Thomas Hannah was born in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1869. He was a professional member of the British Mercantile Marine and in 1915 he lived at Hilda Street, Walton, Liverpool.
On 30 April 1915 he engaged as a waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at New York, at a monthly rate of £4.05s.00d (£4.25), just in time for her fateful final voyage. Having left New York at 12.27pm on 1 May after a delayed start, the
Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk, on the afternoon of 7 May by the German submarine U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland. Waiter Hannah was killed as a result of this action. He was aged 46 years.
His body was recovered from the sea and landed at one of the temporary mortuaries set up in Queenstown. It was given the reference number 173 and described as:
"Thomas Hannah, Waiter, about 6’ supposed bandsman or steward, blue uniform dress, blue eyes, long acquiline (sic) nose, regular face, sight make, dark hair and dark moustache turning grey, wore collar, black boots and socks"
On 14 May 1915 Thomas was buried in the Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown in Mass Grave B, Upper Tier, 6th Row.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was not aware of the fact that he has an identifiable burial site, so after the Great War he was commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London. However, once the author had established beyond doubt that he was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, the Commission erected a permanent memorial to him there in November 1998.
It takes the form of a monument crafted from Irish limestone, sited at the head of Mass Grave B, which is the centre one of the three. The names of crew members buried in the three mass graves are incised on two black granite panels mounted 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 Hannah is incised on the left hand panel.
The Commission has also stated that should it ever be necessary to renew the panel on the Tower Hill Memorial, his name would be omitted from its replacement.
Property which was recovered from his body at Queenstown on 12 May 1915 by the United States Vice-Consul, Mr Lewis C Thompson, was eventually handed over to a Mr TJ Reilly at 8 Birchfield Road, Walton, Liverpool, who accepted it on behalf of a Mary Hunter, on 29th October 1915. It consisted of £0-3s-6½d (£0.17½) in British silver and copper coinage. Mary Hunter was a widow who ran a boarding house, and Mr Reilly was one of her long-term boarders.
1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv. D92/6/1, PRO BT 334.