All posts by Mark Taylor

Origins of Titanic, New Book Claims All Titanic Passengers Could Have Been Saved, and Lego Update

 

Titanic Memorial Belfast
Photo:Public Domain

A Story That Can Only Be Told In Belfast: What Are The Origins Of The ‘Unsinkable’ Titanic?
Euronews.com, 13 Sep 2021

Despite being located at either end of the island of Ireland, the ports of Belfast and Cork (Cobh) are connected by one of the world’s most infamous shipping disasters. Told many times in books, theatre performances and movies, the story of the Titanic is one that is indelibly etched in people’s minds. However the story can really only be understood once you have visited the places the Titanic was created.

 

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

Every Passenger On The Titanic Could Have Been Saved, Claims Gripping New Book
Daily Express, 13 Sept 2021

But a dramatic new book explodes that fantasy. “Every soul on the Titanic could have been saved,” says historian William Hazelgrove, author of One Hundred and Sixty Minutes: The Race to Save The RMS Titanic, published this month. “The myth says the Titanic was alone out on the Atlantic, but two ships – the SS Californian and the SS Mount Temple ?were so close that they saw the Titanic sinking, only failing to act out of cowardice and incompetence.

And for those Lego fans hoping for the Titanic set to come out:

Revised Piece Count For Rumoured LEGO for Adults 10294 Titanic
Brickfanatics, 13 Sep 2021

However, Instagram user exabrickslegogo_ now claims that 10294 Titanic will consist of ‘only’ 9,090 pieces, a part count that would probably seem way more impressive if it wasn’t coming back down from 12,000. As it stands, though, it would still be the biggest non-LEGO Art set in the portfolio by 54 bricks, just eking past 10276 Colosseum.

 


Titanic News-Titanic Lego May Be 12,000 Bricks, Sinking Slide Reappearance, Countess of Rothes Home Becoming Flats

The Rumoured LEGO Titanic Could Include Over 12,000 BricksBrickfanatics.com, 9 Sep 2021

First details for the rumoured LEGO Titanic set have surfaced including the size, release date and price of the potentially massive model. A new report for the long-rumoured LEGO Titanic build has appeared online thanks to lego_club_news on Instagram. If true, this could be easily the largest official LEGO set to release, beating that of 10276 Colosseum and even 31203 World Map.

Leslie House: Restoration Finally Under Way At The Home Of Titanic Heroine
The Courier, 9 Sep 2021

The A-listed building, home of Titanic heroine the Countess of Rothes, was gutted by fire in 2009 and has since been targeted by vandals. But it will soon be transformed into 28 flats after planning permission was granted last year. And a further eight houses will also be built in the grounds. The work is being done by Byzantium Developments, who say it will bring one of Scotland’s most at risk mansion houses back to its former glory.

Titanic Bouncy Slide
Photo:public domain

Sinking Titanic’ Slide Makes Another Appearance At A Chicago Street Fest, For Some Reason
Chicago Sun-Times, 8 Sept 2021

Since the sinking of the Titanic more than 100 years ago, the maritime tragedy has been etched into our collective memory, in large part thanks to a mid-90s blockbuster movie that turned the ill-fated voyage into a thrilling epic of romance and disaster. These days, kids in Chicago apparently have another way to remember the Titanic: a giant inflatable slide that keeps showing up at local street fairs, including one that happened last weekend in Roscoe Village.

Islands of Ireland: The Opulent Bradock Island With Links To The Titanic
Irish Examiner, 6 Sep 2021

The island has been owned by the Andrews family for over 150 years who have had strong links to political life in the North. With judges and MPs among their numbers, including a prime minister John Andrews, the family was synonymous with political life in the North for many years. One son chose a different career path and it was a choice that would ultimately lead to his death.

 

How Transatlantic Ocean Liners Ferried Women Into The Workforce
Wburg.org, 6 Sep 2021

Evans shared these womens’ stories at a recent virtual event put on by the American Ancestors Speaker series from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. There was great danger on the ships: The Titanic struck an iceberg. The Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915. The Britannic hit a mine in 1916. Violet Jessop survived all three sinkings and witnessed lifeboats being lowered from the Britannic right into rising propellers. Jessop was a stewardess serving first-class passengers — part of a new female workforce unparalleled on land.

