Rev. Herbert Gwyer: He was a Church of England clergyman who lived in Saskatoon, Canada. He had been educated at Magdalene College of the University of Cambridge. In 1901, he lived in Uppingham, Rutlandshire, and was noted as a student (of theology, probably). In 1911, he went to Canada as a missionary as a part of the Church of England Railway mission in Regina. He had married his wife just a month before embarking on the Lusitania. His birth was registered 19 March 1883 in the Marylebone district of London. His parents were John Edward, a native of Bristol (b. 1848) and in 1881 a cashier to an American merchant, and Edith (nee Linford; she seems to have been born in 1847 in the Clifton district of Gloucestershire) Gwyer, also a native of Bristol; they had married in the third quarter of 1876 at Barnet, Hertfordshire/Middlesex, England. In 1881, his parents lived at Dorchester Place in Marylebone, London. His siblings were Maurice Linford., 2, Vernon Edward., 1, and Barbara Elizabeth, an infant. There were also four servants living in the household; Elizabeth A. Higgs, 26, cook, Elizabeth E. Hood, 22, nurse, Eliza Higgs, 13, nursemaid, and Mary Anne Glynn, 17, housemaid. Rev. Gwyer survived the sinking of the Lusitania together with his wife. The Cunard Line gave their point of origin as Saskatoon, Canada. He passed away in 1960.
’’D. Gordon Campbell, barrister, of Empress, Sask., has received a letter from Rev. H. L. Gwyer, formerly vicar in charge of the Empress parish, and one of the passengers on the Lusitania on her last voyage. The letter tells of the sensational experiences of Mr. and Mrs. Gwyer as follows:
At Wing Vicarage,
Leighton Buzzard, May 25.
’My Dear Gordon, —
’Just a line to let you know how things are prospering. The whole affair of the Lusitania seems like a horrid nightmare. We were at dinner when the torpedo struck, there was remarkably little panic. We went straight up on deck, as it seemed better to get upstairs than risk going to our cabin for lifebelts and being unable to get out again. The boat was listing badly to starboard. I shall never forget the crash of all the crockery from the tables. People were rushing awfully about the deck and a large number of unfortunates had lost their heads and simply jumped right off the liner and when we got on deck the water was full of wreckage and bodies.
Boat Was Crushed.
’They were unable to launch any boats on the port side owing to the list and one boat they attempted was smashed against the liner’s side and many people killed. We asked an officer what we had better do and he advised us to go onto the first class deck. We went there and they were putting people into the last boat. Margaret got a place in it and three women and a baby and it was then lowered. By this time the Lusitania was listing rapidly and it was difficult standing on the deck. The curious thing was that by this time there was no one near me. Passengers reassured by Captain Turner had gone down to get their valuables and go forth, but whatever the cause, I was quite alone.
’I shut my eyes and jumped, and by a merciful providence landed right into a boat in the water. Just then the Lusitania sank and her funnel came right over us. How we were not sucked down, I cannot imagine. We all thought the end had come, but she somehow kept her balance, and when I looked around Margaret was no longer in the boat.
Escape of Mrs. Gwyer.
’I shall never forget that awful moment. It had been bad enough seeing her in the boat, but the sea was calm and I thought that with wreckage, etc., even if I wasn’t picked up I should be able to get on something till rescue came. The idea of being drowned never seemed near at all, but when she was washed overboard, I never thought I should see her again. She was sucked down one funnel and then driven out again and picked up, bruised indeed, but thoroughly cheerful. We met again on a fishing boat, and I could not attempt to describe that to you, but you can perhaps imagine it a little. The whole thing was horrible, and we can only hope that our lives, so wonderfully preserved, may be of some use to God and His church.’
Here for Five Years.
Mr. Gwyer was a member of the railway mission of the Anglican Church in Western Canada for the past five years, resigning in April, 1915, to accept a parish at Muirfield, Yorkshire, England, under the Bishop of Wakefield. Mr. Gwyer was married at Regina on Thursday, April 15, to Miss Margaret Cairns, of Qu’Appelle.’’ (Saskatoon Phoenix, 14 June 1915, front page)
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