Charles ‘Charlie’ Stuart Gilroy was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 17 February 1893, the son of Arthur and Matilda Allen Gilroy of 134 Rimrose Road, Bootle, Lancashire, England. His mother pre-deceased him.
On 12 April 1915 at Liverpool he engaged as a second class waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania, at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d (£4.25). He reported for duty five days later on the morning of 17 April, before the vessel left the city for New York. It was not the first time that he had served on the liner.
Having had an uneventful passage to New York, he was on board when the vessel left there on the early afternoon of 1 May 1915 for her return voyage to her home port. Six days out, on the afternoon of 7 May, she was torpedoed by the German submarine
U-20 12 miles off the coast of southern Ireland and sank within 18 minutes, taking two thirds of her passengers and crew with her. At that stage of her voyage, she was only about 14 hours steaming time away from Liverpool.
Charles Gilroy was killed as a result of this action. His body was recovered from the sea afterwards and before it was positively identified it was given the reference number 124 in one of the temporary mortuaries at Queenstown. On 10 May 1915, he was buried in the Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown in Mass Grave C, 1st Row, Lower Tier. Most of the victims of the sinking were buried in the graveyard that day, following a long funeral procession which began at Lynch’s Quay in the town, outside the offices of the Cunard Steam Ship Company on the waterfront. Charles Gilroy was aged 22 years when he was killed.
Despite the fact that he has an identifiable burial site, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was not aware of the fact and after the First World War, commemorated him on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London.
Once the author had established beyond doubt that he was buried in the Old Church Cemetery, the Commission erected a permanent memorial to him where he is buried in November 1998. It takes the form of a monument of Irish limestone, sited at the head of Mass Grave B, the centre one of the three. The names of crew members buried in the three mass graves are incised on two black granite panels on the memorial, with a legend in between them, which reads:
"1914 - 1918
IN HONOURED MEMORY
OF THOSE NAMED WHO,
SERVING ON THE
DIED WHEN THE SHIP WAS
SUNK BY ENEMY ACTION
ON 7 MAY 1915
AND ARE BURIED NEARBY"
The name of Waiter Gilroy is incised on the left hand panel.
The Commission has also stated that should it ever be necessary to renew the panel bearing his name on the Tower Hill Memorial, his name would be omitted from its replacement.
In August 1915 his family was paid the residue of wages owed to him in respect of his service on the
Lusitania, from 17 April to 8 May - 24 hours after the ship had gone down. The family also took possession of property recovered from his body before it was buried. This consisted of a pair of opera glasses, £0-10s-0d (£0.50) in gold coins, £0-11s-6d (£0.57½) in silver coins, a copper penny, a fountain pen, a bunch of keys, a camera, a pair of gold studs and a badge.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Liverpool Echo, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, PRO BT 334.