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Manuel Uruchurtu

This discussion on "Manuel Uruchurtu" is in the Passenger Research section; The story that one of the two Mexicans on board the Titanic, 1st class passenger ...

  1. #31
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    The story that one of the two Mexicans on board the Titanic, 1st class passenger Manuel Uruchurtu, gave up his seat in lifeboat 11 to 2nd class passenger Elizabeth Nye is a heart-stirring tale of chivalry from a bygone age. There is only one problem with it though - it is NOT a true story.

    I first started researching the life of Elizabeth Nye in 1988. Nine years later I went online for the first time and it wasn't long before I came across a relatively small number of Spanish language websites that all contained the same account of the alleged incident. They claimed that Manuel Uruchurtu had been granted a seat in the lifeboat due to his status as a Mexican Government Official returning from a duty visit abroad. An English lady, named as Elizabeth Nye, was refused entry to the boat as it was already full. She pleaded to be allowed in as her husband and child were waiting for her in New York. On hearing this Mr Uruchurtu ceded his place in the boat to her, asking only that she visit his family in Mexico to explain what had happened. The sites all concluded by saying that it was later found out that Elizabeth Nye had lied as she did not have a family waiting in New York. Those sites that that invite readers' comments have attracted many rude and unpleasant posts about Elizabeth such as 'Elizabeth Nye is a murderer' Regrettably I see comments of that nature have started to infiltrate this forum.

    From the first time that I read the story it just did not sound right at all. For a start, Titanic's lifeboats had not been loaded according to status and no one had their credentials checked prior to entering a boat.
    As someone who had been researching the life of Elizabeth Nye for ten years before I first read of these allegations I was confused as they certainly did not match the character and personality of the woman I had come to know during my research. Yes Elizabeth was a widow in 1912. She had married in 1904 and a daughter born in 1906 had lived for just nine months. Her husband had died in the USA in 1911. The suggestion however that Elizabeth, who was a lifelong Salvationist, had abused the memory of her deceased family and stated that they were awaiting her in New York, was not a story that I and many others were prepared to believe.

    There are many other areas where the allegation is at total odds with the evidence as it was recorded in 1912. Elizabeth had left the Titanic in lifeboat 11 about 0135 hrs by which time it was obvious to all that the ship was going down and the priority was to save the women and children. Would a lady have been refused permission to enter a lifeboat under those circumstances? In a letter written aboard the Carpathia Elizabeth makes no mention of any difficulty boarding lifeboat 11, and no mention of anyone giving up his seat and his life to save her. ("We were put into the lifeboat and pushed off at once. They put all ladies and children in first") Elizabeth's cabin companion Amelia Brown accompanied her to the lifeboat and similarly makes no reference to any difficulty boarding. ("I was bustled to the first class deck and pushed into one of the boats")

    At the subsequent US Inquiry two members of the crew who assisted in the loading and launching of lifeboat 11, Steward Edward Wheelton ("Mr Murdoch told two sailors to jump into the boat and we lowered away") and Able Seaman Walter Brice (Senator Bourne- "Were there any women or children who tried to get into the boat who were unable to do so?" Brice - "Not that I saw sir") were interviewed at some length. Neither man mentions refusing entry to a lady nor any gentleman giving up his seat.

    Another of the occupants of lifeboat 11 was 1st class passenger Edith Rosenbaum (later Edith Russell) who was acquainted with Manuel Uruchurtu. Edith was not called to give evidence at either the US Inquiry or the later UK Enquiry but she was, throughout the remainder of her life one of the most vocal of survivors when it came to the subject of the Titanic. I traced a total of nine articles by, and interviews with her, about her departure from the sinking vessel and in not one of them does she mention Mr Uruchurtu.

    If there had been any truth in the story then it would have surely have become as endearing a part of the Titanic tale as that of Isidor and Ida Straus and not just a tale that only started appearing on websites some 8 decades later. We must ask ourselves why didn't this story appear in A Night To Remember or any other book up until 2008? There is an explanation -it was becoming increasingly obvious that someone had taken the sketchy details of Elizabeth's life and had fitted a story around them. This would have been done at a time when they had no way of knowing that Elizabeth's life was being researched for a biography.
    Nevertheless, I continued to bear the allegations in mind during my remaining research but I never ever came across any fact to even remotely suggest that there might be any truth in them. Elizabeth was a prolific writer and kept in touch with many friends and family members throughout her life. None of them to whom I spoke had any knowledge of her ever visiting Mexico.

    I knew no one at that time in that country who might have been able to help me. (Happily that situation has now changed) The number of Spanish language sites carrying the story proliferated over the years - they all appeared to be copied from each other, each telling the same, devoid of detail, verbatim account. Google 'Nye Uruchurtu' today and it lists a total of over 27,000 sites on which the two names appear together. (This of course includes Titanic sites that show passenger lists)
    After a total of 20 years of research my biography of Elizabeth Nye was published in 2009. As I had not discovered one iota of proof in support of the allegations the book contains no mention of Manuel Uruchurtu.
    On 11 Apr 12 I was contacted by The Reforma newspaper in Mexico City who told me that a new book about Mr Uruchurtu was about to be published. They asked me if I was in possession of any information that would confirm that Manuel Uruchurtu had ceded his lifeboat place to Elizabeth Nye. My reply was that I knew of no facts which would support the story but I knew of plenty which suggested that no such incident had ever taken place and went on to list them. The story was printed the next day by The Reforma under the heading 'Mystery surrounds Uruchurtu gesture' - 'The author of Elizabeth Nye's biography says to be wary of stories circulating on websites regarding Manuel Uruchurtu .....' Happily this article has now started to be repeated on many Spanish language sites.

    On 18 Apr 12 a press conference was held in Mexico City to announce the new book 'El Caballero Del-Titanic'(The gentleman of the Titanic) During the press conference the book's main author, Guadalupe Loaeza, stated that at no time during her research did see see any document or other proof that the Nye/Uruchurtu incident had happened, she had worked solely on information supplied to her by the book's co-author Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu.
    The following day was to prove decisive with the publication in The Reforma of a letter sent in by the granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu. Translated it read:

    Rejection of Heroic Act

    Dear Editor,
    In the culture section dated 11 April there is a report regarding the book written by Guadalupe Loaeza about Manuel Uruchurtu 'The Gentleman of the Titanic'
    Guadalupe Loaeza has taken advantage of the claim to write a book, which is not based on any facts, surrounding Manuel Uruchurtu my late Grandfather who died in that unfortunate tragedy.
    Maybe with the best of intentions ?? she is referring to how a gentleman gave up his place on a lifeboat to a woman.
    In the article in The Reforma newspaper she states 'his relatives assure us that he gave up his place on a lifeboat to 2nd class passenger Elizabeth Rammel Nye'
    I am the granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu and neither my father Armando Uruchurtu (who was 5 years old at the time) or my young aunties Amparo and Dolores Uruchurtu (aged 15 years and 17 years) or anyone else in the family who lived with my Grandmother in the last few years of her life have ever heard of this alleged incident which, had it genuinely occurred, I am sure they would have spoken about openly and proudly.
    The story was made up by another (not so close) relative by the name of Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu who has appeared on television claiming to be the grandson of Manuel Uruchurtu, and whom I believe feels the need to give notoriety (unnecessarily) to the surname Uruchurtu.
    I want to make it quite clear that none of his surviving grandchildren, that is my brother and myself now aged 74, have any proof of that alleged heroic act, although many including my father and aunties spoke of the tragic deaths of his parents Manuel and Gertrudis. We know that Grandfather Manuel was an extraordinary and exceptional person and find it uncomfortable and ridiculous that anyone should try to dramatize his death.
    If you see fit you may publish what I have written here.
    I am comfortable with the article by Erika P. Bucio regarding the 'Mystery surrounds Uruchurtu gesture'
    Gertrudis Uruchurtu
    Granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu.
    Such positive testimoney from the nearest surviving relative to Manuel Uruchurtu totally vindicates Elizabeth Nye from any involvement with this story.
    Mr Garate however does not agree. The following day's edition of the newspaper contained his reply to Gertrudis - calling into question her honesty and sense of family honour. He stated where his proof may be found. He claimed that Edith Rosenbaum gave evidence at the US Inquiry that she had met Mr Uruchurtu at Cherbourg and had witnessed his heroic act in lifeboat 11 as she was also in that boat. He also claimed that recognition of the heroic act is contained in 'United States Congress, Senate ... 62nd Congress 2nd Session, 20 August 1912, Document 933' having been located there by Robert Bracken, eminent Titanic researcher. The alleged visit by Elizabeth Nye to Mexico, said on many websites to have been in 1924, he now claimed to have been two visits, one in 1915 and another the following year.

    Document 933 mentioned is a 92 page booklet which is still readily available today. It is an abbreviated version of the UK Board of Trade Enquiry into the loss of the steamship Titanic. It contains no reference to Mr Uruchurtu at all.

    In an effort to clarify his alleged involvement I contacted Robert L. Bracken, Treasurer of The Titanic International Society (and the author of several fine articles on ET) Bob replied that he had never heard of Mr Garate, had never been in contact with him and he knew full well that Document 933 did not contain any 'recognition of a heroic act' He was unaware why his name had been used to support Mr Garate's claims.

    The concern that I have about the book written by Guadalupe Loaeza is that she has chosen to write the chapter involving Elizabeth Nye in the first person, i.e. as if it were Elizabeth who had written it. My fear is that this will confuse many readers who will assume that they are reading an autobiographical work by Elizabeth and they will be duped into believing the story is true, as indeed Miss Loaeza herself was.

    Yes, I believe that Manuel Uruchurtu was a hero of the Titanic, but only to the same degree that all the 1,500+ who had to remain on board and face the certainty of imminent death were heroes. Did he compound his heroism by giving up a seat in a lifeboat? No he did not.

    I do not expect Mr Garate to agree of course but I feel sure that he would now, after twenty years of telling his story unchallenged, welcome the opportunity to prove the story he has been telling the Mexican Nation many times through the media there. I invite him now, instead of telling us that he has seen the documents from 1912 which prove his story, to produce to us all copies of those documents so that we may all benefit from them.

  2. #32

  3. #33
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    Apr 2011
    With all due respect to the comments made by Dave Bryceson I will like to make the following observations to it:

    Regarding Manuel R Uruchurtu:

    1.- There was ONLY ONE Mexican passenger on board the Titanic: Manuel R Uruchurtu
    2.- This is totally documented in the passengers lists (first, second and third class) of the Encyclopedia Titanica, as well as in all the many other lists that have being published by various investigators, books, articles and sites
    3.- With out denying the possibility that it might be some other(s) passenger(s) who final destination could be Mexico, this might be to the fact that, in those years, the most important Mining Companies were British and there were many English mining workers in Mexico, specially in the center and northern states of Mexico, such as Hidalgo, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, etc., but none of one, if so, was Mexican

    Regarding to my self and the attached by Mr Bryceson note and signed by Gertrudis Uruchurtu (gran daughter of Manuel R Uruchurtu):

    1.- I have never said or claim in my life that I am grand son of Manuel R Uruchurtu. All the time I have presented my self as GRAN NEPHEW of Manuel R Uruchurtu. My grand father was Gustavo Uruchurtu (1868 - 1933) OLDER BROTHER of Manuel R Uruchurtu. They both were sons of Mateo Uruchurtu and Mercedes Ramírez (my grand grand parents as well of Gertrudis Uruchurtu) and they both had another two brothers: Alfredo (the oldest) and Remigio (the youngest) and who was the recipient of the last communication (telegraph) of Manuel previous boarding the Titanic
    2.- Based on the previous point, you can see that Gertrudis Uruchurtu Marroquí (that is her complete name) and I are directly related by name and blood. She is daughter of Armando Uruchurtu Caraza (one of the youngest sons of Manuel) who was first cousin of my mother Carmen Uruchurtu. The relation between my uncle Armando and my parents was very close not only because they were relatives but also becouse we were neighbors (both families lived one block away to each other)
    3. Probably one of the points that made Gertrudis so angry was that, when my uncle Armando decided to get married again (he was widow of my aunt Minerva Marroquí <Gertrudis mother>) he was totally supported by my mother and family side AGAINST GERTRUDIS WISHES that was against the new marriage of her father. It is presume that her relation with her father was quite cold and distant on his last years, but I can not say if they see each other. What I know well is that my mother and my family side relation was close and frequent until my uncle Armando died
    4.- The note attached by Mr Bryceson has previous notes that have to be clarified:
    a) In April 11, 2012 was published, in the Reforma news paper (one of the most important ones in Mexico) a large interview made to Guadalupe Loaeza (writer of the biographical novel) by the journalist Erika P. Bucio entitled "Hubo Villanos y Héroes" ("There were Villains and Heroes"), regarding Manuel R Uruchurtu story and the book
    b) On that same date (April 11, 2012) and in the same journal was another article signed by the same journalist (Erika P. Bucio) entitled "Envuelve misterio al gesto de Uruchurtu" ("Mystery involves the gesture (act) of Uruchurtu")
    c) In April 13 was published, in the same journal, the replay signed by me to the journalis Erika P Bucio on wich I gave her the relation of all the FAMILY AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS that support the story of Manuel R Uruchurtu
    d) In April 18 were published, in the same journal (Reforma), one article (signed by the journalist Oscar Cid de León) entitled "Resaltan el gesto de Manuel Uruchurtu" (The gesture (act) Manuel Uruchurtu is emphasize")
    e) In the same date is published (in spanish) the letter of Gertrudis Uruchurtu (ONLY DOCUMENT mentioned and attached by Mr Bryceson)
    f) In this same date I send a letter to the journalist editor replying the letter of Gertrudis Uruchurtu and was published (my letter) in April 23, 2012 on wich I refute the arguments given by Gertrudis; I also give the relation of the back up documents and support the story of his grand father and grand uncle of mine; I also mention the close relation between his father and my mother an uncles (brothers and sisters of my mother) making clear that Gertrudis NEVER REPLY MY ARGUMENTS
    g) In May 2, 2012 the staff of the Reforma journal (no journalist or person signed the note) published a small article entitled "Biografo refuta a Uruchurtu" ("Biographer refutes Uruchurtu") making reference supposed to a letter sent to me and to my nephew Antonio Uruchurtu Aguayo, on which they mention some of the points argued by Mr Bryceson in his reply published in the Encyclopedia Titanica board (dated June 25, 2012). In this matter is very important to mention that neither my nephew Antonio or my self we NEVER RECEIVED SUCH MENTIONED LETTER, so it seams that Mr Bryceson either never send it or he lies about it and, if it was sent to the journal or to my cousin Gertrudis, they never gave it to any of us
    h) Finally in May 4, 2012 was published, in the same journal, my reply to Mr Bryceson in which I again give the relation of all the back up documents and refute his arguments regarding the story of Manuel R Uruchurtu

    Up to date there has being NO NEW CONTACT with my cousin Gertrudis, the journal and/or Mr Bryceson

    Since some of you might want to read all the articles and letters mentioned above (they are in spanish but they can be translated) the link to the journal Reforma is: reforma.com*---*portada

    I just want to finish saying that the story of Manuel R Uruchurtu is REAL AND TOTALLY TRUE and there are many documents to support it such as:

