Frederick ‘Fred’ Rowan was born on 10th August 1883 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, the son of Thomas and Margaret Rowan (née Grant). On the 25th November 1901. He married Mary Alice Hodgson at All Saints Church, Liverpool.
In April 1915, he lived at 56, Sheriff Street, Everton, Liverpool. At some point he married, his wife’s name being Mary.
He was a professional fireman in the Mercantile Marine and on 12th April 1915, he engaged in this capacity at Liverpool on board the
Lusitania at a monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d, (£6.50p.). It was not the first time that he had served on the vessel. Having reported for duty at 8 a.m. on 17th April, he then completed the first leg of the liner’s last voyage to New York and was still serving in the capacity of fireman when she left America just after mid-day on 1st May 1915, for her return to Liverpool.
Six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, he was one of the fortunate survivors after the steamer was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, off the coast of southern Ireland, only hours from the safety of her home port. Having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he was eventually returned to Liverpool, where he was officially discharged from the liner’s final voyage and paid the balance of wages owed to him. This amounted to £5-0s-9d, (£5.4p.) and was reckoned from the date the liner left Liverpool, until 24 hours after she had gone down.
On 9th September 1915, he received compensation via agents Messrs, Hill, Dickinson and Company of Water Street, Liverpool, on behalf of The Cunard Steam Ship Company in the amount of £6-0s-0d.,
..... in full settlement of all claims and demands in respect of injuries sustained by him on the ‘Lusitania’ 7th May 1915.
As this amount was only about one month’s wages, any injuries he had sustained could not have been too serious. By this time, his address was shown to be 1, Nicholson Street, Everton, Liverpool.
Not withstanding any injuries he might have sustained, his experiences on the
Lusitania seem to have determined him to seek a more active way of pursuing the war against the Germans, as in June 1915 he enlisted in the British Army. Subsequently, he served on the Western Front against the German Army as 30406 Private F. Rowan, in the 2nd platoon, ‘A’ Company of the 4th Battalion of The King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
Fred Rowan, however, must have yearned for the sea, or disliked the Army, because he subsequently deserted, and re-invented himself as “Fred Grant” when he rejoined the Merchant Navy in 1917. He served on a number of ships, including the
Empress of Britain, Baltic, Cedric, Belgic, and Adriatic. He lived by this alias for the rest of his working life.
In July and August 1944 he was involved in “Special Operations” for the liberation of Europe, but exactly what “Special Operations” he was involved in, is unknown.
On the 11th October 1946, “Fred Grant”, by now living at 24. Alexander Street, Walton, Liverpool, was invalided out of the Merchant Navy for being “unfit for sea service”. His health must have been failing at this time.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, NGMM DX/1237, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 350.