Bullets recovered from Lusitania's empty hold


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Senan Molony

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RIFLE ammunition bound for the Western Front during World War One has been raised from the wreck of the doomed Cunard liner RMS Lusitania.

American-made Remington .303 cartridges were recovered this week [September 23, 2008] from inside the liner, torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale on May 7, 1915. They have been handed over to the Revenue Commissioners, the official Irish receiver of wreck.

The bullets were retrieved from the forward end of F Deck, in a place officially shown to be empty on the cargo stowage plan for the fateful final voyage.

The find may be the first tentative evidence that the British Government's eventual 'full disclosure' of the army supplies stacked aboard was not the complete truth.

While it was admitted after the sinking that the liner was carrying four million Remington bullets, controversy has raged over the cause of a devastating second explosion aboard, following the initial torpedo strike, which effectively sent the Lusitania to the bottom.

The German submarine U-20 fired only one torpedo — and was surprised to see giant vessel heel over and sink minutes after another detonation. Some survivors insisted the second explosion was much stronger than the first.

This week's detection of unlisted ammunition could strengthen claims that other secret munitions were on board — which in turn could explain the mystery of the eighteen-minute sinking.

A total of 1,198 passengers and crew died when the 30,000-ton liner went down twelve miles off the coast in afternoon sunshine. The later-admitted cargo plan included bullets of the type now raised, as well as unfilled shells, shrapnel and detonator caps.

But there was never any listing for explosives, such as volatile gun-cotton which reacts violently on contact with water. Instead there were mysterious crates of cheese and butter - consigned to an innocent-sounding firm which happened to share the same address as the Royal Navy experimental station in Shoeburyness.

Despite the area where the ammunition was found this week being designated empty, there was a evidence from a crew witness in March 1918 that the two forward sections of F deck had been filled with unknown cargo - a claim denied at the time.

Tuesday's recovery operation, using the remotely operated vehicle Zeus II, was led by Waterford diver Eoin McGarry on behalf of the wreck's recognised owner, Santa Fe businessman F. Gregg Bemis Junior.

Licensed by the Irish Government, which designated the Lusitania an underwater National Monument in 1985, it follows a number of previously unsuccessful dives.

Last month Bemis chartered the vessel Odyssey Explorer to map the debris field of the wreck. The 80-year-old millionaire was rewarded with High Definition video over a large percentage of the wreck.

It is expected to be used in an envisaged forthcoming TV documentary for the Discovery Channel.

The no-warning destruction of the Lusitania was widely seen as a war crime, taking the lives of two-thirds of those aboard.

While the ship was unarmed, she was carrying war materiel and was listed as an auxiliary cruiser on the Royal Navy list, meaning she could have been converted in time to the war effort.

To conserve coal, the Cunarder was not doing her top speed at any time off the voyage, and had slowed further to take a navigational fix on the Old Head of Kinsale when hit. More than 300 bodies were recovered, most of which are buried in three mass graves in Cobh, formerly Queenstown.

The incident was credited with speeding American entry into the Great War, which finally came about in 1917.

Captain William Thomas Turner was one of the 700-odd survivors of the tragedy, and soon thereafter further escaped a British Government attempt to saddle him with blame for the disaster.

In 2007 Mr Bemis was granted a five year licence by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government under the National Monuments Act to conduct a forensic examination of the wreck, subject to a number of conditions relating to archaeological matters.

Scientific analysis of the bullets will take place, although their innate original safety is unlikely to help Mr Bemis’s efforts to cast further light on the chain of events which led to the sinking.

Under the conditions of the licence the bullets, which are technically considered to be archaeological objects under the National Monuments Acts, were handed over to the Receiver of Wreck responsible for all such finds for the relevant stretch of Cork coastline.

This Revenue Service official is charged with seeking to establish ownership of such objects where possible. If no valid owner comes forward within a stated period the National Museum of Ireland may claim any such archaeological objects on behalf of the State.

The dive was monitored by members of the Department’s Underwater Archaeology Unit, a specialist unit of the National Monuments Service.
 
May 27, 2007
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Hello Senan,
American-made Remington .303 cartridges were recovered this week [September 23, 2008] from inside the liner, torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale on May 7, 1915. They have been handed over to the Revenue Commissioners, the official Irish receiver of wreck.

The bullets were retrieved from the forward end of F Deck, in a place officially shown to be empty on the cargo stowage plan for the fateful final voyage.
Why does this information not surprise me.
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This week's detection of unlisted ammunition could strengthen claims that other secret munitions were on board — which in turn could explain the mystery of the eighteen-minute sinking.

I'll just go with a steam pipe explosion until they come up with a good workable theory or good solid evidence which proves that munitions caused or helped bring the Lusitania down. Although it looks like Remington Rifle Ammunitions could of played a role with the finding of this new evidence.

Thanks for sharing this information, Senan.
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Mar 22, 2003
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>>I'll just go with a steam pipe explosion until they come up with a good workable theory or good solid evidence which proves that munitions caused or helped bring the Lusitania down. <<

George, is there any evidence that a steam pipe exploded or would have been strong enough to cause the ship to go under in 18 minutes?
 

J Kent Layton

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Sam & all,

This is certainly an interesting find, and worthy of note. However, it is a long way from proof of a munition- or secret-cargo cause for the second explosion.

At any rate, it is worth note that the torpedo damage, in and of itself, was almost certainly enough to sink the ship. This was because of the deficiencies of the ship's watertight design in the area that the torpedo struck. The watertight doors that led from the coal bunkers into the boiler rooms were also of dubious usefulness under such an extreme scenario.

As far as the second explosion is concerned, a failure of the ship's steam-generating plant (either a boiler or, far more likely, a failure of the high-pressure steam lines in one manner or another) would most likely have caused significant damage to the ship internally. But the main point to remember is that it is very likely that the ship would have sunk on her own without it - that second blast, in all likelihood, only hastened to what was already inevitable.

I got into some of this in my book, including a thorough analysis of the ship's watertight subdivision as opposed to the subdivision of a Harland & Wolff-built ship, the Justicia/Statendam. That vessel was put through a remarkable punishment from multiple torpedoes over a span of many hours. Eventually she sank, but the differences between her gradual demise and that of the Lusitania is quite telling.

I'll be looking forward to hearing more of the results of this expedition. If anyone involved in the documentary's production has any questions or needs any assistance, just drop me a line through my site or through this account.
 
May 27, 2007
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Samuel,

George, is there any evidence that a steam pipe exploded or would have been strong enough to cause the ship to go under in 18 minutes?
Not that I know of but there is a good argument first brought to my attention by Diana Preston's book Lusitania An Epic Tragedy for a steam pipe explosion hasting the sinking. All in all though the steam pipe or line explosion is just a theory that I myself think the most likely until I hear of some good evidence of something like munitions or some other event causing the second explosion.

Hello J. Kent,
As far as the second explosion is concerned, a failure of the ship's steam-generating plant (either a boiler or, far more likely, a failure of the high-pressure steam lines in one manner or another) would most likely have caused significant damage to the ship internally. But the main point to remember is that it is very likely that the ship would have sunk on her own without it - that second blast, in all likelihood, only hastened to what was already inevitable.

That's what I was thinking.
 

Tom McLeod

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Great to see information that can still be found if one keeps digging, who knows what else is out there. With previous riffle ammo know to have been carried by the liner, wasn't it declared if shipped in bulk, due to period tests, that the ammo would not go off like one would expect a single heated bullet casing to do? I suppose if the torpedo blew these bulk bins or crates apart, there was heat applied . . . then who knows? Looks like time may reveal more secrets.
 

Mike Poirier

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I think people should also look at the quick sinking of the Arabic to see why the Lusy sank so quickly. Two large ships that sank in under 20 minutes.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hmmmm...Remington. George Vernon had just sold a huge quantity of Remington to Russia. His eventual commission was $300,000.00. If one wanted to weave a rich tapestry of stupidity to add to the several which already enshroud this affair, one could propose that the presense of a Remington arms dealer and Remington arms aboard the same ship might possibly be tied together.

Of course, in terms of unexpected, arms aboard the Lusitania is about as surprising as the revelation that the sun set this afternoon.

>I think people should also look at the quick sinking of the Arabic to see why the Lusy sank so quickly. Two large ships that sank in under 20 minutes...

