Mr. John Wilson

John Wilson, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a British subject traveling aboard Lusitania with Archie Donald.  Wilson was a chemist by profession.  He and Donald had been roommates at Cambridge and they shared a cabin aboard Lusitania with George Bilbrough.  Wilson aided Lorna Pavey to safety and survived the Lusitania disaster. Wilson, Donald, and Bilbrough often spent their time above decks playing cards with Reverend Herbert Gwyer and Thornton Jackson, known as “Submarine.” When the ship was torpedoed, John Wilson was at lunch in the second cabin dining room.  He, along with Herbert Ehrhardt, had noticed that the portholes were open.  While the rest of the room was emptying, Wilson, Ehrhardt, and others went about closing the portholes in the room to buy more time for the sinking Lusitania. John Wilson found Lorna Pavey standing by herself in the second cabin dining room.  He grabbed Lorna by the hand and pulled her through the piles of flowers, silverware, and dishes that had crashed to the floor.  The list of the sinking ship caused them to climb the stairs by walking up the rungs of the banister.  They reached C deck, one deck above where they had been, where they saw a lifeboat already lowered and half full of water as well as people.  Wilson told Lorna to slide down a rope. Lorna did as Wilson instructed, and Wilson followed.  They climbed over the gunwale into the lifeboat.  Soon they were bailing out the lifeboat with their shoes, as the boat was lowered without a plug in place (lifeboat 14?).  The lifeboat was in danger of swamping. There were only 12 people in the lifeboat, and Wilson and Lorna tried to convince the firemen at the oars to turn back to the ship to pick up more people.  The rowers refused. After they were rescued and taken to Queenstown, Wilson joined fellow survivors Archie Donald and George Bilbrough to find their missing shipboard acquaintances. References: Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania, pgs 74-5, 112, 174-5, 217.  Madison Books, 1956.

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