b. 16/05/1902 Haworth, Yorkshire. d. 08/11/1974 Fleetwood, Lancashire.
DATE OF GC ACTION: 30/05/1918 SS Ausonia.
Maurice Lister (1902-1974) was born on 16th May 1902 in Haworth, Yorkshire, the third son of Wright and Alice Lister (nee Goodall). Maurice’s father was a butcher and later owned a shop in West Hartlepool. Little more is known of Maurice’s childhood, though he did follow in his father’s footsteps and became a butcher.
Maurice gained employment with the Cunard Steam Ship Company (part of the Mercantile Marine) and became assistant butcher aboard the SS Ausonia, which during the Great War, was used for war service.
On 30th May 1918, the SS Ausonia was 620 miles W xS3/4S from Fastnett, on a passage from London to New York when it was torpedoed and at once began to settle down and finally disappeared twenty minutes after being struck. Lister (aged 16) and a pantry boy (Matthew Robinson, aged 17 from Seaforth), both of whom were on their first voyage, were below in a cooling chamber when the explosion occurred, and they both received serious injuries. When Lister regained, consciousness he found that both his ankles were helpless. He made his way to the top of the stairs, but found that the door was jammed. There was, however, a hatchway opening overhead, and Lister placed some of the planking, which had been blown up, against this opening in order to clamber up the planking and escape. Hearing cries of distress at this moment, however, he returned and searched the chamber on his hands and knees until he found Robinson with both legs broken, and managed by half dragging and half supporting him to get him up the planking to the steps leading to the deck. Other members of the crew then assisted both boys into boats, which were picked up after several days. The pantry boy, after being taken to hospital, succumbed to his injuries.
Lister was left severely disabled by his injuries, and it came to the attention of the Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and the then Leader of the Labour Party, Mr Anderson, about his plight and need for financial help. Sadly, it is not clear if Maurice received any assistance at all. Maurice was awarded the Albert Medal on 15th October 1918, and also received the British War Medal 1914-20, Mercantile Marine Medal and Victory Medal 1914-19.
After the war, Maurice settled in Burnley, Lancashire, where he met and married Florence Haugh in 1922. They went on to have one child, but life was hard for both of them with Maurice unable to work. Little is known about Maurice’s later life, except that his wife pre-deceased him, and he ended his life living in Fleetwood, Lancashire. At the time of the 1971 change in the Royal Warrant, Maurice was unaware of the opportunity to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross. He passed away on 8th November 1974 and was cremated on the 14th at Carleton Crematorium in Fleetwood. It is only in recent years that Maurice has been “discovered” as having missed the 1971 exchange and is a GC. His medals are held in a private collection.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL LOCATION: CARLETON CREMATORIUM, FLEETWOOD, LANCASHIRE.