Date: 30 March 1915



Destroyers Escorted Cunarder— Falaba Sunk While Lowering Boats, Say Witnesses at Inquest.

LONDON, March 30.—England’s horror over the torpedoing of the steamships Falaba and Aguila with a loss of life now estimated at 144, gave way to-day to grave concern for the safety of other big passenger carrying liners about to enter the German "war zone."

Representatives of big shipping companies besieged the Admiralty offices early to-day. They were assured that most extraordinary precautions have been taken to protect transatlantic liners from New York from submarine attacks during their passage through the Irish Sea.

Escorted by destroyers and mine sweepers, the big Cunard liner Orduna sped up the Mersey and into Liverpool to-day. Her officers had been warned by wireless of the fate of the Falaba and every man of her crew was alert in expectation of a submarine attack.

The Orduna’s wireless picked up the news of the sinking of the Falaba last night. The Orduna is but one knot faster than the Falaba, which was easily overhauled by the 13-knot German raider. Consequently her officers were genuinely concerned for her safety and took most extraordinary precautions.

The liner's boats were made ready to be lowered instantly in case of an attack. Canadian troops, mostly Newfoundland recruits, en route to England, voluntarily stood guard while the
Orduna, under full speed and in almost utter darkness, dashed through the Irish Sea. The news of the sinking of the Falaba was a secret among the Orduna’s officers until the liner reached Liverpool to-day. Her passengers knew nothing of the destroyer
convoy until they went on deck this morning.

112 Lost With Falaba.

All night crowds thronged about the offices of the Elder-Dempster line here inquiring for relatives aboard the Falaba. Early to-day the officers of the line admitted that they had practically abandoned hope for 112 passengers and crew of the Falaba who are still missing.

Trawlers raking the sea off the southern coast of Wales early to-day reported sighting a number of dead bodies. Reports from Fishguard regarding the exact loss of life aboard the Aguila were still contradictory, but the Admiralty said that twenty-three of the Aguila’s crew and three passengers were missing.

An inquest at Milford Haven to-day resulted in the formal finding that the eight known victims of the Falaba disaster came to their deaths through exposure, following torpedoing of the ship.

Liner Tried to Escape.

Surviving officers testified that when the submarine was sighted, the Falaba’s captain ordered full speed ahead and altered the vessel’s course while the crew was ordered to stand
by the boats.

The submarine was at least three knots faster than the Falaba, witnesses testified. She overahuled the liner within fifteen minutes and signalled: "Stop and abandon your ship!" The Falaba kept on her course and the submarine signalled: "Stop, or I’ll fire into you!" The Falaba then hove to and was putting her boats over the side when the torpedo struck her amidships.

The London press to-day expressed the indignation of the nation over the sinking of the Falaba and the Aguila with heavy loss of non-combatant lives. Particularly, they dwelt upon the maiming of women passengers by gun fire. Between the lines of the newspaper articles was conveyed the warning that, now that a big passenger carrying steamship actually had been sunk by a German torpedo, other liners might expect to meet the same fate. The Admiralty, however, insisted that there was no ground for the belief that any of the big liners plying between New York and Liverpool could be sent to the bottom by a submarine.

Falaba a Slow Boat.

Officials of the Admiralty pointed out that the Falaba could make
but 14 knots an hour and that she was therefore easy prey for an 18-knot submarine. Fast liners, it was asserted, had nothing to fear from subarine [sic] attacks.

Without exception the London papers to-day declared that the torpedoing of the Falaba, with its helpless passengers, and the attack upon the Aguila, was a "savage massacre." At the same time they united in the declaration that Germany is now "at
the end of her string."

World War history: daily records and comments as appeared in American and foreign newspapers, -1926. (New York, NY) 29 Mar. 1915, p. 56. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

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