Mr. John Wanklyn McConnel

John Wanklyn McConnel, 60, was the vice-president of Fine Cotton Spinners and Doublers’ Association.  He had booked passage in Memphis, Tennessee, but was on his way home to Manchester, England.  His wife was at the family home, Knocknolain Castle in Scotland.  He and his wife had no children.  McConnel's ticket on the Lusitania was 46014, and he stayed in cabin D-36. For his trip he paid $185.  McConnel survived the torpedoing and sinking of the Lusitania. The following is John McConnel's account that was published in the 10 May 1915 Manchester Guardian:
Mr J. W. McConnel, the well-known cotton spinner, and a vice-president of the Fine Cotton Spinners' and Doublers' Association, was a passenger on the Lusitania and had a narrow escape.  Mr McConnel arrived in Manchester from Holyhead early yesterday morning.  The account which he has given to a representative of the Manchester Guardian of what happened when the Lusitania went down, and of his own strange experience, will be read with special interest. Just after two o'clock, English time, Friday, after lunching and addressing a couple of letters, I came out of the café‚ at the stern end of A deck [the top].  Ireland was in sight, as it had been for hours.  I was walking forward to see from some place clear of boats whereabouts we were when I heard the crack -- a sharp crack, accompanied by a great blast of dust and dirt, near or in the forward or second funnel.  My first thought was that I was at a play when the crisis had come, my second that it was an infernal machine, not a torpedo.  Then I saw all the people forward running to the main entrance, and down came a sweep of dirty water - more than rain, but not buckets full. At once I started forward through the lounge to the companion.  No lifts were working.  The stairs were crowded with people, mostly coming up, and all behaving very well.  I got down gradually to my cabin on D deck, where I put on my life-saving waistcoat, snatched some papers and a flask, and, taking another lifebelt, went up on B deck. There I gave my spare belt to a young lady, and finding a boat grinding down from A past the openings on B, I shoved as hard as I could to clear it.  I think the young lady got into the boat.  As the gunwale reached our ledge the stern ropes were let go, and the boat fell endways to the water.  Then the other falls were dropped, and she seemed all right except that half-a-dozen or a dozen of her crowd were in the water.  Then I went up to A.  An officer told me there was plenty of time and the ship was not sinking; but the list, which. by-the-way, began at the very first second, became rapidly worse. I crossed to the starboard.  There two, or perhaps three, boats were ready and stewards calling for passengers -- "Ladies first."  Many got in, but some ladies would not leave their husbands.  Almost instantly the boats were in the water and the edge of A deck level with them, a drop, I believe, of 60 feet.  I jumped over a rope entanglement into the last boat, which was full.  Then as we tried to clear the sling ropes, now being pulled down by the davits, I suddenly found myself sitting in the water.  All my knowledge of my neighbours ceased. A funnel came sweeping down a few feet to the left; then something closed over me and I went down and down and down. Then it cleared, and I got up to the top, but mighty forces were swirling everything about, and again something quite enormous covered me and I was driven down, I don't know how far, but I thought all hope was gone, and curiously, my great regret was that I should not know what America would say.  Then up again, and great as had been the distance down, the rise was very quick.  Of course I had sucked in quantities of sea-water, not noticeably unpleasant. As I saw again the blessed thinning of the waters, I sprang out into the glorious sun.  And at that moment, as it seemed to me, all the turmoil ceased like magic.  No ship was there, of course, but bright clear water, with boats here and there, sadly few right side up, wreckage everywhere, and a few people bobbing about like myself.  I was struck even then with the immense area the wreckage and survivors covered.  As a matter of explanation, I am told that after the ship had disappeared an immense wave boiled up owing to an explosion, which threw us apart.  There was certainly no suck-down after the ship. Then the next part began -- getting to some sort of safety.  I got first one thing, then another, and soon the corner of a big deck chest, which was covered with canvas, where one could get one's fingers into the joints.  Another man and a woman shared it -- perhaps others.  The nearest, indeed the only refuge, was a boat upside down, with a steward or two looking as smart and nice as usual except for their cork jackets.  They and another man collected an oar or two and poked their way round to us.  We got the woman onto the boat; then the man left me, and I think he got on.  Then they reached out the oars to me, and by their kind help I was hauled up.  Another man got on afterwards, very done indeed - a fireman who had been, he said, to the bottom.  We were about seven men, the woman, and a dead woman. Chapter III lasted, I suppose, three hours.  We sat or, those who could, stood at times, and hoped for relief.  My flask, I think, saved the woman and two men, and helped us all.  The blessed sun made all the difference, and when not sick or shivering I had times when I thought that a row-boat the right way up might not be an unpleasant thing to be in.  The worst feature was that we did not know if any "S.O.S." signal had been sent.  The only thing in sight was a sailing boat, which did, in fact, save many, but which in that perfect calm was, of course, very slow. Boats able to row had all gone.  Smoke appeared on the far horizon, east, I think. but it seems they never saw us, and it passed away; first one and then a second.  Then at last came the smoke of the torpedo-boats, pushing from Queenstown.  The second one took us off, and then plied round and round picking up other derelicts, many in far worse case than ourselves. For though the water at first was not so cold as I expected, it must have been awful to have been in it all the time, as many were, some in injured boats and some with nothing but bits of wreckage to cling to; and of course many were suffering from bodily injury as well, though I expect most of them died. One lady was picked out of a wicker chair in which she was sitting, with head back, unconcious. I think the only other personal incident is that I was as black as a collier, and my head plastered with black mud.  This was not from the first blast, as I had my shooting hat on then.  It must have been got in one of my diving trips, and makes me partly believe the story of two of my companions on the boat keel -- viz., that they had gone down one of the funnels and had been blown out again. There was absolutely no panic anywhere near me.  Everybody was considerate and quiet.  And my companions on the boat-roof said the same of the second-class and steerage. JOHN W. McCONNEL.
  Contributors: Michael Poirier Judith Tavares

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