    - Documented testimony of Edith Louise Rosembaum, later known as Edith Rusell, on which she says that "she knew Manuel Uruchurtu in Cherburgh, France, that the both travel on the same boat to board the Titanic and that she witness the act of Manuel at the boat N° 11". Base on that I would ask to Mr Bryceson: if that was not true How did the family got the information more than 90 years ago?
    - All though you comment about the Document 933, US Senate, I reconfirm the information: "Recognition for Heroic Act ... United States Congress, Senate ... 62nd Congress, 2nd Session, 20 August 1912. Document 933". This document was recount by Robert Braken, United States investigator and historian regarding passengers and crew members of the Titanic
    - Trip to Mexico of Mrs Elizabeth Ramell Nye, at the end of 1915, to visit the widow Gertrudis Caraza in the Jalapa, Veracruz. This reunion was witnessed by the General Joaquín Pita, who commented in his Memories that were published in July 1948 in the "El Universal" journal (this journal is the most important and prestige one in Mexico and is more than 120 years old and is being part of the Mexican History)
    - In this same time, Mrs Ramell Nye travel to Hermosillo, Sonora in order to visit Manuel´s mother (my grand grand mother as well of my cousin Gertrudis Uruchurtu). Mrs Ramell arrived to Hermosillo in January 1916 and was received by Antonio Uruchurtu, by my grand father Gustavo Uruchurtu and some other family members. The conversation between my grand grand mother was translated by Mr Carlos Ibarra Uruchurtu (grand uncle of mine) and was related and written by Mr Gilberto Escobosa, Official Chronicle of the City of Hermosillo, Sonora. I think there it might not be any doubt in the official documents related by a historian and chronicle
    - After a profound and complete investigation by the members of the City Hall of Hermosillo, Sonora, they expedite (order and published) an Official Declaration of Manuel R Uruchurtu as Chivalry Hero. This was voted at the City Hall Members and was approved by 21 unanimous votes in May 28, 2010
    The preview document was sent to the State Congress of Sonora, who ratified it by unanimous vote of the Congress members (congressmen) and Declare Manuel R Uruchurtu as Chivalry Hero of the State of Sonora in April 19, 2012, date that they Expedite the Official Document. This Document was sent by the Congress of Sonora to all the State Congress (31) and to the Federal Congress in order to get the National Official Recognition as Hero of Chivalry
    In order to have this approval I repeat once again, this was TOTALLY INVESTIGATED AND REVIEW by this Official Government institutions

    I also do not expect Mr Bryceson to agree, but I also feel sure that he would accept all the information given.

    And one last comment: This story is part of my family since 1912, documented in various ways since 1916 and personally I have more than 30 years that I have investigated and studied the life of my grand uncle Manuel R Uruchurtu as well as the Titanic. I am not the only one who has seen the various documents mentioned here, there are many family members and independent investigators around the world that have done it

    Best Regards;

  4. #34
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    Apr 2011
    I have read Guadalupe Loaeza article today and she says that SHE HAS DOUBTS but SHE NEVER SAYS THAT THEY WERE FABRICATED

    Also I want to make note that SHE CAN NOT CHANGE THE INTRODUCTION OF THE BOOK since is a register document SIGNED BY ME and is under legal contract signed with the publishing company

    I recommend you to read the complete article, to read the book and, specially to read the INTRODUCTION of it. If you do not read spanish, please get some one to make the translation of it

    Best Regards;

  5. #35
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    Jan 2008
    Mr Garate is perfectly correct when he says that Manuel Uruchurtu was the only Mexican passenger on board the Titanic. However, I am surprised that his 30 year research into the disaster failed to find that there was a second Mexican National on the ship - a member of the crew. His name was Antonio Ferrary and he was a member of the Engine Department. The listing showing his nationality has been on ET for many years. See: Titanic Engine Crew: Signed at Southampton : Book 2 Mr Ferrary, 33 years, was also lost in the sinking and died an undisputed hero`s death whilst working as a Trimmer in the bowels of the ship.

    I would suggest to Mr Garate that this ET Forum is not the proper place for he and I to continue our dispute which began in The Reforma newspaper in April this year.

    At Post #31 I have set out my reasons why the story of Mr Uruchurtu ceding a lifeboat place to Elizabeth Nye is not a true story. All of the documents I have mentioned are either in my possession or available online. I can produce them to any interested party at any time.

    At Post #33 Mr Garate has listed his reasons for claiming the story is true. He has ignored my invitation for him to produce the documents he says support his case.

    I leave it to the readers to decide for themselves which one of us is telling the truth.

    (PS Mr Garate - you are incorrect when you say that the baby Frank Aks is not mentioned in Elizabeth`s biography. See Appendix #3 on page 136)

  6. #36
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    On 1 Ocr 12 this follow-up article appeared in The Reforma newspaper in Mexico City. (NB: PRI is a Mexican political party)

    Loaeza rejects her novel `Gentleman of the Titanic`


    Experts deny that Manuel Uruchurtu saved a British passenger from the ship

    Erika P. Bucio

    The story of the Mexican Titanic hero doesn`t hold water.

    Neither the investigations of the U.S. Senate nor of the British Government about the sinking of the ship in 1912 show any validity or prove any credence that Manuel Uruchurtu saved the life of English passenger Elizabeth Nye.

    Don Lynch, official historian of The Titanic Historical Society, established in 1963, states: “I am not aware of any `act of heroism` recognised by the U.S. Senate”

    Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu, nephew grandson of Manuel Uruchurtu, who has been spreading this story for 30 years, states that the Mexican lawyer gave up his seat to the English lady passenger in the lifeboat and this “heroic act” earned him the recognition of the Upper House.

    Sourced document 933 `Unites States, 62nd Congress, Senate, 2nd Session, 20 August 1912` whose findings are attributed to the investigator Robert Bracken, was not found by REFORMA. Bracken, Treasurer of The Titanic International Society, contradicted Garate Uruchurtu and expressed his surprise to see his name involved in the case. He states “I have never written a word nor found any material on Ramell and Uruchurtu I assure you”.

    The U.S. Senate report states on its website that document 933 is actually a reprint of the British Investigation into the sinking of the Titanic. Lynch confirms “It contains no personal history like that mentioned, neither does it mention the name `Uruchurtu` except in the passenger list.

    Consulted by REFORMA, Mary Baumann of the Senate Historical Office said they had not located any record of such a distinction.

    Garate Uruchurtu insists that journalist Edith L. Rosenbaum, a passenger in first class, gave evidence to have shared a lifeboat with the Mexican passenger. But Rosenbaum was not among the 86 witnesses called to testify at the hearings conducted by the special subcommittee of the `Senate Commerce Committee, April 19th to 25th May 1912.`.

    Lynch confirmed that Edith Rosenbaum, who did not changer her name to Russell until 1918, did not testify in the U.S. Investigation nor in the British one.

    The transcripts of the hearings, covering more than one hundred thousand pages, were published in 1912 as Document 726, Titanic Disaster Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate. Report 806 of May 28th 1912 contains the findings of the investigation into the causes of the disaster. The transcripts of the hearings in the United States, the research carried out in Great Britain and final reports can be viewed on TIP | United States Senate Inquiry The Senate also published on its website Document 806. At no stage of the investigation are Uruchurtu or Ramell mentioned.

    The name Elizabeth Nye does not appear in the memoirs of Colonel Joaquin Pita who Garate Uruchurtu cites in support of his story. In his account, published on June 30th, 1948 in El Universal, Pita mentions the visit of an American woman who he does not identify, to Gertrudis Caraza, widow of Uruchurtu in Mexico City in 1912. Pita says that he and his son Charles were the only two witnesses at that meeting in which the foreign woman told “in Spanish” how her life was saved thanks to a gentleman, who only after the sinking learned he was a Mexican who had given up his seat in the lifeboat.

    Ruth Freeman, Ramell`s niece, disputes that version in a letter. “My aunt never spoke of such a fact or visited Mexico. She only spoke English.”

    “There were no assigned seats for passengers in the lifeboats,” Lynch explains “It was women and children first. Therefore, I can not imagine how Mr Uruchurtu could have given up a seat”

    According to Pita, Uruchurtu`s widow died of sadness two months after the accident, leaving three children orphaned. The Grandmother actually died four years after the sinking of the Titanic from TB, penniless and leaving five children confirmed Gertrudis Uruchurtu the granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu, who has argued that the heroic act attributed to her Grandfather is an invention.

    Garate Uruchurtu assures that there was a subsequent visit by Ramell to `Hermosillo` in January 1916 to meet the mother of the Mexican passenger, Mercedes Ramirez. From that encounter, he claims, are the oral testimonies of their families and chronicles of Gilberto Escobosa, who was the chronicler of the city `Hermosillo at the time” But Escobosa wasn`t born until a year after the alleged visit and was the official chronicler of the city from 1980 until his death in 2007.

    “Escobosa makes reference to when the family made a donation of the `House of Uruchurtu` to the State Government in 1985 (later transferred to the Sonoran History Society” corrects Garate Uruchurtu, who is a member of the Titanic Historical Society based in Southampton, England.

    The British Titanic Society denied the existence of said Society at the port where the liner set sail on April 10th, 1912. “There was never any such society here” replies Brian J. Ticehurst, partner and Southampton resident for 76 years.

    Despite the lack of evidence the Sonoran History Society (SSH) which includes amongst its honorary members Garate Uruchurtu, named Manuel Uruchurtu as `Hero of Chivalry` as a first step towards achieving national recognition.

    Hermosillo made the title official on 22 February 2011 and local Congress agreed on April 18th to send a exhort to the Union Congress.

    Rangel Palafox, treasurer of the SSH and promoter of the distinction since 2009 anticipates that they will ask the new Senators for PRI for Sonora, Ernesto Gandara and Claudia Pablovitch to resume the proposal supported in the last term by Senator Alfonso Elias Serrano and Congressman Ernesto Luke Hopkins.

