Beds, Herts & Bucks

Last known Lusitania survivor, 95, dies

Audrey Lawson-Johnston
Image caption Mrs Lawson-Johnston's family was emigrating from America when the Lusitania was hit

The last known survivor from the Lusitania ocean liner that was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915 has died.

Audrey Lawson-Johnston from Melchbourne in Bedfordshire died in the early hours of Tuesday aged 95.

She was three months old when the liner bound for Liverpool from New York sank off the Irish coast on 7 May.

Mrs Lawson-Johnston's family had been emigrating to England when the boat was hit in an attack that killed hundreds, including her sisters.

One of her daughters, Margie Clarke, from Northampton, said her mother suffered a stroke early in December and had been in hospital ever since.

She said she was due to be moved to a nursing home on Tuesday, the day she died.

"She was so witty, to the end," she said. "That's what we want her funeral to be, full of colour. We want people to laugh.

"She always said 'I was put on this earth for some reason, I was saved for some reason' and she jolly well was; she made everyone laugh.

"She was a remarkable woman and she had a remarkable life."

In an interview with the BBC in May, Mrs Lawson-Johnston said: "I hope I'm living up to worth being saved."

Her father worked for the American Embassy and the family was attracted to a life in Britain for a British education, she said.

Her brother Stuart was educated at Eton College and the University of Oxford. Mrs Lawson-Johnston attended a school in Kent.

Image caption The Lusitania sank in 18 minutes and more than half of the 1,959 passengers died

She was in a cabin with her nanny Alice Lines when the torpedo struck.

Ms Lines took her and her brother Stuart out on the deck and delivered them safely into a lifeboat, which was 17 miles from land.

Two of her sisters, Susan and Amy, drowned when the vessel sank in 18 minutes.

Mrs Lawson-Johnston had credited Ms Lines with saving her life and the pair remained in touch until the latter died in 1997 aged 100.

Mrs Lawson-Johnston leaves behind three daughters and 10 grandchildren.

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