What Caused the 2nd Explosion?


Jeremy Lee

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Would the people aboard the sinking Lusitania see the U-20 from the deck? If yes, why were the deck guns not used?
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Couple of things

(1) Dear Jeremy - I infer from your question that you have reason to belive that Lusitania had deck mounted guns for defence ? Not so - they had been designed with strengthened points to mount guns - but she was most defintely not mounting them when torpedoed. Arming large crack liners with guns ( the intention was 6 inchers ) was one of those " good ideas " which did not long survive the experience of actual combat - they proved to be too greedy of coal to maintain blockading station which had been the intention when it was first proposed, and superfluous to Grand Fleet scouting operations - thus they were disarmed as quickly as they had been armed in the first place. " Lusitania" never shipped her armament at all - incidentally Colin Simpsons implication in his book that she might have carried the guns but never actually mounted them - presumably in a hold somewhere - is not tenable. It would have taken up valuable shipping space whilst heavy guns and their ammunition would have been at too much of a premium in 1915 - with the Great Shell Scandal about to break and the Dardanelles offensive about to begin - to have a doxen languish in the depths of a transatlantic liners hold.

(2)Trying War Criminals after World War One

After World War One the Treaty of Versailles made no provision for trying war criminals, save for Article 227 which provided for a " special tribunal " to try the former Kaiser - but with Hollnad refusing to extradite him this was a non-starter.

However, under Article 228 the German government recognised the right for the allies " to bring before military tribunals persons accused of having committed acts in violation of the laws and customs of war " - and it undertook to hand over the accussed to the Allied governments. Under Article 229 such military tribunals would be the province of the nations where the alleged crimes were committed, and Article 230 the German government undertook to provide any and all relevant documents and data bearing on the matter.

So what happened ?

Lists of war criminals were made up by each of the principal Allied governments, from which a sample of 900 was handed to the German government on February 3rd 1920. Pertinent to our case is the list of 100 Germans, among them Grand Admiral Tirpitz and Admiral Scheer, accused of having ordered unrestricted submarine warfare.

However, there was an outcry in Germany when the lists were published, mass meetings denouncing the handing over of the accused. As a compromise the German government then offered to try them itself .

A sample trial went ahead at Leipzig in 1920. However, there was much fudging - thus Commander Patzig who had torpedoed the hospital ship " Llandovery Castle " without warning and then fired upon and sunk lifeboats containing the survivors - was supposedly unable to be found - even though he had an address in Danzig. Nor could his first lieutenant be traced, and another officer was hiding in Poland - ultimately only Lieutenants Ludwig Dithmar and John Boldt were put on trial.

In the end 12 men were tried at Liepzig, 2 on German charges, 4 on British, 5 on French and 1 on Belgian. 6 were convicted - and what sentences did they serve ?

The 2 convicted on German charges served 4 years; on British charges 2 guilty each served six months and one other served ten months; on French charges 1 of two years

The allies walked away from the experience in disgust - a further 800 cases before the German courts were disposed of by discontinuing the proceedings, usually on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

And that was about it - in January 1922 a Commission of Allied jurists declared that there was no point in letting the Leipzig court continue and recommended that the German government be compelled to hand over the accused persosn for trial by the Allies under Article 228 above. Fat chance - there were again mass meetings at which high-ranking German officers reminded the Allies that " 250,000 soldiers and the police of the Reichswher " stood ready to prevent the handing over the accused to the Allied powers. Meanwhile of the 6 convicted men, the 2 with the longest terms soon escaped from detention - not prison - under suspiciou circumstances.

So, no trials of war criminals after World War One at all - and very little positive investigation.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Were the Germans thinking of what their punishment would be like if they lost the war? Or they believed that their armed forces were invincible? If not, they wouldn't be so daring using their U-Boats.

From what I see above, the entire conviction of Germans was a farce in WWI. Too bad for them it wasn't the same in WWII.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Interesting point - in fact the Germans came close to winning on a couple of occasions, and at the end of 1916, in the military acsendance, actually launched peace proposals that were hotly debated by the Allied governments, but ultimately rejected. Basically they did indeed believe their armed forces were invincible - every country believed the same of their own forces.

