New York Times

   Hide Ads
Raced Carpathia Through Icy Waters to Save 700 Persons---Dies in England at 71
Commodore of Line, 1928-31, Commanded Mauretania and Berengaria During Career
By Cable to The NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Nov. 5-Captain Sir Arthur Henry Rostron, former Commodore of the Cunard fleet, died in a hospital in Chippenham yesterday at the age of 71. He was a former captain of the old Mauretania when she established some of her speed records, and gained international fame, when master of the Carpathia, for that ship's rescue of more than 700 persons from the Titanic.
Went to Sea at 16

Sir Arthur was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, on May 14, 1869, the son of James and Nancy Rostron. When he was 16 years old he began following the sea and joined the training ship Conway of the British Navy. Two years later he shipped before the mast as an apprentice on sailing vessels in the Liverpool trade. During the next few years he circled the globe several times.

In later years he was frequently interviewed by ship news reporters and he told them that his nearest escape from death was in those days when the bark Red Gauntlet, on which he was a seaman, toppled over on her beam end during a storm off the south coast of New Zealand.

In 1895 Captain Rostron was graduated from sail to steam, joining the staff of the Concord as fourth officer. The Concord was a Cunard ship and ever after he remained with that line. For several years he was a fourth officer, and it was in that capacity aboard the Umbria that he made his first visit to the port of New York.

He had been promoted to first officer of the Lusitania when that vessel was about to go into service for the first time, but the day before the Cunard Line started the giant liner on her maiden voyage to this city he was placed in command of the Brescia in the Mediterranean trade.

Served in British Navy

Captain Rostron remained in the Mediterranean service for several years, leaving it temporarily to serve in the British Navy during the Russo-Japanese War. Soon after his return he was placed in command of the Carpathia in the North Atlantic service. It was while in this command that he became an internationally known figure.

In his autobiography, "Home From the Sea," which was published by the Macmillan Company in 1931, the year of his retirement from the Cunard Line, he told about his rescue dash after receipt of the wireless message of distress from the Titantic. [sic]

If the wireless SOS from the stricken ship, with its more than 2,000 persons aboard, had been sent out two minutes later the Carpathia would have known nothing about the disaster, his story revealed. At the time of what Captain Rostron called "the most drastic and memorable night of my career" the Carpathia carried a recently installed amateurish wireless set with a limited range.

On the night of the tragedy the operator, who had been at his dials until 12:30 A. M., had just decided it was time to turn in. He stooped to unlace his shoes with his earphones still on his head when the call came:

"SOS Titanic calling. We have struck ice and require immediate assistance-----"

Arrival of Rescue Ship Here

Captain Rostron also revealed that if the Carpathia had by chance been about twenty-five miles nearer the Titanic no lives might have been lost. As it was, she was too far away to arrive in time, getting to the scene at 4 A. M., an hour and a half after the great new liner had gone under.

New York has witnessed many impressive spectacles, but old-timers of the waterfront recall none more dramatic than the arrival of the rescue ship with its more than 700 survivors that April night in 1912. The ship failed to reach Quarantine before sunset, but the harbor rules of the day were suspended and the Carpathia was allowed to steam to the upper bay. The waterfront was deathly still. In front of a crowd of more than 100,000 persons who filled West Street, Captain Rostron docked his ship, aided by lightning flashes of a thunderstorm that rolled across the water from New Jersey.

Congress recognized the valorous work of the master of the mercy ship Carpathia and awarded Captain Rostron a special gold medal of honor and its special thanks. President William Howard Taft sent him a letter of thanks, also, and other decorations and honors came his way.

From 1915 to 1926 Captain Rostron commanded the Mauretania. From 1928 to 1931 he was captain of the Berengaria, during which time he was Commodore of the Cunard Fleet.

Add a comment Share on FaceBook Twitter

Related Biographies:

Arthur Henry Rostron


Mark Baber

Comment and discuss

  1. J C H said:

    My Grandfather John Cargill served as an A.B Aboard Carpathia .

Leave your comment


Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) CAPTAIN ROSTRON, TITANIC RESCUER (New York Times, Wednesday 6th November 1940, ref: #3403, published 7 August 2004, generated 25th July 2021 03:51:29 PM); URL :