £1-0s-0d.
The Lusitania crossed the Atlantic without incident and having docked in New York, eventually left there on her return voyage to Liverpool in the early afternoon of 1st May. Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland. At that time, she was only about 250 miles away from the safety of her home port. Michael Cushion was fortunate enough to survive and was able to return to his home in Liverpool.
Once back in Liverpool, he was officially discharged from the Lusitania’s final voyage and paid the balance of wages owing to him, in respect of his service on board from 17th April 1915, until 8th May, 24 hours after the vessel had gone down! All the Lusitania’s crew, survived or perished, were given this privilege by Cunard.
Michael Cushion continued to serve as a trimmer, and then a fireman, on trans-Atlantic liners for many years.
Michael Cushion died on the 9th May 1965 in Prescot, Liverpool, and is buried in Yew Tree Cemetery.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England & Wales, Cunard Records, PRO BT 350, New York Passenger Lists, 1820 – 1957, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Lawrence Evans, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly