On This Date in History: In school, everyone is well acquainted with the Lusitania and its sinking in 1915 by the Germans in World War I. That is considered by many to be a turning point in the position that President Wilson and the US took regarding the war in Europe and began the shift of US public opinion from neutrality to the backing of the Allies. But, the final straw probably happened on this date in 1917 when the British registered SS California was sunk by a German U-Boat. The passenger ship of the Anchor Line went down about 38 miles off the Irish coast after one torpedo missed its mark and the second slammed home. The ship sunk and 43 people died. This attack flew in the face of President Wilson’s warning that the attack of civilian ships, particularly passenger liners, of neutral countries…especially the United States, would not be tolerated. The Germans ignored the warning.
Now, the British had intercepted a telegram from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to the Mexican Foreign Minister just a few weeks before. The message offered Mexico lands in the US if the Mexicans helped the Germans in their cause…of course assuming that the Axis Powers won. Very cleverly, the Brits didn’t tell anyone right away. After all, timing is everything and they didn’t have to wait long. Following the sinking of the SS California, which they knew tried the patience of President Wilson and the US citizenry, Great Britain informed the US and the world of the telegram on February 24. Guess they wanted to wait a bit until all of the Yanks had time to be lathered up to their fullest. By April, the US declared war on Germany. That was the beginning of the end for the Axis Powers.
A little help is required here because if one recalls the Titanic disaster in 1912, there was one ship close enough to the doomed super-liner that her lights could be seen. But, the distant ship did not respond to light signals, wire-less SOS calls or rockets. It quietly slipped away and untold people died as they waited in the icy waters for several hours before the SS Carpathia showed up to pluck survivors from the sea. Speculation is that the ignorant ship was the SS Californian…often mistakenly called the California in movies and some texts. The Californian was also a British registered ship but was of the Leyland Line. If you wish that it was the Californian that got sunk for vengence sake, you’re in luck. It was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in November 1915.
We have two ships referencing the state of California though
they were both British ships. Both were torpedoed by the Germans in World War I and one has an infamous record for its non-involvement in one of the greatest maritime disasters of all time. Not to be outdone, the United States Navy got into the act when it acquired a freighter in 1918 and called it the USS California. It was sunk later that year by a German U-Boat. I don’t know about you but I am never going to book passage on a ship that has anything to do with California.
Weather Bottom Line: Pretty tough with the wind and the cold on Wednesday and Thursday morning air temps in the single digits in many areas will feel even colder with a bit of a breeze. But the previous forecast holds. We move above freezing to seasonal temperatures by Friday afternoon and then we get to the 50’s by Sunday afternoon at least and then perhaps into the 60’s for the first part of next week. Next week may be a bit wet from time to time but who cares? We deserve a break from old man winter who didn’t seem to get the Global Warming Memo.