New book: On Board RMS Titanic-Memories of the Maiden Voyage

George  Behe has written another book on Titanic that has gotten a positive review in The Titanic Commutator. According to the reviewer:

On Board RMS Titanic—Memories of the Maiden Voyage is George’s latest effort and probably his most significant work to date on the subject of Titanic. In the pages of this lengthy book will be found a literal wealth of information in the form of first-person accounts about the ship and its voyage. Over the span of nearly forty years, Behe has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad to find these rare and forgotten accounts, often poring over reels of neglected microfilm to discover an account that may not have been read since the date of its publication.”

The reviewer further notes that Behe does not paraphrase any of the accounts of passengers or crew revealing a lot of stories to a wide audience. In short, this book is a must to read and worthy addition to any Titanic library.

Where to buy: The book is self-published and available at Lulu.com. $35 plus shipping. Also check out other titles by Behe while there.

Source (review): Titanic Historical Society, The Titanic Commutator, Vol 36, No 194, 2011, Book Notes.

Titanic Fatigue?

A fascinating discussion took place on my list recently concerning whether or not many were still interested in Titanic. Postings have become fewer in recent years but not due to lack of interest but rather disinterest in all the babble about Titanic. Some point to Cameron’s Titanic as when it shifted from a serious study to something akin to entertainment. Then there were the numerous books, documentaries, exhibitions, and even tacky Titanic items put on sale. For many old timers, it simply became too much. They stuck with visiting with other Titanic enthusiasts, going to special events, and doing their own research.

This does not mean interest in Titanic has ended, just shifted into another mode. Perhaps this is the normal way of things. Most of us drawn to Titanic can remember the exact moment when it became important. Perhaps it was watching A Night To Remember, hearing someone talk about it, seeing a documentary, or reading a book. It led us to explore the subject further. In the process we learned lots of interesting things that kept us interested. The Titanic story comes close to the Greek meaning of tragedy. The word is much abused today but simply means that the sad events that occur would have been prevented had things been done differently by the central character. And Titanic, as Walter Lord notes, has so many What-If’s that haunt you.

The Titanic community was split by salvage. Ballard and many others did not believe salvage ought to be done arguing the wreck was a grave. Some survivors, like Eva Hart, agreed with it. The other side to the argument is that Titanic had a story to tell from all the things left on the ocean floor. Heated exchanges occurred and Internet flame wars resulted. Unfounded accusations were made and friendships ruined. Today the issue is less vitriolic but no less passionate. Today many can see the traveling Titanic exhibitions that show to people what life was like on the ship. One cannot help but be moved by seeing artifacts from the ship.

Recently San Francisco had its own anniversary of a catastrophe: the great earthquake of 1906 on April 18. Like Titanic it has it own legion of people who study it. Nearly all those who survived are gone now, the few that remain are over 100 years old. And like Titanic, it had its heroes and villains. The earthquake was far more destructive than was led to believe, and those most hardest hit were those were people who lived in cheap housing in an area (called South of Market) built on landfill. They were like Titanic steerage  and paid a terrible price on that day.

Fatigue? Well not really. Just a more mature development of a continuing exploration of Titanic. Sure we like some new books or interesting documentaries, but we have read a lot. Mostly we realize that Titanic has a story to tell. A sad and fascinating one. The latest Titanic thing, whatever that might be, is not going to wow us that much. The upcoming anniversary in 2012 is both a celebration of life and a remembrance of all those who perished on that very cold night in 1912. Anything else is just a distraction.

15 April in Titanic History

15 April

2:20 a.m.: Titanic sinks with over 1,500 souls lost.

0400: Carpathia arrives and begins recovery operations of lifeboats.  Dawn reveals large icefield and some bergs 200 feet tall.

0730: Californian arrives but only finds Mount Temple. Sights Carpathia.

0830: Carpathia and California alongside. Carpathia requests she continue search for survivors. Californian only finds debris. Carpathia departs for New York.

10:40-11:20: Californian gives up search and departs. Discrepancy between log and Third Officer Groves makes time approximate.

Sources: Walter Lord, A Night To Remember & The Night Lives On, Stephen Cameron, Titanic: Belfast’s Own

April 14 in Titanic History

23:40 (11:40 p.m.) Lookouts Fleet and Lee sight iceberg. Bell rung and call to bridge. Murdoch orders helm hard a-starboard and engines reversed. Starboard side scraped by iceberg for 300 feet puncturing hull in various places. Water fills forward compartments. Thomas Andrews informs Captain Smith near midnight Titanic will stay afloat no more than 2 hours.

Sources: Walter Lord, A Night To Remember & The Night Lives On, Stephen Cameron, Titanic: Belfast’s Own.

11 April in Titanic History

1. 11:30 (11:30 a.m): Titanic arrives in Queenstown. 120 passengers board. Among those who depart is Frances Brown (later Father Brown, SJ) with his camera and photos of life aboard ship.

2. 13:30 (1:30 p.m.). Titanic departs Queenstown bound for New York with 2,206 passengers and crew.

Sources: Walter Lord, A Night To Remember & The Night Lives On, Stephen Cameron, Titanic: Belfast’s Own.

10 April in Titanic History

1. Titanic departs Southampton at 12 noon. While departing, suction from propellors causes New York to break free of moorings. Quick action by tugs and extra speed from Titanic averts collision.

2. 17:30 (5:30 p.m.): Arrival at Cherbourg, France. 274 passengers board including John Jacob Astor. 22 passengers disembark.

3. 20:30 (8:30 p.m.): Departs Cherbourg for Queenstown, ( Cobh), Ireland.

Sources: Walter Lord, A Night To Remember & The Night Lives On, Stephen Cameron, Titanic: Belfast’s Own.

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