HOLDING BACK FACTS OF DISASTER STIRS CRITICISM

The Evening Post

Chargesranging from indifference to deliberate suppression of news are beingmade against the White Star officials on both sides of theAtlantic.

As ground for these charges one needs to go back only to the rapid sequence of events on Monday. Throughoutthe day the world was informed that the Titanic was still afloat,although she had been at the bottom of the sea since shortly after 2o’clock in the morning; that she was crawling slowly toward Halifaxunder her own steam; again, that she was in tow of the Virginian, whichas a matter of fact reached the scene 10 hours after it had become agrave for the Titanic and more than 1300 souls of her crew andpassengers; that the Parisian had assisted in rescuing the passengers,whereas she arrived hours too late; not a single life had been lost;that the Titanic was absolutely unsinkable, although she had plunged tothe bottom within four hours of the collision.

All of those reports weregiven to the world by Halifax and New York. Halifax yesterday notifiedthe world that those reports were in every instance inspired by theWhite Star company. Every one of them was false by the persons who sentit. This is proved by the flat denial of the Marconian operator at CapeRace that wireless dispatches received by him and forwarded to Halifaxcould have justified any such tales.

The New York report was anofficial signed statement from President P.A.S. Franklin of the WhiteStar company. It was the one relating to the safety of all thepassengers and the “unsinkable” construction of the ship. It was signedwith due deliberation, after an hour of consideration by the company’sofficials. On it was built a great faith that all would be well.Because of it the final crashing truth broke with the more cruel force.

Was the White Star lineignorant of the facts throughout Monday morning and afternoon? It willbe remembered that the Titanic had sent wireless flashes announcing herplight at intervals from 10.25 [sic] Sunday night until 12.27 a.m.[sic] Monday, and that then her signals blurred and ceased.

It is known that the giantOlympic, sister ship to the sunken queen of the seas, east-bound andnearing the Grand banks, picked up the “S.O.S.” of the stricken Titanicand rushed forward to aid, but was hours too late. It is known that thesame Olympic learned the full extent of the tragedy early in the day,when the Carpathia told her of picking up the drifting lifeboats and ofthe sinking of the great ship.

The White Star officialsadmit Mr. Franklin was informed in the afternoon that the Carpathia hadpicked up 20 boats. They allege that even after that he felt hopeful,although what 20 boats filled with passengers would be doing inmidocean out of sight of the Titanic - if she were still afloat - isnot very clear. They say that there was frightful modern marinetragedy, was shrouded with a veil of silence [sic].

Wireless stations at CapeRace, Sable Island, Wellfleet, Highland Light and Charlestown navy yardbombarded the ether [sic] with frantic messages directed to theCarpathia as she successively passed through the zone of their powerfulvibrations. They obtained no response. Silence met even the warships ofthe American nation. The scout cruisers Chester and Salem, rushed fromthe Virginia capes at terrific speed on Tuesday night, got in touchwith the approaching rescue ship by noon on Wednesday.

For some reason,unaccountable as yet, every agency of government and press was defeatednotwithstanding superhuman endeavors to furnish some measure of comfortand hope to the waiting ones on shore.

Furthermore, the governmentoffered to rush representatives of the press on revenue cutters toboard the Carpathia and flash the story to the world. The Cunardsteamship company refused permission to board their ship, and again thegovernment and the press were helpless.

If the steamship companiesmaintain this attitude nothing will be known of last Sunday’s tragedyuntil the actual debarkation of the survivors late tonight or tomorrowmorning. The secrets of the ice-floes and the fog-shrouded ocean graveswill have been kept from the public for 96 hours.

Capt. Smith of the Titanicwas seeking a speed record on the maiden trip of his great craft.Steamship companies look with impatience upon the skipper whose cautionsacrifices speed for safety. Capt. Smith knew he was rushing throughthe deadliest ice-floes in the sinister history of the Grand banks. Hehad been warned by wireless fro mthe [sic] Amerika and La Touraine ofthe presence of bergs in his path. He had relayed the information tothe navy hydrographic office at Washington. Yet he shifted his wheelnot an inch, he checked his speed little, if any, and he plunged his46,000 ton hull, his 60,000 gross tons of ship with all its terrificmomentum into an ice mountain or ice island and wrote the grimmest pageon the history of the horror.

In the Republic disaster ofJanuary 23, 1909, there was similar difficulty in obtaining news. Onboard the Republic as a passenger was James R. Connolly, the notedwriter of sea tales, then under commission of President Roosevelt toboard the around-the-world fleet at Gilbraltar and return with thewarships. With the other passengers, he was transferred first to theItalian Florida and later to the White Star liner Baltic.

Details of the disasterwere sought from Connolly by numerous press agencies through the mediumof the wireless, but the ship’s officers refused to permit him to sendany messages.

The policy of the steamshipcompanies may be later justified. That their officials have been underfrightful strain is obvious. But at the present time there is a risingflood of facts that is becoming more and more [unintelligible].
 


Related Biographies:

Edward John Smith

Acknowledgements

Julie Dowen

Citation

Encyclopedia Titanica (2005) HOLDING BACK FACTS OF DISASTER STIRS CRITICISM (The Evening Post, Thursday 18th April 1912, ref: #4524, published 19 April 2005, generated 5th August 2020 10:16:10 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/holding-back-facts-disaster-stirs-criticism.html