Sunday 25 February 2018

Lusitania company Cunard Cruise Line: 'We will never forget the loss of 1,198 people'

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A CUNARD cruise line commodore today vowed that the loss of the RMS Lusitania with 1,198 passengers and crew will never be forgotten.

Commodore Christopher Rynd was speaking as thousands gathered in Cobh, Co Cork today to mark the centenary of the sinking of the liner which was instrumental in bringing the United States into World War I.

President Michael D Higgins is today leading the commemorations of one of the most tragic events of World War I which cost 1,198 lives off the Cork coast.

The RMS Lusitania, flagship of the Cunard cruise line, sank in just 18 minutes after being struck by a single torpedo from the German submarine, U-20.

Queen Victoria moored off the Old Head of Kinsale near Cobh in Ireland before taking part in a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Lusitania Photo credit: Cunard/PA Wire
Queen Victoria moored off the Old Head of Kinsale near Cobh in Ireland before taking part in a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Lusitania Photo credit: Cunard/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
RMS Lusitania: Diver to place tribute to perished victims on the wreck tomorrow

The liner suffered a second catastrophic explosion which is suspected to have been a boiler rupturing or dust in a coal bunker igniting.

At 3am today, the liner RMS Queen Victoria paused over the exact site of the RMS Lusitania wreck and laid a wreath in memory of the victims and survivors.

"Cunard is a company that is very connected to its history and this is something we will never forget - we will never forget the RMS Lusitania, the survivors or those who were lost," he said.

'My father rarely talked about what happened the day the Lusitania went down' - Families remember 1915 tragedy

Commodore Rynd said wreaths were laid in memory of all those involved - with descendants of Lusitania victims and survivors each laying a single red rose.

"We wanted to pay tribute over the wreck of the Lusitania which of course was the Cunard flagship. It was a very, very poignant moment."

"Just as we paused over the exact co-ordinates the moon came out and we could see the signal light from the Cork coast in the distance. It was very moving."

"It was a very emotional moment and we were all aware that 60m below us lay the Lusitania and those who were lost."

A forgotten 'casualty' of the sinking of the Lusitania

Cobh, which received most of the bodies of the Lusitania victims and was the site of a mass grave, is today hosting a special ceremony led by dignitaries from Ireland, the United States, Britain and Germany to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

Over 10,000 people are expected to attend.

President Higgins is leading the programme of events which includes an exhibition of the log of victims, historical tours, a wreath laying ceremony at sea and a special night time flotilla of remembrance.

Lusitania events mark a turning point in history

Cobh, Kinsale, Courtmacsherry and the Old Head in Cork are staging special events over the week to mark the sinking of the Cunard flagship.

Courtmacsherry, whose lifeboat was the first to launch and race to help the stricken liner, has staged a special recreation of the rescue.

Next Sunday, Cobh will stage a recreation of the Lusitania funeral procession, with locals dressed in period costume, to mark the exact route taken as victims' bodies were brought from Cobh town centre for burial in a mass grave.

A total of 145 people were buried in the mass grave with the photographs becoming one of the iconic images of World War I.

Remembering the Lusitania disaster, 100 years on

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