Return to England

Oct 14, 2003
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Hello!

I've been searching for some information on the Adriatic and it's trip from NY to Liverpool (2nd May to 11th May).

I wasn't sure where to put this so here goes...

I was wondering what Titanic passengers and crew went home aboard the Adriatic. The officers, Bruce Ismay, and Milvina Dean with her mother and brother are all I know about. Were there anymore?
 

Julie Goebel

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Feb 24, 2007
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Hi there,

I was wondering the date that the officers and J Bruce Ismay left NY and sailed to England. Also what was the date that they got home?

Thank you.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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The officers and most of the surviving crew members, some 167 people in all, arrived at Plymouth, in Devon, aboard the Red Star liner Lapland on the morning of Sunday 28 April 1912. They were brought ashore aboard a Great Western Railway company tender and confined within GWR premises at Plymouth Millbay railway station, so that statements could be taken under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.

I have added, or am preparing to add, some extracts from the contemporary press, which relate to this part of the Titanic story - which is of considerable interest insofar as, when their statements had been given, the crew were free to talk openly to the press, and a certain amount of new information was thereby released into the public domain.

The security arrangements put into place by the GWR ensured that there was little immediate public reaction to the arrival of the crew members, although one sailor remarked that J.Bruce Ismay had worked hard to get the women and children into the boats, and had been "scandalously ill-used at the American Enquiry".

While not regarded as one of the "heroes" of the disaster, the feeling in the UK was that the American press had attempted to make a scapegoat of J.Bruce Ismay, and this seems to have engendered a modicum of sympathy that may not otherwise have existed.
 

Julie Goebel

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Feb 24, 2007
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Thanks Stanley,

I thought for some reason they didn't get back to England until the beginning or middle of May. I guess they were not in the US for too long (although they must have thought it was)

Also, In some of the pictures the men were behind gates talking to people on the other side, what were they waiting to do? Were they not free to go?

I'm sure Ismay and his family were happy he was home, or close to it.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Stanley has covered it pretty well, but he left out Ismay's return and he's wrong about the officers. Bruce Ismay, the four surviving officers, Frederick Fleet and about 40 other crew members arrived in Liverpool on 11 May on Adriatic. Ismay was not received with showers of fruit, or any other missiles. In my book, I have interesting examples of support for Ismay.

I don't seem to have the date on which Ismay left NY. He was held until 30 April by Senator Smith.

One photo caused some confusion. Ismay was photographed leaving Adriatic with his wife. Some assumed she'd been on Titanic and survived. In fact, Ismay had arranged for her to go to Queenstown/Cobh where she joined him for the last part of the voyage to Liverpool. Some modern writers still get it wrong.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Julie, Stanley,

While most of the surviving Crew arrived back on the Lapland at the end of April, Ismay, and the four surviving officers did not return to England until the 11th of May.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Yes, Dave is of course perfectly correct. I should have said 167 of the surviving crew members arrived at Plymouth on 28 April, those who were to give evidence at the American enquiry having been taken off the Lapland on 20 April, just before she sailed. I am sorry if I implied that J.Bruce Ismay had travelled aboard the Lapland, but I thought that it would be worth mentioning what an un-named fireman had said about him at Plymouth.

The well-known photograph of the crew at Plymouth shows them outside Millbay station, talking to members of the public through the station gates. This must have been taken before they had made their statements, after which they were free to leave. Some of them spent the night in the station building, the third class waiting room being used as a dining room for the sailors and firemen, whereas the stewards and stewardesses were fed in the more refined surroundings of the second class waiting room.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Hello Jeremy,

J.Bruce Ismay was not pelted with rotten fruit when he disembarked from the Adriatic at Liverpool. On the contrary, he was "loudly cheered on leaving the liner" by a large crowd which had assembled on the landing stage.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
I don't think you'll find that Ismay was pelted with anything physical in the USA, ripe, rotten or otherwise. There was no need since William Randolph Hearst had the ground well covered with the poison pen and the printing press!
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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That's correct, David. Ismay boarded the Adriatic just before she sailed at midday on the 2nd. I have accounts that suggest he stated to reporters only that he bore no ill feeling towards the American Public, and then he went straight to his stateroom where he remained for much of the voyage. One passenger who did engage him in conversation reproted that he did not resent the American inquiry, but felt that the newspapers had judged him rather harshly without hearing his side of the story.

Ismay, Lightoller and Boxhall were fortunate to make the Adriatic - they had been served with subpoenas by the District Supreme Court to give evidence on an affidavit by Mrs Louise Roberts, the wife of John Jacob Astor’s valet, who was preparing a suit for damages against the White Star Line. When threatened with legal action for departing DC to go to NY, it was argued that they could not be subpoenaed again within 24 hours of the US Congressional Inquiry having released them. Legal representatives of the three men reached an agreement with the attorneys of Mrs Roberts that the men would return to America the following Autumn to give their testimony when the case came up.
 

Julie Goebel

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Feb 24, 2007
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Thanks you guys this is fascinating stuff, I had no idea about them being served again. I can't even imagine what stress they must have been under.

Do you guys know who their legal representation was? I can only assume it must have been someone from the IMM. Also do you know if the officers ever came back to America to give evidence?

Thanks so much!
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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Does anyone know if the crew worked their way home or did they return as passengers?

If they returned as passengers, I wondered what class it was. Ismay would, of course, have traveled first class, and I would hazard a guess that the officers did as well. I wonder if the crew would have been put in second or third class.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I think I'm correct in saying that nobody from Britain gave evidence in person in the US civil claims except Edward Wilding and Captain Turner of Lusitania.

In the US, legal wrangling was so prolonged that it was 22 June 1915 before the court hearings began. (Some statements were taken in advance). White Star had put up a fight that went as high as the US Supreme Court.

Lightoller and others testified in the British civil cases, which were settled long before the Americans started. By 1915, the question was not whether White Star was liable but whether its liability was limited by US law. But that's another story!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Regarding the return travel arrangements, you might take a cue from the Titanic's passenger list which included a number of mariners traveling to New York to join other ships. All of these, including deck and engineering officers, were booked into 3rd Class. But I'd guess that Lightoller and his brother officers, who had complained that the accommodation provided in Washington wasn't up to their expectations, would have traveled back in 2nd Class.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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I have, by chance, been working my way through some press reports concerning the return of the crew (in the hope of finding some "new" survivors stories). The reports mention that a special train was chartered so that crew members could be taken to Southampton to pay off - which suggests that they were still technically employed by the White Star Line, and could not have signed-on as crew members on another ship.

On another issue, these same press reports mention the arrangements made by the GWR for the accommodation of the crew in the 2nd and 3rd class waiting rooms at Plymouth. Would this, however, have been in the main terminal buildings at Plymouth Millbay passenger station, or were they accommodated within the actual GWR docks, where I believe the railway company had erected a large, but somewhat basic wooden building as a so-called "emigrant" station (it was presumably also used by immigrants).
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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The train was actually arranged by the unions. The original official plan was to hold the crew at Plymouth for at least overnight and next day. The union officials thought this was unfair, as the crew wanted to get home quickly. The Board of Trade officials agreed to speed things up so most of the male crew could catch the train to Southampton on the evening of 28 May, as planned by the unions.

Legally, the crew was no longer employed by White Star. Their contract was with the ship and ended when the ship sank.

There had earlier been a discussion with the unions, who thought it was a bit rough to go by the letter of the law after such a disaster. Bruce Ismay agreed to pay the crew for the entire time spent away from home. The payment appears on the form called Account of Wages. Most got 13 days' pay extra but the late arrivals got almost a full month's extra pay.
 
Mar 26, 2009
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What I did was subtract the names that weren't summoned to the U.S. Inquiry and presumed they were on the Lapland. However,I think a couple were still in the hospital! Good luck! -Andrew