Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Lusitania

You are a up and coming Blogger who just happened to be on vacation in Ireland when the Lusitania was sunk. Your location and your occupation gives you the perfect opportunity to be the FIRST to present first-hand accounts of what happened to the Lusitania. Due to the nature of blogs you will want to keep your blog short and accurate.

Go through the numerous primary sources below and retell the story of the Lusitania. Include as many significant details as you can. Be sure to answer the basic questions of any story: Who? What? When? Where? Why? 


What actually happened to the Lusitania and her passenger on the afternoon of May 7, 1915? The first reports of the sinking to reach America were confused and sketchy. Americans, particularly those who had friends or relatives on board, were eager for more information on the fate of their loved ones. Below you will find several different accounts of the sinking of the Lusitania.

Newspaper account: New York World on May 8, 1915.

The Cunard Liner Lusitania was torpedoed, supposedly by German submarines shortly after 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, ten miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, near Munster, Ireland. She sank fifteen minutes later. The company states that no warning was given her. The Lusitania carried 2,104 persons when she sailed from New York. The meager, confused reports so far received make it uncertain how many of these have been saved. A steward of the first boat that reached Queenstown with survivors from the liner said he feared that 900 lives had been lost.

Newspaper reports account: Queenstown, Ireland on May 9, 1915:

“The tugboat StormShuttle has returned here, bringing about 150 survivors of the Lusitania, among whom were many women, several of the crew, and one steward. Describing the experience of the Lusitania the steward said:
‘The passengers were at lunch when a submarine came up and fired two torpedoes which hit the Lusitania on the starboard side, one forward and the other in the engine room. They caused several explosions. Captain Turner immediately ordered the boats out. The ship began to tilt badly. Ten boats were put into the water, and between 400 and 500 passengers entered the lifeboats. I fear that few of the officers were saved. They acted bravely. There was only fifteen minutes from the time the ship was struck until she foundered and sank, bow first. It was a dreadful sight.’”

Official ship diary of Captain Schwieger, Commander of the U-boat that sunk the Lusitania:

May 6, 1915
...The voyage to the St. George’s Channel had consumed so much of our fuel oil that it would be impossible for us to return (to German) around the southern end of Ireland if we had now continued to Liverpool. I intended to return as soon as two-fifths of our fuel is used up. I intend to avoid, if at all possible, the trip through the North Channel on account of the type of service which U-20 encounter there on her last trip. Only three torpedoes are still available, of which I wish to save two, if possible, for the return trip.
May 7, 1915
3:10 p.m. Ahead to starboard four funnels and two masts of a steamer with course perpendicular to us came into sight. Ship is made out to be large passenger steamer.

Submerged to a depth of 11 meters and went ahead at full speed, taking a course converging with the one of the steamer, hoping it might change its course to starboard along the Irish coast.

The steamer turns to starboard, takes course to Queenstown, thus making possible an approach for a shot. Until 3:00 p.m., we ran high speed in order to gain position directly ahead.

Clean bow shot at a distance of 700 meters (G-torpedo, 3 meters depth adjustment); angle 90, estimated speed 22 knots. Torpedo hits starboard side right behind the bridge.

An unusually heavy detonation takes place with a very strong explosion cloud. The explosion of the torpedo must have been followed by a second on board (boiler, coal, or gun powder). The super-structure above the point of impact and bridge are torn apart, fire breaks out, and smoke envelopes the high bridge.

The ship stops immediately and keels over to starboard very quickly, immersing simultaneously at the bow. It appears as if the ship were going to capsize very shortly. Great confusion ensures on board; the lifeboats are released and they are lowered into the water. In doing so, a great panic must have reigned; some boats, full to capacity, are rushed and sink immediately.

3:25 The ship blows off its excess steam; on the bow the name Lusitania becomes visible in golden letters. Ship was running 22 knots. Since it seems as if the steamer will keep above the water only a short time, we dived to a depth of 24 meters and ran out to sea. It would have been impossible for me to fire a second torpedo into this crowd of people struggling to save their lives.

Newspaper reports account: London Times on May 9, 1915

“Seven torpedoes were fired by the attacking German craft, one of them striking the Lusitania midship. This would indicate that at least two submarines were waiting for the ship, since the newest types of undersea boats carry but six torpedo tubes...”

Excerpts from three interviews with survivors of the Lusitania.

Oliver P. Bernard (passenger)
“I think I can say I was one of the few people who really saw a torpedo discharges at the Lusitania. Coming on deck from the dining salon, I was leaning against the starboard rail of the ship when I saw the periscope of a submarine about 200 yards away. Then I noticed a long, white streak of foam. It gave me the impression of frothy, sizzling water. Almost immediately there was a terrific impact, followed by an explosion.”

