Bruce Ismay and the Ring's Taunt by Senan Molony


Status
Not open for further replies.
Dec 12, 1999
997
5
313
Thanks, Senan, for the excellent article (and manner of writing) on Bruce Ismay. Your point about his great memory is well taken, but I look at it differently.

I think you were emphasizing that because Ismay was haunted by the memory of Titanic. To me, I want to know where that memory was during the Senate and Board of Trade inquiries? He gave these short, cya answers to questions, one after another . . . frankly, I think just about every other person on that ship was a more interesting person that Ismay, but thanks again for the article. Here's an excerpt from some of his testimony that's illuminating:


18848. You were one of those, as the Managing Director, responsible for determining the number of boats? - Yes, in conjunction with the shipbuilders.

18849. When you got into the boat you thought that the "Titanic" was sinking? - I did.

18850. Did you know that there were some hundreds of people on that ship? - Yes.

18851. Who must go down with her? - Yes, I did.

18852. Has it occurred to you that, except perhaps apart from the Captain, you, as the responsible Managing Director, deciding the number of boats, owed your life to every other person on that ship? - It has not.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,661
871
563
Easley South Carolina
Hmmmmm...I would think that Ismay owed his life to the fact that he got into a boat when he had the opportunity.

All too often I see Ismay portrayed as some sort of inhuman and opportunistic monster who cared little for anything but saving his own skin. I have to ask; would any of us have done any different? Probably not. To be quite candid, if I was on a sinking ship, I'd get in the first lifeboat that I could.

This artical shows a more human side of a man who had to live with the knowladge of what one of his mistakes cost. 25 years is an awful long time to have to live with the loss of over 1500 lives on ones concience. You could easily number him as one of the people with the post traumatic stress disorder that Jan has an interest in.

Thanks for this artical, Senan. Well done!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
I too want to thank Senan for his article. I feel as Jan does for the most part but I do sympathize with Ismay. He wasn't a scoundrel and he wasn't an innocent but somewhere aggravatingly in-between.

I don't think Ismay had a duty to remain with Titanic but, as he was more than a little to blame for the ship's high speed in dangerous waters, it would have been an appropriate gesture.

Still, Ismay helped with the loading and launching of lifeboats, persuading many a reluctant lady (including silly Edith Russell) to board. I believe the man was near panic-stricken throughout the evacuation (if the run-in w/ Officer Lowe is to be trusted and I think it is) and so a cool-headed hero he wasn't.

But he did his best and he certainly paid what seems a steep emotional price for his failures. He was in a way an eventual casualty of Titanic afterall.

Randy
 
Jun 4, 2000
1,286
6
313
Well, I'll be highly original and thank Senan too. It's always good to learn more about the real people, information that extends our knowledge beyond the cardboard cut out 'heroes' and 'villains'of several books (and movies).

It's also a pleasant surprise to see Ismay's charity work mentioned alongside his 'infamy'. And some of the detail on his children, including his bequests to them. Once again, more on the human than the 'myth'. While some of this information is in The Ismay Line or back issues of The Commutator, these texts are not readily available and there is significant new content in Bruce Ismay and the Ring's Taunt.

Thanks Senan.

However, I still believe that Cox's opening for an article on Ismay has not been bested:


Quote:
"Place: The deck of a steamship lying motionless in the North Atlantic. The​
sky above is gaudy with stars, like the arch of an enormous stage.​
Action: A man is looking at a lifeboat. He is making a decision.​





For those who have not read Stephen Cox's online article (basis of his bookThe Titanic Story- Hard Choices, Dangerous Decisions) or wish to compare Cox's 'take' with Senan's, the link is: The Titanic

Thanks again Sen! I've been looking forward to seeing the details of the Ismay will for a while now. (Grrrr) It was worth the wait.

