The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

May Westwell


May Westwell was born on the 17th of May 1888 in Warrington, Lancashire to William Walter Westwell and Ellen Critchley. William was a Coal Merchant in a family business started by his father. May was the eldest of William and Ellen’s four children, the second and third, Ada and Herbert, dying in infancy. The fourth, William Walter, was born in 1895. The family lived in Lovely Lane in Warrington and May won a scholarship to Warrington Secondary School in 1903. She went to the Teacher Training College in Warrington, going on to teach in Manchester and, from 1912, in Evelyn Street primary school in Warrington. She and her family were part of the congregation at St Barnabas Church in Lovely Lane.

William Westwell died in 1914 at the age of sixty-three, leaving over two and a half thousand pounds to his widow. In March 1918 May applied to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Established in 1917 to provide back-up to the main army, most of the over 57,000 women served at home, though some did go to the battlefields. May initially was appointed as an Assistant Administrator on probation at a hostel in Belfast, being officially appointed to headquarters in Dublin in August 1918.

She was returning home for a brief leave when she travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October. She did not survive the sinking but she was noted by a surviving passenger, a Canadian Major, for her courage and bravery. Her body was recovered and she was buried in the Military Cemetery in Grangegorman, Dublin.




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