People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

About Thomas J

Thomas John ‘Tom’ Owen was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 8th June 1857, the son of Thomas and Alice Owen.  He also had a family connection with Preston, Lancashire - his cousin Mrs. R. Liston kept The Cattle Market Hotel, there.

In 1894, he married Levina Elizabeth Victoria Isabella Smith in Liverpool, and they had two children – Alice Dorothy and William Leonard.

Although The Wallasey News of May 1915 gave his home address as 14, Longland Road, Liscard, Wallasey, Cheshire, at the time of the Lusitania’s final voyage, he gave his home address as 94, Groville Road, Bootle, Lancashire.

He engaged as Linen Keeper in the Stewards' Department, at Liverpool, on 12th April 1915 at a monthly wage of £5-0s-0d., and joined the vessel at 7 a.m., on 17th April before she left Princes Landing Stage for the last time ever.  He had served on her before.

When the ship was sunk, three weeks later, on her return to her home port, he managed to survive and having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown he made it back to Merseyside, where he told his experiences of the sinking to a reporter from The Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle, which stated: -

He heard the first crash while having a smoke in his room, which was situated in the forward part of the ship close to where the torpedo came crashing through.

By the time he got up on deck, the vessel was already sinking, and .....

He was borne away by the water and sucked under.  Upon coming to the top again, all in the midst of a mass of wreckage, he clung to some wood and then managed to get into a boat

He was eventually picked up by a lifeboat and as it rowed away from the scene, the occupants sang It's a Long Way to Tipperary to keep their spirits up.

The lifeboat was then met by a rescue vessel and Linen Keeper Owen and the others were landed ashore at Queenstown.

Eventually, he was officially discharged from the Lusitania’s final voyage and given the sum of £5-2s-0d., (£5.10p.), which was the balance of wages owing to him.  In common with all the crew, survived or killed, his service time on her last voyage was reckoned to be from 17th April to 8th May, 24 hours after the liner went down.

On the 27th January 1941, Tom Owen died at 2. Clatterbridge, Poulton-cum-Spital, Wirral, Cheshire, aged 83 years.  Probate of his will was granted on the 12th March 1941 to his son, William Leonard Owen, who was described as being a civil engineer.  His effects amounted to £568-16s-10d, (£568.84p).  His wife, Levina, had predeceased him in Northwich, Cheshire, in 1933.

Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1861 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, Lancashire Daily News, Probate Records, PRO BT 100/234, UniLiv D92/11, Wallasey News, Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle.

Thomas J Owen



Age at time of sailing:

Address at time of sailing:
94, Groville Road, Bootle

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