Conversation with Thayer on Carpathia


Oct 17, 2002
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I wonder, after reading through the American questioning, what conversations may have taken place while in the doctor's room. Ismay stated that young Jack Thayer was in the room with Ismay for a while. On Ismay's own account, it was a small room so I would imagine something would have been said. Does Ismay indicate a conversation anywhere? I cant seem to find one.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Does Ismay indicate a conversation anywhere?<<

Not that I'm aware of. By all accounts extant that I'm aware of (This doesn't speak to the ones I don't know about), he wasn't exactly in a talkative mood. At least not with any passengers he encountered.
 
Oct 17, 2002
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Thanks....Was just curious. I would think it would be awkward for these two people to be in there. Maybe just an exchange of pleasantries. Or an acknowledgement only.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Year later, Thayer had these recollections of his meeting with Ismay in the doctor's cabin: "He was seated, in his pyjamas, on his bunk, staring straight ahead and shaking all over like a leaf. My entrance apparently did not dawn on his consciousness. Even when I spoke to him and tried to engage him in conversation, telling him he had a perfect right to take the last boat, he paid absolutely no attention and continued to look ahead with his fixed stare ... I have never seen a man so completely wrecked. Nothing I could do or say brought any response."
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Oct 17, 2002
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Thats great information and answers my question. Which brings me to another question. And I apologize for asking so much as this is around my fifth post, but I am just extremely excited to be on a board with such knowledgeable people. Usually I use my friends as a sounding board and they nothing more than the Cameron movie and look at me as though I have five heads. Was it discussed on the Carpathia how Ismay survived. I would imagine the gossip mill was running overtime on board. According to Ismay he went to the doctor's cabin early on, so he would not have had the time to relay his survival story to anybody.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Something is curious about young Jack Thayer's visit with Ismay. It would appear that this 17-year-old youth was the only survivor given an audience by Ismay with the exception of Titanic's officers. Why?

Events like Thayer's visiting Ismay don't just happen out for no reason. True, the youth was the son of an imporant U.S. railroad executive. However, there were lots of other equally well connected survivors aboard. Why young Jack?

Could that meeting have anything to do with the fact that young Thayer described the breakup of Titanic to artist L.D. Skidmore who produced the famous six-panel drawing of the sinking?

After all, every other survivor who visited Ismay's cabin testified that Titanic sank intact.

-- David G. Brown
 
Oct 17, 2002
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The Thayer description is what led me to find it odd as well. Thayer speaking with Ismay about his survival would lead me to believe that Thayer may have said other things as well. Granted, this is speculation, but I would imagine Thayer would have led off with general comments about the sinking and then closed with his approval of Ismay's actions.

Also, this leads me to believe that the gossip already was condemning Ismay. Otherwise, Thayer would have no reason to state that he thought Ismay was justified.

The description of this room by Ismay in his American testimony points to this room as being very small. One that would leave people uncomfortable if silent.

I know we will never know what exactly transpired, however, I just dont buy Ismay or Thayer putting Ismay in a catatonic state. Ismay, by his own admission had the stable mindset enough to send the wireless messages to White Star (even though Ismay is a bit confused as to exact timing, knowing that the messages were received in NY on the 17th).

OK, IM starting to ramble as many thoughts are entering my head at this point, so I will gather my thoughts here before spitting out gibberish.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Something is curious about young Jack Thayer's visit with Ismay. It would appear that this 17-year-old youth was the only survivor given an audience by Ismay with the exception of Titanic's officers. Why?<<

Two possibilities come to mind. One being that it was an innocent encounter, the other being that it was an attempt at some sort of dog and pony show. One where it was intended that Ismay be seen as a nervous wreck. I doubt it had anything to do with Theyer being a witness to the break up of the ship. I don't think his views were that widely known, and in any event, the story came out from other sources, all of which were disbelieved.

Of course, I could be mistaken. Kind of hard to tell. If there's a hidden truth here, the witnesses all took their secrets with them to their graves.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Thayer wasn't just a random choice - he and his father had become friendly with Ismay and the three had spent a lot of time together in conversation during the voyage. The boy was genuinely concerned, and if Rostron was on the lookout for anybody at all who might be able to raise Ismay's spirits there wouldn't have been a rush of volunteers! Regarding the wireless messages and their content, Rostron and Lightoller claimed to have been the instigators of these, with Ismay basically doing whatever it was suggested he ought to do.
 
Oct 17, 2002
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I remember Ismay stating something to that effect. However, I cant say that Lightoller and Rostron were fully the mind behind all the messages. Ismay wrote regarding the crews return home and possibly holding another White Star liner in NY for an extra day for this purpose (I apologize that I dont know off hand what ship he was referring to, its in my notes). That would point to some thinking in regards to business being done. So I dont buy Jack's statement of Ismay being so shaken that he wouldnt respond to anything. Also that the notes of crew return possibilities wouldnt have been something Lights or Rostron would have had control over. I can only see them pushing Ismay to inform White Star if the loss.
 

Bob Godfrey

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If we accept Lightoller's testimony at the US Inquiry, it seems that in the matter of the telegrams Ismay did have an input, but his mind was on other things and he was not yet ready to take the reins:


On having a conversation with Mr Ismay, he also mentioned about the Cedric and asked me my opinion about it, and I frankly stated that it was the best thing in the world to do if we could catch the Cedric. Later on he remarked that owing to weather conditions it was very doubtful if we would catch the Cedric. I said, "Yes; it is doubtful. It will be a great pity if she sails without us." "Do you think it will be advisable to hold her up?" I said, "Most undoubtedly; the best thing in the world to hold her up."

A telegram was dispatched asking them to hold the Cedric until we got in, to which we received the reply that it was not advisable to hold the Cedric. He asked what I thought about it. I said, "I think we ought to hold her, and you ought to telegraph and insist on their holding her and preventing the crew getting around in New York." We discussed the pros and cons and deemed it advisable to keep the crew together as much as we could, so we could get home, and we might then be able to choose our important witnesses and let the remainder go to sea and earn money for themselves. So I believe the other telegram was sent.

I may say that at that time Mr. Ismay did not seem to me to be in a mental condition to finally decide anything. I tried my utmost to rouse Mr Ismay, for he was obsessed with the idea, and kept repeating, that he ought to have gone down with the ship because he found that women had gone down. I told him there was no such reason; I told him a very great deal; I tried to get that idea out of his head, but he was taken with it; and I know the doctor tried, too; but we had difficulty in arousing Mr Ismay, purely owing to that wholly and solely, that women had gone down in the boat and he had not.
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Oct 17, 2002
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I wonder...and this is just a thought of whether he was more fearful for the financial impact or was he truely affected. I mean there were a lot of people on carpathia and some witnessed worse things than him. Why should he be so bothered?

Thanks for the great input by the way
 
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Sean C. Corenki

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It would seem to me that Mr. Ismay would have had an overwhelming amount of thoughts on his mind. At least more so than the "average" survivor. All of the survivors at this point would have been feeling varying degrees of loss and trauma, depending on their own personal experiences. But Mr. Ismay was the managing director of the line whose brand new, multi million dollar ship sank with a catastrophic loss of life. Certainly one thing to think about. He lost...I'm assuming...a fair share of friends and acquaintances in the disaster, another bummer. And finally once on board the Carpathia he must have had some idea of who survived and who did'nt. Hundreds of steerage passengers, crew members, and not to mention a fair amount of the era's wealthiest and powerful businessmen and industrialists did'nt live, he did. This had to have bothered him. Just my thoughts. Regards, Sean
 
Oct 17, 2002
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Sean,

I actually believe he lost all his friends. Im not sure how much of it was self-induced however. He lived out his life in seclusion in Ireland (Someone correct me if Im wrong). He was served up as a scapegoat in the US Press and to a lesser extent in the British press.

I go back and forth on my opinion of him. There are times when I feel sorry for him and the resulting treatment. And other times I think there were things he could have done to help his case. For example, his basic tone with Senator Smith under questioning did not lead me to believe that he was attempting at being helpful. Though I suppose a British subject being questioned by a mid-west senator on matters of ocean navigation and seamanship would be a bit hard to swallow.

Again Im on a tangent and have no idea where I am going.

Also on a side note, I didn't realize, David, that you wrote Last Log of Titanic. I was just going through that book the other night for a third time. I feel so unworthy to be amongst people such as yourself, Michael, Monica, Inger, and everyone else here. The time and effort you all put into your research and postings are truely appreciated.
 
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Sean C. Corenki

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Andrew, When I said he lost friends and acquaintances in the disaster I was speaking of people who physically were lost when the ship sank. He most certainly lost a lot more in the aftermath as you said. And he did spend most of his time in relative seclusion between his home in London and estate in Ireland. I'm with you as far as my feelings towards Ismay. I do find myself feeling sorry for him most of the time however. I often wonder how Ismay would have been treated by history if he simply perished in the disaster. The fact that he survived ruined him. If I remember correctly surviving the sinking did'nt do much for Carter or Peuchen's social standing either. Regards, Sean
 
Oct 17, 2002
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Sean, I'm sorry. I misread your statement.

To your statement, though, I don't think Ismay really knew who survived and who didn't. If we are to believe Thayer and believe Ismay, then he came on board and asked to be put somewhere and never came out until hitting NY. Therefore, if he was as despondant as he and Thayer claims, he wouldn't have asked or been given a report of survivors. Im sure he made some assumptions, but he wouldn't have known.

I think, had he died, he would have been made into a hero of sorts. He would have been lauded for his assisting of passengers into the lifeboats. Although, they might not have been able to overlook the shortage of lifeboats (even though it was addressed in another thread and I think the conclusion was that there wasnt enough time to launch more boats, even if they were on board).


So back to Ismay and his conversation, or lack thereof, with Thayer.

According to what I found out from the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it appears that Ismay immediately after the sinking on Carpathia was experiencing the effects of the trauma. I say appears, because I have come to believe its false. For him to lay in seclusion from the time it took him to get to NY points to a severe reaction to the prior events. However, and this is where the NCPTSD comes is, if he was that effected he would never have been able to testify at the Waldorf. From what I found out, he would have been overly emotional and sensitive, or would have what is referred to as "avoidance" symptoms. This is where Ismay would have done whatever he could have to stay away from any reminders of what happened. We know, in fact, that he was in a room being asked to remember. This is also a problem, as to his early symptoms would preclude him from remembering most of what happened.

I know this post is all over the map here, and I apologize. I believe that Ismay was much more in tune to what was going on on Carpathia then we are led to believe. I believe he did have his wits about him, otherwise, he would have continued to be a mess throughout the coming weeks. There is photographic evidence of him being rather well put together and his testimony at the Waldorf does not sound like one who is undergoing the effects of major post traumatic stress. Certainly not behaving like someone who couldnt face fellow survivors for days on board Carpathia. Granted, we will never know what was going through his head and this is just me wondering.
 
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Sean C. Corenki

Guest
Andrew, I agree with you. I have always been a bit skeptical about Ismay's condition on board the Carpathia. Is it possible that the poor guy felt guilty/ashamed for living and just did'nt want to face the survivors and their questions? By the way...how well known would Ismay have been to the survivors? I believe Lowe testified that he did'nt know the man or what he looked like when he was questioned about Ismay. Would he be familiar to the survivors in general or perhaps just to those he was social with on board? Regards,Sean
 
Oct 17, 2002
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You are right in your memory of Lowe's testimony:


Senator SMITH. Did you see any of the officers or directors of the White Star Line, or the International Co., aboard the Titanic when the tests were being made?

Mr. LOWE. No, sir; I did not. Anyhow, I would not know them if I did.

Senator SMITH. Then you did not see them, of course; you did not know them, and could not tell?

Mr. LOWE. Because I am a stranger.

Senator SMITH. You did not know any of them?

Mr. LOWE. No, sir.

Senator SMITH. So. far as you know, were any of them aboard? Did you hear that any of them were aboard in the trial tests?

Mr. LOWE. I was told that Mr. Ismay was on board, and two or three more, but I do not know who they were; and some of Messrs. Harland & Wolff's people.

I remember Mrs. Widener making a rather harsh statement about Ismay and his survival.

Also, he was known to at least a few passengers as we're reminded with the Baltic ice warning.

Ismay took a lot of care of passengers after the tragedy, donating a lot of money. Not sure if this is guilt or a plain desire to help. I truely do wonder what I would have done in his situation. I would like to think I would have acted with the utmost morality. However, laws of self-preservation are hard to overcome.

Also, I think Thayers own comments on how he expressed to Ismay his approval of his surviving in a lifeboat points to quite some talk going on aboard Carpathia. Otherwise, Thayer would have no reason to reassure him. I think its safe to say that Thayer didnt state anything on the breakup of the ship to Ismay as I am sure there would have been word of it later. So we can at least assume that wasnt part of a conversation.
 

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