    But Gertrudis Uruchurtu rejects the attempt to make her Grandfather a hero of the Titanic. “For me it would be embarrassing” she says. “He was the Deputy in charge of the work for El Charnizal on the Arizona border outside of Mexico. This could be because of the famous `heroic act` …

    Loaeza will never again publish `The Gentleman of the Titanic`
    as there is no evidence of the heroic act

    Writer Guadalupe Loaeza has decided not to reprint `The Gentleman of the Titanic` (Aguilar) finding no evidence of the heroic act attributed to Manuel Uruchurtu. She wrote the novel, she admits, based on the testimony of Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu.
    “He has for 30 years been feeding the legend without a single paper” said Loaeza. Of the eight thousand copies of the initial print run, just over half were sold. Although the remaining books are not being removed from sale, she will not participate in any sales promotions.
    But Garate Uruchurtu, who wrote the preface and collects a percentage of the royalties, warns there is an existing contract of five years. “The publisher will have to come to an agreement with me and the author because there are copyrights registered. If they release me from this I can take it to another publishing house.”
    There were attempts by Aguilar to exclude the foreword in order to thin out the book which is almost 300 pages in length.
    “(When) they decided to include my prologue and without changing anything is when I told them (if) my prologue is not included and I`m not in this, I will retract all the details regarding Uruchurtu and will not authorize the publishing” says the PRI.
    Loaeza admits it was a mistake not to consult more sources, including the biographer of Elizabeth Ramell, Dave Bryceson, who has refuted the heroic act.

  7. #37
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    With the number of views to this Manuel Uruchurtu Forum about to go over 2,000 there is obviously a great deal of interest in this subject and I thought the readers might like to know some more about the events between April and October this year that have not appeared in the posts thus far.

    First of all I must express my sincere thanks to all those who have helped me clear the name of Elizabeth Nye from any involvement in the alleged incident with Manuel Uruchurtu. Chief amongst those is Reforma Culture Section journalist Erika Perez Bucio who was the first to set out to determine the veracity or otherwise of the claims about Manuel Uruchurtu. Erika traced my contact details through a BBC website and made the initial contact which was to lead to such a decisive conclusion. In true journalistic fashion Erika`s reporting remained throughout thorough and impartial. I know that she spent many hours painstakingly searching the El Universal archives before eventually finding the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita.

    My thanks for help and encouragement along the way go to Fumiko in Mexico who has become a firm friend (to the extent that we have exchanged favourite recipes!) Richard Grabman in Mexico. Also to David Geddis Smith in CA for his investigative and translation skills, and to His Excellency Eduardo Median Mors, Mexican Ambassador to the Court of St James.

    I have mentioned before the similarity of the Mexican websites when telling the tale, there is one however that I came across during my research with its own spin on the story. The writer states that Elizabeth Nye had sought to enter a lifeboat that was intended for men only. On a British ship?!?! The writer however fails to explain why, of the 37 persons so far to have been identified as saved in Lifeboat 11, 24 were women and children!

    Following Miss Loaeza`s speech in San Diego on 21 Aug 12 she prepared a video address which when reported on in the Mexican press stated that the Uruchurtu/Nye story as claimed by Mr Garate was a `fact unreal.` I do not know if that is the correct Mexican wording or perhaps a quirk of google translation but it struck me as the most appropriate heading for this post. I do know that at Post 23 Mr Garate was praising Guadalupe Loaeaza as one of the most prestigious writers in Mexico. On 25 Aug 12 his comments on one of the sites reporting her speech included this extract “I was warned by many famous serious writers not to give the opportunity to Guadalupe who is seen in the literary world as a writer of light novels and entertaining to a certain group of readers primarily social in nature.”

    My fears that readers of El Caballero del Titanic might think that they are reading a work by Elizabeth Nye have were woefully short of the mark - it is not just the readers but also a number of book retailers who are advertising the book as `containing the testimony of the woman he rescued` and have the book listed in their Autobiography section. I am grateful to Miss Loaeza, with whom I have been in contact, for her decision not to have any more copies printed beyond the initial 8,000 run.

    This year, co-incidentally, has seen the sale by auction of two identical 1903 black and white photographs of Manuel Uruchurtu each displayed behind an oval photographic mount. The first, signed by Mr Uruchurtu and dedicated to Joaquin and family (presumably Col Pita) sold in Mexico for an undisclosed amount. The second, signed with no dedication, sold in the UK for a sum which exceeded £2,000.

    Antonio Uruchurtu Aguayo is the nephew of Mr Garate and assists his uncle in their endeavours to have Manuel Uruchurtu officially recognised as a Hero of Chivalry in Mexico. Antonio has been quoted on the internet as saying that Manuel`s heroic act was witnessed by Ramon Artagaveytia. A little difficult to see how he gave evidence to that effect as Mr Artagaeytia was also a victim of the sinking! Antonio has also claimed that the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita contain confirmation of the meeting between Mrs Uruchurtu and Elizabeth Nye. As we now know this is totally incorrect, the Colonel states only that the woman, who he did not name, was American and spoke in Spanish. How, and why the 1912 description of an American Spanish-speaker had by 1980 turned into an English woman who spoke no foreign languages at all is a question I believe only Mr Garate can answer.

    I mentioned at Post 31 that a search then on google produced a total of 27,000 internet sites that mentioned the two names Nye and Uruchurtu. Thankfully that number is now down to 3,000. It will be some time yet though before the misleading story naming Elizabeth Nye disappears from the net.

    Thanks to the enquiries made by The Reforma there is now general awareness that the claims listed by Mr Garate as his `proof` of the tale, a) that the US Senate officially recognised the heroic act - is false. b) that mention of it is made in Doc 933 - is untrue, and c) that Edith Rosenbaum made a statement confirming the act - is another fabrication.

