The sinking of the Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912, was a human tragedy, a possible engineering disaster, and, in a way, one of the greatest stories ever told. Soon after the Belfast-built ship went down with the loss of 1,517 lives, the stories of heroism, humour, stoicism, love and the desperate struggle for survival started emerging. The first book (The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters by Logan Marshall) and the first movie (Saved from the Titanic, starring survivor Dorothy Gibson) came out just a few weeks afterwards. One hundred years on, we may think we know everything about the Titanic but there are still quirky tales and reports from corners of the narrative, that surprise and, yes, even entertain. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™ve produced two terrific Titanic Tales supplements, of which this is the first.
Editor: Gail Walker Design Editor: Heather Byrne Editorial: Jane Hardy, Michael Conaghan Pictures: Peter Rainey Design/Production: Robert Doherty, Elaine Smyth
100 TITANIC TALES
Missing a date with death ... EDGAR Selwyn was an American entertainment bigwig, who directed films but is best remembered for co-founding the Selwyn Theater (now the American Airlines Theater) on Broadway in 1918. Had it not been for Selwyn’s desire to hear an early reading of novelist Arnold Bennett’s new novel, he might have died on the Titanic and the theatre would not have been built. Bennett recorded in his diary that a meeting scheduled with the Selwyns (below) saved their lives. They came to see him recite passages from his new comic novel The Reagent on April 19, a decision that forced them to cancel their plans to board the Titanic on April 10. They’d planned to make the Transatlantic trip with Mr and Mrs HB Harris, who did make the journey. As for the Harrises, he was a Broadway producer who saw his wife onto a lifeboat and died alongside the 1,513 others.
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Belfast’s master craftsmen AS time goes by, memories of the men who built this beautiful ship fade. But happily, some families have important memories, and mementoes. John Flynn of Belfast remembers his grandfather, also called John, who was one of the joiners responsible for the Titanic's splendid, ornate staircase. He says he and his family remember his grandfather whenever they see pictures of the staircase. But John didn't discuss his work. Mr Flynn says: "I think at the time the workers would have felt deflated and let down to see their craftsmanship at the bottom of the sea." John Flynn died in 1941, but his grandson keeps his tools at home in East Belfast. The saw is engraved with John's initials, JF, and the inscription on its blade indicates the pride he had in his work, reading "the beauty and finish of this saw is in excellence".
A $15m half-scale replica of Titanic in the USA includes a faithful reproduction of the staircase
Where are the binoculars?
Real-life hero betrayed on celluloid
LIEUTENANT William ‘Will’ McMaster Murdoch RNR (28 February 1873 - 15 April 1912) was a Scottish sailor who died on board the Titanic, where he was employed by the White Star Line as First Officer. As the officer in charge on the bridge the night of the collision, Lieutenant Murdoch’s role was crucial. He had some form, having served on the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, as First Officer when she collided with HMS Hawke in September 1911. Later in the year, Murdoch learnt he was to join the most luxurious ship in the world, the Titanic, alongside Second Officer Charles Lightoller and Davy Blair. According to Lightroller, they were “three contented chaps” at the news. Murdoch went down with the ship. But James Cameron mixed snippets of fact and speculation, depicting the First Officer committing suicide after shooting passengers and accepting a bribe. His family was enraged by the film treatment, and studio executives have since apologised and made a large donation to Murdoch’s memorial fund. Ewan Stewart as First Officer Murdoch in the 1997 film
A FROTHY STORY
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IT WASN’T so much a question of who forgot the binoculars, as who forgot the key to the locker containing the binoculars. It was perhaps the most catastrophic lapse of memory in history, costing over 1,500 lives. A sailor called David Blair, who should have left the crucial key on board the Titanic before its maiden voyage, forgot. Without it, his shipmates were unable to open a locker in the crow's nest containing a pair of binoculars for the designated lookout. Those were the binoculars needed to look for signs of bad weather, including icebergs. Lookout Fred Fleet survived and later told an official inquiry that if they’d had binoculars, they would have seen the fatal iceberg sooner. Questioned on how much time they might have gained, he said simply “Enough time to get out of the way”. Ninety-five years on, the key and a postcard from Blair expressing disappointment at missing the boat sold for £90,000 to a Chinese collector and are on display in Nanjing.
The Captain’s luxurious bath
AMONG the Titanic wreckage are some strangely pristine reminders of life on board the world's greatest ship. One of the finest is Captain Edward Smith's bath, a marvellous piece of plumbing which delivered hot and cold, fresh and salt, water to the occupant.
Discovered during a 2010 expedition to the site to establish salvage rights, and snapped courtesy of a remote controlled submersible vehicle, the bathtub looks as if, after a wash and brush up, it could still do the job.
Binoculars from the wreck site of the Titanic will be auctioned by Guernsey's Auction House this year
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Ghost of Samuel Scott
EVEN before she set sail, the Titanic claimed her first victim. The gruesome calculation was that the building of such a huge ship would cost “one death for every £100,000 spent”. So at a cost of £1.5m, the death toll among the Belfast construction workers should have worked out at around 15 souls. In the event, at least two men died. But the story of the very first fatality, that of young Samuel Scott, who at the tender age of 15, was crushed under falling timber in April 1910, still haunts us. Although, it’s over 100 years since Samuel fell and fractured his skull while working on the great vessel, he hasn’t been forgotten.
Iceberg ahead, but why did no one spot it in time? ONE of the most frequent questions asked about the catastrophe is why did no one spot the iceberg before the fatal collision? Especially as there were known to have been at least six warnings issued on that day. It's been reported that the iceberg warnings were ignored because the wireless operator was too busy sending out passenger messages via the Marconi wireless room. But more important perhaps was the iceberg itself. What we have here is not the traditional snow-covered glacier but one that had become clear through continuous melting and refreezing, transforming it into a kind of dark mirror against the calm water and the clear night sky. It was, you might say, the equivalent of black ice. The Titanic was effectively sailing blind into a trap.
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Samuel’s ghost still walks the decks of the tragic liner in writer Nicola Pierce's recent children's book The Spirit of the Titanic. And in 2011, a headstone was finally placed on his unmarked grave at Belfast City Cemetery. ■
Heroism of band that played on...
PERHAPS the most enduring Titanic story concerns the musicians who played on while the ship sank, a poignant image which somehow encapsulated the tragedy. It's no myth, however, as the Titanic orchestra, led by Lancashire-born Wallace Hartley, did indeed go down with the ship and the valiant musicians “played until they were waist high in the water,” according to one account. Opinion is divided over the final piece of music they played, but ‘Songe d'Automne' (Thoughts of Autumn) by “English Waltz King” Archibald Joyce was thought to be the
most likely. The anecdote that they went down with the almost too appropriate hymn, Nearer My God to Thee, originated with a first class passenger, Vera Dick, who wouldn’t have heard the strains on the water, but many survivors say they heard Sarah Flower Adams' 19th century hymn tune in the final moments before the Titanic sank beneath the waves. What is certain is the decision to play on in the belief that hearing music would help to lessen the panic must surely count as one of the great acts of heroism of the night, unsung, you might say..
A scene from the film A Night to Remember
G DEATH-DEFYIN Y T LEAP TO SAFE
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Unsinkable that they never have FROM the first dramatic headlines to the reported quotes from Phillip Franklin, White Star Line vice-president, the word that tolls like a bell before a funeral is “unsinkable”. After the tragedy, Mr Franklin said: “I thought her (the Titanic) unsinkable and I based my opinion on the best expert advice.” The revolutionary design based on a series of watertight compartments was thought to be protection against all disasters at sea.
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Did a dog save lives?
LEGEND has it that not all of the acts of heroism that night were carried out by humans. There were a few dogs on board, and the Titanic’s luxurious accommodation extended to “marvellous kennel facilities”. According to a story in The New York Herald of April 21, 1912, one winner that spring night was Rigel, a big black Newfoundland dog, who swam through the icy water in search of his doomed master and alerted the rescue ship The Carpathia to the presence of a lifeboat nearby. If it hadn't been for his barking, the story went, these survivors would have been
missed. Rigel was thought to have passed into the hands of one Jonas Briggs, a seaman aboard The Carpathia. This could be Titanic’s own shaggy dog story, created by a journalist looking to profit from the money handed out for Titanic stories, but a Pomeranian and a Pekinese are known to have been saved with their owners.
An unnerving premonition
... the word should The last survivor used Yet a journalist in the 1911 edition of the Shipbuilder magazine sensibly wrote: “(She) is practically unsinkable.” This makes Mr Franklin’s previous proud boast,”There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers” sound foolhardy.
