‘Grace’ Sarah Beattie was born Ginevra Sarah, or Sarah Ginevra, Martin in Townsend, Norfolk, Ontario, Canada, on the 4th June 1858, the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Martin. She was married to The Reverend John Alexander Beattie, a Presbyterian clergyman, and they had one son, named Allan Martin Beattie, who was born in 1895. The family home was at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Some time after the outbreak of the Great War, The Reverend Beattie volunteered for active service with the First Canadian Contingent and eventually arrived in England with them for further training before going to the Western Front. In April 1915, Grace and Allan Beattie left Winnipeg by rail for New York on the first part of their journey to England to be near him. They arrived at Pier 54 in New York harbour on the morning of 1st May 1915, and boarded the
Lusitania there as second cabin passengers, in time for her last ever sailing out of the port, which eventually began at 12.20 p.m., the same day.
Exactly six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May 1915, Grace Beattie lost her life when the great liner was torpedoed and sunk, off the coast of southern Ireland and within hours of her Liverpool destination. Her son Allan did survive the sinking, however.
A fellow second cabin passenger survivor Mrs. Winifred Hull also from Winnipeg mentioned the Beattie family quite extensively in a letter written to her husband George, back home in Winnipeg after her safe arrival at her parents’ home in Wallasey, Cheshire. This part of the letter involved the aftermath of the sinking, when she and Allan Beattie had been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown. She wrote: -
Early in the morning I rose & dressed tho' my clothes were by no means dry and I sat on the landing till some of the men, both passengers and crew appeared, and when Allan Beattie came downstairs, we went to see if we could send some telegrams but were unable to do so, so went back and had some breakfast, meanwhile being told that if we went to a certain store, we could get any clothing we were in need of. So while Allan got what he wanted, I got a coat & hat and a couple of handkerchiefs. They also gave me a silk waist and a tie and I had to write my name & the class I travelled in on the ship, on the bill, for them to show to Cunard.
I suppose you will know Allan's name. I remember myself seeing Mr. Beattie's name in the Winnipeg papers and no doubt you know he is a chaplain with the first Canadian contingent at Folkestone. Mrs. Beattie and their only child, Allan, were travelling to join him there. I saw them at the depot at Chicago but did not make their acquaintance until we were on the ship. She, poor lady was not up till Thursday, and I had quite a long conversation with her then. Allan told me he got a life belt on her but never saw her after.
No sign of Grace Beattie's body was ever recovered and identified again and as a result, she has no known grave. She was aged 55 years. She and her son Allan were apparently making for the homes of relatives at Upper Park - Drum Oak, Aberdeen shire, Scotland.
On the 15th November 1916, her husband remarried in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His second wife was Sarah Ann Elliott, who was ten years younger than him. He died in Toronto on the 12th February 1933.
Allan Beattie lodged a claim for compensation for the loss of his mother on his return to Canada, but as he was not financially dependent on her, his claim for compensation was rejected; however, her husband’s claim for compensation for the loss of her personal effects was successful, and he was awarded $810.67. His claim for compensation for the loss of her life was, like his sons, rejected as he also was not financially dependent upon her.
1871 Census of Canada, 1881 Census of Canada, 1901 Census of Canada, 1911 Census of Canada, Cunard Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, Canadian Claims Case No’s. 770 & 855, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Lawrence Evans, Winifred Hull, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly