The Lusitania Resource > News > #Lusitania Centennial #OnThisday: #Lusitania100 years #LusitaniaRemembered #Cobh #Kinsale #Lusitania100Cork #Cork

#Lusitania Centennial #OnThisday: #Lusitania100 years #LusitaniaRemembered #Cobh #Kinsale #Lusitania100Cork #Cork

IMG_1183Lusitania flowers at the wreck site, presented by Richard Woods (son of Nancy Wickings-Smith)

Friday, 7 May 1915:

The RMS Lusitania is torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 at 2:10 pm and sinks to the bottom of the sea at 2:28 pm, off the south coast of Ireland. Of the estimated 1,962 passengers and crew on board the ocean liner, 1,198 lost their lives, 764 survived. No words on this mere page, or even of all the pages on this site combined, can do justice to the horror, barbarity, and tragedy of that one day in May.

Thursday, 7 May 2015 – One hundred years later:

People from all over the world come together to remember those who were on board the Lusitania, those who survived and those who perished. Many events were going on throughout County Cork, but here is just a brief recap of some of the day’s events.

The families of Albert Byington, Solomon Abramowitz, Stanley and Ethel Lines, and Basil, Cyril, Phyllis, and Nancy Wickings-Smith took a boat over the wreck site of the Lusitania, some 11.8 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale. Sonar and navigation tools told us when we were over the wreck site.

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The coast of Ireland was only the thin sliver on the horizon at that distance.

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It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to have been on a ship and suddenly find yourself in the water with the coast close enough to see, but not close enough to swim to, while also being mind-numbingly cold. Naomi Box, great-granddaughter of Stanley and Ethel Lines, who survived, presented an ice wreath for the survivors. Richard Woods, son of Nancy Wickings-Smith, presented a bouquet of flowers for the lost, as his great-uncle, Basil Wickings-Smith, was lost in the Lusitania disaster.

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The boat came back from the the wreck site early that afternoon, and part of the group stayed for commemorations at the Old Head of Kinsale, while part of the group went to Cobh (formerly Queenstown). At Cobh, a huge stage was set up at the waterfront where people listened to speeches and musical performances held especially to memorialize the sinking of the Lusitania.

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Cunard’s Queen Victoria was also docked there to participate in the Lusitania remembrance ceremony. She sounded her horn at 2:10 pm, the time when the torpedo stuck the ship. The crowd held silence for one minute. Queen Victoria sounded her horn at 2:28 pm, the time the Lusitania sank. Trying to navigate through a crowd as pictured above in 18 minutes was already a challenge, if you could just imagine how much more difficult and harrowing it would be on board the sinking Lusitania.

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The memorial ceremony then shifted to the Lusitania Memorial in Casement Square, where Irish President Michael D. Higgins and the German, British, and American ambassadors laid down wreaths in front of the memorial. The wreaths were later moved closer to the memorial by soldiers.

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A series of fully-packed lectures took place in Cobh’s library, and Lusitania exhibits were open in the Cobh Museum and in the old Cunard building. At 5:30 pm, a tiled wall dedicated to the Lusitania was unveiled.

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At around 9:30 pm, a flotilla of boats sailed through Cork Harbor to the Cobh wharves. This volunteer fleet was re-enacting and representing the motley collection of fishing boats, tramp steamers, and naval vessels that brought Lusitania‘s survivors and dead to Cobh (then Queenstown) the evening of 7 May 1915.

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They were greeted by women re-enacters representing local townsfolk of the time period and people concerned for the innocent civilians who were targeted in war.

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The transfer of the living and dead was symbolized by the transfer of a Cunard flag from the captain of the lead ship of the fleet to a younger girl on the dock.

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The day’s commemorations in Cobh concluded with the docking of the reenacting rescue flotilla and the departure of the Queen Victoria for Dublin.

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The day’s commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the Lusitania sinking was engaging, moving, and drew a gathering of tens of thousands to Cobh. This may be the first time such a large-scale event has been planned to commemorate the Lusitania, but I hope this can serve as a future model of how to bring people together to remember not only an important part of history, but also the real, human lives involved and impacted, and how to keep the memories of these people alive.

 

 

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