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Lusitania Inquest

The Irish Inquest on victims of the sinking of the 'Lusitania' off the coast of Kinsale.

LusitaniaOn 1st May, 1915, the British Cunard Liner 'Lusitania' departed New York for liverpool. On 7th May the unescorted ship was about 15 miles off the Irish coast opposite Kinsale Harbour. The Commander of U-boat U20, Kapitan Leutnant Walter Schwieger, on wartime patrol sighted the 'Lusitania' and fired a single torpedo into her side. A second mysterious explosion also occurred. The ship sank in 18 minutes. A large number of survivors were picked up by some fishing boats. Of those on board, 1,119 out of 1,926 passengers and crew died.


The 'Lusitania' hit by torpedo off the Irish coast.

The 'Lusitania' leaves New York.

Sinking 7 May 1915.

"The first of the enquiries took place on the day following the tragedy. Fishing boats from both Queenstown and Kinsale had come to the rescue of the survivors. The latter town jealously guarded its ancient privileges as an independent authority. When he discovered that five bodies had been landed there by Kinsale boats, the town's coroner, John Horgan, a local solicitor whose families were close allies of John Redmond, the leader of the parliamentary wing of the Irish Nationalist Party, moved speedily to convene an inquest. He went over to Queenstown on the morning of 8 May and subpoenaed Turner and a number of survivors to appear before him. Shrewdly suspecting that the higher authority might forestall him, he opened hearings that afternoon in the historic Market House of Kinsale before a coroner's jury of local merchants and fishermen. In his memoirs Horgan described Captain Turner, who appeared before him on the morning of 10 May as 'clad in a badly fitting old suit....suffering from the strain of his experience'. Despite his mental condition, with no lawyers on hand to coach or restrain him as in the later proceedings, Turner gave evidence in a confident manner.

He convincingly answered questions put to him. In the light of the subsequent controversy, Turner’s response to questioning on whether the liner should have been escorted is enlightening.

Jury foreman; In the face of the warnings at New York that the Lusitania would be torpedoed, did you make an application to the Admiralty for an escort?

Turner; No. I left that to them. It is their business, not mine. I simply had to carry out my orders to go – and I would do it again.

Horgan; I am glad to hear you say so, Captain.

It was only when Horgan condoled with him and with Cunard of the loss of his ship that, clearly overwrought, he collapsed in tears.

The jury brought in the verdict; ‘this appalling crime was contrary to international law – and charge the officers of the submarine and the German Emperor under whose orders they acted, of willful and wholescale murder.’

Half an hour after the verdict was announced orders arrived from the Admiralty to stop the inquest and prevent Captain Turner from giving evidence.

Moved by the tragedy and realizing how vulnerable were those who ventured on the seas, Horgan would devote much of his time to serving as a reserve officer in the Coastguard."

Reference; ‘Lusitania Saga and Myth’ by David Ramsay. First published in 2001. by Chatham Publishing.


0 Comments · 18236 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on August 31 2007


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