Ernest Foden was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, in 1889. His home was at 25 Ferndale Road, Waterloo, Liverpool.
He joined the crew of the Lusitania on 29 April 1915 in New York as a waiter in the Stewards' Department, just in time for her last voyage. His rate of pay was £4-5s-0d (£4.25) per month. His previous ship had been the SS Paumonia.
He was on board the Lusitania when she left New York in the early afternoon of 1 May 1915. Six days later, when the liner was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, he survived, to be rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, from where he eventually got back to his home town.
Once there he was officially discharged from the liner’s last voyage and given the balance of pay owed to him for his one way voyage. This amounted to £1-18s-2d (£1.90).
He does not appear in a list of crew known to have been on board the Lusitania when the ship was sunk, which was published by Cunard on 1 March 1916. The simple reason for this is that he was mistakenly named Waiter Ernest Toder when Cunard first complied a list of crew members present on her final Atlantic crossing, almost certainly because his signature was misread at the time. Consequently he was missed off the 1916 list entirely but as no-one named Ernest Toder appeared on the list of survivors, Cunard naturally assumed that he had perished.
He does, however, appear in a Particulars of Discharge ledger which is still extant in the Public Record Office in Richmond, London.
He was aged 26 years at the time of the sinking.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/6/1.