Oliver Percy Bernard. He had been born in Glasgow, Scotland, about 1881, likely in April or May. In 1911, he lived in Willesden, Brondesbury N W, (London), Middlsex, England, and was noted as an unmarried artist aged 29. At the time of the sinking, he was married to Muriel Theresa (nee Lightfoot; they had married in 1911 in Lancashire). He was 5’7’’ tall, had dark hair and grey eyes. He was the resident scenario artist at the Royal Opera House, London, and had attained considerable eminence in his profession. He was an architect, and scenic, graphic and industrial designer. When the Boston Opera House was erected Mr. Bernard did some of the scenic decorations and it was said he had made many friends in Boston. He had been on visit with Dr. and Mrs. Arial Wellington George of 38 Winchester Street in Brookline, Massachusetts. He had been rejected from military service due to deafness. He had left Liverpool 7 November 1914 on the steamship Transylvania. He was listed as a married scenic artist aged 33 years 6 months and was a native of Glasgow, Scotland. He was bound for Boston, Massachusetts. He survived the sinking of the Lusitania. He may have died in London on 15 April 1939.
”The list now increased enormously and I was dashed against the rail of the stairway leading to the boat deck, which was now awash. I slid right into the water. As I was sliding I saw a boat and threw my pocketbook into it. I found myself in a mess of tackle, rigging and other wreckage, but got to the boat I mentioned, which ws water-logged. It had not been lowered but still was attached by her loose, hanging tackle to the saloon deck. There was a steward in her. I clambered in and a couple of minutes later there was a swarm clambering around her, chiefly stokers and trimmers. All of these got in. She was the last boat on the deck.
Boat Nearly Sinks
My watch stopped at just 2:30 when I entered the water. Watches carried by others of the survivors stopped at the same time. It had been only eight minutes since I had seen the torpedo coming.
The overhanging tackle now was pressing the boat dangerously downward. A deck steward chopped it away just in time. Then, as the Lusitania toppled over, a long taut wire, a part of the funnel rigging, came on to the boat lengthwise. We managed to push the boat from under it. We sheered off a little bit, then our worst danger was one of the huge funnels. This was descending on us steadily as the Lusitania leaned over farther and farther. It seemed impossible to escape but the funnel just missed us, passing not more than a foot from some of our heads. We were now working the heavy oars but made practically no progress. When the Lusitania went down she caused scarcely any vortex, but the water boiled up in great masses in the sea around her exactly like the Niagara rapids. When the sea became smooth again we could see hundreds of heads and arms of struggling victims on barrels, deck chairs and all the flotsam and jetsam that had remained on the Lusitania above the water.
Many now climbed into the boat. A woman came up close by me, with froth coming from her mouth and covering her face. I pulled her in and we managed to slide her down into a reclining position. There she died. We were all standing – the boat was so full there was no room to sit down. The oars were so heavy and unmanageable and the boat was so crowded that we made scarcely any progress but had made some towards the lighthouse when a fishing smack picked us up about 5 p. m. The smack picked up four boats in all, with a couple of hundred persons.
The deck steward in our boat, with a name something like Wigham, a little chap with a waxed mustache, was our sheet anchor. He took charge of everything and cheered everyone up. He had the heart of a lion.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 May 1915, p. 2)
The material presented on this page has been researched by Peter Engberg-Klarström. Copyright 2017 Peter Engberg-Klarström.
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