Maurice the Bear became a ‘passenger’ on Cunard’s Lusitania’s on her fateful crossing (1 – 7 May 1915) after being purchased by an Englishman who had been working in New York and who was about to return home. He wanted to buy a gift for his young daughter before leaving and decided on a Teddy Bear. He packed the Teddy in his trunk which he delivered to the dock and which was put on Lusitania.
The man was also booked on the same voyage but at the last moment, something happened which forced him to catch the next ship to England, but his trunk was already packed and so went ahead of him.
On 7 May 1915 Lusitania was struck by a torpedo and sank within 18 minutes with the loss of 1,195 lives. The luggage which carried the little bear was later pulled out of the water after Lusitania had sunk and Maurice was finally given to his daughter. Maurice’s current owner, Lorraine Hitchings, will bring him on Queen Victoria which travels to the site of the wreck and to Cobh, Ireland, for the centenary commemorations on 7 May.
“When I first saw him – before I knew anything about his history – I was strangely attracted to him. He kind of oozed history and he makes me feel very humble when I hold him. Taking him back to where it all happened will, I hope, dispel any ghosts that maybe still haunt him. He really is a very special old Teddy Bear.”