MARCH 7: Lusitania sinks; crewman saves lives

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Leslie Morton

Leslie Morton

100 YEARS AGO TODAY, eighteen-year-old crewman Leslie Morton spotted thin lines of foam racing toward the RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner carrying nearly 2,000 passengers on a voyage from New York to Liverpool, England. He shouted “torpedoes coming on the starboard side!” through a megaphone, thinking the bubbles came from two projectiles. Within 18 minutes, the ship had sunk to the bottom of the sea, and 1,195 individuals would lose their life.

Morton and another crewman, Joseph Parry, lowered a collapsible lifeboat and pulled about 100 passengers from the sea. Morton would later be awarded the Silver Board of Trade Medal for Gallantry in Saving Lives at Sea.

The torpedo (there may have been two) was shot from a German U-Boat. The furor over the sinking of the Lusitania helped pull the U.S. into World War I.

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