28th March 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in McDonald, Pennsylvania – Jay Livingston.

Que Sera Sera.

http://www.nndb.com/people/515/000205897/

War at sea

~ Off the coast of Wales, the British steamship, Falaba, en route from Liverpool to Sierra Leone, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U28.  One hundred and four people die as a result of the attack, and one of them is an American, Leon Chester Thrasher. The “Thrasher incident” increases public agitation for America to enter the war.

“After persistent requests by Secretary of State Bryan, documents detailing witness statements from the sinking of the Falaba offered proof that the captain of U-28 gave adequate warnings and time for the Falaba to offload passengers. Instead, the crew of the Falaba had used that time to radio the position of the submarine to nearby armed British patrol ships. As the warship approached, the submarine fired at the last minute — and detonated nearly thirteen tons of contraband high explosives in the Falaba’s cargo. This discovery allowed a diplomatic delay in the American response and the decision of whether to go to war.” [Wikipedia].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrasher_incident

~ Elswhere today, the SS Brussels is ordered to stop by Uboat U33 but chooses instead to attempt to ram the submarine, thereby forcing it to dive, which prevents the attack. The German authorities are outraged that a merchant vessel should attack a submarine.

“Determined to exact revenge, they deliberately set out to capture [the Captain, Fryatt] and, in June 1916 sent destroyers to again intercept the SS Brussels. This time, he and the vessel were captured and taken to occupied Belgium. Capt Fryatt was found guilty at a court martial of being a “franc tireur” – a civilian who took up arms against the usual rules of war – and executed by firing squad. … His death prompted an international outcry, including in the United States … where there was outrage that a civilian had been killed for defending himself.” [Daily Telegraph].

http://blog.findmypast.co.uk/2015/the-tragic-death-of-captain-fryatt/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/britain-at-war/8068171/Forgotten-hero-of-the-First-World-War-to-be-remembered-in-exhibition.html

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