10th April 1912. Titanic.
A chart later produced showed that women and children figured largely of those surviving the Titanic disaster. However, ‘The loss rate was higher for children in the Third Class than for men in the First Class’. Two-thirds of a total of about 2,400 were to drown.
It was Today in 1912 that The Titanic, White Star Liner left Southampton on her maiden voyage, hoping to win the ‘Blue Riband’ for the fastest Atlantic crossing.
The Liner was considered unsinkable having sixteen watertight compartments, but ominously had insufficient lifeboats, if the unthinkable happened.
Titanic was fated from the start as she had a near-miss with the liner ‘New York’, owing to the suction of her giant propellers.(1)
Ironically, Titanic was the first ship to send the new international call-sign SOS, using Morse-Code, adopted in the same year : ‘SS Titanic ran into iceberg. Sinking fast’. (2)
All disasters need a scapegoat and Captain Lord of SS Californian, within range of the Titanic, was forced to resign by the Leyland Line, by not making sufficient effort to effect any rescue until too late.(3)
At the subsequent Inquiry, Lord said he was stuck in ice, apparently corroborated by The Carpathia, the first vessel on the scene, which landed three days later at New York with survivors, after counting 25 icebergs.
The Inquiry also hopefully asked why the Chairman of the Company, J. Bruce Ismay got away in the first lifeboat, when only 180 Irish Steerage passengers were saved.
It also found that Captain Smith who went down with the ship, guilty of great negligence by pressing on after 18 ice warnings were given.
Whatever the truth eyewitness accounts move from the macabre, poetic describing, ‘tiny splinters of ice in the air that gave off myriads of bright colours whenever caught in the glow of the deck lights’…to accounts of the ‘chaotic evacuation in which on one side almost no men were permitted in lifeboats, whilst on the other even a Pekinese dog got a seat’.(4)
No disaster is complete without its legends, one notable is that: the band leader, Wallace Hartley went down playing either, the hymn ‘Autumn’, or ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ depending on whose version one believes. 50,000 turned out for his funeral in Lancashire.
In 1985 the wreck was located 12,000 feet below the surface by Dr Robert Ballard.
In 1999 Menus fetch up to £19.500 for First Class and £10.300 for the Crew’s. In 2000 rare documents, which included a passenger card from a Third Class passenger fetched £37,000, proving one person’s disaster can be another’s gain.
There is a statue in Lichfield Municipal Gardens to the Hanley born Captain Smith of the Titanic, sculpted by Scott of the Antarctic’s wife; his birthplace was too embarrassed to erect it!
One in London Road, Southampton is to the engineers of the Titanic who showed their heroism by remaining at their posts. It was designed by Whitehead & Sons (1914).
(1) Designed by Thomas Andrews of Harland and Woolf (designated number 401).
(2) This was from the Morse code 3 dots 3 dashes 3 dots, so easy to remember.
(3) Captain Lord later joined Lawther Latt & Co. He spent up to 1958 trying to clear his name.
(4) Recorded by American, Walter Lord in his book (see below), after interviewing 63 survivors.
Ref: A Night to Remember. W. Lord.