A Lusitania Survivor Visits Ormskirk
On May 7th 1915 RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U boat U20 off the southern coast of Ireland. Of the 1,960 souls on board bound for Liverpool from New York, 767 survived.
On that voyage was Sarah Lund nee Mounsey of Chicago Illinois and her husband and father. Sarah’s mother, Fanny Mounsey nee Sewell had been lost on the Empress of Ireland in the St Lawrence Seaway on May 29th 1914. Fanny Mounsey was travelling to visit family in Keswick, Cumberland at the time of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland and her body was never recovered.
A year later, Sarah Mounsey received a letter out of the blue at her home in Chicago from the Superintendant of the Ormskirk Union Workhouse, possibly Albert Horsfall Whittaker. An unidentified lady, in considerable distress, had been admitted to the workhouse in Wigan Road, Ormskirk and the poor wretched woman was only able to utter repeatedly the name ‘Mounsey’ and the letter went on to explain that this lady, known as ‘Kate Fitzgerald’ had a fear of water. For whatever reason, a link was made to the Empress of Ireland sinking a year earlier and the Superintendant sent a letter to Sarah, (who knows how he sought out her address) asking if this might be her mother.
Sarah immediately left her home, with her husband and father to travel to Ormskirk, via New York and Liverpool, aboard the ill-fated Lusitania with the aim of meeting this mysterious lady. Fate intervened and Sarah, though suffering the terror of being flung into the sea as the ship exploded and being showered with debris was, after several hours in the water, pulled into a lifeboat.
Sarah lost her husband of just 1 year , and her father that day, she spent time in Queenstown, Ireland recovering but insisted on pressing on to Liverpool and then Ormskirk to meet the woman she was praying, now more than ever, was indeed her missing Mother, Fanny Mounsey.
Sadly, that was not to be, the lady in the workhouse was nothing like Sarah’a dear mother and Sarah was forced to return home to Chicago a widow, and without either parent.
Sarah did re-marry and lived until 1978, dying aged 92.
A tragic story amongst a tragic event.