All posts by Mark Taylor

Titanic Chronology: 17 April 1912:The Grim Task of Collecting Bodies

CS Mackay Bennett (circa 1884) Artist Unknown Public Domain
CS Mackay Bennett (circa 1884)
Artist Unknown
Public Domain

With confirmation that Titanic sank with great loss of life, the next task was to collect bodies floating in the Atlantic. The cable ship Mackay Bennett was the first ship hired by White Star (others would be employed as well)to retrieve bodies. The ship emptied itself of its normal stores in Halifax, Nova Scotia and brought aboard supplies for its new mission:

  • Embalming supplies and coffins (100)
  • Chief embalmer of John Snow & Co.,John R. Snow Jr.
  • 100 tons of ice to store the bodies
  • Canon Kenneth Hind of All Saints Cathedral, Halifax

Mackay Bennett left Halifax at 12:28 pm on 17 April 1912. Due to heavy fog and rough sears it would take four days to reach where Titanic sank. They began recovery at 0600 on 20 April. Bodies were manually recovered by skiffs and brought back to the ship. They recovered 51 bodies but realized they did not have enough embalming supplies on hand. Since the laws at the time required bodies to be embalmed before unloading from ships docking in a Canadian port, they followed a general procedure:

  • First class passengers were embalmed and placed in coffins
  • Second class passengers were embalmed but wrapped in canvas
  • Third class passengers were buried at sea

Bodies that were brought back were either transported by relatives to their final resting place or interred in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Titanic Chronology April 14-16 1912

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

1. Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm ship time on 14 April 1912. The night was moonless and the sea calm with temperatures at or below freezing. Titanic was moving quickly but did not see the iceberg until it was nearly upon them. An attempt to steer around it resulted in a collision on Titanic’s starboard side. The iceberg would puncture Titanic enough so that the first five compartments would flood. Since the compartments were not totally sealed all the way up, water would go from one compartment to the other making her sink at the bow.

2. Titanic would transmit signals by wireless telegraph, Morse lamp, and rockets. The ship nearest by most accounts was SS Californian. Her telegraph operator turned off his equipment at 11:30 pm and never heard the distress calls. Questions linger to this day whether or not they saw Titanic or her rockets being fired. The RMS Carpathia received the SOS and its captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately ordered to proceed directly to the last known coordinates to locate survivors despite having to navigate a dangerous ice field on a moonless night.

3. Titanic would sink on 15 April 1912 at 2:20 am. Although Titanic met the British Board of Trade regulations and exceeded it for the number of lifeboats required, it did not have enough for the full complement of passengers and crew. As a result over 1,500 men, women, and children would had no means of escape from the sinking ship.

RMS Carpathia (date unknown)
Image: public domain

4. Carpathia arrives at 4:10 am to rescue survivors who were in lifeboats or able to reach them. 710 survived the initial sinking but the final tally would be 705 due death from freezing cold. SS California would arrive later but would find no survivors. At 12 noon Carpathia sounded her horns and began heading back to New York.* It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

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

*SS Carpathia was on her way to Fiume then part of Austria-Hungary in the Adriatic Sea. Today the city is Rijeka and major city in Croatia owning to its deep port and cultural significance.

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


Today is Palm sunday

Jesus Entry Into Jerusalem by Pietro Lorenzetti(1320).  Fresco in the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, Italy Public Domain
Jesus Entry Into Jerusalem by Pietro Lorenzetti(1320).
Fresco in the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, Italy
Public Domain

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week on the Christian Calendar. This feast takes place the Sunday before Easter and commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The symbolism of Jesus arriving on a donkey is symbolic of coming in peace rather than on a steed as a soldier might do. While palms can be used for religious services held on this day, it is not always possible to have them. So in many places substitutes are used from other trees such as the olive, yew or other native trees. This lead to Palm Sunday sometimes referred to locally as Yew Sunday or Branch Sunday.

The feast is celebrated both in Western and Eastern churches though not at the same time due to different calendars (the West uses the Gregorian while Eastern Orthodox uses the Julian).

Titanic Chronology: 1 April – 12 April 1912

Poster Advertising Vinolia Otto Soap for Titanic Image:Public Domain
Poster Advertising Vinolia Otto Soap for Titanic
Image:Public Domain

1 April-Titanic’s sea trials postponed by bad weather.
2 April- 0600: Sea trials begin. Fire in boiler room six coal hold.
2000 (8.00 p.m.): Trials completed; Titanic returns to Southampton.
4 April-Titanic berths at Southampton around midnight.
10 April-Titanic departs Southampton at 12 noon. While departing,suction from propellers causes New York to break moorings.Collision is averted by tugs and extra speed from Titanic.
17:30 (5:30 p.m.): Arrival at Cherbourg, France. 274 passengers board including John Jacob Astor.22 passengers disembark.
20:30 (8:30 p.m.): Departs Cherbourg for Queenstown,(Cobh), Ireland.
11 April-11:30 (11:30 a.m.) Titanic arrives in Queenstown. 120 passengers board. Among those who depart Titanic is Francis Brown
(later Father Brown, SJ) with his camera and photos of life aboard ship.
13:30 (1:30 p.m.). Titanic departs Queenstown bound for New York with 2,206 passengers and crew.
12 April-Titanic travels 326 miles.


Welcome, Spring

Colorful Spring Garden
Photo:Anita Martinz(Flickr)

Spring is finally here! For some it does not seem like it has arrived with rain, sleet or snow still coming down as we head outside. It has arrived and it marks the transition between winter and summer. Temperatures start rising, flowers come into bloom, and the cold of winter starts fading into the background.

