Who was killed by the falling funnel, the break-up, etc

who was killed by the falling funnel?the 1st funnel of course and did anybody fall inside the ship when it split in 2.i very much disagree with anybody falling inside the ship but it is clear that several people were killed by the falling funnel.can you just tell me who?

Ben Holme

Hi James,

Charles Duane Williams was among those crushed by the falling funnel. His son, Richard N. Williams witnessed the horrifc event before being swept by the wave towards collapsible boat "A", on which he was subsequently saved.

It is widely believed that Col. Astor was among those crushed by the funnel, however, according to crew members from the Mackay-Bennet, the ship which recovered Astor's body, the Colonel was found perfectly erect in his lifebelt with no discernable injuries. Friends who subsequently identified Astor also found no evidence to suggest that he died from injuries sustained during the sinking. The myth that JJ was found crushed and covered in soot has been all but laid to rest.

There is little doubt, however, that many of those in the locality of the funnel died when it cantered foward.

Hope this helps,

One of the silliest moments in the US inquiry came when Senator Smith asked Lightoller whether the falling funnel injured or killed anybody. Lightoller was desperately trying to save himself at the time and it was pitch dark. Did Smith really expect an answer?

I'd take Williams' story with a grain of salt. Remember it was so dark that people in the boats could not recognise each other from a few feet away.

Ben Holme

Hi Dave,

Lightoller was desperately trying to save himself at the time when it was pitch dark.

At the time the forward funnel fell, the lights had not yet been extinguished. It was only *after* the bow had plunged before momentarily "checking" that the lights went out for good. This is clearly indicated by steward Edward Brown's testimony:

10557. When the afterpart of the ship gave this tremble, where were you then? - In the water, right before the forward funnel

10558. Did you notice whether the lights of this afterpart were still lighted of not? - There were lights burning then.

10559. Could you see that? - Yes.

Emily Ryerson's affidavit also tends to suggest that the two forward funnels fell before the lights were extinguished;

The two forward funnels seemed to lean and then she seemed to break in half as if cut with a knife, and as the bow went under the light went out...

The weight of evidence supports the theory the submerging bow was by no means "pitch dark" at this juncture, and I am, therefore, inclined to give Williams the benefit of the doubt on this, although admittedly, there faling funnel scene in Cameron's scene is too brightly lit, giving a misleading picture

Best Regards,
Not to start a big argument, but there is also evidence that even on deck it was not always possible to recognise people by the deck lights. With the bow already under water i can't see that there would be much light forward.

I thoroughly agree on Cameron's movie. I know it's cinema convention, but the lighting was utterly misleading to the general public.
Anyone here been out to sea? (Besides the usual suspects such as Dave and myself?) Even fairly bright deck lighting isn't as revealing as some might think, unless your fairly close to the source. The decks of the Titanic would have been an almost surreal twilight...dazzling at some points and nonexistant in others...where it would be difficult to recognize anyone unless they were in the glare or one was fairly close to the person your trying to make out.

Now pitch somebody into the water who is trying to avoid being sucked down, is trying to make it to something...anything ...that's able to float while getting away from the ship, throw in the freezing water for laughs, and the horrid visibility that get's worse the further one gets away from the source of any light, add in being dazzled by the existing lights, the stack playing the part of Damocles Sword after the string breaks, and then the sudden absence of light once the power gives up the ghost for good.

Quite a recipe for confusion. One ends up marveling that people could see much of anything at all towards the end.

Michael H. Standart

Jayne Rantall

Ok, i'd just like 2 say something. has any one noticed the similarity between the september 11 attacks and Titanic? if you can thank of some, e-mail me at [email protected]
i know some but i want to see what you guys think. cya 4 now, Jayne

Nathan Lee Casteel

I believe that John Jacob Astor and the following people were hit by the funnel.

Charles Williams and his son Richard N. Williams were killed as well.

Ben Holme

Hi Michael,

I have had experience at sea recreationally, but nothing on a professional level. I completely agree, however, regarding lack of visibility at night. I was really only disputing the contention that it was pitch dark. I'm inclined to believe, however, that Richard was able to recognise at least his own father at that time.

Col. Gracie best sums up the general experience in regards visibilty; While the light was dim on the decks it was always sufficient for me to recognise anyone *with whom I was acquainted*...

The desire to locate and "stick togeter" with familiar faces was no doubt increased during the agonising final moments as the bow threatened to plunge, and the sense of panic was exacerbated. Many would have felt compelled, therefore, to ensure close proximity to family or fiends still on deck, hence Gracie with Smith, Williams with son etc. This is why I trust William's observation.

Nathan -- R.N. Williams survived the disaster (see above) and I consider ii *highly* unlikely that Astor was a funnel victim as I have illustrated above.

Thanks to Dave and Mike for your feedback.

Nathan wrote:
"I believe that John Jacob Astor and the following people were hit by the funnel.
Charles Williams and his son Richard N. Williams were killed as well."

Nathan: Do you also believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy? Richard N. Williams *survived* the disaster, living to a ripe old age of 77. (He died in 1968.) Up until then, he probably would have been quite upset at your beliefs.

There's this great web site around called, um, uh ... Encyclopedia Titanica, I think? ... where you can *find* all this neat information.


Mary Hamric

With respect to the lighting in Cameron's movie. Cameron knows that the lighting was not what it is in the movie. He knows it was pitch black after the lights went out and beforehand it wasn't all that much better. But being a filmmaker he had to light the scenes so that the audience could see what was going on. It was a creative call that he made.
Where was it first reported that John Jacob Astors body was mangled by the funnel collapsing? Seems like these claims could be disproven easily. I had always read that his body was mangled. When bodies were found after the disaster, were they in good enough condition for open casket viewing? Morbid question but just wondering.
I'm guessing that the reports of the mangled body also appeared in the early 1912 newspapers, along with many other wild stories.

Some (at least) of the bodies were in decent enough shape for viewing, as many of the bodies were brought into Halifax and photographed. In fact, Eaton & Haas' book Triumph & Tragedy has photos of two bodies. The bodies that were not in such good shape were buried at sea.
Morning all,
In the 1st May 1912 edition of the "Daily Sketch", under a heading of "Recovering the Dead", it states: "...The Mackay Bennett recovered 306 bodies and 190 of them were taken to Halifax. One hundred and sixteen bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. Arms and legs were fractured, and the features in many cases were so terribly cut and bruised that (it is declared) the injuries could not have been caused by the sea or wreckage, but must have resulted from a terrific explosion..."

Or a falling funnel?

It goes on to mention the recovery of Astor's body under the same heading but does not mention if his was one of the injured bodies.



Ben Holme


IMO, it seems highly unlikely that anyone hit by the funnels were among those subsequently recovered. The sheer force of the blow undoubtedly knocked most of the victims out of their lifeblelts, leaving nothing but pulverised flesh (apologies for the graphic detail!). The falling stern would have seemed, in effect, like an amplified version of a falling funnel. Following the breaking of the ship, the stern fell back level, crushing many unfortunate swimmers below, thus accounting for a substantial number of the unrecovered bodies.

No doubt most of the bodies buried at sea were in poor condition due either to injuries sustained during the sinking or general decompostion. However, it has never been ascertained precisely which bodies were buried at sea because of the above factors, and which were returned to the deep because they were not readily identifiable at the time. I only know that Edwin Keeping, Joseph Fynney and Revd. Bateman died as a result of horrifc injuries.

Best Regards,
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And just to refute Iain's quote from the "Daily Sketch", here's something I just pulled from my web-site on the recovered bodies:

"It does appear that most bodies were undamaged. In a statement published in the Halifax Morning Chronicle for May 2nd, 1912, the Mackay-Bennett's ship's surgeon Dr. Thomas Armstrong, related "With the exception of about 10 bodies that had received serious injuries, their looks were calm and peaceful", (related in Ruffman's Titanic Remembered - The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax). It is unknown as to which of the recovered bodies were of the 10 mentioned, though in Sinking of the Titanic by Jay Henry Mowbray, it is mentioned that the body of Edward Keating (actually Edward Keeping, #45) was damaged by being struck by wreckage, and the face beyond recognition."

Which article is correct? No way to tell - but the Halifax article does quote someone on the funeral ships. I tend to believe this one.
No, because if you read the 20 posts above, you will find that is what everyone was talking about. So, why don't you just go read the posts above.