Mr. Herbert W. Ehrhardt

Herbert Ehrhardt, about 21, was an Englishman studying for his M. A. in chemistry at the University of Toronto.  Wartime semesters had been foreshortened in Canada and he was on the Lusitania in May 1915 to go home for the summer. During the trip he roomed with two brothers who were young men and traveling with their father.  They were most likely Eric and William Gardner.  Throughout the voyage, six or seven children had decided to cling onto him and would not leave him alone.  Fortunately, "a girl of sixteen," most likely 14-year-old Evelyn Neville, helped relieve him of the constant attention. Ehrhardt was finishing his lunch when the torpedo struck.  Noticing that several of the second cabin dining room's portholes were open, he, his roommate (whom he recalled as Wilson but was more likely William Gardner), and a number of other passengers and stewards, quickly shut the ports and bolted them.  Ehrhardt noticed that the dining room had emptied without any panic.  As the smell of smoke crept in, Herbert decided that it would be best if he fetched his lifebelt. His cabin was next to the stairs and once inside he discovered that someone had already taken his lifejacket.  As Ehrhardt was a strong swimmer and had been dunked fully clothed before this development did not bother him.  At the time he did not consider it unreasonable to swim to Ireland without a lifejacket if necessary.  Before leaving his cabin, he opened his suitcase and took out the money inside and transferred it into his pocket.  He had earned this money as a demonstrator in the University of Toronto's chemistry department and it was the first salary that he had ever received. Ehrhardt saw the situation on deck as calm as the passengers waited for lifeboats to be launched.  He encountered the girl who had helped him babysit throughout the voyage; she was distressed that her brother had been separated from the family.  Ehrhardt went to look for him.  Ehrhardt felt fear developing inside of him but was determined not to let fear cloud his common sense. The chemistry student reunited the brother with the family and noticed the increasing list had made walking extremely difficult.  As he realized that the ship could sink before all the lifeboat were launched, he truly became afraid.  He had to sit to prevent himself from falling.  Others were already slipping and sliding down the deck all the way to the rails.  He wasn't sure if he could avoid bumping into people or if he would hurt anyone if he slipped. The bow plunged underneath, causing a "tremendous turmoil in the water".  Ehrhardt seriously doubted that anyone would be able to swim in that.  Perhaps, he realized, his life would be ending within a few short seconds.  He slipped and rolled, hoping to avoid hitting anyone else.  He said to himself, "I'm better off than most of these as I've nobody dependent on me." Silently, Herbert Ehrhardt then prayed for his mother and his fiancée. Jumping, he reminded himself to keep his eyes open and mouth shut.  For a moment in the water, Ehrhardt felt that he was only sinking, but soon the water grew brighter and he broke the surface.  A wave and empty lifeboat were heading right at him.  Ehrhardt put up his arms to shield himself and was pulled under once again.  He surfaced again in a spot of relative calm and floated quietly, catching his breath. Herbert was next to two boats, one right-side up, the other upside-down.  On each boat were two of his cabin mates who were brothers.  Ehrhardt and the older brother were on the upside-down boat and the two boats quickly drifted apart.  The two men on the upturned boat helped people onto their craft. One woman they had helped died not long afterward.  When the craft was almost full an exhausted man was pulled aboard.  Looking around, the man broke into tears.  The dead woman, still on the boat, was his wife.  Ehrhardt saw a corpse drift by and saw that it was his cabin mate's father. A small steamer seemed to be approaching and then apparently left.  Next, the auxiliary Indian Prince came within hailing distance and asked if they were all right. "Yes!"  Ehrhardt answered. The Indian Prince promised to come back later.  In the meantime, the chemistry student had not given up on resuscitating the dead woman.  He also gave his shoes to a shivering passenger in the lifeboat. Upon reaching Queenstown, Ehrhardt slept so soundly that a policeman had to shake him several times before he awoke.  He found two of the mothers of the children he had befriended, but none of the children.  He, however, did find his shoes again, discarded on the floor of a Queenstown shoe store. Researchers have speculated that the family Ehrhardt befriended may have been that of Molly Mainman's, but this does not match Ehrhardt's account of where the mother and not the children survived. Moreover, Evelyn Neville and her family match the description of a girl traveling with her father, mother, younger brother, and sister, where only the mother survived. After surviving the Lusitania, he first visited his father in Cheshire before visiting his uncle in Edgbarton. The escalating war tensions forced Herbert Ehrhardt to change his name to Herbert Hereward, which he lived by for the rest of his life. Contributors Hildo Thiel References Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956.  

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