Edward Richard Powell was born in Greenwich, London, on the 24th June 1886, the son of Edward and Catherine Powell. For many years, the family home was at 79. Thames Road, Greenwich.
Edward became a labourer on completing his schooling, and fell afoul of the law on at least one occasion as he is recorded as being detained as a prisoner in Deptford Police Station on the night of the 1911 Census of England and Wales!
By 1911, his father had died and the family home was at 77 Roan Street, Greenwich, London.
With war looming in August 1914, Edward enlisted in the Royal West Kent Regiment as 232 Private Edward Powell. He was discharged, for reasons unknown, on the 13th November, having served for 89 days!
Edward found himself in New York in early 1915, and maybe as a way of returning to England and earning some money while doing so, he signed on as a trimmer in the Engineering Department on the Lusitania on 30th April 1915 at New York, just in time for the ship's final fateful voyage. His rate of pay was £6-0s.-0d. per month. He was not a regular seaman and is not known to have served in the mercantile marine for any lengthy period.
Six days out of New York and only hours away from her Liverpool destination, the
Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of southern Ireland by the German submarine
U-20. At that time, she was only about 250 miles away from the safety of her home port. Edward Powell survived the sinking.
Eventually, he made it back to Greenwich, via Liverpool, where he was paid off from the
Lusitania’s last voyage. In common with all the liner’s crew, perished or survived, he was paid until 8th May, 24 hours after the vessel had gone down.
On the 9th June 1915, Edward made another attempt to join the army when he enlisted as G/8414 Private Edward Powell in the 11th (Lewisham) Batt., Royal West Kent Regiment; however, he was listed as a deserter on the 14th June, and nothing further is known about him!
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records.