John McDonald was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1862. He was a professional seaman in the British Mercantile Marine and in 1915, he lived at 11, Clifford Street, Liverpool, Liverpool, Lancashire.
He engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania, at Liverpool, on the 12th April 1915, at a monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d, (£6.50p.), and was on board the liner when she left Liverpool for the last time on the morning of 17th April 1915. He could not write, upon his engagement and his mark, a cross was witnessed. His previous ship had been the S.S.
Having arrived at New York on 24th April, the Lusitania left the Cunard berth there at 12.27 p.m. on 1st May 1915 for the return leg of her voyage to her home port. Then, just six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20. At that point, she was off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and only 250 miles hours away from her Liverpool home port destination.
Fireman McDonald did not survive this action. He was aged 53 years.
His body was not recovered and identified afterwards and consequently, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
In August 1915, the balance of wages owed to him by Cunard was paid to his relatives. It was reckoned to be from 17th April 1915 until 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had foundered!
Commonwealth War Grave Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 334.