Wallace Hartley’s Violin Reminds us of Tragic Loss

Photo: Public Domain(Wikipedia)

I recall some years ago when Wallace Hartley’s violin was found and the incredible amount of attention it generated. It truly was a great find. The actual violin that Titanic  band leader Wallace Hartley played on the ship had been discovered. It was in a bag on his body and was later stored and nearly forgotten.

Of course there was a lot of skepticism, as there should be. There have been a lot of scams of fake Titanic memorabilia being passed off as genuine in the past. The violin was rigorously examined and tested to make sure it was authentic. It was and ultimately auctioned off (the winning bidder was anonymous). Here is an interesting story looking into the violin and its importance not only to him but his fiancee that sadly was never to be his wife.

How a Violin Auction Resurrected the Tragic Love Story of the Titanic’s Heroic Band Leader
MyModernMet.com, 30 Jul 2021

Hartley’s body was pulled from the water 10 days after the Titanic sank. Strapped to the bandleader, the rescuers found a leather valise with the initials W.H.H. Inside was his violin case and treasured instrument, as well as some musical scores. For decades, the violin was lost to public knowledge. However, upon its resurfacing in 2006, the rest of the sad story of Hartley and his fiancée has been illuminated. Upon the violin’s emergence from a musician’s attic in 2006, the instrument was the subject of scrutiny by auction house Henry Aldridge & Son and Christian Tennyson-Ekeberg, author of Nearer, Our God, to Thee: The Biography of the Titanic Bandmaster. It was discovered that in July 1912, a grieved Robinson included a telegram receipt in her diary. It read, “I would be most grateful if you could convey my heartfelt thanks to all who have made possible the return of my late fiancé’s violin.” Somehow, in the process of identifying and repatriating the dead, the possessions of the late bandmaster were returned to England.


Nazi Germany Prepares For Final Solution (31 July 1941)

On 31 July 1941 Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, following instructions by Hitler, sent a letter to SS General Reinhard Heydrich directing him to “to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.” In the instruction, Goering recalled a general outline that had been drafted on 24 January 1939 that called for the emigration and deportation of Jews in the best possible way. The program to be implemented by Nazi Germany was the mass and systemic extermination of Jews in al countries under German control.

Heydrich had already started implementing the strategy by bringing back the medieval ghetto in Poland. Jews were forced to live in cramped walled areas and held as prisoners. Their property was confiscated and given to Germans or local non-Jewish people. The instructions from Goering would lead to the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942 where details on implementing this mass murder scheme would be decided upon.

Sources:

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Friday Titanic News

Happy Friday everyone. Here is some Titanic and other historic ship news hopefully you find interesting. Have a nice weekend everyone.

 

Andrea Doria’s Foghorn Sounds Again
Divernet, 25 Jul 2021

Andrea Doria’s foghorn sounds again

 

It will be the first time the Italian liner’s horn has been heard since it blew on sinking 65 years ago. The 213m ship had collided with Swedish liner the Stockholm 100 miles off Nantucket in 1956. Forty-six of the Andrea Doria’s 1706 passengers died, along with five of the Stockholm’s crew. Eight survivors are set to join technical divers, maritime historians and restorers for the 65th anniversary event, which will be livestreamed for the public on Facebook Live. The restored Kockumation horn is 1.2m long and its trumpet 60cm in diameter. Attached to an iron replica of a mast section, it weighs 227kg. It was discovered in 2016 by a dive team led by Joe Mazraani, captain of the Atlantic Wreck Salvage dive vessel Tenacious, which has carried out annual expeditions to the Andrea Doria since 2010. He spotted it beneath the mast and it was brought up the following summer.

You can view footage of the sinking on  YouTube.

