David Critchley was born in Bootle, Lancashire on 9 August 1884, the son of David and Anne Jane Critchley. His father was a coal merchant. He married Florence Maria Critchley (née Mainman) in Liverpool on 28 August 1909, and in 1915 they lived at 63 Linacre Lane, Bootle, Lancashire. He was an active freemason and a member of Liverpool Antient Briton Lodge number 1675.
He was a professional steward serving in the British Mercantile Marine and at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 he engaged as a first class bedroom steward in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania, at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d (£4.25). He reported for duty on the morning of 17 April for what would be her last departure from the River Mersey. Having crossed the Atlantic Ocean without mishap, the liner arrived at her New York destination on 24 April. It was not Steward Critchley’s first voyage on the Cunarder.
The Lusitania left New York again on the early afternoon of 1 May 1915 for her return voyage to Liverpool. On this voyage David Critchley had personal responsibility for rooms E56 to E64, even numbers only, and room E74. These contained saloon passengers Clinton P Bernard, Oscar F Grab, Jacobæus A Sigurd, George Ley Vernon, Frederick W Hawkins and Doctor James T Houghton, and Mrs. Alexis Osborne, respectively. The vessel never reached her destination, for on the afternoon of 7 May she 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 home. David Critchley was killed as a result of this action. He was aged 31 years.
As his body was never recovered and identified, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, in London. Despite his Masonic connections, he is not commemorated on the Roll of Honour at the Masonic Hall in Hope Street, Liverpool, which is dedicated to all the Freemasons from the Liverpool district who were killed in the First World War, or the Roll of Honour for Grand Lodge in London.
On 7 July 1915 administration of his estate was granted to his widow Florence and his effects amounted to £128-13s-11d (£128.70). The following month she was given the balance of wages due to him in respect of his service on board the
Lusitania‘s last voyage. His service was reckoned to be from 17 April to 8 May - 24 hours after the ship had sunk. The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited also granted a yearly pension to Florence Critchley which amounted to £55-16s-4d (£55.81½) payable at the rate of £4-13s-1d.(£4.65½) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Geoff Cuthill, David Irving, Robert O'Brien, Probate Records, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.