Sunday Titanic News

HMHS Britannic seen during World War I.
Image:public domain

Summer is here and Titanic news tends to be thin except for the occasional item auctioned off or something interesting going on. Back in May, there was an auction of fittings from Britannic, sister ship of Titanic that sank in the Aegean in World War I. When the war started, the ship was put into service as a troop ship and most of her fittings were removed. Most were auctioned off and went into private hands.

One of the items sold was maple paneling in the “colonial style” became part a bar in a private home in Dublin, Ireland. According the BBC, there was a lot of interest in the auction and many came to view the items being auctioned. The auction fetched £257,000 ($327,000)at the auction. Names of the bidders and where they reside has not been publicly disclosed.

Source: Titanic sister ship Britannic’s fittings sold at auction (BBC, 1 May 2019) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48112113

Remembering D-Day, 6 June 1944

"Into The Jaws of Death" U.S. troops from Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division disembarking landing craft on 6 June 1944. Photo:Chief Photographer's Mate Robert F. Sargent Public Domain (National Archives and Records Administration)
“Into The Jaws of Death”
U.S. troops from Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division disembarking landing craft on 6 June 1944.
Photo:Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent
Public Domain (National Archives and Records Administration)

Today we cannot imagine or fathom the resources and manpower needed for this highly complex operation. It took years of planning, putting together needed resources, and training the men needed. Even then things went wrong right away but despite the terrible odds and the high casualty rate, the Allied forces prevailed. With many junior officers wounded or killed right away, it was the ordinary soldier that won the day.

The world of 6 June 1944 was this: Nazi Germany held total control over Western Europe except for Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland who remained neutral. However its invasion of Russia had collapsed at this point with the German army now forced to retreat. It had already been forced out of North Africa and Allied troops had landed in Sicily in 1943 and by 1944 were in Italy. Mussolini had been deposed in 1943, rescued by German paratroopers, and put in charge of a German supported puppet state in Northern Italy. The Germans knew the allies were planning a major invasion along the coast of France.

Crossing the English Channel was going to be an enormous challenge. Despite what some want to believe, it was easier in concept that actual implementation. While cries of a second front had been going on for years, it required a vast amount of resources to pull off. You not only needed the men, but they all had to be trained, fed, and properly outfitted. Not just the foot soldiers but also the special units. Then you needed ships not only to bring them over to England, but camps to house them and continue their training. The Army Air Corp needed runways and facilities. The list goes on and on. Imagine a list of needed items that stretches, when laid out flat, from San Francisco to Los Angeles and you get an idea of how enormous an operation this was going to be. And that is just on the planning and supply side.

Then the problem of getting men over to France was a major hurdle. Landing craft at the start of the war were not very good and unreliable. New ones would have to be devised (they were, the Higgins boats) that would allow troops to be dropped off as close to shore as possible. Then you needed accurate intelligence to tell you what the troops were going to face. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had put up every possible fortification on the beaches and the area around. From mines in the water to barbed wire to turrets filled with guns and German troops. Hitler wanted an Atlantic wall and Rommel was pretty darn close in getting it done.

National D-Day Memorial at Bedford, Virginia Photo:Public Domain
National D-Day Memorial at Bedford, Virginia
Photo:Public Domain

That is why D-Day is important. This was a massive operation unlike anything in history. A full fledged invasion of Europe on a tricky North Atlantic where weather was hardly ever your friend. It did not go to plan, some parts went hideously wrong (landing at wrong places etc). Yet the Allied forces prevailed because of the determination of the soldiers, mostly noncoms and enlisted, to get it done. It came at great cost in lives yet when it was over began the march to push Germany out of many conquered lands. Today some talk down this military success out of some desire to lessen having to celebrate in any way war or military accomplishment. Yet had this invasion not happened or been unsuccessful, the Third Reich likely would have lasted a lot longer or worse perhaps not fallen at all.

Further Information & Suggested Reading
1)Books
Ambrose, Stephen (1994) [1993]. D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Gilbert, Martin (1989). The Second World War: A Complete History. New York: H. Holt.
Keegan, John (1994). Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris. New York: Penguin Books.
Ryan, Cornelius (1959). The Longest Day. New York: Simon & Schuster.

