Category Archives: Titanic

Titanic Iceberg Shape, Kosher Kitchen on Titanic, Greek Titanic, and Titanic Switch Theory Resurfaces

 

Photograph of iceberg taken by chief steward of Prinz Adalbert on morning of 15 April 1912 near where Titanic sank. At the time he had not learned of the Titanic disaster. Smears of red paint along the base caught his attention. The photo and accompanying statement were sent to Titanic’s lawyers, which hung in their boardroom until the firm dissolved in 2002. Public Domain

Scientists Reveal The Biggest Secret of the Titanic Iceberg
Curiosmos.com, 16 Jan 2023

The iceberg that sank the Titanic was believed to have had a very unusual, elliptical shape. With the help of computer modeling, researchers were able to figure out the origin of the iceberg. To do so, they used data obtained in 1912 and updated it with new information about wind and ocean currents. This allowed them to conclude that the iceberg was probably part of a small cluster of glaciers in southwest Greenland.

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Kosher ladle used by WSL for Kosher kitchen
WSL ladle for use only in the Kosher kitchen (lettering is on tip of ladle)
Source: The Purser’s Locker

 

 

The Titanic had a kosher kitchen. Who knew?
Jewish News, 19 Jan 2023

The photograph I saw was of eggshell white China plate settings on a white damask tablecloth, the plates wreathed in a black scroll design, at the top of the plate, interwoven into the design spelling “White Star Line,” and at the center of the plate three Hebrew letters were printed in black: kof, shin, raish, spelling “kosher.” Not only was kosher service provided for their Jewish passengers, but with such dignity and elegance. Somehow, I had just never given it any thought. In my mind, formal kosher service provided in the context of non-kosher social or travel situations, was an American phenomenon.

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The ‘Greek Titanic’: The Worst Naval Disaster in Modern Greek History
Greek Reporter, 19 Jan 2023

The sinking of the Greek passenger steamer Himara on January 19, 1947 near South Evia resulted in the loss of at least 383 people and has been written into history as the “Greek Titanic.” Previously named Hertha, the vessel was handed over to Greece from Germany after WWII as a form of war reparations. While sailing off south Evia Island in thick fog in the early hours of January 19th, the ship suddenly struck a rocky islet between the Evian towns of Stira and Agia Marina. Although the ship was only one nautical mile off Agia Marina and it took at least ninety minutes to sink, the freezing cold water and strong currents resulted in the deaths of 383 passengers and crew.

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RMS Olympic Arrives In New York on Maiden Voyage, 21 June 1911
Source: U.S. Library of Commerce/Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain

Old Conspiracy Theory Finds New Life on Tik Tok

Most who study Titanic, whether professional or amateur historians, encounter the various conspiracy theories surrounding its demise. From the supernatural to using the Illuminati, each conspiracy theory shares the same desire to find a different explanation about what happened. Luckily all the conspiracy theories agree a ship sank and agree an iceberg was the reason for it. There are some who opine perhaps it was sunk by torpedo. I personally believe Marvin the Martian caused it when he was testing out a new weapon, but I am alone in that opinion.

The Titanic Switch Theory is nothing new either. It has been around in one form or another since the sinking. It has been thoroughly debunked. Not only would it have been impossible to pull-off, but the wreck also shows no evidence it was the Olympic that went down. A person on Tik-Tok has decided it was time to dust off this old chestnut and breathe life into it. The disheartening thing is not that she did this, but that so many people believe it. She may not know that this has been completely debunked. I suspect by now she does as responses on news sites and social media indicate many are pointing this out.

A long time ago I took a class in critical thinking. The point of the class was to look how various well-known philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, St. Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, and others constructed their arguments in ways that were logical. The class also taught what a badly constructed argument was and how to identify them. There is funny but apt joke called politician’s logic that illustrates this beautifully:

My dog has four legs
My cat has four legs
Therefore, my dog is a cat.

In this case, finding out the truth was not hard. Yet many were quick to accept this person’s assertions without bothering to check whether it was really true or not. It is a sad commentary that many people just accepted it as fact. The truth is really out there and not hard to find out.

Woman’s Conspiracy Theory Claiming the Titanic Never Sank Is Blowing Minds (24 Jan 2023)
Daily Mirror, 24 Jan 2023


Horrific Shipwrecks, Titanic Replica, Violet Jessop and Titanic Memorial Lighthouse

Ten Horrific Shipwrecks That Weren’t the Titanic
Listverse, 6 Jan 2023

While less well known than the sinking of the Titanic, the ten nautical disasters on this list often eclipse the Titanic story in terms of sheer horror, scandal, and loss of life. With human nature itself proving either the salvation or doom of the castaways, here are tales of heroism, cannibalism, endurance, murder, and disappearance without a trace.