Cheers,

Fiona
 
Mar 3, 1998
2,745
261
358
You know what occured to me as I read this article? Ismay took the burden of not only the White Star Line, but also that of the entire steamship industry, upon his shoulders. The industry-wide accepted notion, codified by the Board of Trade, about lifeboats aboard liners prior to the Titanic disaster was that they were there to ferry survivors from the stricken ship to the rescue ship. When Ismay ordered boats for everyone sailing in IMM ships, history took note. What isn't often discussed are the changes other steamship lines took in the wake of the disaster. Why should other lines be discussed when Ismay is there in the spotlight? The thinking of the industry had to change, and Ismay (and the White Star Line) was both scapegoat and solicited spokesman.

An idle question is...did Mauretania, who followed in Titanic's wake, arrive in New York on schedule? Did she have enough boats for all?

Parks
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
Senan -

Excellent article, but then that's par for the course from you :)

You've got me intrigued over the fate of Costelloe Lodge. From what you've written, it seems that the exact details of the incident are difficult to trace now - but is there any indication as to whether it took place during the War of Independence or the Civil War (pre- or post- Anglo-Irish Treaty)?

Through references in your book TIAT and the work of historians like Tim Pat Coogan I've become increasing intrigued by the Irish background connections to the Titanic, both before and after the disaster - nationalism (Robert Emmett's portrait going down with the ship!) the struggle for independence, the partitioning, and the conflict between Free State and Republican forces. From Morrow who was emigrating to avoid the 'evils' of Home Rule as so vividly and hauntingly related in TIAT, through to Thomas Andrews' personal opposition to forms of sectarianism displayed in the Harland and Wolff shipyards, then the later expulsions of Catholics from the yards, it's an intriguing backdrop to the story of the Irish aboard the ship. Tim Pat Coogan's recent work on the Civil War has a marvelous photo of Lord and Lady Pirrie, and touches briefly upon their position on Home Rule etc.

And after that little digression - thanks again for the Ismay insights :)

All the best,

Ing
 

Philip Hind

Editor
Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
1,767
76
323
England
I always liked that bit in The Ismay Line about how when Bruce Ismay went to the opera he always booked two seats, one for him and one for his hat!
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 26, 2000
1,277
6
313
Just wanted to add my kudos to Sen for a very well written (as usual), well ballanced and well researched article. (I still see Ian Holm as Ismay via "S O S Titanic".)

Parks remarked: > You know what occured to me as I read this article? Ismay took the burden of not only the White Star Line, but also that of the entire steamship industry, upon his shoulders. <

And your remark made me realize that Captain Smith, even in death, took upon his shoulders the behavior of many captains at that time. Lightoller and the others, all the way down the line, each one suddenly brought into the spotlight all the inadaquacies of behavior, instruction and conduct for all (or most) of the passenger shipping industry of 1912. Yet they, each one of them, had to answer for these.

Sadly, the second the Titanic stuck the iceberg Ismay's future was doomed - he really had no plausible escape.

Excellent article, O M!

Best regards,
Cook
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
1,690
18
313
Dublin
Ismay's mistress aboard? Surely not!!

Hi folks. Thanks for the kind messages. Yeah, that ol' ring polished up nicely... pity there wasn't more hard facts, but I just about got away with s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the material...

So I was glancing through William MacQuirry's autobiography last night ("A Life to Remember") and he basically suggested that Edith Russell was Ismay's mistress ! Can this be true?

Here's what he said (p. 326):

"Edith became a great friend of the family and spent her Christmases with us until she died aged 96 in 1976.
"Her real name was Rosenbaum, and as a fashion buyer for a New York store she had reserved two cabins, one for herself and one for Paquin gowns bought in Paris.
"It was rumoured that she had been something more than good chums with Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line, and that her mother was a mistress of Disraeli's."

So there you are - he's all but saying that his great friend of nearly twenty years (1958-76) was Ismay's mistress.
Now, I don't think MacQuitty, ever the gentleman, would be so ungallant as to tell tales he had heard about Edith after her death unless he was satisfied there were grounds for believing them true.
It would seem to me that the "rumours" must have been at least coyly acknowledged by his great friend herself.
Anyone got a view on this remarkable claim? Edith was 33 aboard Titanic. Is it likely that her musical pig might not have been her only private amusement that voyage ??

Thought I would pass it along for what it's worth. If anything.
 
