Paul Frederick Wiencke was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, in 1897, the son of Paul and Catherine Ann Wiencke, (née Dunn). The family home was at 291, Beaufort Street, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, Lancashire. He was the eldest of eight children, four boys and four girls. The others were: - Mary, born in 1900, Charles, born in 1902, Catherine, born in 1904, Harry, born in 1906, Winifred, born in 1907, Francis, ‘Frank‘, born in 1910 and Josephine Alvina, born in 1912.
Having left school, Paul Frederick Wiencke experienced some difficulty in getting a suitable job. However, his father, German-born Johann Heinrich Paul Wiencke, but known as just Paul Wiencke, who had been at sea since 1896 secured him a place on board as a trimmer in the Engineering Department. Paul Wiencke senior had served on the
Lusitania as a greaser, since her maiden voyage in 1907.
Subsequently, having completed at least one voyage on the liner, Paul Frederick Wiencke engaged again at Liverpool, for what became her last ever voyage, on 12th April 1915 at a monthly wage of £6-0s-0d., £1-0s-0d of which was advanced to him at the time. He reported for duty with his father, at 8 a.m. on 17th April 1915.
When the liner was sunk, just three weeks after she left Liverpool on her return trip from New York, Paul Frederick Wiencke was killed. He was only 16 years of age, although when he engaged, he stated that he was 17.
As his body was never recovered and identified, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
His father also perished in the disaster and one can not even begin to imagine the distress this must have caused Catherine Wiencke, to lose a husband and son in the same afternoon!
Family lore tells the story that Paul Wiencke senior was off duty and on the upper decks, when the torpedo struck, but his son was down below performing his duty as a trimmer. Despite the fact that the ship was rapidly filling up with water and ignoring the advice of his fellow seamen, Paul senior insisted on going below to seek his son, on the grounds that he had promised his wife that he would look after him. In the event, both of them perished!
There was, however, one other father and son tragedy from the same sinking. Father and son both named Michael Cooney and both firemen, were also lost that day.
In August 1915, Catherine Wiencke was given the balance of wages due to her husband and son in respect of their sea service on the
Lusitania’s final voyage. This was reckoned to be from 17th April to 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the steamer had gone down. In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted her a yearly pension that amounted to £64-17s-8d. (£64.88½p.) per year, payable at the rate of £5-8s-2d. (£5.41p.) per month.
It is also known that Catherine Wiencke was awarded a weekly sum of £1-0s-0d. compensation for her son’s loss under The Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1906, as papers relating to this still survive in the family archive.
Also, following the death of her husband and son, she was given a job as a cleaner in Cunard’s main buildings in Liverpool and when her daughter Catherine left school, she was given a job in Cunard’s main linen room in Seaforth, not far from Liverpool.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Agnes Deane, Pauline Deane, PRO BT/100/345, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.