The Lusitania Resource > People > Saloon (First Class) Passenger List > Mr. Denis Duncan Harold Owen Boulton

Mr. Denis Duncan Harold Owen Boulton

Harold Boulton
Saloon Passenger
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Born Denis Duncan Harold Owen Boulton
10 December 1892
Died 10 August 1968 (age 75)
Age on Lusitania 23
Ticket number 20609
Cabin number A 8
Traveling with Frederic Lassetter (friend)
Elisabeth Lassetter (friend’s mother)
Lifeboat None, used wreckage (box)
Rescued by Westborough (Katrina)
Occupation Working for creosote company
Citizenship British (England)
Residence Chicago, Illinois, United States
Spouse(s) Louise McGowan (1918 – 1968, his death)

Harold Boulton (1892 – 1968), 23, was in the United States on medical discharge from the British Army. He was traveling aboard Lusitania with Oxford friend Frederic Lassetter and Lassetter’s mother, Elisabeth. The three went to the port side boat deck after the ship was torpedoed. As the lifeboats were not being lowered, they jumped into the water. Harold, Frederic, and Elisabeth used a large box for flotation until they were rescued by the Westborough.

Early life


Denis Duncan Harold Owen Boulton was born on 10 December 1892, the son of Sir Harold Edwin Boulton, 2nd Baronet and Adelaide Lucy Davidson. He had an older sister, Louise Kythé Veronica Boulton (18 September 1890 – 21 May 1934), and a younger brother, Christian Harold Ernest Boulton (17 Feb 1897 – 1917).

Boulton usually went by his middle name of Harold. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe, Lancashire, England. He later attended university at his father’s alma mater, Oxford, with Frederic Lassetter.

Harold enlisted in the British Army, but he was discharged for medical reasons in 1912. Afterwards, he went to the United States where he worked for the American Creosote Company in Chicago, Illinois. With the outbreak of World War I, Harold booked passage aboard Lusitania for 1 May 1915 hoping that the British Army would allow him to reenlist.  His old Oxford friend Lieutenant Frederick Lassetter and Lassetter’s mother Elisabeth would also be on board.

Lusitania


Boulton’s ticket for Lusitania on the last voyage was 20609 and stayed in cabin A-8. The Lassetters were nearby, with Frederic in A-14 and Elisabeth in A-4. During the voyage, Boulton had hoped that he would be able to dance with Rita Jolivet or Josephine Brandell.

On the morning of 7 May, Boulton had noticed that ship was traveling unusually slow and asked a steward if the fog was the reason for the ship’s reduced speed.

“It’s not only the fog, sir,” the steward told him, “We’re saving coal and keeping reserve steam up so that if we spot a submarine we can muster enough speed to get us out of danger.”

In the early afternoon, Boulton sat down in the verandah café with Commander J. Foster Stackhouse for a cup of coffee.  Stackhouse was “busy explaining to me how the Lusitania could never be torpedoed, that the watches had been doubled, and the people were looking out, and they’d see the periscope of the submarine a mile away . . ..  And in the middle of his trying to prove to me that the Lusitania could not be torpedoed,” Stackhouse was interrupted by “two almost simultaneous explosions.”

Water and debris crashed onto the glass roof and the two men ran outside.

Boulton ran inside to his stateroom to fetch a lifebelt.  The Lassetters had a nearby suite and he knocked on their door, but there was no reply, as they had been at lunch.  Boulton proceeded to his stateroom and pressed the light switch.  The power had gone out.  Through the darkness he searched for his lifebelt that should have been on its shelf, but soon realized that “somebody had taken it in the very short time.”

Rushing out of his room, Boulton found himself walking with one foot on the floor and the other on the wall to maintain his balance.  He saw a steward at the end of the corridor passing out lifebelts and Boulton took one and strapped it on.  He was starting up the grand staircase when the ship lurched and sent him tumbling down the stairs. He landed by the feet of a “very attractive woman” and her daughter.  Embarrased, Boulton got up and asked politely, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“No, thank you,”  the woman said disdainfully, “There is nothing you can do.  The Captain says the ship cannot sink.  We have no intention of becoming alarmed.”

