George William Maylor was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on the 14th or 15th of February 1882, the son of George and Mary Maylor. He lived at 1, Seafield Road, Orrell Park, Liverpool.
He married Margaret Parkinson in Liverpool in 1911. It is believed that Margaret was a widow when she married George.
He engaged as a boots in the Stewards' Department on board the Lusitania at Liverpool on 12th April 1915 at a monthly rate of £4-5s-0d., (£4.25p.), and joined the liner for what was to become her last sailing out of the River Mersey, on the morning of 17th April. It was not his first voyage on the vessel.
He survived her sinking, three weeks later and having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he eventually got back to Liverpool, where he was officially paid off from the liner’s last voyage and given the balance of wages owing to him, which amounted to £4-9s-6d., (£4.45½p). This was in respect of his sea service from 17th April 1915 until 8th May - 24 hours after the vessel had foundered!
George continued to serve in the mercantile marine as a linen keeper for many years. At some stage his wife died as he married Edith Curtis, a widow, in Liverpool in 1943.
In 1956, he retired with his wife to Parley, in Dorset, about five miles from Bournemouth and the following year; he related his experiences of the disaster to Ian Severns, a feature writer from local newspaper
The Liverpool Echo. These were published in the edition of 5th April 1957 edition and stated: -
The tragedy left him suffering from a form of claustrophobia, and until he retired from active service at sea ten years ago, he always slept with his cabin door open. He recalls the fateful day like this: -
“At 5 a.m., the morning was grey and misty as we tumbled out of our bunks. There were four Boots on board. I was the chief. Our job was to go round to all the cabins and clean the boots and shoes, owners had left outside.
The night before had been a gala night. It was the night before we were scheduled to dock at Liverpool and everyone had been making merry, dancing and dining until the early hours. The next morning, few of the passengers - many of them gentry and celebrities - were awake for breakfast. They did not know that a message had come through that a German submarine was lurking in the Fastnet. They didn’t know our skipper had altered course down south.
That afternoon I was in the saloon. It was 2.10 p.m.. Suddenly, a tremendous explosion rocked the ship. At once it listed heavily over to starboard and began to settle. I raced to my quarters on D Deck and grabbed a life-belt. Down below I could hear women screaming. From there I ran up to the lounge, but before I could any farther, I was thrown onto my knees. I watched helplessly as two babies were washed through the door and over the side.
Down by the railing on the starboard side, still sitting in a deckchair where she had been sunning herself, was a woman, clutching two babies in her arms. I threw my life-belt to her, as I was a good swimmer then ran foe the stern of the ship and dived 60 feet into the seething mass of floating wreckage. The next time I saw them they lay in the mortuary alongside hundreds of other victims.
The scene in the water was frightful. People were screaming hysterically. Others who had already drowned were floating listlessly on top of the water; some also dead, were still clutching the lifelines. I was in the water about half an hour. I swam round doing what I could before being picked up by a lifeboat. There were about 36 of us in it. They made me skipper.”
Here Mr. Maylor was overcome as he remembered having to turn swimmers away.
“It was no use taking them on board or we would all have gone down. I shall never know how that lifeboat kept afloat for the stern was completely smashed.”
Saloon passenger Laura Ryerson described being in a lifeboat with a hole in one end.
“I am a good swimmer and although there was a good crowd struggling together I got clear and came up against a raft on which were Leonard
(sic) McMurray and Mr. Lockhart of Toronto. The raft was sinking with so many on it, so I and others swam to a lifeboat floating near and got into it. There was a hole in one end, but by clinging to the other end we kept the hole out of the water. We were in the water up to our knees for three hours when we were picked up a destroyer and taken to Queenstown.”
It would seem likely that this was the same lifeboat that Boots Maylor commanded and if it was, then he too, must have been picked up by a Royal Naval destroyer before being landed at Queenstown.
The Echo account concluded: -
It was about 20 minutes before the Lusitania sank. I shall never forget the sight of the great ship pivoting vertically in the air before being sucked from view.”
George Maylor died in April 1959 in Dorset, England, aged 77 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 English Census, 1891 English Census, Cunard Records, Lawrence Evans, Liverpool Echo, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 350.