More Marconi Manipulation?

Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I have written extensively about this before. Here is another Marconi anomaly for someone to solve. I think I know the answer, but would like to have in-put form others.

If members go to Day 10 of the US Inquiry record, they will see a copy of the Wireless Log - Process Verbal - of the Mount Temple. In it, they will see the following entry:
"10.25Titanic sending C.Q.D. Answer him, but he replies: "Can not read you, old man, but here my position, 41.46 N., 50.14 W. Come at once. Have struck berg." Informed captain.
10.35Carpathia answers M.G.Y. M.G.Y. says: "Struck iceberg; come to our assistance at once." Sends position."

The highlighting is mine.

Then, if they go to the evidence of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia, given on Day 1 of the US inquiry, they will find the following:

"At 12:35 a. m. on Monday I was informed of the urgent distress signal from the Titanic....The New York time at 12:35 was 10:45 p. m. Sunday night."

Note that Mount Temple gives the New York - Eastern Standard timeof 10-35pm for that first contact between Carpathia and Titanic, but the Captain Of the Carpathia very clearly and precisely stated it was 10-45 am. "Oh what a wonderous web we weave"?
 
Gordon Mooneyhan

Gordon Mooneyhan

Member
Let me start with a bit of background. In the International Morse Code, A is .- (dot dash), P is .--. (dot dash dash dot) In that time period, most times were given in local time, which would account for the time differences in the various reports. I believe that the Titanic sinking was one of the reasons for adopting Greenwich Mean Time—now Universal Time Constant (UTC) as the standard time for all radio telegram transmissions.

In most of the movies about the Titanic sinking, when Morse Code is heard, it is heard in the form of tones, much as we would hear Morse Code today on the amateur radio bands. Back in 1912 when spark gap transmitters were in use, it would sound like bursts of static, as in this YouTube link:

RMS Titanic "SOS" - YouTube

Also, radio at that point was Amplitude Modulation (AM), which always has some degree of static in the background, so you would be trying to listen for bursts of static against a background of static.

Given the state of technology in 1912, I am really surprised that there were not more discrepancies in copying the transmissions.

Also, the propagation of radio waves was not understood as well then as it is now. The Titanic’s wireless had a range of up to 1,000 miles. In reality, on the night of April 14, 1912, the radio waves were travelling much farther. The first distress call was heard at the Weather Bureau Office at Cape Hatteras, NC, about 1,400 miles from the Titanic’s position. Here is a photo of the only known surviving copy of the first distress call from the Titanic, received at the Weather Bureau Office at Cape Hatteras and now on display at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum at the village of Hatteras.

DSC 0755


From the O.P. "At 12:35 a. m. on Monday I was informed of the urgent distress signal from the Titanic....The New York time at 12:35 was 10:45 p. m. Sunday night." That was obviously a typo because times zones do not differentiate minutes. There are a handful of time zones in the Pacific that are on half-hour differences, but this is a simple case of human error in that 10:35 p.m. was transcribed as 10:45 p.m. Additionally, the log page referenced from Mount Temple is virtually identical to the log page from the Cape Hatteras Weather Bureau Office which gives the time as 11:35 p.m. EST. I would submit that the time given by Mount Temple is incorrect. The Titanic was in the Atlantic Standard Time (AST) zone, or GMT minus 4 hours. The 11:35 p.m. recorded at Hatteras corresponds with 12:35 a.m. (April 15) on the Titanic. IIRC, there are several other references which verify this message at this time.

The real problem is that these are all transcriptions. What the Titanic more than likely sent was, “DE MGY CQD 41.44N 50.24W ABOUT 380 MILES SSE OF (Insert call sign of Cape Race Marconi Station)” DE was, and still is, Morse Code shorthand for “This is” MGY is the Titanic’s radio call sign. CQD had no “official” meaning, it was a Morse Code prosign for help needed. DE MGY says in five characters what the transcription says in 14 characters.

Just my 2 cents.

DE W4EGM
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Let me start with a bit of background. In the International Morse Code, A is .- (dot dash), P is .--. (dot dash dash dot) In that time period, most times were given in local time, which would account for the time differences in the various reports. I believe that the Titanic sinking was one of the reasons for adopting Greenwich Mean Time—now Universal Time Constant (UTC) as the standard time for all radio telegram transmissions.