 


Remembering 9/11/2001

he northeast face of Two World Trade Center (south tower) after being struck by plane in the south face.
September 11, 2001
Source: Robert (Flickr(

It was a day that changed America. Planes hijacked by terrorists flew into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. Another plane would crash into the Pentagon. And a fourth plane that was destined for a target in Washington D.C. crash-landed into a field in Pennsylvania. The extreme heat caused by the fires from the impact of the planes would cause the collapse of the two towers.

Picture of the World Trade Center on 9/11 shortly after the WTC1 had collapsed.
September 11, 2001
Source: Wally Gobetz

Firefighters and police raced to the towers trying to rescue those trapped inside the burning buildings. Stories of their heroism in getting people out are extraordinary examples of courage that are both remarkable and breathtaking. Things were so dire at one point that some jumped out of windows to the shock of people watching. And when the buildings collapsed, many of these brave firefighters and police were killed. As the rubble was cleared later, every body of a fallen firefighter and police officer was removed with great care and respect.

Ground Zero, New York City, N.Y. (Sept. 17, 2001)
Source: U.S.Navy
Public Domain

More than 3,000 people were killed (including 400 police and firefighters). Over 10,000 were wounded during the attacks on 9/11. Some suffered long term effects due to smoke inhalation and toxic chemicals that were burning at the time. The attacks of 9/11 was the most devastating foreign attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

We take time today to remember the fallen of 9/11. They went to work, got on planes, and did countless other things not knowing the evil that was about to take place. Countless lives were changed that day. Families were shattered with the loss of a husband or wife, beloved son or daughter. Friends were never seen again having perished in the towers, the Pentagon, or a passenger on the planes used as weapons.

We cannot forget those who perished on this day. And the heroic sacrifices of first responders- firefighters and police-who tried to save lives cannot be forgotten either.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

(Part of Pope Benedict XVI prayer from his visit to New York Ground Zero in 2008.)

,

Battle of Lake Erie (10 Sept 1813)

Battle of Lake Erie by William Henry Powell (1823–1879)
U.S. Senate Art Collection, U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C.
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Battle of Lake Erie (10 September 1813)

 During the War of 1812, control over Lake Erie and the Northwest were crucial to both the British and the United States. The War of 1812 between the British and the United States resulted from simmering tensions between the two since the end of the American War of Independence. Though long over by this time, tensions existed between the two.  The British had attempted to restrict U.S. trade. During the Napoleonic Wars, the U.S. was neutral, but the British were not happy with American merchant ships supplying the French with supplies. Another issue was the forced impressment of American seamen. To fill out their crews, the British Royal Navy would stop merchant ships and take some of their crews forcing them into Royal Navy service. Additionally, tension over the U.S. desire to expand its territory led to clashes with the British as well.

These and other things led President James Madison to declare war on Great Britain on 18 June 1812. While it passed Congress (barely), it was not popular in New England since they heavily relied on trade. Western and Southern states generally supported the war. However, the realities of war would soon set in. The attempt to take Canada was a failure and resulted in a humiliating defeat on 16 August 1812 with Detroit being surrendered without firing a shot. The American Navy was aided early on with the fact the British were also fighting Napoleon so not all their ships were committed. One notable naval battle was at Lake Michigan in 1813. At stake in this battle was control of Detroit, Lake Erie, and nearby territories the U.S had claims on.

The American naval forces were led by Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, who had nine ships. The British had six warships led by Commander Robert Heriot Barclay. Barclay was an experienced naval officer who had served under Nelson at Trafalgar. The British were armed with long gun cannons that gave them a range of about a full mile, while the Americans used carronades that had half the range of the British cannons. This meant that Perry would inflict a lot of damage but at closer range. At first the wind was against Perry in the morning and then shifted giving him an advantage. He would raise a famous navy-blue banner written with the words “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” as the slogan to rally his officers.

The ensuing battle would last for hours, and Perry would lose his flagship Lawrence. He transferred his flag over to the Niagara and then sailed straight into the British line firing broadsides that ultimately gave him the win when they surrendered. Perry lost 27 sailors and 96 wounded, while the British lost 40 dead and left with 94 wounded. Perry sent a famous dispatch to U.S. General William Henry Harrison that said, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” The British were forced to abandon Detroit after the Battle of the Thames resulting in American control of the area.

Aftermath

The victory was an important one when many battles had gone against the United States. The Royal Navy was still fighting Napoleon so not of its navy was committed to North America. This would change in April 1814 when Napoleon was defeated. With both ships and troops now freed up, they raided Chesapeake Bay and moved on the capital of Washington D.C. burning it and other government buildings to the ground on 24 August 1814.

