Robert Grainger was born in Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland, on 30 July 1884, the son of John M and Rodina Grainger. While he was still a child his family moved to Bath, Somerset, England, where his father found employment as a cabinet maker.
By 1901 the family had relocated to Liverpool, residing at 9 Lower Breck Road. By this time Robert was working as a groom and domestic coachman and his father was working on Lord Derby’s estate as a carpenter and joiner.
On 30 March 1904 Robert married Mary Jane Davies in Liverpool and they had at least two children - Margaret and Marian.
At some point Robert joined the mercantile marine as a waiter and served on transatlantic liners.
He engaged as a waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the Lusitania at New York on 30 April 1915, at a monthly wage of £4-6s-0d (£4.30) just in time for her final voyage across the Atlantic. It is not known what liner he had travelled to New York on.
He was lucky enough to survive the sinking one week later. He was aged 30 years at the time.
Having recovered from the ordeal of the sinking of the Lusitania, he enlisted in the Army Service Corps of the British Army at Liverpool oon 7 October 1915 and became a motor driver. His service was cut short however, while serving in France in 1916 when he became ill and was found to be coughing up blood. It transpired that he had been diagnosed as suffering from consumption in New York in mid-1912 and ignored medical advice to spend some time in a sanatorium, where patients suffering from such illnesses were sent to recuperate. On being taken ill in France he was diagnosed as having chronic lung disease and was certified as being medically unfit for service. He was discharged from the Army on 28 November 1916. At this time he was residing at 14 Grey Rock Street, Liverpool.
After leaving the army, sometime around 1917, Robert met Elizabeth Parker (née Monkhouse), who was a widow, and in 1918 she bore Robert a son they named Gordon. In 1922 a second son was born to the couple, named Sidney. It is not known what happened to Robert’s first wife, Mary Jane, nor can any details of a marriage to Elizabeth Parker be found.
Robert Grainger was residing at 32 Makin Street, Walton, Liverpool, when he died in July 1952, aged 68 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, UniLiv. D/92/6/1, Margaret Humphreys.