Master William Gerald Gardner

William Gardner, 11, was a British subject going to New Zealand aboard Lusitania with his parents James and Annie and his brother Eric.  The family was originally from Dunedin, New Zealand. The Gardners, with another brother, Leonard, had been living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for 13 years and were planning to establish a market garden in Nelson, New Zealand.  James and Annie were lost in the Lusitania tragedy.  Eric and William survived the sinking.  Leonard had traveled to New Zealand in advance and was not on board Lusitania. Annie fainted when the ship was torpedoed and could not be revived.  She might have been the fainting woman Archie Donald helped carry from the second cabin dining saloon.  James went down with the ship with Annie.  William and Eric survived. According to Herbert Ehrhardt’s account, Ehrhardt roomed with two brothers who were young men and traveling with their father.  The brothers survived and the father did not.  From looking at the second cabin passenger list, the Gardners are the only family that matches this description. According to Ehrhardt, after the ship sank, Eric and William swam to two lifeboats that were next to each other.  One was right-side up, the other was upside down.  William got in the one that was right-side up.  Eric climbed aboard the one that was upside down.  Ehrhardt soon joined Eric on his upturned boat, and the two boats quickly drifted apart. Eric and William stayed in a hotel near Euston Station in London, England, before pressing on to New Zealand. Eric enlisted in the army the following summer and joined the Auckland Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 3rd Battalion.  He was killed in the Passchendaele Offensive on 15 October 1917. William suffered from epilepsy after the Lusitania sinking and was institutionalized for 40 years.  When he was properly diagnosed and could be treated, William returned to live with his remaining brother, Leonard, in the Nelson area.  William lived a normal life from then on and passed away on 20 December 1984.

Links of interest

Lest We Forget Part 2: As the Lusitania Went Down – Encyclopedia Titanica
Contributors: Alison Glenie, New Zealand (relative of William Gardner) Jim Kalafus, USA Michael Poirier, USA References: Commonwealth War Graves Commission :: Casualty Details.  Gardner, Eric Clarence.  <> 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 2:  As the Lusitania Went Down.  ET Research. <>

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