On 11 September 1814, the American navy defeated the British fleet at the Battle of Plattsburgh at Lake Champlain, New York. A furious battle at Fort McHenry in Baltimore took place on 13 September 1814 and withstood 25 hours of bombardment by the British navy. After the bombardment had ended, the Americans raised a large flag over the fort to show they had survived the bombardment. Seeing the flag being raised inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that later would be set to music called “Star Spangled Banner.” British forces withdrew and prepared to act against New Orleans. Negotiations for a peace settlement were undertaken not long after in Ghent (modern day Belgium). The resulting Treaty of Ghent would abolish the taking of American sailors from merchant ships for British naval service, solidify the borders of Canada as we know them today, and end British attempts to create an Indian state in the Northwest. The treaty was signed on Christmas Eve, 1814. Formal ratification would be in February 1815.

It was during this time that the famous Battle of New Orleans would occur. On 8 January 1815, British forces (unaware of the peace deal yet due to slow communications of the time) launched a major attack on New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson led the Americans in this famous battle and defeated the British soundly. News of the battle was another boost to American morale and likely convinced the British that they were right to get out of this war as well. For Canadians and Native Americans, it ended their attempt to govern themselves. For Americans, it ushered in a new time of good feelings ending the partisan divisions that had grown since the Revolutionary War. National self-c0nfidence would ensue and a growing spirit of expansionism that would shape the rest of the 19th century. The country resulting from it would be comprised of states and territories that went from New York on the Atlantic Ocean to San Francisco on the Pacific making it one of the largest countries in the world.

Sources:

Titanic News: Titanic Conspiracy?; Titanic II, and Jewish Titanic Passengers

 

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

House Belonging To A Titanic Survivor Still Stands In Toronto
BlogTO, 4 Sept 2021

There’s a house still standing in Toronto where a Titanic survivor and her family used to live during the 1920’s. Emma Bliss lived at 1063 Davenport Road in 1923, according to Encyclopedia Titanica, a crowdsourced community-based project that’s been collecting research on the Titanic for 25 years.

Titanic Conspiracy Theory Claims the Ship Never Sank
Greek Reporter, 3 Sept 2021The Titanic never sank, claims one of the foremost –among the many– conspiracy theories about major world events. Almost a century after the naval tragedy, the far-fetched proposition presents the argument that the historic ship never sank and instead its sister ocean liner was wrecked in its place.

Bow section of tanker SS Pendleton grounded near Pollock Rib lightship six miles off Chatham, Mass on the morning of Feb. 19, 1952.
Photo:Public Domain (U.S. Coast Guard)

Titanic II Might Sink Before It Sails
The Signal, 31 Aug 2021

Construction on the ship, which could cost over $1 billion, still had not begun. Again, the 2018 launch date passed with little word from Blue Star Line. Despite years of setbacks, many media outlets reported that Titanic II would finally sail in 2022. In a 2020 interview, Palmer stated that Blue Star Line had yet to select a launch date. Still, he insisted that Blue Star Line continues to work on the project. “The response has been incredible,” he said, with the company receiving over 30,000 expressions of interest. One hopeful guest, he added, offered over $1 million for a first-class cabin.

 

Titanic Museum – Branson, MO
Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Titanic Connections: Branson Museum Honors Jewish Passengers, Remembers Holocaust
Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 29 Aug 2021

One connection involved the Strauses. As research revealed, the Strauses’ nephew, Nathan, was a college friend of Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, when they were students at Heidelburg University in Germany, Kellogg says. “In 1909, Nathan Straus Jr. convinced his father to invite Otto Frank to New York to work at Macy’s,” the story continues. “Otto’s father encouraged this, believing it would be a good opportunity to practice English and learn about foreign commerce before Otto joined the family banking business in Frankfurt.”
Frank came to New York in September 1909 and returned to Germany in 1911, after his father’s death. Straus and Frank remained friends, even vacationing with their families in Switzerland in 1928, and when Frank needed help to try to get his family out of Holland in 1941, he wrote to Nathan Straus Jr. The families lost contact in November 1941, and Frank’s family went into hiding in July 1942

Titanic Tours: What To Know About These Underwater Excursions
The Travel, 25 Aug 2021

It’s safe to say that when an iceberg pierced the Titanic on its maiden voyage just over 100 years ago, no one was thinking about turning the shipwreck into a tourist attraction. But now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the sinking, some travel companies are offering tours of the site. Visitors can take an expensive excursion or they can simply look on Google, where the wreck is pictured in all its rustic, 3-D glory.

