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Mr. Francis “Frank” Toner (Tower), Fireman

Frank Toner, from County Dublin, Ireland, was a fireman aboard Lusitania who allegedly also survived the previous sinkings of Titanic and Empress of Ireland. He was below decks when the torpedo impacted and led a group of men to the top, where he assisted women and children into lifeboats before jumping from the ship. He was rescued by the patrol boat Heron and landed at Kinsale, Ireland.


Toner was from County Dublin, Ireland, but at the time of the Lusitania disaster, his address was 23 Crichton Street, off Wareham Street, Liverpool, England. Toner was below decks when the torpedo struck Lusitania. He called out to his fellow men, "Come on, get up to the top. This torpedo has done us in all right!" The men made their way to the upper decks. The Cork Examiner states that he helped women and children into lifeboats. He noted that the saloon passengers "did not seem to make any attempt to escape," perhaps not believing that a ship so large would sink so quickly. Toner did not hear a second torpedo strike the ship, but he believed that there must have been due to the terrible explosion. As the ship sank, he climbed onto one of the ship's masts but soon became tangled in the wireless apparatus. He freed himself from the wires and swam to an upturned lifeboat with 9 others. Six of the others were women, but before they were rescued 2 of the women had died. He assisted others in the water onto their overturned boat until they were rescued by the patrol boat Heron.

Triple survivor?

A legend surrounding the Lusitania sinking is that a man named "Frank Tower" survived the sinkings of the Lusitania, Titanic, and Empress of Ireland. The name "Frank Toner" had been corrupted in some reports as "Frank Touer," and it would not be a stretch of the imagination for "Touer" to become "Tower." Likewise, the New York Times reported the story of a triple survivor named "Turner." Aboard Titanic was a fireman named "Tozer" and a cook named "Turner" shows up on the crew list for the Empress of Ireland. Curiously, a man named William Clark is verified to have survived both Titanic and Empress of Ireland disasters, and presumed lost until he turned up at the offices to collect his wages. Clark wanted to ship out to sea again after these disasters and is reputed to have survived a third sinking. Perhaps this was the Lusitania, under the name Francis Toner. Singing-on under false names was common, and for Clark it might have been desirable considering the superstitions of seamen. Clark, a double survivor, would have been labelled a "Jonah" and no one would have wanted to sail with him lest disaster befall them as well. Toner disappears from the record after Lusitania, suggesting that the name might have been assumed after all.

See also

Albert Charles Dunn, Intermediate Sixth Engineer - another alleged triple survivor of the Lusitania, Titanic, and Empress of Ireland Rose Ellen Murray - a Lusitania passenger who claimed to have also survived the Titanic sinking

Links of interest

Ecncylopedia Titanica: On the Trail of 'Lucky' Tower
Contributors Senan Molony, Ireland Michael Poirier, USA References Molony, Senan. Lusitania:  An Irish Tragedy, page 91-93.  Mercier Press, 2004. Senan Molony ( 2004 ) On the Trail of ‘Lucky’ Tower ET Research (ref: #4200, accessed 18th August 2011 06:24:09 PM) URL : <>

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