Titanic and Californian Myths: what actually happened.


Harland Duzen

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Since joining this website and researching a Titanic book, I been writing since late 2016, I been surprised to find out how many myths or inaccurate stories have since morphed into fact and been reprinted in dozens of other Titanic Books and other forms of media.

This ranges from Newspaper stories by reporters of the time, authors meaningful attempts to fill in gaps in witness testimony (such as Walter Lord) or even theories by Authors taken as possibilities being aspected as fact.

Current Examples include:

1) Myth: The belief of Engineer Jonathan Shepherd drowning when Boiler Room 5 flooded due to a broken leg.

Reality:
Upon breaking Leg is carried to Boiler Room 4 for safety. Possibly caused by Walter Lord either for dramatic effect or not knowing what actually happened.

2) Myth: Jack Phillips ''deafened'' by Californian's Cyril Evans message on ice who retaliates with a angry message who in turn shuts down wireless machine in anger.

Reality: No evidence to state Phillips was ''deafened'' as Evans is only surviving witness to event and doesn't mention it + Evans knew he accidentally ''jammed'' a message to Cape Race and so stopped to not further interrupt and didn't take offence.

3) Myth: Captain Lord was a angry and strict Captain who Crew feared and hated.

Reality: This claim was made by some Authors to explain the weird circumstances of the night of April 14th -15th. No evidence to prove this and the only hint of this is Charles Groves 3rd person letter stating ''wrath of his superior''.

4) Myth: When 2nd Officer Blair left Titanic at Southampton, he took the keys to the Crow's Nest which made the lookouts job more difficult.

Reality: Blair took the keys to the Crows Nest Telephone box which wasn't a problem. No box existed within the crow's nest to store binoculars and instead they have to get them from their storage in the officers quarters.

This forum can be used to by any want-to-be Titanic authors and hopefully rid any future novels from inaccuracies or mistakes.
 
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Reality: Upon breaking Leg is carried to Boiler Room 4 for safety.
To go with leading stoker Threlfall he was carried aft (most likely as far as the main engine room).


Blair took the keys to the Crows Nest Telephone box which wasn't a problem. No box existed within the crow's nest to store binoculars and instead they have to get them from their storage in the officers quarters.
There was a box in the crows nest for binoculars and other stuff to be stored. However there were no binoculars for the lookouts.
 

Harland Duzen

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There was a box in the crows nest for binoculars and other stuff to be stored. However there were no binoculars for the lookouts.

Oh.... But then where was the box, kept? and if there were ''no binoculars for the lookouts'' what was stored in the box?

I added this myth - reality to the forum, as Samuel Halpern had informed me of this false belief and upon looking further into it, there is no box seen on the wreckage of the Crow's Nest or any photos.
 
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Going with the testimony there was a box in the aft port corner of the crows nest which was empty.

George Symons

11325. Was there a place for them in the "Titanic"? - Yes, a box in the port after corner.
11326. Of the crow's-nest? - Yes.



Archie Jewell

225. Was there a box or bag on the "Titanic" for these glasses? - There was a box there.
226. But nothing in it? - No, nothing in it.


Captain Bartlett was the one who said the box was not only used for binoculars but also for stuff which the lookouts might need.

The box most likely floated out of the nest as did the box containing the telephone which was discovered and recovered from the debris field (as the crows nest bell).
 
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Aaron_2016

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We also have the telephone in the crows nest. All of the films show the lookout for some reason using the phone while still facing the bow, but didn't Fleet say he had to turn his back to the iceberg while he used the phone and his mate Lee told him the ship was turning because Lee was looking ahead while Fleet had turned away while he waited to get a reply on the phone. Was the phone inside the mast?


.
 

Harland Duzen

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Going with the testimony there was a box in the aft port corner of the crows nest which was empty.

George Symons

11325. Was there a place for them in the "Titanic"? - Yes, a box in the port after corner.
11326. Of the crow's-nest? - Yes.



Archie Jewell

225. Was there a box or bag on the "Titanic" for these glasses? - There was a box there.
226. But nothing in it? - No, nothing in it.


Captain Bartlett was the one who said the box was not only used for binoculars but also for stuff which the lookouts might need.

The box most likely floated out of the nest as did the box containing the telephone which was discovered and recovered from the debris field (as the crows nest bell).
Okay then, this is NOT a myth but since Fleet called the bridge, it's apparent Blair accidentally taking the key had no effect on the voyage / collsion. This is ironic, the first myth we talk about and it turns it was never a myth in the first place (slaps face in shame).
 

Harland Duzen

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We also have the telephone in the crows nest. All of the films show the lookout for some reason using the phone while still facing the bow, but didn't Fleet say he had to turn his back to the iceberg while he used the phone and his mate Lee told him the ship was turning because Lee was looking ahead while Fleet had turned away while he waited to get a reply on the phone. Was the phone inside the mast?
Personally I doubt the Telephone would be kept on the verge of large hole you could fall down since the crow nest would be In pitch darkness. However, this photo does show a box on the right side of the photo.
tumblr_mk92ad5xHR1rnh1c7o1_1280.jpg
 
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Aaron_2016

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Shouldn't there be a secure case to protect the phone against the elements such as rain and corrosion? Did Fleet also have to turn a handle or press a button to activate the phone?

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Aaron_2016

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The telephone (which was not secured) was in the crows nest.
It was secured in a box but also not secure?

I originally thought it was fixed to the inside of the mast to protect it against the weather and looked similar to this 1912 model.



phone1.PNG



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Harland Duzen

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seems more likely then that as the ship sank either a) as the Mast smashed into the bridge and the force tore the box and telephone from it's socket or b) as water / oxygen rose up from the ships hull out though the Crow's Nest doorway it ripped off anything not originally part of the Mast.

No offence, but can we get back to the topic of telling apart myths on the Titanic and Californian?

Back To Topic!
 
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Not sure what it is which makes it difficult to understand regarding the crows nest telephone.

Here is a picture of it with its box before it was recovered from the debris field.
telephone_in_mud.jpg

This is how the telephone look like if I am not mistaken this one is even the one from the crows nest.
603031_3075325900084_542978338_n.jpg
 
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Aaron_2016

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Thanks. The order "hard a-starboard" could be considered a myth because Boxhall felt the collision immediately after he heard the order given. Yet Hichens said he got the wheel hard over and she turned 2 points before the collision, and yet the lookouts said the ship was already turning before they even reported it, and then we have Olliver who never even heard the order at all. Seems like the order was just a phantom to justify their speed and create the false impression they saw the iceberg in time to turn away, when they very likely had no time to react at all. An official just had to pressure them to say the ship turned successfully before the collision. Admit to that and you've got a job for life. As survivor George Kemish wrote - "Our seaman's union gave us three pounds for the loss of our kits and a promise from the White Star Line of a job for life." Fleet was certainly well looked after by serving hundreds of voyages aboard the Olympic.

Moody answering the phone could be another myth as Fleet told Major Peuchen that he did not receive any reply.

"The only thing he said was that he did not get any reply from the bridge."
Q - From the telephone?
A - I heard afterwards that really the officers were not required to reply........I spoke to the second officer on the boat regarding the conversation; and he told me it is simply a matter of whether the officer wishes to reply or not. He gets the information, probably, and acts right on it without attempting to reply to the crow's nest.

The fact that Lee told Fleet the ship was turning while he was still at the phone waiting to get a reply suggests the bridge were already acting, and there was no need to answer the phone.


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If Hichens got the wheel hard over and the ship turned how can the "hard-a-starboard" order be a myth?
Which of the different versions of Boxhall is the right one?
 
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Aaron_2016

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Olliver and Boxhall arrived on the bridge in time to see Murdoch closing the watertight doors. Boxhall heard the order. Olliver did not. Boxhall said the collision happened immediately after he heard the helm order and believed the Titanic was still facing west during the evacuation. This tells us he did not believe there was time for any maneouvre to be carried out and she was still facing west. Murdoch's experience aboard the Arabic tells us the last thing he would do was order hard a-starboard as this would crush the entire side of the ship against the iceberg and serve no purpose at all. The only way to make sense out of the hard a-starboard order is to believe the iceberg was a considerable distance away and there was sufficient time to turn, but going by Boxhall's account (all three) there wasn't time to get the wheel hard over, let alone turn the helm hard over. It just goes against Murdoch's judgement to do that, and Olliver never heard the order.


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Harland Duzen

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Should I make a new forum on Titanic's crow's nest telephone? we really veered off topic. The telephone WAS in a box, It was ripped from it holding on the mast and ended up in the debris field. I sorry I wrote as a myth, I was referring to the David Blair mistake.
 

Mark Baber

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No, it's fine to continue it here. There's no need for a second discussion of the same subject.
 

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