I just got a copy of Titanic Voices from Amazon. I have briefly read through a bit, and of course scoured the pictures.
Who else has this book and has anyone found any controversial/incorrect information?
Thank you so very much! I truely appreciate it.
I haven't read or looked all the way through it yet as I have also just got a PB copy of the U.S. Hearings edited by Kuntz.
I read a part about Vanderbilt's manservant (Wheeler)aboard Titanic, I believe they have listed the wrong Vanderbilt. That is the only thing that I have seen thus far. I haven't verified it though. (and I may be mistaken) Too many things going on right now, and with 70 degree weather, I have taken to the great outdoors for some much needed fresh air!
I believe that this copy was revised in 1998... I will have to look again.
Bill, have I ever told you what a great researcher you are?
The index Bill compiled is an invaluable tool for 'Titanic Voices' - it's so rich in material, but it was sometimes difficult to locate a specific source in it without a page reference.
The book has a few minor niggling errors - Moody's line about 'the big omnibus' was misattributed to Lowe, and the photo purportedly of Boxhall in later life is actually Boxhall's father. But it's one of the better books on the subject - good source material, both written and visual.
Some of the personal accounts, written or recorded years after the event, should be taken with a grain of salt. Like much Titanic material, the book should not be read in isolation. A valuable part describes the effect the disaster had on Southampton. There's also Fred Fleet's sad final letter to Ed Kamuda.
The book was revised in 1997 and published in hardback. A paperback followed in 1998.
Thank you one and all for your very valuable input. It means very much to me. The book I have was revised in 1997, the U.S. transcripts book I am reading was revised in 1998. Sorry about that, told you I had CRS.
Anywhoo... I am hoping I can sit down with "Voices" for a few moments this weekend to be able to dedicate some time to it. There are many pictures in there I have never seen before.
In another thread, Daniel was posting some very beautiful jpegs of some of the art work and such on Titanic, and I was advised that one of the paintings was in color in VOICES. That is part of what prompted me to order the book. My BIG thing that interests me the most is the survivor/victims families stories.
Bill, I still haven't come across where I read about the Ala' Carte Rest folks seen up on deck, but I will definately post it once I find it again. I apologize for my tardiness. I really need to keep a notebook of these things when I read them, so I know where to go back and find it again.
Ok, here is the thing that confused me....
"VOICES" says that Frederic Wheeler was the valet of Alfred Vanderbilt. According to Biltmore Estates archives, Wheeler was the valet of George W. Vanderbilt. I didn't think that Alfred had booked on Titanic, he had booked the Lucy in 1915 and was heroic to the end. That it was in fact, GWV who had booked Titanic with his wife Edith and they chose not to go at the last minute and booked Olympic instead.
A story from the daughter of Biltmore’s farm manager Golay, says that the Vanderbilts decided to sail on another ship after learning some of the Astors were going on the Titanic. (Bad blood from yacht races with Astors "Spruce Goose" crashing into to others yachts, his scandelous remarriage to a young wife, etc).
That is what I am working on. If anyone has any information on the Vanderbilts and which Vanderbilt booked on Titanic, I would truely appreciate it!
Thank you Michael,
I have read Wheelers' bio on here, and the wee bit I could find out about him from the Biltmore archives.
I know that on a "LUCY" website, they also state that Alfred almost sailed on Titanic.
I am wondering WHERE the information comes from about Alfred booking Titanic and not G.W. Was it from a 1st class passenger list obtained from the WSL and printed erronously in the newspapers? Was it by word of mouth?
Where did the authors/editors of VOICES get their information from?
When I bought my copy of "Titanic Voices", it was during the hey-day of Titanic-mania. It had, so I thought, a rather cheesy cover; I thought of it as another cash-in-on-the-popularity sort of thing. Opening it up, well! I was wrong- I think it wonderful.
With that said, I think it best to say this here, because it is a little detail that I always have been haunted by, and would like to hear other takes on this: The Binocular Infamy!
On pg. 56 ('97 copy) there is the part about David Blair...who got, well, "bumped" from his position. Attributed to Lightoller..."Murdoch took over my duties as First, I stepped back on Blair's toes as Second, and picked up the many threads of his job, whilst he, luckily for him as it turned out, was left behind."
Then, on pg.58, Miss E. Blair, David Blair's daughter, records:
"My father had to step out, much to his disappointment. In the rush to get his gear packed and taken off the ship he came away with the key of the crow's nest telephone in his pocket."
Then, re: binoculars, the book mentions they are "normally in the First Officer's care", but presumed to be "locked away" by Blair in haste.
Could it be that Blair packed the binoculars with his stuff-kit-, which would have been only a nuissance if Titanic had not gone down; but she did, therefore the controversersy.
I can only imagine the terrible feeling that Blair would have felt if indeed he had these binoculars, upon hearing the news and ensuing inquiries how much of an issue the "glasses" became. Not to say Blair actually left the ship with the binocs, we may never know. It is just something I would like to know more about, and I know there are those who know better than me, so I pose this query to much more learned folk!
I don't know if Blair left with the binoculars in his kit, or locked them away and forgot about them. I do know that the utility of binoculars is much over-rated by those who have never been to sea. I've used them on lookouts and on other details that I was a part of and I can tell you from first hand experience that they are not all that useful for actually spotting things. Scanning properly takes a lot of training and experience, and the restricted field of vision you have from using them, IMO, is something of a handicap. One does much better with the naked eye, and uses the binoculars to see what the target is after it's been spotted.
I don't think Blair would have lost much sleep over them, but I could be wrong. However, the impression I have from the testimony I've read is that the officers who were questioned on the matter found the pre-occupation on the things a tad baffling. As I may be reading too much into that, you'll have to check the relevant testimony for yourself and form your own opinions.
It is so nice to get a seamens point of view on the subject. I've always wondered.... would it have been possible, with as cold as it was, and as dark, to see anything with binoculars at all? I mean, when it is dark, and cold, wind blowing in your face, eyes tearing and stinging... Michael, I can understand what you are saying about scanning with the eyes and then "home" in with the binoculars AFTER you spot something. Makes perfect sense to me because that is how I had always used them, and camera lense and gun scope...etc.
If Davey took the key with him, I am sure that he didn't mean too. He was most likely trying to get off the ship to find another he could sail and collect pay. Lucky Bloke he was.
Beverly, as cold as it was, it's amazing that the lookouts spotted much of anything at all. Think about it...freezing temperatures aggravated by the ships motion putting a constant 22 knot wind in your face! I'm sure David Haisman would have something to offer on that. I've done low visibility watches in the northern Pacific in the wintertime, and I can say with some hard won authority, it ain't no picnic!
The binocular affair is quite clear but the evidence is scattered about. It adds up to the fact that no binoculars were provided for the lookouts. Both Hogg and Fleet remembered that the pair they had between Belfast and Southampton were marked 'Second Officer'. It's plain that Blair, either on Smith's orders or on his own initiative, gave the lookouts the Second Officer's glasses. That would make sense. They were going to go through busy waters and had to watch for shipping and pick up landmarks and lights. When they got to Southampton, the glasses were put back in Blair's cabin by a chain of men that ended with a seaman called Weller. The glasses were in Lightoller's hands on the bridge and he thought nothing of it. They were marked 'Second Officer'.
A little known detail is in the British inquiry. The box in the crow's nest was a large one that was meant for anything the lookouts needed, such as spare clothing. It's existence did not prove that binoculars were normally provided.
As a practical seafarer in a modest way, I thoroughly agree with Mike Standart on the use of binoculars. I find them good for investigating something spotted with the naked eye or for finding something that I know the bearing of but can't quite see. Also, I've seen the Second Officer's binoculars off Olympic and they are quite small. I'd back my Pentax 7 X 50s against them any day.
More important to the tale than the binoculars is Fleet's admission that in four years on Oceanic he had never sighted an iceberg. Like Mike, I'm not at all surprised they hit it.
I wrote about a Lookout's duties some time ago on a thread titled 'Who looked out for the Lookouts' but I think it has been erased by now. The reason for writing at that time was to clarify how it was when I did the job in the 50's and 60's and how much worse it must have been in Fleets time.
I compared the Lookouts lot with a motor cyclist travelling at 25 mph, in below freezing conditions without eye protection for two hours. After that kind of exposure the eyes take on the appearance of oysters with incessant watering impairing one's vision. Apart from that, the lookout would be expected to spot a 'berg, which may or may not be there, on a black night on a black glass like sea. After the first hour he would have had enough as the icy wind strikes the mast behind him and circulates around the crows nest, blowing up under his overcoat in mini tornado fashion. With two of them up the 'stick' there's no room to move about to get the circulation going and the only protection from this oncoming blast is a canvas 'dodger' at chest height. Remember, short seamen as well as tall seamen have to do lookout duties so the 'dodger' is of a height to accommodate all sizes. I find it extraordinary that the British enquirey states ' a box big enough for extra clothing'. With two men in Titanic's nest there wasn't room to swing a cat let alone a box that size. Definitely a ship owners statement ! In 1912, it was doubtful if those poor souls had enough clothing to keep warm let alone enough gear to stow away in a box up in the nest to do a lookout job. The crew had no extra clothing and even in my day, we still borrowed each others heavy weather gear before doing a trick up the stick. Anyone today doing the same job under those same conditions would be dressed like an Eskimo with thermal underwear !
