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Detective-Inspector William John Pierpoint

William Pierpoint Saloon Passenger Saved
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Born William John Pierpoint 1864
Died 8 May 1950 (age 86) Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Age on Lusitania 51
Ticket number 46100
Cabin number A 1
Traveling with none
Rescued by Unknown
Occupation Detective
Citizenship British (England)
Residence Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Other name(s) none
Spouse(s) ? (? - ?) Please provide name and dates
William Pierpoint (1864 - 1950), 51, was a detective in charge of apprehending German agents aboard Lusitania. Pierpoint arrested three German spies and interrogated them with the help of the ship's interpreter, Adolph Pederson. Pierpoint was in the first class dining saloon when the torpedo struck Lusitania. He went down with the ship and was sucked down the number two funnel before being blown out again. Pierpoint was saved from the disaster. William Pierpoint was a detective for the Liverpool City Police. He was in charge of apprehending any German agents who could be aboard Lusitania, but his purpose for being on board was kept from public knowledge. Pierpoint traveled alone on ticket 46100 and stayed in cabin A-1. Not long after Lusitania left New York on her last crossing on 1 May 1915, Staff Captain Anderson sent for Pierpoint and the ship's interpreter, Adolph Pederson, because the masters-at-arms had discovered three German spies on board as stowaways. Pederson confirmed that the stowaways were German and the stowaways were locked below decks. Pierpoint questioned them again later but was unable to learn if the spies had planted any explosives aboard the ship. The stowaways refused to answer any questions. Pierpoint kept to himself throughout the voyage and dined alone. His table in the first class dining room was on the upper C deck near the windows. At the table next to him sat George Slingsby, William Stainton, Annie Walker, and Emily Davis. On Friday, 7 May 1915, the day of the disaster, Pierpoint was at lunch just after 2 p.m. when George Slingsby at the next table remarked to his table mates that a torpedo was heading their way. Pierpoint saw the trail of the torpedo as it impacted the ship. According to Hickey and Smith, page 227, as the ship was sinking, Pierpoint rushed below decks to free the German prisoners. The speed of the ship's sinking and a sudden inrush of water swept him back towards the stairwell before he could rescue the spies, and the German spies were lost. However, this episode of the sinking is not mentioned in Pierpoint's own handwritten account. Pierpoint made his way to the boat deck. Of what he observed, he later wrote, "they [the crew] would have great difficulty in lowering them [the lifeboats] if they could lower them at all on account of the list." The ship was listing severely to starboard. Still, he helped load people into a starboard lifeboat and then jumped into the bow of one as it was being lowered. As the lifeboat was still tied to the ship, one of the crew called out and asked if anyone had a knife to cut the ropes tying the boat to the ship. "[A]nd before we could do anything the ship was on top of us and the davits pulled the boat over and threw every one of us into the water." Pierpoint was swimming when the funnels plunged under water. The second funnel going under caused a whirlpool that devoured him, Margaret Gwyer, Harold Taylor, and Edward Bond. That would have been the end of them, except exploding boilers blew them all out in a cloud of soot and back into the surface of the water. Pierpoint was saved from the water and returned to Liverpool. As his mission had been a secret, journalists did not bother him about the sinking. For years he did not discuss his presence aboard Lusitania. A police strike in Liverpool in 1919 led to the dismissal of many members of the police force, but not Pierpoint. He was promoted to Governor of the city's main Bridewell, a position equivalent to police superintendent. He retired in 1929. He lived out his last days in a private nursing home. When he died in 1950, in a curious omission, there was no official recognition from the Liverpool City Police. Contributors: Caroline Cavanaugh (relative of William Pierpoint) Judith Tavares Annabelle Ward (great-granddaughter of William Pierpoint) References: Hickey, Des and Gus Smith. Seven Days to Disaster (pp. 77, 98-99, 174, 227, 233, 316). G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1981. Preston, Diana. Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (pp. 136, 192, 211-12, 215, 228, 242, 346). Berkley Books, 2002.

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