Which passengers most likely died in their cabins


Aug 30, 2005
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Not in general (i.e. most third class passengers), more like specific names of passengers who died in their cabins. I understand it's difficult to say who definitely died in their cabin, but any info would help.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I don't think you're going to get any sort of useful answer to that question. The only people who could possibly have been in a position to know never got off the ship alive. Given the size of the crowd that came up from down below near the end, it's not a sure thing that any of the 3rd class died in their cabins.
 

Steven Hall

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"Given the size of the crowd that came up from down below near the end, it's not a sure thing that any of the 3rd class died in their cabins."

I agree with you there Michael.
 

Paul Lee

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Don Lynch also said, in his commentary for "Ghost of the Abyss" that, it seems, that many 3rd class went back to their cabins before the ship went down, and that many had given up hope of being saved.
 

Jim Kalafus

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What you'd have to do, Andrew, is go back to the earliest possible accounts left by third class survivors who did not get away in lifeboats, and look for a developing pattern.

Thing is, the vast majority of third class passengers who sank with the ship, and survived, seem to have been amidships, or forward, on the superstructure. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any that were in a position, near or at at the end, to see people go below in third class. And I can't think of any April or May 1912 accounts in which somebody who was aboard the ship after "D" left recalled such a thing.

I have an unfocused memory, however, of accounts given by people who left in boats who DID claim that friends went below to die in comfort. The caveat there, of course, is that those who gave the half-remembered accounts were not around to see if the unusually stoic victims-to-be stuck by their guns, and for how long.

The only wreck I can think of in which people unquestionably DID take to their beds was the 1918 Princess Sophia disaster. If you are not familar, Sophia became hopelessly grounded on a reef during a storm. Remained grounded for two days, with rescue ships on hand but helpless. Then, slipped off the reef and sank in shallow water with the loss of all 356 on board, in midafternoon.

Divers were hired, by private individuals and also by Canadian Pacific. Surprisingly, given the time of day the ship sank (afternoon) and time it took the ship to founder once it drifted off the reef, (almost an hour), a number of victims were recovered from their berths. But, of course, with no survivors there is no way to ascertain if these were people who truly opted to "die in comfort," or were people so exhausted by two days of mounting terror that they slept through a fairly violent sinking. A third possibility... it is known that Spanish Flu had broken out aboard the stranded liner. (Referenced in a diary letter kept by a passenger, recovered from his corpse) those found in beds might well have been too sick to even realise what was happening.

So, back to the Titanic. "Probably not" regarding wholesale exodus to the lower decks at the end. But, do a bit of digging, read only accounts from April and May, and see what you can find.
 

Jim Kalafus

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I just began an incredibly tedious probability test.

Created 1503 one inch by one inch squares of construction paper. Each subset of victim gets its own color. This assumes, of course, that everyone got clear and had a life jacket which... I know... is flawed.

Dump squares into pillowcase. Shake. Then blind-draw 328 separate squares, and tabulate. INDESCRIBABLY dull.

Have done twice. Only oddity so far? On run thru #1, I blind selected the sole orange square that represented Lorraine Allison. Although with about a one in five chance of any particular "body being found" it's not all that weird. 148 more drawings to go. Average out results, and see if 76 is "about right" for random selection of third class from among victims, or if something is amiss. Flawed, yes, but a starting point to understanding what may or may not have happened.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>A third possibility... it is known that Spanish Flu had broken out aboard the stranded liner. (Referenced in a diary letter kept by a passenger, recovered from his corpse) those found in beds might well have been too sick to even realise what was happening.<<

Which, perversely enough, may have been a kindness.

Regarding Don Lynch's opinion, one has to wonder what it's based on and how the source could possibly have been in a position to know and still live to tell about it. The sources upon which he based that opinion may have been honest and sincerely believed what they said, but that doesn't mean that what they related was accurate.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>one has to wonder what it's based on and how the source could possibly have been in a position to know and still live to tell about it. The sources upon which he based that opinion may have been honest and sincerely believed what they said, but that doesn't mean that what they related was accurate

Well, it would have to have been someone who spent a lot of time in the vicinity of the third class staircase, who was multilingual. (Assuming that it was not a large number of any one particular nationality who returned to their cabins en masse) Or, at least fluent enough in several languages to know the difference between "I'm going back to the cabin to get my coat" and "We are never going to be saved. Let's go back to the cabin" in each. Since one can come up with any number of reasons, not based on fatalism, that would compel people to walk downstairs on a slowly sinking ship on a very cold night. ("I have to use the bathroom") It would also have to be either a passenger from third class who testified, or who was literate enough to have written a letter home soon enough after the disaster to allow it to be considered first rate evidence.

