People's Stories

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

A. A. Sternberg

A. A. Sternberg

About A. A.

A.A. Sternberg was born in Finland in 1880.

He was a professional seaman in the British Mercantile Marine and on 13th April 1915, he engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania at Liverpool, at a monthly wage of £6-10s-0d, (£6.50p.).  At the time of his engagement, his address was shown to be The Liverpool Sailors’ Home.

He reported for duty on board the liner on the early morning of 17th April in time for what would become her last ever sailing out of the River Mersey.  His previous  ship had been the White Star liner Boric.

Having completed her voyage to New York, Fireman Sternberg was on board when the liner left that port 12.25 p.m. on 1st May 1915 for her return journey to Liverpool.  However, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the Lusitania was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20, twelve miles off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and sank only eighteen minutes later.  At that stage of her voyage, she was a mere twelve or fourteen hours steaming time away from her home port.

Many of the ‘black gang’ lost their lives as a result of this action and Sternberg was unfortunately one of those.  He was aged 35 years.

As his body was not recovered and identified afterwards, he has no known grave, but he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London.

Cunard records published in March 1916 show his initials to be R.A, Sternberg, but this is clearly an error as his signature shown on a ledger entitled Particulars of Engagement held at the Public Record Office in Richmond, Surrey, England and the reliable records of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission show hem to be A.A..

Although he was the only Finnish crew member to serve on the Lusitania’s last voyage, there were two Finnish passengers on board when she was sunk, Mr. Ajunnar Nikander and Miss Elli Waaranen.  Both of these third class passengers also lost their lives.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345.

A. A. Sternberg



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