Monday, April 16, 2007

April 14, 1912 Sunday night.... part 2

....Once the passengers were mostly in bed,

Came the dreadful cry “iceberg dead ahead.”

They then didn’t know it

But soon found out,

She would not make it there was no doubt.

The pain was unbearable that fateful night,

For the Captain and crew their lips they did bite.

One minute she sailed

Next minute she stopped

Hit by an iceberg that wrenched her apart.....

Captain Smith no doubt was stricken in heart, as he called all of the officers to the bridge to let them in on the situation. He and Andrews knew that there were not enough lifeboats for all of the passengers on board.
He shared the disastrous news with the officers, and gave them the following orders; first officer Murdoch, and third officer Pittman were ordered to use their men to rouse the passengers, and get them on the boat deck with their lifebelts on. Second officer Lightoller was to use the seaman to uncover, and get the lifeboats ready to launch. The fifth and sixth officers were to stay on the bridge, and fourth officer Boxhall was to work out their position.
At 12:10am Monday morning the Titanic position was given to the wireless operators, 41*46* N, 50*14* W. At 12:15am the first CQD distress call was sent out.
As passengers were being roused in the early hours of the 15th, most of them were not happy campers, what was this? Here these passengers had booked on an 'unsinkable' ship, and now they are being woke up, under the pretence that the Captain is being fussy, and correct, making them dawn their lifebelts, dress warmly, and go up to the boat deck, where the weather was now freezing. Put yourself in their spot, you're sound asleep, and then a steward appears at your door and tells you that you have to be prepared to abandon ship! This would have been a very hard task to accomplish, and reasonably so. They are on a "unsinkable" ship!!! Part of the reason for their stubbornness is, the passengers did not know the real state of the ship, and thought the Captain, and officers were just being picky and cautious about things.
The crew in the bottom of the ship were told to stay at their posts, and keep fire in the boilers, to power the generaters, to give power to the wireless, and keep the ship brightly lit. These men are not really talked about, when honors are being passed out, but think about it, these men were in the lowest part of the ship, not the place you want to be when a ship is sinking, these men knew that they did not have a chance. If they would not have stayed at their posts, the Titanic would have blacked out, the wireless radio would have had no power, and nobody would know what even happened to the 'Queen of the seas.' Truly these men were brave! Then think of the wireless operators, here they are swamped with private 'stuff' and now their stopped in the middle of the Atlantic, with damage to the ship. What if they had to turn around and had to return to Belfast, to repair damage. If that happened they would not get a moments rest.
Third class passengers were told to stay below decks, until further notice! First and second class were slowly meandering their way to boat deck, and to first class lounges, and smoking rooms.
Captain John Edward Smith could not put off the inevitable any longer, he ordered women and children into the lifeboats. At this time there is no panic, passengers are not even concerned at this point about the safety of the ship. Women did not really care to leave the brightly lit decks of the Titanic, to enter a small swaying lifeboat, and second of all their husbands could not come along. At first it was hard to convince women to leave the Titanic, but after a while a few here and there were starting to get in.
Officers were becoming aware of the fact that the Titanic would really sink. At 12:45am they fired off the first distress rocket.
The Titanic was beginning to list to starboard, and water was rushing into the forward compartments.
Right now things are calm and peaceful, men step back and light cigars and start smoking calmly, and talking quietly. Also as time went on, more and more passengers were getting into the lifeboats, maybe they were realizing that something was wrong. This is one of the times I just have to ponder the things that were going on, what were the passengers really thinking? How did they fill? Everybody in this age was concrete in the fact that the Titanic, and her sister ships were unsinkable, but I have to wonder if some unknown feeling were beginning to chip away at that firm belief.
There was one mistake that stands out of them all in my mind, one lifeboat was capable of holding 70 to 74 people, but many were sent out half filled or less than half, one was sent out with 12 passengers, when it was capable of holding 70!

If all of the lifeboats would have been filled to their full capacity 500 more souls could have been saved.

The Titanic could see a ship in the distance, but she was not responding to the distress calls, so Smith thought that rockets would make them aware of the peril that they were facing. That ship was the Californian, and the officers on deck did see the rockets and reported to the sleeping Captain of what they saw, they were wondering why a big ship like that would fire rockets. The Captain said they were probably company rockets, and to enter it into the log, none thought to wake the sleeping wireless operator. So, the Californian set through the whole night 10 miles away and watch the sinking Titanic fire rockets.

Back in the Titanic's wireless room the operators could not find anybody closes enough to help, they were able to contact ships 75 to 200 miles away but that would be no help. Bride suggested to Phillips in a joking tone, "you might send SOS it could be the last chance you have to send it." It was the first time that SOS was internationally used!

Down it third class it was utter pandemonium, the crew received orders that only women and children were allowed up top, but a lot of them didn't understand what they were trying to tell them, and they did not want to be separated from their husbands. It was complete chaos!
There were many calm men that fateful night, but the coolest men on board were Captain Smith, and Major Archibald Butts, the military aid to president Taft. There was a time when three third class men came charging up to get into a lifeboat, yelling screaming, and fighting when officers told them to step back or they would be shot, Butts covered them with a 38 revolver. First class passenger Mrs. Henry B Harris said "the world should raise in praise of Major Butt. That man's conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American Army is honored by him." There was no fear in his manner, even though the circumstances called for it. There was one time when a dozen of women became hysterical all at once, Major Butts stepped over to them and said, "really, you must not act like that." His calm assurance helped many that fateful night. A man saw a boat being lowered and ran to jump in it, but Butts shot him in the arm, caught him in the back of the neck, and jerked him back like a pillow, and cracked his head against a rail, and said, "sorry, but women and children will be attended to first, or I'll break every bone in your body." Many people were heard that night to say, "thank God for Major Butt." Again he saw a man trying to get in to a lifeboat, but he caught him and said, "keep your head and be a man." He helped so many people that night with such a strong firmness and sincerity, he was an example to every man on board that fateful night. His last known words are thought to be when he was helping a women into a lifeboat, preforming small courtesies, and smiling as if death were far away, instead of just a few moments from it. After lowering the lady into the lifeboat, he said, "good-by miss Young, good luck to you, and don't forget to remember me to the folks back home." He stepped back and waved his hand!

Arms and ammunition were being passed out among the officers, Smith knew it was a matter of time before some men tried and made for the lifeboats, but they were going to enforce the rule, "women and children first." On the port side of the ship second officer Lightoller was filling lifeboats, and it was becoming increasingly harder to keep men from going to the boats, but Lightoller was upholding the rule 'women and children first' strictly. On the starboard side it was Murdoch filling lifeboats, he was not as concerned as Lightoller about women and children only, if there were no ladies about he would allow men to get in.

“Women and children” was the cry,

Get them away

With no delay.

The bravery of men

Abounded that night,

Standing aside that others might live,

Staring at death

Like brave men they did.

Oh grave where is thy victory?

Oh death where is thy sting!

As their loved ones departed

Too see them no more,

The only thing left, was a door.

The door of eternity open wide,

To receive these men as they died.

“Nearer My God To Thee” was heard that night,

Upon the waves of untold fright.

Some men however were panic stricken, and six men sreaming in terror dashed for the lifeboats, and six shots sounded out in quick sussesion, and six men were stopped in their tracks, this helped discouraged violations of the rule "Women and children first." But on the whole most of the men were the brave type, telling their wives that they would meet them on another ship, knowing good and well that would not be the case.

Back in the wireless room the operators had found a ship close enough to help, the Carpathia! She was 48 miles away, and was coming at full speed and would be there in four hours, the Titanic only had one hour to live.

There are many differant versions of how Captain Smith met his death, I'll tell you the one I believe; first of all he had to be in utter dispair, on his last voyage having a perfect record at sea, his ship was sinking, over 2,000 passengers that should be in bed right now, are now on the verge of death, you know that, that morning they were not expecting to die. Was it Smith's fault? NO! It was not his fault, but he was responsible, you can't blame the accident on him, he wasn't on the bridge at the time of impact, but as Captain he was responsible! He was last seen heading to the bridge, the place he made his life out of, the place he had commanded for forty years, the bridge. I speculate that he stood at the ship's wheel as the cold waters of the icy Atlantic, swirled around his feet then up to his chest, and finally to his nostrils, and there he died, at the ship's wheel!

After all the lifeboats on the starboard side had been lowered, first officer Murdoch took the revolver out of his pocket and said "try and save yourself, good-by and good luck." With that he shot himself through the head and ended his life!

Up to this time there had been no real panic, but now it was sure that the Titanic would sink. Stokers came up from below, their posts now submergerd and they beat all down in their path, for they had iron bar.
The ship now is at a steep slant!
Sences of the sinking vessal become more tragic, as passengers faced the certain fear of death. Many women rejected the lifeboats to stay and die with the men that they truly loved.

As the bow slipped beneath the waves, and water crept up around the bridge, and started to surround the first funnel. The first funnel {smokstack} weighing in at sixty tons of steel could no longer take the slanted strain, the cables holding her whipped back into the water like angry hornets, and no doubt killing those in its path. Then the massive funnel fell over and killed those in the water around her!

Back in the wireless room, news came that the Carpathia was making full steam, and was racing to the sence at full blast. Jack Phillips must have wondered where the fool was that blasted into his ears a while back about some ice-warning, the power was strong, he must be in the vicinity. Now he probably wished he would not have been so rude!
Not long after that the power left the ship's wireless room, but Phillips was still tapping away, even though it did no good.

Benjamin Guggenheim also showed great courage in the face of death, he, being one of the richest men in the world, faced death like a man. When someone asked him if he would try to save himself he said, “I think there is grave doubt that the men will get off safely. I am willing to remain and play the man’s game, if there are enough boats for more than the woman and children. I won’t die here like a beast. I’ll meet my end as a man.’ He paused for a moment than continued, ‘tell my wife, Johnson, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down and you are saved, tell her I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward. ‘Tell her my last thoughts will be of her and our girls, but that my duty now is to these unfortunate woman and children on this ship. Tell her I will meet whatever fate is in store for me, knowing she will approve of what I do.” He was last seen talking to Major Butts and Colonel Astor.

Thomas Andrew the designer of the Titanic, the first to know that she would not make it, was last seen in the first class reception room, he had a wife and three children.
There is an unknown man that gave the men on board a bad name, instead of staying with the men and letting women and children get into the boats, he went back to his cabin and put on woman’s dress, woman’s shoes, a woman’s hat, and a woman’s veil, went and walked back through the heroic men standing their waiting to meet their death, and got on a boat and saved himself, not a more cowardly thing could have been done.
Among the cowardly few men who got onto lifeboats, none other but John Bruce Ismay the president of the White Star Line stepped into a lifeboat. He, above all other men should have stayed on board, since it was he who argued with Carlyle about the issue of lifeboats, and said the Titanic is unsinkable, it’s its own lifeboat, and made the decision that there would not be enough lifeboats for every one. He should have been the last man to be put safely in a lifeboat. But he was scared of death and could not stay on the Titanic’s sloping deck. He died years later almost bankrupt.

As the ship began to settle to the starboard side at nearly a 45-degree angle, more and more people began to jump. It must have been a hard thing for the ladies who set in the lifeboats and watched their husbands smiling calmly at them, awaiting their death.

Among the heroes, the Titanic’s band was one of them, Wallace Hartley being the bandleader. As the ship neared the end the band started playing the beloved hymn “Nearer My God To Thee”. Some say they played this until the water was about their knees, but that would have been nearly impossible, because of the angle of the ship. But I believe that they played until they could no longer keep balance. Many times when you think of the Titanic sinking you think of Nearer My God To Thee, but don’t give honor to the men who played it to the very end. This song would also cause men to reflect on the fact that the end was very near. The band’s heroic deed went down in the history of the Titanic.

Passengers in the lifeboats could hear the sinking ship now, as she began to aquire a very steep angle, everything inside the ship began crashing over, plates, tables, beds, tea cups, luggage, machinery, and sounds of terror, etc...

Then it happened. The Titanic was in her death throws, she started to make her last plunge, as water started to creep up the deck even faster, people began to jump and clamber for the stern area. The Titanic was almost standing upright in the water when between the third and fourth funnels the biggest ship in the world broke apart. She could no longer take the heavy strain, and then the lights flicked and went out for good. Imagine the fear in the passengers not all the way up to the stern of the ship yet, and to feel the deck begin to break, and the wood planks pop apart below their feet then to fall to your death inside the broken ship. The bow plunged to the bottom of the ocean 2 ½ miles below. The stern area came crashing down into the water; it created a small tidal wave, and no doubt killing people that would have been in her way. People clung to the stern as well as they could, knowing the end was finally here. As the stern sank lower and lower, the water crept closer and closer. Then she plunged and sank. The R.M.S Titanic was last seen at 2:30, on April 15th 1912. The world’s greatest liner was gone, everything was gone.

It was the end of an era!

...Titanic plunged with a moan,

She died with a great groan.

Behind her she left hundreds of souls

Where cold would soon take its toll.

Titanic was gone

As soon as she came.

She lost her glory,

But gained great fame.


James Daniel McEntire


6 comments:

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

All I can say is, I am so so sorry that there was so much loss.---------MOMENT OF SILENCE ON BEHALF OF THOSE THAT DIED ON THE TITANIC-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Grandma
Good job Daniel.

Doni M said...

Perhaps someday you could post a bit about the Carpathia and her role in the story, her captain and passengers that gave so much of themselves to comfort and aid the 700+ grieving "guests" who were brought aboard the morning of April 15. But not necessarily right away. Take a break!

Daniel said...

Yes I really want to do that sometime, but my weeks are getting a bit cramped. I would have liked to do a bit more on "part 2" but just didn't have the time!

Thanks for the comment!!!

Just Theresa said...

I got so much reading to catch up on! I'll be working on it all day today.

Thanks for the prayers concerning my back.

Love ya, Aunt T

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Aren't you rested yet? I know just busy. Grandma

Daniel said...

Busy ain't the word for it!!!
I'll try to post a quiz this week though.