Rose Icard


Nov 14, 2005
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Arun you've looked into the passengers a lot so I'll ask you. Have you read her letter? And if so what do you make of it. There's a few things in it that don't seem true to me but I'm wondering if it was just a translation problem. As in lifeboats getting pulled in by the suction, crewman wearing blue jackets and beret's...ect. I had never read it before.
 
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Seumas

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She was clearly unfamiliar with a lot of the proper words used to describe the crews apparel as jersey rather jacket and man o' war cap rather than beret.

You are right that translation often does bring up issues.
 
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She was clearly unfamiliar with a lot of the proper words used to describe the crews apparel as jersey rather jacket and man o' war cap rather than beret.

You are right that translation often does bring up issues.
Thanks. I thought there might be some of that going on. I never learned anything about the french language so had no clue.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Hi Steven

Thanks for asking me; I confess that I had NOT seen that letter before, but read it just now. Certainly interesting but even if it was authentic, I did not see any major 'new perspective' in the letter. To me, it appeared like what it is - reminiscences of an 83-year-old lady 43 years after the disaster with the inevitable latitude allowed. I felt that things like the dream premonition, talks of unsinkability, 'rivers of diamonds', 'cathedrals of ice' etc were figures of speech added on with passing time but she does have a few facts we already know like the Strauses. Captain Smith probably politely directed her towards the lifeboat which could easily be translated as personalised assistance after a while.

The one thing interesting I found in the letter is her story about the man hidden under hear seat. Rose Icard and Mrs Stone were rescued on Lifeboat #6 and there was an interloper on board - Fahim al-Zainni (later Phillip Zenni). There is some uncertainty as to how he got on board Lifeboat #6; he claimed that he made 3 attempts to jump into the lifeboat and was successful finally. Al Zainni might have been the man under Icard's seat (or somewhere nearby).

ET also says that she gave another interview in February 1959 to Paris Match. It might be interesting to know what she said that time.
 
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Hi Steven

Thanks for asking me; I confess that I had NOT seen that letter before, but read it just now. Certainly interesting but even if it was authentic, I did not see any major 'new perspective' in the letter. To me, it appeared like what it is - reminiscences of an 83-year-old lady 43 years after the disaster with the inevitable latitude allowed. I felt that things like the dream premonition, talks of unsinkability, 'rivers of diamonds', 'cathedrals of ice' etc were figures of speech added on with passing time but she does have a few facts we already know like the Strauses. Captain Smith probably politely directed her towards the lifeboat which could easily be translated as personalised assistance after a while.

The one thing interesting I found in the letter is her story about the man hidden under hear seat. Rose Icard and Mrs Stone were rescued on Lifeboat #6 and there was an interloper on board - Fahim al-Zainni (later Phillip Zenni). There is some uncertainty as to how he got on board Lifeboat #6; he claimed that he made 3 attempts to jump into the lifeboat and was successful finally. Al Zainni might have been the man under Icard's seat (or somewhere nearby).

ET also says that she gave another interview in February 1959 to Paris Match. It might be interesting to know what she said that time.
Yes I figured some of it was due to her age and recalling things. Some of them I figured was that and or a translation problem. Like her saying crewman gathered on deck and were singing songs. I have never read anything like that. Memory can be a strange thing. My dear mom who passed away a few months ago had an odd memory problem. She couldn't remember what happened 10 minutes ago. But she could tell you in detail what she did in 1947, 1963, ect. So some elderly people you need to cut them some slack. I think I saw a video of that interview. I will go look and see if I can find it. Cheers.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Like her saying crewman gathered on deck and were singing songs. I have never read anything like that
Rose Icard was French and so they way something is put across and then translated into English might result in a slight change in the message. My guess is that she was referring to the band playing on the deck.
Memory can be a strange thing. My dear mom who passed away a few months ago had an odd memory problem. She couldn't remember what happened 10 minutes ago. But she could tell you in detail what she did in 1947, 1963, ect
That phenomenon is EXTREMELY common. The elderly suffer from frequent short term memory loss but not uncommonly have a clear recollection of events decades old at the same time. Apart from my medical knowledge, I have personal experience of that.

My father-in-law, who died on 2017 aged 95 years (RIP) was an avid movie buff and enjoyed watching the likes of Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart etc in their heyday. As a young man his allowance was limited and so he usually saw films just once. Still, right into his 90s he could recall events in films like Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, It's A Wonderful Life etc. At the same time, he could not recall what we'd told him earlier in the same day.

I am now taking care of my 92 year-old mother in law who can describe the 9 days she spent in jail as a 13-year old political prisoner of the British when she took part in the 1942 "Quit India" freedom movement, marching briefly with Mahatma Gandhi.
 
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Yes I figured some of it was due to her age and recalling things. Some of them I figured was that and or a translation problem. Like her saying crewman gathered on deck and were singing songs. I have never read anything like that. Memory can be a strange thing. My dear mom who passed away a few months ago had an odd memory problem. She couldn't remember what happened 10 minutes ago. But she could tell you in detail what she did in 1947, 1963, ect. So some elderly people you need to cut them some slack. I think I saw a video of that interview. I will go look and see if I can find it. Cheers.
Oops. The video I saw wasn't of her. It was another survivor.
Rose Icard was French and so they way something is put across and then translated into English might result in a slight change in the message. My guess is that she was referring to the band playing on the deck.

That phenomenon is EXTREMELY common. The elderly suffer from frequent short term memory loss but not uncommonly have a clear recollection of events decades old at the same time. Apart from my medical knowledge, I have personal experience of that.

My father-in-law, who died on 2017 aged 95 years (RIP) was an avid movie buff and enjoyed watching the likes of Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart etc in their heyday. As a young man his allowance was limited and so he usually saw films just once. Still, right into his 90s he could recall events in films like Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, It's A Wonderful Life etc. At the same time, he could not recall what we'd told him earlier in the same day.

I am now taking care of my 92 year-old mother in law who can describe the 9 days she spent in jail as a 13-year old political prisoner of the British when she took part in the 1942 "Quit India" freedom movement, marching briefly with Mahatma Gandhi.
I've never really been around many older people. None that had her condition that is. I never dealt with it before. But I probably will soon as I myself am getting up there and some of my closest friends that I've known since grade school are already showing signs of decline. But that's because of the lifestyle they've led (extreme partiers). But I digress. That video I mentioned was not the right one. I couldn't find one of her. But I did just watch an interesting one. One of the survivors said the band playing till the end was a damn lie (her words). And the steward Arthur Lewis said that when he was in the lifeboat none of the people talked to each other while in the boat. He didn't know who they were. Found that interesting. I mentioned it because they were both elderly but still seemed to be pretty sharp.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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One of the survivors said the band playing till the end was a damn lie
While I would not put it across in such words, I do not believe that the band were playing right up to the end either. There are several reasons but the most obvious one is that after about 01:45 am, the combination of the bow trim and port list would have caused considerable physical discomfort to the musicians. Also, by then almost everyone still left on the Titanic would be more concerned with their chances of survival than listening to music. Music can be soothing up to a point under stressful circumstances but if it goes on beyond a certain limit it can get intrusive and annoying.

However, I do believe that most survivors who claimed that they could hear music till the end were not lying - at least not in the conventional sense. The only way to describe what was happening is to call it a pseudo- persistence of sound, not an uncommon effect. Since the music was played at a time when almost everyone had other things in their minds, it would have faded into the background and people would hear it almost subconsciously. Hence the soothing effect and it would persist for a while even after they stopped playing. Therefore, many survivors really believed that they heard music longer than they actually did.
 
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While I would not put it across in such words, I do not believe that the band were playing right up to the end either. There are several reasons but the most obvious one is that after about 01:45 am, the combination of the bow trim and port list would have caused considerable physical discomfort to the musicians. Also, by then almost everyone still left on the Titanic would be more concerned with their chances of survival than listening to music. Music can be soothing up to a point under stressful circumstances but if it goes on beyond a certain limit it can get intrusive and annoying.

However, I do believe that most survivors who claimed that they could hear music till the end were not lying - at least not in the conventional sense. The only way to describe what was happening is to call it a pseudo- persistence of sound, not an uncommon effect. Since the music was played at a time when almost everyone had other things in their minds, it would have faded into the background and people would hear it almost subconsciously. Hence the soothing effect and it would persist for a while even after they stopped playing. Therefore, many survivors really believed that they heard music longer than they actually did.
I did find it kind of odd because of all the other people like you said that reported they did play to the end. That's the way she phrased it. I'll post the vid in case you haven't already seen it.
P.S...This vid is from a site that most of the british members probably already know about. But for anybody that's a history geek like me it has a lot of really good stuff on all history from old newsreels and docu's and such. I had it bookmarked on my old machine but glad I found it again. It's a good site.
 
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I did find it kind of odd because of all the other people like you said that reported they did play to the end. That's the way she phrased it. I'll post the vid in case you haven't already seen it.
P.S...This vid is from a site that most of the british members probably already know about. But for anybody that's a history geek like me it has a lot of really good stuff on all history from old newsreels and docu's and such. I had it bookmarked on my old machine but glad I found it again. It's a good site.
A minor point but in the interest of accuracy she said "ghastly horrible lie" not damn lie. Posting at 3 in the morning does have its drawbacks...:rolleyes:
 

Arun Vajpey

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Rose Icard was not the only one who said that the band stopped playing at some stage well before the final plunge. I cannot recall specifics (will check later) but several others said the same thing and I have a strong feeling that one of them was Col Archibald Gracie. The issue here is that the newspaper reporters listened mainly to those who thought that the band was playing till the end and so published, simply because it sounded more poignant. All that "she went down like a queen, with lights blazing, band playing" etc. Sounds poetic but reality is often rather different.

PS: If you have a copy of Walter Lord's The Night Lives On (mine's back in the UK) the music issue is discussed in the chapter "The Sound of Music"
 
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VanessaMcHugh

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Rose Icard was not the only one who said that the band stopped playing at some stage well before the final plunge. I cannot recall specifics (will check later) but several others said the same thing and I have a strong feeling that one of them was Col Archibald Gracie. The issue here is that the newspaper reporters listened mainly to those who thought that the band was playing till the end and so published, simply because it sounded more poignant. All that "she went down like a queen, with lights blazing, band playing" etc. Sounds poetic but reality is often rather different.

PS: If you have a copy of Walter Lord's The Night Lives On (mine's back in the UK) the music issue is discussed in the chapter "The Sound of Music"

I've nothing in writing to back it up, but family history has it that my great-grandfather also said there was no band at the end.

Vanessa
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I've nothing in writing to back it up, but family history has it that my great-grandfather also said there was no band at the end.

Vanessa
It is often the case. I have met and spoken to Eva Hart about her Titanic memories, had long telephone conversations with scullion John Collins' daughter etc but none of that has concrete writing back-up (other than the notes that I have the habit of making).

I am having a senior moment and have to ask you who your great-grandfather was. You may have mentioned it elsewhere but I cannot recall. My apologies.
 

VanessaMcHugh

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It is often the case. I have met and spoken to Eva Hart about her Titanic memories, had long telephone conversations with scullion John Collins' daughter etc but none of that has concrete writing back-up (other than the notes that I have the habit of making).

I am having a senior moment and have to ask you who your great-grandfather was. You may have mentioned it elsewhere but I cannot recall. My apologies.

William Major, fireman. I have mentioned it before I think, but not for a while.
 
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Seumas

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Rose Icard was not the only one who said that the band stopped playing at some stage well before the final plunge. I cannot recall specifics (will check later) but several others said the same thing and I have a strong feeling that one of them was Col Archibald Gracie. The issue here is that the newspaper reporters listened mainly to those who thought that the band was playing till the end and so published, simply because it sounded more poignant. All that "she went down like a queen, with lights blazing, band playing" etc. Sounds poetic but reality is often rather different.

PS: If you have a copy of Walter Lord's The Night Lives On (mine's back in the UK) the music issue is discussed in the chapter "The Sound of Music"
You are correct Arun.

The musicians playing until the water swept the boat deck is one of the more (if not the most) romantic, bittersweet legends of the Titanic but no matter how much people like to believe that it happened just so, it simply doesn't gel with the facts.

A while ago a pal of mine who is a cello player was thumbing through my copy of "On A Sea of Glass" and was looking up information regarding the band. He agreed with the authors that it in the freezing cold night air it would have been murder on ones fingers playing an instrument in temperatures of that kind for so long.

The incline of the deck at some point would also surely have made it impractical for Hartley and his men to continue.

File under the same category as - (i) the engineers all stayed in the engine room until the very end, (ii) the mail clerks all drowned trying to save bags of mail, (iii) Captain Smith's last words being "Be British boys, be British !" (that's like something General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth would say - it's that stupid), (iv) Charles Joughin being "the drunk baker". All complete nonsense.

These kind of tales may make some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but the evidence tells a very different story.
 
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You are correct Arun.

The musicians playing until the water swept the boat deck is one of the more (if not the most) romantic, bittersweet legends of the Titanic but no matter how much people like to believe that it happened just so, it simply doesn't gel with the facts.

A while ago a pal of mine who is a cello player was thumbing through my copy of "On A Sea of Glass" and was looking up information regarding the band. He agreed with the authors that it in the freezing cold night air it would have been murder on ones fingers playing an instrument in temperatures of that kind for so long.

The incline of the deck at some point would also surely have made it impractical for Hartley and his men to continue.

File under the same category as - (i) the engineers all stayed in the engine room until the very end, (ii) the mail clerks all drowned trying to save bags of mail, (iii) Captain Smith's last words being "Be British boys, be British !" (that's like something General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth would say - it's that stupid), (iv) Charles Joughin being "the drunk baker". All complete nonsense.

These kind of tales may make some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but the evidence tells a very different story.
"These kind of tales may make some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but the evidence tells a very different story."
They make dramatic movie scenes too. But the "be British" quote seemed to be even too much for Cameron in his movie. Unless I'm remembering wrong. Been like 9 years now since I've seen it.
 
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Seumas

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"These kind of tales may make some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but the evidence tells a very different story."
They make dramatic movie scenes too. But the "be British" quote seemed to be even too much for Cameron in his movie. Unless I'm remembering wrong. Been like 9 years now since I've seen it.
Nah, it's not in the film.

The "Be British" legend was just a silly jingoistic thing that newspapers throughout the British Empire created to back up the national myth (and it is a myth) of British stoicism and playing the game and all that rubbish. A national myth that subsequently died a few years later in the mud and rain of Loos, the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele.

Cameron's whole portrayal of Smith wandering around like a lost, defeated old man doesn't square with the evidence though. For reasons that are unclear, Don Lynch (JC's historical advisor) still to this day seems welded to this false idea of Smith being a passive, silent figure during the evacuation which he most certainly was not.
 
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Nah, it's not in the film.

The "Be British" legend was just a silly jingoistic thing that newspapers throughout the British Empire created to back up the national myth (and it is a myth) of British stoicism and playing the game and all that rubbish. A national myth that subsequently died a few years later in the mud and rain of Loos, the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele.

Cameron's whole portrayal of Smith wandering around like a lost, defeated old man doesn't square with the evidence though. For reasons that are unclear, Don Lynch (JC's historical advisor) still to this day seems welded to this false idea of Smith being a passive, silent figure during the evacuation which he most certainly was not.
Yes some of the stories were made up. That's pretty obvious. I could see him giving the command at the end about "you've done your duty, every man for himself or however it went. As for the "myth" of the stoicism and all that the only thing I would comment about that is that I thought the way the British people handled WW2, the Battle of Britain, Dunkirk, the Blitz, D-day, ect. was pretty impressive. Of course that might have just have been a generational thing. Probably get a different response today. Cheers.
 

Seumas

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Yes some of the stories were made up. That's pretty obvious. I could see him giving the command at the end about "you've done your duty, every man for himself or however it went. As for the "myth" of the stoicism and all that the only thing I would comment about that is that I thought the way the British people handled WW2, the Battle of Britain, Dunkirk, the Blitz, D-day, ect. was pretty impressive. Of course that might have just have been a generational thing. Probably get a different response today. Cheers.
I could see him giving the command at the end about "you've done your duty, every man for himself or however it went.

Smith may have said something to that effect during his final appearance in the wireless cabin c02:00-02:05, although some historians are suspicious of Harold Bride's testimony because of the many inconsistencies his separate accounts contain.

There is some evidence from three or four men tending to Collapsible A (just before the water swept over the forward boat deck) about the Captain's "final words". They recalled that Smith came over to them and quite calmly said (he did not shout or scream) words to the effect of "Well boys, do your best for the women and children and look out for yourselves.". The witnesses don't agree on the exact wording but the sentiment was basically the same. All in all, it wasn't really the stirring stuff the papers wanted was it ?

As for the "myth" of the stoicism and all that the only thing I would comment about that is that I thought the way the British people handled WW2, the Battle of Britain, Dunkirk, the Blitz, D-day, ect. was pretty impressive.

Well broadly speaking it was but it was also an unspeakably miserable, bleak time. Not everyone was as united and willing to put differences aside and make sacrifices as popular legend would have it. There was a lot of simmering political unrest as well, including the armed forces. My elder folks certainly did not look back on the war with any kind of nostalgia.

Which brings us back to RMS Titanic.

All this stuff about:
  • Captain Smith's last words supposedly being patriotic and stoic (rather a well meant but still rather feeble final encouragement to his men. Nothing special)
  • Every one of the engineers all still gallantly at their posts down in the engine room as the ship took her final plunge (with the obvious exception of Harvey and Shepherd, these lads did make it on deck)
  • The dedicated ship's orchestra solemnly playing a hymn until the waves closed over them (at some point between 0130 and 0200 the cold and the decks incline must have forced them to stop)
Now, if anyone is offended by what I've just posted, well ............. tough ! That's what the evidence tells us actually happened. These myths of the Titanic disaster were just a comforting falsehood that the public wanted to hear when there was a great tragedy.

Maybe they still do today ? I don't know the answer to that one.
 

Arun Vajpey

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(i) the engineers all stayed in the engine room until the very end,
While it is true that the Titanic's engineers did their duty to their best, there would have been little point in any of them remaining in the engine rooms till the very end. And while none of them survived, IG has gathered evidence that several survivors reported seeing some engineers they know by sight on the boat deck - including Chief Engineer Bell at one stage.
the mail clerks all drowned trying to save bags of mail
Again, there would have been no point. While the traditionally romantic notion of a postal employee doing his duty through doomsday might sound inspirational, it makes little practical sense. Moreover, by 12:15 am the mail rooms were almost completely flooded and uninhabitable.
Captain Smith's last words being "Be British boys, be British !"
No disrespect intended but that "Be British!" quip sounds the corniest of them all. Other than the silliness of it, such a statement would have justifiably made many non-British crew like Bo'sun Nichols, Postal Clerk John March, cellist Roger Bricoux etc (if they was still alive towards the end) and others feel that there was a hidden implication that only the British steadfastly did their duty under crisis.
Charles Joughin being "the drunk baker".
To be fair ( or unfair, depending on the way one looks at it), Joughin might have had a sip or three of booze that night but that almost certainly played no part in his survival. As it has been repeatedly pointed out, drinking alcohol under such conditions significantly increased the risk of hypothermia and death.
These kind of tales may make some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but the evidence tells a very different story.
Absolutely true. I have never believed in or felt comfortable with such pseudo-inspirations either hands-on or hearsay. Reality in the face of nature is usually cold and relentless.