The Lusitania Story - 2002


Front Cover and Spine, The Lusitania Story By Mitch Peeke, Kevin Walsh-Johnson and Steven Jones, 2002.

Front Cover and Spine, The Lusitania Story By Mitch Peeke, Kevin Walsh-Johnson and Steven Jones, 2002. GGA Image ID # 184e8e08f1



RMS Lusitania. The very mention of her name summons a vision of disaster. Ask anyone what they know of the Lusitania and the vague reply will invariably be something like, ‘Wasn’t that the big liner the Germans sank?

First World War, wasn’t it?’ Others may even go so far as to confuse the Lusitania with the ill-fated Titanic, or they may tell you that it was the sinking of the Lusitania that brought America into the war. Or was that Pearl Harbour? Can’t remember now.

Prior to 1915 however, the mention of RMS Lusitania to anyone then living would not have brought any vague reply. Everyone knew of her, for she and her sister ship, RMS Mauretania, were the pride of the Cunard Line and supreme proof, if proof were needed, that Britannia, through her Royal and Merchant fleets, did indeed rule the waves.

But it was so long ago now, beyond living memory almost. And yet there remains a marked degree of mystique surrounding the Lusitania. With the Titanic story now patently suffering from overkill, media and public interest is rapidly turning toward the largely forgotten Lusitania. Sadly though, few will bother to look beyond the disaster of Friday, 7 May 1915.

Hardly anyone will take the time to look at the Lusitania's real story, which actually starts in 1902. The events of that fateful Friday have completely blocked the view of her previous life and career, of her great achievements and the groundbreaking advances in the technology of her day that she represented.

Is this the mystique of the Lusitania? Undoubtedly for some it is, whilst for others, there is all the allure of a great sunken ship and the many rumors that will always surround such a vessel, such as the popular myth that like almost any lost ship, she was supposedly carrying an absolute fortune in gold bullion.

Could it perhaps be all the “If only’s’ that attend the story of her final voyage? If only Captain Turner or Kapitänleutnant Schwieger had taken different courses of action. If only the torpedo had hit her elsewhere. If only the Admiralty had provided an effective escort for her. If only she hadn’t been carrying munitions.

The sinking of the Lusitania, unlike that of the Titanic, was a totally man-made disaster, a deliberate act and therefore a much bigger event in world history. The Titanic disaster held far-reaching consequences for the hitherto complacent sphere of maritime safety regulations. The Lusitania disaster held far-reaching consequences for the complacency of human nature, as well as world history.

Yet for all this, her story, like the ship herself, seems to have been largely forgotten for some strange reason and for us at least, this is the ultimate mystique of the Lusitania. This is what made us want to write this book.

Until now, if one had wanted to read her complete story, one would have to study at least six different books, all of which will throw differing opinions at the reader. One would then have to make a determined attempt to sort the wheat from the chaff, in order just to begin building a picture of this truly fascinating ship for oneself.

Unlike the story of the Titanic, no blockbuster movie has ever been made about the Lusitania, even though her loss was the much bigger event. Of the few television documentaries that have been made, most, if not all, stop short of telling anything like her full story for fear of the controversy that still surrounds her loss.

In the Lusitania story, one has all the classic ingredients of an enduring tale: a good sea story, a remarkable technical achievement, a study of the social history of her era, shipwreck on a grand scale and an epic ‘whodunit?’ complete with high-level cover-up. Her story is all the more fascinating for being fact rather than fiction.

In this book, we have tried to bring the best of these ingredients together for the first time into a single volume, to tell the truly absorbing story of a long-forgotten ship and her people.

We believe this to be a story that the world has been waiting for, perhaps without even realizing that it has been waiting. So here then, for the first time, is her complete story from conception to sinking. It is a cradle to the grave account of one of the most remarkable ships ever to have graced the deep ocean. The RMS Lusitania.



  1. Foreword
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Introduction
  4. Forces of Creation
  5. Design
  6. Building the Dream
  7. Launch
  8. Fitting Out
  9. Trials and Alterations
  10. Lusitania in Service
  11. War
  12. The Last Departure
  13. The 202nd Atlantic Voyage
  14. The Sinking of the Lusitania
  15. Public Enquiries: The Crown v The Truth
  16. The Wreck of the Lusitania
  17. What Sank the Lusitania?
  18. Epilogue
  19. Appendix I - Passenger and Crew List for Lusitania's Last Voyage
  20. Appendix II - Cunard Obligations: 1903 Agreement Appendix III Lusitania Online
  21. Appendix IV - Dimensions and Statistics of RMS Lusitania
  22. Bibliography
  23. Index


Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • Personal name: Peeke, Mitch.
  • Main title: The Lusitania story / by Mitch Peeke, Kevin Walsh-Johnson and Steven Jones.
  • Published/Created: Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press, c2002.
  • Description: xiv, 175 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
  • ISBN: 1591144736
  • LC classification: D592.L8 P44 2002
  • Related names: Walsh-Johnson, Kevin.; Jones, Steven (Of the Lusitania Historical Society)
  • LC Subjects: Lusitania (Steamship); World War, 1914-1918--Naval operations, German.; World War, 1914-1918--Naval operations--Submarine.; Shipwrecks--History--20th century.; World War, 1914-1918--Great Britain.
  • Notes: Includes passenger and crew lists from her final voyage in 1915. Includes bibliographical references (p. 168-169) and index.
  • LCCN: 2002110788
  • Dewey class no.: 940.4/514
  • Geographic area code: e-gx--- e-uk---
  • Type of material: Book


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