    Mr Garate appears to have made no reply following the Reforma article. The only post-article I have seen came from the Sonoran History Society, which lists Mr Garate amongst their membership, and who are the occupants of the former home of Manuel Uruchurtu in Hermosillio which was bequeathed to the Mexican Nation and allocated to the Society in 1985. Not unexpectedly the Society confirm their belief in the version of the story as told by Mr Garate.

    However, all Mr Garate is left with from his list of documents that he was saying support his story is the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita as printed in El Universal in June 1948. For the information of all readers a translated copy of those memoirs appears at the next Post.

  8. #38
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2008
    Wednesday, June 30, 1948
    El Universal newspaper, Mexico City
    Memoirs of Col. Joaquín Pita
    Translation into English by David Gaddis Smith, Cross-Border Editorial Services, San Diego, California.

    “The Titanic Disaster and the Heroic, Lifesaving Act, at the Price of His Own Life, of Mexican Lawyer Manuel Uruchurtu”

    During the first part of March 1912 the ocean liner Titanic inaugurated service between European ports and New York. The inaugural voyage was greeted with great enthusiasm, given the luxuriousness and accommodations of the ship, which could be considered the best of the steamers making the voyage between Europe and America. Such was the demand for passage on the ship that it was a coup to get a ticket on the biggest ship of its time. My unforgettable friend Manuel Uruchurtu managed to gain passage, and considered himself lucky to be making what was likely to be an entertaining trip featuring a large and select group of travelers aboard the floating palace.
    The ship’s passage was made with surprising speed until disaster struck in the area of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. At that moment, the ship’s orchestra was playing the waltz from the operetta “The Merry Widow.” All was happiness and joy, as a festive ritual was taking place to celebrate the ship’s approaching its final destination. Then the terrifying, indescribable collision took place between the Titanic and the mountain of ice that suddenly appeared in front of the ocean liner, cutting the king of the seas in half. When the collision occurred, a large number of the couples dancing in the grand ballroom were thrown into the sea, and the large number of passengers who hadn’t been hurled off began gathering at the lifeboats. Despite the fear produced by the terrible collision, the passengers’ departure from the ship was rather orderly given the anguished circumstances, including that there were not enough lifeboats because there were more passengers and crew than the ocean liner’s owner had calculated. My dear lawyer friend Don Manuel Uruchurtu had managed to escape being thrown into the sea at the moment the ship was cut in half. Wearing a life vest, he managed to make it to the prow of the ship, where the captain was giving orders for saving the lives of the remaining passengers on board. Uruchurtu had, like every passenger, a lifeboat number and corresponding seat. As he was about to get into the lifeboat, an American woman, desperately seeking to be saved, appeared. At that point, the great, heroic Mexican said the words “LADIES FIRST,” and through this lofty act gave up his seat and sacrificed his life for a woman he did not know, taking into account only her gender. Then, accompanied only by the captain, he planted his feet on deck and sank as half the ship disappeared into the sea. The woman to whom Uruchurtu had surrendered his seat, now safely in the lifeboat, watched the slow sinking of the remainder of the ship and with it the two heroic men, one who died because the sacred duty of a captain is to go down with his ship and the other who sacrificed a life full of goodness and love in exchange for saving the life of a stranger because his only thought was to provide the protection a man is obliged to give a woman.
    I was in Veracruz when the press published the first news about the terrible catastrophe that threw so many homes in various parts of the world into mourning. I stayed in Veracruz the rest of April, and upon my return to Mexico City, my first step was to visit the distinguished Mrs. Caraza, wife of my ill-fated friend. Mrs. Caraza, who lived in a house on Roma Moreno street, received me with her customary grace, and we had begun to talk about the terrible event in question when the arrival of a foreign woman was announced. Uruchurtu’s wife, believing the woman might be bringing news that her beloved husband had survived, welcomed her in.
    She entered the living room and told her respected hostess: “I am an American citizen. For my return from England to New York, I took passage on the star-crossed Titanic. I was rescued, and have a sacred duty to fulfill. I am now in your honorable presence, and I implore that you grant me forgiveness if I further wound your broken heart with the terrible tale overshadowing my existence. Uruchurtu’s wife, filled with anxiety, replied, “You can tell me, I want to know what happened—even if it costs me my life!”
    “Madam, it was a very beautiful night aboard the ship, but cold and sad on the high sea; because I am not fond of parties, I was in my cabin when an indescribable noise, a terrifying upheaval, lights going out, shouting, people running about, and voices begging God for mercy brought me to the realization that a disaster had taken place—a disaster I did not want to have to deal with. I left my cabin like a woman possessed. Survival was a matter of minutes! I arrived at the prow of the ship. The other half of the ship had almost sunk. The emergency lights had come on and it was bright. Near the captain was a tall, relatively young, dark-skinned gentleman wearing a life vest over his evening wear who was about to throw himself into a lifeboat bobbing on the furious swells. The lifeboat had just one seat left, and it belonged to that gentleman. I, facing the imminent prospect of being swallowed up by the vast ocean, got on my knees and begged the man to let me be saved. He responded by saying the words, ‘LADIES FIRST.’ I didn’t think any more about it, and that was it. Then, moving away in the boat that saved my life, an indescribable terror possessed me as the part of the ship I had been standing on minutes earlier kept sinking. Then I saw for the last time THE GENTLEMAN I WILL NEVER FORGET FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE standing pensively with his arms crossed near the captain as they slowly disappeared into the furious waters of the Atlantic. I lost consciousness and that is all I know. I was among the survivors. Many investigations in New York before maritime and government authorities. It was an international matter! Nothing happened; it was a disaster, but one where no one could be blamed! Cruel fate! I later found out that my savior, that heroic and noble-minded gentleman, was a Mexican who had a family and a wonderful life in Mexico. I tried to put myself together and fulfill the most sacred duty of my bitter existence.”
    The distinguished and highly esteemed wife of Don Manuel Uruchurtu, sobbing, then said, “That’s how Manuel was! My unfortunate children will never know about what you have spoken; I want them to live their lives in the hopes that their incomparable and unforgettable father lives, albeit on an unknown island.”
    The entire conversation took place in Spanish, which the American spoke well. The only people present for the conversation were Mrs. Caraza de Uruchurtu, the woman in question, my son Carlos, and me. When the Titanic disaster took place, Don Manuel Uruchurtu held a seat in the federal legislature. He was originally from Sonora and had married the virtuous and distinguished Mrs. Caraza, a prominent lady in Xalapan society, and they had two daughters and a son. A great harmony reigned in their home, leading people to think they would be happy forever, when terrible reality did away with the hopes and dreams of that good and noble family. Uruchurtu had had a brilliant career. He had gotten a law degree and exercised his profession with remarkable success, as he was quite intelligent and enjoyed the good graces of the men running the country at the time. His best friend was his fellow countryman Don Ramón Corral, and he shared his office on Madero Avenue with the great lawyer and writer Don Esteban Maqueo Castellanos. Castellanos, while originally from Oaxaca, had developed strong relationships with prominent men in Sonora as a result of having been a district judge in the state, where his honesty and capabilities had left a lasting impression.
    The heroic action of Don Manuel Uruchurtu has been nearly forgotten and it would be an act of great justice to erect a monument to this great Mexican, an exceptional man who, sacrificing his own life, saved a woman’s. Mexico has a number of awards it can give out, and I think the best choice, given his great act of heroism, would be to present one to his descendants. Mexico should take pride in having had among its own a man who took action solely on the basis of chivalry. Uruchurtu was a real man, one of those gentlemen who distinguish themselves through a humanitarian act, an act which must be reclaimed by history.
    All Mexicans must feel proud that one of their brothers sacrificed his valiant life to save a woman who cried for help. While this respected Mexican’s name has fallen into oblivion, it is hoped that it will shine anew while letting the world know that in Mexico, a land of valiant and noble people, there are illustrious men like the Hero of Nacozari* and Uruchurtu.
    EPILOGUE: The distinguished Mrs. Caraza, wife of the unfortunate lawyer Manuel Uruchurtu, who had been able to unite two lives into one, heartbroken by the loss of her husband, died two months** after the maritime disaster took place. Her death orphaned three children who will always remember that they had an exceptional father, a man who, after witnessing the horrific scenes preceding the last moments of the remaining half of the Titanic, sacrificed the life he loved so much so that a woman would not lose hers.

