Reginald Bertie Steel Nice, known as ’Reggie’, was born in Salford, Manchester, Lancashire, England, in 1887. He moved to Fleetwood, Lancashire with his mother, Elizabeth, when she married Thomas J. Newton, and made his home at 78, Promenade Street. The identity of Reggie’s father and his circumstances are not known.
He was a gents’ barber by trade and prior to his going to sea, he had worked in Stockport, Cheshire, where he was employed by a Mr. Harrison of Princes Street. Whilst there, he lodged in Chestergate and was well known in the town. In 1912, however, he decided to work on board ship and moved to Merseyside to join the trans-Atlantic liners and more particularly, The Cunard Steam Ship Company. He lodged there at 35 Burns Avenue, Liscard, Wallasey, across the River Mersey from Liverpool.
He engaged for the Lusitania’s final voyage, at Liverpool on 13th April 1915 as a barber in the Stewards' Department at a token monthly wage of 1/-, (£0.5p.), so presumably his wage was paid out of the profits of the hairdresser's saloon. He reported for duty at 7 a.m. four day later, before the ship left the River Mersey for the last time. Although it was his first voyage on the
Lusitania, he had previously served on the Cunarder Ivernia.
Having completed the liner’s voyage to New York, he reported on board for her return leg to Liverpool, before the Lusitania left the Cunard berth at Pier 54 on the west side of the city, just after noon on 1st May 1915. Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the Lusitania was torpedoed twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland by the German submarine
U-20, and sank just eighteen minutes later. At that stage of her voyage, she was only 250 miles from the safety of her home port. Reginald Nice was killed as a result of this action. He was aged 28 years.
His body was not recovered from the sea and identified afterwards and as a consequence, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
An article in the Merseyside newspaper The Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle
on Saturday 15th May 1915, told of the lucky escape of a Mr. George King who was normally in charge of the hairdressing saloon on board the Lusitania: -
Mr. George King, of Kingsway, Wallasey, conducted the hairdresser's saloon on the Lusitania but did not sail on her fateful voyage, having missed the trip in order to have a holiday in North Wales.
To that fact, he doubtless owes his life, as Mr. Reggie Nice of Liscard, who managed the saloon in his absence is amongst those who have perished. Mr King will, however, be a very heavy financial sufferer owing to the dire disaster, the value of the stock and fittings of the saloon being estimated at about £800.
Some time after Reggie Nice’s death, his mother moved to 1, Flag Street, Fleetwood, Lancashire, and it was here she resided when the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were compiled.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cheshire Daily Echo, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Lancashire Daily Post, PRO BT 100/345, Wallasey News, The Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle, UniLiv D92/2/164, PRO BT 334.