MILLVINA DEAN, who died in 2009, aged 97, on the 98th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic, was nine weeks old when the ship went down. She survived with her mother, Ettie, and elder brother, Bertram, who was nearly two at the time, but they lost her father, 27-year-old Bert Dean, who was taking his family to Kansas City to open a tobacconist’s shop. Travelling steerage, the Deans should have been sailing on another White Star liner, but by a piece of bad luck were trans-
ferred to the Titanic due to a coal strike. The family boarded at Southampton on Wednesday, April 10, with 493 other third-class passengers. Towards the end of her life, Millvina, who did not discover her Titanic connection until she was eight years old, was short of funds for her nursing home and had to sell some of her mementoes. James Cameron, the director of Titanic, helped out even though Millvina said before seeing his film that she’d only watch half – “the first half”.
FUTILITY, or the Wreck of the Titan, is a novella written in 1898 by Morgan Robertson, an American author who also claimed to have invented the periscope. Although it was penned 14 years before the Titanic disaster, there are spooky similarities between the real-life tragedy and Robertson’s melodrama. Like the Titanic, the fictional ship sank in April in the North Atlantic, without enough lifeboats for the passengers. Like the Titanic (882ft long), the Titan is a massive vessel (800ft) and both ships are speedy – the Titan cuts through the seas at 25 knots, the Titanic at 21 knots. After the disaster, though, the ships part company and Robertson’s anti-hero John Rowland, a deckhand on The Titan whose drunken ways ended his naval career, leads a colourful existence. He saves the daughter of his ex-lover by jumping onto the iceberg, fights a polar bear, is rescued by a ship and reclaims his place in society. In the closing lines, Rowland gets a message from his ex-lover begging him to visit which is more Titanic the movie than reality.
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Enough to drive them nuts...
How the Captain’s table escaped a watery grave VISITORS to the grand 1895 HQ of the Harbour Commissioners in Corporation Square, Belfast, can view an Edwardian mahogany table and Queen Anne style chairs that should by rights be at the bottom of the North Atlantic. Designed by cabinetmaker Gilbert Logan at Harland & Wolff’s workshop, they were intended for the private quarters of the Titanic’s captain, Edward John Smith. However, because of a late delivery, they never reached their destination.
The table would have been fixed to a base to prevent movement at sea but, in the event, the only calamity to befall these fine pieces was to languish unloved in a store cupboard before finding a good home. The Antiques Roadshow found them literally priceless, because of their history, and didn’t give them a cash valuation on their visit to the Titanic Quarter in 2009.
Lavish last dinner in first class THE first class passengers sailing on the Titanic, who had paid upwards of $2,500 ($57,000 in today’s money) for the privilege, had really landed in the lap of luxury, with catering to match. There were 36,000 oranges on board, 800 bundles of asparagus, one and a quarter tons of fresh green peas, 40,000 sausages, 40,000 fresh eggs, 11,000 pounds of fresh fish, 4,000 pounds of bacon and ham, not to mention 1,500 bottles of wine, 20,000 bottles of beer and stout, 850 bottles of spirits and 8,000 cigars for the gentlemen. The first class menu for April 14 ,1912, for what turned out to be the last supper was suitably grand, including in its 10 courses: oysters, poached salmon with mousseline sauce and cucumbers, filet mignons Lili, saute of chicken Lyonnaise, roast duckling, sirloin of beef, pate de foie gras, and several puddings including chocolate eclairs.
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Mother who got her boys back A BEAUTIFUL photo of a mother and sons sums up the happy conclusion of a family dispute that reached an unexpected conclusion on board the Titanic. Michel junior and Edmond Navratil were kidnapped by their estranged dad, Michel Navratil, who removed them from their French mother’s care and then boarded the Titanic with them, using Louis Hoffman as his fake ID and calling his boys by their nicknames, Lolo and Mamon, to avoid suspicion. Navratil senior was born in Szered, Slovakia in 1880. The young boys were seen playing outside the ship’s library. After the collision, Navratil's sons made it onto a lifeboat but Navratil did not. The boys' mother later recognised them in a newspaper photo and brought them back to their home in France. Michel, the Titanic’s last male survivor, became a philosophy professor, saying later “The people who came out alive often cheated and were aggressive, the honest didn’t stand a chance”.
Survivor who had no future... MANY survivors including the flamboyant, later discredited chairman of the White Star Line, J Bruce Ismay, who after the disaster would never allow the name of the pride of his fleet to be mentioned in his presence, chose to behave as if the events of April 14 had never happened. Ismay may have reacted like this because he refused to go down with the Titanic and took what was considered the coward's route of getting a seat on one of the lifeboats. In fact, Ismay became known as the Coward of the Titanic. He survived but his life seemed to have gone down with the vessel and Ismay, who enjoyed fishing at his home, Costelloe Lodge in Co Galway, ended up frequenting London parks in his spare time, hoping to talk to the down and outs he now identified with.
100 TITANIC TALES THEORIES abound as to why the safest big ship on the seas, with its compartmentalised hull, should have sunk after what’s now thought to be relatively minor damage to the hull. The millions of rivets bolting it together might hold the answer. Recently, American scientists studying the metal used in the construction think they may have solved the problem. As Timothy Foeke, a metallurgist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, says: “Under the pressure to
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get these ships (Titanic and Olympic) up, they ramped up the riveters, found materials from additional suppliers, and some was not of quality.” A Harland & Wolff engineer said, at the British inquiry, that the iron rivets along the plate seams snapped off or popped open to create narrow gaps which let the sea flood through, but his views were discounted at the time.
Slow sinking saved women THE GALLANT women and children first code wasn’t written down anywhere but the Titanic was pretty much a British stiff upper lip disaster, with most gentlemen giving way to let the women and children off the boat first. Women, children, or people accompanying a child made up the largest percentage of survivors in the lifeboats. A woman's chance of survival was more than 50% greater than a man's, a child had a 14.8% higher probability of surviving than an adult, and an adult accompanying a child was 19.6% more likely to survive than one without. One of the reasons the Titanic exodus was relatively civilised, with some famous exceptions, was the amount of time the
ship took to sink. While the Lusitania slid into the briny in just 18 minutes in 1915, the Titanic took over two hours to go under which meant better behaviour. Or as some American boffins put it in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: “The fact that the Lusitania sank in 18 minutes, created a situation in which the short-run flight impulse dominated behaviour. “On the slowly sinking Titanic, there was time for socially determined behavioural patterns to re emerge.”
The callous survivors BERTHA Watt (later Marshall) was a 12-year-old second class passenger on the Titanic. She wrote about her experiences in 1963 and said that the lessons she learned there provided her with a sound philosophy for her life. She learned how to behave and how not to behave, and recalled the hypocrisy of some passengers, the selfishness of others: “There was the minister who hid under the seat in our boat, walking stick and small case included. When we were well on our way he appeared and sat bemoaning the fact that he had lost so many years of sermons on the Titanic. “Another woman was worrying about her jewels when all of a sudden another woman yelled ‘Give me back my husband and son and I’ll buy you jewels.’ Those few days before NY were a life all their own. Tragedy affects people in so many different ways.”
A dramatic scene from Julian Fellowes new ITV mini series about the Titanic
A fight in the icy water
THERE were exceptions to the civilised evacuation from the boat and Thomas Patrick Dillon, a crew member who gave evidence at the British inquiry into the disaster in London in May 1912 recalled what happened when the ship went down. A wave of water swept him overboard and he saw over 1,500 people struggling to stay alive in the ocean. “The air was filled with sharp, pitiful groans,” he said. One man clung to his neck and Dillon
had to fight him off in a bid to save his own skin. He remained in the freezing water for 20 minutes before being pulled into a lifeboat. “I was unconscious for a long period of time and would rather die a hundred times than go through such an experience and live.” he added.
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THE MEN WHO DIDN’T WANT TO BE CAUGHT LOAFING
THE 2,000 or so workers who worked on this great project were labouring aristocracy, highly skilled riveters, drillers and foremen earning £2 a week (the average labourer’s pay at the time would have been 30s or £1.50). The advantages of working on the Titanic were obvious – status, money and a sense of pride in producing the world’s greatest ship – but there were one or two disadvantages. Harland & Wolff’s infamous fines books show men could be fined for simple workplace sins like “loafing”, or doing nothing, and “boiling can”. If the foreman or “hat” caught you doing the latter, it meant you were brewing up a cup of Belfast tea before your break. You could be docked a quarter day’s pay for boiling a can, or a shilling for smoking.
Was it really Titanic that ROOSTER THAT SOUNDED A WARNING NOTE
DURING the voyage Miss Ellen (Nellie) Hocking, a second class passenger born in Penzance, Cornwall, in 1891, who was travelling to America to marry Mr George C Hambly of Schenectady, accompanied by her mother, sister, brother and two nephews, said she was disturbed by the sound of a rooster crowing, thought to be a harbinger of doom in Cornish folklore. In the event, Nellie survived, got married and spent the rest of her life in New York State.
HOW CAMERON MADE A CAMEO APPEARANCE
RATHER like Hitchcock in his movies, Canadian director James Cameron makes a cameo appearance in his film Titanic as a third-class passenger getting his beard checked for lice before boarding the Titanic.
AN event like the Titanic disaster will always attract conspiracy theories but can we really believe that the ship that struck the iceberg on that fateful night wasn't, in fact, the Titanic at all? In Robin Gardiner's detailed book, Titanic: The Ship that Never Sank?, he claims that the loss of the ship was the result of an insurance claim that went badly wrong. Imagine, if you will, that the Titanic's near identical sister ship The Olympic was severely damaged in a collision while sailing from Southampton. The cruiser HMS Hawke smashed into the side of the Olympic and an
inquiry later exonerated the Hawke of all blame. This set Gardiner’s theory in motion. White Star Line was allegedly under-insured and the cost of fixing the damaged Olympic which had a broken keel among other items that needed repairing, was going to be high. As the White Star's flagship would also be out of action during repairs, the Titanic's completion date would have to be delayed. All this would have amounted to a serious financial hit for the company. The damage was so severe that the relevant insurance would fail to recover the costs, as both par-
ties were instructed to pay for damages. Set to make an, er, titanic loss of some $750,000, White Star supposedly switched the liners around and had the Olympic, disguised as the Titanic, deliberately sunk in order to claim the insurance. Gardiner calls in all sorts of interesting facts to prove his case, including the different lengths of the sea trials of the two great ships. The Olympic’s trials in 1910 took two days, with several high speed runs, but the Titanic’s trail lasted a single day because, according to Mr Gardiner the patched-up hull could not take the stress of long periods
Legend of Unsinkable Molly Brown ONE of the great heroines of the Titanic was 'Molly', nee Margaret Brown, a beautiful American who booked a speedy passage home aboard the Titanic while on holiday in Egypt because her grandson was ill. By the time she arrived on the ship she was also that most scandalous of things, a divorcee. However, she proved her worth by helping people aboard the lifeboats until she was persuaded into lifeboat number 6, where she gallantly took an oar. Molly then talked reluctant quartermaster Robert Hitchens into returning to look for more survivors. Legend says they found some, and Molly's actions on the night gained her the French Legion d'Honneeur. She headed up the Titanic Survivors' Committee, supporting immigrant survivors who had lost everything in the disaster. She wasn't allowed to testify in Congressional hearings about the sinking, but published her account in the press. Molly was immortalised in the 1960s musical by Richard Morris, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. In the film Titanic, her character looks at the upended ship from the lifeboat and exclaims “God almighty”. ■
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Why Leo got ticket on to Titanic THE STUDIOS wanted Matthew McConaughey for the role of Jack Dawson, the attractive everyman in Titanic, but James Cameron insisted on Leonardo DiCaprio as his leading man, saying he soon realised the actor had something special.
“Leonardo was on a list of names. I didn't know him and I’d only seen him in Gilbert Grape so I didn't really know what to expect,” said Cameron. But I noticed that when he came in for the first meeting... all the women in the building were in
the room. (I thought) This is a little odd, you know.” The director’s instincts were probably sound as the movie, the biggest grossing film of all time, netted 11 Oscars, including Best Director, although it didn’t gain any acting awards. ■
The message that said help was on way... but would be hours too late
THE EARLY 20th century’s email, the telegraph, gives a graphic account of the speed of events seen from the bridge of the ship after it was holed at 11.40pm on the spring night of April 14-15. Jack Phillips, the wireless operator on duty, who later went down with the ship, sent this stark message “We are sinking fast, passengers are being put into boats” to the Russian steamer SS Birma. The Birma’s team responded “What is the matter with you?” and reported afterwards
that atmospheric disturbances prevented them from deciphering the words “sinking fast” until two or three minutes had elapsed. They then heard Titanic say, “OK. We have struck iceberg and sinking, tell Captain to come.” Birma replied to Titanic’s request to come with the following message: “We are 100 miles from you steaming 14 knots. Be with you by 6.30.” Jack Phillips responded “OK OM” (old man) but must have known this would be much too late. ■
of high speed. Also, Gardiner controversially suggests the Titanic did not strike an iceberg at all but an IMM rescue ship that was drifting with its lights out. The ice on the Titanic decks he explains as coming from the rigging of this ship. Yes, it seems a hideously complicated scheme, fraught with danger and opportunities to be found out. For those of us who regard conspiracies as always less likely than the foul-up theory of history, Mr Gardiner, a plasterer by trade, lays it on a bit thick.
A NUMBER S OF PROBLEM
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Not always women and children first
ALTHOUGH the women and children first rule was followed by Captain Charles Lightoller on the Titanic's starboard deck when the extent of the damage to the ship became clear, at the start it was a question of the chaps joining their women in the row to safety. And there was a class divide. Karl Behr, a 26-yearold lawn tennis champion and lawyer, who was pursuing Helen, daughter of Mrs Beckwith who was also accompanied by her second husband, remembers J Bruce Ismay suggesting they get into a lifeboat pronto. Everybody declined, thinking the risk was slight but at the second request, they acted. About to get into lifeboat no 5, Mrs Beckwith asked the crew if the men of the party could get in. They said yes, and although three husbands and fathers of women on boat no 5 stayed behind, and perished, the Beckwith party was saved. At the last minute, Dr Henry William Frauenthal, determined to join his wife Clara, jumped into the boat with his brother Isaac.
How did Captain Smith spend last moments? NOBODY knows exactly how Captain Edward Smith died on the night of the sinking. According to certain historians and Robert Ballard’s book, The Discovery of the Titanic, Captain Smith was on the bridge at 2.13am, seven minutes before the Titanic disappeared beneath the waves, and went down with the ship. Some sources state that Smith wandered off to the ship’s wheelhouse, while others say he was actively present in the radio room. Working near collapsible B, Junior Marconi Officer Harold Bride reported seeing Smith dive into the sea from the open bridge minutes before the final plunge began. One story states he carried a child to the overturned collapsible B after the sinking and swam off to freeze in the water, but according to the documentary Titanic: Death of a Dream, that story is generally considered romantic fiction. Equally apocryphal is his last statement to the crew, “Be British” although that stirring sentiment also adorns a plaque to the Captain in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ■
10 100 TITANIC TALES SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN HARD TO STARBOARD?
IN RESPONSE to the three words “Iceberg, right ahead!” it’s reported that First Officer William Murdoch ordered “Hard a-starboard”. The ship started to turn left, but its bow grazed the iceberg. It’s been assumed this was the natural lastditch manoeuvre yet circumstantial evidence collected by the two national investigations into the tragedy show Titanic might have innocently been steered into history’s most famous maritime tragedy while actively trying to avoid a large field of ice.
TITANIC WHISKEY GALORE
IT HAD to happen, and why shouldn't a drink be created to celebrate the launch of Titanic in 1911? Belfast's Titanic Whiskey, described as “ by those who know, is part of the new Belfast Distillery Company, bankrolled by Lottery winner Peter Lavery and others. In fact, this venture hopes to return Belfast to its roots as MD Derek Hardy says: “...not many people know, but when the Titanic was launched, Belfast was producing around half of the whiskey in Ireland.”
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Father Browne’s lucky decision OUR of the most enduring images of the Titanic was taken by a young Irish Jesuit priest called Frank Browne whose interest in photography was fostered by his uncle and guardian, then Bishop of Cloyne, Robert Browne. Imagine young Frank's surprise when he was presented with a ticket for the Titanic's maiden voyage as far as Cobh. Joining the Titanic special at Waterloo Station he immediately started to take the photographs that would make him famous, befriending a wealthy American family who offered to extend his ticket as far as New York. On wiring the Bishop with this exciting news he was told in no uncertain terms to “get off that ship...pronto”. Little did the crestfallen Frank suspect that this disappointment would save his life.
THE HARROWING FINAL DUTY OF CONDUCTING MASS FUNERALS
ONCE the sinking was confirmed, the White Star Line chartered a cable-laying boat, the Mackay-Bennett to perform the essential, but unpleasant, task of gathering up the dead bodies. The ship set sail on Wednesday, April 17, before the survivors had reached New York, with a team of Canadian undertakers on board, plus an Anglican clergyman from Halifax Cathedral who would conduct mass funerals for the bodies with no hope of identification. In death as in life, class mattered and the first class passengers who were identified were placed in coffins on deck, the other bodies were sewn into sacks and stored below. Overall, this was not a pleasant task for the Mackay-Bennett crew and one of the engineers later described steaming through "a great quantity of wreckage, splintered woodwork, cabin fittings, mahogany parts of drawers, carvings, all wrenched away from their fastening, deck chairs, and then bodies".
The grave of William McQuillan the only Northern Ireland person buried in Nova Scotia
Carpathia’s race against time THE ROLE of the Carpathia in coming to the rescue of the Titanic was based on a chance conversation between its wireless operator Harold Cottam and his opposite number Jack Phillips at 12.25am on the fateful night. “Struck a berg, come at once.” was the urgent message, followed later by the despairing “Come as quickly as possible, old man, engine room filled up to the boilers.” The Carpathia was reckoned to be some four hours away from the scene, which was thought to be too long, according to the captain of the ship, Arthur H Rostron. Known by his nickname Bright Spark, he lived up to the nomenclature “using every ounce of power...for the engines, turning it from all other uses, such as heating”. Extraordinarily the Carpathia managed to avoid up to six large icebergs on her desperate rescue mission.
A funnel thing happens in paintings
100 TITANIC TALES YOU COULD call it artistic licence but many of the majestic portraits of the Titanic tend to get what you might call the fundamental funnel question wrong. They show the vessel heading into an imaginary wind, lights
blazing and smoke billowing from all four massive funnels. But the rear stack was fake, not connected to the furnaces, and added for aesthetic reasons so no smoke should be seen issuing from it.
The Downton connection EVENTS like the Titanic’s sinking where mass death is the outcome, often provide a handy vehicle for writers to dispose of their unwanted fictional characters. One of the many links between Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs is that they've both killed off characters from their respective shows in the 1912 disaster. Indeed, Downton had barely got past the opening credits of the first episode before a flunkey arrived bearing the dreaded telegram informing
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the cast that the Earl of Grantham had perished on the Titanic, thereby setting off the inheritance battle that kickstarted the series; the poor sod and didn'teven make it to the first break. The original Upstairs Downstairs, always a classier venture, at least had the decency to kill off a major charcter in Lady Marjorie Bellamy, the mistress of Eaton Square.
Why some laughed when they hit iceberg AS TITANIC swept at nearly top speed towards her fate, passengers were amusing themselves in different ways. Some made ready for bed, others slept, and a few night owls were still enjoying the novel experience of the early 20th century's most luxurious form of transport. According to Lawrence Beesley, the science master who survived and wrote one of the best survivors’ memoirs, he climbed up towards the top deck to investigate the jolt and came across a card game in full swing. The men said one of their number had seen an iceberg go “towering by”
above the decks as they dealt and shuffled, yet even though all the players watched it disappear, and had felt the jolt, they continued their game. One of their number, a motor engineer travelling to America to promote his model carburettor who knew about measuring things, estimated the height of the iceberg as “between 80 and 90 feet”. In a bluff, let's not take this too seriously, manner, the men then speculated on what had happened. As one wag said, amid laughter, “I expect the iceberg has scratched off some of her new paint, and the captain doesn't like to go on until she is painted up again.”
AL SPOOKY ARRRIVK IN NEW YO
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Did Brailey’s ghost return? PSYCHICS were as popular as TV presenters in the early 20th century, and many people believed in the idea that the afterlife’s residents could return. One of the most impressive ghostly apparitions is the sighting of Theo Brailey, the England pianist on board the Titanic. In the May 11 edition of Light, the journal of the College of Psychic Studies, Mr H Blackwell said he'd been at a seance in London on April 24, 1912,
where Theo – and WT Stead, noted journalist and peace campaigner – had appeared. Blackwell said he'd noted down what the wraith said, and reports: "(He said: "I am Brailey. I am so happy to be with you... It was at (Mr Stead's) sugggestion that we played 'Nearer my God, to thee.' some moments before the boat went down. We had no suffering, only cold for a few moments."■
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NEW LIFE IN THE MIDST OF DEATH
AMONG the couples on board the Titanic were an unmarried, May and September pair, travelling as Mr and Mrs Marshall. Henry Morley, a 37-year-old married businessman was having an affair with 19-year-old Katy Phillips, who worked in one of his three sweetshops in the Midlands. They’d decided to run away to America and were sharing a second-class cabin on the Titanic from which Miss Phillips would emerge, proudly wearing the sapphire necklace Henry had given her. The couple were forcibly separated as the lifeboats were loading, and only Katy Phillips survived. She discovered she was pregnant and her daughter, Ellen Walker, the youngest Titanic survivor who was conceived on board, lived into the twenty-first century. In the 1980s, she sold the necklace to a collector and died in 2005, aged 92. She was expelled from the British Titanic Society after a row over whether she could be considered the youngest survivor.
WOMAN JUMPS FOR HER LIFE
RHODA HUNT, wife of former middleweight boxing champion George Stanton Abbott and mother of Rossmore and Eugene (Gene) returned to England in 1911 after her marriage became shaky. Once back in St Albans, Rhoda’s American sons became homesick so the devoted mum booked a return passage on the Titanic. Rhoda was woken by the impact with the iceberg and sent Gene to investigate. Making her way to the after-deck, she waited with her son to find a place in a lifeboat. She never did, claiming men were allowed off while she and seven other women stood by until last. As the Titanic made her final plunge, Mrs Abbott and her sons jumped from the deck; she surfaced, her boys did not. Somehow she scrambled to safety.
BOY IDENTIFIED BY DNA 94 YEARS LATER
IN TOTAL, 209 bodies were transported by various ships, chiefly the Mackay-Bennett, to Halifax where a curling rink became a temporary morgue. Fifty-nine were shipped elsewhere for burial while the remaining 150 were supposed to be allocated to one of Halifax’s three cemeteries, according to religion. This was often a matter of guesswork and one of those wrongly assigned was Michel Navratil, the father of the so-called “Titanic orphans”, Michel and Edmond, who was buried in the city’s Jewish cemetery under his Titanic pseudonym Hoffman. Only three children’s bodies were retrieved, the youngest of which, a blond boy known simply as no 4, was buried under an anonymous headstone until he was idenitifed by his DNA in 2006 as Sidney Goodwin, a 19-month old English toddler who had been travelling third class with his parents and five older siblings. All of them died, but his was the only body to be found.
Did psychic cat foretell disaster? SHIP’S cats were common on board great liners in the period, partly to keep down any vermin. The Titanic apparently had her own feline mascot, a ship’s cat that stewardess Violet Jessop said was called Jenny. While the ship was being loaded at Southampton, Jenny presented her keepers with a litter of kittens. Versions of the fate of this new family vary. According to one, they died when the Titanic went down. According to another report, when the ship docked at Southampton, Jenny calmly transported her kittens off the doomed ship, one by one, and left for a new life. An Irish crewman who had been assigned to look after the cats took that as a bad omen and also left, claiming the cats had saved his life.
1912’s other ANOTHER tragedy occurred that year that still resonates today. In January 1912, Captain Robert Scott (right) and his companions set out on a race with the Norwegian Roald Amundsen to reach the south pole. The British explorers' bodies were found by a search party some 10 months later; they had been dead for at least eight of those. Often hailed, like some on the Titanic, as a great example of totally British heroism, there is perhaps another, less worthy link. Scott deplored Amundsen's reliance on the superior technology of using dogs to ferry equipment, concluding such fripperies were "unmanly". In the same spirit of blind negligence, there were far too few lifeboats to carry the Titanic's stricken passengers when disaster struck.
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Propellers Belfast man who put stamp on ship that weighed in at nearly 100 tons THE Titanic’s system of propulsion was a mix of old and new engineering. Although both the White Star’s great Cunard rivals, the Lusitania and the Mauretania, had four propellers, the Titanic, like other Olympic class liners, had three. The Titanic’s two main propellers, one on the port side, one starboard, were driven by four separate cylinder steam engines. These twin engines, the largest built, weighed in at 100 tons and were almost 40ft tall with cylinders measuring nearly 9ft across. The propellers rotated up to 80 times per minute. The result was speed.
OF ALL the artists who have painted the Titanic, Belfast man Jim McDonald, a third generation shipyard worker, has the best credentials. He started his apprenticeship at Harland & Wolff, at the age of 15, before becoming a fitter, then took his draughtsman’s qualifications and gained a job in the diesel drawing offices. Now finishing off his 100 paintings of the Titanic for the centenary year, Jim says he was acutely aware there was a silence surrounding Titanic among shipyard men. But he didn’t share his colleagues’ scruples and decided to paint Harland & Wolff’s greatest commission. He says: “Most Titanic artists paint the ship sailing out of Belfast or Southampton but I wanted to concentrate on the workers and show the laying of the keel, the ship’s launch.” Jim gained a lot of commissions after showing a massive 50” x 40” Titanic painting eight years ago, including one from the Royal Mail to produce Titanic stamps in 2008.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
THE TWO RIVAL shipbui lding concerns, the White Star Line and Cun ard , kept their ships’ monikers distinct. The White Star went for the classical -ic ending, as in Olympic, Britannic and Titanic, which sound qui te heroic when you thin k about it. The Cinard we nt for the elegant, fem ale -ia ending, as in Mauritani a and Lucitania.
Gym’s sad last use
THE cult of physical education had begun by 1912 and the Titanic boasted a fabulous gymnasium to cater for the keep fit fanatics on board. There were two exercise bicycles, on which passengers could race each other, plus the very latest electronically operated horses, a rowing machine, and even an “electric camel” for the really dedicated, also described as the trunk-rotating machine.
You had to pay to use the facilities and tickets, price one shilling, were available from the purser. Once inside, you could exercise in a segregated session (women in the morning, men in the afternoon, children in between) under the watchful eye of physical educator, Thomas McCauley, who later went down with the ship. Once disaster struck, the magnificent gym became a meeting-point.
Her heart went on ... eventually JAMES HORNER'S Titanic ballad, interpreted so soulfully by Celine Dion, became one of her two million selling songs in the British charts and is the perfect movie theme tune. It started as an instrumental motif and the film's director James Cameron and Ms Dion initially didn't warm to it. Yet, My Heart Will Go On gained a golden disc in Japan, garnered numerous awards and was the biggest global hit in 1998. And it was the people's favourite, too. It features a tearjerking octave jump, uses all the best musical tricks to suggest doomed, transcendent love, and is one of the top choices to launch wedding discos. My Heart Will Go On won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
14 100 TITANIC TALES DID YOUNG GIRL’S VISION FORETELL FUTURE?
THERE are many stories of psychic visions connected to the Titanic, many of them to do with children. One other sad victim that night was a young girl called Jessie, who while she lay dying in mid-April 1912 in hospital in Scotland, claimed she could see visions of a “large ship sinking, many people drowning, and a man called Wally playing a fiddle”. A few hours after her death, the Titanic duly sank; one of her many victims was Wallace Hartley, the bandleader of the cruise ship. His body was recovered two weeks later, still wearing his bandsman's uniform. ■
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50,000 at memorial service IT WAS not just Belfast that felt the shock of the loss of the Titanic keenly. When the ship left the White Star dock in the town of Southampton on the morning of April 10, some 724 members of the crew were people living in the area. Of those, according to Southampton City Council, only 175 were to return home. Intitially reports that the vessel had hit an iceberg were greeted with scepticism by the local community, but when the extent of the disas-
ter became known, people gathered in front of the White Star office waiting for news of their loved ones. Unfortunately the first survivors' lists were patchy and often innacurate, only adding to the agony of relatives and friends. When the surviving crew finally returned on April 29, 1912, the event was marked by an open air memorial service which was attended by some 50,000 people. ■
TAKING STEPS TO DEAL WITH THE TRAUMA
THOSE fortunate enough to survive the tragedy dealt with the trauma in different, sometimes in unusual ways. One of the youngest survivors, Frankie Goldsmith, when he had children of his own, refused to take them to major sporting events, as the roar of the crowd when the home team scored reminded him of the screams of the dying. Another child survior, Evan Hartmann, decided to deal with her trauma in a more direct fashion. After suffering from nightmares for years, she decided to take another cruise, locking herself in her cabin. The nightmares ceased, never to return. ■
TOO PRETTY TO BE A STEWARDESS
VIOLET JESSOP, born in Argentina to an Irish immigrant sheep farmer father and ex-liner stewardess mother, started her career on the Orinoco, at the age of 21. Initially, she found it difficult to gain a job as a stewardess partly because of her youth, as stewardesses, at the time, were middle-aged, and also because of her striking auburn hair and blue eyes. At one interview, she was informed directly that her attractiveness could cause problems with the passengers, and crew, something she found true in later life. Eventually, dressed in her drabbest outfit and without a trace of make-up, Violet gained a job on the Olympic, and was on board when it collided with the Hawke. She later worked on the Titanic, completing 17hour days for £2 10s a month. As a World War I nurse, she survived an accident on board the Britannic. ■
CELIA’S TRYTSUTRE WITH THE FU
m ic story, apart fro ter. cts of the Titan as pe dis as e g th uin ed rig at int ed t onitions that pr ONE of the mos n number of prem by an America e en th itt is wr s, st ed Try de e heroic a poem titled Th a lightkeeper and, Celia’s subis st ge an str e One of th father was high lia Thaxter. Her d of her piece is author called Ce e feel. The moo ple itim am ar s m ip' a sh d e ha th lly on ject matter usua e happy crowd e the day, with writes about th on e sh sh r ea a Cl am )/ dr melo good-by(e s up the tene the fair land y." then ratchet deck who "Bad the peaceful sk ight/For all all br /In n re ud ild clo ch not a single t women, little ee sw , and ty en m au ve be sion with "Bra th her freight of e room,/And wi ath is seen De en Th " ... these she mad om th to meet her do for a meeting wi light/She went rm and heading sto ing e th nc rie on pe up ex fore riding s an iceberg be le thing the ship who hit ter. The incredib as dis e lik ican a Tit ed sh bli pu s wa is that this poem in 1896.
Reports of their deaths... AS THE extent of the disaster was unfolding, the New York Times helpfully published a list of some of the 'noted men on the Titanic' some of whom also turned out to be women. Chief among these were the Astors and the Guggenheims. John Jacob Astor was given what amounted to a full obituary on the front page of the New York Times on April 16, even though as the paper itself stated "the final fate of these passengers is not yet known". As it turned out, the obituaries for both John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim were alas in no way premature. Madeleine Astor survived. ■
Kate’s cold start to final scenes ALTHOUGH Kate Winslet (below) deservedly got an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Rose DeWitt Bukater, she nearly didn’t make it on board James Cameron’s film. After several actresses had turned down the role, among them Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate was screen tested. She came across well but it took all her persuasive skills to bag the part. She has said shooting the movie was “extraordinary” because of the attention to detail – “every scene, every environment, every wall, every piece of cutlery was exactly what would have been on the ship itself”. Her favourite scene was the steerage party where she and co-star DiCaprio, a close friend, danced to the Irish band. The verisimilitude of the drowning scenes created a rumour that the actress was at risk but Winslet says she was never in any real danger and had total confidence in the small army of safety divers. But the water really was cold, and Kate said the temperature helped her get into the right frame of mind for the tragic final scene. ■
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How movie went deeper BEFORE announcing that he was working on Titanic, director James Cameron shot some footage of icebergs off the coast of Nova Scotia under the pretence of making a film titled Planet Ice. When he decided to include real footage of the Titanic's remains on the seabed, he did not want to simply shoot from inside a submersible as in the IMAX documentary Titanica, he wanted outside shots. So Cameron's brother, Mike, and Panavision developed a deepsea camera system capable of withstanding the intense pressure at that depth. ■
A-list stoicism ONCE Titanic had stopped at Cherbourg, it filled all its opulent first class suites. The passenger list now contained even more A-listers, including Benjamin Guggenheim, then aged 47, who boarded with his valet Victor Giglio, his chauffeur and his mistress, the French singer ‘Ninette’ Aubart, who shared a separate first class stateroom with her maid. After the ship hit the iceberg,
Mr Guggenheim, who was the fifth of mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim’s seven sons and had inherited a large sum of money – but not his father’s business acumen – reputedly showed a lot of class. He emerged from the stateroom in white tie and tails alongside Giglio, without lifebelts, declaring “We’re dressed in our best and prepared to go down like gentlemen”. They both died. ■
Wetherspoon's pub named after survivor
EVA HART, who starred on Wogan in the 1980s, was only seven when her parents, Benjamin and Esther, took her to what they hoped would be a new, prosperous life in America. Her father's business as a master builder was failing and he was determined to start afresh. Oddly, her mother had a growing premonition that something terrible would befall them, and used to keep watch over her family at night,
sleeping on the ship during the day. This fact saved the three as otherwise they wouldn't have reached the deck, and lifeboat no 14, from their third class accommodation. Benjamin died but Eva, who never married but who worked for a car dealer's and as a welfare office, went on to enjoy some celebrity as a Titanic survivor. She went on lecture tours to America and elsewhere, recounting her experi-
ences. After one talk, a little boy asked if she'd met Henry VIII. But the experience remained vivid for this survivor, the only child of 10 from her mother's two marriages to survive. Pipped to the post for the title of last Titanic survivor by Millvina Dean, she died, aged 91, in her home in Chadwell Heath, Essex. Her last honour was the fact that Wetherspoon's named a pub after her. ■
ONE of the many TV programmes airing this spring in celebration of the Titanic is the BBC’s The Titanic and Me, presented by none other than Len Goodman. The urbane judge of Strictly, Come Dancing might not seem the obvious choice but, in fact, he has a link with the great ship. Once one of the 360 Productions team behind the show spotted that Mr Goodman had worked for Harland & Wolff as a young man, they got in touch. Mr Goodman replied: “Oh, I don’t do documentaries really but I’ll do this one.” Last year he was seen filming in the famous Belfast Telegraph print room, scanning our April 15, 1912 front page. ■
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Andrews: a true hero THE Comber-born ship designer Thomas Andrews, who was Viscount Pirrie’s nephew enjoyed a standard upper middle class upbringing. He attended the Belfast Royal Academical Institute and was one of the best loved characters in the Titanic story. Even if Andrews didn’t design the Titanic all by himself, he was totally committed to the safety of the White Star line passengers. He was apprenticed at the age of 16 and served a five-year apprenticeship. By the time Pirrie and Bruce J. Ismay had dreamed up the idea of building the Olympic and Titanic, Andrews was managing director of design within White Star. He reportedly took his wife, just before the birth of their daughter, Helen, to see the new ship. On record as having wanted more lifeboats on board the Titanic - he asked for 36 more than the 20 carried, but was overruled - Thomas Andrews was one of
the undoubted heroes of April 14, 2012. Once the collision occurred, Andrews, one of the few people aware of the consequences, spent his time urging people to put on their lifejackets and get into the inadequate number of lifeboats. He was reportedly last seen in the first class smoking room, staring at a painting of Plymouth Harbour. His body was never found. The telegram that came from America to his family read: “INTERVIEW TITANIC'S OFFICERS. ALL UNANIMOUS THAT ANDREWS HEROIC UNTO DEATH, THINKING ONLY SAFETY OTHERS. “EXTEND H E A R T F E LT S Y M P AT H Y TO ALL.”
Reform Club meeting
VISCOUNT Pirrie, owner of Harland & Wolff, White Star Line chairman Bruce J. Ismay and other gentlemen involved in the Titanic project were known to favour Belfast’s Reform Club in Royal Avenue for their private conversations, and probably a little pick-me-up, too.
The Club, which is still popular with movers and shakers today, was built on the corner of Royal Avenue (then a twinkle in the developers’ eye) in 1885 for a cost of £12,000. Initially a meeting place for Liberals – and Pirrie was a noted Liberal, once jeered at in the street
Who was the man in drag
Thomas Andrews (right) and above, his former home at Windsor Avenue, Belfast, now home to the IFA. Inside, its ornate staircase
STE A T D A B T S THE MO ER? V E E L T S A BOUNCY C IN 2010 a bouncy castle version of the Titanic, complete with inflatable icebergs, appeared at a trade toy fair in Switzerland and was branded “sick” by critics. The 40ft high slide showed the crippled liner sinking with its keel raised high in the air as if about to vanish beneath the waves. Organisers claimed people were enjoying the bouncy castle, but Switzerland's Titanic Club spokesman Gunter Babler said: “Is it ethical to let kids slide down the decks of a blow-up Titanic? Hundreds of people died sliding down those decks.”
ALTHOUGH the popular legend about men dressing up as women to escape was mostly just that, a legend, there was one character, known as the Coward, who pops up in Titanic literature. Logan Marshall (below) in his 1912 book, The Sinking of the Titanic, described a man in woman’s clothing sneaking onto a lifeboat, adding: “His identity is not yet known, though it will be in good time”. There are a couple of possible miscreants: one was Daniel Buckley, a 21-year-old third class passenger from Ireland who climbed into boat 13 with a mixed group, including male passengers, firemen and sailors. He later said Mrs Astor saw him crying and
100 TITANIC TALES after chairing an Ulster Liberal Association meeting attended by Winston Churchill – it became the place to go for men of substance, including the brains behind the Titanic.
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Damages claim that jarred THE White Star Line received numerous claims for damages from widows and relatives who had lost loved ones. But one woman, Edwina Celia Trout, made a claim for a marmalade jar worth the princely sum of 8s 5d. Born in Bath in 1894, Edwina was the daughter of a brewer and part-time cabinetm a k e r.
Having spent time in America, then returned home, Edwina was travelling back to the States to offer moral support to her sister, Mrs Elsie Scholz, based in Massachusetts and expecting her first child. Edwina had booked on the Oceanic but was one of the passengers transferred to the Titanic because of a coal strike. She shared a second class cabin, costing 10 guineas, and helped others once the boat was holed. She slept on a table once rescued by the Carpathia, but after suffering anxiety during a storm, she was provided with a bed – and brandy. Twice married, Edwina had a varied career and died, aged 100. On her 90th birthday, she got a card from Richard Nixon.
WAS THIS A MOST MIRACULOUS REUNION?
HENRY STENGEL and his wife had one of the most remarkable reunions after the disaster. The couple from Newark, New Jersey, described their terrifying adventure in detail when they arrived home on board the Carpathia in April 1912, to be greeted by about 100 friends. Mrs Stengel got into the first boat launched, her husband into the last on the starboard side, and both had major criticisms of the White Star Line arrangements. Mrs Stengel said: “There was absolutely no water in our boat. We would have died of thirst if rescue had not been near at hand.” The couple both made it onto the Carpathia and Henry recalled one touching detail of behaviour on the lifeboats, noting that some adults were so scared they tried to escape from the boats – “babies, little tots, just old enough to realise their position, found themselves heroes. They set an example which moved their elders to tears as they told of it to-night. Some tried to comfort their stricken parents”.
REVEREND JOHN HARPER’S LAST CONVERT
DRINK TO Y THEIR MEMOR
who survived? threw her shawl over him. Fifth Officer Lowe, who had a tendency to describe anyone he disapproved of as Italian, saw somebody suspiciously dressed like a woman in boat 14. This may have been Edward Ryan, an Irishman in third class. Ryan’s published account stated that he saved himself and a woman by climbing down a rope into a lifeboat. But he wrote to his parents, saying: “I had a towel round my neck...I wore my waterproof overcoat. I then walked very stiff past the officers...they didn’t notice me. They thought I was a woman.”
ic’s centenary, toast the Titan you IF you want to do it correctly, you want to if d e are an er n, Th ca il. you ic cockta choose a Titan st of all, Fir rs. he should maybe ot an l th dka more tastefu various, some measures of vo ade of equal m en r, ke Th e. Sin ak ic sh the Titan of sugar. Just , with a pinch other m an ru il, te ta hi w ck d co ’ an berg anic – what ice ure of blue there is the Tit n with a tinct tio oc nc co m ade, plus sh n vodka and ru ea oc that authentic r ur fo o ca on ra Cu rinkle to yo gar dust to sp some white su iceberg.
Raise the two Titanics!
ALMOST immediately after the wreck was located, speculation abounded that there would be an attempt to raise the liner. In fact, speculative fiction had already done the job. In 1976, Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic was published, soon to be turned into an all-star disastrous disaster movie. In fact, there are plenty of practical, as well as ethical reasons for leaving the ship where it is. It is 2.5 miles under freezing cold water. The pressure alone makes it virtually impossible. It's also in two separate bits, so it amounts to raising not one, but two Titanics. Most scientists, along with the surviving relatives of those lost, now believe that it is best left where it is.
AMONG the dead that night was one John Harper, a Baptist preacher from Scotland, who boarded the Titanic at Southampton. And he would be practising his minsitry right up to the end. After the ship had sunk, he found himself clinging to a piece of wood in the the icy waters of the North Atlantic. He saw another man like him also clinging to a piece of wreckage. “Are you saved?” Harper asked. Perhaps the stranger misunderstood his higher purpose. “No” he replied, quite reasonably. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” admonished Harper, before disappearing under the waves for the final time. We have only the stranger’s word that he duly placed his trust in God and was indeed, saved. But the end of the story indicates that the stranger was saved in another sense, as he was picked up by a lifeboat. And although the Rev Harper drowned, possibly neither of them were truly lost on a night when God, as ever, moved in mysterious ways.
WHAT IF THE NAME TITANIC WAS CURSED?
WAS there something in the name Titanic that challenged the fates to bring on some ill fortune? In 1935 a steam ship called the Titanian was sailing from North east England to Canada taking, as it were, coals from Newcastle. Their route took them near the spot where their near namesake had perished. They themselves might have had their own fatal encounter with an iceberg had it not been for the quick actions of a crewman William Reeves who, acting on a premonition, shouted “Danger ahead” to the navigator just before the iceberg came into view. This was not the only link between the two events. William Reeves was born on the very night the Titanic sank.
