November 19 - 1914: Mysterious warship sighted off Truro

2006: Martha's Vineyard tops Nantucket for Island Cup fourth year straight. 2009: The game canceled for lack of funds
The mystery warship was thought to be the former Cunard ocean liner the Caronia which was requisitioned by the Royal Navy in August as an auxiliary cruiser. It is shown here in more peaceful garb.

1914: Mysterious Warship refused to answer signals

On this day in 1914 only three months after the start of World War I, which began after the assassination in Sarajevo in June of 1914 of  Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb, a strange unidentified warship was cruising off the Lower Cape coast.

The alarm was widespread as Cape Codders worried about the looming war which within a month would engulf all of Europe.

Although the United States did not join the war which ended with 20 million military and civilian deaths until April of 1917, there was constant harassment by German U-boats throughout the period occasioned by America's support of Great Britain.

This US-UK friendship made the presence of what appeared to be a British warship the more ominous and troubling.

11-19-08-warship-off-cape_324

The ship was reveiled later as the Cunard liner Caronia which had been converted into a British troopship.

Caronia briefly placed on Cunard's Boston service in 1914 as shown in the poster on the right, but the start of World War I caused her to be requisitioned as an armed merchant cruiser.

In 1916, she became a troopship and served in that role for the duration, returning to the Liverpool-New York run after the War.

The newspaper report is reprinted on the right.

2006: Martha's Vineyard tops Nantucket for Island Cup -
2009: The game canceled for lack of funds

For the third year in a row, the Martha's Vineyard varsity high school football team beat their counterparts from Nantucket in the annual Thanksgiving week match-up, 27-12, on a chilly afternoon in Oak Bluffs in 2006.

In his last game as the team's defensive coordinator, Bill Belcher saw his players intercept two passes and recover three fumbles while whittling Nantucket's longtime advantage over Martha's Vineyard in the island's pigskin rivalry to 35-21-1.

The two Massachusetts islands have played each other in football at least once a season since 1960. Opposing fans traveled to the host island on a chartered ferry, disgorging passengers at the terminal like spirited invaders. Cheerleaders decorated the route from the ferry dock to the gridiron in either Vineyard purple or Nantucket Whalers navy and white. When the Vineyard won, fire trucks would loudly greet the ferry on its return, their lights swirling and horns blazing. The contest has been chronicled in the pages of the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated.

Series ends due to flu and finances

Earlier in 2009 the game between the two islands was canceled due ti the number of Vineyard players who were out with the flu.

Then in November the games had to be canceled due to a lack of finances, see USA Today here.

Read about "Everything Else Which Happened Today" here, including 1493 when Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico, on his 2nd voyage.

Art is painting by Emanuel Leutze (1816–1868) shows Columbus on his flagship the Santa Maria, courtesy of Wiki Commons.


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.