Morning After: Where were the bodies?


Sep 20, 2000
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Jan: I thought I'd post this article for you, because it's at least suggestive of some "damage control" from Leyland (and thus IMM, ultimately). A lot, of course, hinges on how strictly you interpret the wording -- particularly the tense -- but it is interesting.

(Californian had left the wreck site by about 9:45 a.m. NYT April 15, and one would at least think Phillip Franklin would have known this some time shortly after his wireless of 2:55 a.m., April 16. Yet the news from Leyland on the *17th* utilizes all present perfect tense, as if they've just left!)

From The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, April 18, 1912:
[hr]
Quote:

CALIFORNIAN IS COMING TO BOSTON

BOSTON, Mass., April 17. -- At the offices of the Leyland Line it was stated today that the steamship Californian, which has been cruising about the scene of the wreck of the Titanic, has started for port, according to wireless from Cape Race.

They decline to say whether there were bodies of victims or survivors on board, but it is known that she combed every bit of the sea in the vicinity of the wreck.

It is not believed the Californian will reach here until some time tomorrow.

The agents of the line say that so far they have only had fragmentary messages from her and that they were not conclusive of anything.
[hr]​
Cheers,
John
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Thanks for that, John. Now, this communication with Leyland Line is just another one of the "lines of communication" that I spoke about earlier. Lord, or Rostron through Lord, could have communicated with Leyland Line about the bodies. And yet, no one seems to have any awareness of that. Even worse, because there is no record, some have simply assumed that there were no communications.

This is why I'm saying one has to look at the situation, and the actions of the players, and then draw reasonable inferences from them.

It's interesting that in reviewing the various wireless messages from the April 15-17, 1912 time frame, I ran across one where the Franklin had instructed the Californian, through Haddock on the Olympic, to stay on the scene, and not to leave.

HADDOCK, Olympic:

Wire us with name of every passenger, officer, and crew on Carpathia. It is most important. Keep in communication with Carpathia until you accomplish this. Instruct Californian to stand by scene of wreck until she hears from us or is relieved or her coal supply runs short. Ascertain Californian coal and how long she can stand by. Have life rafts been accounted for? Are you absolutely satisfied that Carpathia has all survivors, as had rumor that Virginian and Parisian also have survivors. Where is Baltic?

FRANKLIN


But then, as set forth above, Californian left anyway -- even though Franklin says to stand by until Californian "hears from us." It seems that this was either an act of defiance on Californian's part (very unlikely given Lord's frame of mind), the ship's coal reserves were running low, or they didn't receive the message from Franklin (concededly, Franklin says he sent it at 7:35 p.m. on April 15, 1912, and Californian probably had already steamed off), or there was some sort of further communication with Franklin and Leyland whereby Californian left and Mackay-Bennett was instructed to sail out there. Indeed, Franklin instructs that Californian should stay until she is "relieved."

In any event, I think it's reasonable to infer that Californian's leaving the scene is very proximate in time to the chartering of Mackay-Bennett. Proximity in time suggests a connection. Everyone agrees that on April 16, 1912 Mackay-Bennett stocked up with coffins and embalming fluid. What was the mission, other than to recover bodies? Later, officials of Oceanic Steamship Navigation Company specifically announced that body recovery was Mackay-Bennett's mission. Common sense and the chain of events suggests to me that someone knew from somewhere, very early on, that there were a lot of bodies out there to pick up. In my estimation, that knowledge could only have been derived from Stanley Lord or Arthur Rostron, or both.
 

Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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Hello all. This is a really interesting thread!

Jan said: "Common sense and the chain of events suggests to me that someone knew from somewhere, very early on, that there were a lot of bodies out there to pick up. In my estimation, that knowledge could only have been derived from Stanley Lord or Arthur Rostron, or both."

Jan, could the OSNC's officials simply have deduced the existence of bodies, without receiving that imformation from Lord or Rostron? (Or anyone else, for that matter.)

Those officials knew the following facts:

(1) Titanic had taken a considerable time to sink. (Even if they didn't know exactly how long.)
(2) She was fully equipped with life vests, and everyone on board would have had more than enough time to don them.
(3) There were insufficient lifeboats to accommodate all passengers and crew. At least 1,000 people would be without a place in a lifeboat.

It could be deduced that victims, unable to board a lifeboat, would still be floating in their life vests in the vicinity of the wreck. Assume neither Lord nor Rostron had reported seeing any bodies. This doesn't impact on the mathematics of the numbers involved. There *had* to be bodies somewhere, unless they had all sank to the bottom of the Atlantic - life vests notwithstanding.

