What was the Lusitania?
The Lusitania was a British luxury cruise ship. In 1907, the Lusitania was the largest ship in the world, travelling mostly across the Atlantic Ocean between Britain and the United States. The Lusitania was 787 feet long and could carry 3048 passengers and crew.
Leading up to the Attack
The First World War had begun in 1914. The British and French were fighting against the advancing Germans on the western front. Supplies for the British war effort were being transported through shipping lanes around Britain. The Germans tried to seize control of the shipping lanes by using their navy, however the British navy managed to stop the German navy.
Eventually, the Germans changed their tactics, as they used submarines to attack the British ships. The Germans called their submarines U-boats.
Departure of the Lusitania
Despite the German warning (that they would attack any allied ship in the seas around Britain), the Lusitania departed from New York on the 1st of May, 1915 and was on its way to Liverpool, England. 1959 people boarded the Lusitania, including 159 Americans.
The Germans Attack
On the 7th of May 1915, as the Lusitania began to approach the coast of Ireland, the u-boat-U-20 had been spotted. The u-boat moved in to attack immediately and fired a torpedo. The German torpedo made a solid impact on the side of the ship causing a huge explosion which was felt throughout the ship.
The sinking of the Lusitania
Immediately after the torpedo had hit, the Lusitania began to sink. Captain William Turner (captain of the Lusitania, 1856-1933), ordered that the ship should head for the Irish coast, however it was no use. Moments later, Turner gave the order to abandon ship. 20 minutes after the torpedo had struck, 1198 civilians had been killed.