>The sources upon which he based that opinion may have been honest and sincerely believed what they said, but that doesn't mean that what they related was accurate.

One has to view late-in-life interviews, letters, etc with a healthy dose of skepticism. They tend to be laden with the sort of... "heartbreakingly accurate" detail that accounts written while the event was fresh tend to lack. That is where you find the re-occurring characters like "Man who jumped overboard with bag of gold and sank" "Woman who died trying to save her pet bird" (What IS it with that one? It has attached itself to dozens of disasters, not all of them shipwrecks, and it doesn't even work well in the Freudian sense) "Cabin mate who went back to cabin to die in comfort" (The Lusitania sank under the added weight of these, btw, to judge from accounts written in the 1950s) and lengthy internal monologues recalled word-for-word by people who were six at the time the disaster in question occurred. Etc. Many authors fall into the trap of quoting from these, uncritically, since they tend to lend themselves to romantic storytelling better than the hastily constructed, depressing, but accurate early accounts...often by the same people who, while the memory was still red hot, did not include such details.

This is easily seen in the soliloquy often uncritically attributed to Michel Navratil. Based upon interviews given late in life by his son. His son who, in 1912, apparently did not remember his own name.

I can believe that a few passengers MIGHT have gone back to their cabins... but the mental torture of counting down the seconds in a small room, on a slowly sinking ship, knowing that when death comes it MIGHT conceivably be of the trapped in a slowly filling room variety, seems to rule against anyone STAYING long. I have severe reservations about claiming that LARGE numbers of people A) were THAT fatalistic, and B) had the self control to sit in a tiny room waiting.. waiting... waiting. You get the point. If they went down early enough, I doubt they stayed. If they went down late, in and of itself an act that would have required massive self-control, who SAW it?
 
>> ("I have to use the bathroom")

One of the funniest things I've ever read on this board. Morbidly, I'm picture a short line outside the men's water closet and a longer one outside the women's. Typical.

I have no opinion on why so few third class were recovered as opposed to other groups. Based on accounts from the lifeboats, there were a fair amount of people on deck when the ship went under. One survivor (Eva Hart?) said that people looked like bees. She probably means the photos you see of bees clinging to something like a branch body-to-body so that it looks like it's just a mass of insects.

So, I have a hard time believing that people who weren't recovered were more likely to be in their cabins.

My feeling is that that a lot of people were on deck at the time and a lot of the bodies drifted or sank. I've always believed that there weren't as many bodies as the average person envisions laying near the wreck.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Well, it would have to have been someone who spent a lot of time in the vicinity of the third class staircase, who was multilingual.<<

Better fetch your Ouija Board then. Since the survival rate among these people was somewhere in the region of 0.0000%, one might have had a problem arranging an interview.

>>One has to view late-in-life interviews, letters, etc with a healthy dose of skepticism.<<

Oh I do, if only because I've come to understand just how fickle and tricky human memory is even over the short term when memories are freshest.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>My feeling is that that a lot of people were on deck at the time and a lot of the bodies drifted or sank.

Another possibility is the "guesswork" factor inherent in assigning class to the unidentified bodies.

kent_layton_7_et.jpg


Check out these May, 1912, third class passengers, photographed aboard the Lusitania. Although a few of them DO look, for want of a better term, poor (which is what I suspect was the major criteria in deciding whether a no I.D. body originated in second class or third) most of them look no different, in terms of grooming or attire, than their fellow travelers in second class. Many of the third class passengers were actually quite prosperous. Had Mr. Robins been recovered with- what?- $1500 on his body, but no means of identification, it would probably NOT have been assumed he was third class.

So, the "probably third class" and "probably second class" bodies should be placed into a category of their own, separate from those positively linked to a class by either personal I.D. or class-specific ephemera recovered with the body. Because, as the people above show, in many cases you simply can't tell by looking.
 

Jim Kalafus

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What is the exact quote? I've avoided Ghost...etc... and so cannot reference it.

I've been thinking about the illogic of people going downstairs, en masse, on a sinking ship. Unless this was a different breed of human (and some of the more romanticized books or queasier documentaries of the last few decades come close to saying that they were, as Wagner bursts on to the soundtrack) their behavior was at odds with that of the passengers on every other sinking ship into which I have looked in depth.

People on sinking ships, while rational, tend to move instinctively upward. Often, as aboard the Andrea Doria, there can be difficulty in convincing some of them to move downward. People on sinking ships who realise that they are beyond salvation and facing death ALSO tend to move upward, at a more accelerated pace; most times calmly but some times not.

There seems to be a VERY logical fear of water, even among swimmers, in these situations. People tend to draw away from it for as long as possible-again, even swimmers- even if being in a huge mob of drowning people when the ship sinks reduces one's chances of survival. The possibility of getting snared by, or in, the ship as it sinks does not seem to register with the same impact as drowning. With our Lusitania search, of the almost 500 survivors who did not get lowered in a lifeboat, few spoke of jumping. Most, it seems, were washed off the ship as it sank.

Terror of water even overcomes terror of fire in these situations. Most of the General Slocum passengers fought with all they had NOT to get pushed into the river, despite being on a fiercely burning dry-rotten wood ship. The most detailed case I can think of involving this aspect of our psyche, was of 22 year old Morro Castle victim Anna Litwak. She had no life preserver, and went to the rail VERY late in the fire, with a woman who did have one. They had agreed to jump holding one another. They were on a section of deck where everyone was vomiting and beginning to collapse from smoke inhalation. The fire was only about six feet behind them, in the tourist class lounge. The two women prepared to jump, and as the survivor related, Miss Litwak's face "froze" in terror as she looked down at the water and she sobbed "I can't." The other woman did jump, and survived. I can think of several similar cases in which people, given the choice, opted for fire rather than drowning.

So, I can't really imagine a substantial number of people overcoming basic survival instinct to walk downstairs- closer to the rising water- and shut themselves into boxes from which there can be no possible escape. I'd love to see a non-newspaper, verifiable, account from April/May 1912 expanding on this atypical behavior.
 

Tim Brandsoy

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Feb 19, 2002
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The one person I can think of who probably did die in his cabin: John Hugo Ross.

"The last person to see Ross alive was probably Major Arthur Peuchen. Peuchen made his way up the grand staircase and saw Ross still in his pajamas. When Ross was told the ship had struck an iceberg and that he should get dressed, Ross refused to believe the trouble serious. "Is that all,?" he told Peuchen. "It will take more than an iceberg to get me off this ship."

AGP023. Do you know any other passengers on A deck than those you have named?
- Yes, several.
AGP024. Who?
- Mr. Hugo Ross.
AGP025. Give his address, if you can.
- Mr. Hugo Ross, of Winnipeg; Mr. Beatty [Beattie], of Winnipeg; Mr. McCaffrey, [McCaffry] of Vancouver.
AGP026. Where were they located?
- On A deck.
AGP027. Do you know the rooms?
- Mr. Hugo Ross, who was my friend, I think was in A-12, and the others were in A-8, and numbers similar to that close by. [According to the Cave list Ross was in A-10.]
AGP028. Did they survive?
- No.


Ross was extremely ill with dysentery and came aboard on a stretcher.

My guess is he didn't feel well enough to even try to find a life boat. His body was not recovered, but his friends Beattie (Collapsible A)and McCaffry were found (probably trying to get on Collapsible A.)
 

Jim Kalafus

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I've often wondered about the origins of that dysentery story.

Would White Star have allowed someone who was stricken with something both highly contagious and fatal to be carried, apparently dying, aboard the ship? Having done so, would they allow him to remain in a cabin, or would he be isolated? Think about it... killing the core of NYC/Philadelphia society by exposing them to a disease which MAY have been typhus would generate even worse publicity for a shipping line than killing them by colliding with an iceberg and sending the boats away half-full.

Also, dysentery is not something from which one recovers in four days. If he was at the point of systemic collapse which required a stretcher on April 10, would he be capable of, no less be willing to, leave his cabin to walk as far as the staircase in four days?
 

Tim Brandsoy

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Feb 19, 2002
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Jim, I was just looking into some of this, I wondered also.


http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Dysentery

"In those cases due to Shiga's bacillus the ideal treatment has been put at our disposal by the preparation of a specific antitoxin; this has been given a trial in several grave epidemics of late, and may be said to be the most satisfactory treatment and offer the greatest hope of recovery. It is also of great use as a prophylactic.

The preparations of morphia are of great value in the symptomatic treatment of the disease. They may be applied externally as fomentations, for the relief of tormina; by rectal injection for the relief of the tenesmus and irritability of the bowel; hypodermically in advanced cases, for the relief of the general distress. In amoebic dysentery, warm injections of quinine per rectum have proved very efficacious, are usually well tolerated, and are not attended with any ill effects. The diet should be restricted, consisting chiefly of soups and farinaceous foods; more especially is this of importance in the chronic form. For the thirst ice may be given by the mouth. Even in the chronic forms, confinement to bed and restriction of diet are the most important elements of the treatment. Removal from the hot climate and unhygienic surroundings must naturally be attended to. "

I assume (I know!) Australia lad similar laws:
http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/hah/6.1/bashford.pdf
"This changed little in the period up to 1958, apart from the addition
in 1912 of ‘sanitary regulation’ and in 1915 ‘treatment’ as extra measures
for preventing the introduction or spread of diseases or pests. In
relation to humans, the act and its regulations specified quarantinable
and notifiable diseases and medical conditions, and provided detailed
instructions for the examination, reporting, quarantining, treatment
and vaccination of incoming citizens, visitors and prospective immigrants
alike."

and

"The act also required the master of any
vessel to notify authorities of an outbreak of ‘any eruptive disease,’ or
‘any disease attended with fever and glandular swellings, or any disease
which he believes or suspects… to be a quarantinable disease’ References, specific or general, to infectious or communicable diseases
appeared in several different parts of the act. Some specific diseases were
put under the term ‘quarantinable disease’ in the list of general definitions
in the act’s introductory section, but otherwise diseases were listed
in the sections of the act that referred to the obligations and responsibilities
of the master of an incoming vessel."

"In 1917 the list was expanded to include soft
chancre, venereal bubo,14 dysentery, including amoebic dysentery and
bacillary dysentery, and tuberculosis."

In short, if I am interpreting this right, it's up to the Captain, it's not illegal, but the patient needs to be quarantined and treated. And Ross WAS, but he did have a constant parade of visitors: Beattie, MCCaffry, Peuchen, Fortunes, etc. none of whom seemed too worried. perhaps they were given a prophylactic since they were also in Egypt with Ross.

He was also probably treated with:
https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5660/83849.html?1073764236
Dover's Powder (Ipecacuanha) - for pain, restlessness, dysentery and diarrhoea.

Dysentery was not an automatic death sentence either. 15% untreated, 5% treated back then.

Titanic's hospital was "second to none"
http://www.fauchard.org/publications/history/voyage/Voyage_Fall02_Titanic.htm
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hmmm.... I just wonder.

The smell which comes off of a victim of "The Bloody Flux" is singularly vile, and permeating. (I've been in its presense... can provide references) One expels a HUGE amount of bloody liquid/stool, and as a secondary symptom as one reaches the collapse stage, developes penetratingly rank breath as well.

Now, if Ross was truly stretchered on to the ship, he must have been in either the first stages of collapse, or recovery. The train ride down from London would have been... malodorous... to say the least. So, too, would have been his progress thru the ship, as he was carried from the C Deck entrance up to A deck. His cabin did not, I believe, have a private bathroom, so some steward would have been VERY busy running chamber pots of bloody liquid and stool out of the cabin. The smell would soon have permeated A deck. Anything fabric in the cabin would have been ruined... think of how the reek of McDonalds French Fries lingers in a motel room LONG after some past occupant ate them, then multiply the repulsiveness by 1000. Doorknobs, stair rails, anything touched by the luckless staff who got "Ross Duty" would have been contaminated.

One wonders, too, about the diagnosis "dysentery." Did he see a doctor in London? And, if so, this doctor thought a two hour train trip, while in collapse with the Bloody Flux, followed by an ocean voyage, was a GOOD idea? Usually bed rest and hydration was the prefered course for people left too weak to walk by the Flux.

There are a number of things worse than dysentery which ape its principal symptoms. And are equally contageous. IF the story is true as told, and he was carried on to the ship WITHOUT diagnosis, Smith would have taken a great risk in exercising his option to carry him. At the very least, having a cadre of "the best people" simultaneously expelling foul smelling bloody water by the gallon, as the maiden voyage high point, had the potential to generate ill will and bad publicity for the company. And, would a railroad carry someone that repulsively ill on a boat train, with no special facilities?

What I'm building towards is that I am curious about the origin of this story. Was this recalled later in life by some survivor? Is it from a newspaper? Are there any first person accounts from, April/May 1912? My hunch, and it's just that, is that Ross probably had some sort of "stomach issue" which grew with the retelling.
 

Tim Brandsoy

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Feb 19, 2002
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The description of dysentery sounds very similar to TD, Traveler's Diarrhea, aka Montezuma's revenge. It usually runs it's course
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveler's_diarrhea#Risk_factors
Although traveler's diarrhea usually resolves within three to five days (mean duration: 3.6 days), in about 20 percent of persons the illness is severe enough to cause bed confinement and in 10 percent of cases the illness lasts more than one week.

If Ross was starting to feel ill March 20th it may not have hit the fan till the 25th, it may have been a lingering malaise.

I'm not sure, maybe Alan Hustak could weigh in, he's been the primary researcher of the Canadians.