Mrs. Norman Stones (Hilda Mary Joy)

Hilda Stones (c. 1886 - 1915), 29, was a successful actress and singer from Leeds, Yorkshire, England, who had married rancher Norman Stones, and together they lived in Texada Island, British Columbia, Canada. Hilda and Norman were returning to England aboard Lusitania because Hilda's mother was in poor health. Both Norman and Hilda went down with the ship when the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20 on 7 May 1915. Norman survived; Hilda did not. Her body was not recovered.


Hilda Joy was a successful actress and singer from Leeds, having garnered lead roles in stage productions such as The Country Girl, and a position with a touring opera company. People described her as a jolly woman with an exceptional voice. She married Norman Stones, a Canadian rancher and occasional nightclub singer from Penistone, Yorkshire, England, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1912. In May of 1915, Norman and Hilda were returning to Ilkley, Leeds, aboard Lusitania after receiving news that Hilda’s mother was in poor health. Friends in Leeds, where Norman and Mary Hilda were well remembered, had hoped that the German warning would have caused them to defer their travel plans. Hilda's final performance was at the concert the night before the disaster, on 6 May. Norman Stones's account does not mention which songs she sang, but it is almost certain that the young married woman with the beautiful voice whom Phoebe Amory wrote of in her booklet, was Mrs. Stones. Mrs. Amory recalled that the young woman sang “The Rosary.”
We had just had lunch with the first sitting down, and had come upon deck. My wife and I were looking over the side from C Deck when I saw the track of a torpedo. It appeared to make a white, creamy, track apparently about six inches wide, and when I first saw it, it was between 200 and 300 yards from the ship. I saw no sign of a submarine, not a periscope or anything else. We watched the track of the torpedo as if fascinated, and saw it strike the ship between the funnels. We were second class passengers and were more or less confined to the stern of the ship. We were standing near to the railing dividing us from the saloon passengers, and would be at least 50 yards away from where the torpedo struck the ship. We heard the explosion and it was nothing very terrifying; we saw a cloud of spray thrown high into the air, and the next we knew was that water and wreckage were falling into the sea near us and on the decks above us. As we were not on the top deck, we were protected from the falling debris. The torpedo did not make a very big noise and did not shake the ship very much. All we felt was a slight tremor. The ship, however, immediately began to heel over to the starboard side, and so far as I know she never righted herself. I did not hear a second explosion like the first one, and am inclined to believe that only one torpedo was fired. The ship certainly gave an extra lurch shortly afterwards, but it appeared to me to be due to an internal explosion of the shifting of the cargo. At the time of the attack there were few passengers on deck, but immediately following the explosion there was a rush of passengers to the deck, and at first most of them crowded on to the port side, which was the highest out of the water. My wife and I walked over to the port side. There was quite a lot of excitement, but no panic--no fighting or anything of that sort. The stewards were the best of the crew, in my opinion. They certainly did not show any panic; if any portion of the crew was inclined to be panicky or excited it was the firemen and trimmers who came up from below. The stewards went round quietly serving out lifebelts. In regard to the launching of the boats, there appeared to be a complete lack of system. Near to us at the stern on the port side, no boat was launched except for one which fell into the water bow first. Officers and members of the crew went round saying that there was no immediate danger and that the ship would float for at least an hour. In consequence of this, a number of passengers made no effort to get lifebelts and were probably taken by surprise when the end came.
Norman Stones retrieved lifebelts for himself and Hilda. Norman removed the clothing from his unprotesting wife, in public and broad daylight, until she was in her stockings.  He then strapped her lifebelt to her. They planned to climb down the ropes from the wrecked lifeboat, and then swim clear of the ship. They hoped to find wreckage to cling to, or to be picked up by a boat. Norman then started tearing the canvas off a nearby collapsible boat, which should have been done earlier, but the crew seemed so convinced that the large Lusitania was not going to sink that no one had done so until then.  Archie Donald helped him. The Lusitania’s final plunge came so quickly that they barely had time to jump over the side and into the water. Mrs. Stones took bank notes from her purse, and placed them into Norman’s pockets. She remained calm as she took hold of the rope, cleared the side of the ship, and jumped down into the water. It was the last time her husband would see her. Mr. Stones followed his wife into the water, and both were immediately pulled under the surface as the Lusitania sank next to them. Norman survived, Hilda did not. Hilda's body was never recovered. Phoebe Amory wrote that the husband of the young woman who sang at the concert promised, in her presence, to enlist and kill a lot of Germans. As reported in Hoehling and Hoehling's The Last Voyage of the Lusitania, Norman went on to join a University Officer's Training Corps in England. He eventually remarried. Norman Stones died in Exmoor, England, on 7 September 1964.

Links of interest

Norman and Hilda Stones at Lest We Forget – Encyclopedia Titanica

Contributors Cliff Barry, UK Jim Kalafus, USA Peter Kelly, Ireland Michael Poirier, USA References Hoehling, A.A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Jim Kalafus, Michael Poirier, Cliff Barry and Peter Kelly (2013) “Lest We Forget : The Lusitania.” Gare Maritime. (ref: #10962, accessed 27th April 2015 03:24:39 PM) URL :

About the Author