Mr. Richard Rich Freeman, Jr.

Richard Freeman
Saloon Passenger
Lost
Richard Freeman
Image:  Boston Globe/Carole Lindsay
Born Richard Rich Freeman, Jr.
c. 1886
Massachusetts, United States
Died 7 May 1915 (age 28)
At sea
Age on Lusitania 28
Ticket number 1300
Cabin number D 4
Occupation Mining engineer
Citizenship United States
Residence Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Richard Freeman, Jr., 28, was a United States national from Boston, Massachusetts. He was on the Lusitania on his way to Siberia to work as a mining engineer. His ticket on the ship was 1300 and he stayed in cabin D-4. He was friends with James Houghton, Carlton Brodrick, and Scott Turner. Freeman was lost in the Lusitania disaster, when the ship torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20 on 7 May 1915. He was seen helping to lower the lifeboats and giving his lifebelt to a woman. His body was either not recovered or never identified.

Richard was the son of Richard R. Freeman and Mary M. Freeman, then 54 and 55 years of age. They were from Woolaston, Massachusetts, and the senior Mr. Freeman was one of Massachusetts’ most prominent golfers. Richard was the last in the male line of an old and honored family. He had two sisters, Elizabeth and Catherine, both unmarried, then aged 27 and 23 years respectively. Richard attended Harvard University, where he took high rank at college and met James Houghton sophomore year. Richard graduated from Harvard Engineering School.

His employers certify that he was capable, industrious, and resourceful. Richard was by profession a mining engineer. He had worked for a Michigan mining company where he was paid approximately $1,200 per year. He gave up that job to go to Russia to become an assistant mining engineer for a Russian company. All of his expenses would be paid and his salary would be “made satisfactory to him.”

For his journey to Russia, Freeman embarked on the Lusitania. James Houghton had not known that Freeman was also traveling on Lusitania and was delighted to see him aboard. Houghton arranged to have their meals together with Carlton Brodrick and Scott Turner for two days, where they would talk mostly about mining. Houghton recalled that he learned much from those conversations. Freeman and Houghton had tea together several times and walked the decks every night, talking of their friends and college days.

On 7 May 1915, the day of the sinking, Freeman was standing on the A-deck promenade with Marie Depage by the rail when he saw the periscope pop up and then disappear. He saw the torpedo and called to Marie Depage and they both watched the torpedo strike almost under them. The explosion covered them both with spray and soot. Houghton was in his cabin at the time and rushed up to A-deck to meet Freeman and Marie. Houghton recalled that Freeman was “immensely pleased” at having seen the torpedo and was laughing and joking about it and would tell anybody who asked about what had happened.

Houghton recalled that Freeman would dash away every so often when he saw some place where he could be useful. He helped lower one of the lifeboats and later was on the deck above the boat deck helping to disentangle ropes. He did not have a lifebelt on, but when they heard the order that no more lifeboats should be lowered, Houghton saw Freeman with a lifebelt, suggesting that he must have gone below to get his. Freeman walked over to a woman who was standing nearby and said “Haven’t you a lifebelt.” She answered “No” and he immediately gave her his told her she must take it. She protested but he started tying it about her laughing and joking that he was a good swimmer and the belt would get in his way. He then walked over to Houghton and Depage and passed a few jokes.

At that time, Marie Depage noticed that Freeman had wrapped a handkerchief about his hand and demanded to see it. He protested that it was nothing, but when he took off the handkerchief they saw that a dime-sized piece of skin had been torn from the palm of his hand by the flying wreckage of the torpedo. Marie scolded Freeman for using the dirty handkerchief, but he said he was too healthy to get any infection. Marie took her own handkerchief and bound up Freeman’s hand, all the while scolding him for being too careless. Freeman parted from Marie and Houghton again, and that was the last time Houghton saw Freeman. Freeman was lost in the disaster, but Houghton wrote the following to Freeman’s mother and father:

I am sure that it must be a continual source of comfort to you to know that Dick went like a man thinking only of others and giving his life that the women and children might be saved. If we all can, when our time comes, acquit ourselves as nobly and as fearlessly as he did, we will have nothing of which to complain.

Richard’s mother was profoundly affected by her son’s death to the point that her health was compromised. His sister Elizabeth, a college graduate, who was employed as a teacher of history in a private school, left her job to take care of her mother for a period of seven years, after which she resumed teaching. Mrs. Freeman’s doctor stated that her son’s death had made her “aged in every tissue and fiber of her being.”

The Mixed Claims Commission awarded Richard’s father and mother $10,000.00 for his death and an additional $560.20 for property lost.

Related pages


Richard Freeman at the Mixed Claims Commission


Contributors
Richard Bailey
Carole Lindsay
Michael Poirier
Judith Tavares

References
Mixed Claims Commission, Docket 464, page 433.

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