Alfred Richard Thorn was born in Greenwich, London, England, on the 12th July 1864, the son of Richard and Agnes Thorn. He married Elvina Keable in Liverpool on the 2nd March 1890, and in 1915, they lived at 20, Rokeby Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, Lancashire. The couple had ten children, eight of whom were alive in 1911.
Alfred was at various times, a fish dealer, and the proprietor of a fish and chip shop in Liverpool, before becoming a waiter on ocean-going liners.
He engaged as a first class waiter in the Stewards’ Department on the Lusitania, at Liverpool, on 12th April 1915 at a monthly rate of £4-5s-0d., (£4.25p.). He joined the ship on the morning of 17th April before she left Liverpool landing stage for the very last time. Having successfully completed her 201st trans-Atlantic crossing, Alfred was still serving on board when the great liner departed New York on the afternoon of the 1st May for her return crossing to Liverpool.
He was killed when she was sunk by a torpedo discharged from the German submarine, U-20, while off the Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland, shortly after 2pm on the 7th May 1915. He was aged 50 years.
His body was never recovered and identified afterwards and consequently, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
In common with all crew victims of the sinking, Cunard paid his wages up until 8th May, 24 hours after the sinking and eventually, the balance owing to him was forwarded to his widow. The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Elvina Thorn to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £67-7s-11d. (£67.39½p.) which was payable at the rate of £5-12s-4d. (£5.61½p.) per month.
The war was also to claim the life of his eldest son only a few months before it ended. On the 28th August 1918, 331297 Lance Corporal Alfred Richard Thorn was reported as being killed in action while serving with the 9th Bn. The Kings (Liverpool) Regiment - one of “The Liverpool Pals” battalions. He was aged 22 years. As his remains were not recovered, he is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, between Arras and Cambrai in the Pas de Calais, France.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1871 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.