Denis Bozenof was believed to have been born in Tsarist Russia in 1881.
Some time before the Great War, he had emigrated to the United States of America and settled in Chicago, Illinois, where he obtained employment.
In the spring of 1915, perhaps because of the deteriorating military situation in Eastern Europe between the Imperial Russian and German Armies, 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. Also with him on his journey was his elder brother Philate, who also lived in Chicago.
The two brothers boarded the liner on the morning of 1st May 1915 at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York and then 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 and at that point, she was within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only hours away from her Liverpool destination.
Denis Bozenof was one of 69 Russian nationals on board and he was one of only 29 who managed to survive the sinking - his brother Philate also survived. Having been rescued from the sea, they were landed at Queenstown and it is hoped that they were treated properly there because many of the Russian survivors were later to complain to the Russian Ambassador in Liverpool that they were badly treated in Ireland by the authorities there!
It is not known whether or not Denis or Philate Bozenof ever completed their journey to their homeland or indeed managed to survive the war! Denis Bozenof was aged 34 years at the time of the
Lusitania’s sinking and it is likely that he had anglicised his forename when he was in America.
Cunard Records. Liverpool Record Office, Graham Maddocks.
Copyright © Peter Kelly