Britannic Headlines

Apr 22, 2012
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Hello,

Does anyone know if the loss of the Britannic was reported in any newspapers? I've never heard of or saw any printed reports on it. I always assumed it was overlooked by the media, as there were very few lives lost, and the ship had never been used commercially. Can anyone tell me where I might be able to view one of these printed reports, if they exist, online? While it does not hold my interest as greatly as the Titanic, I still find the Britannic to be a very beautiful liner, and I wish there was more available on her. Thanks in advance.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 

Remco Hillen

Member
Jan 6, 2001
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Hello Brandon,

Britannic certainly didn't make headlines like Titanic.
The only 'report' that I can think of at the moment of is her name in a small column of lost hospital ships.
A German newspaper, The Kieler Zeitung, also reports a bit on Britannic; but they state that Britannic was a legimate target for there submarine...
Perhaps Mark, or someone else has something more in his/her collection.

Regards,
Remco
 
Jan 5, 2001
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I can confirm numerous reports from November 22-25th 1916 in British, American and local Southampton press.

There are actually some lengthy reports about the 'murderous' Germans and their 'vicious campaign against hospital ships' -- plus survivor lists, etc. Many actually give some accurate accounts of those lost -- some of lives lost that remain the same to this day in terms of figures. One account has the Germans 'blocking' Britannic's distress signals and murdering all that they could find.

Although you cannot view these online, I devote lengthy coverage to these in my 'Olympic' class book -- whenever that may come out. If you want anything specific, such as lives lost, lifeboats, etc. ask and I can give some details.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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>Does anyone know if the loss of the Britannic was reported in any newspapers?

It made the front page of the New York Times within a day or two of the incident; I read the article (but unfortuately didn't have enough dimes to make a copy of it) just this week, while checking something else. I'll add this to my "To do" list and try to get it posted somewhere within the next few weeks.

MAB
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Hello,

Thanks for the fast replies.

It made the front page of the New York Times within a day or two of the incident...

Really?! I never imagined the sinking got that much publicity!

Mark:

Thanks for your generous offer. I am wondering: what was the total number onboard when the sinking ocurred? You may also be able to tell me whether or not Britannic: The Last of the Titans is a good read. I was speculating purchasing it from Amazon.com, and wanted an opinion before I did so. Thank you.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Brandon,

Yes, Simon Mills' work is an **excellent** read!

On the number aboard at the time of sinking, many estimates vary - but perhaps the general figure is 1,125 people. The log records 30 deaths -- 21 RAMC men and nine crew -- but there are some 32/33 names on graves. Will try and dig out those sources -- one newspaper gave a breakdown of people from medical secretaries to the officers!

I came across this website’s Britannic information recently and wanted to present it in this thread to show how many sources give incorrect details about this mysterious ship. I may have missed mistakes as I’m only skimming through it:

[hr]
Quote:

Name: Britannic,
Length: 903' 6 ¼" length overall (LOA) (sic: the usual notorious length mistake)
800' between perpendiculars (BP) (sic: 103-foot counter? NO! LOL!)
Beam: 94' 6 ½" amidships at the waterline ( ½”?)
Height: 60' 6 ½" waterline to boat deck,
175' from the keel to tops of her funnels
Tonnage: 48,158 GRT, 26,4OO Net (sic: 24,592 net)

Sisters: 2 - White Star Steamship Company Ltd. (White Star Line)
Originally: White Star Steamship Navigation Company Limited
#1: RMS Olympic 882x92x59 45,328 1909 #400 #700 (what’s this 700?) H&W
On 1st voyage, dropped blade off port propeller. (sic) sent to H&W.
Collided Nantucket Lightship, Oct 1936, (sic!) damaged bow, was
sent to H&W, never resumed service or was repaired. (sic!!!)
Scrapped 1939, (sic: but was taken off British register then………..)…
The White Star Line
was merged later in 1937, to the Cunard-White Star Line. (sic: 1934)
WSL liquidated 1951. (sic: wasn’t it earlier?)
#2: RMS Titanic 883x92x59 46,439 1911 #401 #701 (sic: what’s this 701?) H&W
Titanic struck an iceberg, on 14 Apr 1912, Sat. (sic: Sun) at 11:40 PM (GMT) (sic: ship’s time they surely mean, not GMT)
she finally sank on 15 Apr 1912, Sun. (sic: Mon) at 2:20 AM (GMT). 705 souls (generally true, but debated 711/12)
rescued by RMS Carpathia (Cunard/1906). (sic: 1902/3) 1,518 passengers & crew
perished on that horrible, cold, dark, and lonely night. (well, we’ll never know for sure!) The RMS
Titanic was found on 1 Sep 1985,………………………………by the WHOI-
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute research team. Led by Dr. Robert

Features: No public features. Converted to a hospital ship 1914. (sic: 1915)
Funnels: 4 Total;……….
Colours: Dove white, (superstructure) White Star "Buff" funnels, teal stripe
and red cross markings, standard terra-cotta red keel.
(but) HMHS Britannic never wore the White Star Line livery.
The only similarity to White Star, was the "buff" funnels. (and white supersturcure, it can be said…………………………..)
Pennant: Flying the flag of Britain.
Bow: Icebreaker (what exactly do they mean here?), 2 anchors, (but surely three at the bow) 1 crane, (sic) 1 mast, (sic) 1 forward hatch (sic)
Stern: Cross-channel, 1 rudder, 1 aft docking bridge, 2 cranes (sic, others missed….)
Hull:………………………………….
Steel frame, wood structures, (deckhouse fittings?) steel inner/outer skins,
teak decking, steel funnels, wood masts (spruce) (and metal),
1 main mast on the bow, with light, bell, and crow's nest.
1 mast aft promenade deck, stabilizer wings on keel, (bilge keel?)
double bottomed……………….and double skinned all
the way up to "B" deck, (sic: double skin reached F-deck — but five w.t. bulkheads reached “B” deck)………………………….
Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Queens Island, Northern Belfast, Ireland
Yard #: 733 (sic: what’s these 700 figures?)
Hull #: 433
Birth #: ???
Construction: August 191O - November 1914, (sic: November 1911 — roughly finished November 1915) the building was
paused during 1912, after the
Titanic incident, and to make changes to her base
designs.
Launched: Oct. 1913, 9:3O AM (GMT) (what? ALL WRONG!!!!!)
Passengers: 1,324. (sic) Never saw commercial service.
Capacity: 3,547 Total (Double Occupancy)
Life vests: 3,56O
Life rings: 49
Crew: 899 Total (sic: most seem to be taken from Titanic details and several errors)
Capt: W. A. Flemming (sic: Chaplain)
Exec: TBD
1st: TBD
2nd: TBD
3rd: TBD
4th: TBD
5th: TBD
6th: TBD
Qms: TBD (Helmsman)
Incl: Hospital ship staff and crew as assigned.
Lookouts:
AM: TBD
PM: TBD
(missing…………………………………………..)
Wireless: TBD
Engines: 2 Reciprocating, inverted 4 cylinder,
triple expansion, direct-acting, steam driven,
3O,OOO bhp @ 75 rpm, (sic: those are Titanic figures) turbine.
1 Parsons, low pressure, geared steam turbine;
16,OOO bhp @ 165 rpm, engines are from builders. (turbine output incorrect)
Boilers: 29 Total;…. 24 Double ended, 5 Single ended, 215 PSI each
Furnaces: 159 Total;
Active heat surface of 144,142 square feet (sic: more like 150,000 for Britannic)
Fuel: Coal; 65O,OOO Tons/total, (sic: that’s far too high!)
Props: 3 Total
1 Center: 16', cone cap
1 Left Wing: 23'6", no cap (7m)
1 Right Wing: 23'6", no cap (7m)
Rudder: 1, Aft, amidships, 64.5 Tons, 6 hinges (sic: 101-102 ton estimate)
1 Mail room (Deck F)
Elevators: 2 Total
1 B deck - D deck
1 D deck - Orlop deck (sic)
Stairs: Many; Compass deck - Orlop deck
Lifeboats: 4O Boats Total (sic: not in any specification, although even records vary)
Lifeboat total capacity: 1,178 souls (sic: that’s Titanic in 1912!)
14 Wooden lifeboats
65 souls each - 3O'O"L-9'1"W-4'O"D
2 Wooden cutters
4O souls each - 25'2"L-7'2"W-3'O"D
4 Engelhardt collapsibles
47 souls each - 27'5"L-8'O"W-3'O"D (sic: Titanic?)
Speed: 2O knots - 23 knots (roughly accurate, 21-24 perhaps)
Collision: 20+ knots
Demise: Sunk, due to collision with an underwater mine,
or a German anti ship torpedo.
Who: U-73, a German Submarine, during World War I.
When: 21 November 1916
Total Time: 55 minutes.
Place: Aegean Sea, 40 miles (from……..) Athens, Greece……………………
Perished: 30 (most estimates agree, inc. log, but there are thirty-two or -three names on graves by some sources)
[hr]​

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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According to British Admiralty Statement detailing people aboard:

Crew625
Officers25
Nurses76
Other399
Medical Staff 500
Total 1125 People

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
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>Yes, Simon Mills' work is an **excellent** read!

Agreed. So, too, is Mills' RMS Olympic: The Old Reliable.


There's also a PBS videotape of a Nova episode aired a few years back, devoted to Britannic. It's still available, I think; check your favorite online video seller.

MAB
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Hello,

Mark C.: Thank you sir for the incredible wealth of information you have provided here!

I first got interested in the Britannic sinking when that otherwise forgetful movie came out in 1999. I found the film to be a cheap mockery of James Cameron's Titanic movie.

Mark B.: I plan to purchase both of Mills' books. They both sound very good, and perhaps I'll pick up that Britannic video later on as well. But Mills' Britannic will no doubt become a welcomed addition to my library!


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 

Remco Hillen

Member
Jan 6, 2001
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Small point here,
"HMHS Britannic never wore the White Star Line livery.
The only similarity to White Star, was the "buff" funnels"

The first part is correct, but the last part isn't.
Britannic's funnels were painted a buff-colour (the same as some other hospital ships had) but not White Star Buff.

Regards,
Remco
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Brandon!

The movie wasn't too good was it? Still, it's good that Britannic interest is increasing.

Hi Remco!

Goodness! Yet another error from that source! It's got more errors than facts.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Hi Mark!

No it certainly wasn't! I taped it, and I've watched it once since it came out. However, as terrible as the plot, dialouge, etc. was, I did like the character of Mr. Townsend (I think I spelled that correctly!). He was an officer in the film (I think chief). Did he really exist?

I also kind of liked how the main character pulled a Violet Jessop, in surviving both the Titanic and Britannic sinkings. However, that sinking scene involving the Titanic was very poorly executed. Didn't they know it broke in half?

What I would really like to see would be a well-made film about the Lusitania. If there's any director out there reading this: PLEASE, NO LOVE TRIANGLE! JACK'S DEAD, GET OVER IT!


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Brandon!

No it certainly wasn't! I taped it, and I've watched it once since it came out.

I've watched it two or three times, I suppose.

However, as terrible as the plot, dialouge, etc. was, I did like the character of Mr. Townsend (I think I spelled that correctly!). He was an officer in the film (I think chief). Did he really exist?

The names were changed -- Captain Barrett, wasn't it? -- instead of *Captain Bartlett.* And Chief Townsend instead of *Chief Robert Hume* (who had served as Second on Olympic in 1911 and -- Inger informs me -- on Olympic in June 1920 as Chief).

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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BTW, this post of mine may be of interest from another forum. I still haven't checked my notes yet, but I think it's roughly correct. Captain Haddock was considered as Britannic's commander, just as he was for Olympic in mid-1915, but the Admiralty felt that they could not spare his services. (That's from memory, too -- so if that's wrong someone *please* correct me!)

[hr]
Quote:

Away from my notes -- again, so I can only quote from memory. But, from memory, Captain Ranson (previously of Baltic) took Britannic on her trials, Captain Bartlett being appointed during the week at Liverpool before the maiden voyage as Britannic's second and final commander. I have the exact dates of Bartlett's subsequent appointments, including the details of his appointment in September 1916 following the mid-year lay-up. It is apparent from Bartlett's records how safety conscious he was -- his lifeboat drill notes are extremely detailed, as many are, but they seem more detailed than any I can remember seeing.
[hr]​

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,103
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>Captain Haddock was considered as Britannic's commander, just as he was for Olympic in mid-1915, but the Admiralty felt that they could not spare his services.

That's what Mills says in his HMHS Britannic: Last of the Titans. White Star's Harold Sanderson, he writes, wanted Haddock, but the Admiralty wouldn't release him, so Bartlett was assigned as Britannic's commander.

MAB
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Mark!

Checked my notes.

That's what Mills says in his HMHS Britannic: Last of the Titans. White Star's Harold Sanderson, he writes, wanted Haddock, but the Admiralty wouldn't release him, so Bartlett was assigned as Britannic's commander.

Sanderson was indeed particularly keen on Haddock commanding their finest ship(s) -- in one letter I seem to recall that he says that if it's not possible to appoint Haddock then they'll have to accept 'the *next best* thing.' He spoke highly of Haddock. In one of the first letters, one Admiralty man agreed, but it seems that after consultation with the 'higher rank' he was not allowed to grant Sanderson's request, although he was sympathetic. I think Simon Mills and I may have used the same sources for this.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the additional information. I wonder why they changed the names for the film? Doesn't make much since to me.

Hi Mike,

Yeah I taped it. I didn't expect it to be terrible when I did so, but after about 15 minutes I started to wonder if I was wasting a perfectly good tape.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Brandon!

Perhaps as the storyline was fictional? To be honest, I was just pleased that Britannic is being promoted. I wrote a rather kind review for the BTS about a year ago (paragraphing's probably wrong here:

[hr]
Quote:

Earlier this year, Britannic premiered on the Fox network. It has been available on DVD and video for some time now, but not in Britain. It was not until December 2000 that it aired one Saturday afternoon on ITV. Firstly, the film in context: in no manner did the film intend to compete with James Cameron’s blockbuster, although many people have compared the two; and because the film was made for a mass audience, inevitably historical accuracy was lacking and the film made use of a fictional love story (now, where has that happened before?)

The movie begins with footage of the ship’s launching and the battlefields of the first world war; this old film was excellent, but for one shot which I think showed the German liner Bismarck, with four propeller shafts. In fact, this period footage was probably the best part of the film.

Britannic’s sinking on November 21st 1916 has always been clouded in mystery. His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Britannic was heading for Mudros in the Aegean Sea when a tremendous explosion occurred on the starboard bow. The forward six watertight compartments flooded rapidly, which the ship was designed to withstand, but portholes and scuttles on E and F-decks had been left open against orders; due to a starboard list, this created uncontrollable flooding in the dry boiler rooms. She sank in about an hour, having been underway as Captain Bartlett tried to beach her. There’s much debate as to whether she was sunk by a mine or torpedo; but a coal dust or Ether explosion could explain the scale of the damage.
However, in this movie the cause of the ship’s sinking are German spies aboard. They know that arms are being illegally transported in the cargo holds and plan to capture the ship, showing the world what the British were supposedly up to. (No evidence has appeared to support this charge, put forward by Germany.) We see them wirelessing a U-boat following the ship; but Britannic, cruising at 20 knots in wartime with a maximum of 24 knots, was far faster than any U-boat and so it could not have followed like this.
The U-boat fires torpedoes at the ship before a Royal Navy vessel sinks her; the first misses and the second is destroyed by gunfire from Britannic’s decks. Firing at torpedoes did occur in the first world war, but not aboard Britannic.
When people are lined-up on the boat deck with the boats, Britannic’s ‘unsinkability’ is strongly evident by her Officers’ words; but whether they would have voiced their thoughts so loudly is doubtful. It adds drama, as the audience can only realise that Titanic’s ‘unsinkable’ sister will inevitably sink.

We see the ‘chief’ German spy plant a bomb, causing a coal dust-Ether explosion; but the ‘bang’ did not occur on the port side as the film shows. British spy ‘Miss Campbell’ — battling sexism from the Captain and his Officers — has gradually fallen in love with him throughout the film, initially unaware of his true identity, and now what seems to be a repeat of the Jack & Rose story in Titanic occurs; ‘Miss Campbell’ refuses to get in a lifeboat and heads below to rescue her lover, trapped below decks in a flooding boiler room. They then get trapped behind a locked grill, before escaping through a porthole just before the ship sinks! Whether they could have fitted through a small porthole is doubtful in the least. Major Ernst Tierbach, as the spy by this time is now revealed to be, is alone in a lifeboat which ‘Miss Campbell’ has just escaped from when the moving starboard propeller kills him; in real life, this happened on the port side. Britannic then founders, although her journey to the seabed was not how this film portrays it; the ship’s bow reached the seafloor before her stern vanished, but she did sink intact.

All in all, the film was…entertaining, from the gun battles in the engine, boiler rooms and companionways, to the dramatic sinking.

Historically, much was incorrect; such as the sets, including the grand staircase, to the exterior lighting of the ship; but it puts forward Britannic’s story and is surely worth a watch.
[hr]​

Best regards,

Mark.