People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

About Nicholas Naftel

Nicholas Naftel Alles was born in Forest, Guernsey, in The Channel Islands, on the 3rd February 1865, the eldest son of Nicholas Mansell and Mary Rachel Alles.  He had a brother named Theodore, who was born in 1868.  His father was a farmer and the family resided at Casrough, Guernsey.

In 1883, Nicholas Alles had emigrated to the United States of America and settled in New York City.  By the outbreak of the Great War, he had established himself as a successful businessman, becoming the accountant for the St. Regis Hotel in the city.  He was married to Katherine V. Alles, who was a native of New York City.  The couple had no children and resided at 157, West 78th Street, New York.  Nicholas Alles had become a U.S. citizen in March 1902.

In the spring of 1915, Nicholas received word that his mother, then aged 73 years, was seriously ill in Guernsey and he determined to cross the Atlantic to be with her.  Consequently, having booked a saloon passage return ticket - number 46029 - to London, on the May sailing of the Lusitania, he not unnaturally stayed in The St. Regis Hotel, before joining the liner at her berth at Pier 54 on the morning of 1st May 1915 in time for her scheduled 10.00a.m. departure.  Having boarded, he was escorted to his accommodation in room B31, which was the personal responsibility of First Class Bedroom Steward James Holden who came from Liverpool.  After a delayed start, the liner finally left port just after mid-day.  The delay was caused because she had to wait to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for war service at the end of April.

Six days out of New York on the afternoon of 7th May, and within sight of The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20.  At that time, she was only about 250 miles away from her Liverpool destination and home port.

Nicholas Alles was one of just over 100 saloon passengers to survive the sinking, however, and having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, it is presumed that he did make it to Guernsey to visit his sick mother.  He was aged 51 years of age at the time of the sinking.

Bedroom Steward Holden, who had looked after him in room B31, did not survive the sinking; however and never saw his Liverpool home again!

Nicholas Alles can not have been put off trans-Atlantic travel by his ordeal on the Lusitania, as he returned to New York as early as the end of June 1915 from Liverpool on board the American Lines vessel New York, and then continued to make further crossings as late as up until the early 1920s!

Nicholas Naftel Alles died in New York on 23rd May 1932, aged 67 years.

Channels Islands Births & Baptisms 1820 – 1907, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Cunard Records, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, U.S. Passport Applications 1795 – 1925, IWM GB62, New York Times, PRO 22/71, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Lawrence Evans, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.

Copyright © Peter Kelly

Nicholas Naftel Alles



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