Another thought: Even if they *hadn't* thought of the above, (nor received any "tip-offs" from Lord or Rostron), would it not have been a reasonable public relations measure to send out a ship to look for bodies anyway - rather than just ignore the situation?

Hope this makes sense!

Regards,
Paul.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Paul,

Other members of the board have suggested exactly what you're asking. Could the Mackay-Bennett have been sent out, gratuitously, to show the public that Oceanic Steamship Navigation Company was doing all it could about the situation?

The problem with this argument is that there were communications by wireless from (I think) Stanley Lord, that are of record, to the effect that he didn't see any bodies (and in his testimony he confirms that he didn't see any).

As such, if management in New York (or Liverpool or London, for that matter) were going to send out a ship, all they would have had to rely upon were the mathematics. Franklin would have had to justify the cost to his board of directors. For all they knew (from the official record) everyone except the 700 survivors had gone down with the ship. If the official record says that there aren't any bodies out there, would a ship stocked with embalming fluid and coffins have been sent out, based upon hypothetical mathematical calculations that rely upon unknown assumptions, or mere supposition?

Had there been disasters like this before, where hundreds of bodies were floating around, that would have give management some guidance? I doubt Franklin or any of the other guys in New York knew of any. I think Franklin may have known of Republic and Atlantic's sinkings. But they were different from Titanic. Maybe there were others, but probably not. The Titanic disaster was in many respects a watershed event.

Maybe there's some clue in the very earliest actions of the parties (and I'm going by memory on this). On April 15, 1912, it seems that initially Rostron considered going to Halifax with the survivors. Correspondingly, based upon something, Franklin proposed to send a train there to pick them up. Later, Rostron decided to go to New York. (if my memory serves me right)

Could there have been a similar, coordinated move by Rostron, Lord and Franklin relative to some communication that they may have had about recovering the bodies?

Consider, too, the kind of people were dealing with, i.e., cheap, arrogant aristocrats, or alternatively, American robber-baron types. They don't care about anything except how to protect their bank accounts. That's the whole problem with this story -- it's the reason the bodies came to be out there floating in the North Atlantic in the first place. Do you expect such people to turn over a new leaf just like that?

To be a successful capitalist, one must be ruthless, cheap, and very smart. Frankly, even in the context of a horrible disaster, I doubt such people would send out a ship unless they knew there was something out there to cover up. Guys like Morgan, Sanderson, Franklin and Ismay want to get something for their money -- "otherwise we would go broke," as you proverbally hear from business types when they are asked to do something costly, but morally correct.

Further, in my estimation, just sending out a ship for "PR" purposes would have been unlikely, too, because we know that Mackay-Bennett stocked up with a lot of embalming fluid, coffins, canvas body sacks and the like. They had a chaplin on board. Again, look at their actions, not necessarily the statements made publicly. The Mackay-Bennett obviously had a very specific mission, and that mission was to recover the bodies. This wasn't about "PR."
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Jan said, "Common sense and the chain of events suggests to me that someone knew from somewhere, very early on, that there were a lot of bodies out there to pick up. In my estimation, that knowledge could only have been derived from Stanley Lord or Arthur Rostron, or both."

Sorry, wrong. As Paul pointed out, and as I have gone to some pains to point out, just doing the math would have been sufficient. The Titanic left Queenstown with 2208 passengers and crew and barely had boats for half. This was no secret. Nor was it a secret that the ship had gone down.

"Consider, too, the kind of people were dealing with, i.e., cheap, arrogant aristocrats, or alternatively, American robber-baron types. They don't care about anything except how to protect their bank accounts. That's the whole problem with this story -- it's the reason the bodies came to be out there floating in the North Atlantic in the first place."

Nope. The reason the bodies ended up floating around out there was because of a catastrophic navigation error which resulted in the loss of the ship. In fact...and as you well know...the Titanic exceeded safety regulations for the time. There had been no catastrophic losses for quite a number of years, and the loss of the Republic seemed to demonstrate that a rescue could be accomplished befor the ship sank. In short, they acted on the data they had.

"Do you expect such people to turn over a new leaf just like that?"

Ask Ismay. He had extra boats put on White Star ships...notably the Olympic...long befor the bureacrats ever made a law of it.

"Maybe there's some clue in the very earliest actions of the parties (and I'm going by memory on this). On April 15, 1912, it seems that initially Rostron considered going to Halifax with the survivors. Correspondingly, based upon something, Franklin proposed to send a train there to pick them up. Later, Rostron decided to go to New York. (if my memory serves me right)"

What clue? new York was better able to handle things, and it was a lot more convenient for reletives to go there then to a reletively small town like Halifax.

"Could there have been a similar, coordinated move by Rostron, Lord and Franklin relative to some communication that they may have had about recovering the bodies?"

No. If there had been, it would have been known instantly as anything braodcast on wireless was braodcast to anyone with a set to listen in with. The Titanic was indeed an attention grabber, and there were a lot of amatures as well as professionals about who were doing exactly that; listening in. The secret would not have kept.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 15, 2011
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I have to agree completely with Michael.

"Frankly, even in the context of a horrible disaster, I doubt such people would send out a ship unless they knew there was something out there to cover up. Guys like Morgan, Sanderson, Franklin and Ismay want to get something for their money -- "otherwise we would go broke," as you proverbally hear from business types when they are asked to do something costly, but morally correct."

I'm sorry, but this is just wrong. They didn't send the Mackay Bennet to complete a cover up, they sent her out because there were 1500 dead carcasses somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, and floating or not, they had to be addressed.

After the search and rescue mission at the World Trade Center ended, they began the somber and chilling task of recovering bodies and clearing debris. Should we suspect that there is "something out there to cover up?"

David
 
May 9, 2001
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Jan wrote:
"To be a successful capitalist, one must be ruthless, cheap, and very smart."

I find this comment offensive.

Yuri
 
Sep 20, 2000
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HADDOCK, Olympic:
Wire us with name of every passenger, officer, and crew on Carpathia. It is most important. Keep in communication with Carpathia until you accomplish this. Instruct Californian to stand by scene of wreck until she hears from us or is relieved or her coal supply runs short. Ascertain Californian coal and how long she can stand by. Have life rafts been accounted for? Are you absolutely satisfied that Carpathia has all survivors, as had rumor that Virginian and Parisian also have survivors. Where is Baltic?
FRANKLIN


Jan: Interestingly, that telegram was only finally received by the Olympic at 2:55 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16 (US 1140) -- almost 7-1/2 hours later! That's actually the same message I was referring to previously, though I hadn't realized that Franklin in fact sent it at 7:35 p.m. the day before. (Both times do appear to be New York time.)

However, an examination of Olympic's PV does make that lengthy delay seem plausible. At about 7:55 p.m. April 15 -- before they would likely have received Franklin's message, just based on typical lag times -- Olympic's operator reported "weak signals" from "atmospherics" that disrupted their reception from Cape Race. Cape Race finally came back in with a bang around 12:20 a.m. the next morning. But the first two hours of restored communications were dedicated to relaying the Titanic's (1st and 2nd class) survivor list previously obtained from Carpathia. Subsequently three of Franklin's communiques to Olympic were received back to back.

Anyway, Californian was very definitely long gone by then -- Reade figured about 120 miles away, but he must have had the 7:35 p.m. sending time in mind when he wrote that, rather than the 2:55 a.m. receipt time. Either way, it wasn't a case of refusal. Californian just wasn't in any position to "remain", being as they were already well "outta there".

(Incidentally, if you view Olympic's PV on the T.I.P. files, the time may be mis-stated there as "2:35 a.m.")

Cheers,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Jan said: Maybe there's some clue in the very earliest actions of the parties (and I'm going by memory on this). On April 15, 1912, it seems that initially Rostron considered going to Halifax with the survivors. Correspondingly, based upon something, Franklin proposed to send a train there to pick them up. Later, Rostron decided to go to New York. (if my memory serves me right)

Michael said: What clue? new York was better able to handle things, and it was a lot more convenient for reletives to go there then to a reletively small town like Halifax.

I say: This whole recollection seems as garbled as the Marconigram(s) that instigated it. The train to Halifax, as I recall, was the result of a mangled communication that was deciphered as 'Asian towing Titanic to Halifax'. (The Asian was in fact towing the Deutschland.)

That whole set of events occurred *before* the news was clearly transmitted that the Titanic had in fact sunk. Rostron, as far as I know, NEVER considered taking the survivors to Halifax. And Franklin had the train re-routed back to New York once he realized that nobody was ever going to show up at Halifax!

Cheers,
John
 
Dec 12, 1999
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It's not a major issue, but I think the record suggests that Captain Rostron spent some period of time considering whether to go to Halifax, because it was the closest. He certainly went in extreme detail in his testimony to justify the decision that he purportedly made -- to procede to New York.

Reading the testimony, I don't think the senators readily believed Rostron's stated reasons -- because they start asking him about who he takes orders from. Rostron insists that he alone, as Captain, makes the decisions.

At about the time Rostron was thinking about New York or Halifax, i.e., in the wee hours of the disaster, Maurice Farrell later testified that Franklin, in New York, provided the disinformation to the press regarding survivors proceding to Halifax, and proposed sending the 700 capacity train.

Rostron decided to go to New York -- but for no apparent reason, he didn't notify Cunard of his decision for 12 hours! Why the long delay in notifying Cunard?

Perhaps there were some discussions with the shore going on. Maybe Ismay wanted to go to New York, but Cunard and Rostron wanted to take the shortest route, and drop the survivors off in Halifax. Maybe Ismay, Rostron and Cunard wanted to go to Halifax, so that Ismay could get back to Europe, but Franklin and IMM's management demanded that Ismay's posterior be plunked down in New York. Maybe Ismay was drugged, out of his head, and Rostron waited for him to clear his head before any decision was made. Anyway, in view of the reasons which Rostron offered, I don't see why he had to wait 12 hours to officially notify Cunard. Here's what Rostron told the Senators:

Mr. ROSTRON. . . . When I turned back to New York, I sent my message to the Cunard Co. telling them that I was proceeding to New York unless otherwise ordered. You see what I mean there? I said, "For many considerations, consider New York most advisable."

Senator SMITH. And you immediately reversed your course?

Mr. ROSTRON. I came right around for New York immediately, and returned to New York. Would you like to know my reasons for coming back to New York?

Senator SMITH. Yes.

Mr. ROSTRON. The first and principal reason was that we had all these women aboard, and I knew they were hysterical and in a bad state. I knew very well, also, that you would want all the news possible. I knew very well, further, that if I went to Halifax, we could get them there all right, but I did not know how many of these people were half dead, how many were injured, or how many were really sick, or anything like that. I knew, also, that if we went to Halifax, we would have the possibility of coming across more ice, and I knew very well what the effect of that would be on people who had had the experience these people had had. I knew what that would be the whole time we were in the vicinity of ice. I took that into consideration. I knew very well that if we went to Halifax it would be a case of railway journey for these passengers, as I knew they would have to go to New York, and there would be all the miseries of that.

Furthermore, I did not know what the condition of the weather might be, or what accommodation I could give them in Halifax, and that was a great consideration - one of the greatest considerations that made me turn back.

Mr. UHLER. And the chances for fine weather were better coming to New York than going to Halifax?

Mr. ROSTRON. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. Your message to your company was practically notice that you had done this?

Mr. ROSTRON. I had done it; but the message did not get off until Monday evening.

Senator SMITH. You were then -

Mr. ROSTRON. (interrupting). When I sent that message we had been on our way 12 hours.

Senator SMITH. Captain, is it customary to take orders from a director or a general officer of the company aboard?

Mr. ROSTRON. No, sir.

Senator SMITH. From whom do you take orders?

Mr. ROSTRON. From no one.

Senator SMITH. Aboard ship?

Mr. ROSTRON. At sea, immediately I leave port until I arrive at port, the captain is in absolute control and takes orders from no one. I have never known it in our company or any other big company when a director or a managing owner would issue orders on that ship. It matters not who comes on board that ship they are either passengers or crew. There is no official status and no authority whatever with them.
 
B

Bill DeSena

Guest
Hi all,

Jan and I had a wonderful chat about this issue last year at the Bay Area get together and I'm happy to see his persistance with the theory that a coverup took place.

Reading your well documented messages above I wonder if Ismay had seen the bodies while in the lifeboat and made arrangements for the Mackay-Bennett to pick them up. The question here is how would he have been able to communicate his knowledge that hundreds of bodies didn't go down with the ship but were bobbing about the North Atlantic? Michael says above that all wireless was open to anyone's monitoring so it remains a mystery how Ismay got word out.

Jan does make a good point about the timing of the Mackay-Bennett's dispatch and the expense of such a task without any proof that bodies were on the scene. I suppose that closed lips hold the riddle 's answer and we will never really know what was or wasn't seen that day.

Jan, dear chap, I was making my best impression of a capitalist at H'Lordship's last year and you seemed to enjoy it! Haha!

Cheers
Bill
 

Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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Hi Jan.

I'm confused! Your post, and the passage that you have quoted, implies that Senator Smith thought that Rostron may have taken orders from Ismay. But why would Rostron have taken orders from any official of a competitor line?

Senator Smith's question as quoted is also confusing to me:

SENATOR SMITH: "Captain, is it customary to take orders from a director or a general officer of the company aboard?"

To me, this is asking if Rostron would take orders from a *Cunard* officer, who might have been aboard *Rostron's* ship. Perhaps Smith was wondering about Ismay's influence on Titanic's captain? (Rather than wondering about Rostron's decision to head for New York). After all, Rostron seems to volunteer his reasons for heading to New York, rather than having been asked by Smith to explain his decision:

Mr. ROSTRON. I came right around for New York immediately, and returned to New York. Would you like to know my reasons for coming back to New York?

I don't know why Rostron would volunteer his reasons if there was anything to hide.

Jan said: "To be a successful capitalist, one must be ruthless, cheap, and very smart."

I must be a very unsuccessful capitalist, as I fail all three categories!
happy.gif


Regards,
Paul.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Hi, Jan:

Well, I obviously owe you an apology! (That'll teach me to rely on loose, second-hand recollections.)

You are entirely correct; and I do apologize. Not only did Rostron consider Halifax, that appears to have been his actual destination initially (US 123):

Mr. COTTAM. ... Yes; I believe I did mention something about Halifax, sir, simply because the captain was bound for Halifax first, and then he changed his mind and was bound for New York. I may have mentioned Halifax. I can not quite remember whether I mentioned Halifax at first.
Senator SMITH. You say the captain was bound for Halifax?
Mr. COTTAM. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. How do you know?
Mr. COTTAM. I went and asked the captain, sir. Three or four ships around about wanted to know where we were bound for, and the captain said he was not decided, he thought he was bound for Halifax; but later on in the morning he changed his mind.
Senator SMITH. At what time?
Mr. COTTAM. I can not remember the time.
Senator SMITH. About what time? Was it forenoon?
Mr. COTTAM. It may have been about noon.
Senator SMITH. Was it necessary to change his course, in changing his mind?
Mr. COTTAM. Slightly, sir

Rostron's "12 hours" might be partly explained by the delay in changing his mind. But it *does* look like it was 3:15 p.m. New York time before Olympic received word of this revised destination, and 4:00 p.m before he finally asked her captain to forward this information to Cunard.

So, I dunno. (But I will try to consistently keep my yap shut until I've done *my* homework in future.)

Regards,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Michael says above that all wireless was open to anyone's monitoring so it remains a mystery how Ismay got word out.

Hi, Bill: Well, I can think of one way. ;^)

Check out the following excerpt from Olympic's PV concerning Rostron's official communication to Cunard (US 1193):
[hr]
Quote:

8.25 p. m. Received following messages from the Carpathia for retransmission to Cape Race:
"CARPATHIA."

Cunard, New York, 7.55 a. m.:

"New York, lat. 41.45 north, long. 50.20 west. Orfanello New York unless otherwise ordered with about Impusieron Calamarais with Mr. Ismay and Bonplandie with so much ice about consider New York best. Large number of icebergs and twenty miles of field ice with bergs amongst.

"ROSTRON."​
[hr]​
That's verbatim, mind you. Can I get a translation?? %^}

Cheers,
John
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Hi Bill,
Here's a picture of you in your 'ruthless, capitalist' garb, from last year, have a Happy New Year!
Jan
 
B

Bill DeSena

Guest
Hi Jan and everybody,

Thanks for the picture of me Jan at last years get together. I don't think I look that ruthless haha!

John that coded message does lead me to think that Jan's theories might hold water (pardon the pun). If coded messages were being sent between Carpathia and shore in which Ismay's name is mentioned than perhaps Mr Ismay had some influence in what was or wasn't officially seen the morning after.

I wonder if anyone ever questioned that messages text in any f the official hearings and what the explanation of it was?

Regards

Bill the ruthless capitalist
 
May 8, 2001
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One question that keeps coming to mind. I am no expert here and certainly lack in the owning of all the books available, but I have never come across any passenger/eye witness accounts that told of floating bodies in the immediate area, or survivors retelling the tales of bodies they saw as soon as the sun rose. Other than the one body that was spotted, is the evidence in question derived from testimonies and coded messages?
Sincerely,
Colleen
 

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