Ah Michael, how often must I request that you not cloud a good conspiracy theory made public on a slow news day with requests to research further.
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Check out the following account of another giant liner which was within feet of reaching the point of no return after receiving a single torpedo. Note, too, that the description given here of the torpedo's effect on the Mt. Vernon, ex Kronprinzessin Cecelie, closely matches the scores of descriptions given of the SECOND explosion on the Lusitania. In this case, no one EVER described the explosion as being a bump, like a door shutting or a piece of furniture falling over.



Wednesday July 17. Got news of the torpedoing of Cunard S.S. Carpathia. Towards evening a depth charge was made by the Burrows on a supposed submarine. It was with great regret that we heard the end of the Carpathia which saved so many of the Titanic’s survivors.



Thursday, September 5. About 250 miles from the coat of France, on the morning of September 5, 1918, the Mount Vernon and Agamemnon in convoy, escorted by six destroyers, were proceeding homeward from Brest; speed 18 knots, 21 statute miles per hour. The weather was fine and the sea smooth, making it possible to see a periscope from a great distance. Everything was favorable and it looked as if we were about to add one more trip across the war zone to our credit. Suddenly a periscope popped up above the surface of the water about 500 yards distant. Our starboard bow gun opened fire at once, but the periscope remained on the surface of the water for only a few seconds. Just as it disappeared, the wake of a torpedo was seen coming straight for the ship and immediately after struck us, throwing up a huge column of water on our starboard side amidships.

The explosion was terrific and for an instant it seemed the ship was lifted clear out of the water and was smashed to pieces. Men at the after guns and depth charge stations were thrown to the deck, and one of the five inch guns thrown partly out of its mount. Men below in the vicinity of the explosion were stunned into temporary unconsciousness.


It was soon ascertained that the torpedo had struck the ship fairly amidships, destroying one of the eight fire rooms and flooding the middle portion of the ship from side to side for a distance of 150 feet. The ship instantly settled ten feet increase to draft, but stopped there. This indicated that the watertight bulkheads were holding, and we could still afford to go down two and one half feet more before she would lose her floating buoyancy.


The immediate problem was to avoid a second torpedo. To do this, two things were necessary. To attack the enemy and to make more speed than the submarine when submerged. The depth charge crews jumped to their feet and immediately started dropping depth bombs. A barrage of five depth charges were dropped, exploding at regular intervals of one hundred fifty feet apart, and one hundred fifty five feet below the surface of the water. This work was beautifully done. The explosions must have shaken the enemy up; at any rate he never came up to the surface again to get a loom at us. The other factor in the problem was to make as much speed as possible, not only in order to escape an immediate attack but also to prevent the submarine from tracking us and attacking after nightfall.


The men in the fire rooms knew that the safety of the ship depended on their bravery and steadfastness to duty. It is difficult to conceive of a more trying ordeal to one’s courage than was presented to every man in the fire rooms that escaped destruction. The profound shock of the explosion, followed by instant darkness, falling soot and particles, the certain knowledge that they were far below the water level enclosed practically in a trap, the imminent danger of the ship sinking, the added threat of exploding boilers- all these dangers and more must have been apparent to the men below, and yet no man wavered in standing by his post of duty. No better example can possibly be given of the wonderful fact that with a brave disciplined body of men all things are possible. However strong may be their momentary impulse for self-preservation, in extreme danger, their controlling impulses are to stand by their stations at all hazards.


In at least two instances in this crisis below, men who were actually in the face of death did really forget and ignore their impulse for self-preservation and endeavor to do what appeared to be their duty. C.L. O’Connor, watertender, was in one of the flooded fire rooms. He was thrown to the floor and instantly enveloped in flames from the burning gases from the furnaces, but instead of rushing to escape, he turned and endeavored to shut a watertight door leading into a large bunker abaft the fire room, but the hydraulic lever that operated the door had been injured by the shock and failed to function. Three men at work in this bunker were drowned. If O’Connor had succeeded in shutting the door the lives of those men would have been saved, as well as considerable buoyancy saved to the ship. The fact that he, though profoundly stunned by the shock and almost fatally burned by the furnace gases should have the presence of mind ands the courage to endeavor top shut the bunker door i8s as great an example of devotion to duty as is possible for one to imagine. Immediately after attempting to close the door, O’Connor was caught in a swirl of inrushing water and thrust up a ventilator leading to the upper deck. He was pulled up through the ventilator by a rope lowered to him from the upper deck.