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This Titanic Replica In Tennessee Is So Realistic It Includes Original Artifacts From The Ship
Narcity.com, 6 Jan 2023

The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN, is the world’s largest Titanic-dedicated museum, boasting a massive replica of the ship that even has the iceberg next to it. They say the exterior is “just the tip of the iceberg,” as the inside looks pretty close to the world-famous luxury ship, including the famous staircase where movie characters Jack and Rose met in the 1997 film.

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

A woman cheated death multiple times by surviving the tragedy and sinking of the Titanic and its two sister ships
Newsbreak.com, 7 Jan 2023

Violet Constance Jessop (1887 – 1971) has been nicknamed “Miss Unsinkable” because she survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic and its sister ship, the HMHS Britannic. She also survived the collision of the RMS Olympic with the warship, the HMS Hawke.

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Titanic Memorial Lighthouse,South Street Seaport Museum, New York (2008)
Image: Andy C (Wikipedia)

New York’s Titanic Memorial Lighthouse to be refursbished
IrishCentral.com, 9 Jan 2023

Located in the Seaport District of Manhattan, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse has fallen into disrepair and is in desperate need of refurbishment. Friends of the Titanic Lighthouse Restoration have campaigned for over four years for the old monument to be restored to its former glory and that tireless campaigning appears to have finally paid off.

 

Food Served to First Class on Titanic

Titanic Lunch Menu 14 April 1912.
Photo: AP

First class passengers aboard Titanic ate very well (so did second and third comparatively speaking). Nothing was spared for those who paid the big money. And the food the upper class ate was very different from what we call today fine dining. The terms supper and dinner had a different meaning as well. Dinner was a formal meal and most often at night, while supper was a less formal meal often eaten by workers and others. Lunch and dinner for first class passengers on Titanic were formal with foods not served in less formal settings.

Mental Floss recently took a look at the menus and found some interesting things, most of which are not eaten much today (or have been reconfigured). It should be remembered that dinner back then was a 10 course meal in first class. That was a lot of food to consume! However, eating was not rushed and there were pauses between each meal course. Still for the amount of food served it seems enormous today. Only on special holiday feasts does one have multiple dishes of food served.

Items on the menu included:

Egg à l’Argenteuil

This was a luncheon dish with fancy title but really was scrambled eggs with asperagus. There are many variations of it today. An Italian version, Frittata di Asparagi e Uova, can be found here.

Chicken À La Maryland

This dish was also served for lunch. It was breaded fried chicken with gravy and garnished with bananas. Back then, bananas were considered a luxury and expensive. It became popular in Baltimore since they imported the fruit. This recipe remained popular and the famous Auguste Escoffier put it into his  recipe book. A current version can be found here.

Roasted Squab and Cress

For dinner, you could have this entrée which was as the name indicates: a roasted pigeon with cress. Squad was actually considered a pretty delicious meat (note these are raised pigeons bred for the table, not the common pigeon you see in parks). If you want to get a sense of what it was like, take a look at the recipe at Downton Abbey Cooks.

Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly

This was dessert and often served last. Most comments I found indicate that it does work well. Back then gelatin was very labor intensive to make, so making for a dessert was a special treat. Downton Abbey Cooks also has a recipe for it as well. Today with instant gelatin packs, a bit easier to prepare.

Source:

Michele Debczak, 11 Jan 2021
11 Items From ‘Titanic’s’ Final Menus, Retrieved 9 Jan 2023

 


Lost Titanic Train Carriages Found

Southampton Docks Station where passengers traveling to Titanic would disembark. The station still stands today but is a casino. Circa 1900’s
Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Daily Mail is reporting that train carriages that likely carried passengers to Titanic in 1912 have been found in yard for over a hundred years. The dining saloon cars were part of the Boat Train Express run by London and South Western Railway to carry first class passengers from the London Waterloo Station to Southampton.

The British Titanic Society has decided to raise the necessary £550,000 to restore the cars.  During World War I and II  the cars were used by the military. By the 1970’s they were in poor condition and acquired for use in a possible heritage railway that never happened. They were bought in 2000 by a train enthusiast in the hopes of finding someone who would restore them. No one can say for certain these saloon cars actually carried passengers to Titanic, but certainly operated in that time frame.

Source:

The ‘lost’ Titanic train carriages: Two dining saloons that took passengers to ship’s doomed maiden voyage in 1912 are found languishing in railway yard
Daily Mail, 2 Jan 2023

Titanic News For New Year’s Eve 2022

Video: Ring goes overboard in Titanic-styled proposal
Sky News Australia, 1 Dec 2022

A man is preparing to propose to his fiancée standing on the tip of a boat. And then when tries to pull out the box with the ring, it goes flying landing into the water, sending him into the water to get it back. He got it, got back in, and proposed soaking wet to his bride-to-be who was laughing and accepted it.

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RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912.

110 years later: The Titanic’s impact on Maine
News Center Maine, 14 Dec 2022

Malcolm Smith, the author of “Mainers on the Titanic,” told NEWS CENTER Maine around 14 people from the Pine Tree State were on the vessel when it struck that fatal iceberg. Half of them survived, he said, most of them women. “It broke down that the females from Maine survived. Men didn’t, generally speaking,” Smith said. Of the Mainers that were on the Titanic, most were from Mount Desert Island. They were families that came to Maine for the summer and could spend half a year in the state. “Employers, neighbors, friends. They were part of our fabric,” Smith said.

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The forgotten story of Africa’s Titanic tragedy that claimed nearly 2000 lives, including Ghanaians
GhanaWeb, 28 Dec 2022

The MV Joola sank over 20 years ago but it is still being felt today. It was not reported much in the American or European media. 1,863 people died and only 64 survived.

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‘Titanic: The Exhibition’ unfurls stories of passengers with real objects
Daily Sabah, 29 Dec 2022

Apart from being a mere exhibition, it is an emotional journey, unfurling the true stories of the Titanic’s passengers. I have never been so emotional and fascinated while visiting an exhibition in my life. In the depths of history or in terms of Titanic’s historic tragedy, it was a truly remarkable experience.

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Titanic warship shipyard forced to delay essential projects after troubled forecast
Daily Express, 30 Dec 2022

It was only months ago things were looking rosy for Harland & Wolff with new shipbuilding contracts. According to the article, the main reason to delay many of the projects is to difficulty in obtaining parts. This echoes what is happening in a lot of industries today where parts needed have become difficult to get due to a number of factors related to the pandemic shipping issues that have not been fully restored, the war in the Ukraine, or simply the skyrocketing costs of many needed items. Harland is delaying the contracts, but it is hurting their bottom line. Some are concerned it may make it harder to pay off their debts leading to concern amongst investors.


Today is the Feast of St.Stephen (Boxing Day U.K.)

Saint Stephen by Carlo Crivelli (1476)
Source: National Gallery, London via Wikimedia Commons.
Public Domain in UK and US; may be restricted in other countries.

If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas , you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe) it is a public holiday.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well.

Further Information

St. Stephen (Catholic Encyclopedia)
St. Stephen (Britannica)
Boxing Day (pauldenton.co.uk)


First Wireless Message Sent, photo tour of Widner estate, and Titanic Exhibition in Los Angles

The only picture of the Marconi radio room onboard the Titanic. Harold Bride is seated at his station. Photo was taken by Father Francis Browne, SJ, while aboard Titanic.
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

In 1901, you could send important messages by telegraph provided there was line connection going point to point. The telegraph opened up a whole new era of communication getting important messages delivered quickly. Once hooked up, you did not have to wait for a ship or train to arrive bearing a letter. Steam powered ships made shipping much faster (days or weeks instead of years), but the telegraph connected places faster. The only snag was you needed either an underwater cable or a connection of telegraph poles to connect.

Guglielmo Marconi (1909)
United States Library of Congress, digital ID cph.3a40043
Public Domain (U.S.) via Wikimedia Commons

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was not the first one to come up with the idea of wireless telegraphy but was the first to succeed. He studied physics and became aware of the experiments of the German physicist Heinrich Hertz. Experimenting n 1894, Marconi was able to send a radio signal up 1.5 miles. However, his experiments received little support in Italy, so he went to England in 1896. Forming a wireless telegraph company, he was able to send wireless transmissions further than 10 miles. He successfully sent a transmission across the English Channel in 1899. He also used two ships to report to New York newspapers on the America’s Cup yacht race using his wireless telegraph. That sparked a lot of interest about what he was doing.

