A Question for Board


May 3, 2002
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On 21 September 1914, Churchill was in Liverpool on recruiting drive. With Cunard's naval architect Leonard Peskett he visited the Lusitania at the docks when she was being converted and they discussed the ship and her bulkhead arrangements Peskett says the navy has nothing like her to which Churchill replies, " We have, To me she is just another 45,000 tons of livebait!"

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This is from Simpson. Some of his work has been come under debate and disbelief.

Was the Lusitania at Liverpool on this date and being converted for war work?

The appendix on crossings in Kent's book suggest atimeframe of a standard turna around. not a layup.
 

Michael Dow

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Nov 17, 2004
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Kent Lyon is quite correct. My grandfather's log shows that this was just a routine voyage and, as far as I can see, there was no period of refit which, in any case, would not have been undertaken in Liverpool and which would have taken weeks, if not months!. If, and it's a very BIG 'IF', Churchill did say what Simpson claims Peskett reported, the more obvious answer is that Churchill was concerned about the safety of the ship in a war zone!

Simpson made a number of unsubstantiated claims in his book almost all of which were aimed at discrediting Winston Churchill. It is difficult not to believe that his motive in writing the book was, therefore, more of a personal vendetta against Churchill rather than an investigation of the sinking. His main allegations were that:
1. The ship was armed with a number of 6" guns;
2. She was carrying contraband HE; and
3. Churchill, with the connivance of the Admiralty, deliberately allowed the ship to sail into the path of waiting U-Boats.

Simpson was unable to provide any reliable historical evidence in support of his claims. It seems that much of his so called evidence appears to come from somewhat dubious sources that cannot be independently checked or which has mysteriously disappeared! If, indeed, any such evidence does materialise then I shall be the first to acknowledge that I was wrong in which case my grandfather, father and other members of the family must have also been complicit in the conspiracy! I, and a number of other authors, have tried in vain to engage with Simpson on various matters and he has refused to discuss them or even contact us. If there had been anything like a whiff of suspicion on any of the above claims it would have come to light long before anyone started writing books about it!

Both my grandfather's brothers attended the Lord Mersey Enquiry and found nothing sinister or questionable at that time. It was wartime and, to those of us who are now accustomed to negligence claims in the law courts, would not seem unusual. Yet there are those who still believe there was a government led cover-up when there was really nothing to cover up.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>This is from Simpson. Some of his work has been come under debate and disbelief.<<

And for good reason in my opnion. Bailey and Ryan authored a book length rebuttal/refutation to Simpson's claims which have all but become a standard reference on the Lusitania.

Grand conspiracy theories may sound good and even reasonable at first blush but don't really hold up well when one looks at all the real evidence in it's actual context. Simpson's book length fish story has a number of fatal flaws not the least of which is that it would require some measure of co-operation from the Germans or at the very least, a means of better predicting the movements of their U-Boats then could be gained even by reading their operational messages.

It also ignores the fact that in 1915, it was very much against Great Britain's interests to draw the United States into the war. Doing so would literally cut off thir supply of ammunition, the production of which would be diverted to mobilizing U.S. forces.
 
May 3, 2002
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thank you both Michaels. I was being diplomaqtic in my description of Simpson's work,
Mr Dow, for quite a while I believed the claim that they gutted much of 3rd class forward for cargo contributing to Captain Dow's discomfort.

It must be understood that up until the late 1980's Simpson was the only book I had on the Lusitania. That certainly changed in the 90s with the internet and the Ballard mission.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>Kent Lyon is quite correct. My grandfather's log shows that this was just a routine voyage and, as far as I can see, there was no period of refit which, in any case, would not have been undertaken in Liverpool and which would have taken weeks, if not months!.

The Lusitania was out of service for over a month prior to that. She had turbine problems on her August 4 crossing from New York, the slowest crossing she ever made (8 days). Any extensive work that was done in the interem was likely devoted to restoring her to her regular crossing speed. She sailed for NYC on September 12th, carrying among others, future May 7th victim Ralph Moodie, and arrived on schedule on the 18th. She departed from NYC on September 23rd. SO, if she was in drydock in Liverpool on the 21st, he date given for Churchill's comment, something really eerie was afoot
happy.gif


Below is an article about the crossing:

The Lusitania Commandeered as Transport.
She is to go to Halifax.
And There, the Report Declares, Take on Canadian Troops for Europe.

