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Mrs. Charles Padley (Florence May Fry)

Florence Padley, née Fry (c. 1892 - 1978), 23, was born in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom. In 1914, Florence moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Florence was an artist who loved painting the sea. Her husband, Charles, was a banker. In the spring of 1915, Florence was returning to Liverpool aboard Lusitania to have her baby. She entered a lifeboat that upset and was subsequently rescued. Both she and the baby survived the Lusitania disaster.

Early life


  Florence was baptised 19 Aug 1892 at Appledore parish church. Florence was a descendant from a long line seafarers on both her mother and father's side. Through her mother's side, she was descended from the Williams family, a large seafaring family who originated in Gower, South Wales. Her father was Captain William Colwill Fry, Master Mariner, and Marine Superintendant of Leyland Marine, who came from a long line of Devon seafarers. Her husband, Charles was a bank manager for the Commercial Bank of Canada and relocated as needed.

Lusitania


In the spring of 1915, Florence left Vancouver to visit her hometown of Liverpool.  She booked passage on the Lusitania. She had sailed Lusitania previously, which may have influenced her decision to book passage on the ship again for her last voyage. Florence's ticket for Lusitania's last voyage was 46132 and her cabin was D-8.  At the time of the sailing, she was five months pregnant. On Friday, 7 May, Florence was sitting in a deck chair on the B deck promenade.  Elbert and Alice Hubbard passed by moments before someone in front of her remarked, "There's a porpoise." Florence got up and went to the railing for a better look.  She realized what it was and cried out, "No, it's a torpedo!" Florence ran inside and was going to take the elevator down to her cabin on D deck. Realizing how far below her cabin was, she ran up to A deck instead, where the boats were.  This decision may have saved her life as the elevators reportedly stalled when the ship lost electricity.  When she recounted the disaster in later years, she stated that she saw an elevator "go down in a rush". Along the way, Florence lost a shoe. Stepping out onto the boat deck, she heard Staff Captain Anderson shout, "It's all right.  We're making for the shore." To Florence, land didn't seem close enough.  She hesitated to get in a lifeboat, but after seeing some leave the ship safely, she headed towards one.  She came across Elbert and Alice Hubbard standing near a funnel, and Charles Lauriat, who was looking for them.  A woman with a baby came up to Florence and asked if she could take her baby.  Looking back on it, Florence said, "I told her I did not have a life jacket, she could look after it better.  I felt awful about it." Florence entered a lifeboat, and as it lowered, it overturned and threw out everyone inside into the water.  She was subsequently rescued. Her unborn baby also survived the disaster and was born. After her wartime ordeal, Florence returned to normal life.  She was involved in the local woman's council, girls scouts, and the art community. After her husband Charles died, Florence retired to Vancouver and then Victoria on Vancouver Island. There she would watch the sea traffic inbound and outbound from Vancouver. Florence was always willing to talk about her Lusitania experience to her family and friends. Florence was one of several survivors who corresponded with A. A. Hoehling for his book, The Last Voyage of the Lusitania. Florence died in 1978 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Contributors: John Fry Jim Kalafus Michael Poirier Clive Reid References: Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

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