Need stories to share

I am new to ET and have not found my way around. I need guidance to a good source of inspiring Titanic stories to tell 4th and 5th graders. I share stories with 6 classes each week, and believe the kids would benefit from true tales of heroism. Thanks.


The story of the Hart family in Second Class and the Goldsmith family in Third Class caught my imagination when I was a laddie. There is plenty of material regarding them available both on the web and in print.

First Class passenger Archibald Gracie and Second Class passenger Lawrence Beesley both famously books about with vivid details about what they witnessed. These works are now in the public domain, you can read them in full over on the marvellous Internet Archive.
Thanks! I will try to run down these leads. I wonder how many of my generation (I am 86) would stand aside for the women and children? (I get weird looks sometimes when I step ahead to open doors for ladies.) I believe sharing some of these stories with the school kids will get the young men thinking about our duties as men, and will help the young ladies understand how special they are. If nothing else, they will learn a little about the Titanic, which is probably never mentioned in their formal curriculum.


Here are links to Gracie and Beesley's two books.

"The Truth About The Titanic" by Archibald Gracie - The truth about the Titanic : Gracie, Archibald, 1858-1912 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

"The Loss of the SS Titanic" by Lawrence Beesley - The loss of the SS Titanic : its story and its lessons : Beesley, Lawrence, 1877-1967 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

They are free to read online or download. They are no longer under copyright.

It would take a couple of years to fully "digest" the wealth of information contained in them but the full transcripts of the American and British enquiries are invaluable to anyone with an interest in the story and can be read in full here - Titanic Inquiry Project - Main Page

Four of the crew who always impressed me where ...

Chief Purser Hugh McElroy and Second Steward George Dodd are mentioned in quite a number of surviving passenger and crew accounts as having been a real busybodies on the night of the sinking getting their men to their duties, ensuring discipline was kept and helping to load the boats.

First Officer William Murdoch and Sixth Officer James Moody worked assiduously to get boats away.
  • They sensibly allowed men to take up extra spaces on the boats when they could. Several whole families survived because of their work. It's possible that a few of the women may have been more willing to get into the boats because their husband, son or brother were allowed to come with them.
  • A considerable amount of stewards, cooks, firemen and trimmers who wouldn't have stood a chance otherwise were allowed by Murdoch and Moody to take up free spaces. The result was that a number of working class homes in Southampton and Liverpool did not lose their breadwinner and some kids got to see their dad return home.
  • With time running against them, Murdoch and Moody got away the most heavily laden boats lowered that night.
  • A few survivors remarked afterwards how calm and assured both men were under this huge pressure.
George Dodd, Hugh McElroy, James Moody and William Murdoch all perished.
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Very true Samuel, but very sad. I value good manners. A "friend of a friend" tale circulates (and could be true), of a woman who assaulted a gentleman with, "Don't you think I can open it for myself?" He is supposed to have replied, "I am so sorry, I mistook you for a LADY." I could never bring myself to talk to a lady that way.
It would be interesting to study how manners and customs have changed. They surely contribute to smooth interactions in society.
At 86 I am pretty feeble. It hurts when the manners ingrained in me as a youth must be resisted because I can't pick up something a lady has dropped or it hurts too much to stand up to shake hands. Even though I don't meet many people older than I am, I still usually drop in a "Mam" or two when I speak to a lady. (Being from the South, I also can't stop using "y'all".)
The bravery of the men who stood back to let the ladies and children go first on the Titanic must have been bolstered by a lifelong habit of standing aside for women. When I tell these Titanic tales to the 100 + school kids I work with each week, I hope the boys get a sense of our manly duties and the girls get a sense of their special worth.
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Jim Currie

Hello Thomas.
As an octogenarian, like you and being born in a Scotland when macho-ism was practiced almost like a religion, I completely understand your message.
As a young lad, I was taught to respect all females and the elders of our society. To this day, I rise to give a standing lady or someone older than me a seat on public transport or let them onto the elevator before me. I do so, simply because it makes me feel good and who knows, it might just make the receiver of the courtesy feel better at that moment and to be a part of society.
I live on an island where, for a brief moment, time stood still and the young were taught as we were taught. Since coming here, we have watched all the old world pleasantries and considerations being wiped away to be replaced with the "I'm as good as you" attitude...the " don't get in my way syndrome" and it's not a pretty sight. To any of you who might be reading this wandering old man's havers, I ask... when did you last make someone you didn't know feel special?
As for a study in the changes in human interaction over the years? Some very bad practices have been eliminated. Unfortunately these are being enforced by regimentation.
Hello, Jim,
Thanks for your thoughts.
I spent a few happy days in Scotland back in 1953 when I took a leave from my military post in Germany. I was well impressed by the country side and the people. A man I met in the hotel invited me to "tea" at a friend's house - a memorable experience for an unsophisticated Southern boy who thought the only way to serve tea was with ice.
I have great respect for all of our British brothers, and their stead fastness during WW II.
I was raised in the South, (born in Kentucky, where my mother and father were from, but largely raised in Louisiana.) My wife was born and raised on a farm in Mississippi, about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It was assumed that we would grow up to be "Southern Ladies and Gentlemen" and exhibit good manners. Everyone used "Mam" or "Sir" when speaking to elders. I was shocked when I moved to New England and found that none of the kids used these titles.
I now live in a rural area in Maine. There are only 900 people in our town, and we live on a 100 Acre tree farm. We find
the area is very friendly and we had no trouble "fitting in" with the locals.
I believe the Northerners' reputation for being stand offish is due to the fact that most of the Northerners most folks meet are from New York or other large cities, where they need to be more cautious.
I find the children I work with (9 and 10 year olds) are generally friendly and polite. However, their table manners are atrocious and they never use Mam or Sir. I suspect their openness is largely due to our rural setting being mostly protected from urban dangers.


You may want to take time out to visit one of the many Titanic Museums. Their tour guides are very knowledgeable about many obscure stories.
Thanks. I just visited the museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. The guide shared several stories that were perfect for my kids. However, I did not take notes since I assumed it would be easy to find a book full of them. So far I have not found a good source for stories of heroism that lend themselves to telling quickly. I have a half hour with each class, so I have to introduce them to the Titanic and the accident, then tell some stories of heroes. I will definitely include the musicians and staff who did their duty (and then some.)
If you have any favorite stories, I would appreciate them or a good source for them.


Thomas, I don't know if one aspect of this story would be appropriate for the kids but there is the one about William Mintram and his son-in-law Walter "Wally" Hurst (both were firemen).

Mintram had just spent several years in prison for manslaughter - during a drunken argument he had stabbed his wife to death - but by 1912 had served his sentence and was now back working as a ships fireman. His daughters husband Wally Hurst was also working aboard with him. According to Hurst, they both met shortly before the ship went down. Mintram was wearing a lifebelt, Hurst was not. Hurst was asked by his father-in-law if he could swim to which Hurst replied he could not and Mintram promptly tore off his lifebelt and gave it to his son-in-law. With the lifebelt keeping him afloat Wally Hurst swam to the upturned collapsible B and survived, William Mintram on the other hand was one of many who died and who's body was never recovered.

There was a crewman, his identity unknown, who gave third class passenger Minnie Coutts his own lifebelt and then gave her (and her two sons she was with) directions to the boat deck where they finally got into a boat. Just before she and her sons made for the boat deck, Coutts claimed that this crewmen asked her "would you please pray for me ?".

Whilst we are on the subject, there are a couple of what one might call "heroic myths" about the Titanic's sinking that do need to be debunked.

One such story is that of Captain Smith stoic on the deck at the end, commanding the crew through his megaphone "Be British boys, be British !". A journalistic invention and a damn silly one at that. There is some evidence that his last words were quite calmly delivered (to the men frantically trying to free collapsible A) and went along the lines of "Well boys, take care of the women and children and look out for yourselves." (the exact words differ with accounts but the sentiment was basically the same).

A second is the one about Benjamin Guggenheim and the now famous "We are dressed in our best and we are prepared to go down as gentlemen". That was either made up by a journalist or made up by Henry Etches (Guggenheim's bedroom steward) whose account has quite a few holes in it. The long and the short of it is that as famous a piece of "Titanic lore" as it is, it's highly unlikely that Guggenheim ever said such a thing.

A third is that of the engineers and electricians fate, although this one is a bit complex.

Contrary to what the press (particularly those throughout the British Empire) hammered on about at the time, these men were most definitely not still all down below, glued to their posts when the ship sank.

We know from the testimony of some surviving crewmen that a large group of men from the engineering department - firemen, trimmers, greasers and some engineers - were released from their duties by Chief Engineer Joseph Bell about an hour (or slightly less) before the ship sank. However, this is not proof that they were all released. There is an article on ET by Mr Senan Molony (using very selective evidence) arguing that every one of the engineers and electricians were on deck long before the ship sank - that I simply cannot agree with. For such complex, sensitive machinery such as the vital pumps and dynamos to be left completely unattended for about an hour or even more simply flies in the face of common sense.

After releasing the majority of their men, Joseph Bell and Chief Electrician Peter Sloan must surely have stayed below with the minimum amount of professionals required to staff the pumps and dynamos until Captain Smith released them all from their duties late on. Now, just before the end they where indeed all on deck.There were reports by some men (one of them was Wally Hurst who I mentioned earlier) that Bell himself was seen on deck just before the end came (with a plank of wood under his arm) and some even claimed to have come across Bell in the water.

So in conclusion it is a myth that every single one of the engineers and electricians were still at their posts right until the very end as the newspapers of the time would have us believe. Although it is probable that a handful of them were still at their posts until late on but still had time to make it up on deck.

There may have been a number of very inspiring and heartbreaking stories of heroism which were never recorded because the participants and witnesses to them all perished together.