Annie Thompson is believed to have been born in Bayswater, London, England, in 1869 or 1870. Nothing is known of her early life or family, but in 1892, she married Henry Augustine Bruno, a maritime insurance broker, at Bayswater, London.
In 1905, her husband went to the United States of America to establish himself in business, and having done so, Annie and their two sons – Henry Augustine, born in 1893, and Frank Thompson in 1895, joined him. The family resided at 123 Elm Street, Montclair, New Jersey. The family were prominent members of The First Baptist Church in Montclair.
Early in 1915, the couple decided to return to Great Britain for a six week holiday and they booked saloon class passage on the
Lusitania's fateful last voyage, through travel agents Rogers and Carr, of 123, William Street, New York. Arriving at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York port on the morning of 1st May 1915, the couple boarded the liner with ticket number 46146. They were then 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 take on board passengers, crew and cargo from the recently requisitioned Anchor Liner
Cameronia and just six days later, 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 about 250 miles away from her Liverpool destination. Both of the Bruno’s were killed as a result of this action, both aged 45 years.
Annie Bruno's body was recovered before Henry's; however, and before it was positively identified in one of Queenstown's temporary mortuaries, it was given the identification number 147 and described as: -
Female aged about 40 years, 5’ 4” medium build, hair slightly grey, very good teeth, (large upper jaw)
Property on the remains eventually provided its identity, and on 13th May 1915 she was buried in Mass Grave B, 6th Row, Lower Tier, in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown. Henry Bruno's body was recovered a week after his wife's and was buried, on 19th May 1915 in a private grave in the same cemetery.
At the end of June 1915, New York attorneys Messrs. Merrill, Rogers and Terry wrote to Cunard in New York, on behalf of Annie Bruno’s sons, to state that their mother had been wearing a black enamelled gold ring and a diamond and seed pearl brooch
of peculiar design. They requested that these and any other property recovered from Mr. and Mrs. Bruno’s bodies be forwarded to them for delivery to the sons. Such property was then sent to Cunard's New York office on board 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.
Their property consisted of eleven $50 bills, eight $10 bills, two $5 bills, nine $1 bills, three gold rings taken from Mrs. Bruno’s left hand, one of them set with three diamonds, a gold locket with a photograph of a middle aged man in it, a lady’s pearl ring set with ten seed pearls, a gold ring enamelled black and a diamond and seed pearl brooch. These last two items were obviously those mentioned in the Merrill, Rogers and Terry letter to Cunard in New York.
Bedroom Steward Bond, who had looked after Mr. and Mrs. Bruno 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 home in Anfield.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Newark Evening Star, New York Times, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Cunard Records, Newark Evening Star, New York Times, PRO 22/71, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, UniLiv D92/2/352, Graham Maddocks, Lawrence Evans, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray .
Copyright © Peter Kelly.