The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Lewis Lewis

LEWIS, Lewis (Llewellyn)

Lewis Lewis (sometimes recorded as Llewellyn Lewis) was born in Holyhead in 1879 to Lewis William Lewis and his wife Ann Jones, both of whom were also born in Holyhead. Lewis was the youngest of eight children and the family lived in Newry Street in the harbour area of the town. Lewis William Lewis, who died in 1883, was a Ship’s Steward, working with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company and two of his three sons, William John and Lewis, followed him in that career. The third son, Robert, also went to sea, as a sailor, and was Second Mate on the Cambrian Monarch in 1904 when he drowned trying to recover the ship’s lifeboat in heavy seas off the coast of Chile. Six men drowned in the incident, including two others from Anglesey. Also on board that ship was a Kingstown sailor, John Rowlands, whose father was from Holyhead but then was working as Piermaster in Kingstown for the CDSPCo. John’s first cousin, Hugh Rowlands, Ticket Clerk, from Holyhead, was lost on RMS Leinster on 10th October 1918.

Lewis’s brother William married Jane Davies in 1893 and they lived in Newry Street, and in 1899 one of his sisters, Elizabeth, married William Mathias from Holyhead and they too lived in Newry Street.

Mathias also worked for the CDSPCo and was the Acting Chief Engineer on the RMS Leinster on 10th October 1918. In the 1911 Census William’s job title was ‘Superintendent of Catering on Steamships’. In the 1901 census Lewis himself gave his occupation as ‘Ship Steward RMS’ and by 1911 he was ‘Chief Steward CDSPCo Mail Services’. In that census he was shown to be married, but that has yet to be confirmed. In 1918 he was Chief Steward on RMS Leinster.

On the 10th October 1918 both Lewis brothers and their brother-in-law William Mathias were on board RMS Leinster, though William John Lewis was apparently not on duty. Lewis Lewis, the only one of the three to survive the sinking wrote an account of the event in January 1919 on official CDSPCo notepaper. In the account he mentioned that he was speaking to his brother when the torpedo hit; he organized lifejackets for several passengers before falling into a lifeboat with a woman hanging on to him. They picked up several more people from life rafts and were eventually brought to safety by HMS Lively. On 18th October 1918 the North Wales Chronicle reported that Lewis Lewis had been promoted to Superintending Steward in succession to his brother, William John Lewis, who had been lost in the sinking of the RMS Leinster.


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