Paul Lee's "Titanic: The Homecoming; Tales From The Lapland"


Harland Duzen

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Rob Lawes

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Was tempted to buy this to see what hidden gems have been uncovered. Has anyone got a copy yet and has any thoughts on it?
 

Harland Duzen

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I've ordered a copy, but it hasn't arrived yet, although I imagine it will be just as good as "The Indifferent Stranger". :)
 

Harland Duzen

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I've finished the book last night and I can agree with Dan above in that it is expertly written and researched. It will definitely serve as a great and largely comprehensive source of reference in the future.

Personally, two things that have immediately stuck out to me on the first read were hearing some of the crew's accounts where they active complain of their treatment by White Star (it's rare to often hear negative opinions of them from a corporate-ish standpoint) and hearing surviving firemen actively deny Bride's claims of one of their group trying to steal Jack Phillips lifejacket.

Overall a thumbs up from me. :D
 
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Rob Lawes

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My copy arrived in the post this morning.

Just brewed a fresh cup of Joe and am currently dispatching a batch of work emails before burying my head in it.

Further reports to follow.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Would be interested in what you have to say about it. I read the description of the book and it brought up a question. Maybe its covered in the book. Was it a condition of employment the crew keep silent? Or did White Star and or the B.O.T. have any legal authority to isolate the crew. I know some gave interviews to the press.
 

Rob Lawes

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Right, finished it about 10 minutes ago.

Read the whole thing today.

Overall it was an interesting read with the most fascinating elements being the first few chapters relating to the journey home and the arrival in Plymouth and subsequent arrival of some of the crew back in Southampton.

There are a few tragic stories that serve as excellent reminders of the horrible cost of human life that we often neglect when we are discussing these events.


Was it a condition of employment the crew keep silent? Or did White Star and or the B.O.T. have any legal authority to isolate the crew. I know some gave interviews to the press.
This is covered in the early chapters. White Star were not keen on the crew talking to the press and many steps were taken to keep them apart. In any case it seems the crew were largely reluctant to talk to them.

Initially the steps taken in Plymouth were extremely drastic but the powerful maritime unions quickly came to the support of the crew. Later there seems to have been no restrictions on interviews with the press.

Returning to the book, I found the middle part a little dissapointing. It's clear that the author has gone to great lengths to unearth every scrap of information in the UK press from surviving crew. The problem, as acknowledged in the book, is that a lot of the press reports are anonymous. Some can be easily guessed at because of the close match to the BOT or US Inquiry testimonies however, in the search for completeness, many newspaper articles repeat the same story over and over with very little difference.

Most of the interviews concentrate on the crews departure from the vessel, observation of the ships last moments and eventual rescue by Carpathia. Those hoping for new information about the first hour or so including the situation inside the ship will find themselves dissapointed.

Because the newspaper stories are mainly unattributed its very hard to tell those which were published in syndication from a single source and those that came from two different survivors and confirmed a single story.

The author ends the book with a short chapter looking at some of these issues and a few of the claims made.

I think the book would have provided a much clearer narrative if the press stories were contextualised alongside other sources. The new information would have stood out more clearly.

On the whole, it would definitely appear that the board of trade inquiry did summon the most valuable witnesses and judging by this book, there was very little to be gained from the information available from the remaining crew members that wasn't already submitted to his Lordship.

One thing that stands out however is that almost every surviving crew member described a ship that went down by the head, stern lifting into the air, before breaking in two, the bow plunging straight down while the stern settled back before up ending and following on.

Quite how the BOT inquiry dismissed the break up of the ship baffling.

Further, there is a large amount of evidence thst both Thomas Andrews and Captain Smith were full active in managing and controlling the evacuation. In Smith's case this should counter the popular myth that he was in some sort of glazed trance.

In conclusion , while there isn't a huge amount of new information the book is a great read.

it's clear without doubt that there must only be a tiny amount of information, if any at all, left in library newspaper reading rooms up and down the UK. For that alone, Dr Lee deserves massive credit.
 
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Thank you for your insights on the book. Much appreciated and interesting. I've read a lot of Paul Lee's stuff on Titanic and always enjoyed it. One more question if you don't mind. You made the statement "powerful trade unions". I'm not up on that part of history during that time. Union's power have waxed and waned over time. How rmuch influence did they have during the days of Titanic? Anyway thanks again for the review.
 

Rob Lawes

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The Unions were growing increasingly strong in the early 1900s and had already arranged a number of Dock strikes.

The crew being transferred ashore from the Lapland refused to talk to anyone until their union reps were allowed to talk to them.

The Board of Trade were forced to allow this and to concede they did not have the power to detain anyone against their will.
 
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The Unions were growing increasingly strong in the early 1900s and had already arranged a number of Dock strikes.

The crew being transferred ashore from the Lapland refused to talk to anyone until their union reps were allowed to talk to them.

The Board of Trade were forced to allow this and to concede they did not have the power to detain anyone against their will.
Ok. Thanks for the answer. I have read during that time how the national health act pretty much changed England from one system to another but didn't know how active the unions were during that time. In the U.S. during the time of Titanic the unions were around but not a big factor in much of the shipping industry that I know of. Most of the bigger activity involved the railroads.
 

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