September 18: The Cunard Liner Lusitania, from Liverpool, reached her pier here early today under wireless orders received last night as she was nearing port, according to passengers, ordering her to make all possible speed, unload her passengers, and be ready to sail for Halifax to act as a transport for Canadian troops. The officers would not verify this report, but offered no explanation for rushing the big liner to her pier at one o’clock in the morning.

Prominent among the 1502 passengers, the majority of whom were returning Americans, were Sir James Barrie, author and playwright; A.E. Mason the English novelist; Mrs. George Vanderbilt and Miss Cornelia Vanderbilt; George deForest Lord; Marshall Field III; Chauncey Depew, Jr. and William Dudley Foulkes, president of the Municipal League of the United States.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Lusitania got her final good publicity, in February 1915, as a result of this crossing. Marshall Field III, the world's youngest 500-million-aire, became smitten with a woman he met on this voyage. They married 5 months later, and the papers were full of articles about their flirtation being the talk of the ship, in a non-malicious way. This, as I said, was the last favorable event in the ship's history.

So, either Ellis Island, Marshall Field III, and the NYC papers got their dates confused, or Simpson made and error....
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>It must be understood that up until the late 1980's Simpson was the only book I had on the Lusitania.<<

Unfortuantely, even up to the present time, that's about all that anybody has read and the legend which has been built around it persists to this day. That's a shame since there have been some truly brilliant Lustiania researchers who have produced some much more credible work and from primary sources both in print and on the net.
 
May 3, 2002
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MHS, Also I live in New Zealand which, for the benefit of any not familiar, is practically at the bottom of the world and almost in the middle of nowhere apart from Australia which is 3 days by sea and 2-3 hour by air to the west of us.

Thanks for all your contribtion at ET. To quote Margaret Mackworth "I have learned a devil of a lot" here since I joined,
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Regarding Simpson. Let us be clear. It was not his RESEARCH that was flawed ~ his footnotes are a godsend to those who wish to contact archives and have photocopies made~ but his interpretation of what he found. His seemingly assymetrical research grates.... there HAD to be a ton of original source material out there to counter his claims, none of which appear in his text or footnotes.
 

Michael Dow

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Nov 17, 2004
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The difficulty with many writers, and I include some notable historians in this, is that they invariably have an 'angle' (or an axe to grind) in their work. So they tend to include lots of research references which support their point of view (and/or which are entirely irrelevant) and ignore evidence which does not. The problem I have with Simpson (but there are others too!) is that he makes a number of claims which are NOT supported and although he says he has seen reliable evidence or sources we are expected to accept these statements as fact, yet, which now cannot be confirmed, or even found to exist. I do agree, however, that he does take a very broad view in his interpretation of known facts such as the arming of the Lusitania for which there were certainly plans to do but which were not carried out. He also admits that some arms etc were on the manifest yet later insists they were contraband.

It must also be borne in mind that 20/30 years ago the vast majority of people who read books like Simpsons took the claims at face value and were hardly likely to go looking up the references! Why spoil a good read? Reflect that it is really only in the last few years and the use of resources like the internet that many events from the past and the stories about them are being questioned. For example, I can now log on to my laptop here in the UK and go into the New York Times archives for free and check what was actually written whereas a few years ago I would have to have got someone to do this for me or come to the US either of which would cost money so I wouldn't have bothered.

I believe we are now seeing a much more intelligent approach to historical events and writers, be they historians or not, are more interested in facts rather than peddle some personal campaign or agenda.

On a new note. My grandfather's sea sickness was well known and, in fact, he was invariably sick at the start of a voyage and, in particular, when there was a long 'oily' swell which made the ship roll rather than pitch. In this he was, of course, in good company as Nelson also suffered from sea sickness!
 

Jim Kalafus

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>MHS- debunking the claim by Morton of the explosion being between he 3rd & 4th funnel using line of sight analysis.

That's killing a gnat with a sledgehammer. One only has to look at the location of the destroyed lifeboat, and the testimony of about 50 other eyewitnesses, to disprove that account. Using sightline analysis was unnecessary.
 

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