New book on the horizon about the Morro Castle

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Another sad example of a crew abandoning passengers.

Didn't the Crew of the Morro Castle have a high turn over rate though??

Weren't there a lot of immigrates among the crew who's grasp of English was not what they needed to hep them preform life saving operations that were needed that night.​

Thanks for the reference George. My local library has a copy and I just put a hold on it.

Thank Jim as well.
It's a good start Russell, lets you know what's going on and who's who with out all the (Rogers is a arsonist!!) shenanigans​
>Didn't the Crew of the Morro Castle have a high turn over rate though??

No, auld sport! 1934, as the second worst year of the depression, was NOT a choice time for job-hopping and if you examine the 1934 manifests on and compare them to the final voyage crew list I found at SUNY Maritime, the turnover does not seem unusually high.

>Weren't there a lot of immigrants among the crew who's grasp of English was not...

Yes. But that really had nothing to do with the huge loss of life. As you can see on my list, only six or seven passengers died from burns or smoke inhalation. The rest died because during the first two hours, while it was still possible to walk under the fire, none of the officers or staff members trained in life saving and evacuation walked under the fire.

Subsequently, the authority figure who most passengers later recalled, was Citibank vice-president George Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock, with a crippled wife, performed admirably but was not a trained lifesaver and, of course, did not know how to safely evacuate passengers from a ship. However, as a corporate high-up he knew how to command respect and was very effective in maintaining order and in doing things like shredding fabric, wetting it down, and distributing it as filtering masks.

If a bank vice president could do that, think of what the officers could have achieved, had they tried. Thing is, they didn't.

I often think, in this context, of a pair of incidents. A woman from Hartford, either Adele Wallace or Alice Miller (I forget at the moment)took a huge lungful of smoke towards daybreak and began to collapse, aft on C Deck. A passenger named Milton Klein caught her, put his own filter over her mouth and nose, and walked her out of the smoke to the rail. She later recalled him urging her to "Go!" as the smoke rolled over them and he helped her over the rail from which she jumped. She survived; he did not.

Mrs. Bessie Perlmann of NYC and two of her friends had a single life ring with them. They asked the ship's gym instructor if they could stay with him and he agreed, but when the section of C Deck they were on began to burn he pulled away from the women and jumped overboard without them. When the women jumped together, Mrs. Perlmann landed across tghe life ring and the impact either killed or incapacitated her. She was laying across it, with her head under water and while her friends watched a woman, who they did not know, immediately let go of the rope to which she was clinging and swam over to Mrs. Perlmann. As the stranger was trying to get her head out of the water, a wave broke over them and carried them both away, although the two remaining women managed to retrieve the life ring.

That, to me, is where the interest in the Morro Castle disaster lies. Time and again you see passengers- both male and female- instinctively doing the right thing; whether it was Mr. Whitlock maintaining order; Mr. Klein compromising his own safety to save a shipboard acquaintence; or the unknown woman who may have died trying to save Mrs. Perlmann. Then you see people high up on the Morro Castle chain of command who, presumably by nature of their being officers, had both leadership ability and emergency training, remaining entirely divorced from what was going on around them.

I've told this a few times before, but my favorite Morro Castle 'hero' was a grandmotherly appearing well-to-do woman by the name of Florence Brown. She and her nieces, 18 and 21, went overboard before sunrise (aided by Mr. Whitlock)and spent the next hour holding on to ropes and being battered against the side of the ship by the waves. A woman washed past them, who had her life jacket on upside down~ her head and shoulders were under water, as were her legs, with her hips jackknifed skyward. She was alive, but obviously drowning, and accorsding to both nieces, Mrs. Brown never hesitated in letting go of her rope and swimming towards the unfortunate woman. The current caught both of them and swept them astern, so the nieces did not see if Mrs. Brown reached the dying woman and Mrs. Brown never commented one way or the other. But, the fact is, she tried and did so without hesitation.

Then, one wonders, what did this grandmother-type have that the officers lacked?
Hey, Paul: For a couple of reasons, principal of which being that I've been working on a Lusitania article 24/7 since January, there has been a moratorium on any further Morro Castle research.

The Hassal sisters could both still be alive, and so too could Marta Landmann. At the moment, I know of five survivors who are living.

I found a couple of suggestions that Clemen Landmann was Jewish, although I never confirmed it. 1934 was NOT a good year to return to Germany if one was Jewish. His wife, however, was a Cuban. Marta's long term survival, if in fact she was Jewish, hinged on whether her parents saw the writing on the wall and got back to Cuba using Mrs. Landmann's citizenship before 1938/39.

Nancy Brady's life after the disaster also remains undiscovered.

Doris Landes, who turned 16 aboard the ship? I do not know what became of her, but a "Doris" born on the same day and year as Miss Landes died in New York in early middle age. I will order her death certificate at some point to see whether or not she was the Morro Castle survivor.

I wish that the 1940 census would come online.

If a bank vice president could do that, think of what the officers could have achieved, had they tried. Thing is, they didn't.

No they didn't. I never wanted to apply that they did. I was thinking of reasons why they didn't. I Remember vaguely, Burton's book were he noted that the crew were exchanging or selling those cards that certified they had a Sailor's licences. Didn't some of the crewmen sell them? Makes me wonder if some of them actually had training to do life saving.

Of course the crew could of been concerned with their own lives and just left the passengers to their fate.
A MC book to avoid would be the new one- 'When the Dancing Stopped'. It's just a re-tread of other books and other research.

I would have happily shot those in the crew who abandoned the passengers

as an atheist I don't believe in god but if i am mistaken i hope he gave all of the cowards a harsh punishment - or let the dead passengers decide the punishment

A MC book to avoid would be the new one- 'When the Dancing Stopped'. It's just a re-tread of other books and other research.

Just a repeat then.


I'm sure the Crew got their comeuppance. I'm pretty certain that the crew never bragged about the fact that they were the crew of the Morro Castle.​
>I'm pretty certain that the crew never bragged about the fact that they were the crew of the Morro Castle.

Oh, quite a few of them did. The usual 'the passengers panicked and we tried our best' nonsense.

Thing is, that made good newspaper copy in the 70s 80s and 90s. The stories were "soft news" and so no one ever pointed out the obvious holes in the stories that various surviving crewmembers told.

For instance, no reporter doing a lite story would care to beat up on an old man by arguing the point that a motorized lifeboat was lowered, yet the crew members in it did not at any point use the motor to get to the stern of the ship where the majority of the passengers and crew remained. Or that someone who left in the first boat lowered would have no way of knowing if the passengers had panicked or not, since he was never in a position to see them.

A reporter writing a soft piece for the Sunday news magazine would not get 'in ya face' with a 90 year old over the fact that the details in the 1934 passenger depositions reenforce one another, while the crew members provided stories with details that were not only at odds with what the passengers were claiming, but were also at odds with what the other crew members were saying. And this was DAYS, and not weeks or years after the disaster.

Would a reporter, other than myself, point out to an elderly survivor that Ward Line documents, on file at SUNY Maritime, show that the Ward Line had planted spies on the wreck who were taking notes on the FBI search and sending them, notarized, to the front office? WHAT exactly did the Ward Line suspect the FBI would find?

More crew members behaved well than didn't, but it makes my blood boil when they trot out the 'we did our best but everyone panicked' line.
For my Doctor Who story I'll use the "Forgotten Voices" article as a starter

Much better than showing the handful of famous survivors - on the Titanic, the Doctor was friends with the less well known passengers not John Jacob Astor after all

It will also do more justice than American history has done to the non-White victims like the Saenz's and the Jewish passengers like the Landmann's
I wanted to to wish you good luck on your story, Paul.


For my Doctor Who story I'll use the "Forgotten Voices" article as a starter

You could start with nothing better. The Article is packed with stories. I still re-read it from time to time and still find something new.​
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