The Italian liner Ancona was torpedoed and destroyed by an Austrian U-boat off the coast of Sardinia in early November 1915.
The ship had made regular runs between Naples and New York City, serving the needs of thousands of immigrants headed to America. Some dispute remains about whether the Ancona received and heeded an order to halt. The ship was struck twice by torpedoes that set off an internal explosion. The Ancona went down so rapidly that it was impossible to deploy lifeboats properly.
New York newspapers issued heavy coverage of this event, which included lists of survivors and reports of passengers who claimed that as they struggled in the water, they were fired upon by the submariners.
Unfortunately, the horror and outrage over the loss of passenger lives would soon dissipate as such events became more commonplace.
See discussion of U.S. policy and German submarine warfare.
See World War I Time Table.
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