Mr. Francis John Luker

Francis Luker
Third Class Passenger
Saved
[No Picture Provided]
Born Francis John Luker
c. 1885
England, United Kingdom
Died 17 July 1917 (age 32)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Age on Lusitania 30
Lifeboats 11, 15, and others
Rescued by – Wanderer (Peel 12)
– Flying Fish
Occupation Letter carrier
Citizenship

British (Canada)

Residence Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Francis Luker, 30, was a post office worker in the Saskatoon area of Canada going to Britain to enlist.  He was originally from England and did not have any family in Canada.  He made friends with the two men with whom he shared a cabin aboard Lusitania.

On the last day his friends decided to take a nap around 1:30 while he stayed in the covered alleyway on the third class deck. He claimed to have seen the periscope and two torpedoes strike the ship, sending up clouds of smoke and steam.  He recalled passengers rushing to the starboard side to see what had happened, only to be “thrown into a heap” by the ship’s lurching and then pitched into the sea by a second lurch.  Luker stated that he avoided this fate by holding onto a piece of iron fixed to the woodwork on deck.

He made his way through the ship to the second class to find a lifebelt and claimed to have passed the nursery forward on C Deck.  Luker was about to run in to rescue a baby he saw inside, but just then the ship lurched and the door jammed shut.  

Outside, on the starboard side, he saw one lifeboat that was too full to enter and another that had pitched everyone inside of it into the sea.  He saw lifeboat #11 and jumped into it.  At the time the boat was a distance away from the mothership, so Luker pulled the boat hook to the ship to bring the lifeboat closer to Lusitania to allow more people into the lifeboat.

Phyllis Wickings-Smith tossed her baby Nancy to him.  He also caught another child thrown to him whose identity Luker did not know.  The boat rowed off but only narrowly escaped being dragged under by the wireless masts.

After the ship went down, he was obliged to change boats five times, and helped Ian Holbourn aboard another lifeboat.  Luker would remember that one of the boats he was in had a defective plug and he was waist-deep in water.  His last lifeboat was #15, which was picked up by the fishing smack Wanderer, also known as Peel 12.  He was then transferred to the larger Flying Fish, which arrived in Queenstown about 11:30 p.m.

Luker returned to Saskatoon by taking the Orduna to New York in September 1915.  He resumed his job at the post office. 

On the afternoon of 17 July 1917, Luker went swimming in the Saskatchewan River where others were already swimming.  Henry Berger of Saskatoon saw Luker take a dive but did not come up.  Berger told the boys with him to get help while Berger unsuccessfully attempted to find Luker.  Sargent of Police Macintosh located Luker 25 minutes later, but it was too late to save Luker.  Coroner Dr. John A. Valens attributed Luker’s death to drowning due to cramps.

 

Links of interest


Lest We Forget Part 2:  As the Lusitania Went Down :: ET Research


Contributors:
Jim Kalafus
Michael Poirier

References:

Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget Part 2:  As the Lusitania Went Down ET Research. <http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lusitania-lest-we-forget-2.html>

Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy, page 233.  Berkley Books, 2002.

About the Author