Encyclopedia Titanica


Operator on La Bretagne Tells How Messages Were Sent in All Directions From Near Cape Race.

Chicago Examiner

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Operator on La Bretagne Tells How Messages Were

Sent in All Directions From Near Cape Race.

New York, April 17—Captain Smith of the Titanic had warning of the danger ahead of him in the giant iceberg that sent his vessel to the bottom of the North Atlantic. As a matter of fact, the Titanic relayed the warning to the shore.

The Marconi operator of the La Bretagne, which arrived today from France, recited messages that were being sent out in all direction from the vicinity of Cape Race telling of the existence of bergs and ice field.

The Titanic sank in latitude 41.43 north and longitude 50.14 west. On April 13, two days before the Titanic sank, the steamship Caronia eastbound, finished the following message:

“Westbound steamers report icebergs, growlers (huge chunks of ice) and field ice in latitude 42.00 north and longitude 49.00 to 51.00 west on April 12”

Believe Titanic Heard Warning

This message was picked up by Lucien Oury, wireless operator of the La Bretagne, then near Cape Race. It is more than likely that the operator on board the Titanic received the same warning.

On the same day, the thirteenth, La Bretagne met La Provence, which confirmed the report of impending danger from icebergs moving across the North Atlantic route. A message sent out by the La Provence read:

“We passed in sight of icefield and bergs in latitude 41.30 north, longitude 49.00 to 50.00 west. Icefield about sixty miles in length.”

On the morning of April 14 La Bretagne approached the icefield in question, whereupon Captain Mace instructed his Marconi operator to send out warnings to all other vessels within the radius of his wireless instrument. The following eastbound ships were notified to watch out for the threatening danger:

The Marengo, at 8 p.m., April 14; the Olympic, at 7:35 a.m., on April 15; the Campanello, at noon on April 15; the Pennsylvania, at 4 p.m., April 15.

La Bretagne was one of the first ships to receive news of the Titanic disaster from the Cape Cod wireless station. It had hardly ticked over the receiving apparatus before it was rushed into type and printed in the steamer’s daily paper.

Bergs Seen Miles Away

“It was very clear, and we sighted the ice at 7:30 o’clock in the morning,” said Captain Mace on his arrival today. “The tops of the bergs first came into view miles away on the starboard side. As we proceeded at reduced speed we found we were heading for a limitless icefield. The sea right ahead and stretching to port and starboard was white, and a gentle swell that set in, combined with a light breeze, set the field to heaving and caused some of the smaller bergs that got caught between ice cakes to roll over. The field had a southerly drift, and the Bretagne was headed in the same direction to avoid contact with it.”

The steamship Hellig Olav of the Scandinavian line reported large icebergs in latitude 41.43, longitude 49.51, and smaller bergs in latitude 41.30, longitude 50.49.

The Hamburg-American liner Cincinnati encountered no ice, having kept well to the southward on her voyage from the Mediterranean. Her wireless operator reported at 11:10 o’clock Sunday night he had caught the S. O. S. from the Titanic giving her position as latitude 41.46, longitude 51.41.

The Cincinnati was 450 miles away, and, while answering the call and telling the Titanic that she would make all speed to her aid, the Olympic’s wireless was caught. The Cincinnati’s operator then heard Cape Sable calling and stopped sending messages. At 12:30 in the morning the Olympic sent a message to the Cincinnati telling the commander that no more help was needed.

Chicago Examiner, Thursday, April 18, 1912, p. 3, c. 7:

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2011) TITANIC'S CAPTAIN WARNED OF HUGE FIELD OF ICEBERGS (Chicago Examiner, Thursday 18th April 1912, ref: #13547, published 21 August 2011, generated 25th May 2023 09:47:04 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanics-captain-warned-of-huge-filed-of-icebergs.html