April 22nd, 1915, a notice was published in the New York Times.
The notice read as follows; "Notice! Travelers intending to
embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists
between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies;
that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British
Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial
German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or
any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and
that travelers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain
or her allies do so at their own risk. Imperial German Embassy;
Washington D.C." The notice appeared on the same page that
advertised Lusitania's scheduled departure from New York.
In spite of the notice, most people really didn't think Germany
would go so far as to attack a passenger vessel. Adding to the atmosphere
of safety was the fact that Lusitania was flying the American
flag. Her funnels and the letters on her bow and stern had all been
painted black, obscuring her identity as a Cunarder. The consensus
was that sailing under the stars and stripes protected Lucy
passengers, including Alfred Vanderbilt, stepped aboard the ship
without a second though. Vanderbilt, in particular, should have
been a little more skeptical as he had received an anonymous message
at his hotel the previous evening warning him not to sail on Lusitania,
as she would be sunk by a German sub as she approached British
waters. This did nothing to deter the 37-year old multimillionaire,
who spent as much time in Europe as he did in the States. He was
on his way to a meeting of the International Horse Breeder's Association,
and could not miss it as the previous year's meeting had been canceled
due to the outbreak of war. It's ironic that Vanderbilt ignored
the warning he received. Three years earlier he had booked passage
on the maiden voyage of White Star Line's ill-fated Titanic.
A business concern at the last minute forced him to change his plans
and probably saved his life. Taking that into consideration, you
would think that he wouldn't tempt fate twice, but he did.
passenger alleged to have received a warning about sailing aboard
Lusitania was noted theatrical impresario Charles Frohman.
He was on his way to London to critique the newest West End productions
to assess any potential Broadway candidates. Frohman traveled to
London once or twice a year, though a bad fall some years earlier
had resulted in a worsening case of articular rheumatism that seemed
to be aggravated by the sea air. Frohman had booked passage aboard
Lucy because she was the fastest ship on the Atlantic run
at the time (Mauretania had already been drafted for war
duty). He had even considered sending someone else in his place,
but his notoriety and lack of faith in anyone else's judgment prompted
him to make the journey himself. So, like Vanderbilt, Frohman ignored
the warning he received and stepped aboard the doomed Cunarder without
Mackworth had been in America with her father on business. Returning
to England in the middle of a war held less appeal to her than remaining
amidst the glamor and spectacle of New York City. From Broadway
shows to the overwhelming "newness" of the entire place
cast doubts in her mind as to whether she really wanted to go back.
Her 7-year marriage to Sir Humphrey Mackworth was crumbling and
she rued facing her peers in the wake of a divorce. Traveling First
Class aboard Lusitania had also been overwhelming. She was
taken by the ship's sheer size and marvelled at Lusitania's
ellegence. Still, her mind and her heart were elsewhere.
old Avis Dolpin, a Second Class passenger, was on her way to England
to attend school. Avis' mother, the proprietor of a nursing home
in St. Thomas Ontario, had emigrated to Canada from England ten
years earlier, but insisted her daughter receive an English education.
Avis was looking forward to seeing Britain, her homeland she had
only heard stories about and seen pictures of. Accompanying her
on the voyage was a nurse who worked for her mother. The nurse was
visiting England and had agreed to care for Avis on the crossing.
in Third Class was Annie Williams and her six children; Edith (9
years old), Edward, George Florence, Ethel and four-month old David.
The Williams family had immigrated to America years earlier, but
soon after they had arrived her husband John Williams had deserted
the family (I am not sure who young David's father was). Thinking
he had returned to England, Mrs. Williams saved as much money as
she could, sold all their possessions and booked passage on Lusitania
to return the family to England where she hoped to track down her
made steam out of New York harbor, the German sub U-20 was
into her second day at sea on a mission through the waters off the
British Isles. The U-20 had departed her berth at Emden on
Germany's north coast the day before under the command of Lieutenant
Walther Schweiger. This patrol was to take the U-20 to the
Irish sea off Liverpool. Troopships and supply vessel were to be
her primary targets. Cutting off the supply of troops and materials
to the Dardanelles was essential to the German war effort and an
Allied offensive on Constantinople meant a steady stream of vessels
heading out from British ports; Liverpool in particular. As Lusitania
made her way across the Atlantic without incident, her passengers
and crew became only more relaxed. At this same time, the U-20
was making her way to the hunting grounds off the Irish coast.
a care and no knowledge of the tragedy that awaited them on the
other side of the Atlantic, Lusitania's passengers watched
the New York skyline recede into the distance. As the faces on the
dock became a blurry crows, and the crowd became a distant smudge
on the waterfront, Lusitania steamed past the rising metropolis
and it's landmarks one last time, never to return to American waters.
As she headed out into the Atlantic, history turns yet another page
in the book of maritime tragedy...
Click on thumbnails
to open full size image
Lusitania prepares to depart
One last view of New York
The last photo of Lusitania