Ward's Book of Days.
Pages of interesting anniversaries.
What happened on this day in history.
On this day in history in 1915, The Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat.
The Lusitania was a British ocean liner built by John Brown and Company on the Clyde. She was travelling from New York to Liverpool with 1959 passengers and crew when she was torpedoed without warning, off the coast of Ireland, by the German submarine U-20 and sank within twenty minutes with the loss of 1195 lives.
The British accused the Germans of attacking an unarmed passenger vessel. The Germans claimed that The Lusitania was carrying munitions. This was probably true. Shells and rifle ammunition were imported from North America despite United States legal provisions against armaments being carried on civilian vessels.
The United States were indignant at the loss of 128 of their citizens in the incident. The Germans responded that they had given warning. German Embassy officials in New York had handed out leaflets on the dockside to passengers, stating that the Lusitania was a target.
A German metalworker struck several commemorative medals celebrating this alleged German triumph. In response, Selfridges of London produced alternative medals denouncing the German atrocity and had them distributed in aid of The British Red Cross.
The German Admiralty were obliged to suspend U-Boat activity due to the outrage of the American government. Later in 1917, when the Germans resumed U-Boat attacks, The United States joined The First World War by declaring war on Germany.
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