Cyrus Crossley: he was a master joiner, allegedly born in Newark, Nottinghamshire, albeit this seems to be incorrect; he may have lived there, however. His real place of birth was Barton, Lancs., where he had seen the light of day 29 March 1877. Business had been slow due to the war so the Crossleys decided to go to Britain and had planned to stay there for the remainder of the war. His parents seem to have been Cyrus, a joiner born in late 1851 at Bradford, Yorkshire, and Lavinia (nee Lister; she had been born in early 1854 at Bradford and had, prior to her marriage, worked as a factory hand in Bradford) Crossley, who had married in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1873. He had nine brothers and sisters in 1891, when the family was living at Bonn Road in Bradford, Yorkshire. He was at the time noted as a worsted weaver, aged 14, and his family belonged to the Church of England. He had been christened on 25 September 1878 in Eccles, Pendlebury, Lancashire, albeit his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1877 in Barton Upon Irwell, Lancashire.His known siblings were Anne E., b. 1873, Ada, b. 1875, Arthur, b. 1878, Louisa, b. 1879, John, b. 1881, Charles Vernon, b. 1883, Sarah Adelaide, b. 1885, Fred, b. 1887, Gilbert Harry, b. 1889, and Victor, b. 1892. In 1901, he lived as a boarder in the household of John Frank, a colliery stoker, and Rose Elizabeth Robinson at Main Street in Newbold Verdon, Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, England, listed as a joiner. He had married Sylvia Ellen Milsom in 1901 in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The couple had a son, Victor Cyrus, born in late 1901 in Nottinghamshire, England, who died in Ontario in 1907. In 1903, he, Sylvia, and Victor had come to Port Huron (USA), and he stated he was a carpenter by trade, aged 26 and that his last place of abode was Nottingham, England. They were going to an uncle, T. B. Roper, who lived in Scotts Ridge, Ohio. They had come to Canada on the Bavarian 19 September the same year. In 1911, he and his wife lived in Toronto, Ontario, and it was stated he had been born in England in March 1877. Mr. and Mrs. Crossley survived the sinking of the Lusitania. Cyrus Crossley died in 1954 in Oldham, England.
”LUSITANIA SURVIVORS. Sensational Narrative.—Hairbreadth Escapes. People Cut to Pieces. Two of the Lusitania survivors, Mr. and Mrs. Crossley, who arrived at Shaw, near Liverpool, on Sunday, May 9th, have sent on to their cousin, Mrs. James Williams, 26 Regent Street, Aberaman, a vivid account of their experiences. Both are on a visit to England, and are now staying with Mrs. Crossley’s sister, Mrs. Jackson, wife of Police-sergeant Jackson. They are also nephew and niece to Mrs. Milsom, Commerce Place, Aberaman. Mr. Crossley, who is a native of Newark, left England for Canada, accompanied by his wife, some 13 years ago, and settled down in Toronto, where he was very successful in business as a master joiner. They both paid a three months’ visit to this country about two years ago. As the war had seriously affected business they decided, a week prior to the vessel sailing, to pay a visit again to this country, and booked passages with the Lusitania. Mr. Crossley received no particular message regarding the threatened sink- ing of the ship, but he heard much talk about messages being received. When he was in a restaurant in New York just before embarkation a paper was pushed in his hand folded in such a manner that the German Embassy’s warning advertisement was prominent, but he laughed at it and said to the man showing it to him, “Forget it.” The threat to torpedo the vessel was the general topic of conversation on board, but the impression was that the Germans would never dare to do this, because there were so many Americans on board. On Friday they were sitting at the second table at lunch when they felt a nasty jar underneath them like some- thing tearing, and a grinding sound was heard right under the saloon. Mr. Crossley considered that they were going very slowly at the time, and he instinctively looked at his watch just after the impact occurred, and saw that it was ten minutes past two. He also looked at his watch after the liner sunk from view and noticed that it was exactly 20 minutes from the time of the first impact. The torpedo seemed to come right under their feet, and they could all hear a ripping sound. Mr. Crossley said he realised that the matter was serious right away, and jumped up and took hold of his wife to assist her on deck. He said to some of the others in the saloon, “Come along, boys; she is sinking as sure as fate!” They got up on deck and he went to the port side, because the boat was sinking quickly. As he was coming on deck he went first in the direction of the music room, as his wife’s sealskin coat and some of her jewellery were just inside. but he saw that the room was about 3 feet deep with water at the entrance and 10 feet deep at the far end. So he gave up the idea, as the room was filling at a quick rate. Mr. Crossley and his wife got to a boat which was quickly filling with people, but it dropped in the water before they were able to get into it, and was overturned. Owing to the action of the boat he realised that it was no use trying to get away from the port side. In fact he saw a number of the people out of the boats drawn in by the screw, and they must have been cut to pieces by it. Several who were thus drawn in had lifebelts on, and they seemed the worst sufferers. I don’t know where the crowd were,” says Mr. Crossley, “but there was no evidence of disorder. We went round the hind part of the ship and there found a