    * On Nov. 7, 1907, a train engineer whose dynamite laden cars caught fire drove the train out of town, losing his life in the explosion, but preventing many other deaths.
    ** She actually died in 1916, not in 1912.

  9. #39
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    My thanks go to David Gaddis Smith at This site is under development for his excellent translation.

    The Colonel`s telling of the Titanic tale is riddled of course with historical inaccuracies. The fanciful story told by the American visitor, plus her failure to repeat the story to any newspapers of the day to ensure greater recognition for Manuel Uruchurtu, make me wonder if she might have been a hoaxer drawn out by the tragedy such as happened after 9/11. When these concerns are added to Col Pita`s incorrect account of the date, and cause, of the Uruchurtu widow`s death, then the credibility of the story he tells must come under severe strain. This however is a matter for Mr Garate to resolve.

    I wish him well in his revised research into the list of Titanic survivors and hope that this time he is able to correctly identify the woman who may have been saved by Manuel Uruchurtu, for it certainly was not Elizabeth Nye.

  10. #40
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    I have had a couple of queries about the post script I left at the end of Post 35. This was in reply to the comments left by Mr Garate on 27 Aug 12 beneath an internet article headed `The Mexican Hero of the Titanic Sinking - the story is false` which followed Guadalupe Loaeza`s surprise speech in San Diego Natural History Museum the previous week in which she stated her realisation that the story that had been told to her by Mr Garate was fictional and not factual.
    The article, and Mr Garate`s comments (perhaps better described as a rant) can be seen at

    Se hunde el héroe mexicano del Titanic: la historia es falsa

    It makes for interesting reading! (The article is in Spanish but can be translated using one of the online translator services)
    And what of Mr Garate? After several months apparent internet silence on the subject of the Titanic, has he acknowledged his error in naming Elizabeth Nye as the woman allegedly saved by Manuel Uruchurtu and apologised for libelling her good name for the last 30 years? Far from it - he has now resumed posting articles continuing to name her as the woman involved. As anyone who has read this forum will be able to tell him - that really is the definition of flogging a dead horse!


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