2)Websites
The Normandy Invasion (US Army Center of Military History)
NORMANDY LANDINGS, Operation “OVERLORD” (NavalHistory.net)
D-Day Documents (Eisenhower Presidential Library)
Veteran Memories of D-Day(normandy.secondworldwar.nl)



New titanic Mural in Belfast and Titanic II In 2022

New “Titanic” Mural Unveiled at Titanic Belfast (Travel Agent Central, 29 May 2019)
The mural is a collaboration between local artists Terry Bradley and Friz, and it aims to attract crowds by shining a spotlight on the city’s history, as well as its contemporary art movement. The recreation of Terry Bradley’s “Docker’s Rest” is located at Hickson’s Point, Titanic Belfast’s newest shipyard-themed hospitality space, which serves up traditional music, food and drink for locals and visitors alike. The mural is appropriately placed, as it depicts men from the Sailortown and the docks, and it showcases Belfast’s maritime heritage as well as the city’s traditions of murals and hospitality.
https://www.travelagentcentral.com/destinations/new-terry-bradley-and-friz-mural-unveiled-at-titanic-belfast

Model maker builds 8ft Titanic in his dining room (Bolton News, 31 May 2019)
Martin Barton’s eight-foot model of The Titanic, which is on display in his Mackenzie Street home, is causing curious passers-by to ring on his bell asking to take a closer look. “Only this morning a woman who was taking her young son to school came in to have a look. The little lad was so amazed that he was jumping up and down with excitement,” said Mr Barton, 79.
https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17675988.titanic-achievement-is-a-tourist-attraction/

Titanic II is sailing in 2022 and will follow the same route as the original ship (Belfast Live,25 May 2019)
Titanic II, a ship from Australian company Blue Star Line, is set to sail on its maiden voyage in 2022. To pay tribute to the original ship, Titanic II will be sailing on the same route as the liner, which famously sank back in 1912 after crashing into an iceberg during its maiden voyage between Southampton and New York City. The project has been a few years in the making with the company first announcing plans to build the ship in 2013, and while there were several models and tests already taking place, the venture was stalled during some financial disputes.
https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/titanic-ii-sailing-2022-follow-16331485?_ga=2.198099751.920686984.1559527284-1850300768.1559527284

Today is Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave all to serve this country. At national cemeteries and smaller ones around the country, flags and flowers have been placed to remember them. We also remind ourselves that freedom is not easily granted, often requires great sacrifice. President Lincoln made note of this in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend.
Photo:Public domain

Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, 1924
Photo: U.S. Library of Congress, digital id npcc 11495

Boy Touching Gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery(2012)

Letter to Lady Duff Gordon auctioned off;incredible story of man who survived Titanic & Lusitania sinkings

Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff Gordon(circa 1916 or earlier by Arnold Genthe)
Photo:Public Domain (Arnold Genthe Collection,US Library of Congress digital id agc.7a15137)

Titanic survivors Lady Duff Gordon and her husband Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon were criticized when it was learned the lifeboat they were in had only twelve people. There were unsubstantiated allegations they had bribed the crew not to go back and get survivors. It was disproved in the British inquiry.

A letter criticizing Lady Duff Gordon was auctioned off recently by RR Auction for $11,875. The auction house estimated it would fetch $6,000 at the online bidding that concluded in Boston last Friday. The name of the buyer was not released.
Source: First Class Couple On Titanic Are Shamed For Leaving The Sinking Ship On A Lifeboat Less Than Half Full (Maritime Herald,23 April 2019)
http://www.maritimeherald.com/2019/first-class-couple-on-titanic-are-shamed-for-leaving-the-sinking-ship-on-a-lifeboat-less-than-half-full/

George Beauchamp was a lucky man. As fireman stoker on Titanic, he survived and testified at the British inquiry. Then he signed on Lusitania which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915. After that, his family says, he had enough of big ships. He worked on trawlers and other ships after that. His family is paying tribute to him 75 years after he died.

“His great granddaughter, Susan Norton, said she’s proud of him and the “part he played in saving the lives of some passengers.”

Source:The extraordinary story of sailor who survived both Titanic and Lusitania disasters (The Independent,23 April 2019)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/titanic-rms-lusitania-sailor-survivor-george-beauchamp-family-a8882561.html

Titanic Steward letter up for auction

A letter from Titanic steward Richard Geddes to his wife Sarah is up for auction in the UK. According to Fox News, the letter describes the near collision between Titanic and SS City of New York as it was departing Southampton. “I hope you are feeling good and not worrying” he says in his letter and closes with his “fondest love” for his wife. Geddes would perish when Titanic sank on April 14, 1912.

The letter is up for auction at Henry Aldridge and Son on April 27. It is expected to fetch between $155,885 to $233,827.

Source: Titanic victim’s long-lost letter surfaces, describes near miss as doomed ship set out on its maiden voyage (Fox News, 20 April 2019)
https://www.foxnews.com/science/titanic-victims-letter-surfaces-describes-near-miss-as-doomed-ship-set-out-on-its-maiden-voyage

Passover Begins Today At Sundown

Passover is an eight day festival celebrated in the spring between the 15th through 22 during the Hebrew month of Nissan. Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The first two and last two days are considered holidays. On those days holiday meals are served and observant Jews do not work or drive on those days (they also cannot write and even switch on/off electric devices though exception is made for cooking and carrying food outdoors.) The middle four days are called intermediate days and most forms of work are permitted.

A very important way Jews recall the Exodus is that they cannot eat or have an form of leavened bread (and that includes any food or drink that contains wheat, barley, oats, spelt or derivatives of it). That includes a lot of foods from breads, pastas, cookies and cakes, alcohol and soda. Most processed or industrial made foods are thus not allowed unless they have been certified for Passover by a rabbinical authority. It is not uncommon to see certain sodas in heavy Jewish areas reconfigured for the Passover season (such as Coke using real sugar and nothing that is derived from leavened bread in its making).

Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night. Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning. (Deuteronomy, 16:1-4)

A very important way Jews recall the Exodus is that they cannot eat or have an form of leavened bread (and that includes any food or drink that contains wheat, barley, oats, spelt or derivatives of it). That includes a lot of foods from breads, pastas, cookies and cakes, alcohol and soda. Most processed or industrial made foods are thus not allowed unless they have been certified for Passover by a rabbinical authority. It is not uncommon to see certain sodas in heavy Jewish areas reconfigured for the Passover season (such as Coke using real sugar and nothing that is derived from leavened bread in its making).

Seder table
Image: Gilabrand at en.wikipedia

The most important part of Passover is the Seder. It is a fifteen step tradition that is family oriented and packed with rituals for the feast. The most important points of the Seder are eating matzah, bitter herbs(to commemorate the slavery under the Egyptians),drinking wine or grape juice to commemorate their freedom, and most importantly reciting from the Haggadah. The Haggadah is the liturgy of the Exodus from Egypt and the duty of every family to recite the story so the next generation never forgets what Passover means to them.

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)

The Israelites Leaving Egypt, 1828/1830 by David Roberts (1796-1864) Public Domain(Wikipedia)
The Israelites Leaving Egypt, 1828/1830 by David Roberts (1796-1864)
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

Today is Good Friday

Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri(1821-1891) Public Domain
Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri(1821-1891)
Public Domain

Today is Good Friday, an important event in the Christian liturgical calendar. Some argue the word Good is a corruption and used to mean God Friday. Others argue it always meant that the day is meant to be pious or holy. For Christians, Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. Observant Christians will mark the day by silent meditation, prayer, and church attendance. Many will fast during the day, particularly during the hours of 12 noon to 3 p.m. Hot Cross Buns are a traditional food many cultures use on this day (and through the Easter season). Most Catholics and Christians will avoid eating meat on this day and usually the main meal will be fish. Good Friday (and sometimes Easter Monday)are public holidays in many countries. Good Friday always occurs on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Titanic Chronology:Carpathia Arrives on 18 April 1912

U.S. Library of Congress,Bain Collection, Control #ggb2004010347 Public Domain
U.S. Library of Congress,Bain Collection, Control #ggb2004010347
Public Domain

It had been a long three days since Titanic sank when Carpathia arrived bearing Titanic’s survivors. What had been first optimistic news turned grim after the miscommunication had been sorted out. Titanic had sunk and 1500 had perished out in the cold North Atlantic. News as to who exactly had survived was not fully known as Carpathia had kept a media blackout during its journey to New York. There was a reporter on board but had to keep his notes secret in a cigar box lined with champagne corks. He would toss it towards a Hearst editor in a tugboat in New York harbor where it would be raced for a special evening edition of New York World. 50 tugboats full of reporters yelled at the ship through megaphones offering money for eyewitness accounts. Carpathia first stopped at Pier 59, the White Star Line pier and offloaded Titanic’s lifeboats. They were all that were left of the ship aside from the flotsam and jetsam that would be found later in the Atlantic. Then Carpathia proceeded to Pier 54 and the Titanic survivors disembarked. It was only then it was truly known who did survive and who did not.

Pier 54, 2012 where Carpathia docked to unload Titanic survivors, Photo: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)
Pier 54, 2012 where Carpathia docked to unload Titanic survivors,
Photo: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)

Pier 54 is now part of Chelsea Piers and is located at Little West 12th Street and the Hudson River (in the Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village area). It is now part of the Hudson River Park. It is now used mostly for concerts, exhibits, and free movies. Several television shows have used the Chelsea piers as a backdrop for  television shows (Law & Order, Spin City, The Apprentice). There is a desire to convert it into a nautical museum though that has yet to come to fruition. There is also a plan to redevelop Pier 54’s original style pier for mixed use space.

Sources:
Books
Eaton, John P.; Haas, Charles A. (1994). Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens
Lord, Walter (2005) [1955]. A Night to Remember. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin
Lord, Walter (1987). The Night Lives On. London: Penguin Books
Lynch, Donald (1998). Titanic: An Illustrated History. New York: Hyperion

Websites:
Encyclopedia Titanica: Titanic Facts, History and Biography

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Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

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