Lawrence Beesley

Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
Christine, in regards the belief of the ship sinking intact, I suspect it was more an attitude of disbelief that the greatest ship of all time could possibly break up or sink as a consequence of anything less then catastrophic damage. (Like the 300 ft gash thing.)

There were all kinds of accounts of the ship breaking in two. Read day seven of the American Inquiry, specifically the interveiws conducted of the surviving crew as an example. However, chaps like Lightoller and Gracie who believed the ship went down whole were granted more credibility.

We shouldn't be too hard on the lot though. It was night time, dark as pitch and there was a lot of confusion about. Understandable considering what was happening. When you're swimming for your life in freezing water, or shivering in an open boat and you're just plain scared, it's easy to miss a detail or two.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Diane Ostrow

Member
Christine et al~
After reading Beesley's book and several other of the accounts you mentioned I was asking myself this same question and I wonder if the differences in accounts may be due to exactly what Michael referred to. It was pitch dark, no moon and you're in the middle of the ocean alone in a tiny boat. You have just left behind people that are nearest and dearest to your heart. You, quite simply, are in shock. With all these stresses in addition to the way the human mind protects us from traumatic memories (being a nurse I have seen thousands of patients who cannot remember the accident they were in~it's a well known protective mechanism of the body)~ it would make sense that people were never 100% sure of what they saw. In addition to this, add all the pressure from the media and everyone else to pick their brains for each and every detail. IMHO it may be considered amazing that these poor people remembered anything of what happened to them or what they saw. I'm sure Beesley wrote exactly what he believed he remembered as did all the others although the accounts vary widely.
It's a great question, Christine, and one I'm sure many are thinking about! Thanks!
Ahoy!
Diane
 
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Christine Geyer

Guest
Dear Cook**, Michael and Diane !!

Thank you all for your replies.

Yes, it's a strange and at the same time fascinating thing: You have one accident, 10 eyewitnesses and 10 differing accounts. Diane, you have your own experience in that, which is quite interesting. And in the whole Titanic-story there are different testifies. In the case of - for example - the last song I guess it's just a matter of the time and place people were located, I'm sure they all believe in what they stated about the last song played by the band.

In other cases though one can only wonder how it comes about all those different stories, even considering the sensational press pushing them. (For example Capt. Smiths end. There are a whole lot bunch of testifies that state they saw him standing at the bride when the water came in and he was drowned, jumping into the water and drowned, committing suicide, swimming in the water and saving a baby.... etc.)

Just in Lawrences case I was wondering about how it came that he believed the ship sank in one piece. I agree, I'm sure he wrote what he was sure happened. Just in his case I find it remarkable because he was that careful about everything and that attentive. Maybe that would be a good reason, Cook** that he didn't have the chance to see it right from his position. I sometimes thought about what he would've said if he had lived long enough until the discovery of the wreck in two halves.

Michael, same actually for Lightoller and Gracie, you're right.

Many regards
Christine
 
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Pat Cook

Member
Dear Christine,

Your question really got me looking into this topic and the accounts from lifeboat #13. Here's what I've found so far:

Frederick Barrett,in the British Inquiry only said he saw the ship go down but made no further mention of this nor was he questioned further about its condition.

George Beauchamp,in the British Inquiry:
757(Mr. Raymond Asquith)When she sank were you near enough to see what happened; did you see how she sank? - Yes, she went down bows first; I could see the stern and then the stern went.

Bridget Bradley, in the book "Unsinkable Bridget", written by her daughter Mary Higgins, 1985, from her mother's version - makes no mention of the ship breaking up (Bradley, quite possibly, may have been in another boat.)

Albert Caldwell, already noted above.

Washington Dodge,noted above.

Elizabeth Dowdell, noted above.

Reginald Lee, at the British inquiry:
560. Did you see her stern? - No, I cannot say that I did from where I was in the boat. I was standing in the bottom of the boat, and I did not actually see the last part of her go. I saw her just before that, but when people said, "She's gone; that's the last of her," I did not actually see it. I cannot say.
2561. Did you see her stern in the air at all during any of the time? - Well, I did notice her just before her final disappearance. I did not see that. I cannot say that I did.

Alexander Littlejohn, First Class Steward, from his account in The Weekly Telegraph, May 10, 1912: "We could see the Titanic gradually sinking by the head. Her forward 'E' deck ports were under the water, and we could see the lights gradually go out on the 'E' deck as she settled down. All her other lights were burning brilliantly and she looked a blaze of light from stem to stern. We watched her like this for some time, and then suddenly she gave a plunge forward and all the lights went out. Her stern went right up in the air; there were two or three explosions and it appeared to me the stern part came down again and righted itself." (Here we see a hint that he thought maybe the ship broke in half by stating the 'stern part' rather than just stating the 'stern'.)

Frederick Dent Ray, First Class Steward, at the U S Senate Hearings made no mention of the condition of the Titanic as it went under nor was he asked.

Still checking into other accounts. However, you can well see the general consensus.

Best regards,
Cook
 
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Christine Geyer

Guest
Dear Cook**,

Really looks like the boat was in a position that made it impossible to see the breaking. That brings me to the idea if there was ever made a kind of chard that shows us the probable position of the lifeboats that night, I mean the way they went from the positions where they were slackened ? That would be quite interesting. Guess I gotta take a pencil.... O.k., it would take some time to work on that but sounds good, doesn't it ? Just can't remember if I have seen something like that before.

Many regards
Christine
 
M

Michael Findlay

Member
Hi Pat,

As I don't have access to my files at the moment, one person who quickly comes to mind is Ruth Becker Blanchard - an occupant of boat #13.

In 1912, Ruth wrote a very detailed account of the sinking which described her impressions of the ship breaking in two. Even in later years, up until her death in 1990, Ruth always claimed the ship sank in two pieces. When the ship was discovered in 1985, Ruth shot back at her critics who didn't believe her claims with a simple, "I told you so."

I believe Mary Hewlett also mentioned the ship breaking in two in an interview to the Sioux Falls (SD) newspapers, and also in a letter to her son in India. Unfortunately, Mrs. Hewlett died just a few years after the sinking leaving no further account on record.

I have always wondered why there were so many conflicting accounts by those in boat #13 concerning the ship's final moments. For the longest time, I always believed that boat #13 was positioned in an area that prevented its occupants from seeing the ship clearly enough. This certainly seemed the case given that Dodge, Beesley and many others never mentioned the break. Then, other interviews were found which contradicted the accounts of the others in #13. Who can say?

Thanks for sharing some of those accounts. If you like, I'll be happy to post accounts by those who were in #13 also once I can access my files to hopefully shed some additional light on this matter.

Regards,

Mike
 
P

Pat Cook

Member
Hi Mike,

I would very much like those accounts, if you would be so kind. I had heard that Ruth Becker had said the ship broke in half but didn't know this was in a 1912 account.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Kyrila Scully

Kyrila Scully

Member
If that's true, that Ruth Becker reported the ship breaking in two in 1912, then this is very interesting as she was in the same lifeboat with Beesley.
Kyrila
 
R

Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
All,

If boat 13 was in a position in which many of its occupants were unable to see the ship's breaking, what position would that be?

I'm thinking 13 must have floated astern and was somewhat beyond the stern when it upended. It seems to me that this rear vantage-point would be the likeliest one for people not accurately seeing the break-up, the bow being almost out-of-sight to them already. I'd imagine boat 13 could not have been abreast of Titanic when she sank.

What do you all think?

Randy

PS) By the same token, I believe the reason no one in boat 1 saw the break-up either was because their vantage point was well-forward of the bow which precluded a full view of the event.
 
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Pat Cook

Member
Well, this was my notion, at first - that #13 was directly behind the stern. However, given the other accounts Mike F. has mentioned, I don't believe that will be the answer - it certainly seemed to answer a few questions there for a minute, tho', didn't it?

Best regards
Cook
 
M

Michael Findlay

Member
Pat and others,

A little further info on Ruth Becker. The interview she granted was to the magazine entitled "St. Nicholas." I forget the publication date but it was either 1912 or 1913. After the sinking, Ruth subscribed to this children's magazine and her father, Rev. Becker, urged her to write a letter telling of the Titanic disaster. Once I access my files at home, I will quote Ruth's passage from the letter detailing her impressions of the Titanic's breaking in two.

Sorry for the wait.....

Mike
 
Tracy Smith

Tracy Smith

Member
St Nicholas was apparently a popular children's magazine. I seem to remember Laura Ingalls Wilder mentioning this magazine in one of her Little House books.
 
