Propeller From The RMS Lusitania
Situated on the grounds of the Hilton Anatole hotel is one of the propellers from the RMS Lusitania, the British ocean liner sunk by the German submarine U Boat-20 on May 7, 1915 during World War I. The ship was hit eleven miles off the Irish coast and sank quickly in only 18 minutes. Of the 1,1959 passengers on board, including children, only 761 survived. Among those who perished were 128 Americans. The bodies of many victims were recovered and buried but the rest are still entombed in the ship at the bottom of the ocean. Unsurprisingly, the sinking of the Lusitania sparked outrage within neutral countries, including the United States. As a result, American public opinion began to turn against the U.S. government's policy of neutrality. However, the United States did not enter the war for another two years.
Backstory and Context
The Lusitania embarked on its last trip on May 1, 1915 from New York City to Liverpool. A month earlier, Germany had declared the seas around Britain a war zone and the British government warned the Lusitania to avoid the waters south of Ireland, which had seen some U-Boat activity. The Lusitania was also advised to zigzag and change its course at varying intervals and times to make it difficult for U-Boats to shoot their torpedoes. Tragically, the Lusitania's captain, William Thomas Turner, disregarded these warnings and suggestions. He slowed the ship down (due to fog, apparently) and too close to the shore.
The commander of the U-Boat, Walter Schwieger, ordered his crew to fire. The torpedo struck the ship on the starboard (right) side toward the front. Another explosion occurred soon after, this time from within the hull. In just 18 minutes, the Lusitania was gone. Captain Turner survived the attack.
The Germans knew that the Lusitania was not only carrying passengers; it was also carrying around 173 tons of rifle ammunition and shells. The Germans, in fact, warned that they would sink the ship. For this reason, they felt justified in their actions.
"Lusitania." PBS.org, text excerpted from the book Lost Liners, by Robert D. Ballard and Rick Archbold. Accessed July 15, 2019. https://www.pbs.org/lostliners/lusitania.html.
Propeller - The Historical Marker Database
Lusitania - Wikimedia Commons