Roll Back the Clouds, my new novel about the Lusitania, releases on March 17. Many of the passengers aboard the ill-fated, final voyage appear alongside main characters, Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard. I’ll be profiling several of them here. This week, meet the Crompton family.
Paul and Gladys Crompton married in 1900 and had six children. Because Paul traveled frequently for the Booth Group (parent company of the Lusitania) and usually took his family with him, the children were born in different places around the world.
In 1915, while living in Philadelphia, Paul was offered a position with Booth Steamship Company, and the family planned to move to England. The Lusitania was their usual mode of transportation. Along with nurse Dorothy Allen (for eight-month-old Peter), the family occupied staterooms D-56, D-58, and D-60. The children made so much noise that the passenger in D-54 requested another cabin.
As the Lusitania sank, another passenger said he saw Paul Crompton fastening a lifebelt to baby Peter, and he himself helped one of the daughters adjust her belt. None of the family survived. The bodies of the three sons, Stephen, 17, John, 6, and Peter were recovered.
In Roll Back the Clouds, Rosaleen meets Gladys and several of her children. She later gives Peter a bottle in the nursery, and identifies John and Peter in a morgue.