Sinking of the Cunard Liner Lusitania Timeline
The Sinking of the Lusitania. The Dastardly Destruction of the Great Passenger Ship off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland on 7 May 1915, and the Murder of 1,200 Non-Combatants, Was Germany's Greatest Exploit in Crime. History of the World War, Volume 2. GGA Image ID # 1853f659f8
7 May 1915 German submarine U-20 torpedoes and sinks British passenger liner RMS Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland. A total of 1,198 passengers are killed, including 124 Americans.Note 1
13 May 1915 The U.S. government protests to Germany against its submarine policy which culminated in the sinking of the British passenger liner RMS Lusitania. Secretary of State William J. Bryan states: “The Imperial German Government will not expect the Government of the United States to omit any word or any act necessary to the performance of its sacred duty of maintaining the rights of the United States and its citizens and of safeguarding their free exercise and enjoyment.”Note 2
9 June 1915 The U.S. government, in a second note relating to the sinking of the British passenger liner RMS Lusitania, requests that Germany adopt the necessary measures to safeguard American lives, property, and ships on the high seas and asks for assurances that this will be done. Note 3
1 September 1915 The German ambassador to the United States declares that passenger liners will not be sunk by German submarines without warning and without regard for the safety of the lives of non-combatants provided that the liners do not try to escape or offer resistance. This comes in response to the sinking of the British passenger liners RMS Lusitania and Arabic. Note 4
4 September 1915 The British passenger liner RMS Hesperian is torpedoed by German submarine U20—the same U-boat commanded by Kapitanleutnant Walther Schweiger who sank the British passenger liner RMS Lusitania—with the loss of 26 lives. One American citizen, a crewmember, escaped unscathed. While under tow to Ireland, the Hesperian sinks on 6 September. Note 5
16 February 19165 The German government dispatches a diplomatic note acknowledging its liability in the British passenger liner RMS Lusitania affair and being prepared to make reparation for the lives of those Americans lost in the sinking.Note 6
Note 1 Department of State, FRUS, 1915, Supplement, 384; Link, Struggle for Neutrality, 370–72; William N. Still Jr., Crisis at Sea: The United States Navy in European Waters in World War I (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2006), 4.
Note 2 Department of State, FRUS, 1915, Supplement, 393–96
Note 3 Ibid., 436–38.
Note 4 Department of State, FRUS, 1915, Supplement, 530–31.
Note 5 Ibid., 533–35; Link, Struggle for Neutrality, 652–53.
Note 6 Department of State, FRUS, 1916, Supplement, 171–72.
Frank A. Blazich, Jr., Ph.D., United States Navy and World War I: 1914-1922, Naval History and Heritage Command, nd, circa 2000.