File No. 841.857Ar1/25

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State

[Telegram]

2680. Following is summary of facts regarding Arabic:

The White Star Company reports two Americans dead: Edmund F. Woods and Mrs. Josephine Bruguiere, the death of the latter confirmed by her son Louis Bruguiere, now at Warwick.

No warning was given by submarine. This is reported to me verbally by order of Mr. Balfour, by Sir Douglas Brownrigg, chief censor of the Admiralty, and to the Consul at Liverpool by Captain Finch.

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All English survivors and others reported by the press also confirm this fact, there was no warning whatever.

I have six affidavits from American survivors made to the Consul at Liverpool, the originals of which I shall transmit in the next pouch.1 These are as follows:

From William Cummins of 210 West 107th Street, New York City, who swears as follows:

I was on board the S. S. Arabic when she was torpedoed in the Atlantic and I was on the top deck close to the captain’s bridge looking at the steamer which had already been disabled by shell fire. I saw the track of the torpedo and also saw the torpedo strike the side of the vessel. I further assert under oath that the vessel was not warned and am positive that no one on board saw the submarine.

From Claude Roode of 620 Rugby Road, Schenectady, New York, who swears as follows:

About 9.30 a. m., August 19, I was on “B” deck, about amidships, and about two hundred yards away I saw the track of a torpedo coming and in my estimation the track was moving at a slight angle to the Arabic. I ran forward as I was apprehensive that the torpedo would strike that part of the vessel where I was standing. The track of the torpedo was the first intimation of danger. I state positively under oath that I know the ship was not hailed by any vesssel at about this time and that no warning whatsoever of any kind was given prior to the sending of the torpedo against the Arabic.

From William Hughes of Kelso, Washington, who swears as follows:

I saw the track of the torpedo before it struck the S. S. Arabic and about two minutes after I observed the said track I was washed overboard by the listing of the vessel. I assert under oath that the vessel was not warned before torpedoing.

From Peter Dugal of Lamberton, Minnesota, who swears as follows:

All went well until the morning of the 19th instant when at about 9.15 a. m. I was on deck and sighted a steamer in distress and sinking. The Arabic altered her course and made towards this vessel. The Arabic had passed this vessel in distress when at about 9.25 a. m. I personally saw the wake of a torpedo coming towards the Arabic and this torpedo struck the Arabic abaft the engine room, there was a loud explosion and the vessel at once commenced to sink. I do further solemnly swear under oath that no warning was given of an intention to torpedo the Arabic and that no submarine was visible.

From John Olschewski of 49 Liberty Street, Trenton, New Jersey, who swears as follows:

I was on board the S. S. Arabic when she was torpedoed in the Atlantic and I was on the top deck close to the captain’s bridge looking at the steamer which had already been disabled by shell fire. I saw the track of the torpedo and also saw the torpedo strike the side of the vessel, I further assert under oath that the vessel was not warned and am positive that no one on board saw the submarine.

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From Christopher McTamney of 821 Lamberton Street, Trenton, New Jersey, who swears as follows:

Immediately after breakfast on the 19th August, I was on “B” deck about 9 a. m. and at about 9.25 a. m. I was standing amidships when I saw the track of a torpedo coming directly towards me at a distance of about two hundred yards. The torpedo struck the Arabic just aft amidships and before the torpedo struck the vessel I state positively under oath that no warning whatsoever was given by the submarine and I did not see the submarine.

All agree that there was no effort and no chance and no time either to try to ram submarine or to escape; this fact also is conveyed to me verbally by Sir Douglas Brownrigg of the Admiralty and to the Consul at Liverpool by Captain Finch and by the survivors who have made affidavits.

Captain Finch of the Arabic in an affidavit which he has made to the Consul at Liverpool, states: (1) That no warning was given by the submarine; (2) that the submarine was not seen from the Arabic; (3) that the Arabic did not try to ram the submarine; (4) that it could not have done so if it had wished; (5) that there was no chance or time for doing so; (6) that the Arabic did not try to escape; (7) that there was no time or chance for doing so. The original of this affidavit I shall transmit in the next bag to Washington.

No question has been raised here by anybody on any of these points. They all seem as well established as any facts of observation can be established by competent testimony.

American Ambassador
  1. These and other pieces of evidence in the case are printed in full in Diplomatic Correspondence with Belligerent Governments relating to Neutral Rights and Duties (Department of State, European War No. 3, August 12, 1916), pp. 199215, 21927; reprinted in the American Journal of International Law, vol. 10, Special Supplement, pp. 203–29.