Daily Event for August 19

August 19, 1915 the White Star Line suffered their first loss of the Great War when the RMS Arabic was sunk by the U-24. Laid down by Harland & Wolff as Minnewaska in 1902 for the Atlantic Transport Line she was taken over by White Star before launched. Renamed Arabic she was 600' long and registered at 15,800 tons and could carry 1,400 passengers.

When the war broke out Arabic was not called up for duty and remained in commercial service for White Star Line. On her final voyage she was bound for New York with 200 passengers when the U-24 torpedoed her without warning. Although it must be noted that in some accounts it is stated that Rudolf Schneider, the CO of the U-24, believed that the liner was trying to ram him which is why he torpedoed her. Which means that the Arabic and her captain Lt. Will Finch RNR knew of the U-boat and therefore she was not torpedoed without warning.

She was however torpedoed without sufficient time to lower her boats which was something the German U-boat commanders had orders not to do. The sinking of the Arabic came three months after the loss of the Lusitania and the Kaiser was well aware of the public opinion about sinking passenger ships, even in Germany. Nevertheless the Arabic had been stricken and sank in ten minuets taking 44 lives with her. Just like the Lusitania, Arabic was carrying Americans and a protest was made to the Germans with the result being that Germany agreed not to sink passenger ships without warning.
However this agreement was rescinded in 1917.

After the war the North German Lloyd liner Berlin was taken by Britain as was reparations and purchased by White Star and renamed Arabic.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock

RMS Arabic