Henry Augustine Bruno was born in Paddington, London, Middlesex, England, on the 29th August 1869, the son of Henry Augustine and Anna Maria Bruno, (née Dinham). He had a twin sister named Anna Maria, and an older sister named Elizabeth. His father, who was a mercantile clerk, died on the 6th May 1870, and his mother supported the family by running a boarding or lodging house.
On completion of his education, Henry became an insurance broker, later specialising in marine insurance.
In 1892, he married Annie Thompson at Marylebone, London, and they had two sons – Henry Augustine, born in 1893, and Frank Thompson, born in 1895. In 1905, Henry emigrated to the United States of America, and once he had established himself in the insurance business there, he sent for his family, who duly arrived in 1907. They established their family home at 123 Elm Street, Montclair, New Jersey. The family were prominent members of The First Baptist Church in Montclair.
Early in 1915, Henry and his wife decided to return to Great Britain for a six week holiday and consequently booked saloon passage on what became the
Lusitania's last voyage, through travel agents Rogers and Carr, of 123, William Street, New York. They arrived at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on the morning of 1st May 1915. With ticket number 46146., they boarded the liner and were escorted to their accommodation in room A17, which was the personal responsibility of First Class Bedroom Steward Edward Bond, who came from Anfield, a district of Liverpool.
The liner’s departure from New York was delayed until the early afternoon, because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner
Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for war service as a troop ship at the end of April. Then, just six days out of New York, on the afternoon of 7th May, and within sight of the coast of southern Ireland, the
Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20. At that time, she was only hours away from her Liverpool destination. Both Henry and Annie Bruno were killed as a result of this action. They were both aged 45 years.
Henry Bruno’s body was eventually recovered from the sea and taken to Queenstown where it was given the reference number 212 in one of the temporary mortuaries there and described as :-
Male, H.A. Bruno, New York, Saloon, Aged 42 years, 5’6 or 7”, bald on top of head, dark hair turning grey, dark brown cropped moustache, medium build, straight nose, blue serge suit, thin hardy features.
Property. £5 Bank of England note, 1 gold watch with gold chain attached, 1 silver watch, 2 gold cuff links, 3 gold studs, 1 scarf pin with blue pearl and 1 cigar holder, 1 penknife and 1 pencil.
Then, on 19th May 1915, his remains were buried in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, in private grave Row 18, No.15. This grave has now been renumbered 590. There is no headstone on it today, if there ever was one!. His wife's body had been recovered a week earlier and had been buried in Mass Grave B, in the same cemetery.
The property taken from both Henry and Annie Bruno's bodies was sent to Cunard's New York office on the S.S.
Orduña, on 8th July 1915 and handed over to their sons Henry, of Greenwich, Connecticut and Frank, of 16, Gould Street, Verona, New Jersey, on 28th July 1915.
Bedroom Steward Bond, who had looked after the Bruno’s in room A17, did survive, however, despite being sucked down one of the
Lusitania’s funnels and then blown out again, before he was picked up. He eventually got back to his Anfield home.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Newark Evening Star, New York Times, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO 22/71, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-11, UniLiv D92/2/352, Graham Maddocks, Lawrence Evans, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.