It was a craven act of warfare that left nearly 1200 people dead, and hastened the entry of the US into the First World War.
The Clyde-built Lusitania was 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, when she was identified and torpedoed by the German U-boat U-20 . It sank in 18 minutes, killing 1,198 and leaving 761 survivors. Many of those who died were Americans.
Tomorrow is the 104th anniversary of the sinking of the Cunard liner. Among those who perished was Ella Chinnery Osbourne, married to Thomas Osbourne of Blythswood, Glasgow. She was just 30 years old.
Her body was never recovered, but her husband had a memorial statue raised for her at Craigton Cemetery on Glasgow's Cardonald district.
The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, which claimed Lusitania, built by John Brown’s in 1906, was carrying munitions and, indeed, had warned passengers a few days before she sailed from New York heading for Britain, that she may be a target. Britain denied this and used the sinking as propaganda, turning Americans against the Germans and ushering the US in the war two years later.
However documents released in 2014 show that in 1982 the government feared attempts to survey the wreck would reveal an illegal stash of ammunition, which almost 70 years on, would discredit the premise on which the Americans were drawn into the war.
The files show that the Ministry of Defence even went as far as warning divers planning to explore the wreck that it could contain explosives - even though it had always maintained the ship was not carrying any on her final, fateful voyage.
Ella Osbourne went to the United States on March 2, 1915 aboard the Anchor Liner Cameronia. She was due to return to Glasgow on the same ship on May 1, but was transferred to Lusitania.
Her grieving husband’s tribute contains a stanza from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem Break, Break Break. Here is the full version.
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
Many thanks to Izzy and Tim from Paisley, who took the pictures of Ella’s statue for LG.