The torpedo exploded on a bulkheads separating two fire rooms, the explosive effect being apparently equal in both rooms, yet in one fire room not a man was saved, while in the other fire room two men escaped. The explosion blasted through the outer and inner skin of the ship and through an intervening coal bunker and bulkhead, hurling overboard seven hundred and fifty tons of coal. The two men saved were working the fires within thirty feet of the explosion, and just below the level where the torpedo struck.


One of the men, P. Fitzgerald, after landing on the lower grating, and while groping his way through the darkness trying to find the ladder leading above, stumbled over the body of a man lying on the grating. He at first thought the man dead, but on second impulse he turned and aroused him and led him to safety. The man had been stunned into semi-consciousness and would undoubtedly have been lost if Fitzgerald had not aroused him. As a matter of fact, the water rose at once ten feet above this grating as the ship settled to the increased draft.


The men in the forward fire rooms remained at their stations, and the men off watch rushed below to help with the firing, according to the collision station bill. Within a half an hour the speed began to increase and within two hours fifteen knots was reached and maintained thereafter until arrival in port.


Decision was made to return to Brest as soon as it was considered that the submarine was safely out of sight the ship’s course was set for that port, and the Commander of the Naval Forces in France notified by radio. In the mean time, a thorough inspection of the ship was made and subsequent reports bore out the fact that had been immediately reported by the Senior Engineer officer that the damage was confined to the two after groups of boilers, The two limiting bulkheads forward and aft were found perfectly tight and without signs of weakness and the doors, always left shit at sea, perfectly watertight. The bulkheads on the deck above limiting the injured area were shored up, placing additional ones where considered necessary. Water had risen about two feet above the floor in the after troops’ mess room and the officers’ and troops’ galleys. The draft of the ship was ascertained to be 39 feet, 6 inches. The period of the ships roll was carefully observed and ascertained to be eight seconds, which showed ample stability. But gradually the ship took on a list to port, at first about three degrees which steadily increased to ten degrees at midnight, the hour we reached the approaches to Brest. The cause for this was not readily explainable except that the wind increased steadily on the starboard beam to about force five and that the sea gradually became rough and choppy. In light of after events this gradual increase in the list was due to the initial list from the wind, added to the gradual accumulation of water on the lee side, in bunkers, store rooms etc. This gradual increase in the list was really the only feature of the experience that caused alarm.

Thirty five men were killed in the explosion. Thirteen men were injured, two of them subsequently dying. All men killed or injured were members of the engineer’s force and were on duty at the time the fire rooms flooded. It is believed that all personal injuries were due to flames shooting from the boilers, as all men injured showed signs of dry burning. The large loss of life was due to the fact that the torpedo struck just at the time the watch was being relieved.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I'm not so sure that this is as much of a secret that some might make it out to be. At least not to anbody who has ever read Bailey and Ryan's work on the Lusitania.

The British were using any available vessel to ship munitions and playing a shell game with manifests to get away with it. The Germans did much the same with the few ships they could get into and out of the USA, all of which points to U.S. firms who were cheerfully selling to both sides. They weren't all that concerned with how their customers got it out. Remington would provide the bullets and leave it to their customers to work out how they got the bottoms to ship them on.
 

Omar Khokhar

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Dec 6, 2002
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"Despite the area where the ammunition was found this week being designated empty, there was a evidence from a crew witness in March 1918 that the two forward sections of F deck had been filled with unknown cargo - a claim denied at the time"

Hi Kent, any idea where this evidence comes from and what is the name of this crew witness??


"This week's detection of unlisted ammunition could strengthen claims that other secret munitions were on board..........."


Isn`t this what Colin Simpson was arguing in his book for years that the absence of explosives on the manifest for the lusitania must mean that such explosives were probably smuggled on board by other means or disguised under some other name etc. But was discredited by Bailey/Ryan.


Interesting, the riffle ammunition has been found in an area on the ship other than the forward magerzine. But still no evidence of explosives.

Kent, how far is this forward section of F deck from the location where the torpedo hit?
 

Jim Kalafus

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What is interesting is that 1915 newspapers regularly carried precise details of arms shipments aboard liners both before and after the disaster.

