Mr. Charles Warren Bowring

Charles Warren Bowring, 44, was an Englishman representing a branch of his family firm, Bowring Shipowners and Agents in New York. He was at lunch when the torpedo struck Lusitania. He jumped off the starboard side as the ship was sinking. He was rescued by Bluebell


Bowring had seen the German warning in the newspapers before sailing and kept the newspaper in his pocket. His cabin on the Lusitania was B-50 and ticket number was 46153, for which he paid $180.00.  

On the day of the disaster, he was tossing the medicine ball among him, Purser James McCubbin, and Elbert Hubbard.  As Elbert and Alice Hubbard tossed a tennis ball around, Charles took the elevator down to lunch. His table companions were Charles and Irene Paynter.

Bowring was sitting down at lunch on D Deck at the purser’s starboard table when he heard a “concentrated thud”.  The second explosion “broke the ports and I saw the column of water”.  He found the doctor telling everyone to keep calm as he ascended the stairs.  Charles went to his B Deck cabin, got lifebelts and went to A Deck on the portside. He gave them away and helped Irene Paynter properly adjust hers. He went back down and got two more and found a third in the hallway.

As he prepared to jump from the starboard side, Bowring kicked off his shoes and tucked his glasses into his jacket.  Looking back, he saw a crowded lifeboat, presumably #3 or #7, being dragged under by the mother ship.  As he was swimming, he was caught by one of the funnels as it brushed by him, but he escaped. He made it to a flatbottom boat with one of the officers.  The boat was half-filled with water and the two men used their hands to bail themselves out.  For the next two hours the men dived in and out of the water, pulling about twenty, a number of them women, to safety.  An even larger number of people that they had tried to save, however, “were already dead.”

Those on the boat were rescued by the Bluebell.  On board, Bowring saw Margaret Mackworth, unconscious, drift by in a wicker chair before she was picked up by the sailors.

Disembarking at Queenstown, Bowring took out his glasses and saw that they were all covered with newsprint pulp.  Examining the paper more closely, he saw that on the paper was the German warning that had appeared in newspapers the morning the Lusitania sailed.

Below is a description from The New York Times, Sunday, May 9, 1915, page 5, column 2:

“One of those that was saved when the Lusitania went down was Charles W. Bowring of Bowring and Co, owners of the Red Cross line, 17 Battery Place, whose steamers ply between New York and St. Johns, Newfoundland. His safety was made known in this cable received by his wife in her home, 160 East Seventy-Fourth Street,, at 11 A.M.,: ‘Queenstown, May 8. Torpedoed without warning, port [sic] side. Jumped overboard, starboard side. In water four hours. No ill effects. Queens Hotel.’ Mr. Bowring is President of the St. George’s Society in New York and is also in charge of the Prince of Wales Relief Fund in America. He went abroad on business.”

Paul Latimer
Michael Poirier
Judith Tavares

Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkeley Books, 2002.

The New York Times, Sunday, May 9, 1915, page 5, column 2.

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