18 100 TITANIC TALES HEROINE WHO GAVE UP PLACE IN LIFEBOAT
THE DAILY Telegraph’s New York correspondent cabled London immediately after the disaster with reports of acts of heroism, among them the story of Edith Evans. A wealthy 30-year-old American, Miss Evans was travelling with her aunts. Settled in one of the last lifeboats to go, Edith found a place with her aunt, Mrs Brown, but as the craft was lowered, it was seen to be overcrowded by one person. Miss Evans volunteered to leave, although her aunt tried to restrain her, saying she would go instead. But Edith said: “I must be the one to go,'' adding poignantly, “You stay, you have children at home, I have nobody,'' She jumped out and the lifeboat was lowered. That was the last that was seen of her.
BELFAST’S BIG-HEARTED FUNDRAISERS
LIKE any disaster today, news of the suffering and loss on board the Titanic provoked a flood of fundraising events. In Southampton, in particular, where many of the lost crew members were based, they arranged concerts, and special sports days, showing that, in terms of method, little has changed between then and now. Also unchanged is our innate generosity here in Northern Ireland. Within an hour of the relief fund opening in Belfast, some £10,000 had been pledged out of £450,000 raised for the British Titanic Relief Fund.
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Ballard’s obsession TRYING to find the wreck of the Titanic was as fraught with difficulty and setbacks as any rescue attempt on the night of the disaster had been. Dr Robert Ballard, born in Witchita in 1942 worked for the Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute, and developed an interest in underwater adventure since reading 20,000 leagues Under The Sea as a child. He first took an interest in finding the Titanic in the early 70's, and gradually his interest became an obsession, surviving a major setback in 1977 when a vital piece of equipment was destroyed. H e had to sit back in frustration as other expeditions came and duly went, but gradually the robot technology that Ballard always envisaged would be essential in locating the wreck became available, and he finally completed his quest on September 1 1985.
ALTHOUGH it’s tough working out the exact sequence of events in the engine and boiler rooms when few crew survived, one thing is clear. It was chaos and a kind of battle developed in the boiler rooms once the Titanic had hit ice. Leading stoker Frederick Barrett witnessed the impact from Boiler Room 6 and he organised a team of 15 stokers to damp down the boilers and prevent explosions. He helped two engineers in Boiler room 5 with the pumps. Water had been sprayed on the boilers to cool them and the room filled with steam. Engineer John Shepherd fell into the hole where a metal plate had been removed and broke his leg. Fifteen minutes later, a wave of water burst into boiler Room 5. Barrett managed to reach the escape ladder but his colleague Herbert Harvey went back to rescue Shepherd, and both perished.
World’s largest dock
THEY DIED IN THEIR DECKCHAIRS
AS WELL as the Astors and Mr Guggenheim, the Titanic was also briefly host to the businessman who was joint owner of Macy’s department store in New York. Isidor Straus was a German immigrant and a massively wealthy self-made man. He also served as the Democratic Congressman for New York’s 15th district for a short while. He and his wife Ida, both in their sixties, were heard on the night of the disaster agreeing that they would not be separated. So after ensuring the safety of Ida’s new maid Ellen Bird, they sat side by side in deckchairs to await their fate. Col Archibald Gracie IV, a Titanic survivor, immortalised the devoted Darby and Joan, having in vain tried to persuade them to get into a lifeboat. Mrs Straus told Gracie: “I will not be separated from my husband; as we have lived, so will we die together.” Isidor, offered preferential treatment on account of his age, said: “I do not wish any distinction in my favour which is not granted to others.” Only Isidor’s body was recovered, and buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. A joint memorial in Straus Park, New York, reads: “Lovely and pleasant they were in their lives, and in death they were not divided”.
Bravery of the boiler room men
CHERBOURG, where the Titanic docked on April 10, 1912, after leaving Southampton, had its own claim to fame, being, at that time, the largest man-made dock in the world. Some 274 passengers embarked there, almost all travelling aboard the Atlantic Train from St-Lazare railway station in Paris. The gloriously Gallic exception to this was one Alfred Ferand Omont, a first class passenger, who was driven there all the way from Le Havre by his chauffeur. Good fortune followed wealthy Monsieur Omont as he survived the disaster.
Carpathia’s sad tribute in New York ON ARRIVAL in New York on April 18, the rescue ship the Carpathia ignored the welcoming flotilla of small boats and instead of making for her own berth steamed slowly past the Battery, then her own pier, where 30,000 people were waiting, then came to a halt off the foot of West 20th Street near where the Titanic had been scheduled to dock on the 17th. The ship dropped off the Titanic’s lifeboats between piers 58 and 59, then doubled back to her own berth at 9pm. Then her own passengers disembarked, followed by the Titanic survivors who pushed past the Press and sightseers to make their way home, with some first class passengers having got private trains.
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Stokers in the flooded boiler room in a scene from Julian Fellowes new ITV mini series about the Titanic
An exclusive report! ALTHOUGH the Carpathia's captain did his best to prevent press attention disrupting his smooth rescue attempt and arrival in New York, even threatening to shoot any pressmen who attempted to board his vessel, he didn't realise he had a hack on board. Carlos F Hurd, a veteran journalist with the St Louis Post-Dispatch, had been busy since the moment the Titanic survivors boarded the Carpathia. By the time they reached New York, he had interviewed enough of them and gathered enough background information for a 5,000 word article. The question was how could he file the story and get it off the ship? He wired a friend at the New York Evening
The 12 cases of ostrich feathers AT the time it was built, the Titanic was the largest moving object in existence, and as befit its status, was home to the type of cargo where there is no immediate explanation for its use, eg The12 cases of ostrich feathers which must have done a fair degree of damage to the world's ostrich population. There was also room for exotic products like 76 cases of 'Dragons Blood' which, despite the sinister soubriquet, was actually the name of the sap from a kind of palm tree in the Canary Islands, used for no more evil purpose than colouring wood varnish or indeed women's make-up.
World who charted a tug to sail out to the Carpathia. And he made the deadline, with the final edition of the New York Evening World publishing a short version of his piece, a kind of taster, with the full feature running next morning under the headline Titanic Boilers Blew Up Breaking Her in Two After Striking Berg. Hurd summed up the disaster well in his opening – "Fifteen hundred lives - the figures will hardly vary in either direction by more than a few dozen – were lost in the sinking of the Titanic, which struck an iceberg at 11.45pm Sunday and was at the ocean's bottom two hours and thirty-five minutes after."
THOSE LOW LAWSUITS
AFTER the tragedy came the lawsuits. American maritime law – and eve ntually, it was decided, in spite of claims made in the UK, that this should apply to the Titanic – stated tha t the shipowner could limi t his liability to the value of the vessel (and freight) after an accident. In Titanic's case , this came to a paltry $95 ,000 overall, a sum much low er than the passengers' and families' claims which pou red in after the disaster. In Britain, the liability could have been assessed as a greater sum but a famous US judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, argued successfully against applying local law, and the White Star line presumably heaved a sigh of relief.
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Did Duff Gordons' bribe the lifeboat crew? AMONG the great and the good enjoying the luxuries of what was supposed to be a first class trip to America were Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon, also known as Lucile. The woman who coined the word “chic” and was famous for her style, little knew as she looked back at the chaos from the safety of their lifeboat that her fortunes were about to change for the worse. With their secretary, Frankie, the couple must have felt immense relief as they put some distance between themselves and the broken Titanic. Yet Sir Duff Gordon's actions minutes after the sinking, when he signed cheques for £5 for each of seven crewmen in the same lifeboat, supposedly to buy them new kit, would lead to questions that never quite disappeared. Did he direct the crew in their half-empty lifeboat to row away from potential survivors, leaving them to drown? In the event, after testifying at the London inquiry, the Duff Gordons went on to lead a not-quite-so-charmed existence, although she continued to inhabit fashionable society until they both ended up side by side in graves in a Home Counties cemetery.