The next departure of the Cymric after May 7th was heralded with press coverage refering to her as a "floating arsenal," and with interviews with boasting crew members and passengers who refused to cancel passage, and pictures of the children on board. If one goes into newspaperarchive.com, one will find that the arms aboard the Lusitania DID get extremely limited press coverage after the disaster, but no one pushed the point with Cunard and so they made no definitive statement.

The article above cites a quote from the 1918 hearings about the stowage of an unlisted cargo. The author REALLY needed to expand his coverage on that detail, and the downplaying of the testimony, for the answer is not exactly cut and dry.

The entire purpse of the 1918 hearings in the U.S. was to establish or refute Cunard's legal liability in the affair. Since we were already at war with Germany, the outcome was to be no surprise, yet THESE hearings proved to be of amazing value to historians. For, unlike the Mersey hearings, a LOT of information Cunard wished to surpress made it into the record. Or, rather, into the transcriptions.

The reason that the arms angle was not pursued was that both sides knew, in 1918, that they hadn't exploded. What WAS known, in 1918, is that ships with large holes in them sink quickly. For those who ask "Why did the Lusitania sink with such speed after just one torpedo?" one might simply reply "Empress of Ireland."

Discussing the arms would have been a diversion and a waste of time. The true culprit was the big hole, the probable damage to the watertight system on either side of the explosion, the ship's construction, AND open portholes....

A huge amount of time was spent investigating whether the lower deck portholes were open that afternoon. The crew were carefully to answer either "No" or "I did not personally notice." Nearly all of the passengers in the first class dining room who testified answered that they were, with shipowner Charles Bowring carefully explaining that the portholes were not open but had shattered with the explosion. People who returned to their lower deck cabins witnessed water coming in through the portholes at the end of the port to starboard corridors. Yet, uniformly, the crew did not notice.....

It would be of more interest to those of us who follow the story, if they stopped searching for "secret" arms that everyone already knows are there and have NOT exactly been a secret since 1915, and survey the port side to see how many, if any, portholes were open, as opposed to shattered, that afternoon.

That would solve, once and for all, the question of open vs shattered starboard side portholes letting in the tortrents of water passengers witnessed and establish...uhhh...posthumously....whether Cunard WAs liable or not in this case.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Isn`t this what Colin Simpson was arguing in his book for years that the absence of explosives on the manifest for the lusitania must mean that such explosives were probably smuggled on board by other means or disguised under some other name etc. But was discredited by Bailey/Ryan.<<

Bailey and Ryan didn't really so much discredit it as they managed to demonstrate that it was really of no relevance to the actual sinking. That ammunition was being exported from the United States...by both sides...was known even then. The reason for the shell games with the manifests (The real manifests being filed after sailing) was to satisfy the letter of the law.

If the Lusitania had been packing hundreds of tons of high explosive ammunition in her holds, as commonly asserted, and all of that had cooked off in the second explosion, the entire bow of the ship would have ceased to exist in about 5/1000ths of a second. Anybody think the survivors wouldn't have noticed that?

This didn't happen.

The sort of rumbling secondary explosion which did happen is not consistant was a massive pile or ordanance going off.

Has anybody here ever seen what military explosives can do? First hand? I have. Even one 500lb bomb can make for one very large explosion and most of that weapons's weight is the steel shell, not the explosive filler. If you care to see what they can do, watch the films taken of the massive conflagrations on both the USS Forrestal and the USS Enterprise. There's no mistaking the bombs which are cooking off on the flight deck.

When watching this, be mindful of the fact that the G/6 and G6D weapons used on U boats from U-19 on had TNT/Hexanite warheads where the weight of the explosive fillers themselves was 353 lbs and 362 lbs respectively.
 
May 27, 2007
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survey the port side to see how many, if any, portholes were open, as opposed to shattered, that afternoon.

How many portholes were open?

the entire bow of the ship would have ceased to exist in about 5/1000ths of a second. Anybody think the survivors wouldn't have noticed that?

Safe to say it wasn't explosives. The point of the bow is broken but not gone and was probably broke when the ship struck bottom.

I think people should also look at the quick sinking of the Arabic to see why the Lusy sank so quickly. Two large ships that sank in under 20 minutes.

The Persia which was also torpedoed sank in under 5 minutes. Those big ships it seems didn't have much staying power once they'd been hit it seems they went down lickedy split with surprising speed.

