Harold Grindley Nixon was born in Chester, Cheshire, England in 1876, the son of George Henry and Ellen Jane Nixon. His father was a Detective Sergeant in Liverpool City Police, and whereas his father was born in Chester, and resided there with his family at the time of Harold’s birth, the family later moved to the Everton area of Liverpool.
Harold first found employment as an errand boy, before progressing to being a steward at a medical club. In late 1898 he married Maud Madeline Allbrow in Birmingham, Warwickshire, and by 1915 the couple lived at 36 Clifton Road, Tuebrook, Liverpool, Lancashire. They had no children.
Harold became a full-time mariner in the mercantile marine and engaged as Storekeeper in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £7-10s-0d (£7.50). He reported for duty at 7am five days later, on the morning that the Cunarder left the Mersey for the last time.
Having completed the liner’s crossing to New York without mishap, Harold Nixon was still serving on board on the early afternoon of 1 May, as the
Lusitania left New York on the start of her return voyage to Liverpool. Then, six days into the voyage, on the afternoon of 7 May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland. At that tim, she was only about 14 hours steaming time away from the safety of her home port.
Having survived this action and having been rescued from the sea, he was landed at Queenstown and eventually made his way back to Liverpool, where he was officially discharged from the Lusitania and paid the balance of wages owing to him, which amounted to £6-19s-4d (£6.97).
He returned to the sea after the Lusitania disaster and continued to serve with the Cunard Steam Ship Company. However on 27 March 1917 he was serving as Chief Steward on board the SS Thracia.
The Thracia, of 2,891 gross tonnage, was built in 1898 as the SS Oroño, and on that date, she was carrying a cargo of iron ore from Bilbao in Spain to Ardrossan in Scotland. When she was 12 miles north of Belle Ille, at 47.32 north, 03.19 west, in the Bay of Biscay, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
Thirty-six crew members lost their lives in the sinking and this time Harold Nixon’s luck had run out, for he was counted amongst this number.
No trace of his body was ever found and identified afterwards, so he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 38 at the time of the
Lusitania sinking and 41 when he met his death.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, British Merchant Ships Sunk by U-Boats, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Peter Threlfall, PRO BT 334.