Annie Crosby was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1877, the daughter of Edward and Margaret Crosby, (née Davies). Her father was a carter, specifically working for the railways, and the family home was at 13. Homer Street, Toxteth Park, Liverpool.
When she reached her mid-teenage years, Annie found work as a domestic servant.
On the 13th May 1910, Annie, and her older sister, Ellen – known as “Nellie”, boarded the Allan Line steamer
Victorian at Liverpool and disembarked a week later in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. From there, they travelled by rail to Vancouver, British Columbia, in search of work. Their younger brother, Edward Pierce Crosby, had immigrated to Vancouver in 1907, so it is likely that he encouraged them to join him. His address was at Union Ave., Collingwood East, Vancouver, so maybe all three of them resided at this address.
Some accounts state that Annie found work as a stenographer in Vancouver, whilst others state that she was a nurse.
Perhaps because of the war, the sisters decided to return to North Wales to visit their mother and aunt, a Mrs. Goodwin, who by this time were residing at ‘Arfryn’, Voel Gron, Bagillt, North Wales. Edward Crosby had died in Liverpool in 1909, leaving Margaret Crosby a widow. As a result, they booked as second cabin passengers on what would be the
Lusitania’s final voyage. The liner left New York just after mid-day on 1st May 1915 and six days later, when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland, both sisters perished.
The sisters had already intimated that they would be sailing on this vessel and the day after the sinking, Mrs. Crosby received a letter from her son in Vancouver confirming that they had in fact done so, and as a consequence, she and her sister then made the journey to Liverpool to make enquiries at Cunard’s offices there concerning the survival of the pair. This proved fruitless, however, and although Nellie’s body was later recovered from the sea and buried in Southern Ireland, nothing was ever seen or heard of Annie Crosby again. Consequently, she has no known grave. She was aged 37 years.
Both she and her sister are commemorated, however; on a municipal war memorial in the village of Bagillt. They are the only female victims of the Great War on it and their inscription simply states: -
ELLEN AND ANNIE CROSBY, OF VOEL GRON,
BOTH DROWNED ON THE
Also commemorated on the same memorial is Gunner Thomas Davies Crosby of Voel Gron, who was a brother of Nellie and Annie Crosby. He was serving as an Acting Bombardier with the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, in Belgium, when he died of wounds on the 12th June 1916, at a Casualty Clearing Station. He was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, Cunard Records, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Liverpool Daily Record, County Herald, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/364, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Tony Jones, Tony Knight, May Stanton, Peter Threlfall, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.