Babajan Alexan was born in Imperial Russia in 1885. Some time before the Great War, he had emigrated to the United States of America and settled in New York, N.Y., where he obtained employment.
In the spring of 1915, perhaps because of the military situation between the Imperial Russian Army and the Imperial German Army in northern Europe, he decided to return to his homeland and as a consequence, booked third class passage on the
Lusitania for England, on the first part of his journey home.
He boarded the liner on the morning of 1st May 1915 at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour and had to wait until the early afternoon for the liner to sail out of the port. This was because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner Cameronia, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war service as a troop ship, at the end of April. Just six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20. At that point, she was twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland and only hours away from her Liverpool destination.
Babajan Alexan, one of 68 Russian nationals on board, survived the sinking and having been rescued from the sea, was landed at Queenstown. It is hoped that he was treated properly, with courtesy and respect, because of the 29 who survived the sinking; many were later to complain to the Russian Ambassador in Liverpool of their poor treatment at the hands of the authorities.
It is not known whether or not he ever completed his journey to his homeland or indeed managed to survive the war!
Cunard Records. Liverpool Record Office, Graham Maddocks.
Copyright © Peter Kelly