Category Archives: Titanic

Titanic Steward Letter To wife up for auction

Poignant last letter of Titanic steward to wife reveals fears about ‘jinxed’ liner (Express, 20 June 2020)

A letter written by a steward on Titanic in which he told how he feared the doomed voyage would not be its “crowning trip” is tipped to fetch £18,000 at auction. Edward Stone penned the prescient note on White Star Line-headed paper to his “darling wife” Violet shortly before the liner left Queenstown in Ireland bound for New York on April 11, 1912. He also referred to a near-miss with another liner, SS New York, in Southampton earlier which almost curtailed its maiden voyage. Edward, 30, a second-class cabin steward, told Violet: “I don’t think this will be the crowning glory.”

Titanic steward Edward Stowe mailed the letter to his wife from Queenstown (now Cobh).  His body was recovered and interred in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The letter and the envelope that it came in were preserved and is now being auctioned off by a relative. The auctioneer is Henry Aldridge. At the time of this writing, word has not been received how much was raised at the auction over the weekend.

Today is The Summer Solstice

The sun rising over Stonehenge on summer solstice(2005) Photo:Andrew Dunn (Wikimedia)
The sun rising over Stonehenge on summer solstice(2005)
Photo:Andrew Dunn (Wikimedia)

Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the equatorial line, it is the Winter Solstice. The June Solstice usually takes place between June 20-22.  For both the UTC and local time of the solstice, go here.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it usually is the longest day of sunlight as the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun. Which translates into more sunlight particularly the further north you live. For those more closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night. For them, it is the Winter Solstice.

The coming of summer is usually a time for celebration in many cultures. Festivals in Northern Europe celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated to mark the festival. Many cultures honor the sun in some fashion. Modern day pagans and druids also celebrate the day with their own festivals and many go to Stonehenge in England to witness the first rays of summer.

Friday Titanic News

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

Photograph of The Iceberg That ‘Most Likely’ Sunk Titanic Surfaces 108 Years After Disaster (TimesNowNews.com, 15 June 2020)

The image of the iceberg was taken by the captain of another ship just two days before it struck the Titanic. Captain W. Wood, who served on board the SS Etonian, captured the huge iceberg on his camera. He got the photo developed when he reached New York and sent the print to his great-grandfather. Along with the photo, Wood also sent a letter that stated that this was the iceberg that sank the Titanic. “I am sending you a sea picture, the Etonian running before a gale and the iceberg that sank the Titanic. We crossed the ice tracks 40hrs before her and in daylight so saw the ice easily and I got a picture,” Wood wrote in the letter.

Photo: Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-122236)

Op-Ed: Recovering Titanic’s Radio Would Create a Dangerous Precedent (Maritime Executive, 14 June 20)

From an archaeological perspective, recovering the radio will involve further damage to the memorial site for very limited gain with regard to scientific and cultural knowledge. We already know the make, model and history of this radio. So motivation for the salvage appears to lie in the radio’s economic potential as a tourist attraction and through a possible future sale. As archaeologists we understand there are times when intrusive and destructive interventions are required. But such acts need to be carefully considered in light of their impact on our shared global heritage. Once such actions take place they cannot be undone. A court ruling for such a culturally significant site that goes against advice from NOAA and counter to the principles of UNESCO, risks suggesting that the principles of shared heritage and selective intervention can be easily negated through simplistic arguments of degradation and profit.

Titanic Hero’s Whistle, Other Artifacts, Up For Auction (Fox News, 11 June 2020)

A whistle that belonged to a hero of the Titanic disaster is up for auction in the U.K., along with a host of other artifacts. The whistle is among a trove of items that belonged to Harold Lowe, a fifth officer on the Titanic. “Harold Lowe was without doubt one of the heroes of the Titanic disaster,” explained auctioneer Andrew Aldridge of U.K. auction house Henry Aldridge & Son in a statement emailed to Fox News. The archive has been in the possession of Lowe’s direct descendants.

