Norah Isabella Cassels was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1876, the daughter of James and Jane Cassels. Her father was a marine engineer and there was a tradition of service to the British Mercantile Marine in the family. She was educated at the Convent of the Sisters of Providence at 198 Haverstock Hill, Hampstead, London.
In 1915 Norah Cassels lived with her widowed mother at 147 Gloucester Road, Bootle, Lancashire, just down river from Liverpool.
On 12 April 1915 she signed on at the Cunard offices at Water Street in Liverpool for service as a stewardess in the Stewards’ Department on the Lusitania, at a monthly rate of pay of £4-0s-0d. She joined the liner at 7am on 17 April, before she left the River Mersey for the last time.
Having completed her last ever east to west crossing of the Atlantic the Lusitania left New York again on the early afternoon of 1 May 1915 for her return voyage to her home port. She had 19 stewardesses on board at the time, including Norah Cassels. On the afternoon of 7 May the Cunarder was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20 off the Old Head of Kinsale, only about 12 to 14 hours away from the safety of her home port.
Only six stewardesses survived this action and unfortunately Stewardess Cassels was not one of them.
As her body was not found and identified afterwards her name is consequently recorded on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London. She was aged 39 years, although when she engaged she had stated that she was 44, presumably because most shipping lines at that time preferred to employ more mature ladies as their stewardesses.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Lawrence Evans, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 334, Bootle Times.