Then by early 1917 Russia was neutralised, there was no reason to suppose that the Allied offensives were going to be any more succesful than those of 1916 had been, and Germany even had the sympathies of many in America. That the political and military adavantages accruing to Germany by March 1917 were so quickly squandered that by April the Americans were on the verge of coming into the war was the truly farcical moves by the German government - the relaunch of unrestricted submarine warfare and the attempted agreement with the Mexican government revealed in the Zimmerman Telegramme.
 

Jeremy Lee

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>>Basically they did indeed believe their armed forces were invincible - every country believed the same of their own forces<<

Did France/Poland/Denmark/Holland think so? Nationalistic pride told them so, but realistically, it was rubbish.

From your above post, I can infer that Germany had screwed up their chances of gaining American sympathy and 'forced' them to go to to war AGAINST them.
 
B

Brian R Peterson

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I don't think the Americans forced the Germans to fight against them or vice versa, it had more to do with the fact that we were allied with Britain and France, and when we came into the war we came in fighting against the Germans, unlike WWII where Hitler specifically declared war against the US

Best Regards,

Brian
 

Jeremy Lee

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Had the Americans a treaty with the British in WWI? I only remember the Triple Entente - Britain, France and Russia vs. Triple Alliance - Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.

What was the main pull factor that 'sucked' US into WWI? If the US were allied with Britain and France, they would have joined WWI much earlier, in 1914.
 
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Brian R Peterson

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Jeremy,

This could be a very long and drawn out discussion, however I think my outline will help answer this.

IMO, these are the five main reasons the US was drawn in WWI.

1. Unrestricted submarine warfare

a. sinking of the Lusitania (1915)
b. The "Sussex" Pledge (1916)
c. Germany renews unrestricted U Boat attacks (1917)

2. American Propaganda

a. Stressed German barbarism.
b. Posters depicting the Kaiser as some sort of madman.
c. Urged American to support allies throughout neutrality.

3. German Dictatorship

"Make the World safe for Democracy." - Cultural ties

4. U.S. Business Interests

US trade w/ the allies increased from 825 million in 1914 to 3.2 billion in 1916.

5. Zimmerman Telegram

Germany asked Mexico to enter the war against the US. We intercepted the transmission.

Best Regards,

Brian
 
May 3, 2002
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number 5 ranks highest with me.
Germany sought to alter the power balance in central America which could not be tolerated by Washington DC. The eviction of the Spanish as an imperial power would still be in living memory.

martin
 

Jeremy Lee

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These reasons is why I think US entered WWI - One of the main reason is why the United States entered the war was Germany's newest weapon, which was the U-boat or the Submarine. The Germans used this weapon on the Allies without mercy and soon affected the USA. President Wilson tried many ways to ask Germany to stop sinking ships with American goods and passengers but that often resulted in failure. Then February 1, 1917, Germany announced it will sink all ships from Great Britain and ships shipping to Great Britain. President Wilson then broke off diplomatic relations on February 3 and soon on April 4, USA declared war on Germany because Germany's policy of unrestricted naval warfare interfered with USA's policy of being neutral. So the main reason why the US declared war on Germany is because Germany infringed on the rights of neutral USA. The second reason why the United States entered the war is based on what President Wilson stated. As stated from his Fourteen Points, he said that the United States was going to war for creation of a general association of nations under specific covenants to give mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity. This meant that the United States entered the war to preserve democracy and create nations based on the nationalities of the region. For instance, the Arabs under the Turkish rule would rule for themselves. The last reason why on the United States entered WWI is the economic repercussions it would cause. Since the United States was forced to send their goods to the Allies, the United States manufacturers did a huge amount of exporting to them. But soon the Allies were unable to pay for the goods in cash, so they asked for credit on the goods. This credit on goods can have a severe and disastrous effect on America's economy. If the Allies were to lose the war, all the money owed to the manufacturers of the US would not be paid. The owners then would not be able to pay its workers and go bankrupt and if the workers did not get paid for their work, then financial chaos would occur since there is no purchasing power. With this in mind, President Wilson probably entered the war for this reason. In conclusion, the United States entered WWI is because of Germany's new naval weapon, Wilson's Fourteen Points and the economic repercussions that would occur if America did not join the war. With America entering this war, it changed the entire outlook of the war, especially for the Allies.