Throughout my seagoing career I have never ever had the opportunity to use binoculars as they were never available and I agree that they would be surplus to requirements for that particular job. When scanning the horizon during day or night,we always found that looking well above the horizon, there is more liklihood of picking up a vessel or light sooner, other than looking directly along the horizon. During ice routine on the North Atlantic, it was normal to have a Lookout on the foc'sle head as well, especially during fog. Much of this was laid down by the insurance companies, regardless to the radars etc. that the ship had. The Queen Mary and Elizabeth started Lookout duties up the mast as soon as the last rope was cast off in Southampton and until the first rope went ashore in New York. Apart from North Atlantic gales and storms, we steamed along at 28 knots in all weathers including dense fog, with all lookouts posted and two radars continuously tracking. The crows nest on both Queens was enclosed, but still bloody cold for all of that. The old Ascania was very similar to that of Titanic as was the Aquitania and to hell with any comfort offered to the crew !.
I hope you're enjoying this as much as me as I finally add a hair raising experience, not once but twice when doing lookout up the stick in the tropics. Twice in tropical storms , the mast has been struck by lightening when I've been up there. Why me ? I ask myself. However, it's true. Your hair does stand up on end.......and you have to change your pants when you come down !
Good post, David. It might bring a dose of reality to those who badly need it.
You must have been picked on. I haven't the exact figures but from photos I reckon Titanic's crow's nest was about 4 feet by 8 feet at least. Plenty of room for clothes. Also plenty of room to get chucked around in in rough weather. As you know, it's not always nice to have a lot of space at sea. Wish some yacht designers would learn that!
Ahhhh David...yikes...especially with the lightning! Makes me appriciate the exposure suits that I wore up in the northern reaches of the Pacific. Especially since I was out on the forepeak of a frigate! Still, it's interesting watching a fresh cup of hot chocolate or coffee feeze solid while you watch if you don't drink it fast enough! (Yep...I've done that!)
The crows nests on the 'Mary and Lizzie', these ships being well over 80 000 tons and almost twice the size of Titanic, never had the 8 feet mentioned. The diameter of the foremast at that point was about 3 feet and I suspect Titanic's even less, so perhaps White Star were a bit more generous in those days. Going on lookout meant climbing a ladder inside the mast, some 110 rungs if I remember rightly, leaving one a bit 'puffed' on arrival at the crows nest hatch. The reason I mention this is that many of the 'big guys' had their shoulders brushing against the inside of the mast at point of entry to the nest, cursing about the tight squeeze. Not an exercise for the claustrophobic, thats for sure ! You may well be right David, but I find it hard to imagine at this time although no doubt one of our many researchers will come up with the figures somewhere.
What a lucky fellow you were Michael to be able to drink hot chocolate or coffee on lookout duty. I must admit however that I have had 4 brothers serving in the Royal Navy, all of them doing over 12 years, and from what they have told me over the years, it appears that they had more privelleges whilst on lookout duty than the merchantman. On many ships that I have sailed on, we would try to pursuade the officers of the watch to allow lookouts to do an hour about up in the nest instead of two straight, but they wouldn't have any of it. When one thinks about it, perhaps Fleet and co. would have been a bit more vigilant instead of being frozen to the bone!Ship owners were some of the worst employers you'd ever come across and in Titanic's day, many seamen were still buying straw mattresses(donkeys feed bags) on the dockside before joining some companies ships. When Titanic's crew hit the lifeboats, they came off pay and you can't get any meaner than that! They should have flogged Ismays stately home and shared it out amongst the boys! Time to get off of the soap box I suppose, I remain,
G'Day David...yep, we were lucky to get hot drinks while on watch. Trouble is, they didn't stay hot for long. What made it even more challanging was that the watches I stood were the low visibility watches which were posted only in the event of fog. These are the sort of clambakes where if you spot something, it's already close enough that you were in heap big trouble!