Horace Clift was born in Halesowen, Worcestershire, England, in late 1891, the son of William and Ann Clift (née Rose). His father, who was a blacksmith, died in 1900, leaving Ann Clift to raise twelve children. In 1915, the family home was at 38. Mount Street, Halesowen.
Due to their family circumstances, all of the Clift children left school very young to find work and earn money for the family. Horace found work as a presser in Groves & Sons, Bloomfield Works, Halesowen, which was a button factory.
Then, on the 29th March 1913, he boarded the Franconia at Liverpool and on arrival in New York City a week later, he travelled to his brother William, who was living and working in Chicago, Illinois. Once there, Horace found work as a riveter.
In the spring of 1915, possibly because of the war in Europe, he decided to return home - and consequently booked third class passage for himself 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 Chicago some time in April, he arrived at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on that morning and boarded the liner in time for her scheduled 10.00 a.m. sailing, which was then delayed until the afternoon. This was because she had to take on board passengers, crew and cargo from Anchor Liner the S.S.
Cameronia, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war work at the end of April.
The Lusitania 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 within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only about fourteen hours steaming time from the safety of her home port.
Horace Clift was killed as a result of this action and as his body was never recovered from the sea and identified afterwards, he has no known grave. He was aged 23 years at the time of his death.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Birmingham Daily Mail, Birmingham Daily Gazette, PRO BT 100/345, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.