HOLDING BACK FACTS OF DISASTER STIRS CRITICISM

The Evening Post

Charges ranging from indifference to deliberate suppression of news are being made against the White Star officials on both sides of the Atlantic .

As ground for these charges one needs to go back only to the rapid sequence of events on Monday. Throughout the day the world was informed that the Titanic was still afloat, although she had been at the bottom of the sea since shortly after 2 o’clock in the morning; that she was crawling slowly toward Halifax under her own steam; again, that she was in tow of the Virginian, which as a matter of fact reached the scene 10 hours after it had become a grave for the Titanic and more than 1300 souls of her crew and passengers; 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 to the bottom within four hours of the collision.

All of those reports were given to the world by Halifax and New York. Halifax yesterday notified the world that those reports were in every instance inspired by the White Star company. Every one of them was false by the persons who sent it. This is proved by the flat denial of the Marconian operator at Cape Race that wireless dispatches received by him and forwarded to Halifax could have justified any such tales.

The New York report was an official signed statement from President P.A.S. Franklin of the White Star company. It was the one relating to the safety of all the passengers and the “unsinkable” construction of the ship. It was signed with due deliberation, after an hour of consideration by the company’s officials. 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 line ignorant of the facts throughout Monday morning and afternoon? It will be remembered that the Titanic had sent wireless flashes announcing her plight 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 giant Olympic, sister ship to the sunken queen of the seas, east-bound and nearing the Grand banks, picked up the “S.O.S.” of the stricken Titanic and rushed forward to aid, but was hours too late. It is known that the same Olympic learned the full extent of the tragedy early in the day, when the Carpathia told her of picking up the drifting lifeboats and of the sinking of the great ship.

The White Star officials admit Mr. Franklin was informed in the afternoon that the Carpathia had picked up 20 boats. They allege that even after that he felt hopeful, although what 20 boats filled with passengers would be doing in midocean out of sight of the Titanic - if she were still afloat - is not very clear. They say that there was frightful modern marine tragedy, was shrouded with a veil of silence [sic].

Wireless stations at Cape Race, Sable Island, Wellfleet, Highland Light and Charlestown navy yard bombarded the ether [sic] with frantic messages directed to the Carpathia as she successively passed through the zone of their powerful vibrations. They obtained no response. Silence met even the warships of the American nation. The scout cruisers Chester and Salem, rushed from the Virginia capes at terrific speed on Tuesday night, got in touch with the approaching rescue ship by noon on Wednesday.

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

Furthermore, the government offered to rush representatives of the press on revenue cutters to board the Carpathia and flash the story to the world. The Cunard steamship company refused permission to board their ship, and again the government and the press were helpless.

If the steamship companies maintain this attitude nothing will be known of last Sunday’s tragedy until the actual debarkation of the survivors late tonight or tomorrow morning. The secrets of the ice-floes and the fog-shrouded ocean graves will have been kept from the public for 96 hours.

Capt. Smith of the Titanic was seeking a speed record on the maiden trip of his great craft. Steamship companies look with impatience upon the skipper whose caution sacrifices speed for safety. Capt. Smith knew he was rushing through the deadliest ice-floes in the sinister history of the Grand banks. He had been warned by wireless fro mthe [sic] Amerika and La Touraine of the presence of bergs in his path. He had relayed the information to the navy hydrographic office at Washington. Yet he shifted his wheel not an inch, he checked his speed little, if any, and he plunged his 46,000 ton hull, his 60,000 gross tons of ship with all its terrific momentum into an ice mountain or ice island and wrote the grimmest page on the history of the horror.

In the Republic disaster of January 23, 1909, there was similar difficulty in obtaining news. On board the Republic as a passenger was James R. Connolly, the noted writer of sea tales, then under commission of President Roosevelt to board the around-the-world fleet at Gilbraltar and return with the warships. With the other passengers, he was transferred first to the Italian Florida and later to the White Star liner Baltic.

Details of the disaster were sought from Connolly by numerous press agencies through the medium of the wireless, but the ship’s officers refused to permit him to send any messages.

The policy of the steamship companies may be later justified. That their officials have been under frightful strain is obvious. But at the present time there is a rising flood of facts that is becoming more and more [unintelligible].
 


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