Richard Ellis Jones was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, in 1883, the son of John Richard and Fanny Jones. He was married to Emily Jones (née Woods) and they lived at 65, Wellbrow Road, Walton, Liverpool, Lancashire.
Having served his engineering apprenticeship with the Lamport and Holt Line, he was awarded a first class engineering certificate by The Board of Trade and joined the Cunard Steam Ship Company in 1911. He then served on the
Campania and the Lusitania before joining her sister ship Aquitania for her maiden voyage. Following further service on the
Campania, he was once more appointed to the Lusitania, this time in the capacity of Junior Fourth Engineer. The fact that this was a fairly rapid promotion in the company showed the esteem in which he was obviously held.
On 12th April 1915, he engaged for his third voyage on the liner in that capacity at a monthly rate of pay of £12-10s-0d., (£12.50p.) and joined her at Princes Landing stage on the morning of 17th April, before she left there for the last time. Three weeks later, he was killed, after the liner was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20, within sight of the southern Irish coast on the return leg of her last voyage to New York. He was aged 32 years.
His body was one of earliest to be recovered from the sea, however, and before its identity was established, it was given the reference number 22 in the temporary mortuary set up in the yard of the Cunard office at Lynch’s Quay in Queenstown.
Once a positive identification had been made, however, it was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, on 10th May 1915. This was the day on which most of the victims of the sinking were buried in a mass ceremony following a large funeral procession from outside the Cunard office. His burial place was a private one, Grave 8 in Row 18, although it has since been re-designated Grave 583. He still lies there today.
It was described in Cunard records as: -
Male 30 years, engineer Jones, dark brown hair, seaman’s suit with brass buttons, 2nd Officer’s badge on sleeve of coat.
Despite his having an identified grave, however, the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission initially recorded that his body was never recovered from the sea and as a consequence he was commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London. After the author had submitted positive information about his burial site to the Commission, however, it amended its records to show this and then in the year 2000, 85 years after his death, erected a headstone over his final resting place.
This stone follows the normal Commission pattern and in keeping with other stones in the cemetery, is made from grey marble and bears, over a Christian cross, the inscription: -
FOURTH ENGINEER, MM.
7TH MAY 1915 AGE 32
Obviously after such a passage of time, it was not possible to add a private or family inscription beneath the cross. The Commission has also stated that should it ever be necessary to re-cast the relevant bronze panel on the Tower Hill Memorial, his name will be omitted from its replacement.
His name was also engraved on a brass plaque belonging to The Liverpool Branch of The Marine Engineers’ Association which used to be in The Britannia Rooms in The Cunard Building in Liverpool. Underneath the badge of the association was engraved: -
ROLL OF HONOUR
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF
THE MEMBERS, WHO LOST THEIR LIVES
THROUGH ENEMY ACTION IN THE
GREAT WAR. 1914 - 1919
and then followed the names of the 226 former members.
The memorial is not in the building today, however and its present whereabouts, if it has survived, are not known.
On 14th June 1915, property recovered from his body was handed over to his widow Emily, at 9, Bedford Road, Walton, Liverpool, presumably the address of a relative or friend. This property consisted of two gold sovereigns, nearly 10/- (£0.50p.), in British coinage, some American coinage, a fountain pen, a silver watch and a silver chain.
In August 1915, the Cunard Steam Ship Company forwarded to Emily Jones, the balance of pay owing to her husband, in respect of his sea service on the
Lusitania. This was reckoned to be from 17th April 1915, the day the vessel had left Liverpool, until 8th May 1915, 24 hours after she had been sunk. In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted his widow a yearly pension to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £54-2s-3d. (£54.11p.) which was payable at the rate of £4-10s-3d. (£4.51p.) 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, George Donnison, Marine Engineers Association Journal, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, White Star Journal, UniLiv PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.