John Ford was born in Liverpool in 1870, the son of Andrew and Ellen Ford. He married to Catherine Ford (née Donovan) on 27 May 1896 and they lived at 8 Court, 2 House, Burlington Street, Liverpool, Lancashire.
He served as a fireman in the Engineering Branch on board the Lusitania, and was killed when she was sunk. He was aged 45 years.
His body was recovered from the sea afterwards and landed at Queenstown, where it was given the reference number 55 in one the mortuaries. Once his identity had been established, on 10 May 1915, he was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, in Mass Grave C, 6th Row, Lower Tier. This was the day on which most of the victims of the disaster were buried, after a long funeral procession from the town itself.
No property belonging to him was ever recovered.
Despite the recovery of his body and its subsequent burial, the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list him as being missing and his name is correspondingly recorded on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London. Following information from the author, however, it accepted that he had an actual burial site and amended the Tower Hill Memorial register to record this fact. It further agreed to commemorate him at Cobh, (formerly Queenstown), at some time in the future and also stated that should the bronze panel bearing his name at Tower Hill ever need to be replaced, then his name would be omitted from the replacement.
In November 1998 a permanent memorial was erected in The Old Church Cemetery at Cobh to all those members of the Mercantile Marine buried in the three mass graves there. It takes the form of a monument carved from Irish limestone, sited at the head of Mass Grave B, the centre one of the three. The names of the crew members are incised on two black granite panels on the memorial, with a legend in between them:
"1914 - 1918
IN HONOURED MEMORY
OF THOSE NAMED WHO,
SERVING ON THE
DIED WHEN THE SHIP WAS
SUNK BY ENEMY ACTION
ON 7 MAY 1915
AND ARE BURIED NEARBY"
The name of Fireman Ford is incised on the left hand panel.
In August 1915 Catherine Ford was given the balance of wages owing to her late husband for his service on the
Lusitania’s final voyage. In addition the Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited also granted her a yearly pension to compensate her for the loss of her husband. This amounted to £61-5s-9d (£61.28½) per annum, which was payable at the rate of £5-2s-2d (£5.11) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 349, Arthur Ford, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.