At the start of World War I, Germany had twenty-nine U-boats; in the first ten weeks, five British cruisers had been lost to them. On 5 September 1914, HMS Pathfinder[->0] was sunk by SM U-21[->1], the first ship to have been sunk by a submarine using a self-propelled torpedo. On 22 September, U-9[->2] sank the obsolete British warships HMS Aboukir[->3], HMS Cressy[->4] and HMS Hogue[->5] (the "Live Bait Squadron[->6]") in a single hour. In the Gallipoli Campaign[->7] in the spring of 1915 in the eastern Mediterranean[->8], German U-boats, notably the U-21, prevented close support of allied troops by 18 pre-Dreadnought battleships[->9] by sinking two of them. For the first few months of the war, U-boat anti-commerce actions observed the "prize rules"[->10] of the time which governed the treatment of enemy civilian ships and their occupants. On 20 October 1914, SM U-17[->11] sank the first merchant ship, the SS Glitra[->12], off Norway. Surface commerce raiders were proving to be ineffective, and on 4 February 1915, the Kaiser[->13] assented to the declaration of a war zone in the waters around the British Isles. This was cited as a retaliation for British minefields and shipping blockades[->14]. Under the instructions given to U-boat captains, they could sink merchant ships, even potentially neutral ones, without warning. A statement by the U.S. Government, holding Germany "strictly accountable" for any loss of American lives, made no material difference.
Sinking Of The Lousitana
The British ocean liner RMS Lusitania, famous for its luxurious accommodations and speed capability, primarily ferried people and goods across the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Great Britain. On May 1, 1915, the Lusitania left port in New York for Liverpool to make her 202nd trip across the Atlantic. On board were 1,959 people, 159 of whom were Americans. Since the outbreak of World War I, ocean voyage had become dangerous. Each side hoped to blockade the other,...
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