Debbie mourns Titanic relative

Debbie McIlwaine, who lost relative David Charters on board the Titanic
Debbie McIlwaine, who lost relative David Charters on board the Titanic
Share this article

A LYTHAM businesswoman has recently discovered a relative perished in the Titanic disaster — as the world marks the centenary of the liner’s sinking.

While researching the family tree, a relation of Debbie McIlwaine, proprietor of No.4 The Salon, Pleasant Street, found that a distant relative was one of 1,500 who perished in the Atlantic on April 15, 1912.

Debbie’s great, great grandmother’s cousin, farmer David Charters, 21, embarked at Queenstown, now Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, on April 11, 1912.

One of 10 children, he paid seven pounds 14 shillings and eight pence for a third class passage to New York — ticket no. 13032 — and looked forward to a new life, joining his uncle, entrepreneur, David Vance in New York City.

“David’s body was never recovered, but his name’s on the memorial tombstone in his hometown of Longford,” explained Debbie, 41.

“My father worked at Harland and Wolff dockland, Belfast, where the ship was designed and built, and has a huge book collection on the legend of the Titanic.

“Dad was actually born on the same day as David, and also comes from a farming background.

“We believe another relative also perished alongside his wife and children, but as yet we haven’t any information or evidence to support this,” says mother-of-two Debbie,

“We’re planning a family reunion at the Titanic quarter in Ireland, next month with my parents, sister and my grandmother’s side of the family to show our respects.

“This is part of my heritage and it’s important we remember people like David, who may have been one of the many terrified steerage passengers locked behind gates and unable to get on to the deck as the ship went down.

“We should never forget them and all who lost their lives.”

St Annes Chamber of Trade co-ordinator Arnold Sumner has been carrying out research into the town’s tragic Titanic passenger Arthur Gee and plans to mark the Titanic centenary with the launch of a rocket firework at St Annes beach.

No official commemoration is organised but Mr Sumner hopes youngsters will go along on Saturday to build sandcastles in memory of the Titanic victims. Mr Gee, a father of four from Riley Avenue, was 47 and was travelling to Mexico on business.