Mr. Francis Cranston Kellett

Francis Kellett, 47, was a naturalized American citizen from Ireland living in Tuckahoe, New York, United States, with his wife Margaret and son Stewart. He was vice-president of the Julius Stein Company’s Successors, Inc. He was standing on deck with Joseph Myers and saw the torpedo strike Lusitania. Kellett and Myers were on the port side boat deck during the sinking. Myers survived; Kellett was lost. His body was not recovered.

Life


Kellett was from Bailieboro, County Cavan, Ireland, and was a member of a well-known family in the Dublin drapery trade. In the 1890s, Kellett had worked at Messrs Arnotts in Dublin, Ireland. Before he moved to the United States, Kellett was a superintendent at Messrs Switzers. He was proprietor of an important drapery business in New York at the time of the Lusitania disaster.

Lusitania


Kellett's ticket for Lusitania was 13191 and he stayed in cabin B-93. At meals, he shared a table with Joseph Myers. They had lunched together on Friday, 7 May 1915, and went out on deck. Myers and Kellett were discussing a conversation they had had with another party at lunch when Myers saw the periscope and called attention to it to Kellett, saying, “My God, Frank, there is a periscope.” The submarine remained stationary and fired off a torpedo. Myers said, “My God, Frank, they have put off a torpedo. My God, Frank, we are lost!” The torpedo struck the ship. Coal dust and debris were blasted into the air, coming through the funnel and up and alongside the side of the ship. Myers and Kellett ran into the Verandah Café to avoid the debris that were falling down. Myers was sure that they had been torpedoed twice. Myers went forward into a companionway while Kellett went aft, both to obtain lifejackets. They did not attempt to go below decks to find lifejackets, fearing that if they went down they would never come back up. Myers was not successful in finding lifebelts. Kellett did find lifebelts and called to Myers. They helped each other with their lifejackets, however, Myers would later recall that they had put them on wrong. Confusion and excitement prevailed aboard the sinking ship. People were pouring out from belowdecks. Second cabin passengers were moving forward into the port side first class boat deck. One woman from second cabin came up to Myers with a boy and asked if he would help her and the boy into a lifeboat. Myers assisted the woman and her son into the port side boat was already swung out. Myers recalled, “She had plenty of room to go down if there was anybody there to lower her.” The woman pleaded with Myers to enter the boat as there were not many men in that boat. Myers and Kellett entered the lifeboat, but no one was around to lower it. A bathroom steward came aft, calling out, “Everybody out of the lifeboats. We are hard aground we are not going to sink.” Based on that erroneous information, people in the lifeboats got out. Myers saw the crew attempt to lower some lifeboats on the port side, only to have these lifeboats fall. “I think it was the boat opposite 15 that I saw fall, that is (it) ran down on one side and the passengers were all dumped out.” Kellett and Myers stayed in place on the port side deck until the crowd of people from fore and aft surrounding them made them feel uncomfortable. Myers turned to Kellett and said, “Frank, the best thing we can do is get into this boat again and wait until she goes over.” Myers reentered the lifeboat and waited for the ship to go down, but due to the angle of the ship as she sank and how far aft their lifeboat was, the people inside the lifeboat were thrown out during the sinking. Myers survived the sinking. Kellett did not. His body was not recovered or identified. At the time of his death, Francis was just past 47 years of age. His wife Margaret was 41 and son Stewart was 13 years of age. Margaret and Stewart took their case to the Mixed Claims Commission, where Margaret was awarded $30,000 and Stewart was awarded $15,000 for the loss of Francis.

Related pages


Francis Kellett at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of interest


Encyclopedia Titanica – Lest We Forget Part 2: As the Lusitania Went Down
Contributors Jim Kalafus, USA Senan Molony, Ireland Michael Poirier, USA Judith Tavares References Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget Part 2:  As the Lusitania Went Down ET Research. <http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lusitania-lest-we-forget-2.html>. Molony, Senan. Lusitania: An Irish Tragedy. Mercier Press, 2004, page 41. Mixed Claims Commission. Docket No. 232, page 373.

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