Lusitania Torpedoed; 1198 Lives Lost Off Coast of Ireland
President Wilson Warns Germany She Will be Held to "Strict Accountability"
The whole civilized world was horrified to learn, on May 7, 1915, that the Cunard Line Steamship Lusitania, bound from New York to Liverpool with 1959 persons aboard, of whom 179 were Americans, had been torpedoed off the southwestern coast of Ireland and 1198 lives lost. The toll of death included 114 Americans and 35 infants. Many persons of distinction went down with the Lusitania, including Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Charles Froh- man, Charles Klein, Elbert Hubbard," Justus Miles Forman, and William T. Stead.
German Warnings Published in New York
Nine days before the time set for the sailing of the Lusitania, all the notable Americans who had booked passage on the ship were warned by anonymous telegrams to cancel their engagements.
A further warning appeared on the day the ship sailed, in the form of advertisements in the New York dailies, giving notice to neutral travelers that the Zone of War included the waters adjacent to the British Isle and that all vessels flying the British flag were liable to destruction in those waters. To counteract this threat, the agent of the Cunard Line assured the passengers that no danger need be apprehended. Very few of the passengers canceled their bookings. So the Lusitania was permitted to steam out of New York Harbor on the appointed day.
Two Torpedoes Strike the Lusitania
All went well until 2 o'clock on the afternoon of May 7, 1915, when the Lusitania, then some ten miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, the most southerly point of Ireland, sighted a submarine. Without warning, torpedoes in quick succession struck the ship, crashing through the hull and opening a large cavity through which the water entered. Many seamen were killed outright or injured by the explosions.
Rescue Ships Threatened
Boats were lowered in haste, only to capsize in the placid sea. The listin...