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Last known Lusitania survivor dies
Lusitania
The Lusitania was heading from New York to Liverpool when it was struck.

The last survivor from the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 has died.

Audrey Lawson Johnson, from Melchbourne in Bedfordshire, was 95.

The ship, one of the biggest ships of its time, was torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War killing 1,198 people.

BBC reporter Nick Southall recalls the day he met Audrey.

Audrey was one of the lucky ones.

Audrey Lawson-Johnson
Audrey was the last known survivor

Out of the 1,959 people on board on 7 May 1915 over half were killed when a German U-boat fired a torpedo at the Lusitania causing it to sink in just 18 minutes.

Audrey's mother was on deck at the time and saw the torpedo travelling through the water before it struck, the next thing she knew, she had been thrown back towards the cabins.

Meeting Audrey at her home in Bedfordshire was a real pleasure.

Of course she did not remember the incident herself, she was only three months old, but it certainly was a remarkable escape for her and her family.

Two sisters drowned

As the Lusitania started to take on water, Audrey's nanny, Alice Lines, wrapped her up in a blanket and made her way to deck where they were able to jump off the deck into a lifeboat, Audrey's brother Stuart was also with them.

Sadly her two sisters Amy and Susan did not escape, they had disappeared in the crowd of passengers trying to get off the ship and later drowned.

The boat sank off the Southern coast of Ireland near the Old Head of Kinsale in calm waters.

The German U boat, U20, made its escape whilst survivors attempted to climb into life boats and many holding onto pieces of debris floating on the sea.

Many of the survivors were washed up into the harbour at Kinsale.

Audrey was reluctant at times to talk about her family.

I asked her whether she thought about what it would have been like growing up with her two sisters, but she replied "What's the point in thinking that way? What good does it do," she said.

She then spoke about the aftermath of the sinking.

Her mother, who had badly injured her wrist and got into a life boat, had to search the streets for her two missing daughters Susan and Amy but they were never found.

The sinking in fact, still causes much speculation today.

Lusitania
Nearly two thousand people died

The Germans insisted the Lusitania was a legitimate war target because it was carrying ammunitions bound for the First World War battle fields as well as civilians, a charge the British Navy firmly denied.

However, many historians appear to agree that the tragedy prompted America's involvement in the Great War.




SEE ALSO
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Disaster survivor pays for lifeboat
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