Charles ‘Charlie’ Aindow was born in 1878, one of 13 children born to John and Catherine Aindow of Formby, near Liverpool, in Lancashire, England. His brothers were named John, Joseph Henry, Robert, Thomas and William. He also had sisters named Alice, Catherine, Margery, Margarita, and Mary, and he lived at the family home at 'Ashburton', West Lane, Formby. Previously the family had resided at Liverpool Road, Lifeboat House at Andrews Lane, and 22 Queens Road, all in the Formby area of Liverpool.
His grandfather was the coxswain of the Formby lifeboat from 1862 to 1885 and his father held the same position until 1918 when the lifeboat station there closed. Charlie Aindow himself was also second coxswain of the lifeboat. The Aindows were fishermen by profession, and Charlie continued the family tradition.
A Roman Catholic, he was educated at Our Lady’s Schools and belonged to The Catholic Club in Three Tuns Lane, Formby. For many years he worked in the fishing industry at Liverpool Docks for Messrs John Glynn and Company, before joining the Cunard Steamship Company in 1914.
On 12 April 1915 he engaged as a night watchman in the Stewards Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool, at a monthly rate of pay of £4-5s-0d, (£4.25p). He is known to have served as a steward on previous voyages of the ship. He reported for duty in the early morning of 17 April 1915 before she left Liverpool Pier Head for the very last time and one week later, he arrived safely at her New York destination.
He was still serving in the same capacity of night watchman when the liner began the return leg of her voyage to Liverpool on the early afternoon of 1 May 1915 and he was killed when she was torpedoed and sunk on the afternoon of 7 May, off the Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland, by the German submarine U-20.
His body was recovered from the sea afterwards, and having been landed at Queenstown, it was taken to one of the temporary mortuaries set up there, and given the reference number 170. It was then identified there, on Sunday 8 May, by his brother Robert and his sister Catherine, known as ’Kit’, who had travelled from Formby for that very purpose.
'The Cork Examiner' for Thursday 12 May 1915 described Kit Aindow’s reaction:
She was there to find the body of her brother, Chas. Aindow who was apparently a steward on the ill-fated liner. When she recognised the dead body, she gave way to unrestrained grief and had to be taken away.
Cunard sources afterwards described the body for its records as:
Charles Aindow, Steward... about 45 years, light brown hair, sandy moustache, blue eyes, long nose, long red face, high forehead, bald on top, light brown eyebrows, medium build, about 6’ in height. Steward’s uniform with brass buttons, black tie and white collar, black boots and brown socks, white drawers.
Local newspaper 'The Formby Times' further stated in its edition of Saturday 15 May:
He was one of the best swimmers in Lancashire. It is supposed that he sank as the result of a severe knock on the head, a terrible bruise pointing to this conclusion.
On 14 May 1915 Charlie Aindow’s remains were despatched by sea from Queenstown to Liverpool, to Messrs John Waugh and Sons, who were funeral directors in Liverpool and nearby Waterloo. Having travelled to Formby from Liverpool by motor hearse, it was then buried the following day in the churchyard of Our Lady of Compassion Roman Catholic Church, in Formby. Night Watchman Aindow was aged 37 years, although he had given his age on engagement as 34.
Apart from many family mourners present there were also representatives from Formby Council and the Formby Section of the National Lifeboat Institution. Requiem Mass was conducted by the Reverend Father Gardner assisted by Father Hotherstall and the coffin was carried to the family grave by members of the Formby Lifeboat Institution. His remains still lie there today, in Plot B, Row 4, Grave 8.
There is a memorial stone over the grave, which consists of a sandstone cross set onto a revetted square base. His name is inscribed on the front bottom panel, the pertinent inscription reading: -
VICTIM OF THE LUSITANIA DISASTER MAY 7TH 1915.
He is also commemorated on the municipal war memorial in the centre of Formby, only yards away from where he is buried.
In August 1915 his family received from Cunard, the balance of pay owing to him in respect of his service from 17 April 1915 until 8 May, 24 hours after the liner had been sunk. On the 11th day of the same month, probate of his will was granted to his father, his effects amounting to £238-0s-0d, quite a large sum for an ordinary crew member to have left in 1915. Property recovered from his body was also sent to the family home and this consisted of silver and copper coins to the value of £0-0s-9d, (£0.40), a bunch of four keys, a corkscrew, a pair of cuff studs, a cigarette case and six spoons!
His mother died in May 1916 aged 77 years and his father died in September 1925 aged 86 years. They are both buried in the same grave as their son.
Patricia Aindow, Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cork Examiner, Cunard Records, Formby Times, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 334.