Walter Belford


Arun Vajpey

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Edward Kamuda said he, too, wrote to survivors of the Titanic--- in 1958. His family owned a movie theatre and the distributors of A Night To Remember sent a list of known survivors AND THEIR ADDRESSES to theatre owners, he said. That's undoubtedly how he made first contact with Walter Belford. Who, again, never said "sorry, you've got the wrong guy."

How? Just think about it. How could Walter Lord or Edward Kamuda know who to write to unless that person was already passing himself off as a Titanic survivor? There must have been tens of thousands of W Bedfords or W Belfords in the UK and USA at that time (or any time, for that matter) and they obviously could not have written to all of them. Only William Barnett Bedford, Asssitant Cook, Titanic, used to live at 163, Manor Road, Itchen, Hampshire, and he died in the sinking. The imposter, Walter Belford, did not live at that address at any time and so unless he had made some sort of contact himself with Lord et al (a claim that he used to live at that address, to have survived the Titanic disaster etc) Lord, Kamuda or anyone else would not have been any wiser nor known whom to contact. In fact they would not even have been aware that there was a 'survivor' named Walter Belford (mainly because there wasn't) until Walter Belford himself came forward claiming to be so.
 
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How? Just think about it. How could Walter Lord or Edward Kamuda know who to write to unless that person was already passing himself off as a Titanic survivor? There must have been tens of thousands of W Bedfords or W Belfords in the UK and USA at that time (or any time, for that matter) and they obviously could not have written to all of them. Only William Barnett Bedford, Asssitant Cook, Titanic, used to live at 163, Manor Road, Itchen, Hampshire, and he died in the sinking. The imposter, Walter Belford, did not live at that address at any time and so unless he had made some sort of contact himself with Lord et al (a claim that he used to live at that address, to have survived the Titanic disaster etc) Lord, Kamuda or anyone else would not have been any wiser nor known whom to contact. In fact they would not even have been aware that there was a 'survivor' named Walter Belford (mainly because there wasn't) until Walter Belford himself came forward claiming to be so.
You would be correct about that. Between the 2 names I got about 29,000 hits for those names combined on one of the genealogy sites.
 
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George Jacub

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Just think about it? Why would an 85-year-old man decide to pass himself off as a survivor of the Titanic? Until the 1955 publication of A Night To Remember there was little interest in Titanic. I'm guessing the fact that passenger ships were sunk weekly by German U-boats for 5 years in the Forties had something to do with it. Paul Lee's Titanic site has a letter written to Mr. Lord by someone Lee thinks is a phony (because after 43 years the man couldn't remember the real name of the Captain of the Carpathia). It begins:

Harry Giles, Fireman
5th July, 1955,
Dear Mr.Lord, In reply to your letter of June 19th, 1955, I hope the following particulars will be of some help to you in completing your book about the "Titanic" disaster....

So Lord was writing people he thought were survivors. How he got their names and addresses, I can't guess. And where would anyone get W. Belford's name? And when? Before Mr. Lord contacted him? Why? To get another man's name in a book? As I said before, the answer to some of these questions may lie in Mr. Lord's correspondence files.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Why would an 85-year-old man decide to pass himself off as a survivor of the Titanic?
Someone could have persuaded him to claim so. Such things have happened before.
So Lord was writing people he thought were survivors. How he got their names and addresses, I can't guess. And where would anyone get W. Belford's name? And when?
You are still not getting it, are you? There was never a listed Titanic survivor by the name of W. Belford and so Walter Lord or anyone else could not have "thought" that there was a survivor by that name, any more than he would have 'thought' that there was a survivor named Napoleon Bonaparte.

There was a Titanic victim named W(illiam) Bedford. As you pointed it out yourself, it was mentioned in that 1912 publication as below.

A booklet titled ' "Titanic" Disaster, Report of the Committee On Commerce United States Senate' published by the Washington Government Printing Office, 1912 (reprinted by 7C's Press) contains, under Exhibits, Exhibit A.---Alphabetical List of Crew on Steamship "Titanic." On that list under Victualing Department is the name W. Belford, 163 Manor Road, Itchen, Hants, assistant cook.

Despite the slight spelling error of the surname, the address was that of William Bedford who had died in the disaster. If somehow Walter Lord had missed the fact that William Bedford had died in the sinking and written to that address in the 1950s, it would NOT have reached Walter Bedford because he was not living there - never did. It was only if Walter Bedford was already passing himself off as a "Chief Night Baker" on the Titanic who lived at that Itchen address back in 1912 could Lord have written to him for information.

The only other possibility, although I think it is unlikely is that Walter Lord saw that report and realized that there was an Assistant Cook named "W Belford" on board the Titanic but somehow missed the fact that he had died in the sinking. If Lord then had started publicly looking for a man named W Belford who lived at that address back in 1912, Walter Belford or someone acting on his behalf could have jumped in on the bandwaggon and contacted Lord.
 
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Just think about it? Why would an 85-year-old man decide to pass himself off as a survivor of the Titanic? Until the 1955 publication of A Night To Remember there was little interest in Titanic. I'm guessing the fact that passenger ships were sunk weekly by German U-boats for 5 years in the Forties had something to do with it. Paul Lee's Titanic site has a letter written to Mr. Lord by someone Lee thinks is a phony (because after 43 years the man couldn't remember the real name of the Captain of the Carpathia). It begins:

Harry Giles, Fireman
5th July, 1955,
Dear Mr.Lord, In reply to your letter of June 19th, 1955, I hope the following particulars will be of some help to you in completing your book about the "Titanic" disaster....

So Lord was writing people he thought were survivors. How he got their names and addresses, I can't guess. And where would anyone get W. Belford's name? And when? Before Mr. Lord contacted him? Why? To get another man's name in a book? As I said before, the answer to some of these questions may lie in Mr. Lord's correspondence files.
There could have been many reasons but none of them justified. Did he profit from it in any way other than maybe free drinks at the pup? I don't know why he did it. It's kind of like the stolen valor thing..so many phony war veterans out there scamming for all kinds of reasons. Or just pretending to be a regular veteran. It's amazing what people will do to get that 10% discount at Home Depot...o_O
 

Seumas

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Walter Bedford was never on the Titanic and anyone claiming that he was is making a sorry fool of themselves.

During his researches in the fifties, Walter Lord got duped by several fake survivors and accepted their claims uncritically.

(Titanic "heresy" incoming - squeamish people look away now !)

Walter Lord was a super nice man, a real gent, who hated confrontation and didn't really like to offend people by challenging survivors statements or anything like that. Unfortunately that is not always helpful when trying to find out the truth.

Dr Paul Lee's researches have shown that Walter Lord wasn't really all that great a historian if we are being perfectly honest here. There are tons of mistakes, weird conclusions and embarrassing mix ups he made in both his books ANTR and TNLO.

Lord was certainly good at compiling the bare basic facts and relaying them to the curious. However, when it came to the really detailed analyses that's where we run into a ton of problems with his work.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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During his researches in the fifties, Walter Lord got duped by several fake survivors and accepted their claims uncritically.
Well, several fake survivors did make claims and in his defence Lord did spot some. The obvious one is a woman named Vera Hanson trying to pretend she was really genuine survivor Virginia Martin-Emanuel. Mrs Hanson even employed a seedy lawyer to support her claim but Lord totally ignored them.
Lord was certainly good at compiling the bare basic facts and relaying them to the curious. However, when it came to the really detailed analyses that's where we run into a ton of problems with his work.
That's true but in those pre-internet days with limited communication facilities, research into something like Titanic survivors was very difficult, slow and time-consuming. It involved collating survivor accounts in newspaper clippings etc which sometimes were mutually exclusive. Also, third parties like you and I could not have checked publicly available evidence like is possible these days.

That is where a book like OASOG goes to great lengths in trying to be as accurate as possible.
 
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Well, several fake survivors did make claims and in his defence Lord did spot some. The obvious one is a woman named Vera Hanson trying to pretend she was really genuine survivor Virginia Martin-Emanuel. Mrs Hanson even employed a seedy lawyer to support her claim but Lord totally ignored them.

That's true but in those pre-internet days with limited communication facilities, research into something like Titanic survivors was very difficult, slow and time-consuming. It involved collating survivor accounts in newspaper clippings etc which sometimes were mutually exclusive. Also, third parties like you and I could not have checked publicly available evidence like is possible these days.

That is where a book like OASOG goes to great lengths in trying to be as accurate as possible.
Yes. One of the good things (the main thing) is all the info available now with the click of a mouse. Some here have never lived without the internet so don't know what is like before on finding information. Walter Lord did correct some of his mistakes in first book on Titanic with his second. Also I think its ok to cut some slack to the people who wrote about Titanic before Mr. Ballard found the wreck in 85. The majority belief (myself included) pretty much believed Titanic sunk in one piece with a 300 foot gash down her side. After 85 that was all put to rest. Walter Lord's book rekindled an interest in Titanic at the time just like Ballard's discovery did. Both contributed to the vast info and interest we have today. I don't know for sure but without those 2 Cameron would have never made his movie I believe. For better or worse that also sparked a huge interest in Titanic and lots of good research followed. Just my take on it. Cheers.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Some here have never lived without the internet so don't know what is like before on finding information
I know what you mean. At 65 years of age i have lived in both worlds and know the difference only too well. I started my research into Titanic survivor Scullion John Collins in the late 1980s and for the first 10 years thereafter did not have internet. I had to rely on letters, phone calls etc to various people including British National Archives, Collins' daughter Mary McKee, British Titanic Society etc. At one point I got seriously side-tracked when a well-meaning American source sent me details of a 1939 Titanic reunion dinner in Toronto in which Titanic Survivor John Collins participated and it was almost 18 months before i discovered that it was the wrong John Collins. The man who attended that reunion was John Samuel Collins, a Fireman on board the Titanic and more than 20 years older than the scullion.
Also I think its ok to cut some slack to the people who wrote about Titanic before Mr. Ballard found the wreck in 85. The majority belief (myself included) pretty much believed Titanic sunk in one piece with a 300 foot gash down her side. After 85 that was all put to rest
Agreed. I used to believe exactly the same thing and it was almost blasphemy in my mind to realize that the ship had indeed broken-up like a few survivors reported. But over time, the actual physics, logistics and pure common sense in looking at the entire tragedy has changed our perspective significantly.
 
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I know what you mean. At 65 years of age i have lived in both worlds and know the difference only too well. I started my research into Titanic survivor Scullion John Collins in the late 1980s and for the first 10 years thereafter did not have internet. I had to rely on letters, phone calls etc to various people including British National Archives, Collins' daughter Mary McKee, British Titanic Society etc. At one point I got seriously side-tracked when a well-meaning American source sent me details of a 1939 Titanic reunion dinner in Toronto in which Titanic Survivor John Collins participated and it was almost 18 months before i discovered that it was the wrong John Collins. The man who attended that reunion was John Samuel Collins, a Fireman on board the Titanic and more than 20 years older than the scullion.

Agreed. I used to believe exactly the same thing and it was almost blasphemy in my mind to realize that the ship had indeed broken-up like a few survivors reported. But over time, the actual physics, logistics and pure common sense in looking at the entire tragedy has changed our perspective significantly.
I haven't researched the passengers anywhere near as much as you have so maybe you might know. I have wondered if the any of the survivors like Jack Thayer ect that reported the ship breaking apart ever commented on people not believing them. Or if any of them that made it to 1985 ever said "told you so".
As for the internet before around 1995 or so you didn't really miss that much. It was mostly just bulletin boards and newsgroups before the W.W.W. took off. Your only 2 years older than me so you probably remember if your family could afford it getting an encyclopedia set was a big deal. At least for people that liked to read and learn about different stuff.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I have wondered if the any of the survivors like Jack Thayer ect that reported the ship breaking apart ever commented on people not believing them. Or if any of them that made it to 1985 ever said "told you so".
I don't know to be honest. Jack Thayer himself was long dead by 1985 and only a handful of survivors were still living. Most of those would have been children in 1912 and so probably were not allowed to comment or if they did, not taken seriously. Older teenagers like Jack Thayer would have been good sources but I need to check how many of those still alive in 1985 had previously commented on the Titanic's break-up.

Looking at this another way, Jack Thayer would have been over 90 years of age had he been alive in 1985. Would he have been compos mentis enough to remember his own sketches from 1912 and say 'I had told you so?'. IMO, a Titanic survivor who saw the break-up and understood it for what it was would have to be at least 12 years old at the time; a 12-year old in 1912 would have been 85 years old when the wreck was discovered. Therefore, you may have to go through the long-lived survivors list and see if anyone still alive in 1985 had commented about the break-up in 1912.

For starters, I checked the ET bio of Edith Haisman-Brown, who was 15 years old at the time of the disaster, 88 when the wreck was discovered and lived to be 100. She made a lot of comments about the crash itself, getting into a lifeboat, cries of people all around etc but I could find no allusion about the break-up. But she was saved on Lifeboat #14 that was launched at 01:24 am and almost an hour later was probably too far away from the Titanic to see the break-up.
 
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I don't know to be honest. Jack Thayer himself was long dead by 1985 and only a handful of survivors were still living. Most of those would have been children in 1912 and so probably were not allowed to comment or if they did, not taken seriously. Older teenagers like Jack Thayer would have been good sources but I need to check how many of those still alive in 1985 had previously commented on the Titanic's break-up.

Looking at this another way, Jack Thayer would have been over 90 years of age had he been alive in 1985. Would he have been compos mentis enough to remember his own sketches from 1912 and say 'I had told you so?'. IMO, a Titanic survivor who saw the break-up and understood it for what it was would have to be at least 12 years old at the time; a 12-year old in 1912 would have been 85 years old when the wreck was discovered. Therefore, you may have to go through the long-lived survivors list and see if anyone still alive in 1985 had commented about the break-up in 1912.

For starters, I checked the ET bio of Edith Haisman-Brown, who was 15 years old at the time of the disaster, 88 when the wreck was discovered and lived to be 100. She made a lot of comments about the crash itself, getting into a lifeboat, cries of people all around etc but I could find no allusion about the break-up. But she was saved on Lifeboat #14 that was launched at 01:24 am and almost an hour later was probably too far away from the Titanic to see the break-up.
Ok. Thanks for the reply. I was just curious if you knew any off the top of your head. No need to look it up. Yes I know that most (if not all) who reported it didn't make it to 1985. Anyway history proved them right in the end. As for the age thing. You never know. I've met people well into their 90's that were still sharp as a tack as far the mental aspect goes. Others in their 70's not very good at all. Medicine has made a lot of progress in keeping the body going...not so much when it comes to the brain. At least that's how I see it. Cheers and thanks again.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Getting back to the main thread, the answer is simple really.

Other than the single mention in the list of crew mentioned in - A booklet titled ' "Titanic" Disaster, Report of the Committee On Commerce United States Senate' published by the Washington Government Printing Office, 1912 (reprinted by 7C's Press) contains, under Exhibits, Exhibit A.---Alphabetical List of Crew on Steamship "Titanic." On that list under Victualing Department is the name W. Belford, 163 Manor Road, Itchen, Hants, assistant cook. (Courtesy George Jacub), I have not come across the name of the real Titanic victim Assistant Cook William Bedford in any other major Titanic work. The fake Titanic survivor Walter Belford on the other hand, has been mentioned in Walter Lord's ANTR and a few other works. That menas that there are just two possibilities for this issue.

- Either Walter Belford himself or someone younger acting on his "behalf" had read that 1912 report but somehow missed the fact that W(illiam) Bedford had died in the disaster. Therefore, they concocted this story about the "Chief Night Baker Walter Belford" and contacted Lord.

OR


- Walter Lord read that report as part of his research into his forthcoming book ANTR and saw that there was an Assistant Cook named "W Bedford" on board the Titanic and jotted the name down as one of his research sources, somehow missing the fact that Bedford had died in the disaster. When Lord then sent out queries to trace W Bedford, someone acting for Walter Belford saw it and decided to contact Lord pretending that he was really the "W Bedford" mentioned in the report. It would have been easy to suppose that the slight difference in the surnames was an admin error somewhere.

The bottom lines here are:

-There really was an Assitant Cook named William Belford from Itchen, Hampshire, on board the Titanic. He died in the disaster.
- There never was a man named Walter Belford on board the Titanic in any capacity, crew or passenger. But there was an ordinary man named Walter Belford who, either by his own volition or by instigation from a third party, pretended that he was a Titanic survivor, a "Chief Night Baker" who survived. There was no such employee designation as a 'Chief Night Baker' on the Titanic nor anyone named Walter Belford.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I just discovered something that I had missed - or at least not correlated - before in Walter Lord's book A Night To Remember about Walter Belford that does not quite add-up. That points to what we already know - that either Belford himself or someone acting on the old man's behalf was telling Lord a tall tale about being a Titanic survivor and managed to get away with it.

On page 34, it says that "Chief Night Baker" (a position that never existed on the Titanic) Walter Belford was baking rolls for the following morning when the jolt caused by the ship colliding with the iceberg resulted in a pan of freshly baked rolls falling off the top of the oven and rolling about on the floor the so-called 'rolling rolls' story). This was, of course at 11:40 pm.

On page 63, it says that (only about 30 minutes or so later) Second Steward George Dodd burst into the waiters' sleeping quarters yelling for the men to get up and get out as fast as possible while smoking room steward Witter confirmed that the mail room was fully flooded. The crew tumbled out of their beds to follow what was said and among them was Walter Belford who just pulled on his trousers without underpants and his while baker's coat before rushing outside.

Something is odd here IMO. If the "Chief Night Baker" Belford was on duty at 11:40 pm and busy baking rolls when he was "impressed" by the jolt of the collision, what was he doing asleep in bed without his underpants barely 30 minutes later? Also, I would have thought it was unusual for the "Chief Night Baker" to be sharing sleeping quarters with the waiters; he would have rather a higher spec accommodation, perhaps sharing with one other person of a similar rank like Charles Joughin.
 
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Seumas

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I just discovered something that I had missed - or at least not correlated - before in Walter Lord's book A Night To Remember about Walter Belford that does not quite add-up. That points to what we already know - that either Belford himself or someone acting on the old man's behalf was telling Lord a tall tale about being a Titanic survivor and managed to get away with it.

On page 34, it says that "Chief Night Baker" (a position that never existed on the Titanic) Walter Belford was baking rolls for the following morning when the jolt caused by the ship colliding with the iceberg resulted in a pan of freshly baked rolls falling off the top of the oven and rolling about on the floor the so-called 'rolling rolls' story). This was, of course at 11:40 pm.

On page 63, it says that (only about 30 minutes or so later) Second Steward George Dodd burst into the waiters' sleeping quarters yelling for the men to get up and get out as fast as possible while smoking room steward Witter confirmed that the mail room was fully flooded. The crew tumbled out of their beds to follow what was said and among them was Walter Belford who just pulled on his trousers without underpants and his while baker's coat before rushing outside.

Something is odd here IMO. If the "Chief Night Baker" Belford was on duty at 11:40 pm and busy baking rolls when he was "impressed" by the jolt of the collision, what was he doing asleep in bed without his underpants barely 30 minutes later? Also, I would have thought it was unusual for the "Chief Night Baker" to be sharing sleeping quarters with the waiters; he would have rather a higher spec accommodation, perhaps sharing with one other person of a similar rank like Charles Joughin.
Another example of why Walter Lord wasn't the great historian many thought him to be.

That was a good spot Arun. ;)
 
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Where exactly was the position of the Titanic’s kitchen on ship? Some people barely felt the collision, while others (mostly firemen) almost immediately knew something was wrong. If we could gather and compare similar testimony from genuine survivors who were close to that part of the ship, could it be disproven if (fake survivor) Belford claimed the impact was so violent that it managed to knock a bunch of perfectly good loafs onto the floor? Another person’s testimony from that same part of the ship might say they barely felt it at all. Been loving the thread, by the way. It’s answered a lot of my questions about Belford already.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Where exactly was the position of the Titanic’s kitchen on ship? Some people barely felt the collision, while others (mostly firemen) almost immediately knew something was wrong. If we could gather and compare similar testimony from genuine survivors who were close to that part of the ship, could it be disproven if (fake survivor) Belford claimed the impact was so violent that it managed to knock a bunch of perfectly good loafs onto the floor?

From what I can see in BB's deckplans and Ken Marschall's cutaway painting, the combined 1st & 2nd Class Galley was located amidships on D-deck aft of the First Class Dining Room and between the casings of the reciprocation engines and the turbine. Fake survivor Belford referred to it as the "Fifth deck".

But that does not tell us much. One can argue that the pan containing freshly baked rolls could fall off at the slightest impact if it was perched rather precariously on top of the oven. In concocting his story, I believe that Belford chose his words (or they were chosen for him) carefully so that the event described could be explained away if someone challenged it.
 

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