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Her sinking with the loss of almost 1,200 lives caused such outrage that it propelled the U.S.
But now divers have revealed a dark secret about the cargo carried by the Lusitania on its final journey in May 1915. Munitions they found in the hold suggest that the Germans had been right all along in claiming the ship was carrying war materials and was a legitimate military target. The Cunard vessel, steaming from New York to Liverpool, was sunk eight miles off the Irish coast by a U-boat. Americans were even told, falsely, that German children were given a day off school to celebrate the sinking of the Lusitania.
The disaster inspired a multitude of recruitment posters demanding vengeance for the victims.
Two years later, the Americans joined the Allies as an associated power – a decision that turned the war decisively against Germany. Winston Churchill, who was first Lord of the Admiralty and has long been suspected of knowing more about the circumstances of the attack than he let on in public, wrote in a confidential letter shortly before the sinking that some German submarine attacks were to be welcomed.
The discovery may help explain why the 787ft Lusitania sank within 18 minutes of a single German torpedo slamming into its hull.
Some of the 764 survivors reported a second explosion which might have been munitions going off. Mr Bemis is planning to commission further dives next year in a full-scale forensic examination of the wreck off County Cork.
Buy anything you like at Amazon and use our link to enter Amazon and we will get some commission. Explorers have located the shipwreck of a top-secret First World War a€?Mystery Shipa€?, whose captain won the Victoria Cross and later appeared as himself in a silent movie about its sinking.
It was perhaps one of the most hazardous roles of the First World War a€“ acting as bait for German submarines.
But that was exactly the job of HMS Stock Force, one of the Royal Navya€™s top secret a€?Q-shipsa€? or a€?Mystery Shipsa€? a€“ specially adapted decoy vessels with concealed guns, which lured U-boats to the surface and then engaged them in a deadly duel.
The Stock Force was sunk in just such a clash, in what became one of the wara€™s most celebrated naval encounters, which led to its captain, Lieutenant Harold Auten, receiving the Victoria Cross, and inspired an early action film.

For years, its final resting place was unknown because official charts had placed it in the wrong location. More than 90 years later, a team of explorers believe they have found the wreck of the vessel and will present their findings at the International Shipwreck Conference in Plymouth this week. Steven Mortimer, 46, a former corporate banker from Bristol, who led the team that found the vessel, said: a€?Q-ship crews became national heroes after the war and Harold Auten wrote his memoirs, which we were able to use to help us work out that we had the right wreck. The team started to look for the wreck after realising that the position given for it in official maps and charts was incorrect. They spent about four years searching for it, before they discovered the vessel about eight miles from where the charts said it was, at a depth of 200ft and 14 miles from Plymouth.
The 160ft ship, a former collier which still had the appearance of a merchant vessel and whose Royal Navy crew were disguised as merchant sailors, was lost off the coast of Devon on July 30, 1918, after being attacked by a submarine which it, in turn, ambushed.
As their vessel slowly sank from the damage caused by a German torpedo, which had also injured a number of sailors, the crew of the Stock Force remained hidden at their posts while the U-boat surfaced to finish them off with shellfire. To coax the submarine close enough to be within range of its guns, a so-called a€?panic partya€? of sailors rowed away from the stricken ship, before turning back towards it.
Three direct hits were made, one blowing off the periscope, another blowing up the conning tower and the third ripping into the hull of the submarine. During the action, one sailor on the Stock Force was forced to remain pinned under one of its guns, where he had been stuck since the torpedo hit.
In the end, however, it was the British ship that went to the bottom, disappearing under the waves about four and half hours after the torpedo had struck. During the conflict, Q-ships had been top secret and few details were given of the Stock Forcea€™s sinking or the reasons behind the Victoria Cross awarded to its captain. Once the war ended, though, the legend of the Q-ships, especially that of the Stock Force, grew.
The captain published a book, a€?Qa€? Boat Adventures, and the incident was made into a silent film, in 1928, called Q-Ships, in which Auten a€“ who later became executive vice-president of the Rank Organisation in New York a€“ appeared as himself. The vessel, which was built in Dundee, was one of around 200 Q-ships used during the First World War. The ships, which were typically cargo steamers or trawlers, had guns concealed under dummy lifeboats or hidden under fake funnels and awnings.

The idea was to lure U-boats into attacking these decoy ships, which would unleash their hidden weaponry. The submarine involved in the Stock Force clash is thought to have been UB80, which was captained by Max Viebeg, although some experts suggested that it might have been a different vessel. In 1929, the Prince of Wales gave a dinner for Victoria Cross holders in Guildhall, London, and Auten replied to the Princea€™s speech on behalf of the Navy. After the war, Auten, who was born in Leatherhead, Surrey, worked in the film industry in the US. During the Second World War, he returned to naval service, directing convoys across the Atlantic from New York. Yet, a British team of code breakers, led by the 29 year-old Alan Turing, achieved the impossible.
This is Kresimir Josić at the University of Houston, where we are interested in the way inventive minds work. Taking the bait, the enemy submarine drew closer until the Stock Forcea€™s weapons were revealed and it opened fire.
They are thought to have taken the name from the home port of the earliest versions a€“ Queenstown, now known as Cobh, in the Republic of Ireland.
The University of Houston Mathematics Department presents this program about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them. After he admitted to being a homosexual, he was charged under the same statute as Oscar Wilde half a century earlier. This caused the substitution of each letter to depend on the sequence of letters that preceded it. In 2009, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, apologized for this abominable treatment.

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