Return to the Sea


Ben Lemmon

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Oct 9, 2009
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I have been dithering about this question for some time, and I decided it was time to bring it to the professionals. I was wondering when the ships (i.e. Adriatic, Olympic, Mauritania, etc.) began to sail across the Atlantic again. Was it within 3 weeks after the disaster? And also, since I am already writing, I would like to ask another question. If there were family members or friends who knew someone who died in the sinking, would they have been able to be shipped across pro bono for the funeral or did the other family members have to pay for the tickets to get them over?
 
Dec 5, 2008
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>>"If there were family members or friends who knew someone who died in the sinking, would they have been able to be shipped across pro bono for the funeral or did the other family members have to pay for the tickets to get them over?"<<

Hi, Ben.

I'm certainly no expert, but I imagine that was fairly unlikely.

According to WSL's official procedures, even the pay for the crew stops the minute the ship flounders, and what with their hesitancy to even pay the crew of the Titanic for the time they were stuck during the inquiries, and the time-period, I highly doubt they would have shelled out the cash for that type of thing.

First off, many bodies were not even recovered. Second, even more were buried at sea, and third, most likely where the funds for that would have come out of would have been the Titanic Relief-Fund, and frankly, that money could have been much better spent aiding the families of the victims, and going towards widows and children, etc, then paying for people to go to a funeral. I know it seems kind of harsh, but frankly, especially for the time when welfare wasn't an option, the money was better used taking care of the living, whose lives depended upon that income.

Personally, I would rather see a child fed then see another bury a loved one. Again, harsh, I know, but that is JMHO.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Other ships went right on sailing the Atlantic. Carpathia, for instance, sailed on 19 April. Plenty of other sailings are recorded in the press of the time.

The truth about the crew's pay is that it stopped when the ship sank because that was the law, not a White Star quirk. Their contract was with the ship. No ship, no pay! White Star actually paid the surviving crew for the full time they spent away from England. Most got 13 days' extra, but those who went to the US inquiry got up to about a month.

I've never heard of anybody being taken to funerals. One kindness (or PR) that White Star did was the take Mrs Navratil to America to pick up her children and take them back to France.

White Star was not entirely heartless (or needed PR). It had no obligation to find the bodies of the lost, but it spent a good deal on doing so. It also paid for funerals and headstones in Halifax.

It's true that White Star played hard ball in some Workmen's Compensation claims and it fought civil claims in Britain and the USA vigorously, but it wasn't entirely mean.
 
Dec 5, 2008
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>>"The truth about the crew's pay is that it stopped when the ship sank because that was the law, not a White Star quirk."<<

Whoops! Thanks for the correction - it's good to know!

>>"It had no obligation to find the bodies of the lost, but it spent a good deal on doing so. It also paid for funerals and headstones in Halifax."<<

But can you imagine the public outcry if they didn't? There was a huge enough shockwave after Titanic sank - the last thing anyone needed was for WSL to make out that nobody even cared about the loss of life. The passengers were travelling on their line, and put their life in their hands. If they made out like they didn't give a flying ----, do you think anyone would have been likely to travel on their lines?

I don't think it was entirely motivated by PR - I'm sure they felt a genuine humane sympathy towards the survivors, victims and families, and that it was a huge motivation, but I don't think that we should take for granted what likely would have happened had they not. The WSL was not stupid - they knew the effects of bad press, they already had enough of it by the actual sinking. They didn't need to look incompetent and heartless.

And while the actual sinking cannot be blamed on WSL, I highly doubt many of the victim's families looked upon it that way.
 
T

Trevor Rommelley

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Some crew members were paid for the full day of the 15th, their pay did not stop at 2.20am. James Witter, for instance.
 
Dec 5, 2008
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I think that they were all paid for at least the remainder for what should have been Titanic's voyage. As Dave already said, most were paid for 13 days, some for a month.

It was just traditionally (by law, as again, Dave pointed out) that it would have stopped at the time of the sinking.
 

Dave Gittins

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All the survivors were paid for a full day on 15 April, though they knocked off at 2-20am, ship's time. A day's pay for a seaman was only three and fourpence, so why split hairs?

There's a document that shows that most of the black gang would have collected as little as two shillings after the voyage, had they not been paid the bonus. They had taken advances of one pound before sailing, an old sea custom. Only a few seamen or stewards did this.
 
Dec 5, 2008
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>>"They had taken advances of one pound before sailing, an old sea custom."<<

Very interesting! I've never heard of that before. You wouldn't happen to know why, would you? Simply to keep the home-front running?
 

Dave Gittins

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Advances were a very old tradition. Some were given for the benefit of wives or to buy clothing for the voyage. Some may have been spent on booze.

There's an old shanty that mentions a ship with a "shanghaied crew of Dutchmen". Part goes "and none of them could speak a word of English, but they answered to the name of Month's Advance".
 

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