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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?

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  • Can you please add a reference where this claim is being made? – Twinkles Apr 28 '14 at 19:33
  • realclearhistory.com/2012/05/07/… – Scott Apr 28 '14 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 '14 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 '14 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. – Clockwork-Muse Apr 30 '14 at 14:05

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