Michael Thompson was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 20th October 1894, the son of Edward and Mary Thompson of 8 Alfred Road, Seacombe, Wallasey, Cheshire. Edward Thompson was a former Mercantile Marine sailor, having served himself on the
Lusitania as well as other Cunarders the Aquitania, the Mauretania
and the Umbra.
When Michael was still a child, his mother died, and in 1906 his father re-married, his second wife being Phoebe Alice Ashley.
Michael Thompson lived at 3 Brook Place, Park Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire, with his brother John where his sister Bridget kept house for them, and a younger brother aged 13 and a sister aged 16.
He engaged as a trimmer in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania
at Liverpool on 12th April 1915 at a monthly wage of £6-0s-0d., and reported for duty at 8 a.m. on 17th April, before the liner left on her last ever journey to New York. When he engaged, he was advanced the sum of £1-0s-d from his monthly wages.
He was killed three weeks later when the liner was torpedoed and sunk and his body was not recovered and identified afterwards, he has no known grave. Consequently, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London.
Local newspaper, The Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle carried a brief interview with friend and fellow trimmer Frank McKenna in its edition of Saturday 15th May 1915, which stated: -
Another man who had a narrow escape from death was Frank McKenna a trimmer, 2 Laburnum-cottages, Seacombe. He was with Michael Thompson, and the two were washing when the crash came.
They rushed up on deck, and the last McKenna saw of Thompson was with a life-belt.
Michael Thompson’s older brother John was also a trimmer on board ship and he too was killed. He is known to have lodged at the house of Frank McKenna in Seacombe. He was aged 23 years and is also commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial.
After the sinking, Michael’s sister Bridget applied to The Lusitania Relief Fund, administered by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, for financial help for herself and her young brother and sister. As the main purpose of the fund was to provide aid for passengers, not crew, however, one of the fund’s solicitors, a Mr. W.J. Yeoman wrote to The Public Trustee, to seek eligibility for her claim. The letter stated: -
Miss Bridget Thompson has consulted me hereon. She informs me that her 2 brothers, J.T. Thompson and M. Thompson, were trimmers on the “Lusitania” and were drowned when this steamship was torpedoed. She kept house, 2, Brook Place, off Park Street, Birkenhead, for her 2 brothers, and was solely dependant on them. Her brothers paid the rent, 5/- per week, and all expenses, and maintained a younger brother and sister aged 13 and 16 respectively who lived with her at 2 Brook Place.
She says that after deducting the cost of the board of her 2 deceased brothers when they were ashore, she estimates that she would receive £2 : 3 : 0 per week from them.
I am this day applying to the Cunard S.S. Co., (who, I understand, paid my client £2 a few days after the disaster and who have promised my client assistance), asking what they are prepared to allow her in the future. On receiving their reply, I will again communicate with you, with a view to claiming assistance from the Mansion House Relief Fund if the Cunard S.S. Co’s allowance should be less than £2 : 3 : 0., per week.
My client is quite without means. She has borrowed her rent, but will be unable to do so in the future. I shall be glad to hear from you on the matter.
In fact, the Lusitania Relief Fund would not have been able to award a payment, because the two deceased trimmers were covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the War Risks Insurance Association Scheme. Eventually, Bridget Thompson would probably have been awarded a financial consideration through these two media.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Wallasey News, Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, PRO BT 334.