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Monday, May 27, 2019

Dead Wake - The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Dead Wake - The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
Not a great book, but not bad. An easy, engaging read. About half of the book is devoted to serious stuff, like the ship, submarine operations, political machinations and military operations. The other half is fluff - little bits of information about some of the various passengers, who they were, what they were doing and what became of them.


S.S. Lusitania Leaves New York City on Last Voyage

S.S. Lusitania Sinking
The water that day was nearly mill-pond still. Launching the lifeboats was almost a complete disaster, partly due to an inexperienced crew and partly due to poor organization, or maybe I am repeating myself. There was also the problem of launching the boats while the ship was still moving. A behemoth like the Lusitania charging along at 18 knots doesn't suddenly stop just because there is a big fat hole in the side.

The sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-Boat may have been the trigger that launched America on the road to war. It took two years, but eventually we got involved. One of the first things we did was send a squadron of destroyers over. The event was significant enough that Bernard F. Grimble captured it in a painting.

Return of the Mayflower, by Bernard F. Gribble (British, 1873-1962)
SM U-20 grounded on the Danish coast in 1916. Torpedoes had been exploded in the bow to destroy the boat
The submarine that fired the fatal torpedo ended up grounded on the Danish coast. The Germans expended great effort to refloat it but failed.

P.S. Some places say SS for Steam Ship, some places say RMS which stands for Royal Mail Ship, not Royal Majesty's Ship, which would have been my first guess. British Royal Navy ships are denoted by HMS which stands for His (or Her) Majesty's Ship. RMS just means the ship carries the mail.

P.P.S. Some of the place names from Ireland sounded familiar. Seems I did a post about The Wreck of the Seahorse a couple of years ago. 200 years ago the Seahorse foundered on the Irish coast not far from where the Lusitania went down. I added it to the map.

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