September 13th, 1907, New York City
R.M.S. Lusitania docks at the West Side Piers on Manhattan Island (above), after her maiden voyage on the Atlantic route
R.M.S. Lusitania was a sister ship to the Titanic, and a stalwart of the Atlantic crossing in the era before air travel. A German submarine torpedoed the ship in May 1915, and she sank in 18 minutes, with massive loss of life, 8 miles (13 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale. 1,198 people died with her, including almost a hundred children. Afterwards, the Cunard line offered local fishermen and sea merchants a cash reward for the bodies floating all throughout the Irish Sea, some floating as far away as the Welsh coast. In all, only 289 bodies were recovered, 65 of which were never identified.
Audrey Lawson-Johnston is the last living survivor of the R.M.S. Lusitania sinking and she currently resides in Bedfordshire, England. She was three months old when she survived the sinking.
The Lusitania sinking was a sudden catastrophe, not unlike the attack on the World Trade Center; it came 'out of the blue.'