In most of the movies about the Titanic sinking, when Morse Code is heard, it is heard in the form of tones, much as we would hear Morse Code today on the amateur radio bands. Back in 1912 when spark gap transmitters were in use, it would sound like bursts of static, as in this YouTube link:

RMS Titanic "SOS" - YouTube

Also, radio at that point was Amplitude Modulation (AM), which always has some degree of static in the background, so you would be trying to listen for bursts of static against a background of static.

Given the state of technology in 1912, I am really surprised that there were not more discrepancies in copying the transmissions.

Also, the propagation of radio waves was not understood as well then as it is now. The Titanic’s wireless had a range of up to 1,000 miles. In reality, on the night of April 14, 1912, the radio waves were travelling much farther. The first distress call was heard at the Weather Bureau Office at Cape Hatteras, NC, about 1,400 miles from the Titanic’s position. Here is a photo of the only known surviving copy of the first distress call from the Titanic, received at the Weather Bureau Office at Cape Hatteras and now on display at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum at the village of Hatteras.

View attachment 78004

From the O.P. "At 12:35 a. m. on Monday I was informed of the urgent distress signal from the Titanic....The New York time at 12:35 was 10:45 p. m. Sunday night." That was obviously a typo because times zones do not differentiate minutes. There are a handful of time zones in the Pacific that are on half-hour differences, but this is a simple case of human error in that 10:35 p.m. was transcribed as 10:45 p.m. Additionally, the log page referenced from Mount Temple is virtually identical to the log page from the Cape Hatteras Weather Bureau Office which gives the time as 11:35 p.m. EST. I would submit that the time given by Mount Temple is incorrect. The Titanic was in the Atlantic Standard Time (AST) zone, or GMT minus 4 hours. The 11:35 p.m. recorded at Hatteras corresponds with 12:35 a.m. (April 15) on the Titanic. IIRC, there are several other references which verify this message at this time.

The real problem is that these are all transcriptions. What the Titanic more than likely sent was, “DE MGY CQD 41.44N 50.24W ABOUT 380 MILES SSE OF (Insert call sign of Cape Race Marconi Station)” DE was, and still is, Morse Code shorthand for “This is” MGY is the Titanic’s radio call sign. CQD had no “official” meaning, it was a Morse Code prosign for help needed. DE MGY says in five characters what the transcription says in 14 characters.

Just my 2 cents.

DE W4EGM
Hello Gordon,

And a full two cents-worth it is! Here is my 98 cents worth in reply.

In 1912, Marconi messages were time in GMT from the UK out to Longitude 40 West. At that point, the Marconi men switched to New York, EST - US Eastern Standard Time. Consequently, all Marconi transmissions during the disaster were, except where otherwise indicated , timed in EST Sunday, April 14.

The Cape Hatteras "copy" written for clarification at the bottom of the alleged original message form, is an almost verbatim copy of a retrospective account of the Cape Race wireless log written much later by Marconi Operator Robert Hunston who was not even on watch at the time. I quote from Titanic in Nova Scotia - Wireless Message Log. The emphasis is mine to show the comparison with the Cape Hatteras notes along th bottom.

"The Titanic Disaster as Viewed from Cape Race:
10:25 pm (EST) J.C R. Godwin on watch hears Titanic calling C.Q.D. giving position 41.44 N 50.24 W about 380 miles SSE of Cape Race.
10:35 pm Titanic gives corrected position as 41.46N 50.14W. A matter of 5 or six miles difference. He says "have struck iceberg".


Conveniently(?), the original Cape Race Wireless Log was mysteriously mis-laid, or lost in a fire.

I think what you are seeing is the original, illegible telegram, immediately sent by the operators, Daily and Hoskins to their head office in New York. and - along the bottom - an interpretation of it written much later.
According to author James D Charlet, when the New York Office received that first notification, their superior "severely chastised the senders, thinking it was a hoax. In his response, he [the head man at New York] said that the senders were troublemakers who were just “clogging up the lines,” and that they, [the Hatteras Station Operators] were to refrain from any further communications."
If this is correct, then only one message was passed-on from Cape Hatteras to New York and there were no further communications between that station and Titanic after the first one.

When it was 11-25 pm EST at Cape Hatteras, Titanic was sending out her CQD (See Mount Temple process-Verbal)
Apart from the fact that the translation at the foot of it could not have been written before the Hunston copy - if you look closely at the top of the original, Hatteras form, you will see that it was written on a "sent" form - not a "received" form.
My best guess is that the original Hatteras document was the one sent to New York and there was no other communication made from Hatteras concerning Titanic. Consequently, this is yet another manipulation of the truth.
 
Gordon Mooneyhan

Gordon Mooneyhan

Member
Hello Gordon,

And a full two cents-worth it is! Here is my 98 cents worth in reply.

In 1912, Marconi messages were time in GMT from the UK out to Longitude 40 West. At that point, the Marconi men switched to New York, EST - US Eastern Standard Time. Consequently, all Marconi transmissions during the disaster were, except where otherwise indicated , timed in EST Sunday, April 14.

The Cape Hatteras "copy" written for clarification at the bottom of the alleged original message form, is an almost verbatim copy of a retrospective account of the Cape Race wireless log written much later by Marconi Operator Robert Hunston who was not even on watch at the time. I quote from Titanic in Nova Scotia - Wireless Message Log. The emphasis is mine to show the comparison with the Cape Hatteras notes along th bottom.

"The Titanic Disaster as Viewed from Cape Race:
10:25 pm (EST) J.C R. Godwin on watch hears Titanic calling C.Q.D. giving position 41.44 N 50.24 W about 380 miles SSE of Cape Race.
10:35 pm Titanic gives corrected position as 41.46N 50.14W. A matter of 5 or six miles difference. He says "have struck iceberg".


Conveniently(?), the original Cape Race Wireless Log was mysteriously mis-laid, or lost in a fire.

I think what you are seeing is the original, illegible telegram, immediately sent by the operators, Daily and Hoskins to their head office in New York. and - along the bottom - an interpretation of it written much later.
According to author James D Charlet, when the New York Office received that first notification, their superior "severely chastised the senders, thinking it was a hoax. In his response, he [the head man at New York] said that the senders were troublemakers who were just “clogging up the lines,” and that they, [the Hatteras Station Operators] were to refrain from any further communications."
If this is correct, then only one message was passed-on from Cape Hatteras to New York and there were no further communications between that station and Titanic after the first one.

When it was 11-25 pm EST at Cape Hatteras, Titanic was sending out her CQD (See Mount Temple process-Verbal)
Apart from the fact that the translation at the foot of it could not have been written before the Hunston copy - if you look closely at the top of the original, Hatteras form, you will see that it was written on a "sent" form - not a "received" form.
My best guess is that the original Hatteras document was the one sent to New York and there was no other communication made from Hatteras concerning Titanic. Consequently, this is yet another manipulation of the truth.
Hi Jim,

The only reason we have the Hatteras copy is that it was later rolled up and stuffed into one of the walls to help insulate the building, During a remodeling by the National Park Service, it was found and sent to their conservation facility at Harpers Ferry. Given the history of the Cape Hatteras copy, I think that we can agree that it is an accurate record of that one transmission.

As an aside, the supervisor at the Marconi New York Office who chastised the Cape Hatteras operators was 21-year-old David Sarnoff who would later go on to become president of RCA. And yes, Sarnoff did chastise the Hatteras operators. There are some reports that Hatteras heard Carpathia reply that they were heading "at speed" to the Titanic but they did not pass that information on because of Sarnoff's reprimand. This has been stated by one of the Hatteras operator's decendents but, as there is no hard copy to prove it, I take it with a grain of salt.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Hi Jim,

The only reason we have the Hatteras copy is that it was later rolled up and stuffed into one of the walls to help insulate the building, During a remodeling by the National Park Service, it was found and sent to their conservation facility at Harpers Ferry. Given the history of the Cape Hatteras copy, I think that we can agree that it is an accurate record of that one transmission.

As an aside, the supervisor at the Marconi New York Office who chastised the Cape Hatteras operators was 21-year-old David Sarnoff who would later go on to become president of RCA. And yes, Sarnoff did chastise the Hatteras operators. There are some reports that Hatteras heard Carpathia reply that they were heading "at speed" to the Titanic but they did not pass that information on because of Sarnoff's reprimand. This has been stated by one of the Hatteras operator's decendents but, as there is no hard copy to prove it, I take it with a grain of salt.
The David Sarnoff story was proven to be a complete myth years ago. It's thought that he himself made it up.

He had no involvement with the Titanic disaster at all.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Regardless of Sarnoff's personal involvement - what cannot be dismissed is the following:
1. The unreadable message is not a received message, but a sent one... the story was that the lads at Cape Hatteras advised New York. If so, they sent a message. Look at the top RH corner of the original.
2. The information written on the bottom of it is worded almost identically to a retrospective simile of the original, lost, Cape Race Marconi message records written from memory sometime after the event so must have been written at a later date.
3. Sarnoff joined the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America on September 30, 1906, and rose from office boy to commercial manager of the company in 1919. In 1912, he, and the Operators at Cape Hatteras were. at that time, employees of Guiliarmo Marconi.
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
Hi Jim,

As to your original post on here it is all covered comprehensively in appendix M of Sam's book 'Strangers on the horizon'. It is undoubtedly a mistake by Rostron (one of many he made as to timings) of events that night.

Cheers,
Julian
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Jim,

As to your original post on here it is all covered comprehensively in appendix M of Sam's book 'Strangers on the horizon'. It is undoubtedly a mistake by Rostron (one of many he made as to timings) of events that night.

Cheers,
Julian
Not sure what you mean, Julian; nor will any of the rest of the members who have not read Sam's book.

However, if you can suffer an alternative opinion?

As far as I am concerned: if Carpathia was at 49-13'West when she turned. and a clock showed a time greater than 12-12am, then the time showing on that particular clock had been fully adjusted at Midnight
The reason for this is that bridge protocol dictated that any clock alteration was to be shared between the 8 to Midnight, and Midnight to 4 am Watches.
When a clock advance was planned, the first alteration took place at a time which was at least half the planned total before Midnight The second and final alteration would then be made when the clock read Midnight . Thus each Watch benefitted from a share in the off duty time.
Normal practice was that the first advance was made at 10 pm or 11 pm (usually at 10 pm) and the second when the clock reached Midnight.
Consequently, Rostron's 12-35 am was fully adjusted time, and Carpathia had been running at full speed for 12 hours 35 minutes MINUS the total clock change. from Noon the previous day.

There is another aspect to this problem , and that is the difference between New York Time and Greenwich Mean Time as understood by on-shore people and ship navigating staff. Sam already knows about this.
The former use the 5 hour difference, but navigators uses 4 hours 55 minutes. The latter never think in terms of difference between New York - Eastern Standard Time and ship time - only ship to GMT.
When asked to do so, they would subtract the equivalent GMT ship time from 4 hours 55 minutes - not 5 hours. Now apply that to Rostron's answer.

If Rostron had a time difference of 1 hour 50 minutes, then he expected that to be the time difference Between a New York Time at Noon April 15. But what New York time?
If he use Navigator's time difference, of 4 hours 55 minutes, then he expected Noon on April 15 to be 3-05 GMT, which, in turn, means he expected to be at 46-15 West at that time.
However if he used the 5 hour difference between GMT and New York, he would have expected to be at 47-30 West at Noon on April 15. Obviously, another proof that he did not use the 5 hours difference.
The distance between his 12-35 position and the first of the foregoing April 15 Noon positions is: 134.3 miles. Obviously he used navigators difference, but the figures indicate that at from Noon, April 14, he had been under the influence of a strong easterly set because Carpathia only needed to average 12 knots to reach that April 15 Noon position from where she was at 12-35 am.
That fits with him entering the Gulf Stream some time around Noon April 14.. Obviously Rostron did not account for that when he estimated where he would be at Noon on April 15. This fits with his failure to account for it when heading for Titanic.

The above figures can only be approximate. However they indicate that there was nothing wrong with Rostron's reply...he simply was using different criteria.
If you care to look at the other evidence, you will see that on two occasions the difference in times given between navigator and Marconi man was exactly 5 minutes.
Captain Lord: "That would be 9.05 or 9.10. There is an hour and fifty minutes time between New York and my noon position on the 14th."
Lord's Wireless Operator Evans: "
8935. What is the difference between New York time and ship's time at the place where you stopped?
- One hour and fifty-five minutes."

Then we have Boxhall's estimate of the difference:
"At 11.46 p.m., ship's time, it was 10.13 Washington time, or New York time."
If there had been a partial set back of the clocks 11-46 pm would have been+ 3-22 GMT. Now subtract that from 5 hours and from 4 hours 55 minutes and you'll get a 5 minute difference between your answers
 
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