This Day In History: May 15 (Sinking Of The RMS Lusitania)


Walter Stackler: Grade 7

May 15, 1915: A German U-20 submarine torpedoed and sank the British passenger ship RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people (including 128 Americans) and speeding up the involvement of the United States in World War I.

The German military considered it to be a legitimate target for three reasons: a) all British ships had been ordered to ram German military ships on sight, which was breaking the “Cruiser Rules;” b) it was within Germany’s declared “zone of war” and could, therefore, be attacked without warning; and c) it was suspected to be carrying arms and other munitions. Britain initially denied that it was carrying munitions, but later investigations proved that there was a secret chamber carrying military supplies. Nonetheless, the sinking of innocent passengers who did not know of the munitions angered the United States and led to America declaring war on Germany.

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