Edward Cunningham was killed on the 12th June 1917 whilst serving as an oiler (greaser) aboard the U.S.S. Moreni, a tanker with the Standard Oil Company.
The Moreni was sunk by gun-fire from a u-boat, in the Mediterranean some 17 miles southwest of Tabarca Island, Spain. She sailed from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the 19th May 1917 with a cargo of gasoline consigned to the Italian-American Oil Company at Savona, Italy.
Two of the crew, Chief Boatswain's Mate Gardiner Conover and Chief Gunner's Mate Andrew Copassaki, were awarded the Navy Cross for their heroic action during the attack. [homeofheroes]
Four of the civilian crew were killed:
"Edward Cunningham, of Brooklyn, was drowned while escaping to a boat. Wireless Operator G. Curran. Jr., of New York, died of heart failure in the lifeboat, and one seaman. E. Moustner. was injured by gunfire and died in a lifeboat. Fireman A. Geisen also died of wounds. These last two were treated by the surgeon of the submarine."  

 The Greensboro Patriot [June 18, 1917]

"As the crew left the Moreni all the sea about them was aflame with burning oil. Through this inferno the men rowed frantically, seeking deep water. Many were burned and scalded. Fiery tongues shot up around their frail lifeboats. Cunningham, the oiler who fell into the water, was burning when he drowned."

 New York Evening Call  [June 16, 1917]

The four crewman are not officially American war dead as, "It is apparent that the Moreni was at the time of her destruction being privately operated for private profit as a merchant vessel, and for the reasons heretofore given the Commission holds that she does not fall within the excepted class". Auke Visser's International Esso Tankers
Edward Cunningham is commemorated on the Bootle Civic Memorials.
Although there a number of men by the name of Edward Cunningham in the Bootle area the most likely candidate was the son of John Cunningham and Margaret Jane (nee Dewhurst) of 40 Olivia Street, Bootle.
He was born at Bootle in 1891. One of seven children, three of his brothers - John, James and Hugh - survived childhood. At the time of the 1911 census Edward was not at home with his parents, and was probably away at sea. His father and brother John were both employees of the American Line shipping company.