Patrick Melia was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, on the 18th April 1862, the son of Patrick and Julia Melia (née Walsh). He married Mary Ann Murphy on the 2nd December 1882 at St. Patrick’s Church, Toxteth, Liverpool. The couple had five children – Patrick, Mary, John, Catherine and Winifred, and in 1915 the family home was at 15, Rockbrook Street, Liverpool. Both Patrick and John had died in childhood.
He did not serve on board the Lusitania under his own name, but for some unknown reason, he engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on 12th April 1915 at Liverpool, under the alias of James Casey. He joined the ship on the morning of 17th April before the Cunarder left the River Mersey for the final time and as a fireman, his monthly rate of pay was £6-10s-0d., (£6.50), £1 of which was advanced to him when he engaged. Although he gave his age on engagement as 39 years, he was, in fact aged 52 years!
He was killed three weeks later after the vessel was torpedoed and as no trace of his body was ever found and identified afterwards, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
The Cunard Steam Ship Company paid wages to all Lusitania crew members, killed or survived, up until 8th May, 24 hours after the liner had sunk and eventually, in August 1915, the balance of wages owing to Fireman Melia were paid to his widow Mary. In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted her a yearly pension which amounted to £18-15s-7d. (£18.77p.) which was payable at the rate of £1-11s-4d. (£1.56½p.) per month.
The records of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission record the spelling of Patrick Melia’s surname as being O'Mealie.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, Liverpool England Catholic Baptisms 1741 – 1916, Liverpool England Catholic Marriages 1754 – 1932, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv. PR. 13/24, PRO BT 334, Graham Maddocks, Bill Wilson.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.