Voices of Titanic: BBC and Edwinna McKenzie (I think)


Scott Mills

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Jul 10, 2008
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Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Greetings guys,

Long time. I have meaning to ask this question here for the last month or so, but I've been keeping busy with my own research (totally non-titanic related.) In any case, I commute twice a week from San Diego to Irvine to teach at UC Irvine. This is quite a trip, and lately I've been in the habit of listening to audio books during the commute.

In any case, maybe a month and a half ago, I downloaded the audio version of Mark Jones collection of witness statements called Voices of Titanic: From the BBC Archive. While listening to that book, which includes recorded interviews of survivors, there was one First Class passenger's story that piqued my interest. Going back to just look at who was included in the "book" I think this woman was Edith Russel, though I could be wrong (I haven't listened to this in over a month.)

Essentially, the part of the story that interested me, was her describing sitting in one of the first class public spaces almost until the very end. At one point she claimed to have inquired with a steward about the rumor that was being passed around that Titanic was going to be towed to Halifax by the Virginian. This is interesting to me precisely because, if her memory serves her correctly, there was a rumor aboard ship at the time of the sinking that closely corresponds with the rather infamous telegram and news story in the Boston Globe (I think it was) the day after the disaster.

So, in any case, to satiate my curiosity I was wondering if any of you knew how one would go about getting a hold of the full audio from these interviews? Also, is there anywhere I can go to perhaps find other versions of her story, possibly given in print?

Cheers,

Edit: Edith Russel was the actual person in question. Just re-listened. She was in the first class lounge, and she does not, in the bit presented discuss the Virginian, but does recall talking to her steward about the rumor they were being towed to Newfoundland. This was very close to the end, and the steward had responded that wasn't likely and she could kiss her trunks goodbye.
 

Thomas Ozel

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May 17, 2012
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Hello Scott

The full version of Edith Russell's 1970 BBC interview is present from 41.19 to 1.02.02 on this video.

RMS Titanic Survivors True Accounts of The Sinking - YouTube

Another version of her story is covered in this Pathe documentary, which features interviews with herself, Gus Cohen and Arthur Lewis.

Titanic Footage & Survivors Interviews - YouTube

There's also a filmed interview with her on this 1957 documentary.

Titanic Archive - 1957 Interviews - YouTube

I hope this helps.

Thomas
 

Scott Mills

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Jul 10, 2008
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Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Thomas,

That's very helpful, thank you. I'll check out your links when I have the time. I have read elsewhere that Edith Russell has a reputation for telling "tall tales" about the wreck, but as far as I can tell, her memories of the sinking are really no less fantastic than other more "trustworthy" witness, particularly as time when on.

Additionally, the part that interests me was not the basis of some sort of important story she was telling--in fact there is no indication that she understood the potential implications of her claim when she was saying. Instead, she was simply discussing her escape from the ship, and the moments that led to that escape.

The full text of what I consider genuinely interesting from said interview is repeated below:

Edith Russell said:
[addressing her steward]Here are my trunk keys and my stateroom keys. I understand we are being taken off the ship and maybe you're going to be towed to Newfoundland and maybe I won't come back in time, so here's my trunk keys. When you get to Newfoundland go to the customs and send my trunks down to New York.
She then states that her steward takes her trunk keys, makes sure her trunks are locked, then essentially tells her that she can kiss her baggage goodbye, as she's never going to see it again.
 

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