Master Ronald Owens

Ronald Owens, 10, was the son of Cecelia Owens, brother of Reginald Owens, nephew of Alfred and Elizabeth Smith and cousin of Helen and Hubert Smith.  Ronald, Reginald, and Helen had been playing on deck just before the torpedo struck the ship.  The brothers became separated from the family and were not found.  They were lost while Cecelia and Helen, the only members of their party, survived.


Ronald's family came from Swansea, Wales.  He and his brother were the sons of Hubert Isaac Owens and Cecelia Mildred Smith.  The Owens family moved to the United States around 1909, about the time that Cecelia's brothers, Arthur and Alfred, did.  The Owens family and Alfred's branch of the Smiths settled in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, where Hubert found a job at the local steel factory. By 1915, the Smiths had decided to return to Wales.  Cecelia, Ronald, and Reginald would also be traveling with the Smiths, presumably to visit their ancestral home and then return to the United States, as Hubert Owens had stayed in Ellwood City.  Ronald had not wanted to go back to Britain and wanted to stay in Ellwood City with his father.  He was eventually persuaded to travel with the rest of the family on Lusitania.


In a letter sent from Lusitania right after her maiden voyage in September 1907, now in the scrapbook of the Arthur Smith family, the officer who wrote the letter invited Arthur to tour Lusitania.  Evidently, the Smith family had a personal relationship with the Cunard Line.  This family connection may ultimately have played a part in the Smiths’ and Owens’ choice of sailing on Lusitania on what was to be her fatal last crossing. After lunch on Friday, 7 May, Cecelia had permitted Ronald and Reginald to play on deck with Helen until 2 p.m.  At 2 p.m., the boys dutifully reported back to Cecelia in their cabin, saying, "we are playing on deck and we are enjoying ourselves.  Helen is with us, and it is such fun!” The boys wanted to play for another half hour, and Cecelia granted them permission to do so.  The boys ran out of the room to rejoin Helen, who was still on deck by herself, waiting for her cousins to return.  This would be the last time Cecelia would see her sons. The torpedo struck at 2:10 p.m, and Cecelia and Alfred Smith and Elizabeth Smith, with baby Hubert in arms, searched the sinking ship for their three missing children.  A stranger put a lifebelt on Cecelia and threw her into a lifeboat before she could find her sons. Ronald and Reginald were lost in the sinking. Their bodies were either never identified or not recovered.

Links of interest

Encyclopedia Titanica:  Lest We Forget – Part 1
Contributors: Jim Kalafus, USA Carol Keeler Peter Kelly, Ireland Mike Poirier, USA References: Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster, pages 115, 178, 194, 227, 274.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1982. Hoehling, A.A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania. Madison Books, 1956. Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget : Part 1. ET Research. <>. Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget Part 2: As the Lusitania Went Down ET Research. <>.

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