Daily Event for June 28


June 28, 1915 just a little over a month after the sinking of the Lusitania by SMS U-20, the Leyland liner Armenian was sunk by SMS U-24. The sinking caused another crisis between Germany and the United States because most of the men who perished were Americans. Much was made in the press of this fact, with both the British and French papers doing their level best to fan the flames of anti-German sentiment in the USA and possibly push America into the war.

While the propaganda war raged in the papers, President Wilson carefully considered the Armenian incident before making any comments preferring to wait until the investigation was finished. As it turns out he was correct in hesitating. The ship, while owned by IMM, was assigned to the Leyland Line, but managed by White Star, another IMM subsidiary. However, she was engaged in shipping contraband to England, 1,422 mules destined for the French army. This alone made her a legitimate target as she was on "Admiralty business".

However, the rule for sinking merchant ships was visit and search, and Germany was accused of violating this rule, once again. After the Lusitania disaster the Germans were acutely aware that the USA was in no mood for another "German crime". Of course not all U-boat commanders obeyed these rules, but it seems that Kapitänleutnant Rudolf Schneider at least tried to do so.

It is worth noting that all press accounts identify the U-38 as the culprit, because the survivors said this was the number clearly visible on the conning tower, it was in fact U-24 and Schneider who sank the Armenian. At around 6:30 pm the submarine was sighted by a watchman on the Armenian and captain James Trickey ordered full steam in an attempt to outrun the submarine. He was signaled to stop his ship and surrender after two shots were fired across his bow. Since he would not stop Schneider opened fire with his deck gun scoring several hits on the Armenian, one shot taking out the Marconi room, but the operator a Mr. Swift, held fast at his post until the equipment failed.

After more than a dozen men lay dead on the deck, Trickey decided to surrender, to his surprise he and his crew were treated quite fairly by the Germans from that point on. With several lifeboats damaged from the shelling they took the remaining boats and made for the coast of Cornwall. Before they were picked up the next day by the Belgian steam trawler President Stevens, four of the survivors died.

Twenty-nine men in total lost their lives, including nineteen Americans. They were onboard because the Armenian needed men to tend to the mules, so many of the 175 men onboard were hired at Newport News before sailing. The incident caused by the sinking finally abated because of the circumstances surrounding the event.

© 2009 Michael W. Pocock
MaritimeQuest.com



Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in SS Armenian
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Name
Rate
Aitchison, Thomas
4th Engineer Officer
Aslam, Ahmad Bin
Quartermaster
Indian
Brooks, Richard H.
Foreman
American
Brown, Edward F.
Carpenter
American
Foley, J.
Muleteer
American
Foley, John
Able Seaman
Frobey, T.
Muleteer
American
Granberry, B. M.
Assistant Foreman
American
Harris, Leroy
Muleteer
American
Henry, Julius
Muleteer
American
Jackson, R.
Muleteer
American
King, Thomas
Muleteer
American
Little, A.
Muleteer
American
McCarthy, James
Ordinary Seaman
Monroe, John M.
Assistant Foreman
American
Muhammad, Abdul
Fireman and Trimmer
Indian
Oakes, W.
Muleteer
American
Pauwells, F
Able Seaman
Perks, William H.
Chief Cook
Ryckcerd, Henry
Muleteer
American
Small, H.
Muleteer
American
Smith, John
Muleteer
American
Stone, Harry
Assistant Foreman
American
Sutton, S. R.
Assistant Foreman
American
Vivo, Dr. G. S.
Surgeon
Puetro Rico
Wall, E.
Muleteer
American
Williamson, Edward
Assistant Foreman
American
Yansson, John W.
Able Seaman

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