Divers discover bullets on Lusitania

06 October 2008

By Olivia Kelleher

DIVERS exploring the wreck of the Lusitania have recovered thousands of what appear to be Remington .303 bullets of the kind used by troops in the first world war.
Members of Blackwater subaqua club were among a four-strong dive team that descended on the wreck off the Old Head of Kinsale in recent weeks and recovered the bullets.

Divers described the recovery as being one of “the most significant historical finds of this century”.

The cartridges are awaiting further study. The .303 was the official military rifle cartridge of England and the British Empire from its adoption in 1888 until the 1950s.

Speculation has always been that the Lusitania was carrying munitions to Britain. However, the British government denied there were any munitions on board the liner. Reports of a second explosion within the bowels of the ship only served to increase rumours.

A sample of 10 Remington .303 cartridges retrieved by divers employed by the ship’s owner, New Mexico businessman Gregg Bemis, was handed in to the Cork Receiver of Wrecks last week.

The Customs Service says it must make inquiries about the material’s owner under the 1993 Salvage and Wreck Act, by advertisement if need be. If within a year the owner cannot be found, the material reverts to the salvor.

Meanwhile, the dive on the Lusitania is being carried out at the request of the owner of the wreck 80-year-old Greg Bemis.

He is conscious to have the liner remain a resting place for the individuals who perished on it.

Some 1,198 people drowned in the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, — including 128 Americans and 39 children under the age of two. The ship sank in just 18 minutes, 15km off the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork.
The Old Church graveyard in Cobh contains the remains of 193 passengers who died in the tragedy. Of those, 45 were unidentified and their coffins merely marked with a number.

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IrishExaminer.com: Divers discover bullets on Lusitania