Dr. Carl E. Foss (passenger)
“I was traveling second class, and on May 7th, I was leaning against the port side of the ship, looking off towards the Irish coast. It was just at 1:30 that I noticed something low in the water about a mile away.”

Ernest Cowper (passenger)
“I was chatting with a friend at the rail about 2:00 when suddenly I caught a glimpse of the conning tower of a submarine about 1000 yards distant. I immediately called my friend’s attention to it. We both saw the track of a torpedo...”


  1. The ship Lusitania was torpedoed by German submarines near Ireland. No warning was ever given and the Lusitania sunk in a matter of fifteen minutes. -Courtney Roberts

  2. The Lusitania was hit by two torepedos fired by the Germans . The first one hit the front of the ship , the second hitting the engine room causing an explosion
    -Anna Werner

  3. Well around 12 ish a torpedo hit the U.S ship. An rough guess was made around 7 torpedo's were shot. The ship was shrinking but very slowly , so they has time to put people in the lifeboats.around 400 -500 people made it.

    Austin driessen

  4. The Lusitania was torpedoed by the german. The first hit the front of the ship and the second hit the engine. The captain sent out the safety boats but not all of the passengers could fit on them. The Lusitania sunk.
    -Arin Krass

  5. On May 7th, 1915 in the early afternoon around 2:30 a German U-boat fired and hit the Lusitania near the Irish coast. About 20 minutes later the big ship sank and took the lives of 900 passengers with it.

    Brett Streck

  6. May 7 2:39am as the submarine shot down the ship, on the Irish coast. Many locals see the ship sink 200 yards away.
    Cole stefl

  7. Off the shore of Ireland the Lusitania was traveling on the sea when a sudden blast hit the boat. It has been reported that two torpedoes hit the ship. Only about 400 to 500 people made it to the lifeboats. It has been estimated that about 900 people lost their lives on May 7 1915

    Brady Townsend

  8. Around 2:00pm on May 7, 1915 the Lusitania was struck by a German torpedo. The German U-Boat was waiting for the ship. There were 2,100 passengers aboard the ship, 900 of them didn't make it.

    Jimmy Hooyman

  9. The lusitania was hit by torpedoes by a german u-boat around 2:00. The ship was sinking really fast and some people made it on to life boats, but around 900 people died.

  10. Kairei Van GompelFebruary 09, 2012 2:58 PM

    Shortly after noon, a torpedo struck the starboard side of the ship Luistania. Around 2,000 individuals were on the boat when it was struck, and a majority of these individuals died. A German-shot torpedo struck the ship at about 22 knots. Aide me in prayer for these lost souls.

  11. Around 2:00, 6 torpedoes were fired from one U-boat, 1 shot from another boat. It took the Lusitania 15 minutes to sink and kill 800 passengers out of 2,104.
    My name is Brett Bethke.

  12. 2 german u boats fired 7 torpedoes at the Lusitania which was traveling at 22 knots. Just off the shore of Ireland was the final destination of this ship when it sunk quite quickly from the blasts. A lot of people were forced to abandon ship but many were not so lucky. An estimated 900 people died but it ended up being about 1100 or so.

    Mitchell b

  13. Michael Powell
    Somewhere around 2:30, on May 15, 1915, The Lusitania was destroyed, taking two torpedoes to the starboard side. This impact created a great explosion and allowed many others to view this from miles away. The Lusitania was surrounded by two submarines, having seven torpedoes fired in the first place. Many have been affected by this attack and hundreds were killed. Many. Lives have been changed and this will always be remembered.

  14. The Lusitania was hit by a single torpedo fired by a German submarine. The torpedo was fired at the ship on May 7th 1915 and hit the Lusitania on the starboard side of the ship. This caused a larger explosion than expected because it blew up the boiler room as well. The boat was carrying 2104 passengers and on a few hundred survived.

    1. Collin kandler post above

  15. The ship Lusitania was off the coast of Ireland, when it was torpedoed by German submarines. Multiple torpedoes were fired around 2:00. The first torpedo hit the front of the ship and the second one hit the engine. Not all of the passengers could fit on the safety boats
    -Lauren Van Handel

  16. The Lusianata was first hit with a torpedo in the front, and then the 2nd one hit the engine. This happened off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. It was estimated that about 900 people lost their lives.

    Mallory Armitage

  17. On May 7, 1915 ten miles off the Old Head of Kinsol two torpedo's hit the Lusitania ship. Passengers say the torpedo's hit around two that afternoon and hit the engine room and the starboard. After the ship was hit ten life boats where sent out in the water. Between 400-500 people entered the boats. At the end about 900 people died.