The tales of the Titanic
April 15th is the 109th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. We know the story of the unsinkable ship, the largest object built by man, the monument to hubris that foundered in the icy Atlantic with an appalling lack of lifeboat spaces resulting in a huge number of casualties.
“One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic” is a comment attributed to Stalin. It is easy to forget the painful stories of those aboard the Titanic, lost in the noise of Celine Dion and the enormity of the event. We take a look at some of the individuals and their experiences on board the Titanic to confirm once again, that the truth is always more fascinating than fiction.
A short story by a Titanic survivor
Survivor Helen Churchill Candee was an author who published her own short story in early May 1912, less than a month after the disaster. It is widely considered a key inspiration of the James Cameron script. Historians have long speculated about the identities of the romantic interests in the story which can be read in full here.
A Man and his Machine
The Ship designer is often portrayed as spending his last moments in the smoking room as the ship sinks. This seems to be a misremembered moment or possibly a bit of romanticized fiction for the man who understood the extent of the coming catastrophe from the first moments. He campaigned tirelessly for Ismay to have the number of lifeboats to be 48 during the construction.
Sinking a Reputation
Often depicted as a cowardly villain in films and books, Ismay became one of the most despised men in the world in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. His story is somewhat more complicated and the work he did for the victims remain mostly unreported. Like so many on board that night, his life was shaped by the maiden voyage disaster. William Harrison, who worked for the White Star Line President was not so lucky.
The Rejected Survivor
A little know fact was that only one Japanese passenger was on the liner. He was to suffer in survival much like J .Bruce Ismay. The Japanese culture rejected him for bringing disgrace to the national name for surviving the disaster. This was partly due to the memoirs written by Colonel Gracie IV.
Grace and fervour
An amateur historian, he was to produce the most complete account of the events of April 15th 1912 but never to see his work published. His story is one of the most complete memoirs of the disaster produced by a survivor and is key to our understanding of the story of what happened in that two and half hour nightmare.
Titanic’s Last Mystery
The only First or Second Class child passenger to perish on that night was two year old Loraine Allison. The sad tale of her family and the people who worked for them was tragic enough until later in the century a women came forward to claim she was the Allison girl and had in fact survived, raised by another incognito survivor. A story of snapshot decisions, media character assassination, intrigue, mystery and tragedy.
The Last to Leave
Chief Baker Joughin (pronounced Jockin) is recognised as the last person to leave the ship, riding her like an elevator as she sank. He was one of the very few people taken from the water who survived. It seems his survival is down to his consumption of alcohol.
Joughin would survive a further two sea wrecks in his life but was also beset by tragedy as well.
Miss Jessop led an extraordinary life but has a quite unique place in the history books for her relationship with the Olympic class ships, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. The sister ships were all to experience disaster. Miss Jessop would have the misfortune to experience each event, this is her extraordinary story.
“Be brave! Be Brave!”
This is the tale of a family torn apart by the horrendous events of April 1912 and the impact it had on them as they moved forward in life. Boarding Titanic with all they own hoping to find a better environment to delay the onset of tuberculosis in Charlotte Collyer. The image of young Marjorie who arrived in New York in a dress made of a White Star Line cabin blanket is one of the most moving images of the Titanic story
Animals on board
It is not well known that there were at least twelve dogs on the doomed liner. There are a series of poignant stories regarding their fate. Some owners were unable to bring themselves to be separated from their beloved pets. There were also other animals on the ship, ranging from roosters to canaries.