Miss Elsie Hook

Elsie Hook
Third Class Passenger
Saved
The Hook FamilyImage:  New York Times, Sunday, 30 May 1915.
Born Elsie Hook
1903
England, United Kingdom
Died 14 November 1995 (age 93)
Norlane, Victoria, Australia
Age on Lusitania 12
Traveling with - George Hook (father)
- Frank Hook (brother)
- Annie Marsh (housekeeper)
-Thomas Marsh (Annie’s husband)
- Thomas Marsh (Annie’s child)
Citizenship British
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Other names Elsie Hadland (after marriage)
Spouse(s) Mr. ? Hadland (please provide dates)

Elsie Hook (1903 - 1995), 12, was the daughter of George Hook and sister of Frank Hook. They were from England but had emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. After the death of Mrs. Hook, the family planned to move back to England and booked Lusitania.  During the sinking, Frank was separated from George and Elsie, but they were later reunited in Queenstown, Ireland.  The entire family was saved.

Contents
  1. Family and background
  2. Lusitania
  3. Disaster
  4. Reunion
  5. Australia

 

Family and background


Elsie Hook was born England, United Kingdom in 1903.  Elsie was described as tall for her age, wherease Frank was described as small and adventurous.

In 1907, the Hook family emigrated to Canada, where his father George found work at a metal plant in Toronto.  Mrs. Hook passed away in late 1913 while the family was in Canada, and George thought it would be best to move the family back to England. 

 

Lusitania


Eighteen months after Mrs. Hook's death, the family would sail on Lusitania.  George sold the family home and took Elsie and Frank to New York City, where they stayed for a week.  Compared to Toronto, the Hooks found New York to be “noisy and dirty,” but they were excited to sail on Lusitania, which they called “the big ship.”

The Hooks had originally planned to travel second cabin, but when George found out that their housekeeper, Annie Marsh and husband Thomas and son also named Thomas were traveling third class on Lusitania, George decided, “we won’t be separated — let’s all travel together” and changed his family’s ticket to third class.  Otherwise, third class passengers were not allowed to mix with the other classes, even though second cabin passengers were known to cross over into saloon accommodations.

George had only paid half-fare for Elsie’s ticket, even though she was a year over age.  As they boarded, George whispered to his daughter, “Duck down, Elsie!  Make yourself as small as possible.”

On board, the Hook family dined with the Marsh family, and made friends with John Welsh, an emigrant who was also returning to England, and Gerda Neilson, the woman whom he had met just before sailing.

On Tuesday, 4 May, Frank won a race on board and won a badge.  

 

Disaster


On Friday, 7 May before lunch, Elsie was talking to some girls about flowers.  A young man who had listened in on the conversation said to Elsie, “Do you like flowers?  I’ve got some in my cabin.  I shall bring you a rose after lunch.”

Elsie, with George and Frank, proceeded to wait for the young man at the entrance to saloon class and second cabin.  At this time, a woman passenger insisted that Elsie post a letter for her.  Elsie didn’t want to do it, but she relented and went to post the letter on D deck.  Elsie was on the staircase leading down to the third class dining room when the torpedo hit.  She felt the ship lurch and, not waiting to see the reaction of people in the room eating lunch, she ran back on deck to find her father and brother.  George and Frank ran to meet up with her.

As the family reunited, Elsie saw a wad of dollars that someone had dropped on deck.  She grabbed them and showed them to her father, saying, “Look, Dad!”

“Throw them away,” George answered, “They may cost you your life.”

That was when young Elsie realized that they were truly in danger.  As they stood by the starboard rail, she held onto the rail and prayed for God to save them.  She then saw two elderly women holding onto each other and crying.  Elsie comforted them, saying, “Don’t worry, God will save you.”

George told his children to stay away from the crowded lifeboats that were spilling their loads instead of lowering.  They would jump into the sea together.  In the water, Frank was separated from George and Elsie. 

Hook Family reunited Image: New York Times, Sunday, 30 May 1915. Caption reads: “Reunion of George Hook, and children Frank and Elsie, in the Queenstown Hospital,All Having Been Saved from the Lusitania.”

 

Reunion


George and Elsie spent three days in Queenstown looking for Frank, even looking in the mortuaries for the young boy’s body.  To their relief, they found Frank in the Queenstown hospital, where he was being treated for a broken leg.  A falling lifeboat had broken Frank’s left thigh, and he assumed that George and Elsie had drowned.  A fellow survivor from Leeds had offered to adopt Frank and take care of him for the rest of his life, which thankfully, was not necessary.

 

Australia


In 1925, Frank moved to Australia and brought his sister and father with him.  They would live out the rest of their lives in Australia.  Elsie married a man by the name of Hadland and participated in interviews about the disaster for books and documentaries.  She passed away on 14 November 1995 in Norlane, Victoria, Australia, at the age of 93.

Contributors:
Paul Latimer
Michael Poirier
Judith Tavares

References:
Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster, pages 36, 93, 126, 178, 218-9, 228, 270.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

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

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