Joseph McGovern 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 reported for duty on the morning of 17th April before the liner left the River Mersey for the last time. It was not the first time that he had served on board in the capacity of fireman.
Having completed the liner’s crossing to New York without mishap, Fireman McGowan was still serving on board on the early afternoon of 1st May, as the
Lusitania left New York on the start of her return voyage to Liverpool. 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 fourteen hours steaming time away from the safety of her home port.
Joseph McGowan was lucky enough to escape this action with his life, however and having been rescued from the sea, he was landed at Queenstown from where he eventually made it back to Liverpool. Once there, he was paid the balance of wages owed to him in respect of his time on board the Lusitania, which was counted from 17th April until 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had gone down.
Nothing further is known about this man.