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What price a job on the mighty ship? THE PAY ROLL of the world's most luxurious and expensively kitted out liner was revealing. While Captain Smith earnt double his opposite number on the Carpathia, Captain Rostron, the disparity between top brass and the stewards
and stewardesses on the Titanic is striking, with the captain making around 35 times as much as his most junior colleagues. The monthly pay was as follows: Captain E Smith, £105 per month (Captain Rostron on the
e l g g u r The st . . . e v i v to sur WITH women and children first the ethos if not maritime law as Titanic sank, rumours began circulating after the disaster that some men had gained their place in the lifeboats under false pretences, ie dressed as women. The man most affected by this rumour was William T Sloper, a first class passenger from New Britain, Connecticut, who spent his life after 1912 living it down. He was named and shamed in a New York paper as “the man who got off in woman’s clothing”. In fact, this slur was completely untrue, and Mr Sloper had been invited to join the no 7 lifeboat with his bridge partners of the evening, movie star Dorothy Gibson and her mother. Because many people were unaware of the gravity of the situation, some women couldn’t be persuaded to leave and crew were trying to fill the boats before they were put to sea. Sloper’s lifeboat finally made good its escape with only 28 occupants, so no guys would have had to don a frock to get on. The shoes of a Titanic victim are photographed in a debris field near the stern of the ship
Carpathia, £53 a month); Seaman Ed Buley, £5 a month; Lookout GA Hogg, £5 5s a month; radio operator Harold Bride, £48 a month; Steward Sidney Daniels, £3 15s a month; Stewardess Annie Robinson, £3 10s a month.
The lost luxury
AMONG the amazing facilities on board the Titanic were an authentic Parisian cafe (pictured) complete with authentic French waiters, a verandah cafe with live palms, a darkroom, first and second class smoking rooms (for the men), first and second class libraries (for the women) and four electric elevators to travel between levels.
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Movie just months after tragedy A SILENT German movie, In Nacht und Eis, (In Night and Ice) was rushed out in August 1912 four months after the Titanic sank. Mime Misu’s film cobbled together film footage of icebergs and for the climax, a 20foot model of the ship was rammed into a block of ice. Much of the rest of the film was shot aboard the Auguste Victoria, and some of the characters are recognisable, with Captain Smith acted by the Romanian director. The band features strongly and after shots of wireless operator Phillips sinking, the captain is also seen disappearing beneath the waves. There was said to be a final shot, of a giant death’s head, behind the iceberg. Although assumed lost, a German collector found a copy in 1998, and posted it on YouTube.
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Remembered in song IT WASN'T long before the sinking of the Titanic was turned into song. And the blues proved the perfect format. Richard 'Rabbit' Brown, the guy famous for penning numbers like Never Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice, produced one popular version, called Sinking of the Titanic. Listed as a 1927 song, it opens simply: "It was on the 10th of April on a sunny afternoon/The Titanic left Southampton as happy as a bride and groom/No one thought of the danger or what their fate may be/Until a grue-
some iceberg caused 1500 to perish in the sea." There's lots of detail in the lyrics, about telegrams sent and calling on the Carpathia, and much poignant reference to the men going down with the ship and playing "a hero's part". Brown (1880-1937) was a New Orleans born blues guitarist known for his topical ballads and some of his output has been covered by the likes of Bob Dylan. He made spare cash as a singing boatman in Lake Pontchartrain, and the sound of this ballad is, as you'd expect, a gritty kind of blues.
BOOK OF S 1,000 JEWEL
11th l poem by an e philosophica and 20th ar Khayam, th th 19 Om e of th at in ay lar THE Rhub r came very popu he moving finge mystic that be om such as "T sd century Persian wi it of s e et lur gg n t ca ntained nu thy piety or wi centuries and co y old es on, nor all an ov t M jus it/ t wr no d g vin Titanic. An writes, and ha s on board the the cover half a life," wa acock design on pe a th back/To cancel wi n itio ed t been ial jus ec d sp ha a t s. It copy, either, bu s and emerald £400,000 s 1,000 rubie t plu ou ab ld, of go nt in etched the equivale . on for £405 – r in New York bought at aucti its new owne to e ut ro ic is s en an Tit wa e d th an – d y toda lvage an question of sa its value Whenever the ned, although tio en m is m ite is the ng isi ra mentioned, th e of tify the expens would not jus l. sse ve t ea once gr remains of this
Why was lifeboat not full? LIFEBOAT number 6 turned up again in the British investigation into the disaster, when it centred on the reason why the lifeboats weren't filled to capacity. Though designed to carry 65 people to safety, it left with ony 40 on board. The senior surviving officer, Charles Lightoller, when questioned about this, said
he feared that a full lifeboat would have collapsed the lowering mechanism that held them. But Lightoller also admitted that he had made no arrangement to fill the boats once they were afloat. This was despite the fact that the lifeboats had been tested successfully in Belfast with 70 men in each carried safely. Though the Titanic was designed to carry 32 lifeboats, this already inadequate number was reduced to 20 for fear that they would “clutter up the deck”.
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AGONISING WAIT FOR LOVERS
THE ANGUISH of couples who were separated by the disaster is almost impossible to imagine. Yet for others, it proved to be an incentive to hasten the nuptials. For Marion Wright from Yeovil, Somerset, who had boarded the Titanic to meet her sweetheart Arthur Woolcott in America, there were an anxious few days as each, in the best romantic tradition, missed each other. They eventually fell into each other's arms after she discovered Arthur at the Grand Union Hotel. They were married soon after, and the Reverend J Wilson Sutton, who conducted the service duly noted "She could not have been less frightened at the thought of matrimony than if she had to experience another Titanic wreck".
CONRADâ€™S THOUGHTS ON DISASTER
JOSEPH Conrad, famous novelist (Nostromo, Heart of Darkness which became the movie Apocalypse Now) and former sailor in the Merchant Navy, cut through the prevailing mood of grief when he jotted down his thoughts on the sinking. In Some Reflections he wrote: "It is with a certain bitterness that one has to admit to oneself that the late SS Titanic had a 'good press'. â€œIt is perhaps because I have no great practice of daily newspapers...that the white space and the big lettering of the headlines have an incongruously festive air to my eyes, a disagreeable effect of a feverish exploitation of a sensational God-send and if ever a loss at sea fell under the definition, in terms of a bill of lading, of Act of God, this one does in its magnitude, suddenness and severity, and in the chastening influence it should have on the self-confidence of mankind."
SOLDIERS WITH TITANIC TALISMAN
THE memory of the disaster did not go away. When Marion Woolcott's three sons were called away during the Second World War, Marion fashioned a bag for each out of the thick woollen coat she had put on over her nightdress when she made her escape from the Titanic, on route to meet her American fiance, Arthur, to act as a kind of talisman. If she could survive, then so would they. Though reluctant to talk about the Titanic in later life, just before she died she gave an interview to the local paper which proved how vivid the memories still remained. As she said: "The events are so etched in my mind that it seems like it happened yeaterday".
A sound check is tapped out
THIS OLD chestnut, that during the construction of the Titanic some workers became trapped in the vast 800-foot hull and could be heard tapping for release, has a fairly simple explanation. At the end of the working day, inspectors would routinely check the work of riveters and count the work done to calculate bonuses for piece workers. The tapping of their hammers on the metal as they checked soundness may well have led older hands working for Harland & Wolff to lead newer employees astray with the tall tale.
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Was pilot Harriet jinxed by Titanic? AS ALWAYS, when a big news story happens, other events, no matter how important they may later turn out to be, take second place. On the same week as the Titanic set sail, American aviatrix Harriet Quimby came to England to follow in the footsteps of Louis Bleriot and cross the English channel by plane. On April 16, she set off from Dover, landing in Calais in the early hours of the morning. She was officially the first woman to achieve this. But was Harriet cursed by the tragedy and was her pioneering flight eclipsed? The answer to the second question is Yes. Ten weeks later, she herself would lose her life, thrown from her spiralling plane during an exhibition flight at Boston Harbour.
How Cobh proved lucky for eight passengers QUEENSTOWN, now Cobh in Co Cork, was the last port of call before the Titanic headed out into the Atlantic and her date with destiny. Eight passengers were to disembark there, including the Titanic's most famous
photographer, Father Browne, who took this picture. It is thought that some 120 people got on, almost entirely travelling third class. Many were farmers and labourers who had used up their meagre savings for a
chance to make a better life for themselves in America. One, a Miss Julia Barry, was a housekeeper who paid ÂŁ7 17s 7d for her fare. She was lost in the disaster and her body was never recovered, a melancholy fate shared by many others.
EA OUT TO MLAIK REAL KIL NG
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An Olympic coincidence LIKE this year, the year of the Titanic disaster was an Olympic year, with the 1912 games due to take place in Stockholm that summer. Indeed the Titanic's sister ship, The Olympic, which so nearly came to grief as the Titanic was leaving Southhampton, was named in honour of the 1908 tournament held in
London. One of the most notorious of the survivors, Cosmo Duff Gordon, whose escape was shrouded in allegations of bribery and cowardice, took part in those games as a fencer, without being placed although he'd won a silver for fencing in the 1906 international games in Athens.
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