The Lusitania Resource > People > Second Cabin (Second Class) Passenger List > Mrs. Herbert Linford Gwyer (Margaret Inglis Adams Cairns)

Mrs. Herbert Linford Gwyer (Margaret Inglis Adams Cairns)

Margaret Gwyer, 26, was the newlywed wife of Reverend Herbert Gwyer, as they had just married on 15 April 1915.  She was a British national from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Margaret was sucked down a funnel during the Lusitania sinking and blown back to the surface.  Both she and her husband survived the disaster.

Margaret and Herbert had not spent much time together on the voyage, as Herbert was often playing cards with Archie DonaldGeorge Bilbrough, Thornton Jackson, and John Wilson.  On the day of the disaster, Margaret, Herbert, Archie Donald, and Lorna Pavey were in the dining room when the torpedo struck Lusitania.  Her husband’s own words of the sinking were were:

“We were at dinner when the torpedo struck; there was remarkably little panic. The boat was listing badly to starboard. I shall never get the crash of all the crockery from the tables.”

Everyone in the dining room knew what had happened and got up from their seats.  Soon afterwards the lights went out.  Minor screams and people stumbling in the darkness ensued.  Reverend Gwyer put his hand on Donald’s shoulder and suggested in a calm voice, “Let us quieten the people.”

The two men moved to the door of the dining saloon and yelled at the top of their voices that everything was going to be all right and there was no need for panic.  Donald and Gwyer didn’t really believe what they were saying, but the crowd calmed down and filed out of the room quickly in an orderly fashion.

Margaret and Herbert waited until the crowd thinned out before making their way up the stairs.  They had contemplated going to their cabin to get lifebelts but were afraid of being trapped.  Herbert escorted Margaret to a boat and helped her in along with three women and a baby.  In the melée, he did not realize that as Margaret looked up, she thought the funnels were going to fall on the lifeboat and climbed back on deck.  Herbert, meanwhile, jumped into the boat and began to row away.

When the deck slipped beneath the water, Margaret began to swim away.  She didn’t get very far before she, Harold Taylor and Inspector William Pierpont were sucked down one of the funnels; however within moments they were blown out again.  Margaret ended up near the boat commandeered by Charles Lauriat and Leslie Morton who had thought she was an African from all the soot that covered her and helped her aboard.

When they were rescued by the Flying Fish, Margaret spied Herbert who was sobbing over the “loss” of his wife.  Another survivor described the meeting and said that after Herbert recognized his soot covered wife she said, “Never mind, we’ve lost those awful wedding presents.”

Contributors
Michael Poirier, USA
Judith Tavares
Hildo Thiel, The Netherlands

References:
Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G, P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956.

The New York Times.  Tuesday, 11 May 1915, page 3.

Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

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