Third class passengers emerging from Grand staircase after 200 AM


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Matthew Bird

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According to witnesses, just as water started coming onto the boat deck, a large crowd of steerage passengers incl many women poured out of the first class entrance.

I've just wondered for a long time, what they were doing moving through that forward part of the ship at this late stage in the sinking and by which route they came.

If they had been in the stern section i would have assumed they'd have got up top via the second class stairway. I might be wrong though.

did anyone survive from this group of people?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>did anyone survive from this group of people?<<

Since we have no way of knowing who was in this group, I don't think anyone can answer that question. Unless they were one of the lucky few to get on the overturned collapsible, or get pulled out of the sea after the ship sank, I don't think it likely.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Matthew,

Some accounts place Olaus Abelseth among this group. Supposedly, he and a swarm of others flooded the boat deck just as the forward dipped under. He got off on starboard side via either one of the snapped funnel lines draping down or a life boat line. He survived, I think, in Collapsible A and made his way to a farm in Montana where he died of old age in the 1970s.

As for their passage, please remember that the depths of that ship were like a maze, so several stragglers were squirreling about where they could to find access to the top. Yes, they could have made their way up to the poop deck or aft well deck--it certainly would have been easier--but many of those who struck out on their own had done so earlier with hopes of making it to the boat deck, which is somewhat difficult--although not impossible--to access from the aft well deck. Panic and confusion have a way of causing people to do things that are not always common sense.

The most likely route would have probably been Scotland Road on E-Deck, as it was by far the largest passageway I know of that was below decks. Still, maybe someone else can postulate or add to that with other possibilities.

That makes me wonder why those waiting in the stern didn't simply just go up and wait on the well deck for help. If the gates weren't locked or insurmountable, why did they remain below? This is one thing about which I am still a bit uncertain, as there are several possibilities into which I will not venture to discuss here. If someone decides to bring them up, though, I won't hold back.

Just my input.
 

Bob Godfrey

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You can rule out Abelseth. It's clear from his own testimony (US Inquiry) that he got to the boat deck via the after well deck, relatively early when boats were still being loaded.
 
May 27, 2007
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Mark >>Panic and confusion have a way of causing people to do things that are not always common sense.<<

Tunnel Vision. Their minds become locked on one course of action even when another more better course of survival presents it self.
sad.gif
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Bob, I guess the other sources are obviously wrong, then, including ANTR, which is the source where I think I read it. I thank you for the U.S. Inquiry reference. I will certainly check it out.


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Tunnel Vision. Their minds become locked on one course of action even when another more better course of survival presents it self.
Exactly, but not only that. When people are locked in a life-threatening situation, their minds tend to fly with thoughts of death, so they just move. This is not rational, but it is human.​
 
May 27, 2007
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Mark >>Exactly, but not only that. When people are locked in a life-threatening situation, their minds tend to fly with thoughts of death, so they just move. This is not rational, but it is human.<<

True !!
 
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Matthew Bird

Guest
Thanks for the reply's, just something i was curious about, even if it is somewhat morbid.

I wonder if they were the "mob" that people in Boat 2 reported seeing at the gangway, this would have been late in the sinking so....

sad story.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>If the gates weren't locked or insurmountable, why did they remain below?<<

It may well have been that they were waiting for somwbody to tell them what to do. It's hard to devine the thoughts of even one person, much less several hundred who didn't survive. Gates certainly weren't an issue because they were located in only two places below decks. One was up forward on E-deck in the 3rd class area, and the other was located at the base of the ladder going down into a vegetable preperation area. None of them wer any barrier to getting up from below, and the 3rd class accomadation up forward was abandoned early in the sinking.

Cathy Akers-Jordon did a wonderful job of putting the whole locked gates myth to rest at the 2006 symposium. If any of you have Powerpoint, her presentation can be accessed on This Webpage.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Michael,

I am certainly well aware of this, among other possibilities. The fact that other immigrants disregarded the order to wait and then struck out on their own seems to eliminate the enculturated attitude of "accepting one's own fate," otherwise one might presume that all of the immigrants would have waited because they'd have all shared the same class attitude. They didn't. Each person is different, yes, and deciding to wait was probably one factor. But I suspect there were other reasons, too. That's why I asked. If it had been such an obvious answer, I wouldn't have asked the question.

As for Cathy's site, I already saw it. You posted it at least four times for me already, hehe, although I realize that the link is for anybody interested. As described above, I disregarded the gates as a factor right away because of Cathy's findings.
 
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Hi Michael and Mark,

Thanks for reading my presentation from the 2004 Titanic Symposium! I'm turning it into an article to submit to the Commutator.

Since the Symposium I've found several additional passenger accounts of locked gates/doors/barriers (usually doors) so although there is no physical evidence of gates below decks, I now believe there were at least some physical barriers (in addition to all the cultural and psychological barriers).

Cathy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Thanks for reading my presentation from the 2004 Titanic Symposium! I'm turning it into an article to submit to the Commutator.<<

I had no trouble reading it the first time since I was there when you first presented it. I'll be looking forward to seeing it when it appears in the Commutator.

I don't know how much of an impact it'll have. Like a lot of other stories, the locked gates thing is so deeply ingrained in the mythos that I doubt it'll ever go away.

>>I now believe there were at least some physical barriers<<

That much wouldn't surprise me. The funny thing is...or perhaps not so funny in view of the price in lives...is that there was probably little need for such. The way the ship was built, she was practically made to order for class segragation, and making the crossing of such divisions very difficult.

>>otherwise one might presume that all of the immigrants would have waited because they'd have all shared the same class attitude. They didn't.<<

I'm aware of that. Unfortuantely, for every one who appeared to break the mould, there seemed to be just as many who were inclined to wait for instructions, at least until the situation became so untenable that the only choice was to take matters into their own hands or drown like rats in a trap.

That a lot of these people didn't come up until very late in the sinking speaks to a sort of inertia on some level. Whether it was the crew keeping them down (vis a vis the Little Hitler Syndrome that Brian Ticehurst once spoke to) or the passengers waiting for instructions is the really intriging question.

It may well have been both.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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quote:

Thanks for reading my presentation from the 2004 Titanic Symposium! I'm turning it into an article to submit to the Commutator.
I found it very interesting, Cathy. Please let me know in which issue it will be featured, and I will make it a point to read it.

That reminds me: How/where do I subscribe to the Comutator? I wanted to before but never had a chance to do so.


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the locked gates thing is so deeply ingrained in the mythos that I doubt it'll ever go away.
Well, Mike, with this new development, there might actually be some truth behind that mythos, although locked doors do not necessarily spell out a deliberate 'lock-in' of steerage passengers. The stewards might have forgotten to unlock the doors in question during the growing chaos and other emergency duties to which they had to attend. After all, the doors were possibly kept locked on a regular basis. As you and others (including myself) have said in the past: Titanic was a class-segregated ship. Overlooking those doors would have been easy.


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Whether it was the crew keeping them down (vis a vis the Little Hitler Syndrome that Brian Ticehurst once spoke to) or the passengers waiting for instructions is the really intriguing question. It may well have been both.
Wow, Mike. A long time ago, when you and I were debating this, you seemed to insist that no favoritism took place, that the steerage were not deliberately held down. Now you're open to the idea of possible mal intent. True, this is not confirmed, and probably can never be, but it certainly is a possibility. Then again, it might have been a case where the stewards thought for sure that the order would eventually come, but it unfortunately never did. This would not have been the stewards' fault.

One thing I did learn here, especially from you, is to never jump to conclusions and to focus on the evidence at hand before making an assessment (although I'll admit that it is impossible for any human to form an entirely objective opinion; some partiality will always seep through. We are humans, after all, and subject to our own experiences).

The point two paragraphs above does raise yet another older idea, too: bringing steerage to the boat deck earlier. This would undoubtedly have ensured the survival of more of the third class than had been saved. Someone had once asked here (was it I?): With the impending danger looming, why didn't the stewards start ushering the steerage to the boat deck right away? Well, I am aware of a sailor's duty: Do what you're told--nothing more and certainly nothing less. If the captain did not issue an order stating that the steerage were to be brought up to the boats, then they were not, even if dangerous circumstances dictated it. This would be a sticky situation indeed, and one that might leave plenty of ship workers feeling regret in the wake of a great tragedy. As you once said: Panic might have ensued on the boat deck if any of the third class were to have been brought up early. The last thing the officers needed was a crazy mob swarming around them while they tried to load and lower the lifeboats.


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at least until the situation became so untenable that the only choice was to take matters into their own hands or drown like rats in a trap.
Yet another older but interesting point, that of disregarding the orders of authority for the sake of survival. IF the stewards had ordered the steerage to remain there and wait--either by force or persuasion--and then some of those passengers decided to disregard these instructions and strike off on their own when no further instructions came forth, are these individuals still considered in the wrong or out-of-line, even though their attempts secured their survival? Are those who did what they were told--to wait--in the right even though waiting sealed their deaths? Again: It's a very sticky situation.

This reminds me of that one scene in The Poseidon Adventure when the purser ordered everyone to stay put, but Reverend Scott challenged him and took a band of passengers upward to the engine room. They were the only survivors. IF the stewards had ordered the steerage to stay put, this would be a real-life example of how disregarding orders resulted in survival and listening didn't. It is very interesting and not always easy to answer to appease every level (legal, moral, ethical, human, etc.) at the same time because the issue can be a very complex and contextually specific one to address.​
 

Will C. White

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One thing that must be remembered is that these people were not sailors; and I doubt that many had any water experience whatsoever. If the crew didn't tell them, and they had no frame of reference to the actual level of danger they faced, they simply waited until the level of peril was so clear that there was little or nothing that could be done about it.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Will - then why did some of the third class passengers strike off on their own for the boat deck? I don't doubt the validity of what you are saying, but if the level of danger was that oblivious to the steerage, then none would have likely fled to the top decks.

Also, please remember that the bow started flooding early on, so the male passengers caught wind of it very quickly. Some headed for the top decks and others fled aft to warn and retrieve their female loved ones (including children), who sure as heck would have learned about the danger from the menfolk, regardless of what the stewards knew or said.

Just a thought.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Wow, Mike. A long time ago, when you and I were debating this, you seemed to insist that no favoritism took place, that the steerage were not deliberately held down. <<

Times change, new evidence emerges, I go with the flow, but take note of the qualiyers in my statement. I didn't say they were held down. I was speculating as to why they didn't come up, and offering two debatable possibilities. Very debatable as it happens.

>>Then again, it might have been a case where the stewards thought for sure that the order would eventually come, but it unfortunately never did. This would not have been the stewards' fault.<<

That may well have been the reality. Not only does that speak to a certain inertia, it also speaks to the claim by one of the officers that the Steerage was simply forgotten about. Miscommunication almost always comes along for the ride when things go to hell. Titanic was no different.

>>Well, I am aware of a sailor's duty: Do what you're told--nothing more and certainly nothing less.<<

(ponders) There is *some* merit to that, and all thr more so in 1912 where authority was never disregarded or questioned lightly if at all. Still, I have to point out that we sailors are not automatons and even in the early part of the 20th century, blind obediance was not expected to come at the expense of good sense.

Your orders to stay in a certain space for example are clearly rendered null and void if you see a wall of water heading right towards you.

BUT...and you had to know this was coming...what exactly was the situation down below, and what did the stewards know about it? If they had orders to detain the Steerage, and the situation didn't appear threatening, they would have seen little if any reason to exercise any initiative.
 
May 27, 2007
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I hope some big time producer sees this post or even a small time producer.
I've stated this before. They should make a movie about the Steerage passengers on Titanic and what it was like to coming to America. Your average person has this idea that steerage was locked bellow and the there was a deliberate attempt to keep them behind the gates of which there were several and away from the boats. Most people have no idea what it was even like in Third Class. Most movies are mostly about First Class. I myself had thought this was the case after seeing every Titanic movie which has steerage being locked bellow and dying when the ship sinks. So I hope they make a movie just about third class someday.
 
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Timothy Trower

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George,

Even given the Brobdingnagian size of the entire disaster, I doubt that a movie would ever cover just the Third Class. Sadly, the movie-going public would rather see the antics of supposed (and real) passengers and crew, and additionally it would be difficult if not impossible to tell the story of one class without including the others -- at least on the periphery of the screenplay.
 

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