Beatrice Eleanor Abas was born Beatrice Eleanor Sanderson at 25. Upper Street, Islington, London, Middlesex, England, on the 27th January 1889, the daughter of Francis William and Matilda Frances Sanderson (née Hayles). Beatrice was one of eight children born to the couple. Her father was a jewellery salesman living in Islington, London, for many years, before the family moved to Brighton where her father followed a trade as a wax chandler. The family home was at 43. Edward Street, Brighton.
On the 16th April 1908, she married Phillippe Abas at the Brighton Register Office. He was a Dutchman, from Amsterdam, where his father was a diamond cutter. Phillippe was a musician by profession, and a brilliant cellist, who at the time of their marriage, was performing with the Brighton Municipal Orchestra. They later had two children, both girls, named Isobel Roddrigues, born in 1909, and Beatrice Frances, born in 1912.
On 16th September 1914, the Abas family set sail from Liverpool on the S.S. Olympic,
arriving in New York on 23rd September. Phillippe Abas was performing in New York and his wife and children travelled with him. While in America, Beatrice Abas became pregnant again with their third child - both parents hoping for a boy.
Mrs. Abas was accustomed to travelling abroad with her husband but perhaps because of her forthcoming confinement or the war situation, she left him in New York and she and her two daughters were booked as second cabin passengers on what proved to be the
Lusitania's final voyage across the Atlantic. Mrs. Abas hoped to stay with her sisters in England until the baby was born.
The liner left New York for Liverpool just after mid-day on 1st May 1915 and when she ship was sunk by the German submarine
U-20, six days later, Beatrice Abas and both her children were killed. At that time, the
Lusitania was within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only about fourteen hours steaming time away from the safety of her Liverpool destination.
No trace of any of their bodies was ever discovered afterwards. Beatrice Abas was aged 26 years.
Phillippe Abas travelled back to England, presumably to try and find out what had happened to his family, landing in Falmouth on the 21st May. He remained in England long enough to marry Janet Thomson Levens in late 1915. The couple returned to the United States of America and resided in Detroit, Michigan, for a time. They had at least one child, a son they named Philip Robert, who was born in New York in 1918.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, New York Passenger Lists 1820 - 1957, Cunard Records, Brighton Herald, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/356, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly