Lord Charles Beresford Tribute to the Black Squad

Lloyds Weekly News

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A fine tribute to the engineers and boiler room staff of the ‘Titanic’, the ’Black Squad’, who stood their posts in the bowels of the ship, to the last, was paid by Lord Charles Beresford in a letter to the Times. He Wrote: -

“In the late appalling disaster to the ‘Titanic’, perhaps the greatest in maritime history, attention has rightly been called to the bravery, resolution, and chivalrous gallantry of Captain Smith, the officers, seaman, band and passengers, who were true to the spirit of manly duty of the English-speaking races in a sudden and terrible emergency.

Many comments have been justly made regarding the heroism on deck, but nothing has been said of the heroism below.

I respectfully submit that unintentionally the dauntless heroism of those employed in the engine and boiler room (such as the carpenter and his crew); have been passed over without comment.

Nothing can exceed the heroism of the captain, officers and seaman of the ship; but officers and seaman are the first to offer a whole-hearted tribute of unbounded admiration to those working below, as they well know how often the real grit and courage of the officers and men of these departments is called upon in moments of emergency.

It is stated that the lights were burning until the a few minutes before the ship took her final plunge.

This proves that the officers and men below remained at their posts when they must have known that death – the most terrible and painful that it is possible to conceive – awaited them at any minute, wither by the bursting of the steam-pipe or water rising in a compartment.

It is certain that those working below must have know the awful danger the ship was in long before anybody else, but they remained at their posts, resolving to die sooner than come on deck and create a panic or attempt to save themselves.

Those below must have heard the muffled sound of the ice tearing through the ship’s side.

Within ten minutes or a little more they knew that the pumps would not check the rising water, yet for over two hours they remained at their posts, as was evinced by the lights burning and the few of them who were saved being picked up after the ship went down.

That so many people were saved was due to the fact that those working below remained at their posts working the dynamos and kept the lights burning, and never came on deck to state what had really happened.

Again and again the indomitable pluck and discipline of those who work below in the engine and boiler rooms is illustrated when some terrible disaster of the sea occurs, but on no occasion have these traits been more brilliantly shown.

It should be remembered that those below work in confined spaces, watertight doors closed, often in intolerable heat, with a roar of machinery making orders difficult to understand.

A man will face death with greater equanimity on deck than working below under the incidents I have mentioned.

Working below really requires more fortitude and pluck.

All honour and respect to those men whose names will be recorded on the roll of fame for gallantry in a sudden and unlooked for disaster. But I am sure the survivors of this shocking catastrophe will agree with me in placing those who worked below on ‘The right of the line.’

At the time of the disaster, says The Times, the first watch in the engine room was on duty, the second watch was off duty, and the third watch was asleep. When the alarm was sent round every man on board ship, from captain to boy, would be called to take up his allotted station. The engine room staff ordinarily take part in boat drill. The fact that none of the engineers was saved is attributed to the circumstances that they would be required at their stations below, not only in the engine rooms and stokeholds, but looking to the auxiliary machinery, the watertight bulkheads, and other matters which are under control of the chief engineer. Until released from duty, which could only be at the last moment, it is unlikely that any one of them would be able to go up to the higher decks. This would not apply at all events in the same degree, to the case of stokers, and those stokers who were off duty below would, no doubt, take their part with the seamen in getting away the boats. These men, therefore, would have an opportunity to attempt to save themselves when the ship made her final plunge. The names of at least two stokers appear in the list of the saved.

One who has served as a chief engineers of an ocean liner and has had experience in some of the largest steamships said that the tribute paid by Lord Charles Beresford to the engineers of the ‘Titanic’ in his letter was fully deserved. The work of the engineering staff in the modern vessel was essentially of a character involving great personal risk at all times and a minimum of personal recognition.

None would ever know, he added – for not a soul emerged from the engine room – what happened during the last hours of the vessel’s existence. From his experience of other, and happily less serious, accidents, he conjectured that, in accordance with practice, when the collision occurred every one of the engineers off duty hurried to the engine room and there, down in the bowels of the ship, remained until the awful moment when the hulk rose for its final plunge into the depths. From the outset the engineers could have been under no misconceptions as to the extent of the damage to the vessel, though probably they were, for the most part, firmly of opinion that the vessel was practically unsinkable. They kept the lights in operation, and, equally important, kept up the power for the wireless system. Water was probably pouring in beyond all possibility of their doing any good with the pumps, and the boiler rooms were doubtless first flooded. The magnitude of the disaster must have been early evident to the engineers, and escape would not have been impossible, but that would have meant shirking their duty.

Only those who had served in the engine room could form any idea of the terrible incidents, which probably preceded the final disappearance of the vessel. The devotion of her engineering staff was beyond praise.

A fine tribute to the engineers and boiler room staff of the ‘Titanic’, the ’Black Squad’, who stood their posts in the bowels of the ship, to the last, was paid by Lord Charles Beresford in a letter to the Times. He Wrote: -

“In the late appalling disaster to the ‘Titanic’, perhaps the greatest in maritime history, attention has rightly been called to the bravery, resolution, and chivalrous gallantry of Captain Smith, the officers, seaman, band and passengers, who were true to the spirit of manly duty of the English-speaking races in a sudden and terrible emergency.

Many comments have been justly made regarding the heroism on deck, but nothing has been said of the heroism below.

I respectfully submit that unintentionally the dauntless heroism of those employed in the engine and boiler room (such as the carpenter and his crew); have been passed over without comment.

Nothing can exceed the heroism of the captain, officers and seaman of the ship; but officers and seaman are the first to offer a whole-hearted tribute of unbounded admiration to those working below, as they well know how often the real grit and courage of the officers and men of these departments is called upon in moments of emergency.

It is stated that the lights were burning until the a few minutes before the ship took her final plunge.

This proves that the officers and men below remained at their posts when they must have known that death – the most terrible and painful that it is possible to conceive – awaited them at any minute, wither by the bursting of the steam-pipe or water rising in a compartment.

It is certain that those working below must have know the awful danger the ship was in long before anybody else, but they remained at their posts, resolving to die sooner than come on deck and create a panic or attempt to save themselves.

Those below must have heard the muffled sound of the ice tearing through the ship’s side.

Within ten minutes or a little more they knew that the pumps would not check the rising water, yet for over two hours they remained at their posts, as was evinced by the lights burning and the few of them who were saved being picked up after the ship went down.

That so many people were saved was due to the fact that those working below remained at their posts working the dynamos and kept the lights burning, and never came on deck to state what had really happened.

Again and again the indomitable pluck and discipline of those who work below in the engine and boiler rooms is illustrated when some terrible disaster of the sea occurs, but on no occasion have these traits been more brilliantly shown.

It should be remembered that those below work in confined spaces, watertight doors closed, often in intolerable heat, with a roar of machinery making orders difficult to understand.

A man will face death with greater equanimity on deck than working below under the incidents I have mentioned.

Working below really requires more fortitude and pluck.

All honour and respect to those men whose names will be recorded on the roll of fame for gallantry in a sudden and unlooked for disaster. But I am sure the survivors of this shocking catastrophe will agree with me in placing those who worked below on ‘The right of the line.’

At the time of the disaster, says The Times, the first watch in the engine room was on duty, the second watch was off duty, and the third watch was asleep. When the alarm was sent round every man on board ship, from captain to boy, would be called to take up his allotted station. The engine room staff ordinarily take part in boat drill. The fact that none of the engineers was saved is attributed to the circumstances that they would be required at their stations below, not only in the engine rooms and stokeholds, but looking to the auxiliary machinery, the watertight bulkheads, and other matters which are under control of the chief engineer. Until released from duty, which could only be at the last moment, it is unlikely that any one of them would be able to go up to the higher decks. This would not apply at all events in the same degree, to the case of stokers, and those stokers who were off duty below would, no doubt, take their part with the seamen in getting away the boats. These men, therefore, would have an opportunity to attempt to save themselves when the ship made her final plunge. The names of at least two stokers appear in the list of the saved.

One who has served as a chief engineers of an ocean liner and has had experience in some of the largest steamships said that the tribute paid by Lord Charles Beresford to the engineers of the ‘Titanic’ in his letter was fully deserved. The work of the engineering staff in the modern vessel was essentially of a character involving great personal risk at all times and a minimum of personal recognition.

None would ever know, he added – for not a soul emerged from the engine room – what happened during the last hours of the vessel’s existence. From his experience of other, and happily less serious, accidents, he conjectured that, in accordance with practice, when the collision occurred every one of the engineers off duty hurried to the engine room and there, down in the bowels of the ship, remained until the awful moment when the hulk rose for its final plunge into the depths. From the outset the engineers could have been under no misconceptions as to the extent of the damage to the vessel, though probably they were, for the most part, firmly of opinion that the vessel was practically unsinkable. They kept the lights in operation, and, equally important, kept up the power for the wireless system. Water was probably pouring in beyond all possibility of their doing any good with the pumps, and the boiler rooms were doubtless first flooded. The magnitude of the disaster must have been early evident to the engineers, and escape would not have been impossible, but that would have meant shirking their duty.

Only those who had served in the engine room could form any idea of the terrible incidents, which probably preceded the final disappearance of the vessel. The devotion of her engineering staff was beyond praise.

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Acknowledgements

Marion James

Citation

Encyclopedia Titanica (2006) Lord Charles Beresford Tribute to the Black Squad (Lloyds Weekly News, , ref: #4995, published 20 January 2006, generated 20th June 2021 06:04:34 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/black-gang-tribute.html