This Friday 1st May is the anniversary and a tragic date in Maritime history. It is 100 years after the Lusitania set sail for Liverpool.
It would not reach its destination.
On May 7th it would be torpedoed and sunk by a German Submarine.
I offered this medal for a competition in the Liverpool Echo some time ago and it is no longer available but I do feel emotional every year when the date comes about and I start to think of the tragedy.........................................................................
Despite its size and at first glance, it is quite innocent looking, this piece of history tells us fathoms about the era in which it was made and the tragedy that it represents.
I recently visited Cobh on the Irish coast near Cork, were passengers had once boarded the Titanic for its maiden voyage where there is a memorial to those that died on the Lusitania.
The medal was struck by the British and "copied" from the original, that was made after the deplorable act of the sinking of The Lusitania on 7th May 1915 by a German U-Boat, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, leaving 761 survivors.
It is said that it is an exact replica of the one that was struck by Karl Goetz for the Germans to commemorate the atrocity.
It was made in 1916 some time later than the original which was made privately in August 1915.
It was said that 500 German medals were struck and a limited circulation took place.
British copies were of die cast iron and were of poorer quality than the original. The original Goetz medals were sand-cast bronze. Belatedly realising his mistake, Goetz got the date wrong and the original German medal was dated ‘5 Mai’ Goetz quickly issued a corrected medal with the date of "7. Mai".
On the cases it was stated that the medals had been distributed in Germany "to commemorate the sinking of the Lusitania" and they came with a propaganda leaflet which strongly denounced the Germans and used the medal's incorrect date to claim that the sinking of the Lusitania was premeditated.
The head of the Lusitania Souvenir Medal Committee later estimated that 250,000 were sold, proceeds being given to the Red Cross and St. Dunstan's Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel.
There had been an advertisement placed in an American paper warning of the risk to passengers travelling on Cunard Line.
It was estimated that it took 16 minutes to sink 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale.
The reason why we the British would strike a medal and distribute it, is, a sinister act itself.
Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made claims about the ship and whether it was a legitimate target.
At the time she was sunk, she was carrying a large quantity of rifle ammunition and other supplies necessary for war, as well as civilian passengers.