May 7th, 1915 – German Submarine Sinks Passenger Ship!

Today-In-History

The sinking of the Cunard ocean liner RMS Lusitania occurred on May 7th, 1915 during the First World War, as Germany waged submarine warfare against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The ship was identified and torpedoed by the German U-boat U-20 and sank in 18 minutes. The vessel went down 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 and leaving 761 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.

RMS Lusitania 680

Lusitania had the misfortune to fall victim to torpedo attack relatively early in the First World War, before tactics for evading submarines were properly implemented or understood. The contemporary investigations in both the UK and the United States into the precise causes of the ship’s loss were obstructed by the needs of wartime secrecy and a propaganda campaign to ensure all blame fell upon Germany. Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made misleading claims about the ship. At the time she was sunk, she was carrying a large quantity of rifle cartridges and non-explosive shell casings, as well as civilian passengers. Several attempts have been made over the years since the sinking to dive to the wreck seeking information about precisely how the ship sank, and argument continues to the present day.


 

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