Christopher Patrick Welsh was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, on the 24th December 1878, the son of Jeremiah and Mary Welsh. He was married to Eliza Sloan in St. Simon’s Parish Church, Liverpool, on Christmas Day, 1898, and they had six children, Mary (Maria), born in 1901, Christopher, born in 1903, John, born in 1905, Margaret, born in 1908, Sarah, born in 1910, and William, born in 1912. In 1915, the family home was at 35,Acre Street, Liverpool.
He was a professional seafarer in the Mercantile Marine and engaged as a trimmer in the Engineering Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 13th April 1915 at a monthly wage of £6-0s-0d., £1-0s-0d of which was advanced to him, at the time. It was not the first time that he had served on the vessel. He joined her at 8.00 a.m. on 17th April, before she left Prince’s Landing Stage at Liverpool, for the last time.
Three weeks later, however, he was killed when she was torpedoed and sunk. He was aged 36 years.
His body was amongst the earliest to be recovered from the sea after the disaster, however, and after it was landed at Queenstown, it was given the reference number 64, before a positive identification was made.
Once a positive identity had been established, however, it was buried on 10th May 1915 in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, in Mass Grave A, First Row, Lower Tier, where it lies today. Most of the victims of the sinking were buried on this day, following a long procession from the town itself, which began at the Cunard office at Lynch Quay.
Despite his having an identifiable grave site, this was not originally known by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and as a consequence he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London.
However, once the author had established beyond doubt that he was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, the Commission agreed to erect a permanent memorial to him where he is buried and this was done in November 1998.
It takes the form of a monument of Irish limestone, sited at the head of Mass Grave B, the centre one of the three. The names of crew members buried in the three mass graves are incised on two black granite panels on the memorial, with a legend in between them, which reads: -
1914 - 1918
IN HONOURED MEMORY
OF THOSE NAMED WHO,
SERVING ON THE
DIED WHEN THE SHIP WAS
SUNK BY ENEMY ACTION
ON 7 MAY 1915
AND ARE BURIED NEARBY
The name of Trimmer Welsh is incised on the right hand panel.
The Commission has also stated that should it ever be necessary to renew the panel bearing his name on the Tower Hill Memorial, his name would be omitted from its replacement.
By the time that the original memorial register had been compiled after the Great War, Trimmer Welsh’s widow and children had moved to 17, Fortescue Street, Liverpool. When he engaged at Liverpool for what became his last voyage, he gave his age as 34 years.
Christopher Welsh’s signature.
In August 1915, his widow received from Cunard, the balance of pay owed to him in respect of his service on the
Lusitania’s last voyage. This was reckoned to be from 17th April 1915 until 8th May - 24 hours after the liner had been sunk. In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Eliza Welsh which amounted to £69-0s-7d. (£69.03p.) which was payable at the rate of £5-15s-1d. (£5.75½p.) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Chris Welsh, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.