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.

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