Judge Gavel
George Hodan
publicdomainpictures.net

Feds Oppose Summer 2020 Salvage Mission at Titanic Wreck Site (Courthouse News Service, 9 June 2020)

In a memo supporting the motion to intervene meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kent Porter points to an international agreement with the United Kingdom that the United States signed into law two years ago, saying it “precludes penetrating the wreck for salvage purposes, or if any activity would physically disturb the hull, artifacts or human remains.” Porter says any salvage activities are subject to federal regulation “RMST did not and has not sought an authorization from the secretary of commerce for this or any of the other activity set forth in its Research Design,” the 22-page memo states.

UPDATE: NOAA CHALLENGES TITANIC COURT RULING

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Public Domain

US challenges planned expedition to retrieve Titanic’s radio (ABC News, 9 June 2020)

The U.S. government will try to stop a company’s planned salvage mission to retrieve the Titanic’s wireless telegraph machine, arguing the expedition would break federal law and a pact with Britain to leave the iconic shipwreck undisturbed. U.S. attorneys filed a legal challenge before a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, late Monday. The expedition is expected to begin by the end of August. The Atlanta-based salvage firm RMS Titanic Inc., said it would exhibit the telegraph while telling the stories of the operators who broadcast the sinking ship’s distress calls.

TITANIC NEWS 7 JUNE 2020

Irish Diver Rory Golden To Advise Expedition To Locate Titanic’s Radio The Sunday Times, 7 June 2020 (subscription required)

Irish deep sea diver Rory Golden is providing expertise to a new expedition to the Titanic which aims to recover the Marconi radio from the wreck. The ship’s wireless Marconi telegraph was instrumental in saving more than 705 passengers from the freezing Atlantic waters when the Titanic sank after striking an iceberg in April 1912 with the loss of almost 1,500 lives

The Heroic Stories Of The Forgotten Victims Of The Titanic
New York Post, 6 June 2020

In the summer of 1912, weeks after the Titanic sank with her furnace-stoker husband, William, on board, his impoverished widow, Emily Bessant, heard a knock at the door of her tiny row house in Southampton, England. As family lore goes, it was a rich gentleman offering to send Emily’s eldest daughter, Gladys, to private school. He explained that William had helped him to a lifeboat amid the chaos on the fated ship. “It was a story handed down to us younger generations,” William’s great-granddaughter Julie Cook told The Post. “We can’t prove that it was true because Gladys supposedly declined, but it helped ¬everyone believe, in their grief, that William died a hero.”

Titanic Exhibit Delayed Until 2021

WHBY, 3 June 2020

People will have to wait a year to learn about the state’s connections to the Titantic at the Oshkosh Public Museum. Spokeswoman Tammy Malewski says they’re going to delay a special exhibit until July of 2021.
She says about 700 people went through the museum every day, when they had Titanic artifacts on display in 2006. Museum officials are concerned about how to handle that potential demand, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Titanic Court Ruling ‘Disrespects The Dead’
The Southern Star, 1 June 2020

GOLEEN lawyer has said he’s extremely disappointed at the decision by a US judge to allow a salvage operation on the Titanic this summer. Michael Kingston, a London-based maritime expert said the 1,500 people who lost their lives when the ship sank in 1912 deserve more respect. The salvage operation will cut into the wreckage to try to recover a Marconi telegraph.

Titanic books

Welcome to June

Why Titanic’s First Call For Help Wasn’t An SOS Signal (National Geographic, 28 May 20)

But by 1912 when Titanic sailed, there was another, competing distress signal on the scene: “SOS.” There’s a common misnomer that the distress call is short for “Save Our Ship” or “Save Our Souls,” but the letters didn’t stand for anything—it was an adaptation of an existing German radio call. The signal consisted of three dots, three dashes, and another three dots—simple to tap out in Morse code during an emergency and easy to understand, even in poor conditions. An international group including the United Kingdom had ratified SOS as the official international distress signal four years earlier in 1908, but British and Marconi telegraph operators took their time adopting the new signal. (The United States, which resisted early international radio regulation, did not initially sign on to the SOS agreement.)