Mar 10, 1998
1,128
6
313
Nahhh--unless it was one of those deals like when Ken Wahl played opposite Bette Midler in some movie. When it came to their kissing scenes, Wahl was quoted as saying he pretended that Bette was his dog to get through it. :)
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
Of course Ismay had a floosie on board. She's in the German movie of 1943 and moviemakers never lie
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
1,690
18
313
Dublin
Phil,

Am I right in thinking you suppose Ismay would have preferred to kiss the musical pig ?

It's certainly a very odd claim for MacQuitty to make... distinctly odd... and of course only a tiny amount of his book is about the Titanic, most of it being about the Raj and China and so on. So he's not showboating.

He's wrong about Russell dying at 96 in 1976 - she died in '75 at 98 - but why he would say something of that ilk about his "great friend" of many Christmases is rather strange.

Mind you, so is being inordinately attached to a musical pig at age 33...

Signing aboard as "Rosenbaum", travelling alone...

If you can love a fat stuffed pig, could you possibly love J. Brute ?

If you twirl his moustache, does it play the Maxixe?

And what is the Maxixe, anyway?
 
Mar 10, 1998
1,128
6
313
The Maxixe is a morbid affliction of the abdomen, characterised by a finger-like protrusion from the belly-button, found predominantly in ungainly Jewish women from the Cincinnati area.
 
Dec 13, 1999
1,458
11
313
All, I may be rambling here (senile decay Mr Behe!) but I remember seeing the original telegrams sent from the Carpathia (and those not sent) when John Booth still had the complete set.
I also recall one, concerning a female passenger who was notifying a relative of her escape, with the words "charge to Ismay" written across it. Can anyone back up this tale? I'm sure it's probably in the John Booth book but I've loaned it to someone!

Geoff
 
Dec 12, 1999
443
9
263
Geoff,

Sorry that I can't be of any help regarding the telegram since I don't have the Booth book in front of me.

I would like to say that I spoke to William MacQuitty at length in 1996 regarding the Edith Russell/Bruce Ismay relationship. Mr. MacQuitty firmly believes their relationship was more than just friendly, and related tales that Edith told him about Ismay through the years. While Edith was prone to "stretching" some of the details of her Titanic experience, Mr. MacQuitty does not doubt her claim regarding Ismay.

Mr. MacQuitty is truly a classy gentleman, and I'm sure would be happy to discuss Edith's memories with anyone who may be interested. The Ismay revelations are quite interesting....

Best,

Mike Findlay
 
Dec 13, 1999
1,458
11
313
Hi Mike,

I had heard of the possible Ismay/Rosenbaum story before from another source. When I was researching the Empress of Ireland's passengers for Dave Zeni's book I came upon the Cheape family (landed gentry with property in the South and Scotland). The Cheape's lost a married daughter, Catherine Beatrice Cay, in the Empress disaster and one of Bruce's sisters had married into the Cheape family. Of course, this was in the days of the great house parties when virtually an entire family would descend on one of the ancestral homes for the weekend. I was told by the family that during the period around 1910 Bruce Ismay had been to one of these gatherings with an American lady "known to be not his wife" and that the Cheape family had wondered how the two had ever been thrown together as Ismay himself was reserved and extremely shy to the point of rudeness. His companion, whose name my informant could not recall (she would of course have been a very small child - but small children love to listen in!) was just the opposite, brash to the point of being vulgar and deemed "thoroughly unsuitable for an English Gentleman's Mistress!!" by the family. Whoever she was, and I really couldn't say if it was Edith, was no looker - in fact one of the family referred to her as looking like "a bulldog chewing a wasp!"
I had rather formed the opinion that if Ismay did indeed have a paramour aboard the Titanic, then she would probably be unlisted which is why I raised the point about the telegram.
Hope all is well with you Mike - I had a two hour phone call from Bob the other night in which we put the world to rights!

Geoff
 
Dec 13, 1999
1,458
11
313
Oops! I meant to say that it was Ismay's daughter, Margaret, who married into the Cheape family. Given the close connection it seems incredible that Ismay would attend such a house party with a mistress? Could it be, I wonder, another member of the Ismay clan that the Cheapes were confusing with Bruce?

Geoff
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads