On board the Carpathia


Jason D. Tiller

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You were right the first time, John. The following is taken from Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember":

Up on the bridge Rostron knew without asking--yet he felt he had to go through the formalities. He sent for Boxhall, and as the Fourth Officer stood shivering before him, he put it to him: The Titanic has gone down?

Yes--Boxhall's voice broke as he said it--she went down at about 2:30.
 

Inger Sheil

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The officer was a young man, Joseph Boxhall, Fourth Officer of the Titanic. I took him up to the bridge, to report to our Captain.

Without preliminaries, Rostron burst out, excitedly, "Where is the Titanic?"

"Gone!" said Boxhall. "She sank at 2.20 a.m."

In the moment of stunned silence that followed, every man on the bridge of the Carpathia could envisage the appalling reality, but not yet to its fullest extent. It was now 4.20 a.m.

Boxhall added in a voice of desperation, "She was hoodoo'd from the beginning..."

Captain Rostron took the young officer by the arm, and said quietly and kindly to him, "Never mind that, m'son. Tell me, were all her boats got away safely?"

"I believe so, sir. It was hard to see in the darkness. There were sixteen boats and four collapsibles. Women and children were ordered into the boats. She struck the berg at 11.40. The boats were launched from 12.45 onwards. My boat was cleared away at 1.45, one of the last to be lowered. Many of the boats were only half full. People wouldn't get into them. They didn't believe that she would sink..."

"Were there many people left on board when she sank?"

"Hundreds and hundreds! Perhaps a thousand! Perhaps more!" Boxhall's voice broke with emotion. "My God, sir, they've gone down with her. They couldn't live in this icy cold water. We had room for a dozen more people in my boat, but it was dark after the ship took the plunge. We didn't pick up any swimmers. I fired flares...I think that the people were drawn down deep by the suction. The other boats are somewhere near..."

"Thank you, Mister," said Rostron. "Go below and get some coffee, and try to get warm."

James Bissett, Tramps and Ladies
 

Dave Gittins

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I have grave doubts about Bisset's whole account. Apart from the fact that it was ghost-written, some of it seems to be drawn from ANTR. For instance, Bisset has Carpathia receiving the same ice warnings as did Titanic. This is at odds with Rostron's 1912 evidence.
 

Inger Sheil

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I have my reservations about some of the specifics too, Sam and Dave. I'd particularly like to know if Boxhall expressed such a strong belief that the ship was 'hoodoo'd' from the beginning - I don't recall him making this suggestion other than in Bissett's account, and there's no family tradition of him feeling the ship was cursed from the outset that I'm aware of.

Possibly it's there to lend a bit of colour to the story, or maybe it's borrowed from other crew gossip. Of course, I could be quite wrong, and Boxhall did express himself in those terms.

The tenor of grief and horror I can believe, if not perhaps the literalism of Bissett's recollections.
 
R

Royal Mitchell

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Lif on the carpathia was bad as we know, Ms. Abbott had a cork in her hair and her friends had to struggle to get it out. The morning the were rescued it was chaos. It was all caused because of Ismay wanted to break a record. What you dont know is that there was a coal bunker fire that was part of the reason for excess speed. It was said that Titanic only had half of the coal she needed to cross. In that case why was ismay trying to break a record crossing the Atlantic. Know that it didnt have enough coal for the speed. A coal bunker fire was also a problem with the shovels and the sparks and that caused it. They didnt tell anyone because those fores were normal and that they had no need to tell the Ships officers about the matter. That caused Excess speed.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Lif on the carpathia was bad as we know, Ms. Abbott had a cork in her hair and her friends had to struggle to get it out. The morning the were rescued it was chaos.<<

Not to be exceedingly blunt, Royal, but you have no earthly idea what you're talking about. Conditions may have been a bit cramped on the Carpathia, but they were hardly chaotic. Captain Rostron and his crew did a superlative job of getting things organized on the fly and they kept it that way.

>>It was all caused because of Ismay wanted to break a record. What you dont know is that there was a coal bunker fire that was part of the reason for excess speed.<<

Errrr, which is it? Aside from the fact that the two statements are contradictory, both are flat out wrong. At no point was the Titanic trying to break a transatlantic speed record, nor was she capable of doing so. The Lusitania and Mauritania could better Titanic's potentially best possible speed by three knots and her expected service speed by five and a half.

The coal bunker fire was no big deal. Spontaneous combustion is the culprit here. Not sparks. It amounted to more then a smouldering bed that was more an irritant then a threat. The black gang dealt with it in the usual fashion, ipso facto shoveling the contents of the bunker into the boilers as needed and drenching the fire with water when they finally dug it out. It was out by Saturday afternoon.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I understand that coal fires were common aboard ships at the time and were really only a thorn in the side of the stokers, right?<<

Yeah...pretty much. They weren't an everyday occurance but they were common enough that they had a decent understanding of how to deal with the problem. The only instance where I know of one that may have been fatal was the one that supposedly got going on the USS Maine in a bunker right next to the powder magazine.

Not surprisingly, the ship exploded.

Aside from extreme examples like that, bunker fires were seldom much of a threat.
 
Oct 20, 2006
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In Inger Sheil's post dated May 17, 2006 he references that Lightoller and Pitman took an inventory of Titanic's lifeboats while aboard the Carpathia. Has this inventory list ever been published? Is it the same list that was published in the Titanic Commutator a few years ago? If it is a different inventory list when and where was the TC list complied?

Thanks,
Dallas
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo Dallas -

I haven't seen a full version of the inventory Lightoller and Pitman took. It was referred to in Lightoller's correspondence with Beesley, but I haven't seen the full text of the letter (and I don't think that Lightoller sent an itemised list of lifeboat contents to Beesley). I'm not sure how it relates to the inventory published in the Titanic Commutator and can't off hand recall that list - it would be interesting if it did originate with Lightoller. Perhaps someone else here can shed some light on it.

(Just a quick aside - I'm a woman. I know my forename is a bit ambiguously gendered in some cultures, and take no offense at all when those who know me only through correspondence are under the impression I'm a male, but it may save confusion later if I point that out now!).
 
C

Caroline Mendes Ferreira

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Board the Carpathia

After the tragedy the survivors aboard the Carpathia were spoiled by the crew offered every possible comfort and help. And also desperate women looking for their husbands. I just think many survivors aboard the Carpathia were desperate.

[Moderator's note: This message, originally a separate thread, has been moved to this existing discussion of the same subject. MAB]
 

Cam Houseman

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I can't help thinking Major Peuchen was smart to get it in writing. "Be prepared." Very savvy. (I wonder if he knew Lord Baden-Powell or was involved in the Boy Scouts.) [A not too subtile hint, Jason. I don't want to be too old and blind to read your biography of him.]

I assume that, as Mr. Lightoller was the senior officer among the surviving crew, he was responsible to the White Star Line for their welfare and good behaviour. Was he also responsible to the Line for the welfare of the surviving passengers? With Mr. Ismay on board but incommunicado, did 'who was responsible for the passengers' present problems?

Were Mr. Lightoller and the other Titanic officers answerable to Capt. Rostron in any way? Captain Rostron was, of course, in command and his word went; but Carpathia was a Cunard ship - a 'rival' line and not the Titanic company's employer. Were there protocols to be followed between officers and crews of different shipping lines in these after rescue situations? If the Olympic had retrieved them, would the officers and crew been given duties alongside (the) Olympic's officers and crew?

Was there any show of animosity between the two crews? Something like what might happen after a taunt, "If you'd been on a Cunarder, mate, you'd never've sunk!" or "What was your captain (or ol' Murdoch) thinking of, goin' full tilt into a berg?" or "You must've been blinder than a mole to 'ave missed seein' a berg on such a clear night, Fleet!" Did the two crews keep their discipline?
were there any nasty people onboard the Carpathia, who treated the survivors badly?
 
May 3, 2005
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I am reminded about that statement by - I believe it was Lord Mersey ? - something to the effect that if Californian had gone to Titanic's aid " many , if not all , could have been saved ". I think it has been agreed that this would have been impossible.
But if it would have been possible wouldn't Californian have been terribly overcrowded for the size of the ship ?
If it had been possible would Carpathia have been able to take on the some two thousand passengers and crew without being overcrowded ?
As it was , did Carpathia have any reports of being crowded with the additional of some seven hundred survivors ?
I understand some slept on deck. Wasn't there some rain enroute to New York ? How did they fare ?
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I am reminded about that statement by - I believe it was Lord Mersey ? - something to the effect that if Californian had gone to Titanic's aid " many , if not all , could have been saved ".
That was a figure of speech and then some. IF the Californian had been immediately alerted at the first sign of distress, woke Cyril Evans and confirmed the problem even as they were getting ready to move out and started out asap with multiple lookouts, they would have to still negotiate the ice field around them. Also, the Californian was a 11 knot ship and IMO they were 15 to 17 miles away at the time; they could not possibly have arrived near the sinking Titanic much before 02:00 am at which time they could certainly not get close alongside. With the most optimistic scenario, the Californian could probably have picked-up 30 to 40 half-dead individuals out of the water, some of whom might have died later.

But having said all that, the fact remains that they did not even try. There is the rub.

As this thread is about life on board the Carpathia after she picked up the survivors, an interesting nasty comment from Third Class passenger Elizabeth Dowdell who was the nanny to 6 and a half year old Virginia Martin-Emmanuel and survived on Lifeboat #13. Dowdell complained about the lack of facilities on board the Carpathia and having to rub shoulders with 'Chinese' passengers. My sympathies are with those Chinese people.
 
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