28/3/1915 Leon Thrasher’s last journey

Leon C. Thrasher is a mining engineer from the United Stages of America. He works for a mining company in the Gold Coast but has been spending the last few weeks in London. Now he is on his way back to Africa onboard the Falaba, a British passenger ship. Unfortunately for him and the ship’s other passengers, as the ship sails out of the Irish Sea it encounters a German U-boat. It tries to outrun the U-boat (the U-28, under the command of Georg-Günther von Forstner) but the U-boat catches up. Forstner gives the Falaba ten minutes to evacuate its passengers and crew.
What happens next is not entirely clear. The U-28 seems to have fired a torpedo at the Falaba before the ten minutes are up. This may be out of teutonic sadism or it may be because the Falaba was radioing and signalling for help to fast approaching British warships.

Some reports say that the torpedo causes a tremendous explosion, because the Falaba is carrying ammunition supplies that the torpedo ignites. Whether this is the case or not, the ship sinks quickly, taking down some 100 or so people from the 250 people onboard.

Mr Thrasher is among those who are lost to the sea. News that a US citizen has been slain by a German U-boat while travelling on a civilian vessel causes outrage in his homeland.

Images both from Merseyside Roll of Honour

U-boat and Falaba originally from Sphere magazine.

U-666 originally from Punch

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