Guy Rosebery Cockburn was born in York, Yorkshire, England, on the 13th April 1884, the son of Thomas and Harriet Cockburn (née ). His father was a chemical salesman, or an agent for a chemical company, and he had an older brother, Brian Hylton Horsfall, and a younger sister, Gladys Vera.
Sometime in the early 1900’s, he left his home and it is believed that he travelled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, before arriving in Seattle, Washington, in the United States of America on the 15th October 1904. By 1911, he was working as a clerk and residing in Pasadena, California.
In the spring of 1915, Guy Cockburn decided to return to his native land, presumably for a holiday, and as a result, he left Pasadena some time in April and travelled to New York, where he had booked a second cabin passage on the May sailing of the
Lusitania. He boarded the vessel at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 on the morning of 1st May, in time for her scheduled 10 o’clock departure but had to wait until just after mid-day before he finally made his farewells to his adopted country.
This was because the liner had to take on board passengers, cargo and some of the crew of Anchor Liner
Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned as a troop ship at the end of April.
Guy Cockburn shared cabin C9 with Martin Collis, William Mitchellhill, and Edward Peacock.
Then, just 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 some eighteen minutes later. At that stage of her voyage, she was a mere twelve or fourteen hours away from the safety of her Liverpool home port.
Guy Cockburn managed to survive the sinking and having been rescued from the sea he was landed at Queenstown. Martin Collis and Edward Peacock also survived, but William Mitchellhill was never heard from again, and was presumed lost.
He eventually travelled to Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, where his brother, Brian, was manufacturing golf clubs, and was the resident professional golfer at the local golf course. Brian Cockburn was living at “Castleton”, St. Mary’s Road, Frinton-on-Sea.
While recovering from his ordeal, he received a letter from Mrs. Pritchard
His experiences on the crossing can not have deterred him from sea travel, however, for just over three months later, on 7th August 1915, he returned to America on board the P.S.N.C. vessel the
Orduña, on a free passage courtesy of the Cunard Steamship Company.
On returning to the United States of America, Guy Cockburn moved to Los Angeles, California, and became a film actor agent. On the 16th March 1918, he married Myrtle Frances Ouellet in Los Angeles, California. Myrtle was a musician, and the couple had a daughter, Barbara, born in 1919.
Guy Cockburn sometimes spelt his name Coburn, perhaps for business reasons, and it was as Guy Rosebery Coburn that his death was recorded on the 5th January 1951 in Sacramento, California. He was aged 64 years. His remains were interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, 1940 U.S. Federal Census, California County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records 1849 – 1980, U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917 – 1918, U.S. Naturalization Records 1840 – 1957, U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards 1942, California Death Index 1940 – 1997, U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 1936 – 2007, Cunard Records, Ellis Island Records, IWM GB62, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D/92/2/353, UniLiv D92/2/400, UniLiv.PR13/6, Graham Maddocks, Lawrence Evans, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.