I’ll get back to my Book Journeys tour of The Biltmore next week, but since it’s the 102 commemoration of the sinking of the Lusitania this week AND since my debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, features this ill-fated vessel, I thought we could feature it today.
On May 1, 1915, the largest ocean-liner on the seas set sail from New York harbor on it’s way to England. Built in 1906, The Lusitania, had been one of Cunard’s longest running ships and it boasted some of the newest innovations in transatlantic crossing, such as lifts (elevators for us Americans), a wireless, electric lights, and…turbine engines – which also made it fast.
The Lusitania was referred to as a floating palace for many different reasons. Passengers enjoyed 50% more space in their glamorous lodgings (even third class had nice accommodations compared to other passenger ships), a two-level dining saloon, a first class lounge with marble fireplaces, and even a veranda café, where passengers could enjoy the views of outdoors from the protection of a roof.
Let’s look at a few of the features of this glorious palace of the seas.
Here is a picture of the dining saloon with his dome-shaped ceiling. Can you imagine eating your choice of Roast Mallard Duck, Boiled Codfish with Oyster Sauce, Roast Beef, or Corned Pig’s Cheek (yummy…ugh). Not to worry, other options were cheese and crackers, Plum Tart, and even ice cream.
Perhaps, later in the evening, we could enjoy sitting to hear a concert in the First Class Lounge with its ornate glass ceilings.
With all the glamour, beauty and even, speed, the Lusitania seemed to have it all – but speed wasn’t going to help this floating palace when it surged into war-torn waters.
On May 7th, a single torpedo from a German U-boat (U-20), hit the ship and in a feat that still marvels researchers today, the colossal ship sank in only 18 minutes, taking over 2000 lives. This single event would be a part of the catalyst that would spurn America into joining the world war across the ocean. Because among the dead, there were about 128 American citizens.
Seen as a brutal attack on civilians, Germany was accused of ruthlessness. However, it was later confirmed that despite the fact the Lusitania flew a ‘neutral’ flag, it carried munitions to Great Britain to help with the war effort.
Many people, like the Titanic only 3 years before, died of exposure in the cold Atlantic waters, but hundreds of bodies were never recovered.
Though the Titanic’s story is more well-known, The Lusitania’s tragic ending is just as devastating.
You can find out more about my debut novel, The Thorn Bearer HERE.
Have you heard of the Lusitania before?