Carmelo Francesco (Charles Francis or 'Charlie') Gouder was born in Cospicua, Malta on 4 March 1889, the son of Spiridione 'Spiro' and Marianna Gouder. He married Elizabeth Louisa Campbell and the couple had four children. It is unknown where the family resided in 1915 but it is likely they lived in Malta.
Charlie was a professional seaman in the British Mercantile Marine and on 12 April 1915 he engaged as a waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool, at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d (£4.25). He reported for duty on the morning of 17 April before the ship left the River Mersey for the last time.
On the return journey from New York, on the afternoon of 7 May, the
Lusitania was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 and sank 18 minutes later. At that stage of her voyage she was a mere 12 or 14 hours away from her Liverpool destination.
Charles Gouder survived this action, and having been rescued from the sea he was landed at Queenstown then travelled back to Liverpool. Once there, at the offices of Cunard in Water Street, he was paid the balance of wages owed to him in respect of his service on board the liner, which was reckoned from 17 April to 8 May, 24 hours after the great ship had foundered.
Charles Gouder took six months to recover from his ordeal before returning to sea and continued to serve as a steward on liners and other vessels for many years. He relocated with his family to New York City for a number of years before moving to England, where he spent the remainder of his days.
Charles Gouder died of cancer at St Williams Hospital, Rochester, Kent, England on 9 May 1970 and was buried in Gillingham Cemetery. He resided at Maple Avenue, Gillingham at the time of his passing, and was aged 81 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 350.