For those who ask "Why did the Lusitania sink with such speed after just one torpedo?" one might simply reply "Empress of Ireland."

Or Persia. Naming both ships or The Arabic would get the message across.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>How many portholes were open?

I don't know. That is why I wish that they would check. Uniformly closed on the port side would indicate that the open portholes everyone saw on the starboard side were broken by the explosion.

>The sort of rumbling secondary explosion which did happen is not consistant was a massive pile or ordanance going off.

The first explosion was the low rumble. The second was the one which matches one's general expectation of what a torpedoing would sound and feel like.

But, again, I don't think there WERE two explosions. Everyone who watched on deck SAW the effect of one explosion, in the form of the well known geyser and debris shower. And, if one sticks only to accounts from that first week, and reads the many accounts given by people who stood on deck, one gets a picture such as the one painted by this deposition, by C.T. Hill:

________________

On Friday afternoon, May 7th. I left the dining saloon at 2:05 p.m. exactly, by the dining room clock. I am positive about the exact time because I had made an appointment with Miss Gale, (sic Hale. jk.) the ship’s stenographer for 2 p.m. to dictate some letters, and was watching the clock and remarked to a friend “I must hustle for I’m late.” I went at once to the lift, but the lift boy instead of going to A deck, stopped at B as my cabin was B-110. As I stepped out of the lift I saw where I was, but noticed that Jones, the Chief Steward, was standing just outside on the deck on the starboard side, so I stepped out of the companionway to speak to him about an arrangement I wanted him to make for that afternoon.

At that moment, just as I went up to him, he turned around and said “Good God, Mr. Hill, here comes a torpedo.” I looked where he pointed and saw the periscope of a submarine. I estimated the distance at not more than 200 yards, as it seemed to me at the time that it was a good golf shot, that is, a pretty decent drive.

The submarine was not on the surface. All that could be seen was the periscope. I saw the wake of the torpedo, the line of disturbance in the water, but I did not see the torpedo itself. The line was very plain, and formed a pronounced curve. It looked to us as if the torpedo would cross our bows, and we both said so to each other. We leaned over the rail and looked down, and saw something strike the side of the ship and heard a noise about like that made by the slamming of a door. Then immediately afterwards I heard a dull, heavy, muffled explosion. We turned and rushed aft just as a geyser of water rose over the side. This I saw, and at the same time heard a noise above as of things falling on the upper deck.
_____________________________________

Or this, by Norman Stones:

We had just had lunch with the first sitting down, and had come upon deck. My wife and I were looking over the side from C Deck when I saw the track of a torpedo. It appeared to make a white, creamy, track apparently about six inches wide, and when I first saw it, it was between 200 and 300 yards from the ship. I saw no sign of a submarine, not a periscope or anything else. We watched the track of the torpedo as if fascinated, and saw it strike the ship between the funnels. We were second class passengers and were more or less confined to the stern of the ship. We were standing near to the railing dividing us from the saloon passengers, and would be at least 50 yards away from where the torpedo struck the ship. We heard the explosion and it was nothing very terrifying; we saw a cloud of spray thrown high into the air, and the next we knew was that water and wreckage were falling into the sea near us and on the decks above us. As we were not on the top deck, we were protected from the falling debris. The torpedo did not make a very big noise and did not shake the ship very much. All we felt was a slight tremor. The ship, however, immediately began to heel over to the starboard side, and so far as I know she never righted herself. I did not hear a second explosion like the first one, and am inclined to believe that only one torpedo was fired.
___________________________________________

And so on. Very few, if any, people who watched the torpedo from aboard the ship spoke of two explosions, and those who did described the first concussion as being a slight bump.

Later, of course, BOTH explosions became magnified ion the re-telling. But, in the earliest possible accounts they weren't.
 
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Uniformly closed on the port side would indicate that the open portholes everyone saw on the starboard side were broken by the explosion.
That's probably the answer then. Could the explosion have blown the portholes open or did the explosion just shatter the glass of the portholes? If the glass is gone but the portholes are shut then the portholes were shut but if they are open then either the explosion did blow them open, although that sounds unlikely or they were left open by passengers or crew.

>> was probably broke when the ship struck bottom.<<
It's bent upward. Not broken.

True! Although bent upward is probably more descriptive way of saying the bow broke. We could say the bow bent upward when the ship struck bottom and then broke.
 
