Survivor's Accounts


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Matthew Charles O'Brien

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Hey guys,

Any ideas which survivor's accounts appear to agree with our best understandings of the technical aspects of the sinking today? It's amazing how many people witnessing the same event can give such varying accounts of what transpired.
I've seen this happen in day to day events, I can't imagine attempting to accurately recall something that occurred under such duress.

Thanks,

~Matt
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hey Matthew,

Variations in individual testimonies are really not amazing when you consider the conditions the survivors were faced with on that night. Just imagine the confusion during the sinking, and the shield of darkness that comes with night out on the sea. I've seen Michael Standart explain it on these forums before, and after you read his description or that of another sailor's, it's easy to understand why passengers confused who they were seeing on deck, and what exactly was going on.

Of course, this is just one reason for much of the confusion, but when you imagine yourself plunged into complete blackness, unable to see but a few feet in front of you, variations are understandable. The lit decks of the Titanic in the James Cameron film are a bit of artistic license, since had he made it as dark on deck as it actually was, the audience wouldn't have a clue as to what was going on.

As far as accounts that agree with what we know of the sinking today, there were a number of survivors who testified to witnessing the ship break apart before the final plunge. I'm sure someone else can fill you in on more technical aspects, but that was the first aspect to come to my mind.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Anomolies always crop up in testimony and there's just no way around it. One of the really thorny problems in evaluating any statements...all other considerations aside...is that a lot of the people who offered testimony were not trained observers. It doesn't help that what they observed was seen under adverse conditions where they had good cause to wonder if they would be alive by the time of the next sunrise.

Further, individuals in a situation like this seldom ever have the "Big Picture" of what's going on, don't understand what they see. and later try to "fill in the gaps" so to speak with memories that are very real to them, but which on close inspection, turn out to be utter fantasy.

This is charming phenomenon is known as Confabulation.

That the testimony and extant survivor accounts which exist in books and newspapers often don't agree is hardly surprising. What would be incredible is if they all agreed!
 
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Anna Mcpherson

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A Titanic crew officer survivor in his interview may have stated that the Titanic crew were under the impression that the Titanic was deemed unsinkable. If so,This may well explain why Captain Smith never slowed down the Titanic,he believed that Titanic in any situation would survive any amount of damage.

Too me,he seems to be stating the Titanic crew actually believed Titanic was no doubt unsinkable,I'll leave it up too you guys too make up you're own minds.

The first video and it's in the first few seconds in the video he mentions about the crew and the Titanic but only for a few seconds though.

http://www.handingchao.com/titanic-survivors-true-stories-about-titanic-disaster/
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>If so,This may well explain why Captain Smith never slowed down the Titanic,<<

There's really a lot more to it then that. The Titanic wasn't operated in a manner which was in any way different from the way any of the other North Atlantic mail boats was run. So long as they could see where they were going, the perception was that there was no reason to slow down.

Some lines such as the Canadian Pacific concern already knew that this was a bad idea and wouldn't allow it's ships to run into icefields for any reason, but this line was a far seeing minority. For everybody else, it was business as usual.
 
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Anna Mcpherson

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Hallo Michael. You confirmed "The Titanic wasn't operated in a manner which was in any way different from the way any of the other North Atlantic mail boats was run"

Could there be one way different "operated in a manner" from other liners to the Olympic class liners,the unsinkable olympic class liners?
I am not entirely sure on this but was not the Olympic class liners the only ones that was class as unsinkable at the time of the Titanic accident?
The Titanic crew were thinking different from other crew from other smaller vessels that were not deemed unsinkable?

Micheal,In you're own opinion,what did you think the man meant in the video about the Titanic crew thought about the Titanic? I would like a second opinion from someone with more knowledge than I have.
Yours truly
 

Dave Gittins

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This 'unsinkable' thing has been done to death and some very silly things have been said about it.

Since the late 19th century, all major liners were considered to be practically unsinkable in any of the common sorts of accidents at sea. They had watertight compartments, much like Titanic, watertight doors, etc. That doesn't mean seamen was going gaily about without regard to collisions. They were not that thick!
 

Jim Currie

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I agree with you Dave.

Before the advent of proper bulkheads - ships simply had to get a hole in the hull and inevitably went down. To get an idea of just how many men lost their lives in this way, log onto an appropriate web site. 'Unsinkable' was merely a relevant term.
 
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Anna Mcpherson

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That's really unusual,all three of us posted exactly an hr apart. Back to the topic:Dave on the video the Titanic officer stated that crew aboard the Titanic really thought Titanic was that safe,I posted this too find out if that's want he really meant,I don't really know much about this topic.
Is the Officer referring the Titanic to be safer than safer,or have I mis understood him?

Take care.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I am not entirely sure on this but was not the Olympic class liners the only ones that was class as unsinkable at the time of the Titanic accident?<<

No.

This claim was mooted for a lot of the Edwardian liners, usually with the qualification "...has been made insofar as possible practically unsinkable." I've seen this for myself in a lot of articles from The Shipbuilder.

>>Micheal,In you're own opinion,what did you think the man meant in the video about the Titanic crew thought about the Titanic? <<

I would have to see a written transcript. Since I'm on a dial up modem, I don't have time to download and watch a lot of vidios.

In regards the way the Titanic was operated, "No differently from other liners of the period" means exactly that.

No differently.

The words used at the inquiries was "The common practice of seamen" or words to that effect. A modern way of saying that is "Everybody did it" and with few exceptions, they did. It was business as usual, and also badly flawed but it took a sinking to drive the point home.
 

Dave Gittins

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I wouldn't place too much weight on the remarks of the elderly Joseph Boxhall. Old sailors have the privilege of raving on a bit.

Consider this comment from Charles Lightoller.

"Certainly there was no sailor who ever sailed salt water but who smiled - and still smiles - at the idea of the "unsinkable ship"."
 
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Anna Mcpherson

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Dave,was the old guy in the video i supplied was Joseph Boxhill? I thought he was just another crew member. I never knew he was Joseph Boxhill,thanks Dave.
Also with you're last comment Dave,you are saying the Titanic crew were thinking Titanic was deemed more unsinkable than not?

Take care.
 
Many of them did up until it was clear that the ship was going to sink. Remember that the only people that we know for sure had information that the ship was indeed going to sink were Smith, Andrews and Ismay. Other than that, many were under the impression that loading lifeboats was a formality or precaution.

I think Dave's comment was that sailors who hear the term "unsinkable" now know better...and should have known better in 1912.
 

Mark Baber

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Joseph Boxhill

Anna, you know that the correct spelling of this name is not "Boxhill," don't you?
 
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Anna Mcpherson

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No,I never knew it was the wrong spelling.I surf the net,and found out it was " Boxhall".
By the way,the spellchecker is indicting it's the wrong spelling???

Take care.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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The spellchecker doesn't always catch everything, particularly with the spelling of a person's name.

Regarding sailor's attitudes towards unsinkable ships, I believe it can be demonstrated that there were some who genuinely believed it. George Behe has pointed out a few examples to me over the years and on various forums of some who apparantly fell for that.

My own personal opinion is that these people are something of a destinct minority. It's not a view I've ever held to. The warships I served on would be pretty tough nuts to crack, but all through our constant and relentless training, it was always driven home that even the best protected ships...ships with armour plating and extensive subdivision and compartmentation...could be sunk.
 
Feb 23, 2007
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Michael, On this topic, I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Titanic was 20 or so miles south of the normal shipping lanes at the time of the accident. If this is true, then it would stand to reason that the Captain if not the crew was being more cautious due to the ice than given credit for. (Separate but along the same lines) Despite what is written about the increase of speed, when I was in the navy and we went out for the cruise we did pretty much the same thing as far as the gradual increase of speed "working up to cruising speed" so to speak. so I would have to say that the crew may have felt the ship was safe and listened to the written reports of being practically unsinkable but still took precautions due to the ice reports. I don't have enough knowledge of how ships were operated during that time but it seems to me that too much has been made of these types of reports by people trying to establish blame. But as all who have read my assumptions before know, I could be wrong.
 

Dave Gittins

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The 'south of the normal shipping lanes' fairy tale should have been dumped years ago.

Boxhall's navigation and the site of the wreck both show that Titanic was only about four miles south of the usual track. This was due to inevitable minor errors in navigation. There's plenty of evidence on this from myself, Sam Halpern and maybe others.

It's a little-known fact that Lord Mersey reported that the course taken was not due to ice reports. He didn't spell it out, but his expert advisers would have reached this conclusion from Boxhall's account.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Dave has pretty much covered the ground on the navigation angle. Lord Mersey had this to say in the portion of the Report of the Court trascribed at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTReport/BOTRepMessages.php
quote:

At 5.50 p.m. the "Titanic's" course (which had been S. 62° W.) was changed to bring her on a westerly course for New York. (Boxhall, 15315) In ordinary circumstances this change in her course should have been made about half an hour earlier, but she seems on this occasion to have continued for about ten miles longer on her southwesterly course before turning, with the result that she found herself, after altering course at 5.50 p.m. about four or five miles south of the customary route on a course S. 86° W. true. Her course, as thus set, would bring her at the time of the collision to a point about two miles to the southward of the customary route and four miles south and considerably to the westward of the indicated position of the "Baltic's" ice. Her position at the time of the collision would also be well to the southward of the indicated position of the ice mentioned in the "Caronia" message. This change of course was so insignificant that in my opinion it cannot have been made in consequence of information as to ice.

Make of that what you will.​
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The entire story of a delayed turn came out during the British inquiry a few weeks after the American inquiry took place. At the American inquiry there was no mention of any delayed turn. From a navigational point of view, the turn westward took place about where it should have been putting the Titanic on a course for the Nantucket Shoals lightship.

It appears that the delayed turn explanation came about when Titanic's surviving officers tried to resolve how it was possible for the distress position worked out by 4/O Boxhall was so far west from the turning point called 'the corner.' What they didn't know at the time was that the Boxhall position was wrong. We know that now from the location of the wreck site. Boxhall's position was about 13 miles too far westward.
 
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