THE LUSITANIA'S LAST VOYAGEby Charles E. Lauriat, Jr.
TRAVELLERS intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying
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TRAVELLERS intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
IMPERIAL GERMAN EMBASSY.
Washington, D. C, April 22, 1915.
Naturally I saw the notice issued by the Imperial German Embassy, published in all of the New York papers of May 1. On the opposite page I reprint the whole notice issued by the Embassy in order to correct the erroneous impression I find held by many people, that the Lusitania was specified in it.
It is a coincidence that this notice appeared in some of the New York papers beside the advertisement of the proposed sailings of the Cunard Line. Like many other passengers I gave the notice no serious thought. No idea of cancelling my trip occurred to me. I did not sail with a feeling of defiance towards the Embassy, either for the notice or for any action that might follow; for I admit that I did not think any human being with a drop of red blood in his veins, called a man, could issue an order to sink a passenger steamer without at least giving the women and children a chance to get away. True, it was a ship of a belligerent nation and carried citizens of countries with which Germany was at war, but I could not believe their policy of "frightfulness" would be carried to such an extent as events afterwards proved. The steamer did have in her cargo some ammunition, but taking all things into consideration I did not think an order would be given to torpedo this boat without warning, or without an opportunity being given to passengers to take to the boats, and so possibly cause one of the greatest marine disasters of modern times. The order is now a proven fact in history.
We had a pleasant crossing, smooth seas, with sunshine and very little fog.
I enjoyed roaming about the boat exceedingly, as I had never before taken passage on one of the "greyhounds," although it was my twenty-third crossing. I always enjoy the voyage and prefer a smaller and slower boat; but this year I wanted to make my business trip as short as possible, and had the Lusitania gone through at her usual rate of speed and arrived at Liverpool as scheduled, I could have taken up my work the following Saturday morning.
As the days passed the passengers seemed to enjoy them more and more, and formed those acquaintances such as one does on an ocean crossing. Each evening, in the smoking room, the pool for the following day's run was auctioned, and that always makes for informality and companionship.
Thursday evening the usual concert was given and much enjoyed.
Friday morning early there was some fog, but I arose at eight as usual and had my sea bath. As the horn was blowing and the weather was thick, I returned to my berth for a few hours' extra snooze. I instructed the steward that if he didn't hear from me by 12 o'clock he was to call me, as that would give me ample time to get ready for lunch at one.
At noon he came and told me that we had picked up Cape Clear and had put the clock one hour and forty minutes ahead to Greenwich time. I got up and dressed, and was on deck at about ten minutes to one for a short stroll before lunch. It was a beautiful day then, light wind, a smooth sea, and bright sunshine. I thought to myself that if a German submarine really meant business, she would have to wait weeks for a more ideal chance than the present weather conditions. With a flat, unbroken sea, such as that around us, the periscope of a submarine could certainly carry a long distance. On the port side was the good old Irish Coast, and it seemed to me that we were going up the old beaten track that ocean liners have taken for the last fifty years. I was surprised that we were following it, but I was more than surprised at the slow speed we were making. There was no use of one asking questions of the officers, for we all knew they were told to hold their tongues.
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