William Clayton was born in 1862 in Great Britain or one of her colonies. He was married and his profession was that of stonemason. In 1915, the family home was in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
In the spring of 1915, maybe because of the war in Europe, he and his wife decided to travel to Great Britain and as a consequence, booked as second cabin passengers on the May sailing of the
Lusitania, which was scheduled to sail from New York to Liverpool on the morning of 1st May 1915.
Travelling from Vancouver some time in April, the couple arrived at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on May Day morning and boarded the liner in time for her scheduled 10 o‘clock sailing, which was then delayed until the afternoon. This was because the Lusitania had to take on board passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war work at the end of April.
The ‘Greyhound of the Seas’ finally left New York for the last time just after mid-day and six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only about steaming time away from the safety of her home port.
Both he and his wife were killed a result of this action and as neither of their bodies was ever recovered from the sea and identified afterwards, neither has a known grave.
William Clayton was aged 53 years at the time of his death.
Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.