George Edward William Harries was born in the civil parish of Pancras, London, England on 17 July 1884, the son of George Edward and Jane Castin Harries. In 1915 the family lived at 72 Grove Lance, Camberwell, London. His birth certificate states that his surname was Harris, which is the English spelling of his Welsh surname, and it would appear that he used both versions of his surname throughout his life.
George worked as a barman and restaurant waiter before emigrating to the United States of America and settling in New York City. In 1909 he married Mary Harries (née McDonald) and the couple eventually resided at 615 Hudson Street, New York City, New York. In view of his home address, it is likely that he had worked on the transatlantic crossing for some time. His wife was born in 1885 in Gowran, County Kilkenny, Ireland, the daughter of John and Ann McDonald, (née Tracey).
George Harries joined the Mercantile Marine as a waiter, but was quite versatile in that he could perform in a number of roles, such as bar tending, stewarding and baking. In April 1915 he had engaged on the Anchor Liner the SS Cameronia
for a voyage to England. At the end of the month however, the vessel was requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war service and the passengers and cargo and some of the crew were transferred to the
Lusitania. Thus, on 1 May, he engaged as an assistant baker in the Stewards' Department for the
Lusitania's final voyage across the Atlantic. His monthly wage was £3-15s-0d (£3.75).
It was to prove a tragic decision for him, as he was killed when the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk six days later, when she was only hours away from her Liverpool home port and just twelve miles off the southern Irish coast. He was aged 30 years.
There may have been confusion over whether or not his body was recovered afterwards, because on 19 May 1915 Cunard received a cable from New York which asked:
"WHO CLAIMED BURIED REMAINS GEORGE HARRIES (BAKER)"
The reply from Queenstown the following day simply stated:
"CANNOT TRACE GEORGE HARRIES' BAKER BODY"
On the same day that the cable was sent, Mary Harries wrote to Cunard’s solicitors in Liverpool, Hill, Dickinson and Co Ltd, stating that she intended to leave New York for Liverpool on the SS Orduña on 22 July, and she intended to make for the London home of her in-laws. Presumably, the point of the letter was so that she could be contacted if any news was discovered about her husband’s fate.
His body never was found and identified however, so he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
In August 1915 his widow Mary was paid the residue of wages owed to him in respect of his service on the
Lusitania, up until 8th May - 24 hours after the ship had foundered. In addition the Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited also granted a yearly pension to Mary Harries to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £25-9s-11d (£25.49½) payable at the rate of £6-7s-6d (£6.37) per quarter.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show his rank as that of waiter but a Cunard crew list published in March 1916 and the telegrams sent at the time of the sinking show his status to be that of assistant baker.
By the time that the Tower Hill register was compiled, his widow Mary had moved to 41 Horatio Street, New York.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv. D92/1/6, UniLiv. PR13/6, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.