But, George, breaking and bending are two different things.

None of the paintings, photos or descriptions that I've ever seen have said or demonstrate that the bow broke. They show or say that it bent when it hit the bottom and curves upward. [Perhaps Jim would correct me if I'm wrong]

"Broke" indicates snapping. In simplistic terms, putting aside any forensic claims and nitpicking details...the Titanic *broke* in half. It didn't bend. If it bent, there would be a curved 885 foot ship on the ocean floor. It broke, therefore, there are two pieces that used to be one.

Broke = structure failing causing an object to cease to be one
Bend = structure curving due to pressure

Bending often leads to breaking, as seen in the forensic analysis of the Titanic's break-up. But the break is the final step in the process of bending, thereby causing one object to become two.

The bow is still attached to the object that we call the Lusitania, although it's bent.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>[Perhaps Jim would correct me if I'm wrong]

Oh, I WOULD.
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But I can't...

I am at a disadvantage here. Long ere this, I disposed of my entire collection of Lusitania books, save for two (Hoehling, and Kent Layton) so that I would be/am compelled to rely ONLY on 1915/1918 source material. With them went any images I have of the bow.

The bow definitely appears to bend, as I recall. But the resolution of this debate all depends upon how literal one wants to be about the definition of "broke." Broke is a very general word, unlike severed or bent. If one choses to take the loosest common definition of the word, as meaning "Out of order" "No longer intact" "Damaged" then, yes, the bow is indeed broken. But, it is definitely not broken off.

Now, not to give too much away, but a substantial number of witnesses...all speaking in that first week, and all positioned on or off the starboard side, saw SOME sort of catastrophic structural failure happen forward on the starboard side. This happened just before the ship began her final roll, which nearly crushed Assistant Purser Harkness' boat. To witneses watching from far aft, in second class, the general perception was that the bow had broken off. For instance:

"By this time the starboard side must have been on a level with the water, and a few minutes later I saw the forepart of the vessel break away. A mass of people was swept into the water."

~Henry Needham, watching from the aft docking bridge.

However, people watching from better vantage points, saw it more like this:

"A steward rushed up with a little boy about three years of age- God knows where his parents are- and threw him to me. The steward followed. After we had rowed away, the Lusitania began to sink head foremost. Smoke roared through the funnels, and the starboard side of the ship seemed to break right away. It was the strangest thing I ever saw."

~Thomas Sandells, watching from a starboard boat.

And there are LOTS of these. From far aft, at an odd angle, it looked like the bow was breaking off. From in the water on the starboard side, it was perceived as funnels collapsing. From starboard lifeboats it seemed as if the ship's side was breaking up as she commenced her final roll.

Now, exactly WHAT happened is hard to determine. But, clearly, something big fell or broke off towards the end. Whether this has anything to do with the present condition of the wreck or not, I would not venture to guess.

But, as Michael Standart said, whatever cause the damage, it was NOT contraband explosives. That particular...hmmmm...plot twist is the "Spontaneous Human Combustion" of the liner world. It has been explained, and debunked, ad nauseum, but "will to believe in a good conspiracy theory" makes its proponents cling to it tenaciously. It is a great story to trot out, occasionally, to fill space in a newspaper. And that's about it.

I've never heard of a torpedo being described as "the sound of a looking glass falling off the wall," which is how one third class survivor low down in the ship in her cabin described the FIRST explosion. And I've never heard of a munitions explosion described as anything less than cataclysmic...yet even the most purple of May 1915 letters and depositions stop FAR short of matching first person accounts of exploding munitions I've read. People two decks above, and about fifty feet aft of the agreed upon location of the explosion(s) lived to describe them. So, unless these were...genteel...munitions, which detonated within humanly survivable limits, it makes no sense.
 
May 27, 2007
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But, George, breaking and bending are two different things.
True although as you stated Jeremy bending does lead to breaking. I think some of the steel plats might of broken or look broken from photo's I seen of the wreck which are usually Ken Marschall Paintings. The bow looks bent as you said Jeremy but to me also looks broken. At least some of the outer steel plates do. Hence in my original post I described the bow as broken when I see now that I should of used bent.
But the resolution of this debate all depends upon how literal one wants to be about the definition of "broke."
I was being very literal when I used the word broke or broken. Notice I never used the word "broken off."
 
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