Did Marconi influence the Inquiry?

James Leen

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Feb 23, 2016
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Hi All,

I've just noticed that Rufus Isaac's brother, Godfrey, was MD of the Marconi company.

Now, perish the thought of course, but is it possible that Marconi the company was given something of a boost by the Inquiry? Was some sort of influence used to promote Marconi?

After all, had The Californian had two radio operators then Captain Lord might have taken some action. (In fact, I think that Lord was treated incredibly harshly. Maybe if Smith had slowed down/posted more lookouts and showed a bit of common blooming sense the Titanic may have become a footnote in history.)

So was there something of an impetus to promote Marconi products?

I should point out that I'm a long-time lurker just joined and, yes, straight in with a conspiracy theory which is never usually a harbinger of intellect.:D
 

Bob Godfrey

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There's no doubt that the reputation of the Marconi company benefited from its role in reducing the death toll of the Titanic disaster, and rightly so. There would have been no need to provide any extra influence in this direction. What did cause concern at about that time was the infamous 'Marconi scandal', which had nothing to do with the Titanic but was rather a case of 'insider dealing' in Marconi shares. As the MD of the company, Godfrey Isaacs was aware that a very lucrative contract had been secured to operate the British Government's 'Imperial Wireless Chain'. When made public, this development would treble the value of the company's shares, so Isaacs urged his two brothers in the meantime to buy as many as they could afford. One brother (Harry) did so, and sold part of his stock on later to Sir Rufus. Other buyers included the Postmaster General, the Treasurer of the Liberal Party and even Lloyd George, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer and later Prime Minister. Dealings of this kind were often regarded at that time as neither illegal nor immoral, but rather as a perk of the job for those in Government service. Exactly how much money Sir Rufus Isaacs made from this particular piece of insider dealing is still debatable, but it was certainly at least £10,000, which in terms of modern spending power would be around £600,000.
 

James Leen

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Feb 23, 2016
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Hi Bob,

Indeed it was actually the Marconi Scandal that got me wondering whether, as was found later, the Attorney General would have somehow abused his position to benefit his brother's company.

And the answer is no.:D

I've been going through the relevant parts of the British Inquiry and Sir Rufus has been nothing but thorough, well prepared and a credit to his profession - which doesn't mean much as lawyers are only slightly above estate agents:D

Thanks for your reply - and if you're a lawyer or estate agent I merely jest!
 

Bob Godfrey

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I've done many mean and evil things in my life, James, but I'm happy to report that I've never been an estate agent! :)
 

Rob Lawes

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Jun 13, 2012
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I've been wanting to comment on this for a while now and have finally managed to get around to it.

I think there are several factors here. In the early days of Wireless, Marconi pretty much ruled the roost and made up the rules as he went along. I think it's reasonably clear that the wind was changing and Wireless regulations were becoming more widely enforced. An example of this being the switch to SOS as a universal distress message. CQD was only originally used as a common distress message by Marconi fitted ships. Therefore, in the aftermath of the disaster, Marconi had an interested in making sure his voice was heard the loudest when it came to the implementation of any new regulations that could potentially affect his company.

Also, if we look more closely at the night of the disaster and the role that Wireless played in it we see that effectively, Wireless radio only managed to bring one ship to the rescue and this was more by luck than judgement. Let's imagine for a moment that Harold Cottam hadn't heard the signal traffic list being broadcast by Cape Race and decided that he would inform the Titanic that Cape Race had traffic for them. If, like Cyril Evans, Cottam had gone to bed that night then the Carpathia would have never made it's dash to the Titanic. The rescue ship instead would have more likely been the Mount Temple or maybe the Californian.

That's not the sort of publicity that sounded good to Marconi. He needed urgent distress messages sent help racing to the Titanic and not, lucky call see's Carpathia pick up distress message from Titanic. To that end, I think Marconi did have a major influence on the proceedings ensuring that for a while after, it was his business that gained a great deal financially from the tragic events that night.
 

Rob Lawes

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Also, you have to ask yourself, what did Marconi add to the testimony that any other suitably experienced person in that field couldn't have said?
 

Alex F

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Nov 8, 2013
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Also, if we look more closely at the night of the disaster and the role that Wireless played in it we see that effectively, Wireless radio only managed to bring one ship to the rescue and this was more by luck than judgement. Let's imagine for a moment that Harold Cottam hadn't heard the signal traffic list being broadcast by Cape Race and decided that he would inform the Titanic that Cape Race had traffic for them. If, like Cyril Evans, Cottam had gone to bed that night then the Carpathia would have never made it's dash to the Titanic. The rescue ship instead would have more likely been the Mount Temple or maybe the Californian.
Do you think Cape Race sent the traffic list? Not Cape Cod? Or Cap Cod was keying Cape Race transmitters?
 

Alex F

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Also, if we look more closely at the night of the disaster and the role that Wireless played in it we see that effectively, Wireless radio only managed to bring one ship to the rescue and this was more by luck than judgement. Let's imagine for a moment that Harold Cottam hadn't heard the signal traffic list being broadcast by Cape Race and decided that he would inform the Titanic that Cape Race had traffic for them. If, like Cyril Evans, Cottam had gone to bed that night then the Carpathia would have never made it's dash to the Titanic. The rescue ship instead would have more likely been the Mount Temple or maybe the Californian.
SS Birma was among the first ships picked up distress call of the Titanic and did a 100 miles rush advising the Titanic on progress every step.

It was Russian SS Birma who arrived second to the place of disaster where Carpathia was picking up last boats.
The Frankfurt was on the way, the Virginian, the Mount Temple... Number of ships were listening. Early morning the Californian joined to the rescue, the Parizian, etc

The Titanic heard Cottam at 10:00pm (before Traffic list commenced and before CQD sent at 10:25pm) and heard Mount Temple at 10:00pm. The iceberg was hit at 09:45pm.

Marconi did not want to open facts on Cape Cod and Cape Race role in the disaster. We have not seen logs of both.

BR
Alex
 

Rob Lawes

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Do you think Cape Race sent the traffic list? Not Cape Cod? Or Cap Cod was keying Cape Race transmitters?
Yes you are right, I'm sorry I made a mistake it was Cape Cod that Cottam heard calling the Titanic and not Cape Race. Thank you for correcting that. Obviously Titanic would have heard Cape Race calling as that was the shore station they were working at the time of the collision. How silly of me.
 

Alex F

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Nov 8, 2013
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it was Cape Cod that Cottam heard calling the Titanic and not Cape Race.
Here is a big question. What did Cottam heard?

He said that heard the Cape Cod at 11:00pm, heard the CQD at 11:20pm. 20 minites past since start of Cape Cod transmission. At 11:55 heard last signals of the Titanic. Total 55 minutes of agonie.

SS Birma heard the Titanic since 12:30 - 13:30. Total: 60 minutes.

SS Frankfurt: 10:40 - 11:35. Total: 55 minutes.

How did Marconi contrive to compile a report of ships stretching time of tragedy from 55 minutes to over 2 hrs?
 

Alex F

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Nov 8, 2013
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Hi Alex,

Credit where it is due so I think you should have a look at this fantastic page by a chap called Paul Lee:

http://www.paullee.com/titanic/pv.html

Well worth a read.
Hi James,

I like it. It is my favorite one.

Look at the time.

10:34 NYT - [Ypiranga heard] MGY working with MKL[Asian]. It was at 11:12 NYT as per Asian report.
10:00 NYT [La Provence heard] CQD and "Position 41.46 N, 50.14 W. Require Assistance" at 3am Greenwich Time.

So, what kind of New York Time was used by these ships, Ypiranga and La Provence?

BR
Alex
 

James Leen

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Feb 23, 2016
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Hi Alex,

May as well take the easy one first...


10:00 NYT [La Provence heard] CQD and "Position 41.46 N, 50.14 W. Require Assistance" at 3am Greenwich Time.

Greenwich Time, or GMT, which you've probably heard of, is 5 hours ahead of New York - so 10:00 pm in Manhattan is 3:00 am in London.


The next one has me scratching my head too...

10:34 NYT - [Ypiranga heard] MGY working with MKL[Asian]. It was at 11:12 NYT as per Asian report.

I can only think that 11:12 was the Asian's local time and not NYT.

Probably wrong but it's the thought that counts.;)
 

Alex F

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Nov 8, 2013
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Hi Alex,

May as well take the easy one first...
James, it is not easiest.

The Titanic sent first CQD at 10:25pm (as we know). The La Provence heard it at 10:00pm. How do you like it?

Read Paul's page again:

Lord Mersey's report; The "Salt Lake Tribune" of April 26th says that La Provence heard CQD and "Position 41.46 N, 50.14 W. Require Assistance" at 3am Greenwich Time, or 10pm New York Time. La Provence called immediately to inform her that her call had been received but the limited power on La Provence's equipment prevented them from establishing contact as they were 700 miles distant. At 3.30am [10.30pm New York], the Titanic said "C.Q.D. We require assistance. Have struck an iceberg."

What did Cottam (Operator of SS Carpathia) tell about 10pm?

Read New York Times:

I had planned to get to bed early that night. I thought I'd take some general news, as I didn't know how the coal strike in England was going, and I was interested in it. When I had been taking this some time, there was a batch of messages coming through for the Titanic from the long-distance Marconi wireless station at Cape Cod, which transmits the day's news at 10:30 New York time every evening.
... transmits the day's news at 10:30 New York time every evening...

10:30 - Start of transmission? Or end of transmission?

The Cape Cod (as we know) were starting news at 10pm every evening. Cottam received them at 10:30pm New York Time.

As per Cottam version he heard Cape Cod at 11:00pm, CQD at 11:20pm, last signals of the Titanic at 11:55pm. Even with local time it took only 55 minutes to sink.

BR
Alex
 

Alex F

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Nov 8, 2013
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"Regularly every night at 10:30 the operator tunes his instrument to the Cape Cod station and writes down the latest news at the dictation of the operator now more than a thousand miles away."

10:30.