Cork Historian Teams Up With US Company To Bring Titanic Trail Online (EchoLive.ie, 27 May 20)

Acclaimed historian and lifelong Titanic researcher, Dr Michael Martin is collaborating with American travel experiences company Walks to provide an online tour of Cobh, the Titanic’s last port of call. The Titanic Trail, established in 1998 by Dr Martin is a daily guided walking tour that explores the heritage of Cobh, providing an insight into the maritime, military and social heritage of the town and harbour.  The renowned tour is now going online for a limited time as part of Walks ‘Spotlight Series’ With many walking tours affected as a result of Covid-19, the Spotlight Series brings fascinating tours online, which people can enjoy from the comfort of their own home. 

Bouquet of beautiful red roses
Davidjose365, May 2015
Wikimedia Commons

June is the sixth month on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. June has the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Traditionally this is on June 21 but that can vary each year.  Ancient Romans thought the period from Mid-March to Mid-June was a bad time to get married. June’s birthstones are the pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. The rose and honeysuckle are June flowers.

Catching up on Titanic News;Court Allows Salvage of marconi radio

[Sorry for not posting sooner-been busy with work!]

Judge Okays Titanic Salvage

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

A federal judge has ruled in favor of R.M.S. Titanic (RMST)to go on an expedition to recover artifacts from the Titanic wreck. The company had petitioned to court to allow it to retrieve the Marconi telegraph and other artifacts. The company argued that due to deterioration these items had to be removed or they would be lost forever. The company, which has salvor-in-possession status, was seeking a modification of a July 2000 order which forbade it from cutting into the hull.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opposed by filing an amicus curiae with the court. NOAA challenged the evidence justifying the expedition and arguing it was illegal under a 2017 Commerce Appropriations Act that prohibits this activity unless approved by the Secretary of Commerce. They also argued it was out of bounds due to an international agreement. Judge Rebecca Smith found the only issue before the court was whether RMST had followed the requirements required by previous court rulings. Since NOAA was not an actual party to the case, she did not rule on any of the merits raised in their brief to the court.

Source:

Commentary:

This was not wholly unexpected. While many in the Titanic community were against the salvage, RMST claimed it was trying to preserve important artifacts from being lost as the wreck deteriorated. They were able to show to Judge Smith had to merely determine if this was a proper request, that how it would be done be consistent with previous authorized salvage, and that the items would be properly conserved. She was satisfied with what they presented to her.

NOAA’s involvement with the case was odd. Since they were not an actual party, they could only file a friend of the court brief. Their brief though was clearly meant as if they were an actual party to the case. One gets the distinct impression that folks at NOAA believe the federal government and not the court has jurisdiction here. They argued that the Secretary of Commerce is the one that makes decisions here and that an international treaty was also an issue. Judge Smith acknowledged the treaty but made it clear that NOAA has no seat at the table. They were essentially in the stands looking down waving paper at the judge. This must have miffed those behind it at NOAA. They can choose to appeal but on what grounds? If they go the route the Department of Commerce has authority, it sets up an interesting fight on maritime law. They may very well appeal this to stop the salvage. Providing of course they can convince a higher court to stop it. That may not be so easy as it sounds.

Titanic Chronology Updates

May 16,1912

  • Two boys thought orphaned when Titanic sank-Michel Navratil, Jr., 3, and Edmond Navratil, 2, were reunited with their mother. Their father had placed them in a lifeboat and perished when Titanic sank. A worldwide appeal to find relatives of the two boys led to finding the mother.

May 14,1912

  • Advertisement for the 1912 film “Saved from the Titanic”. This is an EDITED version, it is a simulated color version based on the color version already on Commons.
    1912
    Public Domain

    The first silent disaster movie, Saved From The Titanic, was released. Starring Dorothy Gibson, who had been a passenger aboard Titanic, received positive reviews from critics. Sadly due to a fire in 1914 at the film studio, all prints of the movie were lost. All that we have are production stills and secondary evidence from other accounts of its existence.

May 13,1912

  • RMS Oceanic found the remains three people in a lifeboat from Titanic. The body of passenger Thomson Beattie and two unidentified firemen were recovered. While they apparently survived the sinking, they died from hypothermia or thirst in the collapsible lifeboat. The Canadian ship Montmagny  recovered three victims and brought them to Louisberg, Nova Scotia where they were transported to Halifax.

May 6,1912

  • The cable ship Minia returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia with 17 bodies from Titanic . Only 1 had died from drowning and the rest from exposure.
  • The will of John Jacob Astor IV, who died in the Titanic disaster, was probated. His $150,000,000 estate (worth more than $3.3 billion in 2012)[17] was left to his 22-year-old son, Vincent Astor.[18

Titanic Chronology-April 30,1912:mackay-bennett arrives halifax, nova scotia

CS Mackay Bennett (circa 1884)
Artist Unknown
Public Domain

On April 30. 1912 the cable ship Mackay-Bennett along with RMS Olympic arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia. 200 bodies of people who had died after Titanic sank. Mackay-Bennett recovered 306 bodies but 116 had to be buried at sea due to insufficient embalming fluid. Of those identified included John Astor and Isidor Straus.  Minia, another cable ship, took over the duties of Mackay-Bennett

Most of the bodies were unloaded at the Coal or Flagship Wharf on the waterfront. Horse-drawn carriages brought the victims to the temporary morgue in the Mayflower Curling Rink. 59 bodies were shipped out by train to their families. The remaining bodies were interred in three Halifax cemeteries three Halifax cemeteries between May 3 and June 12. Burial services were conducted at various churches in Nova Scotia. Flowers and wreaths for victims were provided by local people and businesses. Coffins of the unidentified had lilies on them.

White Star Line paid for many of the tombstones in the cemeteries. Many of the plain block granite ones were replaced by family members and friends with more ornate tombstones.

Titanic Grave markers at Fairview Cemetery Halifax N.S
William B. Grice (Wikimedia)

Sources:

Titanic chronology: april 24, 1912;Olympic departure halted over lifeboats

March 6, 1912: Titanic (right) had to be moved out of the drydock so her sister Olympic (left), which had lost a propeller, could have it replaced.
Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public domain

RMS Olympic was barred by a shipworkers strike in Southampton, England from departing over insufficient lifeboats.  At issue were 40 collapsible boats that were thought not seaworthy. After a test that showed only one was unsuitable, the workers were offered to return but objected to non union workers brought aboard during this time.  After  54 sailors refused to work and left, the sailing was cancelled. The 54 sailors were arrested and charged with mutiny. They were found guilty but no penalty was imposed due to the circumstances of the case. They were allowed to rejoin the crew and Olympic set sail on 15 May.

RMS Olympic would be refitted in October and would incorporate lessons learned from Titanic. 64 lifeboats were added along with an inner watertight lining for the boiler and engine rooms. The watertight bulkheads were extended and an extra one added for a total of 17 watertight compartments. Olympic returned to service in March, 1913.

Titanic Chronology-U.S. Senate Hearing into Titanic sinking begins

With Titanic’s sinking, U.S. Senator William Alden Smith saw this as an opportunity to investigate marine safety issues. Smith, a Republican Senator from Michigan, had experience in investigating railroad safety issues. Smith believed due to the sensational nature of this disaster that rapid action as needed. Another concern was that many of the witnesses-surviving passengers and crew-would disperse and return home. On 17 April 1912, Smith proposed that a hearing be done to investigate the sinking. President Taft, who lost his friend and military advisor Archibald Butt in the sinking, concurred. A U.S. naval escort was set up for Carpathia to make sure no one left before it docked.

Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan
Unknown date (between 1905 and 1945)
Public Domain

Smith, accompanied by Francis G. Newlands and other officials traveled to New York and were there when Carpathia docked in New York. They boarded the ship and served subpoenas on J.Bruce Ismay and on surviving officers and crew. The hearings began on 19 April 1912 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York and later moved to Washington D.C. The hearings, with many recesses in-between, would run for 18 days till May 25, 1912.