Hypothermia Probably not cause of most deaths

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Jim Kalafus

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>>You're insane, Jim!<<

>Maybe, but from the standpoint of a scientific approach to history, he's also on the right track.

Among my other "experiments" are jumping from a plane to get the POV of the six passengers who were ejected alive from the Turkish Airways plane after the cargo door blew ~eerie, because although you feel yourself plummetting, the earth never seems to get any closer. Likewise, a 90 foot bungee gave me perspective on how much time the Triangle Fire jumpers had to think from the time they stepped from the 9th floor ledge until they hit the sidewalk~ again, eerie, because it isn't as fast as one would suppose. Managed to place myself on an ocean liner, in a storm, on the exact day and exact site of the Morro Castle fire so in my mind's eye I can SEE exactly what those trapped aboard the ship could see as they looked towards shore. I slept amongst the homeless on the floor of Grand Central Station's concourse; got the back of my hand prison tattooed and most horrific of all, sat through several dozen big budget Broadway musicals in preview. The point is, if you are going to be a writer/researcher you are best off doing stuff like that if only for the added insight it gives. Plus tattoo scars on the back of your hand are a great conversation piece as you age. "Oh...THAT!...."
 

Tom McLeod

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I was able to fire a Webley Mk IV revolver for an afternoon a few years back. I'm not much of a gunsmith, but know several and other area ethusiasts.
I was testing a friend's knowledge of guns and mentioned the above thinking it's unlikely such would be around. They are, but more likely part of private collections. Anyway, off to the shooting range we went. Having fired a few other more common hand guns and finding them hard to use in past shooting range outings. The Webley was really hard to use. It had a huge kick, had a lot of force, but I found it very hard to use. I'm not a big fan of all the gun talk on Titanic, but as something I thought I should try out to connect me closer to something such as that seemed like an interesting idea. I certainly can say that even the gunsmith had a tough time aiming the weapon. It was interesting to hold something used in some manner on Titanic, but I hope it was pointed mostly up. I've stuck my hand in some ice water and in a car accident suffered frostbite and the early stages of hypothermia. So I completely see the benefit of testing something from the past. I'd rather do it in a controlled setting such as my Webley shooting range project, but as other things come at you, making a connection or an understanding to the past is very revealing. I agree with Jim. But (not to be parental) be careful out there!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The Webley was really hard to use. It had a huge kick, had a lot of force, but I found it very hard to use.<<

That doesn't surprise me. The Webley was one of a generation of firearms which were designed to be "manstoppers" and these tended to be very powerful weapons. The idea was to be able to stop even a drugged out lunatic dead in his tracks. It was quite a concern for the military since facing drugged out lunatics in combat was an ongoing problem in Africa and parts of the Pacific. If you don't have a lot of experience with firearms, you'll find any such...from the Webley to the .45 ACP quite a handful.

>>I'm not a big fan of all the gun talk on Titanic...<<

The officers on the Titanic may not have been too happy about it either, but in a crisis situation where you are really on your own, they knew they might have to use them.
 

Tom McLeod

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It didn't really surprise me, being an older weapon and reading up on the history of the gun. But it was another case of getting a chance to relive history of sorts as we talked about earlier. I'm not against the officer's use of guns on the Titanic. The conversation that is the hardest for me to endure is all the theories about if someone got shot or shot themselves. After personally firing an Webley of the era, they are very tough to control, unless you practiced a lot.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I'm not against the officer's use of guns on the Titanic.<<

Nor am I though it's really a moot point. If I had been there at the time, I wouldn't have been entitled to a vote.

>>After personally firing an Webley of the era, they are very tough to control, unless you practiced a lot.<<

I have. Practiced a lot that is, and not with the military either. I've spent quite a bit of time on civilian ranges where you can rent a gun. The biggest stick I've ever fired was a 457 Casull. A big beast of handgun which has something like twice the knockdown power of a 44 magnum. (The bloke who owned it used it to hunt cape buffalo!) It's really not that bad if you know what you're doing and you're using a weapon that has some weight to it. Still, it's not a weapon for the inexperienced or the faint hearted.
 

Tom McLeod

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Agreed, I was ready for a big kick when I fired the gun, but it was stronger than I thought. What about the Master at Arms, one survived and one did not. Would they have had the same Webleys? If or if not, they may have had better training with the weapon.
 

Jim Currie

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On the subject of hypothermia:
All those aspiring to work or travel offshore on helicopters in the UK North sea oil fields are required to take a course in sea survival. This includes simulated escape from an overturned, submerged helicopter. It also includes some other pretty horrific 'water sports'. Under the age of sixty you need a refresher every five years (I think) Over that age it is more frequent - I know that for sure!
In the early days, these 'fun' games were performed in deep tanks with salt water at temperatures just on 40F. Believe me, even although we had to wear light, rubber survival suites, the initial shock was horrendous.
Part of the course included human physiology and an in-depth study of the effects of hypothermia. They showed a film of the fatal Fastnet race when many sailors died because of hypothermia - some of them several hours after rescue. However -r regardless - alcohol was a most definite no-no! Made you think.
The Royal Marines Arctic Warfare group also have a 'fun' thing where you get to jump into a hole cut in the ice of a FW lake.

There are few of them left now but if you can find one; ask a survivor from the Murmansk Convoys what it's like to be in the sea in winter.

As for the Titanic baker - it might just have been possible. several others were immersed for quite a time that night.
I have often wondered - what was the temp of the water - say 2 feet below the surface? The top layer might have been brackish and colder than the water below. SW freezes at about 28F. Just an idea. I say this because as a kid, I often had a swim in the sea off the west coast of Scotland at new Year time - yes, I was sober - honest. In fact, the sea felt much warmer than the air.

As for guns: A long time ago, I was in a very small ship's cabin with about 15 other guys drinking looted gin from a Quality Street tin when one of these big Webley handguns was accidentally discharged. Yes, it was loaded and no, there were no constipated people within 20 feet of the place.
Such weapons were standard issue to British Army officers in WW1 (lanyard etc)- possibly the next WW as well.
By the end of WW2, only the captain had one and that was usually kept in the ship's safe.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What about the Master at Arms, one survived and one did not. Would they have had the same Webleys? If or if not, they may have had better training with the weapon.<<

Don't know although in that day and age, just about everybody had some familiarty with firearms. Hell, some of the passengers had weapons and nobody considered it a big deal. On the question of custody, I think it was pointed out in a different thread that it was the Chief Officer who had custody of the weapons.

>>Yes, it was loaded and no, there were no constipated people within 20 feet of the place.<<

I'll just bet!
rofl.gif
 

Tom McLeod

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Thanks Michael,

I was going to bring that up, the commonality of weapons among people of that period. I would imagine the steam blow off or the rocket explosions may have contributed to regularity as well.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I would imagine the steam blow off or the rocket explosions may have contributed to regularity as well.<<

That or temporary hearing loss. Or maybe not so temporary...

As to the commonality of personal weapons in that era, I think it was pretty much regarded as not a big deal. For all that there's a lot from that time which would be familier to us today, it was still a day and age with some very different attitudes.
 

Jim Currie

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"it was still a day and age with some very different attitudes".

I could not agree more Michael and suggest that you have emphasised one of the principal impediments to successful historical research. By this, I of course mean an understanding of the Victorian mind-set.

Cheers,

Jim
 

Tom McLeod

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Agreed or any mind-set. Era, 100, 200, 50, 25 years ago, there is more change in traditions and mind-set. Not to mention the changes from country to country that still exist. As an American this year we will either have an african-american or a women in the whitehouse; a good thing but a long time in coming. Why; it's all about understanding age and attitudes. A true historian must tackle not only a subject, but a host of other factors to paint the best picture of another time for modern eyes; and it's not an easy job.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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The subject of small arms on the Titanic has been discussed on several occasions, but in view of some of the questions that have been raised in this thread regarding the ship’s stock of “Webleys”￾ (which were presumably kept under lock and key), would it be worth asking what type of Webleys would have been involved? The earlier talk about “big Webley handguns”￾ suggests military-issue 0.45 Webleys, but there were surely other types of Webley revolver in common use in 1912. What about the “RIC”￾ or “Police”￾ Webleys, which were smaller and simpler, and perhaps better-suited for use on an ocean liner? Does anyone know which model was used on White Star vessels?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Cut & pasted from one of my postings in another thread: The model supplied to White Star over the period 1899-1913 was the Mark IV 450/455. All those I've seen have the short barrel and nickel-plate options, with 'White Star Line' engraved on the inner butt strap.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Thank you Bob,

I knew I had already read something to that effect - it appears that they did indeed use "big Webley handguns" instead of the smaller RIC or civilian types.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Well, here is a World War I Webley revolver. I think this is actually a Mk VI, although it is very similar to the slightly earlier Mk IV version. It is perhaps surprising that the White Star Line officers should have used such a fearsome weapon, although the idea of carrying military hardware may have been in keeping with the image which the company wished to project - most of the officers being naval reservists. I assume they would also have used naval-style holsters and lanyards?
 

Bob Godfrey

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I think not, Stanley. Lightoller mentioned keeping his pistol in his coat pocket, and while most Webleys had an eyelet on the butt for a lanyard the White Star pistols which I've seen did not.
 
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