The Titanic: A Member Writes…

THE TITANIC was a family theme in my wife’s family – her mother’s grandfather (that is, my wife’s great-grandfather) went off in 1912, having booked his passage on this marvellous new apparently unsinkable ship, to visit a daughter who had emigrated to Canada, and nothing was heard (no mobile phones then) till the news came of the sinking. So my mother-in-law went down (aged 3) with her father several days running to see the lists of the drowned and the saved in the local Post Office window. Then they found out – my wife’s great-grandfather had missed the boat, and went over safely on a later ship. So it’s not always a good idea to be punctual.

Here are some figures for numbers of people saved –

First class ….. 202 out of 325 62%

Second class ….. 118 out of 285 41%

Third class ….. 178 out of 706 25%

Crew ….. 212 out of 908 23%

Whole ship ….. 710 out of 2224 32%

Apparently they had iron grille doors to keep the third class passengers in their own part of the ship, and in the panic following the collision with the iceberg the stewards didn’t get round to unlocking them all. So some third-class passengers found it difficult to get to the lifeboats. Apart from that the designer had had to reduce the number of lifeboats in order to make room for more first-class cabins and their private  promenade decks. J. Bruce Ismay, head of the White Star line, was aboard, and though five other ships warned the Titanic of icebergs in the area, apparently he insisted on full steam ahead, so as to make a fast (and profitable) crossing.

But luckily Ismay found a place on the lifeboats, and was saved.

So the usual moral – don’t be poor.

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