George Blackburn

Last night I was relaxing with a little genealogy, working on our family tree.

I discovered a third cousin on my mother’s side who died on 7th May 1915.  Due to that being during WW1, I presumed that he had died on the fields of Flanders, as I have found with a few other relatives in history.

So bringing up his death certificate, I was taken by surprise to see that he had died at sea, off the coast of Ireland, on a boat called the Lusitania.

This name vaguely rang a bell so I decided to look for more information.

As it was a Cunard liner, I figured there would be passenger and crew lists, which I found after a short search.  And lo and behold, there he was in the 3rd class listings, Mr George Blackburn.

From the listing I could find out that he was a British Citizen, though a resident of Canada at the time of the sinking.  I also discovered that his body was one of the recovered ones. At least the family had some closure and a body to bury.  No other people named Blackburn are on the list, so I can presume that he was not travelling with a wife or children.

I did not know much about the sinking of the Lusitania and, to be honest, my interest was piqued by the knowledge that a relative had died on it.

So an hour or so of further research ensued!!

I read of the declaration of a war zone around the British Isles by the German government.  I read of the cruiser rules which were agreed at the time, allowing passenger vessels to pass safely.

Reading on, I read of the German U-boat that had torpedoed the Lusitania on that fateful day.  Also of the unexplained explosion that shortly followed the torpedo, which brought the ship to the seabed with 1,198 of her passengers and crew.

Germany claimed that the ship carried weapons and munitions from America to Britain, which was denied at the time.

Over 100 of the passengers who died were Americans, which eventually led to America joining the war against Germany.

Many years later, the British government admitted that there were amounts of shells in the cargo on the ship, possibly what caused the secondary explosion.

There is a conspiracy theory that the British government used the Lusitania to try and attract an attack from the Germans and force the Americans into the war.  Who knows what governments plan for the little people of their countries!!!!

It has even been said that the wreck of the ship has since been bombed by the Royal Navy, to hide whatever might be found on the seabed.

So finding out about a family tragedy in the family tree research led to me discovering something new from quite recent history.  Learn something new every day, that’s what my dad always said !!!!

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