John Thomas was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1897. He lived at 10, Dingley Avenue, Aintree, Liverpool.
He was a professional sailor in the Mercantile Marine and he engaged as a second class waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool, on 13th April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £4-8s-0d., (£4.40p.). His previous ship had been the Yeoward Brothers vessel the S.S. Aguila
but as she was captured and then sunk by the U-28 on 27th March 1915, he can not have been on board her at the time.
He survived the sinking of the Lusitania, however, and upon his return to Liverpool, was officially discharged from her and given the balance of wages owing to him, which amounted to £4-9s-6d., (£4.47½p). In keeping with all the crew members, he was paid up to and including 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the ship went down.
In a post-war publication A Popular History of the Great War, there is the story of a Victoria Cross winner named John Thomas and the text states: -
“When war broke out, Thomas was working on the Lusitania, and he was on the liner on her last voyage, being one of the survivors. He subsequently joined the North Staffords, serving as a Private and earned his V.C. in France.”
The V.C. winner, however, was born in Openshaw, Manchester, in 1886 and could not, therefore be the same person who served on the
Lusitania. There was no other seaman serving on the ship with the name of John Thomas.
Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Steve McGreal, Merchant Ships Sunk By U-Boats, PRO BT 100/345, Popular History of the Great War, Register of the Victoria Cross.