Not everyone celebrates spring at the same time. The southern hemisphere is now beginning autumn and the transition to winter.  And while spring equinox marks it on the calendar,  nature has its own calendar owing to local climate and sometimes specific weather. Sports that primarily play in the summer begin their first real games in the spring. Fashion too changes as people begin to put away heavy winter clothing and replace it with lighter clothes. However often it is wise to keep the jacket and umbrella handy. Sometimes spring weather can be a bit unpredictable!

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St. Patrick’s Day (march 17)

St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland. Photo:Andreas F. Borchert
St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland.
Photo:Andreas F. Borchert

The Feast of St. Patrick is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, the U.S.Episcopal Church, as a commemoration by the Evangelical Lutherans, and venerated in Orthodox Church. It is a public holiday in Ireland. The shamrock was used by St.Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity. In Ireland it is celebrated by families getting together for a meal. If the day falls on a Friday during Lent, observant Catholics receive dispensation to eat meat. If the feast day falls during Holy Week (and it does occasionally), the feast day is moved to avoid conflicting with the Holy Week calendar. A more recent occurrence are public festivals in Ireland and use of the day to promote Irish culture.

===

Here is an old tune from the Emerald Isle, known as The Minstrel Boy. The full lyrics can be found here.The tune was quite popular (and still is) and the opening is often heard more than the full song:

The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him;
His father’s sword he has girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
“Land of Song!” said the warrior bard,
“Though all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”

The first is a wonderful rendition using Irish traditional musical instruments. And the second is from a more modern source (and set in the future) from Star Trek:The Next Generation episode The Wounded where the song has an important role. Chief O’Brien uses the tune to remind his old captain of his duty and what he has done.

Update on Chinese Titanic Replica for theme park

Update on Chinese Titanic Replica For Theme Park-Pictures Show Replica Under Construction (Daily Mail, 17 Feb 2019)

The construction of a full-size replica of the Titanic in China is nearing completion as investors continue to plough millions into the project. New aerial images reveal that the replica of the sunken ocean liner is taking shape after the project began in 2016. The copy of the luxurious passenger ship, which sank in 1912 killing 1,500 people, will be a part of a grand theme park in Sichuan, south-west China, and is being painstakingly reproduced.

Helping The Titanic Stay On Its Historical Course (Couer d’Alene/Post Falls Press, 12 Feb 2019)

Lynch described seeing the huge British passenger liner up close with robotic cameras that fit inside the Titanic as “amazing.” Thoughts of the ship’s lights blazing and band playing before its slow descent into the calm sea surfaced during the dives, he said. “It was greater than anything you see on film,” he said. “The colors are much more brilliant to me in person than on film. I kept thinking about the people who survived.

Titanic News for 10 feb 2019

Titanic Lunch Menu 14 April 1912.
Photo: AP

Travel Company To Recreate Titanic Dinner, With 1907 Champagne (Decanter, 9 Feb 2019)

Cookson Adventures has offered a trip that includes a dive to the wreck of the Titanic plus a recreation of the wine-paired dinner served to those in first class on the ship’s fateful maiden voyage. Available for nine people and taking place in July 2019, Cookson said that the trip was a rare opportunity to take part in a manned dive to the wreck of the Titanic, which lies 3,800 metres below sea level on the bed of the Atlantic.

The One-Legged Welshman Who Received The Titanic’s Distress Call But Nobody Believed (Wales Online, 8 Feb 2019)

While the dramatic and tragic scenes played out on the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of miles away a one-legged radio enthusiast in Blackwood was sat at his desk listening in. Artie Moore was one of the first people in the world to hear the terrifying message and although the story of the Titanic is known the world over, his role has been mostly lost to history. After the messages stopped Artie ran to the local police station to relay the news. With the Titanic being widely regarded as unsinkable and one of the most advanced ships ever built, the police laughed in his face.

Titanic Musical to Dock in Several European Cities in Summer 2019 Tour (Playbill, 6 Feb 2019)

Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s musical, told from the perspective of several characters aboard the fated vessel, won five Tony Awards when it premiered on Broadway in 1997, including Best Musical. “After such a wonderful UK and Ireland tour last year, I am delighted that the great ship is sailing again both in the UK and across Europe,” Yeston said. Titanic will make stops in Woking, Munich, Mannheim, Cologne and Moscow. Tickets are available at TitanicTheMusical.co.uk.

Tiffin Crystal Glass Artist Creates Replica Titanic Crystalware (WTOL11, 6 Feb 2019)

“I’d look out my bedroom window and I could envision the Titanic out there,” said Scully. So to honor the ships legacy, Aidan has cut replica crystal goblets to the exact White Star Line design.And with any $40 or more purchase, customers are entered into a drawing to win two of these White Star Line goblets to take home.
He has also just finished recreating a crystal bowl design served from on the Titanic as well.

Rare Titanic Artifact On Display In Pigeon Forge (WVLT 8, 4 Feb 2019)

A newly surfaced personal artifact of a Titanic survivor is on display at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge before it goes to auction. Titanic survivor Helen Candee had two personal items on board the famed ship when it sank. She met another passenger and, believing he would survive before she would, she gave them to him. His body was recovered later, and her items were returned to her family.

“We are thrilled to host this, first of its kind, auction preview collaboration with Henry Aldridge & Son Auction House in England,” says Kellogg-Joslyn with the museum. “That means, for a brief and special period, our guests will be given an up-close look at a rare, Titanic artifact before it is ‘going, going, gone,’ possibly never to be seen again in a public setting.”