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Podcast: Titanic is Dying But the Bow & Irish Memories Will Survive
Afloat.ic, 23 Jul 2021
https://afloat.ie/blogs/tom-macsweeney/item/51237-titanic-is-dying-but-the-bow-irish-memories-will-survive

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Titanic Family Fun This Summer In Worcester
Worcester News, 21 Jul 2021

The Titanic: Honour & Glory exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum are holding special fun-filled workshops for families to enjoy every Wednesday at 11am. The activities will include a range of arts and crafts and a free Monsters of the Deep trail, where children can take an adventure around the Museum, solving clues about real mythical monsters of the sea. Deborah Fox, senior curator with Museums Worcestershire said: “We’ve been delighted by the response to the exhibition, it has been amazing and is proving incredibly popular! We want to bring the history to life for our family audiences this summer and so we hope the drop-in workshops will be an opportunity for children to understand more about the famous ocean liner with craft and creative activities which they can take away with them”

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China. A Huge Replica Of The Titanic Was Made. It Will Be A New Tourist Attraction
RandRLife, 21 Jul 2021

The Chinese Titanic is being built near the city of Daying. It will be 269 meters long, 28 meters wide and 3,000 square metres. tons of steel. However, the ship will not be able to swim. It will remain on the beach as the focal point and major tourist attraction of Sichuan Amusement Park. The replica is supposed to be an accurate representation of the Titanic – from the sumptuous interiors to the dinner menu. The project to create a copy of the legendary ship lasted for several years and was initially announced for completion in 2017. Work was suspended for some time due to financial disputes, but in April, the project’s Facebook page said construction of the ninth floor of the building was underway.

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Sadly Jackie Mason passed away recently. He was truly one of a kind and was able to get laughs easily. Here is his  on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It is a rare moment when the guest actually one ups the talented Carson. Enjoy! RIP Jackie Mason.

Remembering History: England Defeats Spanish Armada (29 July 1688)

 

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

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 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.

Sources:

This Day In History: Spanish Armada Defeated
Encyclopedia Britannica: Spanish Armada

Titanic News- Snopes Looks Into Titanic Photograph,Jinxed Train Station Gets New Life and more!

Europe’s Unluckiest Train Station Gets New Lease Of Life As Hotel
The Guardian, 19 Jul 2021

It earned the nickname “Titanic of the mountains”, but now the monumental and ill-fated train station at Canfranc is to get a new life as a five-star hotel, 51 years after the international rail link across the Pyrenees closed. The story of Canfranc, a village more than 1,000 metres (3,280ft) above sea level on the Franco-Spanish frontier, is one of vainglorious ambition and abject failure, of incompetence and corruption, of intrigue, smuggling and a century-long run of bad luck. Spain wanted to show that it was capable of building something on the scale of Europe’s great “railway cathedrals”, says Alfonso Marco, author of El Canfranc, historia de un tren de leyenda (Canfranc, the story of a legendary train). “By the time it was built it already belonged, conceptually and technically, in the 19th century,” he told the Guardian. The problem was that the station was conceived in 1853 but not completed until 1928.

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Is This the Final Photograph of the Titanic?
Snopes.com, 16 Jul 2021

Snopes looks into whether or not a photograph (Morrogh Image) is the final photograph of Titanic. After consulting with Ken Marschall and another expert, it likely was not the last one. It appears to have been taken a few minutes before the Odell Image (taken by Kate Odell on the tender heading ashore). Which makes the Odell image still the last and final photograph of Titanic as she heads out to sea, and into history.

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‘The Apparition Screamed Out ‘Waratah! Waratah!’: Dundee Ship Richard King And ‘Australia’s Titanic’
The Courier, 16 Jul 2021

The Waratah was sailing to Cape Town but she disappeared from sight into the mist with her 211 passengers and crew in July 1909. The story of the Waratah has often been compared to that of the Titanic, which sank three years later. As such, the Waratah has been referred to variously as the “Titanic of the Southern Ocean” and “Australia’s Titanic”. The Richard King was one of the ships that took part in an exhaustive but unsuccessful search for the Waratah. Numerous attempts to salvage it and a few sightings have been reported, with none proving to be true. No one has ever found a trace of the ship and this great maritime mystery is up there with the Mary Celeste and the Flying Dutchman.

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What Titanic Left Behind: This Forgotten Mansion Was Owned By A Family Taken By Maritime Tragedy
Thetravel.com, 15 Jul 2021

The nearly-forgotten home of Lynnewood Hall was once considered to be one of the finest mansions in the country from the Gilded Age. It also held the title as being the finest home in the state of Pennsylvania but with so many Neo-Classical Revival features, that was not a tough challenge to overcome. What more interesting – and tragic – is the family who once owned this mansion, and how their lives were intertwined with that of the biggest maritime disaster in history: The Titanic.


