The Sinking of the Lusitania page 4
Shops were plundered and wrecked, and in one day in the Camden Town and Kentish Town districts alone 150 shops were attacked.
At Southend the military garrison was called out to quell a riot and protect German residents against whom the crowd was demonstrating.
"This was England's answer to the outrage at sea, and it had its inevitable sequel. Reprisal had come swiftly, but it must be admitted that the blows fell upon the innocent as well as the guilty.
Many of the dealers on the Exchanges whose absence had been demanded were men who had lived for years in this country, and whose sympathies were entirely pro-British. They employed many clerks at good wages, and many of them at the time when they were barred from 'Change were paying wages to men fighting with the British colours.
But the inevitable had to happen. On May 13, Mr. Asquith announced in the House of Commons that all enemy aliens in this country would be put out of reach of harm by internment or despatch by deportation unless grounds were shown for exceptional treatment. Naturalized persons of enemy origin were to be left at liberty.
The report of the inquiry was read at a special sitting at Caxton House, Westminster, on Saturday, July 17. Lord Mersey, who had conducted the enquiry into the Titanic disaster in 1912, acted as Wreck Commissioner. The report found that:
"The loss of the said ship and lives was due to damage caused to the said ship by torpedoes fired by a submarine of German nationality, whereby the ship sank.
"In the opinion of the Court the act was done not merely with the intention of sinking the ship, but also with the intention of destroying the lives of the people on board."
Lord Mersey went on to say that the condition of the lifeboats and life-saving appliances was satisfactory, and though there were mishaps in such matters as hauling the ropes, there was, in his opinion, no incompetence or neglect.
"I find the conduct of the masters, the officers and crew was satisfactory. They did their best in difficult and perilous circumstances, and their best was good."
In an annex to the main report Lord Mersey said: "The whole blame for the cruel destruction of life in this catastrophe must rest solely with those who plotted, and with those who committed the crime."
Lord Mersey found that the cargo was of the ordinary kind, but included a number of cases of cartridges (about 5,000), which were entered on the manifest. They were stowed well forward on the orlop and lower decks, about fifty yards from where the ship was struck. There was no other explosive on board.
The two torpedoes, which struck the ship on the starboard side, were fired without warning of any kind.
A third torpedo was apparently fired, and it was thought that perhaps another submarine might have been present at the time.
During one of the public sessions of the inquiry evidence was given by a witness who described himself as a French subject from the vicinity of Switzerland. He suggested that the noise of the explosion was of a kind that indicated the presence of secret ammunition on board.
Lord Mersey said he disbelieved that story told by the witness. There was no confirmation of it, he said, and it appeared that he had threatened to produce in public evidence that would be to the credit of neither the company nor the Admiralty unless the company made him an immediate allowance on account of a claim. There was no explosion in any part of the cargo. So, that was that.
Then Lord Mersey came to the advice given to the Captain by the Admiralty.
The actual evidence was given in camera, but Lord Mersey, in his report said:
"It was abundantly plain to me that the Admiralty had devoted the most anxious care and thought to the questions arising out of the submarine peril, and that they had diligently collected all available information likely to affect the voyage of the Lusitania in this connection. I do not know who the officials were to whom these duties were entrusted, but they deserved the highest praise for the way in which they did their work.
"Captain Turner was fully advised as to the means which the Admiralty thought best calculated to avert the perils he was likely to encounter, and in some respects did not follow that advice. It may be, though I seriously doubt it, that had Captain Turner done so his ship would have reached Liverpool in safety."
After seeking the guidance of his assessors Lord Mersey concluded, however, that blame ought not to be imputed to the Captain. The advice given him, although meant for his careful consideration, was not intended to deprive him of the right to exercise his skilled judgment in the difficult questions that might arise in the navigation of his ship.
"He exercised his judgment for the best. It was the judgment of a skilled and experienced man, and although others might have acted differently, and perhaps more successfully, he ought not, in my opinion to be blamed."
And so the Lusitania lay unmolested on her ocean bed for over twenty years.
Then by means of the marvellous piece of scientific apparatus known as the Hughe's Echo Sounder, she was located fifty fathoms deep, and a diver actually walked on her hull.
And Here is the Epilogue:
On a day in April, 1937, the result of a "straw" ballot (straws show which way the wind blows) was announced in the United States, on the question whether America should have entered the Great War.
Seven out often Americans said it would have been better for America to have kept out of the war.
But they were not the Americans who heard with horror, twenty-two years ago, of the murder of the Lusitania.
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