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Dr. Joseph Garry, Assistant Surgeon

Joseph Garry, 25, was Lusitania's assistant surgeon, who worked with Dr. James McDermott. An Irish national and British subject, Garry was lost in the Lusitania disaster.


Doctor Joseph Garry was born in County Clare, Ireland in 1890, the son of Patrick and Mary Garry (née Murphy). His father was a Justice of the Peace and MCC. The family home was at Shanabea, Kildysart, Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, though in 1915, Garry lived at Albert Terrace, Garstang Road, Preston, Lancashire, England. His brother, Dr. Michael P. Garry, was a well known international rugby player and was in charge of a tuberculosis sanatorium in Clare. He also had another brother, Dickie Garry. Joseph Garry took the MB and BCh of the National University of Ireland in 1914. He served as Assistant Surgeon to Dr. James McDermott in the Deck Department of the Lusitania, after practising at Manchester and Bolton. He signed on at Liverpool for what proved to be the Lusitania's final voyage on the morning of her departure for New York, 15 April 1915, at a daily rate of pay of £0-15s.-0d (75p). He was killed when the liner was sunk, three weeks later, six days out of New York and only hours away from Liverpool. He was aged 25 years. In an article in 'The British Medical Journal' of 23 October 1915 it was stated:
"An order was recently granted by the King's Bench Division, Dublin, to presume the death of Dr. Joseph Garry, assistant surgeon to the Lusitania. ...According to the affidavit of the steward who acted as his servant, Dr. Garry, on being handed a lifebelt, immediately gave it to a lady, and he was last seen about the wreckage."
Garry was planning to leave Lusitania after the ship's 202nd crossing, and he was planning to visit his family in Ireland and then serve in Serbia with the Royal Army Medical Corps to attend to the typhus patients there. Garry was lost in the Lusitania sinking and his body was not recovered; however, an account by second cabin passenger Thomas Sumner gives a possible clue to Dr. Garry's end. Sumner corresponded with Dr. Garry's mother, Mary, who sent him a picture of Joseph, and Sumner thought the picture looked like someone who he had met in the water. After the Lusitania sank, Sumner was on to a raft when he saw a young doctor approach, swimming with much difficulty and much exhausted. The man got on the raft he told them he was a doctor and gave instructions on what to do with the people who were unconscious. They were rescued by the Indian Empire, and while aboard, Sumner saw a lady who was badly hurt. Sumner went to look for the doctor and could find no trace of him. Sumner did not recall any accidents between being on the raft and getting rescued, so what happened to the young doctor after that remains a mystery. Mary Garry was not as certain that the man Sumner met was his son, as she was sure her son could not swim. Garry's name is embossed on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial at Tower Hill, London. Administration of his estate was granted to his father in Dublin on 18 May 1915 and his effects amounted to £101-0s-0d.

Related pages

Letter from Mary Garry concerning Dr. Joseph Garry, dated 13 November 1915 Letter from Mary Garry concerning Drs. Joseph Garry and James McDermott, Jane Hogan and William Hendry, dated 26 January 1916 Letter from Mary Garry concerning Dr. Joseph Garry, Thomas Sumner, and Grace French, dated 23 February 1916

Links of interest

Joseph Garry at the Merseyside Maritime Museum Contributors: Peter Kelly, Ireland James Maggs Ellie Moffat, UK Senan Molony, Ireland Anthony Richards, UK References: Molony, Senan.  Lusitania:  An Irish Tragedy.  Mercier Press,  2004. Letter from Mary Garry to Mrs. Prichard, dated 13 November 1915, Imperial War Museum Collection. Letter from Mary Garry to Mrs. Prichard, dated 26 January 1916, Imperial War Museum Collection. Letter from Mary Garry to Mrs. Prichard, dated 23 February 1916, Imperial War Museum Collection. Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths 1901 Census of Ireland 1911 Census of Ireland Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cork Examiner Cunard Records Probate Records PRO BT 334.

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