The part about the U-Boats is mentioned above, I just wanted to elaborate.

By the way, I didn't know that the Kaiser was a dictator. All I know was that Germany was desperate to be the 'supreme imperial power' in the world.

(This thread should change its title to 'World War I - Cause and Effect!
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)
 
B

Brian R Peterson

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Jeremy,

This pretty much covers everything I outlined, and its length and detail are the reasons I made an outline
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Best Regards

Brian
 
B

Brian R Peterson

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I minored in History with a Computer Engineering major, I wrote 40 page essays on WWI and WWII however this does not justify writing a novel to answer a question if the need is not there...
smile.gif


Best Regards,

Brian
 
Dec 23, 2017
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Decided to make a new thread as the only other one is closed and the other has had no activity since 2003

So to start off i should say that the second explosion will never be 100% fully known and everything below is theory's and nothing more

So lets start with things that are known
We know that approximately 30 seconds after the torpedo strike a "Muffled explosion" came this time from inside the ship, this was more powerful in most cases than the first one as it caused several plates and plants to fall in the First class dinning room. While the ship was already starting to list by this point but after the second one she sharply listed to starboard and forward. We know that what ever it was it knocked out the rudder (Much like Britannic) and it also caused that when they engaged the reversing on the turbines to blow them and forced them to shut them down in fear something might explode, not to mention pressure dropped at a alarming rate.

So here are the theory's

1. The ships "Secret" (Was not secret) cargo of munitions exploded and caused the ship to sink.
Regardless on what was put in the hold, it did not explode. in 93 and 2015 it was explored and found to still be intact, so regardless on what theory's are put forward we can scratch this one out

2. The ship sank this fast simply from the Torpedo damage alone and the second explosion added nothing.
I generally disagree with this as ships like the Britannic had more of her open to full flooding and unlike the Lusitania, actually moved forward under her own steam for about 30 minutes and still lasted longer. Wither the ship could actually survive forever from the damage is another question

3. A main Steam line ruptured which is why the Pressure dropped to nothing

The issue with this one for me is why yes it makes sense and honesty most likely did rupture a main pressure line. However i highly doubt this would have caused the ship to sink as there is just a lack of evidence anywhere that describes this

4. Boiler Explosion
This is a hard one as we have multiple people from the forward most boiler rooms who survived
but as the theory is some boiler exploded.

5. Coal Dust Explosion, brought forth by Dr Robert B. that when the Torpedo hit, the coal bunkers where mostly empty but dust. It hit the side, got the coal dust in the air and ignited that. This theory is generally frowned upon now as most say the bunkers would have been to moist to have it exploded.


There was also tests done in 2015 on what results of what the explosions would have been

In my opinion i think it was a combination of the last three, the fact that there was a 30 second delay after the torpedo hit indicates to me right away that the coal dust did not ignite as the fire ball would have been long gone. The 30 seconds i think might have gave enough time for the men to escape the boiler rooms to the point that when the water entered, a boiler blew, ruptured a steam pipe and possibly causing the coal to blow. Even with just the boiler going this would have most likely caused about three compartments to be open with the second one open now and the forward cargo hold.

But honestly, each theory has its up and down so its still a mystery


These are my guesses what are yours?

[Moderator's note: This message and the two (so far) responses to it have been moved to the existing thread.]
 
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Kyle Naber

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I watched the documentary in which they tested the different explosions and I think most of their conclusions based on eyewitnesses and physics settled them on a boiler rupture.
 
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I watched the documentary in which they tested the different explosions and I think most of their conclusions based on eyewitnesses and physics settled them on a boiler rupture.
We do know as about 2:25 there where more explosions which could have been more boilers blowing (but i doubt it as all four boiler rooms flooded long ago)
 

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