Robert Charles Niemann was born in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1884, the son of Charles and Mary Jane Niemann. Robert’s father was German, and his mother Irish. In 1915 he lived at 18 Arnold Grove, Toxteth, Liverpool, which was the home of his married sister, Evelina Price. His father had died in 1904 and in 1915 his mother maintained the family home at 1 Spekeland Vale, Edge Hill, Liverpool.
He engaged on board the Lusitania as a waiter in the Stewards' Department on 30 April 1915 at New York, at a monthly rate of £4.-5s.-0d (£4.25) for what was to be her final voyage across the Atlantic.
He survived the sinking, which took place just seven days later. He was aged 31 at the time.
In the book 'The Last Voyage of the Lusitania' published in 1958, Robert Niemann is quoted frequently as an eye witness crew member; however, his surname is incorrectly spelled as
In 1919 Robert married Elizabeth Howard in Chorlton, Lancashire, and later because of the German connotations of the name Niemann, he changed his surname to Barnes.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, The Last Voyage of the Lusitania, UniLiv. D92/6/1.