Teacher, 31, Spends Eight Weeks Building Lego Replica Of The Titanic Using 25,000 Bricks That Capture Every Detail Of The Doomed Ship – As Well As The Iceberg
Daily Mail, 20 Aug 21

A Lego-mad teacher has built a replica of the Titanic, using 25,000 bricks to capture every detail of the doomed liner – right down to the iceberg which sealed its fate.


Happy Labor Day! (US)

Labor Day Postage Stamp (1956)
United States Post Office
Public Domain

Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. It became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. It has also become the unofficial end of summer as schools have reopened and summer vacations have ended. As a federal holiday, all federal offices are closed as are banks and the stock market. All states celebrate it as well so state, county, and city offices are closed as well. Nearly all professional offices are closed and most construction workers have the day off as well. Retail and fast food employees do not get the day off except in areas where due to the holiday they get virtually no business.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Have a nice Labor Day everyone!

Remembering History: Hitler Invades Poland (1939); Japan Surrenders Ending World War II (1945)

Hitler attends a Wehrmacht victory parade in Warsaw on 5 October 1939
Public Domain

On 1 September 1939, German forces using the pretext they were acting in self-defense against Poland, invaded. The German infantry was not fully mechanized but had Panzers and fast-moving artillery that included truck mounted artillery. The German strategy was to quickly concentrate forces and encircle an enemy quickly. Thanks to the relatively flat terrain of Poland, it made it easy to move mobile infantry about. The invasion came one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August. This non-aggression pact meant neither side could assist the enemy of the other. A secret protocol to the agreement defined German and Soviet spheres in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. This protocol would not be proved until the Nuremberg Trials. So, when Germany invaded, Poland was already split with defined borders between the two countries. With this pact, Poland signed defense agreements with Britain and France. Talks between those powers and Germany did take place and the invasion was held up until they were concluded. Hitler did not believe they would declare war, and if they did would be willing to compromise after the invasion of Poland. Germany wanted the restoration of Danzig (in Polish Gdansk) as a free city (it had a large German population), the Polish Corridor, and the safeguarding of Germans in Poland. Germany demanded that a Polish representative with the power to sign such an agreement be present. The British, remembering what happened before when Czechoslovakia was forced to capitulate to the Germans, did not like that demand. When the Polish representative met with Ribbentrop on 31 Aug, he was dismissed when he had no power to sign. The Germans then claimed that Poland had rejected their demands and Hitler ordered the invasion for 1 September. The Germans were better prepared for war than the Polish. They had higher numbers of troops and had air superiority. Poland had older fighters while the bombers were more modern. They waited too late to upgrade so newer fighters and bombers would not be there when the Germany invaded. Poland had two armor brigades and its 7TP light tank was better armed than the German Panzer. But they only had 140 of those and 88 tanks they imported from Britain and France. The Polish Navy was a small fleet with destroyers, submarines and support vessels. Most of the surface vessels escaped and joined the British Royal Navy. Submarines did engage German shipping in the Baltic Sea but it was not successful. Polish merchant ships that did escape or elsewhere would join the allies and take part in wartime convoys. By 3 October both German and Soviet forces had secured their spheres ending the Second Polish Republic. Both German and Soviet governments quickly took control of their territories, organizing and annexing, and setting up regional controls. Government and military leaders who did escape would form a military force in support of the Polish government-in-exile. In response to the invasion of Poland, Britain and France formally declared war on Germany on 3 September but little else (France did invade the Saar but quickly withdrew). ==

Japan Surrenders

Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945: Representatives of the Empire of Japan on board USS Missouri (BB-63) during the surrender ceremonies.
Army Signal Corps, Public Domain

On the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese formally surrendered ending World War II. By this time Japan was no longer the military power it once was. The Battle of Midway in June 1942 had been the turning point when four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. Since then Japanese control over its captured territories were pushed back under massive effort of U.S. and Allied forces. By the summer of 1945, and with the capture of Okinawa, Japan was being blockaded and being bombed often. Plans for the invasion of Japan had been drawn up. After the bloody experience of capturing territory such as on Iwa Jima, it was expected to be a difficult invasion that would cost a lot of allied lives. However, the dropping of two atomic weapons on Japan in August on Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed things dramatically. Members of the Japanese War Council and Emperor Hirohito favored accepting the peace terms; some objected and acted to stop a surrender. On 15 Aug a coup was attempted against Prime Minister Suzuki, but it was crushed. At noon that day, and for the first time in Japanese history, Emperor Hirohito addressed the nation by radio. “We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” The US and the allies accepted the surrender.  

