StaffCaptain james Clarke Anderson. Image courtesy Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.
Some years ago I took my father to the Old Head of Kinsale in Ireland where we stayedin a remote hotel with superb views over the Irish Sea. Underneath the choppy, sunli****ers lay the twisted wreck of the Lusitania. Dad felt particularly sad because oneof his earliest memories was seeing a mob attack a German baker?s shop in Liverpoolafter the sinking.
The destruction of the Cunard luxury liner by a German U-boat submarine sent shockwaves around the world.
The disaster was one of the most horrific incidents at sea during the First WorldWar (1914 ? 18) and came as the ship was heading for Liverpool, a port where she wasmuch-loved.
She was sent to the bottom on a bright sunny day. Early that year the German governmentdeclared that all Allied ships would be in danger of attack in British waters. Lusitaniasailed from New York on 1 May 1915 with 1,962 people of board.
At 2.10 pm on 7 May the liner was struck by a torpedo fired by U-20. It blew a massivehole in Lusitania?s side and she sank in less than 20 minutes with the loss of 1,201lives.
The sinking of this unarmed passenger ship caused international outrage and therewere riots in Liverpool, London and other cities around the world.
The German government claimed that Lusitania was carrying military supplies and thereis some evidence to support this. However, British and American inquiries later declaredthe sinking to be unlawful.
This event devastated the tightly-knit dockland communities in north Liverpool wheremost of Lusitania?s crew lived. A total of 404 crew members died, including many LiverpoolIrish seamen.
A photo on display (pictured) shows Staff Captain James Clarke Anderson, the mostsenior Lusitania officer to die in the sinking. His body was returned to Liverpooland buried in Longmoor Lane Cemetery, Fazakerley.
The fascinating exhibition Titanic,Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress at Merseyside Maritime Museum looks at thetragedy. There are a number of items from the ship with stories behind them
There is a lifebuoyfrom the Lusitania ? a rare survivor of the sinking.
Captain William Turner, from Crosby, survived after struggling for three hours inthe sea. The British government tried to blame him for loss of his ship but he wascleared of any wrong-doing by the official inquiry. A picture on display shows himon deck.
The Maritime Archivesand Library also hold a lot of relevant material about the Lusitania. You canread more online with informationsheet number 42: RMS Lusitania.
A new Maritime Tale by Stephen Guy appears every Saturday in the LiverpoolEcho. A paperback ? Mersey Maritime Tales (?3.99) ? is available from the museum,newsagents, bookshops or from the MerseyShop website (?1.50 p&p UK).