W

William Ajello

Member
Dear Christine,
When you initially said you were going to post the pics from "TMOANTR", my first reaction was "Uh oh" but when I read further down I believe you realized your obvious boo boo so good for you.
Happy


I am somehow particularly interested in Mr. Beesley myself seeing as how he is brought up many times in that A&E 4 parter about The Titanic, and SOS Titanic is centered around him somewhat.

And it is incredible to say the least that with a ship that size, in shock or not, how could you miss an 882ft ship breaking in two?

S0 witness accounts to the final minutes are rather interesting.

Sincerly,
Bill
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
Hello folks!

Here's my take on Beesley and the ship "not breaking in two" -

Beesley had, indeed, very keen powers of observation. However, by his own account, his vantage point lay behind the great ship as it went down: "she tilted slowly up, revolving apparently about a center of gravity just astern of amidships, until she attained a vertically upright position; and there she remained - motionless!"

Obviously, Lifeboat #13, in its haste to leave the ship, more than likely rowed perpendicular to the ship's axis. This gave Beesley the view he describes earlier on: "The sea level and the rows of lights should have been parallel - should never have met - and now they met at an angle inside the black hull of the ship." Thus, when the ship rotated as Beesley claimed, it seems logical that the stern would have ended up facing him (a very bland view for the most part; had the ship revolved so that the smokestacks were facing Beesley, it's almost certain that he would have described that sight).

And there's more.

Beesley relates that tremendous noises followed the ship's blackout, with his description particularly eerie: "...partly a roar, partly a groan, partly a rattle, and partly a smash, and it was not a sudden roar as an explosion would be; it went on successively for some seconds, possibly fifteen to twenty, as the heavy machinery dropped down to the bottom (now the bows) of the ship... It was a noise no one had heard before, and no one wishes to hear again...."

My guess is that what Beesley heard was, in fact, the ripping apart of the hull, coupled with the inevitable crashing/bursting of the boilers. (You can just imagine what happened to the people in the immediate area.) Since his view was from the rear, however, it was hard for him to conceive that the ship had broken in two, especially after seeing Jack Thayer's drawing which, in many ways, still does not make sense even with what we know today. Beesley, being a man of practicality and science, thus put together what made sense as far as he could make out, and subsequently explained the ominous, drawn-out noise as everything coming loose in the ship and going forward.

As Pat Cook cited, Steward Frederick Ray, in his testimony, makes no mention of the ship breaking, but then again, Steward Ray was in #13 along with Beesley.

The only passenger in #13 who says otherwise is Ruth Becker. Now, Ruth, I'm surmising, saw the break because she, being a child, was looking while trying not to look. While all the adults in #13 were awestruck and looking up at the rising, teetering stern, Ruth eye's may have wanted to avoid the spectacle of people hanging from the stern, and instead remained at water level, enabling her to catch a glimpse of the beginning of the split as the ship rotated.

Charlotte Collyer, on the other hand, in another lifeboat which left from the port side, claimed not only that the ship broke in two but that fire and sparks shot out from the split, followed by two distinct explosions. Her account brings up an interesting question: "Did the Titanic break because of stress due to the angle of tilt? Or did the blowing up of a boiler or two initiate the split?"

Finally - what I find truly remarkable - is that no one here has cited Eva Hart's comments from Discovery's "Death of a Dream" special. With trademark fortitude, good ol' Eva remarks: "I knew it! I saw it! That ship broke at the waterline!" With or without Ballard's discovery, the truth was available to us all along in the form of TITANIC's most outspoken and colorful survivor.

Bob
 
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Pat Cook

Member
Bob wrote: "Finally - what I find truly remarkable - is that no one here has cited Eva Hart's comments from Discovery's "Death of a Dream" special. With trademark fortitude, good ol' Eva remarks: "I knew it! I saw it! That ship broke at the waterline!"

Hi Bob,

I can't speak for the others but I was only quoting what I could find from those in lifeboat #13. There are many who saw the ship break up in other lifeboats, some stated so in the U S hearings, including some of the crew, as you well know.

Anyway, thanks for your input. I'm guessing here that in every boat there are those who believed the Titanic sank intact and those who saw it break up.

Best regards,
Cook
 
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