People's Stories

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

John Thompson

John Thompson

About John

John Thomas Thompson was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 28th July 1891, the son of Edward and Mary Thompson of 8, Alfred Road, Seacombe, Wallasey, Cheshire.  Edward Thompson was a former Mercantile Marine sailor, having served himself on the Lusitania as well as other Cunarders the Aquitania, the Mauretania and the Umbra.

When John was still a child, his mother died, and in 1906 his father re-married, his second wife being Phoebe Alice Ashley.

In 1915, John Thompson lived at 3, Brook Place, Park Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire, with his brother Michael, where his sister Bridget kept house for them and a younger brother aged 13, and a sister aged 16, although when he engaged on the Lusitania, he gave his address as 2, Laburnum Cottages, Seacombe, Wallasey, which was the address of his friend and fellow trimmer Frank McKenna!  John Thompson was a professional seaman and his previous ship had been the S.S. Flaminian.

He engaged as a trimmer in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania at Liverpool on 12th April 1915 at a monthly wage of £6-0s-0d., £1-0s-d of which was advanced to him from his monthly wages.  He reported for duty on board ship on the morning of 17th April, before the liner left the River Mersey for the last time.

Three weeks later and one week out of New York, when the liner was sunk, John Thompson was killed.  He was aged 23 years.

His body was not recovered and identified afterwards and as a consequence, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial at Tower Hill, London.

His younger brother Michael was also a trimmer on board ship and he too was killed.  He was aged 20 years and is also commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial.

After the sinking, Bridget Thompson applied to The Lusitania Relief Fund, administered by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, for financial help for herself and her young brother and sister.  As the main purpose of the fund was to provide aid for passengers, one of the fund’s solicitors, a Mr. W.J. Yeoman wrote to The Public Trustee, to seek eligibility for Miss Thompson’s claim.  The letter stated: -

Miss Bridget Thompson has consulted me hereon.  She informs me that her 2 brothers, J.T. Thompson and M. Thompson, were trimmers on the “Lusitania” and were drowned when this steamship was torpedoed.  She kept house, 2, Brook Place, off Park Street, Birkenhead, for her 2 brothers, and was solely dependant on them.  Her brothers paid the rent, 5/- per week, and all expenses, and maintained a younger brother and sister aged 13 and 16 respectively who lived with her at 2 Brook Place.

She says that after deducting the cost of the board of her 2 deceased brothers when they were ashore, she estimates that she would receive £2 : 3 : 0 per week from them.

I am this day applying to the Cunard S.S. Co., (who, I understand, paid my client £2 a few days after the disaster and who have promised my client assistance), asking what they are prepared to allow her in the future.  On receiving their reply, I will again communicate with you, with a view to claiming assistance from the Mansion House Relief Fund if the Cunard S.S. Co’s allowance should be less than £2 : 3 : 0., per week.

My client is quite without means.  She has borrowed her rent, but will be unable to do so in the future.  I shall be glad to hear from you on the matter.

In fact, because the two deceased trimmers were covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the War Risks Insurance Association Scheme, it is unlikely that the Lusitania Relief Fund would have been able to award a payment, although Bridget Thompson would probably have eventually been awarded a financial consideration through the two other media.

Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Wallasey News, Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, PRO BT 334.

John Thompson



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