SS Falaba

Falaba was a 5,000 ton British passenger-cargo ship.  It was sunk on 28 March 1915 by the German submarine U-28, which was commanded by Baron Forstner.

Falaba was off the southern Irish coast when U-28 surfaced and stopped the British ship.  Forstner had allowed for evacuation before sinking the ship, but when Falaba started sending wireless messages and distress rockets for help, Forstner cut short the time to evacuate the ship.  The Germans claimed that they allowed 23 minutes for evacuation; the British claimed that they were only given 7.

U-28 fired a single torpedo into Falaba, resulting in 100 deaths, including that of one US citizen, Leon Thresher, a mining engineer headed towards the Gold Coast in Africa (now the country of Ghana).  The Germans also claimed that Falaba’s cargo contained rifle cartridges that exploded, hastening the sinking.

The American press denounced the sinking as a “massacre” and an act of piracy, but the US Wilson Administration took no action on the matter.

Leon Thresher’s body was recovered with the Lusitania victims, number 248.

Contributors:
Jim Kalafus

References:
List of Recovered Victims.  Cunard Confidentiality Report.

Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

5 Responses

  1. Gavin D Thompson
    Gavin D Thompson 21 February 2012 at 07:27 · Reply

    Where can I obtain a copy list of recovered victims?

  2. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 12 May 2012 at 15:40 · Reply

    As far as I am aware there is no definite list of those victims recovered after the loss of the Falaba. The official list of dead does not indicate if a victim’s body was recovered. I do know that the following bodies were recovered.

    First class
    Lieutenant Blakeney
    Mr Brooks
    Captain Goulden
    Lieutenant-Commander Henderson
    Mr Hesse
    Lieutenant Nicholas
    Mr Thomas

    Second class
    Mr Dawson
    Mr Thresher
    Corporal Wallace
    Mr Whittaker

    Crew
    Frederick Davis – captain
    John Myers – trimmer
    Louisa Gearle – stewardess
    Frank Ellison – steward
    Thomas Evans – steward

    Many bodies were recovered along the North Cornish coast, while Mr Dawson and Corporal Wallace were recovered from the sea by ships rescuing survivors. Two bodies were recovered off Ireland – Mr Thresher and Captain Goulden.

  3. Patricia Holt
    Patricia Holt 5 April 2013 at 21:45 · Reply

    My Grandfather Staff Sergeant John Westlake, Royal Army Ordinance Corps, died aboard this ship. I would dearly like to find out more details, especially whether there is a memorial with regard to this tradgedy. He left a young widow and newly born daughter, my Mother, and I am keen to find out more, particularly as my young 8 year old daughter is very interested in our family history.

    1. Danusia Westlake
      Danusia Westlake 12 February 2014 at 15:15 · Reply

      Hello Patricia Holt, I was starting research on Family History and saw this! John Westlake would have been my ‘uncle’. My mum is the youngest Westlake daughter! Danusia Westlake

  4. Patricia Holt
    Patricia Holt 18 February 2014 at 12:59 · Reply

    Hello Danusia, thank you for your comments, I am very interested to learn more. Can you tell me your mother name? We maybe can follow it up to see if we are indeed related. Wait to hear from you. Patricia

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