Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

RMS Lusitania: Manx flotilla marks centenary of sinking

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Media captionThe Isle of Man fishermen who were Lusitania heroes

A flotilla has set sail from the Isle of Man to mark the 100th anniversary of when seven Manx fishermen rescued 150 people from the sinking RMS Lusitania.

The Cunard luxury liner was torpedoed off the Irish coast by a German U-boat in 1915, with the loss of 1,198 lives.

It had been carrying more than 2,000 passengers from New York to Liverpool.

A fishing boat from the island, The Wanderer, was in the area at the time and its seven crew - who later received bravery medals - saved scores of lives.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The New York Herald highlighted some of the ship's famous passengers including millionaire sportsman Alfred Vanderbilt (in cap), last seen giving his lifebelt to a young mother

Two of those medals are now held in the Leece Museum in Peel.

It only took 18 minutes for the Lusitania to sink. The scale of death meant Irish soldiers had to dig a mass grave near the port town of Cobh (then known as Queenstown). A memorial marks the tragedy.

Image copyright Manx National Heritage
Image caption The Wanderer was a small fishing boat from Peel in the Isle of Man

Isle of Man commemoration organiser Jackie O'Halloran said: "The Manx boat sailed immediately to assist in what was an extraordinary feat to rescue so many.

"This event has been organised to celebrate the heroism of the crew of The Wanderer and remember a tragedy from which there were only 770 survivors."

Sunday's flotilla in Peel harbour was led by the RNLI Lifeboat crew at 12:00 BST. Poppy petals were scattered and two wreaths were thrown into the Irish Sea.

Peel Town Commissioners said many of the descendants of The Wanderer crew would be attending a dinner held in their memory and honour.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As The Lusitania sank only a few lifeboats were successfully launched

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