Henry Garnet Bullen was born in Cork City, County Cork, Ireland, on the 6th November 1886, the eldest child, and only son of Henry Bentley and Mary Emily Bullen (née Porteous). He had two younger sisters – Ruby Emeline and Pearl Victoria. His father was a bank clerk, who died in 1906.
After completing his education, he joined the The Munster and Leinster Bank in Cork and was so successful that he was sent to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to take up an important position in the Commercial Bank of Commerce in 1912.
On the 12th June 1912, he boarded the Royal George at Bristol as a first class passenger and disembarked in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. From there, he made his way to Winnipeg.
While in Winnipeg, Henry met Christina Flora MacPherson, and they married on the 7th September 1914; however, on the 15th April 1915, Christina was killed in Winnipeg when struck by a motor car being driven by another woman.
Following the tragic death of his wife, Henry took a leave of absence from his position as a ledger keeper at the bank, and decided to return to Cork to visit his mother, who had re-married as Mrs. Clayton Love, and who was at that time living in Westbourne Villas, Western Road, Cork. Consequently, he booked as a second cabin passenger on the
Lusitania and having travelled by rail from Winnipeg at the end of April, he joined the liner at Pier 54 in New York harbour in time for her delayed departure, just after mid-day on 1st May 1915.
Six days later, with the liner in sight of his native country, Henry Bullen lost his life after she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
Not long after the sinking, southern Irish newspaper The Cork Examiner
Mrs. Love, who was greatly affected, visited the morgue, but her son was not amongst the dead, and she had a similar experience at
(another morgue in) Queenstown, which she visited earlier in the morning and fears her son has perished.
Henry Bullen’s body was never recovered and identified, and as a consequence, he has no known grave. He was aged 28 years. Shortly afterwards, his beloved mother died, presumably grief-stricken at the loss of her son.
Prior to her death, his mother lodged a claim for the loss of his personal effects and a sum of money which she believed her son had on his possession when he boarded the
Lusitania; however, the Canadian Commission ruled that the claim should be settled by their equivalent commission in Great Britain. It is not known if her claim was successful.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of Ireland, 1911 Census of Ireland, Cork Examiner, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, UniLiv D92/2/38, Canadian Claims Case No. 888, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.