In the hope that the loss of American lives would bring the United States into World War 1, did Winston Churchill play a part in getting the Lusitania to carry ammunition so that it would be sunk by German u-boats?

There are a few claims circulating, ranging from indirect to direct action by Churchill.

The theory has certainly been proposed by some on the basis of a letter Churchill wrote to Walter Runciman, the president of Britain’s Board of Trade (quoted here):

It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany . . . . For our part we want the traffic — the more the better; and if some of it gets into trouble, better still.

While the conspiracy has been widely discussed, most observers prefer the "cock up" theory. Are there any grounds for suspecting a conspiracy?

  • Can you please add a reference where this claim is being made?
    – Twinkles
    Apr 28, 2014 at 19:33
  • realclearhistory.com/2012/05/07/…
    – Scott
    Apr 28, 2014 at 21:07
  • I looked at that link to find a claim, but it is about how Churchill was NOT involved. Does anyone have a link to a claim that he was?
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 28, 2014 at 21:26
  • I've added a couple of links to the question. If OP means the first claim, it looks like a motivation question. Maybe it should be improved further.
    – sashkello
    Apr 29, 2014 at 11:18
  • Wikipedia seems to be of the opinion that the Lusitania was shocking, but it was the SS Sussex (almost a year later) that caused the widespread outrage in the US. This from a French flagged ship (they were already involved in the war), where no Americans died! It should be noted that it's RMS Lusitania, meaning a British-flagged vessel... As Lusitania's sinking seems to be held as a case of mistaken identity, cock-up seems more likely here. Apr 30, 2014 at 14:05


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .