Survivors Lusitania compared to Titanic


Feb 9, 2006
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Hello everyone,

Forgive any ignorant questions as I have just started learning about the Lusitania. Yesterday I read Robert Bailard's "Exploring the Lusitania" which told me more than I knew before, certainly, but left me with a question that wasn't really addressed in the book.

700-odd people survived the Titanic. 700-odd people survived the Lusitania. 2.5 hours from iceberg to sinking on the Titanic. 18 minutes from torpedo to sinking on the Lusitania.

I get this sense of much more chaos, lifeboats buckling, people in the way...So how on earth did less time and more chaos result in about the same number of survivors?

Was it warmer water temperatures? (Anyone care to tell me what they were?) Only 12 miles from shore? There were actually enough lifeboats (though I read about the buckling, or being damaged by the torpedo.)

The book really just didn't give me a sense of how people, beyond half a dozen profiled, actually survived.

If anyone could help banish my ignorance, that would be lovely.
 
J

João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
Lucy, waters near the Irish coast never were warm and people can dye by hypothermia. I don't know if you were able to got that information, but Captain Turner felt the presence of german U-Boats when the ship started approching Ireland and he ordered the preparation of the lifeboats the day before, for an emergency. The crew was demanded to take numerous boxes with lifebelts for the decks. All this combination of factors made easy the people's survival. And, you can't forget the torpedo hit the ship at lunch time and the passengers were close to the outside and able to catch a lifeboat and the lifebelts previously put in the promenade decks. The boats were ready to lower away, so the people only needed to jump on them. If the ship had been attacked during the night, there would be much more casualties.

Best, João
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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>I get this sense of much more chaos, lifeboats buckling, people in the way...So how on earth did less time and more chaos result in about the same number of survivors?

The fortuitous arrival of a fleet of small rescue craft two to three hours after the sinking was the primary reason. The water temperature was in the 50F- 60F range, and even after only 3 hours many of the survivors were in very bad shape from exposure. Arms and legs had become heavy and stopped responding, body temperatures were dropping. Those who did not have life vests had, for the most part, been overcome by exposure and drowned as they lost the abilty to support themselves in the water or hold on to debris by the time rescue was in full swing.

>The boats were ready to lower away, so the people only needed to jump on them.

Only six boats escaped. Had the Lusitania been torpedoed a bit further out at sea, her death list would have been even more grim as those who were adrift in life belts would then have died as well. Many of those saved from the water were unconscious, and moving into shock, by the time they were pulled aboard rescue craft and it is safe to assume that another hour of exposure would have killed most of them.

Here are the links to two articles Mike and I wrote which contain several dozen long survivor accounts. Therein you will find, in their own words, people describing being maimed as they attempted to ride a port side lifeboat into the water as the ship sank, people attempting to save friends and family members only to lose them as lifeboats overturned in launching, and people attempting to capture just how awful slowly sinking into hypothermic shock is:

www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/articles/lusitania2.php

www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/articles/lusitania.php
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
Jim, many of the forward starboard side boats couldn't be release from the davits because the water started pouring in the boat deck, people were struggling and panicking, one funnel broke and fell on top of some lifeboats, crushing lots of crew and passengers. The port side boats couldn't be lowered primarily because the ship's list to starboard. An officer suggested the increase of ballast in the tanks, to equilibrate the ship, but with no results. But I assure you that many first class passengers jumped into the boats when it passed near the A and B-deck promenades. The majority of the 80 people who were saved in boat 15 jumped to the water and were recovered. Hundreds of them put on a life vest and started swimming, with the hope of founding a wood piece or an overturned lifeboat. The real panic began when the ship's bow hit the bottom, because those waters are only 90 m deep and the ship has 240 m, causing a tremendous noise and spilling wreckage for everywhere. I heard a story of a boat with only six crew members on it. Do you know if this is true? I think it was in the Lusitania articles published here in ET.

Best, João
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>Jim, many of the forward starboard side boats couldn't be release from the davits because the water started pouring in the boat deck, people were struggling and panicking, one funnel broke and fell on top of some lifeboats, crushing lots of crew and passengers.

Hi Joao!

One of the forward boats was destroyed by the explosion. One drifted away with, I believe, three crewmen in it. Six were successfully lowered- one of those having dumped its passengers on the first attempt. On the port side, one of the aft most boats dumped its passengers after what reads to be a mechanical malfunction. One of the central boats overturned as well. The remaining port boats, which were loaded, were unloaded by orders from the bridge, which many of the survivors were later very angry about. #14 was lowered close to the end, began filling with water, and capsized as the Lusitania sank close to it.

>The port side boats couldn't be lowered primarily because the ship's list to starboard

Three was a very heavy list at the beginning, but the majority of 1915 accounts are in agreement that the ship soon recovered. Likewise, the majority of portside accounts from immediately after the disaster do NOT say "the boats could not be lowered because of the list. " What they say is "the boats were ordered unloaded at a certain point and, until just before the end, there was no effort made to lower them."

>But I assure you that many first class passengers jumped into the boats when it passed near the A and B-deck promenades.

The A Deck promenade was the boat deck. Yes, some people did jump for the boats but considering the circumstances the behavior was generally better than might be expected.

No funnel collapsed.
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
I really don't want to contradict you, but if you pay attention to some of the passenger biographies in the Lusitania Resource , I read something like a passenger escaping "the funnel fall" to starboard "that crushed some boats". I can't be very precise but there are so little biographies in that link that you could check. I think you know how to find it but I've almost absolutely sure!

Best regards, João
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi Joao,
I am way out of my element with Lusitania here but aren't there traces of all 4 funnels visible at the wreck site where they should be?

Best,
Eric Longo

PS - Hi Jim
happy.gif
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
Don't know, if there are traces, where are the funnels? All the images of the wreck don't show any funnel still with the ship.

Best, JC
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Joao,

At the risk of getting further out of my element, I believe the "skin" of those funnels was made of quite thin metal so not much would remain except steam pipes and structural stuff. When Mauretania was being scrapped, her funnels would collapse of their own weight upon striking the deck after a few of the supports were cut - they fell like trees. In the book Exploring Lusitania there are photographs of the steam pipes and whistle I think - and all 4 funnel "traces" are visible in the Marschall paintings as well, right where they should be in relation to the rest of the wreck.

Best,
Eric
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>I read something like a passenger escaping "the funnel fall" to starboard "that crushed some boats".

That was referring to debris that shot up after the explosion, which fell on top of either boat 3 or 5, according to one or two accounts. Whether the boats were destroyed by the upward force of the blast or debris raining down on them remains to be seen, but certain melodramatic accounts mentioned debris flying out of the funnel~ and so "the funnel fall" could be a badly constructed sentence along the lines of "windfall." So, although a funnel did not fall, allegedly damage may have been done by falling items that blew out of them.
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
Thanks for the info, Eric! Sorry, Jim,I understood it was a funnel.

Regards, João
 

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