John George Kent was born in Flixton, Suffolk, England, in 1873, the son of John and Susanna Kent. In early 1901, he married Celine Adrienne Steding in Norwich, Norfolk, and at the end of that year, Celine gave birth to their only child, a son named George Frederick. In 1915, the family home was at 84 Earlsfield Road, Wavertree, Liverpool, Lancashire.
John was a professional steward serving in the Mercantile Marine and he engaged as a lounge steward in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d, (£4.25). He reported for duty at 7 am five days later, before the liner left the River Mersey for the last ever time. He had served on the liner previously to that voyage.
Having completed the Lusitania’s cross Atlantic voyage to New York, Steward Kent was on board her when she left there in the early afternoon of 1 May 1915, to commence her return journey to Liverpool - still serving in the same capacity.
Six days later, on the afternoon of 7 May, the liner was torpedoed by the German submarine
U-20, twelve miles off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and sank only eighteen minutes later. At that stage of her voyage, she was a mere twelve or fourteen hours away from her Liverpool destination.
John Kent was unfortunately killed as a result of this action and as his body was not recovered and identified afterwards he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing, at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 41 years.
On 9 July 1915, administration of his estate was granted to his widow Celine and his effects amounted to £334-0s-0d, quite a large amount for an ordinary steward in 1915! In August of the same year, Celine Kent was also paid the balance of wages still owed to him by The Cunard Steam Ship Company. In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted Celine Kent an annual pension to compensate her for the loss of her husband. This amounted to £42-9s-8d. (£42.48½) which was payable at the rate of £3-12s-6d (£3.62½) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records David Irving, Robert O'Brien, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.