Porfiri Charkowski was born in Imperial Russia in 1871. At some time before the Great War, he left his native land and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the United States of America, and settled in East St. Louis, Illinois, where he found employment as a labourer.
In the spring of 1915, however, he decided to return home, maybe because of the military situation in Europe, and the setbacks being suffered at the time by the Imperial Russian Army on the eastern front.
Consequently, he booked third class passage on the Lusitania from New York to Liverpool and travelling from East St. Louis during April, he boarded the liner at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on the morning of 1st May 1915. He had his last sight of New York harbour in the early afternoon of that day as the liner began her delayed sailing out into the North River and into the Atlantic. The delay was caused because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the liner
Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for war service as a troop ship at the end of April.
Six days later, in the early afternoon of 7th May, he was one of the many third class passengers killed after the steamer was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of southern Ireland, by the German submarine
U-20. At that stage, the Cunarder was only fourteen hours steaming time away from her Liverpool home port.
As his body was never recovered and identified, he has no known grave. He was aged 41 years.
Altogether there were 69 Russian nationals who were passengers on the Lusitania. Of these, 40 were killed and 29 survived the sinking.
Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Graham Maddocks.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.