Mail Bags In Wreck


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Jan 31, 2001
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Hello,

I was wondering: Why did the mail bags survive the wreck? After 89 years, it seems they would not be there. Any info.?
 
Jan 5, 2001
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<FONT COLOR="ff0000">If I remember rightly, there was some film shot of the mail room, which showed a sort of pinky substance growing on them forming a sort of 'carpet.' Perhaps that sort of protected them for a bit? Just a bit of info. I'm no expert on decay. Well, it's more like a guess.

It was in the program shown March 1995 with George Tulloch and others, but I haven't seen it for ages and am only speaking from memory.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Mark,

Thanks for your input. This was a question that my neighbor wanted to put on the message board (I was also interested). It does seem fairly reasonable that the pink "carpet" could have something to do with the preservation of the mail bags (I belive there were 200 on board).

I have heard rumors that Titanic, Inc. is trying to get the right to remove objects from inside the ship, and that the mail bags will be removed. However, that was six years ago, so how do we know they haven't all ready decayed in that time?

How and why different objects have decayed and been preserved on the Titanic always fascinates me.

If anyone has anything else to add here, I would love to hear it. I would also like to hear whether or not you feel the mail bags are still down there after six years.

-B.W.
 
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Dean Manning

Guest
hello Brandon and Mark,

It's my guess that the mail bags are made of canvas, and are non-palatable to the marine life down at Titanic. I've seen the video you gentlemen are talking about, and I think maybe the reason that no mail has been removed is because nobody has been able to get a submersible large enough to move the mail bags from that far inside the wreck. If memory serves me correctly, RMST Inc wanted to cut into the hull to remove artifacts, but their entrance was barred by a court in Virginia.

hope this helped,

-Dean
 
Jan 5, 2001
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<FONT COLOR="ff0000">RMST Inc wanted to cut into the hull to remove artifacts, but their entrance was barred by a court in Virginia.

I hope they were barred. Cutting into her hull is way out of order. Worse than salvaging objects, but I won't put my views forward here.

I was thinking that many of the mail bags were removed to the D-deck according to one rumour, once the flooding began, but I'll check it out and post it.
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Gentlemen,

According to records, there are 3,364 mail bags on board Titanic, each weighing 100 pounds or more. In addition there were 700 to 800 'parcels' listed. It is known the postal workers dragged sacks from the storage room on the Orlop deck to the sorting area on G deck, but it was in vain. The water moved faster than they could.

The recovery of any mailbags presents dilemmas on several fronts. The accessibility issue is first and foremost. An ROV has been into the storage room, but an ROV does not have the delicate sensitivity it will require to remove these fragile mail bags. The Expedition 2000 plan did call for "surgical cuts" to be made around the starboard hole in order to penetrate with a MIR (this, by the way, would be extremely dangerous and risky). Second is the issue of cost. Paper is the most expensive material to treat and preserve. 3000 mail bags x 100+ pounds would make a lot of mail, and a very high recovery/preservation cost. Finally would be the legality of ownership. In earlier discussions over this issue, both the Briitish and American post offices would file a claim of ownership of the mail. Yet who owns it? Neither, to my knowledge are willing to assist in the recovery or preservation stages. It would make a fascinating courtroom drama.

Bill Willard
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello,

So, it would basically be too much of a challenge and too expensive to raise and restore the mail bags and their contents? I had never thought about how much it would cost to restore all those letters to their origional state. I can now see why it is probably best that the mail bags stay where they are. In fact, this is how I would rather have them; lying where they were placed during the maiden voyage, with all those letters in them, forever unread. It seems kind of romantic, don't you think?

-B.W.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Since I'm getting into this subject, I just wanted to say that I think it stinks that James Cameron did not show the postal clerks moving the bags up the stairs in "Titanic." This is one of my favorite stories from the sinking. I think it is brave that the mail clerks all tried to get all the mail up to the G-Deck sorting room, even though the water moved faster than they did. In the end, many died during the process of the removal and all died in the sinking.

Does anyone know approximately how many bags they did manage to get up to G-Deck, and which room has the ROVs visited; the sorting or the mail hold?
 
Jun 10, 1999
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Hello Mr. Willard:

Thank you for your increased input in regards to the RMSTI 2000 Expedition. You leave me intrigued with your mention of these proposed "surgical cuts" around the 30' starboard breach. Could you perhaps share the means in which such an endeavor by the MIRS was to be undertaken?

As an aside to the R.O.V., are you familiar with IFREMER'S new "Victor" remote operated vehicle?

With regards,

Michael Cundiff
Nevada, USA
 

Bill Willard

Member
Mar 24, 2001
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Until a decision can be reached as to the ownership and who would accept fiscal responsibility, the best place for the mail is exactly where its at.

I tend to differ to a point about the mail bags. I agree with the recovery-for-museums practice. I think it would be more romantic to see and read of the lives almost 100 years ago. Ask Dave Shuttle about Howard Irwin's diary, and letters from his family member how HE feels. He had never heard the story before the diary was discovered.

As for Cameron's movie, he filmed another 50+ minutes of history he left on the cutting room floor, including wonderful scenes such as the Straus story, the upside down collapsible, and the Carpathia recovery of the lifeboats. Word has it that he has a director's cut DVD almost ready with these scenes included, now making the time about 4 hours. A guess is that it's expected at Christmas.

The footage I've seen of the ROV penetration through the starboard hole shows the sorting room close, and the storage room from a distance. When I was out there in 1998, we spent much time on the exterior, and didn't penetrate as much as we'd liked.

Bill Willard
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I hope there's some truth to the Directors cut and that it's not just a wild rumor. For all of it's faults (Unavoidable with Hollywood) I really enjoyed the flick. I'd snap it up in an instant.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello once again,

To Mr. Willard: I can see where you're coming from with the letters. It would be fascinating to read them. I suppose a part of me feels they should be left, and a part feels they should be recovered. So, you've dived on the Titanic? That must have been an amazing experience (one I would like to personally take, but don't have $35,000). What other shipwrecks have you been on?

As for the Director's Cut, I also hope that it becomes available sometime within the year. I also hope there's a video version, as I do not own a DVD player. I don't understand why everything that Cameron cut seems to be what people wanted to see, it seems unfair to the fans. Perhaps he will release the cut, and it could contain my desired post office scene.

-B.W.
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Hello Brandon,

The director's cut did leave quite a bit of history on the floor, but it will be added back. To see a few of these scenes, look on James Cameron's Titanic Explorer for computers. It has the scenes I've mentioned, or at least a moment or two of them.

We held a Titanic convention of sorts in SC in 1999. Included as one of our guests was Bernard Fox, actor in Cameron's Titanic as well as McQuitty's A Night to Remember. He was Gracie in Cameron's film, and Fleet in McQuitty's. You'll remember him as Dr. Bombay on Bewitched, Col. Crittendon on Hogan's Heroes, or most recently Winston the pilot in the first Mummy movie with Brendan Frasier. He told us of others.

I had not had the opportunity to personally dive to the ship. I was on the 1998 expedition with my ROV T-REX. It dove. I spent six wonderful weeks with Eaton, Haas, Wetterholm, wonderful NBC and Discovery professionals... it was an honor just being around these people. I learned so much, and that's why I'm personally involved with this entire RMSTI situation. I saw the Big Piece on the day of recovery. I touched a piece of metal brought up for forensic study. My hand shook as I touched it, because I knew what it really was.

At the close of the expedition, I had seen 400 hours or so of video of the ship and the expedition.

Cameron's movie was nice, but the real thing... its powerful.

Bill
 
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Christine Geyer

Guest
I have thought about the letters left on Titanic too and posted another thread a few weeks ago, which deals with those ones that remained in the Titanics own mailboxes. I think it would be great if we could recover the mailbags but I agree it would be incredible expensive and maybe take the restauration team a few years only to fix those letters. I'm still a little more fascinated by the idea of saving those letters out of the mailboxes,- if possible - so we knew those were all written by the passengers. I think that would be of unestimable value and could tell us so much of the events of the last days of the Titanic.

Bill your postings are very interesting and I guess you can tell us a lot about your experiences !! I guess I could listen for hours
happy.gif
Maybe you know something about the mailboxes where passengers could throw in their letters. Has it ever been tried to salvage one of them or their content ?

Many regards -
Christine
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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The question has been discussed about the mail boxes you mention. Particularly, there is at least one in the Reading and Writing room that might have survived the damage caused by separation.

Theories have gone to both extremes. Some say, no. The protection to the currents would not be sufficient to preserve the few pieces that would be in such a mailbox. Others bring up anomalies such as the canvas bag (from 98) with a manual inside it in very good condition. There was nothing near the bag, so it technically was unique and alone (not bagged with other items). The same theory has surfaced when talking about the refrigeration units in the stern. If all of them imploded, then it would be a significant interior mess inside the exterior mess. But what if one survived? Wouldn't it be interesting if a refieration unit full of meat survived, and has been kept at 35 degrees in an airtight environment for all this time? I know, VERY unlikely, but still, like the mailboxes, what a nice thought. What a very nice thought.

Checking for the mail is something that needs to done if the interior is deeply explored.

Bill
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello again,

I have saw Bernard Fox in all the roles above, but only recognized him in "Titanic"! Now that you've mentioned his other roles, I'll start paying attention. I have heard Fox portrayed Gracie wrong, because Gracie was American, and he has an English accent in the film. I still liked it though. However, I feel they should have given Gracie more screen time. When I saw the film, I wasn't into the Titanic, and from what Cameron's film shows, it appears that Gracie died in the sinking. Remember how the last time you see him he's standing on the stern as the bow plunges? I thought he was a goner!

I feel that no film, no matter how accurate, could ever portray how the Titanic really went down. There's just too many mysteries and rumors; I think you would just have to have been there.

Well, bye for now.

-B.W.
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
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Hey Brandon,

The man standing on the stern was baker Charles Joughin, not Col. Gracie. It's interesting, when I first watched the film the same thing had me confused! From what I recall, we last see Gracie escorting Edith Evans and Caroline Brown to collapsible D.

I also think he deserves more screen time:)

Col. Gracie was an anglophile, so Cameron may have been attempting to convey this through his accent.

Regards,
Ben
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Ben,

I know that Mr. Joughin is the man on the stern with Rose, but I still thought Gracie died because I saw him standing there with the women. I didn't think he had a chance, plus you don't see him on the boat.

-B.W.
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
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Hi Brandon,

Sorry for the confusion! Col Gracie's account of the disaster "The Truth About Titanic" may be of interest to you. During the voyage, Gracie took it upon himself to "look after" some of the "unattached" women in first class. The two women you see in the film are Caroline Brown (left) and Edith Evans (right). They had become seperated from Mrs. Brown's two other sisters.

While the two sisters boarded boat #2, Mrs. Brown and Edith Evans for some unexplicable reason moved from A deck forward on the port side to the aft starboard quarter. Gracie was escorting them forward back to collapsible D which was in the bridge vicinity (and the boat Rose boards but jumps off again in the film), hence Gracie's line "No miss, but there are a couple of boats all the way forward. This way, I'll lead you!" - Fat chance.

After they had arrived at col. D there was apparently only enough room for Mrs. Brown. Edith Evans remained behind and subsequently died in the sinking. Gracie then helped clear away the other two collapsibles A and B on the officers quarters. He survived on the overturend collapsible B after it was washed off.

Sorry to divert wildly from the main topic, but I hope this is of interest and clears up any confusion.

Regards
Ben
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Ben,

Well, I now know which boat Rose got in and out of! Collapsible D was launched at 2:05 A.M., with only fifteen minutes to spare. Gracie was certainly an interesting man, I think. It's okay with me to wander from my main topic, very rarely does anyone stick to the topics anyway on ET!

I think the idea of the fridge full of meat in the stern and the mailbox is very interesting. ET is basically the only place I'm able to "sort things out"; the wreck is so messed up, that when I'm watching underwater videos, I can't tell what's what! Not to mention that the movies give no reference to time, so I can't determine which boat's which.

-B.W.
 
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