John Barney was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1889 and lived at 12 Benhill Road, Camberwell, London.
He had been serving on the Anchor Liner SS Cameronia but as the vessel arrived in New York at the end of April 1915 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty, for war use as a troop ship. Consequently, on 30 April 1915 he transferred to the
Lusitania, as a waiter in the Stewards' Department, for what became the liner’s fateful final voyage. His rate of pay in this rank was £4-5s-0d (£4.25) per month.
What must have seemed at first to be a stroke of good fortune certainly turned sour for him, for he was killed seven days later when the liner was sunk, only hours from her Liverpool destination, by the German submarine
U-20. As his body was not recovered and identified later, he has no known grave. He was aged 26 years at the time of the sinking.
Official Cunard records published in March 1916 do not show anyone of the name of John Barney to have served on the
Lusitania, but they do record a Waiter John Varney. John Barney does however appear in the official Cunard Particulars of Engagement register, filled in when all crew members first engaged for service and now held at The Public Record Office at Richmond in Surrey.
As the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission also show that Waiter John Barney was a casualty of the sinking, the official 1916 Cunard list is obviously in error and Waiter John Varney did not actually exist!
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 334, UniLiv D92/6/1.