On 12 December 1901, Marconi successfully transmitted the first transcontinental transmission from England to St. John’s Newfoundland. Many doubted this could be done due to the curvature of the earth, but Marconi believed otherwise. What scientists later determined was that the radio signal  headed up to space and reflected off the ionosphere back down to Canada. Much would still have to be learned, but Marconi’s development of the wireless telegraph led to more radio discoveries down the road. It also meant ships at sea could  receive messages sent to them via the wireless telegraph. Marconi’s company would soon market that to shipping companies as well (rivals would also as well). The radio would follow from this as well by the 1920’s with companies set up to deliver news, music and other information to the public who purchased radios in the home. Before the advent of television, people would gather around the radio for news and entertainment. And to listen to great play-by-play action of their favorite baseball team.

Marconi jointly received the Nobel Prize in physics with Ferdinnd Braun, the German radio innovator. Marconi would continue to work on experimenting with shorter and more powerful radio waves. He died in 1937 and the BBC observed a two minute moment of science for the man that was responsible for making what they do over the air possible.

Sources

History.com Editors, 11 Dec  2019
First radio transmission sent across the Atlantic Ocean
Retrieved 12 Nov 2022

Smith-Rose, Reginald Leslie
Guglielmo Marconi
Britannica.com, Retrieved 12 Dec 2022

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Inside Creepy Abandoned $250 million Mansion With A Tragic Link To The Sinking Of The Titanic
The U.S. Sun, 6 Dec 2022

His stunning stately home was once regarded as one of the finest pieces of real estate in Pennsylvania, before it was left to rot. The uber-wealthy art collector and public transport pioneer began building the home in 1897, before wrapping up the project in 1900. Acclaimed architect Horace Trumbauer designed every aspect of the $250 million pad that was dubbed the “American Versailles” – thanks to its 55 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms, art gallery and gigantic ballroom. Widener’s beloved son George and grandson Harry perished at sea, while Eleanor miraculously survived the deadly voyage. The tragedy left an enormous void inside the mansion of the financier, who was then one of the world’s richest men. The emptiness somewhat foretold the future of Lynnewood Hall, which later ended up abandoned.

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Titanic: The Exhibition In Los Angeles

Titanic: The Exhibition opened up in November and now, pardon the pun, going full steam ahead. Open every day except Tuesdays, the exhibition is being held at the Beverly Event Venue at 4327 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles. The exhibition runs till 14 Jan 2023.

For further information and ticket information, go to https://thetitanicexhibition.com/los-angeles.

 

Visiting the Titanic Wreck; Titanic Survivors

Titanic Leaving Queenstown 11 April 1912. Believed to be the last photograph of ship before it sank.
Public Domain

Once you hit December, stories about Titanic tend to thin out. People are more focused on the holidays, so you do not see that much about Titanic. Still there are a few. MSN interviewed Stockton Rush, chairman of OceanGate which dives to Titanic, about people who pay the big bucks to dive down. From the news report, people come for all walks of life who just want the chance to see the wreck. MSN also has a slideshow of various Titanic survivors that is worth a look.

News stories cited above:

Titanic: Visiting the most famous shipwreck in the world
MSN, 27 Nov 2022

Titanic Survivors: Their Extraordinary Stories Of How They Escaped The Disaster
MSN, 2 Dec 2022

Pocket Watch Auctioned Off; Thomas Andrew Considered a Hero

Titanic watch sells for £98,000 at auction
BBC, 20 Nov 2022

A pocket watch belonging to a postal clerk aboard the RMS Titanic has sold for £98,000 – 110 years on. Oscar Scott Woody’s watch is frozen at the time he went into the cold North Atlantic when the ship sank on 14 April, 1912. It was recovered from the ocean and returned to his wife Leila the following month. The watch was sold at Henry Aldridge & Sons in Devizes on Saturday along with other memorabilia from the doomed ship. A first-class menu featuring ‘plover on toast’ sold for £50,000 and a list of first-class passengers went for £41,000.

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Thomas Andrews, 1911
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Titanic hero Irishman Thomas Andrews epitomized bravery as ship went down
Irish Central, 26 Nov 2022

After he died on 15th April 1912, his father received a telegram from his mother’s cousin, who had spoken with survivors in New York, seeing news of Andrews. The telegram was read aloud by Andrews Sr. to the staff of their home in Comber: “Interview titanic’s officers. All unanimous that Andrews heroic unto death, thinking only safety others. Extend heartfelt sympathy to all.” The newspaper accounts of the disaster labeled Andrews a hero. Mary Sloan, a stewardess on the ship, whom Andrews forced to enter a lifeboat, later wrote in a letter: “Mr. Andrews met his fate like a true hero, realizing the great danger, and gave up his life to save the women and children of the Titanic. They will find it hard to replace him.”

