Richard George Wylie was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 20th April 1882, the son of Richard Augustus and Hannah Mary Wylie, and one of nine children. His father was a railway engineer.
He was a professional marine engineer and had first served his apprenticeship with Messrs. David Rollo and Sons, after which he joined the S.S.
Rutland as Third Engineer, later serving in the Gothland and the Donald Currie ship
Hansa as Second Engineer. Following two years’ service with The Union Castle Line, he joined Rankin & Gilmour to serve on the S.S.
St. Nicholas. Then in 1908, he joined Elder Dempsters and served for three years on the S.S.
Monrovia as Second Engineer.
In 1910, he married Laura Mary Oliver in Southampton, Hampshire, and they set up their home at 25, Watford Road, Anfield, Liverpool.
In 1911, he first began his association with The Cunard Steam Ship Company and from then until September 1914 when he first joined the
Lusitania, he served on the Mauretania, Campania and the
On 12th April 1915, he engaged as Third Junior Third Engineer once more on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool at a monthly wage of £13-10s-0d., (£13.50p.) and reported for duty on the morning of 17th April before she left the River Mersey for the very last time en route to New York.
Having completed this journey, he was on board when the liner left New York on the afternoon of 1st May for her return voyage back to Liverpool. He then survived her sinking six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, by the German submarine
U-20. At that time, she was about ten miles off the southern Irish coast and only hours away from Liverpool.
According to the June 1915 edition of The Journal of the Marine Engineers’ Association: -
Mr. Wylie was saved from the “Lusitania” by swimming to an upturned boat, and was picked up by a Greek steamer after being in the water three hours.
Similarly, in The Leicester Daily Mercury on 11th May 1915, second cabin passenger Thomas Snowden travelling from Lynn, Massachusetts stated: -
Some distance away, there was a life raft. When I reached it there were some twenty-four of twenty-five other persons on it. The number was gradually added to and eventually this too began to sink. Far out was an overturned boat. I jumped off and swam to it. Others were doing the same. I reached it and with help got it righted. Those who were with me then began to pick up others. Among those I helped to pull in was Lady Allan. Another man I pulled in was called Beauchamp. Eventually we found the third assistant engineer among us, and he took command.
The third assistant engineer was almost certainly Third Junior Third Engineer Wylie and the
Greek steamer was almost certainly the S.S. Katerina, inward bound from the Caribbean with a cargo of sugar, which rescued quite a few of the survivors from the
On his eventual return to Liverpool, Engineer Wylie was officially discharged from his service on the
Lusitania and paid the balance of wages owed to him in respect of this service. This amounted to £10-19s-4d., (£10.97p.).
Richard Wylie continued to serve as a marine engineer for the Cunard Steam Ship Co. Ltd. for many years. In 1927, he emigrated, with his family, to New York City, residing at 299. Narrows Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, later moving to 47. 78th Street, New York City, although he never applied for citizenship.
Richard Wylie died at Nassau Hospital, 2nd Street, Mineola, New York, on the 21st November 1953, aged 71 years. His home at that time was at 63. Pine Street, Garden City, New York. His effects in England at the time of his death were £611-11s.-3d. (£611.56p).
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Cunard Records, Marine Engineers’ Association Journal, PRO BT 100/345, Probate Records.