Tag Archives: Titanic

MEMORIAL TO HEROES OF THE MARINE ENGINE ROOM

Memorial to Titanic Engine Room Heroes Liverpool, England Public Domain (Wikipedia)

This granite memorial is located on St. Nicholas Place, Pier Head, Liverpool, England. Constructed in 1916 by Sir William Gascombe John, its original purpose is to commemorate the 32 engineers who perished on Titanic. With the heavy loss of life in World War I, the monument was also for all maritime engine room fatalities. During World War II, the monument was damaged by shrapnel from bombs that were dropped nearby (still visible today).

The monument is 48 feet tall and shaped as an obelisk on a square pedestal. The east and west side have carved life-size sculptures of stokers and engineers. According to Historic England, the monument is a registered historic monument. Also, its design had influence on future war memorials.

The memorial had a considerable influence upon the design of post 1919 war memorials, particularly in respect of the portrayal of the ordinary man or woman, rather than of members of social or military elites. It is thought to be one of the most artistically significant memorials to the Titanic disaster on either side of the Atlantic.

Historical Note: There is a disconnect between what was believed happened and what did happen regarding the engineers. During the British Inquiry into the disaster, it was learned that all of the engineers had been instructed to leave and went topside in the hopes of surviving the disaster. There simply was nothing further than could be done. They did not die at their posts, as is often claimed. They were ordered to go topside and they did. Neither Boxhall nor Lightoller saw them but it is clear from testimony they went up. Lord Mersey choose not to mention this in his report leaving the impression that the engineers had all died at their posts. Some did not survive but they did not stay down in the bowls of the ship until the end.

A Last Bright Shining Lie
Senan Molony, Encyclopedia Titanica

Sources:

TITANIC NEWS 8/15/20

Titanic Is Being Turned Into A Board Game Because Why The Hell Not (Tweaktown, 14 Aug 2020)

We all remember James Cameron’s massively successful 1997 movie Titanic, catapulting its stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into Hollywood super-stardom. Well, Titanic is being turned into a board game with Titanic: The Game. Spin Master Games has used the 1997 movie Titanic for its inspiration for the game, pulling the characters that Cameron used in the movie with players able to play as Jack, Rose, Cal, Ruth or the Captain.

Fact Check: Black Woman Didn’t Drown When Titanic Sank (USA Today, 13 Aug 2020)

The claim: A Black woman named Malinda Borden died on the Titanic because lifeboats were only for white women and children. The Titanic, the “unsinkable” ship turned tragedy that inspired one of the world’s highest-grossing films of all time, is often associated with iconic romance and Celine Dion. Now, an inaccurate meme is promoting a less romantic story about a Black crew member allegedly killed by discrimination and arctic waters.

Titanic Belfast Re-Opens With A Special Thank You To NHS Workers (The Mayor.eu, 10 Aug 2020)

During the ceremony, Alderman Frank McCoubrey also stated that “Titanic Belfast is synonymous with Belfast, it is an inspiring testament to RMS Titanic and our city. As First citizen, it was a privilege to be its first official visitor and experience the enhancements it has made for locals this year. There is no doubt that discovering the world-famous story on our doorstep evokes a sense of civic pride and I would encourage locals to support the world-leading attraction by visiting this summer.”

Titanic Belfast Reopens; RMS Titanic Discussion continues on salvage

Titanic’s £200m Treasure Trove Exposed As Experts Pin Hopes On Tiny Robot Probe Of Wreck (Express, 30 Jul 2020)

The UK Department for Transport says the treaty means the British and US governments have the power to grant or deny licences to enter the ship and remove items, and that unauthorised activity will be punishable by large fines. But RMS Titanic Inc has reportedly argued the new treaty has “no teeth” in US law, and has filed a notice of intent to retrieve items from the ship at the US district court in eastern Virginia. They announced this week that it has developed a special robot to reach in through a deck house roof and extract the Marconi without the need to cut into the wreck. The company has partnered on the project with Guernsey-based deepwater specialists Magellan Limited.

Titanic Belfast Reopens With Free Admission For NHS Health Workers (News Letter 31 Jul 2020)

Judith Owens, chief executive of Titanic Belfast said: “We are absolutely delighted to open our doors again. Welcoming visitors, telling stories and creating experiences is what we do best. Now more than ever, we need the support of our city and Northern Ireland, and we’ve been working away behind the scenes to ensure that those who come to visit have a truly memorable Titanic experience. “For us, home is where the heart is and this has never been more apparent. As one of Belfast’s iconic symbols, we are always keen to play our part and reflect the city’s spirit. This is our way of saying thank you to our local heroes for their hard work and bravery.

Defeat of the Spanish Armada (Philip James de Loutherbourg, 1796)
Public Domain

Remembering History: England Defeats Spanish Armada

On July 29, 1688 naval forces of England and Spain engaged in an 8-hour furious battle off the coast of France that determined the fate of both countries control of the seas. Spain had created the armada to not only gain control of the English Channel but also to land an invasion force in England. England since the early 1580s had been conducting raids against Spanish commerce and had supported Dutch rebels in Spanish Netherlands. The other reason was to restore Catholicism that had been outlawed since the reign of King Henry VIII

The invasion fleet was authorized by King Philip II and was completed in 1587 but delayed by a raid by Sir Francis Drake on the Armada’s supplies. It did not depart until May 19, 1588. The fleet consisted of 130 ships under the command of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. It had 2,500 guns, 8,000 seamen, and 20,000 soldiers. The Spanish ships though were slower than their English counterparts and lighter armed as well despite their guns. Their tactic was to force boarding when their ships were close enough. They believed with the superior numbers of Spanish infantry they could overwhelm the English ships.