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Just for fun:

The history of Macaroni & Cheese

Remembering Britannic (21 Nov 1916)

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

On 21 November 1916, HMHS Britannic was sunk by mine near the island of Kea in the Aegean Sea. The ship sank in 55 minutes and 1,035 people were rescued, only 30 perished. Britannic was the third and last ship of the Olympic class liners built by White Star Line. The other two were Olympic and Titanic. Britannic was launched in February 1914. Many design changes were made prior to launch due to lessons learned from Titanic. Those changes were:

  • Double hull along the engine and boiler rooms raising six of the watertight bulkheads up to B deck.
  • More powerful turbine installed due to increase in hull width.
  • Watertight compartments were enhanced so that the ship can stay afloat with six compartments flooded.
  • Motorized davits to launch six lifeboats (only five out of eight were installed before war service). Manual operated davits were used for the remaining lifeboats. The new design also allowed all lifeboats to be launched even if the ship was listing. There were 55 lifeboats with capacity for 75 each so that 3,600 people could be carried.

When World War I broke out, the ship had to be retrofitted as a hospital ship. Most of the furnishings were stored in a warehouse to be placed back aboard after the war. The Britannic began service as a hospital ship on 12 December 1915. She was sent to the Aegean Sea to bring back sick and wounded soldiers. Her first tour of service was ended on 6 June 1916 and she was sent back to Belfast to be refitted back as a passenger liner. As this was underway, the ship was again recalled to military service on 26 August 1916 and was sent back to the Mediterranean Sea.

On the morning of 21 November 1916, the Britannic under the command of Captain Alfred Barnett was steaming into the Kea Channel when at 8:12 am a loud explosion shook the ship. The explosion, unknown at the time whether it was a torpedo or mine, damaged the first four watertight compartments and rapidly filled with water. Water was also flowing into the boiler room. Captain Bartlett ordered the watertight doors closed, sent a distress call, and ordered the lifeboats be prepared. Unfortunately, while they could send messages, damage to the antenna wires meant they could not hear the responses back from ships responding to their SOS.  Britannic was reaching her flooding limit and open portholes (opened by nurses to ventilate wards) were bringing more water in as well.

As the ship was still moving, Bartlett did not order lifeboats be lowered but two lifeboats were lowered anyway. They were sucked into the ships propellor and torn to bits killing everyone in those two lifeboats. Bartlett ordered the ship stopped to assess the damage. The ship was listing so badly that the gantry davits were inoperable. Thinking the sinking had slowed, he ordered the engines back on to try and beach the ship. The flooding increased as more water was coming in aided by the open portholes the nurses had opened to air out their wards early in the morning. Bartlett ordered the engines stopped and to abandon ship. She would sink at 9:07 am, 55 minutes after the explosion. Thankfully the water temperature was high (70 F), they had more lifeboats than Titanic, and rescue came less than two hours. Nearby fisherman were able to help and at 10:00 am, the HMS Scourge arrived and later the HMS Heroic and later the HMS Foxhound.

1,035 survived. Of the 30 lost, only five were buried as their bodies were not recovered. Memorials in Thessaloniki and London honor those lives lost. Survivors were housed on the warships and the nurses and officers were put into hotels. Most survivors were sent home, and some arrived in time for Christmas. Speculation about whether it was a torpedo or a mine was resolved when it was learned that a German submarine (SM U-73) had planted mines in the Kea Channel in October 1916. The loss of two Olympic class ships was a major blow to White Star Line. They would get, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, the German ocean liner Bismarck (renamed Majestic), which replaced Britannic. They also got Columbus which was named Homeric.

Britannic has been largely forgotten except when news of expeditions were made to the wreck site over the years. The wreck itself was bought by noted author Simon Mills, who has written two books on the ship. An expedition in September 2003 located by sonar mine anchors confirming German records of U-73 that Britannic was sunk by a single mine. The expedition found several watertight doors open making it likely the mine strike was during a watch change on the ship. One notable survivor was Violet Jessop. She had been on Olympic as stewardess when it collided with the HMS Hawke, aboard Titanic in the same capacity when it sank, and then aboard Britannic as a stewardess with the Red Cross.

Sources:
Britannica
Thoughtco.com
Wikipedia

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