One hundred years ago World War 1, or the Great War, began in 1914. Next year on May 7, 2015 will be the centennial of the sinking of the Lusitania. Key to Lawrence: Special Edition, an historical thriller by Linda and Gary Cargill, commemorates this anniversary. The authors start out the novel with the last voyage of the Cunard ocean liner from May 1, 1915 to May 7, 1915 when the vessel sank in the Irish Sea six miles from land.

Many mysteries remain about the sinking of the famous ship. The greatest is the mysterious second explosion which took place within minutes after the German torpedo hit the liner at exactly 2:10PM British time. It seemed to have no cause and hastened the demise of the Lusitania which sank and disappeared beneath the waves in only eighteen minutes. By 2:30PM it was history.

Robert D. Ballard in his book, Exploring the Lusitania: Probing the Mysteries of the Sinking That Changed History, postulates that vapor pockets from the coal-fired engine caused the big explosion. But it’s only a theory, and no one really knows. If Captain Turner knew he was kept quiet by Cunard and the British government for the rest of his life. They even appeared at the inquest and pulled him out of it the day after the sinking.

The British government remains the only entity who might actually know the true fate of the ship. They are the only ones who would know what was actually being carried in the hold other than a fortune in famous paintings for Sir Hugh Lane. Were there guns? Ammunition? Something else that might attract German attention?

The Lusitania remains as elusive today as it was one hundred years ago.


T. E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia, was a genius when it came to military tactics. He thought that the old-fashioned kind of warfare where soldiers attacked in a phalanx kind of movement, grouped together and in formation, was outdated by the twentieth century. He told his Arab Bedouin warriors to fight the Ottoman Turks in the First World War by doing what came naturally to them. In other words, they were to attack in small groups, preferably by night. They engaged in a hit-and-run kind of guerrilla warfare.
Lawrence himself liked to plant “tulip” bombs along the Turkish railroad tracks and blow them, along with the Turkish trains, sky high. On the road to Damascus in September 1918, he and his Arab army tore up all the railroad lines to the point that the Ottoman Turks had nowhere to turn. They had to sue for peace, starting a chain of events that eventually forced Germany to sign the Armistice in November 1918, ending World War I. Lawrence became so famous that he attended the Paris Peace Conference in January, 1919, representing the Arabs that he had helped to liberate from the Turks.
This new kind of guerrilla warfare emphasized mobility — if you weren’t moving, you weren’t fighting. Later Hitler became interested in this new kind of Blitzkrieg, or lightning warfare. General Erwin Rommel used Lawrence as a model for his tactics fighting in North Africa in 1943. Even nowadays American generals ape Lawrence when fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.