The English were commanded by Charles Howard, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham. Like his counterpart, he was an admiral with not much sea experience but proved to be the better leader. His second in command was Sir Francis Drake. The English fleet was at its height 200 ships but in the actual combat was at most 100. Only 40 were warships and the rest smaller but they were armed with heavy artillery that were able to fire at longer ranges without having to get close to the enemy to be effective. The English strategy was to bombard their enemy from a distance and not give them the opportunity to get close and possibly board their ships (which had smaller number of soldiers aboard than the Spanish had).

As the Spanish Armada made its way, it would be harassed by English ships that bombarded them at a distance negating Spanish attempts to board. The Armada anchored near Calais, France on 27 July. The Spanish forces on land were in Flanders and would take time to get down to Calais. However, since there was no safe port and enemy Dutch and English ships patrolled the coastal shallows, it meant those troops had no safe way to get to the Armada.

Around midnight on 29 July, the English sent 8 fire ships into the anchored Spanish fleet. The Spanish were forced to quickly scatter to avoid the fire ships. This meant the Armada formation was now broken making them easier targets for the English to attack. They closed to effective range and attacked. Surprising to the English, the return fire was mostly small arms. It turns out most of the heavy cannons had not been mounted. And those that were did not have properly trained crews on how to reload. Three Spanish ships were sunk or driven ashore. Other ships were battered and moved away. The English also were low on ammunition, so they had to drop back and follow the Spanish fleet.

The Spanish fleet had to flee north and around Scotland and from there head back to Spain. The English fleet turned back for resupply. It was a long road back to Spain for the Armada. Autumn had arrived and gales in the North Atlantic made passage tough. Ships were lost to bad weather, navigational errors, foundered near Ireland, and possibly battle damage as well. Only 60 of the 130 survived with an estimated loss of 15,000 men. The English losses were much smaller with fewer men wounded or killed in battle. It appears most of the deaths that came later were due to disease (possibly scurvy). Damages to the English ships were negligible.

Significance

With the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England was made safe from invasion. The Dutch rebels the English backed in Spanish Netherlands were saved as well. Spain up to that point had been considered to be the greatest European power, so it was a major blow to their prestige that would have ramifications down the road for them. Also, it heralded a major change for naval battles. This was the first major naval gun battle where the combatants fought at a distance rather than closing and boarding. Warships that could move quickly and had artillery that fire at long range would become the norm on the seas from that point on. England would now become a major world power. Spain still was in the game for several decades (the English were not successful either in trying their own invasion) and was still a major colonial power. England and Spain formally ended their conflict in 1604. Spain however would eventually go into decline as England and other European powers would successfully expand into Asia and establish their own colonies and trade routes.

(Note: All dates are given are for the Gregorian calendar, which was adopted by England in 1750. At the time of the battle, the Julian calendar was in effect.)

Sources

TITANIC NEWS: DEBATE ON RETRIEVING MARCONI RADIO CONTINUES

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

Titanic: The Battle Over Doomed Ship’s ‘Voice’ Between Descendants And Salvagers (Daily Express, 16 Jul 2020)

“With all due deference to the families, and I don’t want to sound cruel in saying this, Titanic does not belong to us, it does not belong to our generation, it has an enduring attraction among the world,” says Parks, who disagrees with the grave site designation. He maintains he has never seen bodies down there and says he knows of no other shipwreck “given as much consideration as Titanic” internationally. “We actually have a responsibility to salvage what we can for future generations when this wreck ­ultimately degrades back to its natural state and nature, which it’s doing now and it’s an unstoppable process,” he says. Don Lynch, historian for the Titanic Historical Society and ­official ­historian on the 1997 Titanic movie, disagrees. He describes RMST’s earliest ­salvage operations as “a mess” when items were allegedly not documented properly and divers were “grabbing things”.

Recovering the Titanic’s Radio Could Signal a Disaster for Underwater Cultural Heritage (Gizmodo, 1 4 Jul 2020)

This recovery for profit is directly at odds with the ethics of modern archaeological practice. It also raises questions about legal protection for shipwrecks such as the Titanic and how we choose to value our shared cultural heritage.

Titanic Hotel Liverpool Reopens Its Doors (Urbanista, 7 July 2020)

Titanic Hotel Liverpool is delighted to announce it has reopened its doors for hotel stays & dining, having laid out a number of plans for an enhanced cleaning regime, named A New Clean. 

Titanic’s Most Interesting Survivor (Goodmenproject.com, 5 Jul 2020)

The survivor in question was a man by the name of Charles Joughin— a tiny man of just 5? 3½”. A career sailor, Joughin first went to sea at the tender age of eleven, eventually ending up on the Titanic as the Chief Baker, overseeing a staff of thirteen others.Taking the initiative, he mustered his staff of thirteen and — reasoning that if lifeboats were needed then those lifeboats would need provisions — he raided the Titanic’s pantry of all the spare bread he could find. He and his staff ferried the bread up to the deck where each lifeboat was equipped with its own supply.

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 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.

Titanic Chronology:Carpathia Arrives on 18 April 1912

New York Times Front Page 16 April 1912
Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.