boat with no one in it. I jumped in the boat, and helped my wife in it, and then I helped a number of other women into it, whilst two sailors held the ropes. There were between 30 and 40 people put in the boat, and a sailor came along and took my place. Then an officer came and asked me if I would get the women in order in the boat. Ours was the last boat to be lowered, and the captain gave orders just as it was being let down that no more boats must be lowered, but the men went on and lowered it. We got to the water and by this time the vessel had heeled over so much that one of the funnels and the wireless installation were on us. The funnel vomited a quantity of smoke all over us, and we were as black as niggers. We seemed to be all covered with grease and smoke, and were a lively-look- ing lot. There was another boat in the water just behind us. One woman in it became hysterical, and jumped into the sea. She was drawn into the funnel, which was not in the water. A minute or two later, by some remarkable circumstance, there was a rush of water from the funnel, and she was ejected again, picked up in the boat and saved. Probably the bursting of a boiler caused this out-rush of water from the funnel, which thus saved the woman’s life the second time. We pushed away from the funnel with the blades of the oars, and when the vessel went down we stood with our boat right over where the funnel had been, and we .stayed there for fully half an hour. There was no suction whatever, only just a heavy swirl. We kept on picking people up out of the water, and by this time we had between 70 and 80 people on board. We had a cool officer in charge of the boat. He asked us if he must take any more aboard, as he had already too many in the boat and dared not take any more on his own responsibility. A few more people were picked up, and altogether we got 82 in our boat. I pulled into the boat one young ,woman, who said, ‘For God’s sake, save me, I’m hurt!’ After getting her in the boat it was found that her leg was broken near the ankle, and she was badly cut on the leg, which I bandaged with my handkerchief. The officer in charge of the boat kept his head, and by steady rowing and careful obedience of the orders he gave, we got out of the swirl with several others clinging to the boat. Among them was an editor, who held on the side of the boat with one hand, whilst he had a book under his other arm. The man handed me the book, and said, ‘For God’s sake, take this; it is my life’s work.’ I took it and said that I would see it was handed over properly. I got hold of the man’s wrist and held on to him. .r 11’1 1- we eventually came across a boat which was empty except for one man, who was stark naked. How he came to be without clothes I cannot say. We got to the boat, and threw the man a coat. We put 25 of our people in the boat. which left us something like a normal number. Two of the crew were put in the other boat to control it. Our officer told them to remain about in case there were any more survivors floating about, and he would send somebody else out to them. We got the editor (referred to) in our boat, and we pulled another man, but he died almost immediately, and we pitched him back into the sea. After rowing heavily for about U hours we sighted a fishing smack, which was becalmed. We were put into the smack, and about 100 people altogether got into it. The men then went back to assist in rescue work. I guess we were two hours in the water before we sighted anything. The smack took a couple of the ship’s boats in tow, and eventuallv two or three boats were seen. We called for help, but no reply came. We were at last relieved by a tug, the ‘Flying Fish,’ which took us all on, and we landed in Queenstown at 10.30 on Friday night. Three or four destroyers passed us as we were going along, and there were some fine sailors on board these craft. If they saw a body in the water a member of the crew went over for it, and brought it back as quickly as anything. We left Queenstown at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon for Kingstown, and came across on the mail boat, which took a zig-zag course and travelled at a fine rate across the channel. On the Irish railway the Cunard people had evidently not made arrangements for food, and we were told we should have to pay for it, but I had got a little money and we got dinner on the train. They came along the train at Holyhead enquiring if there were any of the Lusitania passengers, and when we made ourselves known-a compartment full- we were all supplied with luncheon baskets. We travelled to Liverpool by train and from there to Manchester, ultimately arriving at Oldham at 11.20 on Sunday morning, being met on arrival by Mr. Jackson.” All the luggage belonging to them was lost. Mr. Crossley intended insuring the same when in New York, but was pulled up by an official over his trunk, and so much time was lost that he was unable to do so. The value of the luggage was over 1.000 dollars, without his instruments and drawing books, which exceeded 100 dollars. Over 300 dollars had been spent by them upon various things prior to coming over. A light fog was about on the Friday morning, but it lifted, and they could see land about ten miles out. As far as Mr. Crossley knew only one torpedo struck the liner, unless she was struck a second time, and no noise created. It is the intention of Mr. and Mrs. Crossley to remain in England until the termination of the war.” (Cymru, 5 June, 1915)
The material presented on this page has been researched by Peter Engberg-Klarström. Copyright 2017 Peter Engberg-Klarström.
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