John Cummings was born in Liverpool, Lancashire on 11 September 1894, the son of John and Charlotte Emma Cummings. His father was a builder’s labourer who died in 1909. He lived at 60 Cardwell Street, Edge Hill, Liverpool.
He engaged at New York as a scullion in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania, on 30 April 1915 for what was to be her final voyage. His monthly rate of pay was £3.15s.0d (£3.75) and he reported for duty on board on the morning of 1 May at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour.
Six days later, on the afternoon of 7 May, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland. At that time she was only about 250 miles away from the safety of her home port. Scullion Cummings was killed as a result of this action. He was aged 20 years.
His body was not recovered from the sea and identified, so he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
In August 1915 his family was given the balance of wages owed to him in respect of the
Lusitania’s last voyage, which was reckoned to be until 8 May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had gone down.
Although the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission show his rank to be that of waiter, several contemporary Cunard archives show it to be that of scullion.
By the time the Tower Hill register had been compiled after the Great War, the family address was 20 Duke Street North, Charlestown Road, Halifax, Yorkshire.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv D92/6/1, PRO BT 334.