People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

Laurence Rossiter

Laurence Rossiter

About Laurence

Laurence Rossiter was born at Main Street, Wexford, County Wexford, Ireland in 1884, the son of Nicholas and Mary Rossiter. He had at least one brother, Joseph, who was a linotype printer in the News Office in Waterford city, County Waterford.

Laurence enlisted in the British Mercantile Marine as a fireman on merchant ships.

On 23 February 1913 he married Elizabeth Cavanagh in Liverpool, and in 1915 the family resided at 20 Hook Street, Liverpool.

He engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania, at Liverpool on 12 April 1915, at a monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d (£6.50) and joined the vessel before she left the River Mersey for the last time, five days later.

He survived the sinking three weeks later, despite being injured.  After he was rescued from the sea he spent three days at the Military Hospital in Queenstown before he was well enough to make the journey home

On his return to Liverpool he was officially discharged from the Lusitania’s last voyage and paid £6-10s-0d (£6.50) in respect of his sea service from 17 April to 8 May 1915 - 24 hours after the ship had gone down.

Laurence wrote to his brother in Waterford, giving an account of his experience, and a portion on this letter was quoted in the 21 May 1915 edition of the 'New Ross Standard':

"I need not tell you that we had a terrible time while it lasted, and I hope never to see the same sight again … I owe my life to being able to swim.  I never troubled about a lifebelt.  I am broken up, and when I will be able to go to work again, I do not know.  However I am thankful that I was saved.  I was in the military hospital in Queenstown for three days.  The scenes there are beyond describing."

Laurence Rossiter almost immediately returned to sea; however his luck ran out while he was serving as a fireman on the SS Oslo, on a voyage with passengers and iron ore from Trondheim in Norway to Liverpool. He was one of two firemen and a passenger who were killed when the vessel was sunk by a torpedo discharged from the German submarine U-87 about fifteen miles off the coast of the Shetland Islands on 21 August 1917. He was aged 33 years.

As his body was never recovered and identified afterwards he has no known grave, so his name is on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.  

His widow Elizabeth never re-married, and died in Liverpool in 1981, aged 89 years.


Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, New Ross Standard, PRO BT 334.

Laurence Rossiter



Age at time of sailing:

Address at time of sailing:
20 Hook Street, Liverpool
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