 

 

American Dunkirk (29-30 August 1776)

 

U.S. Army-Artillery retreat from Long Island-1776
Creator: Werner Company, 1899 (Akron, Ohio)
U.S. Library of Congress, digital id#cph 3g03362 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g03362

 

New York had a pivotal role in the American colonies and the American Revolution. Its central position made it vital to commerce and communication with the north and south colonies. This made it a key strategic location for both the British and American forces. General George Washington knew the British would target New York City, so he transferred the Continental Army to the city to turn back or slow down the British forces that would come. Fortifications were established in stages. Many of Washington’s troops were green, never been far from home, nor served in the military before. Washington split his forces between Brooklyn and Manhattan. This made reinforcement difficult and left a hole open at the Jamaica Pass the British would exploit.

When the British fleet arrived in June, it brought 20,000 British infantry that disembarked on Staten Island. The warships also could dominate the waterways that cut through New York City. The British sent 10,000 soldiers to Long Island, but Washington did not recombine his forces to counter it. Using a distraction, British General William Howe marched into position and on 27 August launch the attack on the Americans. Fighting raged on Guan Heights in the south and at Brooklyn Heights in the north, with the bloodiest fighting at Battle Pass where hand to hand fighting between Americans and Hessian mercenaries took place. The Americans are forced to withdraw to Brooklyn Heights. A countercharge led by 400 Marylanders would allow their comrades to escape. They would later be remembered as the Maryland 400 for their bravery. When the sun went down, the British had defeated the Americans but held off further attacks until the next day.

General Washington’s options were to surrender or evacuate at this point. While the battle had been lost, the spirit of the revolution was not dimmed. He ordered an evacuation of the troops at night, with British forces not that far away. By all accounts he was calm, authoritative, and in control of the situation. And he was aided in this task by a unique group of individuals called the Marbleheaders. They had worked together as a team fishing in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. So, they understood the weather, tides and time when sailing. Under the leadership of Colonel John Glover, this group using any sailing or rowing vessel they could find, worked to move Washington’s army across the East River to safety. It was no mean feat with British forces all around them. Oars were covered in cloth to prevent making noise in the water, everyone was told to stay quiet and not cough. They used minimal lighting and did not tell the soldiers what was going on until the last minute (this was to prevent the British from finding out).

They moved all the horses, ammunition, and cannon first. Then all the injured and wounded were transported. And then the evacuation began at 10 pm of the troops. Both the tide and winds were in their favor and the water was calm. When the tide changed, it became more difficult to keep the boats from going off-course on the return trips. The Marbleheaders had to really work hard to not loose control of their vessels. Around midnight, the winds shifted making the use of sloops (which used sails rather than oars) possible. Some chaos began to erupt at the embarkation point as soldiers started to rush to the boats. Washington seeing men trying to fight for a place on the boats, threatened to sink the ship unless the men who had pushed others aside got out. This restored the calm and shows how the proper use of leadership in such exacting times can work. The evacuation took all night and was still not done by the morning on 30 August. They had accomplished an impossible task of transporting thousands of men in just nine hours. Dawn though saw Americans still manning the trenches and it spelled doom for them when the British attacked.

Then quite suddenly a thick fog appeared and cloaked the escape. Those escaping in the early morning commented on how smooth the water was. The fog came at exactly the right time and place to remove the remaining American troops to safety across the East River. Washington oversaw the retreat and encouraged his men staying ashore until the last boat was being loaded. At that point he boarded and headed across the river. Thanks to the fog, and the lack of any alarm received by the British, Washington was able to evacuate his entire army leaving the British to find them gone.

While the British defeated Americans at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights (and would hold New York till 1783), the remarkable escape of Washington’s troops would be well regarded both for the incredible evacuation and the leadership of Washington himself.  Far from dispiriting the troops or the cause, it became a source of great inspiration, and many believe the hand of God was involved as well. The fame of the Marbleheaders in being able to make the crossing possible would spread. More importantly confidence in George Washington as a capable military leader would result. He made a mistake in dividing his forces, but his remarkable leadership to save his troops would show he was a military leader both the people and his troops could rely on.

Sources

The Battle of Long Island Brooklyn Heights(TheAmericanRevolution.org)

Brooklyn, New York  |  Aug 27, 1776 (Battlefieds.org)

The Battle of Brooklyn, August 27, 1776 (Old Stone House)