People trapped in cabins and various rooms deep in the stern


Josh M

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I would conclude that engineers and supervisory personnel likely remained inside, even if they had told staff to make a run for it. Once the power shorted out or the generators failed, it would be pitch dark inside a labarynth of sloped decks and corridors. Trying climb out and find stairwells and ladders would be managed only by touch and familiarity with the spacial arrangements. Using a robot to explore the engineering cavities of the ship would give evidence in the form of boots and gloves. Pretty horrible way to greet death.
"it would be pitch dark inside a labarynth of sloped decks and corridors"...you paint a vivid and terrifying picture with these words
 

Jane Smith

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As sad as it is, I’m pretty sure some passengers, aside from the engineers, died inside the ship. And I think some passengers realized the situation and were awaiting their fate.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I think you are right. A lot of people have surmised this over time and I think it reflects on the vagaries of human nature. Some people simply do not have the will to fight for their life and do tend to give-up. August Wennerstrom said that he saw a lot of "Greeks and Italians" simply sitting around and praying in one of the Third Class common rooms and not even trying to see if they could survive. In Cameron's film, the fictional Irishwoman played by Jenette Goldstein does try initially to escape but when she finds (or thinks) it is hopeless, goes back to her cabin and puts her two children to sleep as the ship sinks.

For some inexplicable reason that I cannot fathom or budge, I feel certain that is what happened to Second Class Finnish passenger Martta Hiltunen. She was travelling with fellow Finns Anna Hamalainen and baby Wiljo Hamalainen. Anna and Wiljo managed to get into Lifeboat #4 but die to some confusion on the deck Martta did not follow them in. Had she remained on the spot, surely she would have found a place on Collapsible D, lowered 10 or 15 minutes later. That suggests that when she missed the boat (quite literally) she went back inside, probably back to her cabin to wait for the end.
 

Guffy

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Hey Josh,

I have read one of the articles that you may be alluding to ('A Last Bright Shining Lie' by Senan Molony) and I would have to disagree quite strongly with some of his points. I am a mere land-lubber and I'm sure one of the properly qualified members will be along shortly to set us straight but in the meantime I thought I'd have a go at a reply.

I don't believe the dynamo room was abandoned early on, or indeed at all. Whilst the dynamos themselves were forced lubrication with a wet sump (not unlike a modern automotive engine) and may not have needed constant manual lubrication like the main engines, the main switchboards controlling power distribution would have been a very manual process. With so much salt water intrusion into various decks there would have been breakers tripping all over the place, as shown in 'A Night To Remember' and the 1997 Titanic Movie - although only briefly in both movies. This would have required pretty much constant management especially towards the end when the flooding increased at a rapid rate. In Senan's article he mentions that the lights had a backup battery that would automatically engage in the event of a loss of power from the dynamos. I have not seen this battery on any plans, nor any mention of it or the automated system in any technical documents on the ship or in commentary from experts. I am happy to be corrected on this but I think to say that the power generation system was totally automated (especially in an emergency situation) is quite incorrect.

I also direct you to this page on Alfred White, a dynamo attendant. A letter detailed on the website tells how some crew remained below, even starting an additional dynamo during the sinking.

I do think Senan has merit in saying that some of the engineers may have made it on deck near the end. I think there is testimony for this and it makes sense, once the main engines were stopped for the final time there would have been little for them to do apart from making sure all the pumps were running, which wouldn't have taken the entire engineering staff. I base this on this reply from Codad1946 in another thread regarding the actions the engineers may have taken after the collision.

We also know that most of the fireman were released from their duties as each boiler room had its fires drawn and was isolated. But to try and claim that the entire engineering crew downed tools and cleared off is unfair in my view.

I think the actions of the engineers in maintaining the electrical supply and keeping the pumps running right up until the end is still one of the most undertold aspects of the tragedy that deserves a big-budget movie all to itself. Yet people still seem more interested in two fictional lovers running around the first class cabins! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Rancor.
Senan Malony.............................he also came up with the 'Fire not ice' .....Sensational Journalism......wouldnt take much note of anything he has to say
 

PRR5406

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I wouldn't expect passengers to be trapped inside the stern cabins by the time the ship up-ended. Human nature, being to survive at all costs, probably brought everyone out while the ship was reasonably level. Those who died within the ship were either men assigned to a job, who saw it was their responsibility to scarifice themselves so others would have at least a slim chance. There has always been the horror stories of steerage passengers locked below decks while the elite got off the ship. Ballard says this didn't happen, but I doubt he is all-knowing regarding the sinking. This would be one of those explorations into the forward section that has not yet occurred. Same for the Straus's. I believe they died together, but the romantic portrayal is entirely subjective. They remained beloved and dignified in their bond to each other at the end of life, but no hard evidence or testimony survived the final plunge.
 

Seumas

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I wouldn't expect passengers to be trapped inside the stern cabins by the time the ship up-ended. Human nature, being to survive at all costs, probably brought everyone out while the ship was reasonably level. Those who died within the ship were either men assigned to a job, who saw it was their responsibility to scarifice themselves so others would have at least a slim chance. There has always been the horror stories of steerage passengers locked below decks while the elite got off the ship. Ballard says this didn't happen, but I doubt he is all-knowing regarding the sinking. This would be one of those explorations into the forward section that has not yet occurred. Same for the Straus's. I believe they died together, but the romantic portrayal is entirely subjective. They remained beloved and dignified in their bond to each other at the end of life, but no hard evidence or testimony survived the final plunge.

The whole Hollywood thing about those heartless, Limey stewards keeping the poor immigrants locked behind Bostwick gates with all the women and children screaming and crying is a lot of utter rubbish that has to be scuttled now.

There was only two such gates, one to prevent access to food stores and another to prevent access to the cargo holds. Popular culture just can't let go of this mythical Gothic tale of the Titanic.

There is ample evidence that what really snookered many in third class was - i) confusion about what the hell was going on, ii) difficulty navigating the ships corridors and stairwells, iii) language barriers, iv) families being separated, v) dragging heaps of luggage around, vi) reluctance to go for the boats until it was too late, vii) lack of stewards to help, Chief Third Class Steward James Kieran had less than fifty men available and someone ordered a number of them onto the boat deck early on rather than to help with evacuating passengers.

As for the whole "heroic engineers trapped in the engine room" story ? That's a myth.

Chief Engineer Bell was seen on deck just before the end, others thought they may have seen him in the water near Collapsible B.

Whilst the Senior Second Engineer Farquarson and a large group of others left the engine room and approached Kieran for lifebelts sometime before the end came. Kieran gave them what he had to hand but didn't have enough so he gave them permission to enter the now abandoned cabins and take any they found there.

The bodies of an electrician and a boilermaker were recovered and identified. There are also two unidentified bodies that are highly likely to be that of engineering officers. So these fellas made it on deck alright.

That said however, Mr Molony's theory (among a few other bizarre claims he has put forward) that all the engineers were on deck long before the end and that the engine room was abandoned for over an hour before the sinking simply doesn't wash either.

Rancor in the previous page of this thread makes a superb argument about why Molony's theory is nonsense. He correctly points out a couple of key things Molony has overlooked and where he has been curiously selective with the evidence, only using those parts that fit his theory.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between the the classic myth and Molony's theory.

Bell didn't need a full complement engineers, electricians, firemen, trimmers and greasers and must have let most of them go. However it's only common sense that such powerful, complex and sensitive machinery (dynamo's and pumps) necessary to people's survival must have needed a some qualified hands to stay behind and keep things going until they themselves got the word to go, which they must have.

Captain Smith finally saw to it that Bride and Phillips knew he expected no more of them and they could go. Just before or just after Smith did this for his wireless men, might Smith have done the same for Bell and his remaining men in the engine room ? All he'd have to do was use the bridge telephone, no need to go down in person.

Unfortunately we'll never know.

People being trapped within the ship as it went down ?

Possibly a small handful of people got caught between the promenade decks and drowned. The now redundant lifeboat falls could conceivably have also got coiled around one or two people and dragged them down until it was too late. It's unlikely that hundreds died trapped within the ship though.

Again we'll just never know.
 
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PRR5406

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Look who knows so much! Most of your statement is well balanced between logic and testimony, but as for the "limey stewards", really? How do you know this for a fact? I mean. it's really a shabby accusation, but not at all far fetched for the time period. As for the Engineers, I can very clearly see a professional who has dedicated his life to doing his service 100%, sticking at his post, knowing that one way or the other, his fate is sealed, and nobody would die because he didn't do his job.
 

Seumas

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Look who knows so much! Most of your statement is well balanced between logic and testimony, but as for the "limey stewards", really? How do you know this for a fact? I mean. it's really a shabby accusation, but not at all far fetched for the time period. As for the Engineers, I can very clearly see a professional who has dedicated his life to doing his service 100%, sticking at his post, knowing that one way or the other, his fate is sealed, and nobody would die because he didn't do his job.
Look who knows so much!

I know absolutely nothing about anything and am just a humble enthusiast like your good self. All I'm doing is repeating what the men said at the inquiries.

but as for the "limey stewards", really? How do you know this for a fact? I mean. it's really a shabby accusation, but not at all far fetched for the time period.

Where is the proof of Bostwick gates deep within third class and the third class stewards having a ball keeping everyone locked behind them ?

Nobody has ever presented a jot of proof for this. People just assume it must be so because they see it in the films.

The clear majority of the professional Titanic historians are not convinced by the tales of locked gates deep within the ship being responsible for sending people to their doom either.

Curiously only two such gates turn up on the deckplans and they were in places where the passengers wouldn't have bothered going. In fact the gate blocking off access to the cargo holds would have been underwater very early on.

As for the Engineers, I can very clearly see a professional who has dedicated his life to doing his service 100%, sticking at his post, knowing that one way or the other, his fate is sealed, and nobody would die because he didn't do his job.

What we think we "see" is totally irrelevant. For example the sentimental, romantic side of me may well "see" Henry Wilde and William Murdoch being swept off the ship to their deaths after bravely trying to free Collapsible A - however I must face the grim fact that there is some evidence one of them may have committed suicide. What I "see" must therefore go in the bin.

Returning to the myth of the engineers.

The evidence points very strongly to them not still being in the engine room when the ship finally sank.

Several men of the engineering crew at both the American and British inquiries testified that engineers were with them in the third class areas trying to find lifebelts. Others recognised some of the engineers just standing around on the boat deck late on. The most senior engineer after Chief Bell, William Farquarson, is specifically named as being amongst their number.

We also have a few men who claimed to have come across Chief Bell on decks or in the water. It's likely that some of them may have stayed at their posts until late on (and they did a damn good job too) but were still released with enough time remaining for them to get on deck.

An electrician and a boilermakers bodies were recovered still wearing their uniforms underneath their overalls (they must have been "on watch") and there were a further two unidentified bodies which are highly likely to from amongst the engineers or electricians also recovered. These men clearly got on deck and took their chance in the water.

Bell and his men made it on deck. Not all at the same time but they did make it on deck.

Ten years ago I too believed that this "band of brothers" had all bravely stayed together down in the engine room and perished there. Then I happened to read the evidence from those who were there and changed my mind.
 

Rancor

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Hello Seumas,

Could I trouble you to provide the relevant evidence from the appropriate testimony? My understanding was a few of the engineers may have made it to the boat deck close to the end, but I'd be surprised if they would leave a 1910 era steam plant totally unattended at the best of times let alone on a sinking ship.
 

Scott Mills

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Hello Seumas,

Could I trouble you to provide the relevant evidence from the appropriate testimony? My understanding was a few of the engineers may have made it to the boat deck close to the end, but I'd be surprised if they would leave a 1910 era steam plant totally unattended at the best of times let alone on a sinking ship.
I, like you I think, found Senan's article probably correct up to a certain point. I think Senan does an excellent job of pointing out that there is very good evidence based off of survivor testimony that much of the engineering crew was ultimately relieved.

I, also like you I suspect, find it hard to believe that absolutely no one was left in engineering to man the dynamos. I would tend to think that some cadre of volunteers, whose names we will never know, stayed until pretty damn close to the very end, if not to the very end to keep the lights on and the pumps working.

I also have questions about how the dynamos were powered. I believe someone here told me they were run off of Diesel generators; however, this seemed weird for a steam powered vessel of the period. I had always thought that at least one boiler needed to be lit to keep up enough steam for electricity generation, which would imply that someone was handling this as well; however, I am open to being completely wrong there.
 

Rancor

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Hey Scott,

Yeah you sum up my thoughts on it pretty well.

I can answer your question regarding the prime movers for the dynamos, it was all steam.

4 main dynamos in the room behind the turbine building, and two smaller emergency dynamos below the fourth funnel high up in the turbine room.

44.jpg
 
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Arun Vajpey

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The whole Hollywood thing about those heartless, Limey stewards keeping the poor immigrants locked behind Bostwick gates with all the women and children screaming and crying is a lot of utter rubbish that has to be scuttled now.

There was only two such gates, one to prevent access to food stores and another to prevent access to the cargo holds. Popular culture just can't let go of this mythical Gothic tale of the Titanic.

There is ample evidence that what really snookered many in third class was - i) confusion about what the hell was going on, ii) difficulty navigating the ships corridors and stairwells, iii) language barriers, iv) families being separated, v) dragging heaps of luggage around, vi) reluctance to go for the boats until it was too late, vii) lack of stewards to help, Chief Third Class Steward James Kieran had less than fifty men available and someone ordered a number of them onto the boat deck early on rather than to help with evacuating passengers.

As for the whole "heroic engineers trapped in the engine room" story ? That's a myth.

Chief Engineer Bell was seen on deck just before the end, others thought they may have seen him in the water near Collapsible B.

Whilst the Senior Second Engineer Farquarson and a large group of others left the engine room and approached Kieran for lifebelts sometime before the end came. Kieran gave them what he had to hand but didn't have enough so he gave them permission to enter the now abandoned cabins and take any they found there.

People being trapped within the ship as it went down ?

Possibly a small handful of people got caught between the promenade decks and drowned. The now redundant lifeboat falls could conceivably have also got coiled around one or two people and dragged them down until it was too late. It's unlikely that hundreds died trapped within the ship though.

Again we'll just never know.
I think the truth lies somewhere in-between sharply polarised conjectures in this thread. At the end of the day, human nature is what it is.

First of all, the word "trapped" is double edged because it suggests that there was no way out. I never believed that was the case for anyone on board the Titanic as far as reaching the boat deck was concerned. But the fact also remains that there was no lifeboat room for everyone on board and this would have dawned on at least some of the eventual victims as the ship sank under them. How they reacted to that realization and what happened to those who did not realize the fact is what I considered in my OP.

There is the possibility that many Third Class passengers had already seen those two locked gates earlier during the voyage and formed the subconscious opinion that those were paths to upper classes and decks. During normal voyage they would have accepted that and not given it a second thought since that was the social order of the day. But after the Titanic collided with the iceberg and realization came that all was not well with the ship, it would be natural for those who had seen the locked gates before to make their way towards them, believing those were the ways out. But several works have shown that this was not the case and there were several other routes from third class areas to the boat deck. Having said that, these were rather tortuous and complicated routes for the most part and many third class passengers, especially those who could not speak or understand English, would have found it very challenging to make it to the top. Then there were others who either did not realize their predicament or did so too late and simply submitted to their fate because there was no other alternative. Those who made it to the boat deck after 02:05 am would have realized that there were no more launchable lifeboats and either remained on the deck or went back below. But there also must have been some who never tried to reach the boat deck and those, in all likelihood, remained in their cabins till the end.

Likewise, I believe that the truth about the Engineers lies somewhere between the heroes who stayed at their posts till the very end and beyond and Molony's conjecture about abandoning the engine room an hour before the ship sank. Like Seumas says, Bell probably did not need his full complement to work in the later stages of the sinking and so some of them very likely made it to the boat deck; maybe Bell himself did so too. But the fact that none of them survived suggests that the engineers did sick to their posts till very late, probably till around 02:10 am or so. They abandoned the engine room only when it became obvious that nothing further they did would make any difference, which IMO is more than fair enough. But of course, there were no more lifeboats left by then and so none of the engineers survived to tell their tale.
 
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PRR5406

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Consider, as far as steerage goes, those difficult halls and passages to the open decks and then loss of lighting as wires strained and connections broke. Being lost in total darkness, with angular decks and people in panic. I'm certain some people simply lost the ability to make rational decisions and collapsed in place.
If the senior engineers remained in the ship's bowels, they no doubt died in the climax of the breakup and in-rushing of ocean water.
Good post.
 

Arun Vajpey

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The now old book Titanic: An Illustrated History is good but not among my favorites largely because of the mediocre writing style and more than necessary writer's licence. BUT, there are some very good pictures (mostly by Ken Marschall) and photographs (mostly Olympic based) in it. Among the latter is an old photo that is also shown in several other works. It depicts a small Second Class common area with a staircase going up in the foreground. In the background, barely discernible through an open door, is what appears to be a corridor running past the doorway.

I understand that this was a Third Class corridor and on board the Titanic the aforementioned door remained open throughout the 2 hours and 40 minutes of the sinking. The staircase reportedly was the start of a direct route to the boat deck. Based on subsequent survivor accounts, some researchers conjecture that at least some Third Class passengers used that route to get to the boat deck and many of them, presumably those who chose to go to the starboard side, survived.

Also in the same book is a full page illustration titled "Were they kept below?" The author feels, correctly in my opinion, that the Third Class passengers were not for the most part persuaded to remain below although they might have been denied passage through certain doors or gates early on. The illustration clearly shows how challenging it would have been for a third class passenger to negotiate their way through the myriad corridors, doors and staircases to reach the boat deck. This would particularly have been the case with large families that included many children, like the Sages or Goodwins despite (in their cases) there being no language barrier.
 

Scott Mills

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I fully accept what is being said here about third class passengers not being "locked behind gates" as depicted in the movie; however, there is one thing that bothers me. When it comes to the evacuation of Titanic many survivors attest to the 'sudden rush' of third class passengers onto the boat deck near the very end.

At no point do we have witnesses relaying stories of a trickle of third class passengers finding there way to the boat deck through the confused passages and corridors all through the evacuation. Rather, we have one sure narrative of a sudden 'rush' of third class passengers at the point when almost all the life boats had left Titanic.

The question then, in my eyes, is this: given that we know they were not 'locked' below decks, what accounts for the fact the vast majority of the third class passengers who made it to Titanic's boat deck did so near the very end; and, as a consequence more crew members than third class passengers survived Titanic?

As for the engineers, yes some of them clearly made it on deck; however, the lights would not have kept on burning if there were not people generating steam, and managing the dynamos up until the very end. I just do not believe that would have been possible if all of the engineers, firemen, and support staff abandoned their stations a freaking hour before Titanic foundered.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Yes, that "sudden rush" of Third Class passengers onto the boat deck sometime between 02:10 am and 02:15 am has been mentioned by several witnesses and so must be true. But at the same time, the fact remains that many third class passengers had found their way to the boat deck earlier, thus negating the "locked out" theory.

You have also got to ask yourself how many people would it have taken under those circumstances to give the impression of "hundreds" to an observer himself or herself under tension to survive. In my view, probably 50 or 60.

My guess is that the events in Third Class were due to a combination of the tortuous route to the boat deck and human herd instinct. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I am going to conjecture that in 1912, that sort of herd instinct would have been very prevalent in "steerage" type of passengers, especially if there was a language barrier.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I feel that many third class passengers would have seen those two locked gates during the voyage and formed an erroneous conclusion that they were the only routes to the upper areas of the ship where they were not allowed. They probably discussed them among themselves and others in third class but during normal sailing the arrangement would have been accepted as part of the times' social order.

After the collision, it is quite likely that of the three classes, many third class passengers were the ones to see the early flooding and realized that the Titanic could sink. Those who believed that the locked gates were the only ways topside would have rushed there and herd instinct being what it is, many other would have followed "those in the know", especially if the latter came from the same part of the world. It would only have taken a crowd of about 80 passengers near the base of the stairs to create chaos. If there indeed was a melee near those gates, the crowd would have continued to try and get through in vain.

Meanwhile, others who either knew the other routes or found them by exploration, steadily made it to the boat deck. At some point the crowd congregating near the locked gates would have realized that there were other ways and likely rushed there and eventually onto the bat deck but by then it was too late.
 

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