The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

William James Lewis

LEWIS, William James aka Robert James

William James Lewis was born on the 17th of March 1887 in Holyhead to James Lewis and Mary Jane Hughes. He was the fourth of their six children, two of whom died young. James was an ‘Engine Stoker’ and later a ‘Railway Engine Driver’. In the 1901 census the eldest son Hugh was a ‘Steward on a Steam Ship’, and in the 1911 census he was included but crossed out as a Steward, and ‘Abroad’. William gave his occupation as Butcher in 1911, while the youngest son Richard was an ‘Engine Fitter’.

It appears that William James Lewis also went to sea but, according to family stories, jumped ship at the beginning or early in the war, possibly from a German ship. Returning to Wales he assumed the name ‘Robert William Lewis’ which is the name under which he was registered with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Co. In October 1918 he was employed on RMS Leinster as 2nd Cook.

He survived the sinking and received the Victory Medal and the Merchant Navy Medal, with the name Robert J Lewis inscribed on it. He married Ada Feltham in June 1926, under his birth name, William, and they had three children. Together they ran a chip shop in Holyhead, and later he was a chef in the Beach Hotel, Treaddur Bay. He died in May 1934, aged forty-six, when his youngest son was not yet two years old. He was buried in Maeshyfrydd Cemetery, the grave beside his being that of Hugh Jones, a Fireman on the Leinster, who had died in 1918. William’s wife had difficulty getting her pension because of his change of name.


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