Titanic News: OceanGate Dives to Titanic, Can AI Detect Icebergs?

Historian Talks About Family’s Incredible Survival Story Aboard The Titanic
Wwaytv3.com, 13 Jul 2021

Visitors to the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach got an intimate look at a family who survived the Titanic. Julie Hedgepeth Williams travels across the country to tell the story of her great uncle, Albert Caldwell. Caldwell, his wife and infant son were one of a few families to survive the sinking of the Titanic fully intact.

OceanGate Sub Makes First Dive To Titanic Wreck Site And Captures Photos Of Debris
Geekwire, 13 Jul 2014

The first fruits of OceanGate’s 12,500-foot-deep dive in the North Atlantic include photos that show the frame of a stained-glass window and fragments of floor tile from the ocean liner, which hit an iceberg and sank during its maiden voyage from England to New York in 1912. The loss of the ship and more than 1,500 of the people who were on board — plus the wreck’s rediscovery in 1985 — made the saga of the Titanic one of the history’s best-known sea tragedies.

Boat Built In Same Shipyard As The Titanic To Become Gloucester Docks’ New Restaurant
Soglos.com, 13 July 2021

It was built in the same Belfast shipyard as RMS Titanic in 1911 and spent decades working the River Severn, now the Ribchic Piranha is to be reborn as The Showman – a new floating restaurant at Gloucester Docks. Businessman Marcus Hyland bought the boat in 2017 when the one-time converted tanker came to the end of its days ferrying passengers between Worcester and Stourport and serving as a floating pub.

Can Artificial Intelligence Detect Sea-Ice And Enhance Safety?
Fossbytes.com, 12 Jul 2021

Often, we all wonder if the Unsinkable Ship ‘The Titanic’ could have been saved from the iceberg. Well, the answer lies with technology; if the world was capable enough to identify the turmoils and barriers in the deep sea, so many accidents, not only Titanic, wouldn’t have happened. Today, our marine and navigation system has evolved. Adverse climatic conditions and all those affecting the movements in deep-sea can be identified and prevented too. But one such factor, which requires much attention, is the ice and small glaciers. Often captains and marine experts have mentioned different kinds of ice that pose a significant threat to the ships.

From the Jack and Rose File:

How Titanic Teased Jack’s Death At The Beginning Of The Movie
Screen Rant, 12 Jul 2021


Battle of Kursk (4-13 Jul 1943)

On 13 July 1943, the largest tank battle in history came to an when the Russian Army repulsing the German offensive. Both Germany and Russia had concentrated their forces near the city of Kursk in western Russia. The Soviet Union held a 150-mile-wide pocket into German lines. The German attack began on 5 Jul with 38 divisions of which half were tanks moving from south and the north. The Soviets had better tanks and air support by this time, unlike previous battles. The fighting was bitter and intense but the Soviet antitank artillery managed to damage or destroy nearly 40 percent of the German armor. Some of the tanks destroyed were the newer class Mark VI Tiger tanks. After six days of warfare, German General Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge called off the offensive. The Germans retreated to their original positions by 23 Jul making it a decisive victory for the Russians, though a very costly one.

 

 

 

Sources:

History.com
Today in WW2 History

Oshkosh Titanic Exhibit; Monitoring Wreck Deterioration

 

Titanic Memorial, Washington D.C.(1940)
Photo: Public Domain(U.S.Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection)

Oshkosh Public Museum Welcomes “Titanic: The Wisconsin Connection” Exhibit
WeAreGreenBay.com, 11 Jul 2021

“As one of the most talked-about moments in history, the sinking of the White Star Liner RMS Titanic continues to pique people’s interest over 100 years later. The Oshkosh Public Museum is thrilled to announce their Titanic: The Wisconsin Connection exhibit set to be unveiled Wednesday, July 21. Over two years in the making, this exhibit is based on in-depth, research of Wisconsin passengers conducted by Museum researchers from the Experiential Media Group, salvager, and owner of the Titanic artifacts.”

The exhibit runs from 21 July- 13 October 2021. For hours of operation, purchasing tickets and other information, please click here: Oshkosh Public Museum.

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As The Titanic Decays, Expedition Will Monitor Deterioration
ABC News, 30 June 2021

“Racing against the inevitable, an undersea exploration company’s expedition to the site of the wreckage could start this week, beginning what’s expected to be an annual chronicling of the ship’s deterioration. With the help of wealthy tourists, experts hope to learn more about the vessel as well as the underwater ecosystem that shipwrecks spawn. “The ocean is taking this thing, and we need to document it before it all disappears or becomes unrecognizable,” Stockton Rush, president of OceanGate Expeditions, said Friday from a ship headed to the North Atlantic wreck site.”


Remembering History: Liberty Bell and Commodore Perry Goes to Japan

Liberty Bell
Photo: National Park Service
Public Domain

On 8 Jul 1776, the “Liberty Bell” rang out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia to call citizens to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence. The 2,000-pound copper bell had been originally commissioned to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Pennsylvania constitution in 1751. Due to cracking, it had to be recast twice before being installed in June 1753. The bell was used to summon people for special announcements and occasions.

When the British were approaching Philadelphia in autumn 1777, the bell was removed and hidden in Allentown. After the American War for Independence ended in 1781, the bell was returned where Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital from 1790-1800. The bell was rung annually to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday on 22 February. It was not called “Liberty Bell” until an epic poem written by an abolitionist in an 1839 poem.

Its famous crack was likely caused in 1835 for the funeral of John Marshall, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. And then got bigger when it was rung for Washington’s Birthday rendering it unusable. Today it is ceremoniously tapped on important events in Independence Hall (formerly the Pennsylvania State House).

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Japan had been closed to most of the world since 1639. The Dutch were allowed to maintain a trading post in Nagasaki and along with the Chinese, were the only ones allowed to have contact and trade with Japan. Foreigners were subject to arrest and execution if they landed on Japanese soil. The Tokugawa Shogunate, which had ruled since the early 1600’s, had closed Japan and it brought an era of peace and stability to the country. However, by the late 19th century, the Tokugawa was showing its age. While the Western world had changed, Japan was still feudal in many ways hindering its development. As other countries began industrializing and some of its people were exposed to its wonders, the time for change was approaching. With a mission to open relations with Japan, Commodore Matthew Perry was sent with a squadron of four vessels with letters from U.S. President Milliard Fillmore arriving on 8 Jul 1853 in Tokyo bay.

Commodore Matthew Perry, circa 1856-1858
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, online collection (The Met object ID 283184)
Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

The arrival of the American ships was a shock to the Japanese. At first, they refused communications and then sent messages to move his ships to Nagasaki. Messages went back and forth between the parties but Perry was firm that he would consult with direct representatives of the Emperor. All gifts and compromises were rejected by Perry and made sure their guard boats were herded away. He performed battle drills daily so that the Japanese could see how well trained his crews were and the weapons they had at their disposal. Finally on 14 July an imperial barge appeared carrying two imperial princes, Ido and Toda. A historic meeting took placed at a special meeting constructed for the event.

The letters from President Fillmore and one from Commodore Perry offered friendship and the advantages of opening up trade with the United States. And that a treaty could be drafted to formalize the agreement. Commodore Perry promised them time to consider the proposals and would return the following spring for an answer. Perry, though was asked to depart right away, would have his forces linger for three days. During this time, they would conduct hydrographic studies and also deliver a subtle message he would go when he decided to go. For the Japanese, it meant their carefully constructed isolation was being challenged. Perry would return, and after the usual delays and threats, the Treaty of Kanagawa (1854) was signed allowing for trade between the two nations and the exchange of ambassadors. The Japanese would send their first diplomats in 1860.

Japan would be changed forever. While stability and prosperity had occurred during the Tokugawa period, the agricultural sector was not producing enough. This resulted in famines and unrest. As more Japanese became exposed to Western culture via contact with the Europeans and Americans, it showed a world outside different from their own in many ways. And if they wanted to build up their country, they would need to learn how to develop themselves to be on par with Western nations. Resentment against imposed treaties with Western nations also fed into the desire to change the status quo as well.  In 1867, the Tokugawa was overthrown, and power restored to the Emperor formalized with the Meji Constitution of 1889. It would remain in effect till 1947.

Sources:

Liberty Bell
History.com
Independence National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Commodore Perry
History.com
Brief Summary of the Perry Expedition to Japan, 1853 (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Treaty of Kanagawa (Thoughtco.com)

 


Titanic, historic ship, and general history news.