A GENERAL SEMANTICS ANALYSIS OE THE RMS TITANIC DISASTER MARTIN H . LEVINSON
...And as the smart ship grew In stature, grace, and hue. In shadowy silent distance
grew the Iceberg too. From The Convergence of the Twain by Thomas Hardy
RMS Titanic, the largest moving object of its time, began its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City on Wednesday, April 10, 1912. On Sunday, April 14, the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean fell to near freezing; the night was clear and calm. The ship's captain had received various ice warnings from other vessels, some of which reached him while others did not.
At 11:40 PM, while sailing about 400 miles south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, lookouts spotted a large iceberg directly in the Titánicas path The ship turned left to avoid the berg, but the massive chunk of ice openec mortal holes on the vessel's starboard side. The captain ordered lifeboats deployed and distress signals sent out.
Many of the lifeboats were launched at less than full capacity and a woman-and-children-first policy was the rule for coming aboard. At 2:20 AM.
Martin H. Levinson, PhD, is the president of the Institute of General Semantics, vice presi- dent of the New York Society for General Semantics, and a member of the Titanic Histori- cal Society. He is the author of numerous articles and several books on general semantics and other subjects. His latest book is Brooklyn Boorher: Growing Up in the Fifties (2011). He can be contacted at [email protected]
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the Titanic sank beneath the waves, a sinking that ended in the deaths of over 1,500 people and the start of a public fascination with a disaster filled with hubris, heartbreak, and heroism. This article will examine many significant aspects of that disaster through the formulations of general semantics.
/. The Map IsJVot the Territory
An Unsinkable Ship—Not Really
In 1912, the year it sank, the Titanic was known as the finest ship afloat. It weighed over 46,000 tons, was as high as an 11-story building, and was 883-feet long from bow to stem (about a sixth of a mile). It had 29 boilers, 159 furnaces, and a maximum speed of 24 knots. The Titanic was consid- ered so well constructed that many nautical experts thought the ship vir- tually unsinkable.
The Titanic was reported to be watertight. It had a double bottom (the hull was built with two coats of steel) and was divided into 16 watertight compart- ments separated by bulkheads pierced by a series of doors that were controlled either by automatic floating switches or by command from the bridge.
On the night of April 14, when the Titanic hit the iceberg, water begun flooding into at least five of its "watertight compartments" that were any- thing but watertight as the bulkhead walls did not rise appreciably .above the waterline. Water coming over the bulkhead walls could cascade into other compartments, which is what happened the night the Titanic went under. (The Titanic was designed to stay afloat with any two watertight compartments or its first four bow compartments flooded, but that number was exceeded in the collision. As its forward compartments filled, the Titanic began to go down at the head, and water rose and spilled into successive "watertight" compartments, much like water spilling into adjoining sections of a tilted ice-cube tray. Sinking became inevitable.)
Another factor that contributed to the Titanic'?, foundering was that the ship's builder had not used the highest quality wrought-iron rivets in welding the vessel's steel plates, so when the Titanic hit the iceberg, its rivet heads were more easily sheared off causing the plates that the rivets were holding to sepa- rate. Also, the expansion joints (mechanical assemblies that allow a ship's cas- ing to flex in heavy seas) on the Titanic were poorly designed, which, even if the vessel had not struck an iceberg, made the ship vulnerable to stresses on its superstructure. Unsinkable the Titanic defiinitely was not, and sink it did.
Following the Titanic disaster, the company that operated the Titanic, the White Star Line, modified the design of the Titanic's sister ships in two
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ways: the double bottoms were extended up the sides of the hull, and the transverse bulkheads of the watertight compartments were raised.
All the News Isn't Necessarily Fit to Print Radio communication was in its formative years in 1912, and there was a great deal of confusion in England and the United States over the fate of the Titanic. Because of garbled messages, several newspapers published sketchy information as unvarnished truth by reporting that all the passengers had been saved and that the ship was being towed to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Both the New York Evening Sun and the Boston Evening Transcript made this error. William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, which had the boldest headline of any newspaper, declared "ALL SAFE ON THE TITANIC."
But one paper put out information that was highly accurate from the start. The New York Times headline on April 15, the day of the sinking, read "NEW LINER TITANIC HITS ICEBERG; SINKING BY THE BOW AT MIDNIGHT; WOMEN PUT OFF IN LIFEBOATS; LAST WIRELESS AT 12:27 A.M. BLURRED" and its enure front page was devoted to as many of the details as were known. The Times went on to earn national and international notice for its meticulous and comprehensive coverage of the "story of the century." The April 15th edition is considered by many media mavens to be the most important single issue leading to the creation of the Times as a global authority.
Seeing Should Not Always Be Believing Although only three funnels were needed, a fourth "dummy" funnel was added to the Titanic by the White Star Line, so the public would not perceive the four-funnel ships Mauritania and Lusitania, which were faster than the Titanic and the pride and joy of the Cunard Line, as being more powerful.
//. The Value of Delayed Reactions Slapdash Supervision Binoculars were issued to the lookouts on the Titanic on its trip from Belfast to Southampton. But during a last minute shakeup of personnel, they were removed from the crow's nest and not replaced for the transatlantic voyage; thus, the lookouts were unable to scour the sea for icebergs with field glasses during the crossing. When the ship's Second Officer, Charles Lightoller, was questioned at an inquiry about the lookouts not having binoculars he down- played the matter saying that binoculars can be a liability in maintaining a
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sharp vigil. However, other experts, including the renowned Arctic explorer Admiral Robert Peary, disagreed.
While it is impossible to go back and test the binoculars that were issued to the Titanic, to see how they would have performed in the low- light conditions that were prevalent the night the ship took its last dive, they may have proven helpful to the lookouts in spotting dangers on the sea. That is what Frederick Fleet, the lookout who reported the iceberg to the Titanic's bridge, said at a Senate hearing on the disaster. He maintained if he had been equipped with binoculars the night of the tragedy, the colli- sion could have been avoided, which leads one to wonder if the Titanic might have had a different fate if the officers responsible for supplying the lookouts with binoculars would have taken some extra moments to consider the merits of such devices and made sure the lookouts had them.
At the time of the calamity, it is thought the Titanic was at its normal cruis- ing speed of around 22 knots (approximately 25.3 mph), which was a bit under its top speed of about 24 knots (approximately 27.6 mph). However, not all ships were traveling at such a rapid pace in the area contiguous to the Titanic on its luckless night. The skipper of the 55 Californian, which was anchored less than 20 miles from where the Titanic went down, had prudently decided to heave to.
But the captain of the Titanic, Edward J. Smith, elected to sprint toward his final port of call on the evening of April 14, even though there was no moon, wind, or swell to help spot icebergs and the Titanic had received a number of wireless warnings earlier in the day from ships in front of it about bergs ahead—it seems Smith did not appreciate the value of wireless as a constant, continuous navigation aid. Captain Smith clearly wanted to reach New York City on schedule. (Some reasons for that: There was lots of com- petition for sea-going passengers in 1912, and punctual performance was a good selling point. J. Bruce Ismay, the head of the White Star Line, was aboard the Titanic, and Smith's boss would certainly have been happy about getting to New York on or ahead of time. This was Captain Smith's last trip before retiring, and he may have wanted to finish his career with a flourish.)
If Captain Smith had delayed his reflexive desire to maintain normal cruising speed and instead had given added thought to the risks of moving qviickly on iceberg-laden waters, perhaps he would have concluded that slow- ing his ship down would be a wise thing to do. Such a conclusion might have resulted in a more beneficial outcome for the Titanic, as a slower speed would
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have given the ship's lookouts a better chance to see the iceberg and the ship a better chance of surviving the crash. With more thought. Smith might have also decided to alter his course further to the south, post extra lookouts, and warn his engineers to be ready for emergency engine orders from the bridge. Regrettably, and to the great detriment of the crew and passengers aboard the Titanic, such actions were never taken.
///. The Importance of Accurate Assumptions
Foolhardy Pre-Sail Assumptions
The operators of the Titanic assumed that the technology and leadership on board the vessel was of such high quality that rigorous preparation for the ship's maiden voyage was unnecessary. Evidence of that lack of rigor includes the following: The sea trials of the Titanic took place just ten days before its initial trip and lasted no more than 12 hours over the course of a day (the Olympic, a sister ship to the Titanic, received two days of sea trials). During these trials, the ship was never run at full speed (the Olympic's sea trials included several high-speed runs). A number of the crew did not join the ship until hours before its first, and last, commercial voyage. There were no life- boat drills before the Titanic set sail for New York.
Had the White Star Line been less confident and more vigilant in their preparations for the Titanic's transatlantic journey it is likely more lives would have been saved after the ship struck the iceberg because its crew would have had added training in dealing with emergency situations. More- over, if the Titanic's officers had been given further time to practice steering the ship during its sea trials, the crash with the iceberg might have been avoided altogether as they would have had a better chance to fathom that a huge vessel like the Titanic does not respond quickly to the helm. That thought might have led the captain to cut back speed when he was informed of bergs ahead on April 14.
The Titanic may have also been able to miss the iceberg if First Officer William Murdoch, who was on bridge duty when the berg was sighted, had not requested the engines be reversed, prior to steering the ship to the left, as reversing the engines decreased the forward motion of the Titanic causing it to turn more slowly. Additionally, if Murdoch had opted to collide head on with the iceberg, the Titanic's bow would have undoubtedly sustained major damage, but the ship almost certainly would not have sunk—in 1907 the Kronprinz Wilhelm, a German liner, rammed an iceberg but was able to com- plete its voyage despite suffering a crushed bow.