Climbing the stairs, Boulton noticed that the elevators had jammed halfway between floors. The passengers inside were screaming and struggling to open the gates.  Boulton thought, “They are trapped like rats.”

Harold Boulton met up with Frederic Lassetter and Elisabeth on deck.  Boulton and the young Lieutenant helped Elisabeth into a port side boat.  They were congratulating themselves that the boat was about to be lowered when either Captain Turner or Staff Captain Anderson shouted, “Don’t lower the boats.  Don’t lower the boats.  The ship can’t sink.  Will the gentlemen kindly assist me in getting the women and children out of the boats and off the upper deck?”

Lassetter and Boulton did as they were told and helped Elisabeth out of the boat.  Boulton glanced forward and was shocked to see “the bow just beginning to submerge.”  He then turned to Lassetter and said gravely, “This ship is going to sink” – “the only thing to do is to jump.”

Boulton instructed a nervous Elisabeth to remove her skirt.  Harold, Elisabeth, and Frederick, in that order, held hands and jumped about 90 feet into the ocean.  From the water they could see Commander Stackhouse stand stoically on the stern.

As the sea enclosed the Lusitania, Boulton used his hand to shield his head from the wave of debris radiating from the site of where the ship once was.

Frederick and Elisabeth bobbed up next to each other in the swirling water and held onto some flotsam.  Harold Boulton was not far away, floating on “a square box about 4 feet 6 inches.”  Later news reports would sensationalize the story, reporting the box as the “grand saloon piano of the Lusitania“. In actuality, this box may have been a box used to store lifebelts on deck.  Lassetter and Boulton managed to get Elisabeth onto the box even though she was knocked over by the waves a number of times.  The men put Elisabeth in the center and linked arms to hold her up.

Boulton would later claim that he saw the U-boat surface. What he saw might have been the U-boat, or it might have seen was another ship in the distance.  Boulton also found Dorothy Braithwaite in the water and she died holding his hand.

The three rode the waves on their box for three hours before being picked up by the “Greek” Katrina, actually the SS Westborough in disguise.  The Katrina arrived in Queenstown around midnight.  As Boulton disembarked, he downed six whiskeys and a soda that a soldier had held out to him on a tray even though he did not often drink.  He was sure the whiskey saved his life.

Sir Harold


His brother Christian became a captain and died in 1917. On 9 February 1918, Harold married Louise McGowan, daughter of Hugh J. McGowan. Harold and Louise had three children, Harold Hugh Christian Boulton, Marie Louise Boulton, Duncan Davidson Boulton.

His mother died on on 26 April 1926. His father remarried to Margaret Cunningham Lyons, daughter of James Lennox Lyons, on 29 December 1926.

Upon the death of his father on 1 June 1935, Harold succeeded to the title of 3rd Baronet Boulton, of Copped Hall, Totteridge, County Hertford, England. World War II broke out, and Harold enlisted to serve. He gained the rank of Flight Lieutenant in the service of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He also gained the rank of Lieutenant in 1940 in the service of the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. His son Duncan became a lieutenant and died during the war in 1944.

Boulton was invested as a Companion, Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. He was also Honorary Equerry to Her Royal Highness Princess Louise. Between 1949 and 1951, Boulton was chief representative in North America for BTA. He was agent in the UK for Grosvenor Properties, Canada between 1953 and 1955.

Sir Harold Boulton, 3rd Baronet, died on 10 August 1968 at age 75. His son Harold Hugh Christian Boulton succeeded him as 4th Baronet, but the Boulton Baronetcy became extinct upon his death in 1996.

Contributors
Paul Latimer
Michael Poirier

References
Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

The New York Times, Tuesday, 11 May 1915, page 2.

“Sir Denis Duncan Harold Owen Boulton, 3rd Bt.” ThePeerage.com. Web. 7 August 2011. <http://thepeerage.com/p4690.htm>.

Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

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