Wednesday 28 September 2016

Funeral re-enacted for victims of the Lusitania

By Michael McHugh

Published 10/05/2015 | 23:12

Garda horses leading the reenactment of the Lusitania funerals of 1915 in Cobh, Co Cork. Photo: @GardaTraffic/PA Wire
Garda horses leading the reenactment of the Lusitania funerals of 1915 in Cobh, Co Cork. Photo: @GardaTraffic/PA Wire

The mass funeral of more than 145 victims of the Lusitania tragedy has been re-enacted in Cork.

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Garda horses led the procession to the Old Church Cemetery in Cobh where many of the victims were interred.

The original ceremony was recreated as closely as possible, with horse-drawn hearses, a marching band and people in period clothing, according to a Facebook page run by the Cobh community.

The Cunard British cruise liner was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of southern Ireland on May 7 1915, with the loss of 1,201 lives.

Among the 1,266 passengers and around 696 crew, there were 129 children, of whom 94 perished as the ship, sailing from New York, sank in just 18 minutes. Cobh was one of the closest ports.

Built at the John Brown shipyard on the River Clyde in Scotland, the Lusitania was also carrying 159 Americans, of whom 128 were killed.

The ship's captain, William Turner, who survived after the ship went down, had received messages on the morning of the disaster that there were German submarines in the area and he altered course.

But a German sub, U-20, captained by Walther Schwieger, spotted the Lusitania 14 miles (22.5km) off the Old Head of Kinsale in Ireland and fired a torpedo that hit the vessel.

Passengers on a modern-day Cunard cruise liner will today mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Cunard ship. Photo credit: PA Wire
Passengers on a modern-day Cunard cruise liner will today mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Cunard ship. Photo credit: PA Wire

There had been time to send out an SOS and the Courtmacsherry lifeboat launched at 3pm.

By the time they arrived, other rescue craft were on the scene and they were only able to pick up dead bodies.

The Wanderer, a fishing boat from the Isle of Wight, managed to pick up about 200 survivors.

A formal investigation, headed by Wreck Commissioner Lord Mersey, started in Westminster in June 1915.

The Germans were blamed, and Captain Turner cleared, with the action described as having been undertaken "not merely with the intention of sinking the ship, but also with the intention of destroying the lives of the people on board".

Sinking of the Lusitania
Sinking of the Lusitania

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