The Lusitania Sinking


Uncertain of their son's fate, his family leaped into action.

The sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania was a maritime disaster that may have changed the course of history by making American involvement in World War I almost inevitable. This part of the story has been told before but here, for the first time, The Lusitania Sinking has a far more personal tale to tell, of a family looking for information on their son's death.

On 1 May 1915 Preston Prichard, a 29-year-old student, embarked as a second-class passenger on the Lusitania, bound from New York for Liverpool. Just after 2 p.m. on 7 May, a single torpedo, fired by the German submarine U-20, caused a massive explosion in the Lusitania's hold, and the ship began sinking rapidly. Within 20 minutes she disappeared and 1,198 men, women and children, including Preston, died.

Preston's mother wrote hundreds of letters to survivors to find out more about what might have happened in his last moments. The replies she received included an extensive selection of moving and evocative survivors' accounts. Although this was not Mrs Prichard's intention, she thus assembled an outstanding collection of vivid first-hand recollections. The Lusitania Sinking tells the story of this tragedy using this previously unseen historical treasure trove.


A fascinating, excellently-written reassessment of the sinking of the iconic liner Lusitania using the letters, diaries and memoirs of those who were extremely fortunate to survive. Anthony Richards is at his best in this ground-breaking history.

Richard van Emden

About the Author

Anthony Richards

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 18, 2018

Anthony Richards

Anthony Richards has worked in the document and sound archives of the Imperial War Museum in London for more than twenty years. He has contributed to many publications based on personal written testimony of the two world wars. He is the author of The Somme: A Visual History, In Their Own Words: Untold Stories of the First World War and The War on Paper: 20 Documents that Defined the Second World War.