John Madden was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, in 1872 the son of John and Mary Madden. He married Mary Ann Jenkins in Liverpool on 5 January 1904, and in 1915 they lived at 126 Wolfe Street, Park Place, Toxteth, Liverpool, Lancashire. Three of their first four children died in infancy.
He engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania, at Liverpool, on the 12th April 1915. His monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d, (£6.50p.). He reported for duty at 8 a.m. on 17th April, before the
Lusitania left Princes Landing stage for the last time.
Having completed the liner’s crossing to New York, he was killed on the afternoon of 7th May 1915 after the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, off The Old Head of Kinsale in Ireland, only about 250 miles from her Liverpool destination on the return part of her voyage. He was aged 43 years.
His body was recovered from the sea afterwards, however, and was landed at Queenstown where it was given the reference number 197, in one of the temporary mortuaries there, where it was described as :-
Believed to be John Madden (Fireman) 35 years, 5’ 9” round full face, full forehead, very fair hair and moustache, brown seaman’s trousers, grey woollen shirt, no boots, no property
Once this identity had been confirmed, on 10th May 1915, the body was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, two miles north of Queenstown, in Mass Grave A, Sixth Row, Lower Tier, where it lies today. This was the day on which most of the casualties of the sinking were buried, following a long funeral procession from the town, which began outside the Cunard office at Lynch Quay on the waterfront.
Despite his having a known grave, the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission showed him as having been lost at sea. As a consequence, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
However, once the author had established beyond doubt that he was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, the Commission agreed to erect a permanent memorial to him where he is buried and this was done in November 1998.
It takes the form of a monument of Irish limestone, sited at the head of Mass Grave B, the centre one of the three. The names of crew members buried in the three mass graves are incised on two black granite panels on the memorial, with a legend in between them, which reads :-
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 FIREMAN J. MADDEN is incised on the right hand panel.
The Commission has also stated that should it ever be necessary to renew the panel bearing his name on the Tower Hill Memorial, his name would be omitted from its replacement.
In August 1915, John Madden was officially discharged from the last voyage of the
Lusitania and his widow was paid the balance of wages owed to him, in respect of his service on board the
Lusitania from 17th April 1915, until 8th May, 24 hours after the vessel had gone down! In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Mary Ann Madden to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £45-15s-4d. (£45.76½p.) which was payable at the rate of £3-16s-4d. (£3.81½p.) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 English Census, 1891 English Census, 1911 English Census, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv.D92/1/8-11, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.