John George Herbert Arthur, known as George Arthur, was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, on the 8th April 1881, the eldest of six children of John and Elizabeth Steel Arthur (née Smith). His father was an auctioneer at Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, although previously he had been a draper’s assistant, and his mother was a dressmaker. George was a qualified mechanic.
In July 1906, George travelled to Canada, initially intending to go to Hamilton, Ontario; however, in the spring of 1915, he was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States of America. Perhaps because of the war, he decided to return to England. Consequently, he booked second cabin passage on the May sailing of the Lusitania from New York to Liverpool and having left Minneapolis at the end of April, he arrived at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour in time for the liner's 10.00 a.m. sailing, on 1st May 1915. Travelling with him was Sidral Braddick, another Englishman working as a mechanic in Minneapolis.
This sailing was delayed until the early afternoon, as the liner had to take on board passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner S.S.
Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for use as a troop ship at the end of April. Six days later, however, George Arthur was killed after the liner was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of southern Ireland by the German submarine
U-20. At that time, she was about 250 miles away from her home port. He was aged 34 years.
His body was recovered from the sea, however, and having been landed at Queenstown was taken to one of the temporary mortuaries set up there, where it was given the reference number 97, before a positive identification was made. Once this was done, however, it was buried on 10th May 915, at The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, in Mass Grave C, 3rd Row, Upper Tier. This was the day on which most of the victims of the disaster were buried, following a long funeral procession which began at the Cunard offices at Lynch’s Quay, on the waterfront.
Property recovered from his body was sent to his sister Miss Leonora Elizabeth Arthur, of 6, Gladstone Road, Rawdon, Yorkshire, on 2nd June 1915. This included his birth certificate, a cheque for £25-0s-0d., 2 gold sovereigns, $57 in bills, a quantity of British and American silver and copper coins, a gold watch and fob, a bunch of keys, a knife, letters and books and some sleeve links.
On 6th June, 1915 a letter was received by Cunard at Liverpool, from a Miss Betty Arthur of 32, Cromer Terrace, Leeds, Yorkshire, seeking a death certificate for George Arthur for the purpose of insurance. This was likely to have been another sister.
Sidral Braddick also perished in the sinking.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, Northumberland & Durham Baptisms, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 census of England & Wales, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, Cunard Records, Newcastle Daily Chronicle, PRO BT 100/345, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, UniLiv.D92/1/5, UniLiv. D92/2/1, UniLiv D92/2/24, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly