Titanic & Morro Castle


Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
As a new member of the group I have been reading past topics with great interest. I am particularly impressed with the huge amount of work that has been carried out into individual passengers and crew members. On the other hand, I am shocked and saddened to read the accusations that have frequently been made against the Titanic's captain and officers. These negative opinions may, to some extent, have been prompted by Hollywood version of events as depicted in the recent film - for example, the ridiculous scene in which the first officer is supposed to have shot himself.

Speaking as one who has been interested in the Titanic since the age of about 8 (when I persuaded my father to but me a Titanic jigsaw puzzle which I had seen in a shop in Great Yarmouth), I have, throughout my entire life, believed that the liner's crewmen and women behaved as true heroes, and that their conduct is, and will always remain, an example of how we should behave in extreme circumstances.

Sadly, their conduct during the sinking has not always been followed and, in this context, it is interesting and illuminating to look in a little more detail at the shameful behaviour of the crew of the Morro Castle. Several users of this site have implied cowardice on the part of Captain Smith and his crew - the fact that firemen, etc., found places in the lifeboats being criticised, although others have pointed out that these men were needed to man the oars and that, in any case, they were only allowed into the boats when no more ladies could be found. Elsewhere, second class men were unable to enter the boats because the places were taken by third class ladies who, naturally, were given preferential treatment by the officers.

Compare these (and other) facts with the case of the Morro Castle. Having failed to fight the fire, and delayed sending distress signals until the very last moment, the Morro Castle's crew managed to launch about six boats, so that they could effect their own escape. These boats should have held at least 408 people but, in reality, they contained only 85, most of these individuals being officers or crewmen.

Boat No.2, for example, contained 32 people, only two of these being passengers, while another boat contained 19 crew and one passenger. The subsequent enquiry revealed that crew discipline had collapsed even before the fire had taken hold. Surviving passengers spoke of blind panic among the untrained and ill-disciplined crew, while it is on record that certain other ships in the immediate vicinity refused to assist the distressed vessel. Moreover, these events took place within 20 miles of the entrance to New York Harbour.

Read the newspaper reports about the Morro Castle disaster and compare them with the story of the Titanic. Then ask yourself a simple question - who were the REAL heroes?
 
May 27, 2007
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Your right Stanley, I just finished The Morro Castle by Hal Burton and the crew of the Morro Castle makes Titanic's crew look angelic in comparison. It will be awhile before I complain about the conduct of a crew member on Titanic or even the Lusitania for a while. The horrible conduct of the crew of the Morro Castle being fresh in my head.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Yes and no. The situation with the lifeboats was deplorable, and the fact that effective leadership could have saved all but six of the victims condemns the officers to a certain Maritime Hell, but on the other hand the majority of the crew behaved well. To group people like steward Sam Petty (who had a newborn son waiting at home and who was last seen alive pounding on the doors of the ship's cheapest cabins to make sure the occupants were awake and in life vests) or 17 year old Ramon Ferner (who sacrificed his own life to save a lifeboat full of.....crew members...) or the unnamed waiter who supported Betty Sheridan in the water for six hours, or Charles Wright, who did his best (ultimately in vain) to save Marta Saenz, with those who fled the ship seems a bit of a sweeping judgement.

>Read the newspaper reports about the Morro Castle disaster and compare them with the story of the Titanic. Then ask yourself a simple question - who were the REAL heroes?

George Whitlock (Adele Brady, Nancy Brady, Edward Brady* Alice Desvernine)
Jane Adams (Joseph Bregstein, Mervyn Bregstein*)
Sam Petty.* (Occupants of "600" block cabins)
Ramon Ferner.* (Occupants of Boat 3)
Mr. and Mrs. Geffert. (Marguerite and Regine Gilligan)
Dr. Giannini.(Martha Bradbury and Lillian Davison)
Dr. Weinberger. (Mr and Mrs Panino)
Mr. and Mrs. Cohen (Mr and Mrs Vitale)
Ann Conway (Floride laRoche, Louise Taubert*, Florence Roberts)
Alice Desvernine (Madelein Desvernine, and her unnamed cabin mate)
Dr. Vosseler (Charles Cochrane, Catherine Cochrane *)
Carl Pryor (Renee Mendez Capote)
Franz Hoed de Beche* (Rosario Camacho)
Marjorie Budlong (Franz de Beche*)
Adele Brady (Edward Brady*)
Helen Brodie (Eleanor Brennan*)
Charles Wright (Marta Saenz*)
Malcolm Ferguson (Braulio Saenz*)
Frieda McArthur (Mr and Mrs Bodner, Alexander McArthur*)
George Sivation (Clemens, Jose and Marta Landmann)
Henry Zimplinski*(Clemens, Jose and Marta Landmann)
Milton Klein* (Adele Wallace)
Matthew McIlhenny (Caroline Casey, Jane Adams)
Gladys Knight (Benito Rueda)
Ethel Knight (Mervyn Bregstein*)
Henry Borman (Ann Stemmermann)
Florence Sherman (Nathan Feinberg, Francis Nass)
Frank Dittmann (Raymond Lione*)
Henry Jakoby Jr.* (Henry Jakoby*, Josephine Jakoby, Martin Renz, Marie Renz* Jacob Likewise*, Minnie Likewise)

To name a few. The majority of these are people who took the time to go to another cabin, despite the fire and smoke, to wake up a friend. Several of these are people who gave their own lives to save another. Two of these are people who tried, and failed, to save another. I can go on at length, but what surprises one about the Morro Castle is not the cowardice shown by a few, but how incredibly well most of those aboard behaved. Far better, IMHO than aboard the Titanic, since in most cases the people above were looking directly at a fire, trapped in corridors filling with smoke, and still chose to go further into the ship out of concern for another rather than immediately fleeing. The names in parenthesis are those saved by the named passenger or crewman. *= fatality.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>while it is on record that certain other ships in the immediate vicinity refused to assist the distressed vessel.

Principally, the Dollar Line's president Cleveland, which stood by for an hour and then departed without having lowered a lifeboat. There was also a Coast Guard commander who refused to take his men out into the storm (subsequently relieved of command) and the first vessel on the scene, the fishing boat Lila, which did not save anyone. The captain of the Lila was horrified to discover that 128 had died~ he altered course when he saw the fire, but remained at a safe distance from the fiercely burning ship and neither saw, nor heard, anything to indicate that those aboard were trapped. Likewise, the largest Coast Guard vessel on the scene recovered only three bodies because it was several hours before anyone notified its crew that hundreds had gone overboard. The two liners and one freighter at the scene were not as effective as they might have been because, again, no one told them that the people who clung to ropes from the ship's side or who drifted nearby in their life jackets were the last to go overboard and the minority of those who did. The Coast Guard only learned the truth when they were notifed from land that people were beginning to swim ahore. The actions of the fleet of small boat owners who risked their own lives to go into the storm and who performed an impromptu but very effective rescue operation in the rough water close to land where, perhaps, 400 of the Morro Castle's people were dying of exposure, kept the death toll at a still horrible, but better than it might have been, 128. In defense of Captain Carey, of the President Cleveland, he probably did not know the extent of what he was seeing,a nd, of course, no one communicated the truth with him.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
Jim,

Most of the people that you have listed are surely passengers rather than crew members? I agree that there were examples of individual heroism during the loss of the Morro Castle, and it is right to point out that the conditions faced by the passengers and crew of during the Morro Castle disaster were infinitely more terrifying than those which had pertained during the sinking of the Titanic — fire, storm AND a sinking ship. My initial comment was meant as a way putting of the Titanic disaster into some kind of perspective, and was essentially a response to the endless criticism of Lightoller, Murdoch and co that continues more or less unabated on this site.

This same exercise could be repeated with other, more recent sinkings — for example the shameful loss of the cruise liner Lakonia, - another fire disaster in which the captain and many of the crew members had no hesitation in saving their own worthless skins and jumping into the boats.

Reverting to the Morro Castle, what is so shocking is the fact the fact that the crew members were Americans. I suspect that there is far more to the story than is immediately apparent. There were, for example, persistent rumours of drugs, prostitution and organised crime — were men who left the passengers to burn or drown real seamen, or members of a criminal gang? Other rumours suggest that some of the escaping crewmen drowned because they had filled their pockets with silver and jewels.

Although none of this is in any way “funny” I cannot help comparing the last recorded words of Captain Smith (“Put the women and children into the boats and lower away”) with those of Captain Willmott (“Bring me another enema”)
 
May 27, 2007
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Jim, I was really just thinking of Abbott's behavior that night. Thought you are right there were heroes among the crew.

Stanley, Yes the Morro Castle's crew where Americans but a lot of them spoke very poor English. Not the best way to communicate. Jim could go into greater detail then I could. I just started studying the Morro Castle disaster recently.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
I raised the question of the Morro Castle insofar as it could be compared to the story of the Titanic, but having also mentioned the loss of the Lakonia, there are many remarkable similarities with the Morro Castle disaster.

The 20,314 ton Lakonia caught fire on 22 December 1963, resulting in 128 deaths. The bodies were recovered and taken to Gibraltar in an aircraft carrier, where they were buried in the Anglican cemetery. The newspapers made much of the fact that Nearer My God to Thee was sung at the mass funeral.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Most of the people that you have listed are surely passengers rather than crew members?

It breaks down about 70/30 in favor of the passengers. But, the deck was stacked in their favor when I did this off the top of my head. For instance- Adele Wallace knew who Milton Klein was. So, when she was trapped in the smoke at the stern of C Deck and started to black out, and Milton (who died) appeared out of the smoke and took the wet handkerchief from over his face and held it over hers until she was able to make it to the rail, he was not a stranger to her. So, she was able to give his name, later, when she told of how he died to save her. Had he been a member of the engine room crew, she could not possibly have known who he was and, subsequently, I could not have placed him on my list!

>Stanley, Yes the Morro Castle's crew where Americans

Not entirely. Ragne Zabala, the stewardess who died, was Danish. Her husband, the Morro Castle's former head chef who died of a heart attack aboard the ship in 1932 was Spanish. Their 17 year old son, who was a member of the engine room crew (and who survived the fire) was an American. There were crew members from Latvia, Turkey, Italy, England, Denmark, Cuba and Russia, among other places. Angelo Vlaco, the Ward Line offcial in charge of hiring the crew members could not read English. Language difficulties were not the main problem that night, however. The main problem was that no one trapped at the stern, passenger or crew, knew what to do. No one stepped up and took command. That people remained as civil as they did for as long as they did is nothing short of miraculous. One detail that pops up in about 75-80 accounts given on September 8-9, 1934 is that the 150 or so passengers trapped at the rear of C Deck sang "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!"

>endless criticism of Lightoller, Murdoch and co that continues more or less unabated on this site.

Endless justified criticism. If you strip away the romanticism that has been applied to the Titanic like a sweet and slightly curdled merengue, what remains is an evacuation just as depressingly inept as that of the Morro Castle. Only not as fast moving AND set in a time when the general public did not have its knives sharpened for inept powers-that-be to the extent that they did in teetering-on-the-brink-of-armed-revolt 1934.

>There were, for example, persistent rumours of drugs, prostitution and organised crime

I found a singularly evil young man in the crew- NOT George White Rogers- about whom a pretty compelling case could be made.

Interesting thing about William Warms ~ he seemed to want to be a more 'by the books' officer than Wilmott was. His first act as a senior officer was to abolish the winked-at-and-a blind-eye-turned gambling ring the crew ran. The crew members who "hosted" it got at 25% cut of every Pot, and at least two crew members (one of whom held a respectable position on the ship) quit the Ward Line in a huff when Warms took away their gambling.

>I cannot help comparing the last recorded words of Captain Smith (“Put the women and children into the boats and lower away”￾) with those of Captain Willmott (“Bring me another enema”￾)

True- but at least the Ward Line crew did not make a F* up of bringing the enema, as the White Star officers made of Smith's order. There might have been chaos a few hours later, but when duty called that Friday evening, someone seamlessly set forth with Wilmott's enema and stepped into the annals (yes, two "ns") of great sea stories.

>Other rumours suggest that some of the escaping crewmen drowned because they had filled their pockets with silver and jewels.

There was no looting. Clara Siegmond had $35 stolen from out of her handbag on a rescue ship, but that is about the extent of property crime committed that morning.
 
May 27, 2007
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"Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!" Might as well sing something while waiting for rescue. Hope it took their minds off their troubles for a little while. Because trouble was burning up right behind them. I remember reading that Jim. I finished Hal Burton's The Morro Castle. Thanks Jim for recommending it. I thought most of the crew were recent immigrants. I know that some of them had deplorable English. I also read that A lot of them bought a license from a Sailor or rented a license? Is this one of the reasons that they started including pictures with licenses? I had to have a license when I worked as a deckhand and it had a picture of me on it and it clipped on my collar where all the passengers could see it. What a picture it was
lame.gif
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Jim Kalafus

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>I raised the question of the Morro Castle insofar as it could be compared to the story of the Titanic, but having also mentioned the loss of the Lakonia, there are many remarkable similarities with the Morro Castle disaster.

To this may be added the Yarmouth Castle disaster, an event that calls out for a long article or book. Another that comes to mind is the Dara (roughly contemporary to theh Yarmouth Castle and Lakonia) whose destruction by fire was allegedly annouced on Arab radio before it happened.

>I also read that A lot of them bought a license from a Sailor or rented a license? Is this one of the reasons that they started including pictures with licenses?

Possibly! I haven't yet found first hand documentation from 1934 about the buying and selling of licenses, but from what I do know about Ward Line practices, I'd not be at all surprised if it proved to be true.

Captain Willmott, IMHO, needs to be looked into further. There is a great assymetry between the lives of the Morro Castle and her sister ship, Oriente, with the Morro Castle generating an inordinate amount of bad press in her brief life while the Oriente did not. Bomb squads. Assasination attempts by stowaways. Gold smuggling. Was Jones of the Oriente just better at keeping the dark side of his liner quiet?

Food for thought. On the Morro Castle's final completed round trip, a fire broke out aboard in her hold. Crew members who fought the fire testified that there were several fires burning simultaneously, indicating multiple points of origin~ a fact which Willmott dismissed by attributing the blaze to illegal smoking.
 
May 27, 2007
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Jim, I think the sailors were buying and selling licenses on the sly by themselves? The only thing the Ward line was guilty of is not keeping track of who had what license. A sailor would lose his job or quit and go ashore and sell his license to a new immigrant or some other fellow out of work. So what you end up with is someone applying for a deckhand job with a license who did no training for that license. Maybe the ward line did sell licenses to potential hires? It seems that some pretty shoddy practices were going on in depression America.
 
May 27, 2007
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>>Food for thought. On the Morro Castle's final completed round trip, a fire broke out aboard in her hold. Crew members who fought the fire testified that there were several fires burning simultaneously, indicating multiple points of origin~ a fact which Willmott dismissed by attributing the blaze to illegal smoking.<<

Made a good point Jim. Wasn't there a fire in the library at the same time as in the Writing room? I think I read that one Officer or Crew member found a fire in the Library burning simultaneously with the one in the Writing room on the last night.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Jim,

You have obviously undertaken a great deal of work on the Morro Castle disaster. It seems that various myths have grown up about this vessel, which have tended to paint a bleaker picture than was perhaps deserved. Some of these legends are probably way over-the-top (have you heard the one about the Captain being murdered by the Mafia?)

I once read a book called (I think) ‘The 50 Greatest Disasters of the Last 100 Years’, published by Odhams Press, circa 1937. Although the Morro Castle was still a recent event, this book claimed that the fires were started by a “sicko”￾ among the crew. There was also a particular emphasis on the role of the Monarch of Bermuda - which was credited with saving over 70 of the Morro Castle’s passengers after they had been abandoned on the burning liner.

When I suggested that you looked at the Lakonia disaster I was thinking particularly about the conclusion of the Greek Board of Enquiry, which was that the captain and crew were at fault, and that there was no co-ordinated attempt to save the vessel. Having said that, the enquiry also stated that there were numerous acts of individual heroism — these conclusions could apply with equal force to the Morro Castle incident.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I think I read that one Officer or Crew member found a fire in the Library burning simultaneously with the one in the Writing room on the last night.

Just a bit of Morro Castle 'geography" before I continue. The Library and Writing room were mirror image rooms flanking the forward funnel uptake. They were, in truth, little more than well furnished corridors, and served as the only way to enter the B Deck main floor of the Lounge from forward.

No- the library did not burn until relatively late in the game on B deck. The fire was discovered by a passenger and, accidentally, released by a crew member. Three witnesses, who were in a cabin just aft of the Lounge Well/balcony on A Deck heard a scream of "fire" and were able to observe most of what happened from a "God's Eye" perspective by looking down, and forward, from the balcony into the door of the writing room. The flames on the carpet were only about two feet high and there was a frantic and disorganized effort made to put them out. In the time it took the witnesses to walk about ten feet back to the cabin, lock the cabin window, pick up a handbag and exit the cabin, the fire had spread into the lounge and was burning, quickly, aft across the carpet and spreading towards the walls. The fire moved in to the smoking room and jumped up into the aft end of A Deck through the lounge well in less than ten minutes. The cabins aft on A Deck were all but inescapable~ only one passenger on the port side and one passenger on the starboard side survived. But, during that time, the lobby just forward of the writing room became extremely smoky on its port side (the smoke from the burning writing room vented out the door and out on to the port promendade deck through the foyer entrance) but did not actually ignite. The library was not burning, a fact attested to by passengers who woke up early enough to escape via the forward staircase. The port side door on B Deck was unusable because of the smoke that blocked it, so nearly everyone turned right and exited to starboard past the library door, and no one saw a fire. Then, about 15 to 20 minutes after the fire was discovered, there came a massive explosion that blew the flames forward and closed off the staircase as a means of escape. At that point, the library caught fire as well.

>Although the Morro Castle was still a recent event, this book claimed that the fires were started by a “sicko”￾ among the crew.

There were/are a number of good suspects. One particular passenger piques my interest~ with what I know about how the fire occurred, this man's presence aboard the ship raised my eyebrows. There is also a crewman who was in a better position than Rogers to set the ship on fire and just as unsavory a person. But, in all honesty, this case will never be solved.

>particular emphasis on the role of the Monarch of Bermuda - which was credited with saving over 70 of the Morro Castle’s passengers after they had been abandoned on the burning liner.



Passengers Rescued by the Monarch of Bermuda.
Dr. S. Joseph Bregstein*
Mr. James Bute
Mr. William Clark*
Minnie Davis*
Father Raymond Egan
Mr. William Haessler (died)
Mr. James Hassall
Mr. Benjamin Hirsch
Miss Dora Hofman
Mrs. Sarah Hofman
Mr. Hiram Hulse
Mrs. Frances Hulse
Mr. Emil Lampe
Mrs. Mary Lione*
Master Robert Lione
Mr. Frank Loveland
Mrs. Nathene Loveland
Mr. Philip Newmark
Mrs. Kate Noteboom
Mrs. Mary Price (died)
Mr. William Price*
Mr. Martin Renz*
Mr. George Ridderhoff
Miss Elizabeth Roberts
Mr. August Scheely*
Mr. David Schneider
Mr. Herman Torborg
Mr. John Torborg
Mrs. Edna Von Pollnitz
Mrs. Katherine Vosseler
Dr. Theodore Vosseler
Miss Sadie Wald
Mr. Emanuel Weinberger
 
Crew Rescued by the Monarch of Bermuda
Mr. Lester Ariessohn
Mr. Charles Anzalone
Mr. William Derringh
Mr. Herbert Douglas
Mr. Albert Eklund
Mr. Malcolm Ferguson
Mr. Paul Goetz
Mr. Anselmo Izaguirre
Miss Sarah Kirby
Mr. Jesus la Fuente
Mr. Francis Massi
Mr. Bernard McNally
Mr. Manuel Martinez
Mr. Philip Muir
Mr. Ruscoe Nelson
Mr. James Pond
Mr. Julius Rosen
Mr. Joseph Ruigg
Mr. Aubry Russell
Mr. George Schindel
Mr. Henry Speiermann
Mr. Albert Sorel
Mr. Isaac Soriano
Mr. Henry Stamm
Mr. Arthur Stamper
Mr. Ciriaco Torrealday
Mr. Paul Weider
Mr. William Weintraub
Mr. Joseph Welch
Mr. Louis Wright 

*= Lost spouse, child, or traveling companion.

The Monarch of Bermuda rescued those who remained aboard the ship the longest. These are the crew members who stuck with the passengers until the final seconds who then had to live out the balance of their lives listening to blanket condemnations.

The Monarch did an excellent job and, for a time, was only about 150-200 feet away from the burning liner. The Savannah Line's small cruise and cargo ship City of Savannah saved almost as many from the water immediately around the ship, while the Luckenbach Line's Andrea Luckenbach rescued fewer people but did so at points further away from the other liners. Perhaps 150 were rescued by these three ships, while 85 came ashore in lifeboats and roughly 20 more (all crew) were rescued from the focsle by the Coast Guard. Which means that there were more than 250 persons in the scattered group the planes spotted three miles south and one mile west of the ship the following morning. With 121 dead in the water, at least 130 passengers and crew were found by fishing boats or swam six miles to shore on their own.
 
May 27, 2007
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Oops, I remembered while at work about passengers escaping thought the library so it couldn't have burned. Well who ever said that the library was on fire was talking through their hat. Thanks Jim for clearing that up for me.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
There seems to be at least some interest in the Morro Castle, and I wondered if I might pose a question?

As mentioned in an earlier message, I first heard about the Morro Castle many years ago when, at the age of about 13, I read a book entitled Fifty Great Disasters & Tragedies that Shocked the World, which was published by the Odhams Press in about 1937. That publication may have exaggerated the role of the Monarch of Bermuda, which was portrayed as the ‘Carpathia’ of the Morro Castle disaster. I was, nevertheless, intrigued by a reference to a “Lightoller”￾ type officer figure, who is said to have taken command of the situation and barked orders through a megaphone as his ship tried to approach the burning Morro Castle to effect a rescue. A survivor was quoted as saying something to the effect that this disembodied voice was so authoritative that everybody instinctively obeyed the commands, which she found very re-assuring — I have been trying to find out a little more about this incident, and wondered if anyone else has heard about it — who, for example, was the officer?

On the subject of Fifty Great Disasters & Tragedies, it may also be worth mentioning that this anthology contained most, of not all, of the famous disasters of the period between the 1830s and the 1930s. (Chicago Fire, San Francisco earthquake, Titanic, etc). The cover, as a matter of interest, depicted the sinking Titanic in gold relief.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hi, Stanley: I've been thinking about that quote. Would like a passenger's name to attach to it. One wonders exactly what order he could have been barking

>that everybody instinctively obeyed the commands,

and at whom. By the time the Monarch's rescue operation was underway there were a few souls (like George Whitlock and his crippled wife, and James Petrie with his broken back, broken neck and broken leg) still aboard the ship, a great many in the water clinging to ropes at the stern, and others drifting in their life preservers. Did this passenger mean that the Morro Castle's people, most of whom were slipping into hypothermia by that point, instinctively obeyed orders, or did he/she mean that the Monarch's crew did so? If the former, I'd say that this was a fictional quote; if the latter it may have some basis in truth.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock, who I mentioned before, escaped very late in the game~ George Whitlock and crewmen Arthur Pender tied her, loosley, to a chair and lowered her from the stern. She untied herself and swam to a Monarch lifeboat that, a few minutes later, also rescued her husband. James Petrie, 59, was one of the passengers injured when C Deck became completely unihabitable and the survivors tried to go down the stairs to D Deck and fell. There were quite a few broken limbs, but Mr. Petrie who broke his back neck and leg seems to have gotten the worst of it. He was laid out and made as comfortable as possible, given the conditions. He made it to the Monarch alive, as did his next door neighbor from Queens and cabin mate, William Haessler. Mr. Haessler was photographed walking off the Monarch by the newspapers, but later that day he developed lobar pneumonia and soon died ~ arguably the final Morro victim.

>That publication may have exaggerated the role of the Monarch of Bermuda, which was portrayed as the ‘Carpathia’ of the Morro Castle disaster.

Well, if one ignores the City of Savannah; Andrea Luckenbach; Paramount; Diana; Governor Moore of New Jersey in his rescue plane, and the uncomfortable fact that Captain Francis of the Monarch ignored the Morro's SOS and continued to sail northward as far as Sandy Hook before finally turning back, then yes, there are similarities. The rescue was well coordinated, but at the same time it cannot be forgotten that in the considerable time it took to sail from Sandy Hook to Point Pleasant people were being fanned out across a vast expanse of water by the storm, and many of those who died might have been saved had Captain Francis altered course sooner. This all makes him more akin to the well intentioned but not particularly efficient officers of the Titanic than it does the methodical, and motivated, Captain Rostron.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
The problem is, I am trying to remember exactly what I read many years ago. If anybody has a copy of the Odhams anthology, they will obviously know what the order actually was - I think it was something like "stay were you are" (in other words don't jump).

If the Monarch of Bermuda ignored the first distress calls, this may have been because the first messages from the Morro Castle were "CQ"s and not SOS messages. I remember a (British) air force navigator telling me something about the modern "PAN PAN PAN" call being used in circumstances that did not immediately require a full "SOS" signal.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I think it was something like "stay were you are" (in other words don't jump).

That seems to work against 100% credibility. He might have yelled it, but it would not have had a galvanizing effect on anyone because by the time the Monarch arrived, no one was jumping anymore. Here is C Deck, aft:

120439.jpg


Imagine, if you will, more than 350 people crowded into this open, covered, deck space, and D Deck (which was smaller!) about an hour into the disaster. By that point, fire was coming out of the doors, and the portholes of the cabins on the right. It was kept, slightly, at bay by two groups of men with hoses. The people along the rails could breathe, while those at the middle and back of the crowd could not, each time the ship swung with the wind and the smoke blew directly into them. It was not the fabled "blind panic," beloved of crew members and shipping line officials playing "image clean up" the day after, that drove people overboard in waves, but the realization that death by fire or suffocation was only seconds away. The people towards the back would drive forward, go over the rail, and if their life preservers did not kill them on impact, be swept away by 15 foot waves and 35MPH wind. Perhaps two hours into the disaster, the lounge and smoking room in the center were also on fire, which meant that those not at the rail had a huge blaze directly at their backs. Again, a large wave of people went over the side for want of any other option. It must have been unimaginably horrible, yet people stayed calmer than one would expect. Miss Sydney Falkmann later recalled only one thing clearly about being penned in the crowd on C Deck ~ the woman she was standing beside kept sobbing "I have three children waiting at home. What are they going to do?" The stress level was, obviously, off the charts but those trapped never reached the kill or be killed stage of true panic. Those who remained after the aft rooms were completely ablaze either went to the rail on the windward side of the vessel, or went below and joined those who had not been driven over the side on D Deck. When the Monarch arrived, along with the other rescue ships, people no longer needed to be told not to jump, because there weren't many left aboard the ship, and those who remained had access to the rails and the dozens of ropes and cables hanging over the side. I've not found a single account by anyone who jumped, or who saw anyone jump, after daylight. So, I suspect that the officer may well have yelled that, and that the survivor quoted him accurately, and a bit of we-need-a-hero window dressing was added editorially at some point.

120440.jpg


D Deck.
 

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