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Flawed Signal Readings
The night the Titanic sank, crewmembers on the Californian (a cargo stea- mer that Lord Mersey, the man in charge of the British Board of Trade Inquiry into the Titanic disaster, surmised was five to ten miles from the Titanic) observed lights from a "mystery ship." The sighting was made known to the Californian's captain, Stanley Lord, who concurred that a Morse-lamp signal be send to that ship. The other vessel never replied.
A short while later, at 1:15 AM. Captain Lord was stirred from slumber and informed that rockets were being fired from a ship in the vicinity of the Californian. Lord asked the crewman who had seen the rockets if they had been a company signal. The crewmember replied he didn't know. Lord said to keep signaling the ship by Morse lamp but did not request the vessel be contacted by wireless. He then went back to sleep.
Ships in the Titanic era sometimes fired flares and Roman candles at night for communication. By firing these in various colors each ship was iden- tified. The night the Titanic went under, it sent up eight white-exploding flares over the course of an hour at regular intervals. No company had as distress signals only white rockets or white rockets throwing off stars. Furthermore, rockets fired off one at a time at short intervals were internationally agreed to be distress signals.
Had Lord given the situation the benefit of a doubt he could have discov- ered if the mystery ship's rockets were distress signals by waking his radio operator and having him ascertain whether distress messages were coming in over the wireless. He then would have known of the Titanic's plight and could have steamed off to help rescue its passengers. Alas, Captain Lord chose not to rouse his radio operator, or himself; hence he did not learn of the tragedy until 6 AM, when he heard from another ship about the sinking and when it was far too late to save anyone in the water. The Carpathia, which had rushed at top speed from 58 miles away, was already picking up survivors.
After the Titanic disaster, it was agreed that rockets at sea would be interpreted as distress signals oniy, thus removing any possible misinterpre- tation from other vessels. Lamentably, that agreement came too late to help the poor souls on the Titanic.
"Women and Children First" Conjectures
Second Officer Charles Lightoller was in charge of loading the lifeboats on the port side of the Titanic, and First Officer William Murdoch was in com- mand on the starboard side. Both officers filled the boats using Captain
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Smith's policy directive of women and children first. However, each man interpreted the evacuation order differently; Murdoch took it to mean women and children first while Lightoller thought it meant women and chil- dren only. Consequently, Lightoller lowered lifeboats with empty seats if there were no women and children waiting to board, while Murdoch allowed a limited number of men to board if all the nearby women and children had embarked.
The women and children first rule, which was honored by most men on the ship and produced an overall death toll of nine men for every one woman, dealt a serious blow to the women's suffrage movement and the related cause of women's rights, both up-and-coming ideas in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The cry of "Votes for women!" seemed not so compelling when set against that of "Women and children first," a decree that was put into practice and went unchallenged by nearly all the women aboard the Titanic (some feminists were outraged that women may have let themselves be treated as helpless objects). Equality of rights also brought with it equality of risks, a notion that the suffragettes and women's rights advo- cates of the time, unlike second-wave feminists 50 years afterward, had not adequately considered.
The Assumptions of George Bernard Shaw and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle George Bernard Shaw and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a series of let- ters in the Daily News and Leader in May 1912, expressing opposing views on the Titanic disaster. The first letter was written by Shaw, who railed against the British press for "outrageous romantic lying" on matters regarding the sinking. He specifically argued that the women and children first policy was not strictly followed; that Captain Smith, rather than being a superhero for going down with the ship, had been the precipitator of the accident by having his vessel speed through an ice field and having no binoculars for the lookouts; that lifeboats did not rescue people in the water because their occu- pants were afraid they would jeopardize their own lives by doing that; and that it was wrong to elevate preventable tragedies into badges of national honor. (Shaw particularly objected to the "canonizing" of Captain Smith for his supposed heroism and the myth that all the Englishmen aboard the ship had met death without a tremor.)
Doyle replied to Shaw by accusing him of deliberate misrepresentation and perversity. Yes, Captain Smith had made a mistake, but he had given his life in recompense. The women and first policy was for the most part observed. The conduct of the American males aboard the ship was every bit
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as noble as that of their British counterparts. And courage and discipline should be honored when it is demonstrated in its highest form.
One can argue that Shaw and Doyle both made valid points. For exam- ple, it is true that lots of journalists outrageously romanticized the sinking. Nevertheless, many passengers and crew behaved with great dignity in the face of death. And while it would be wrong to say that only the Americans and British on board acted bravely throughout the disaster, we don't know much about how everyone else on the Titanic reacted because their stories were not reported on—of 43 survivor accounts in the New York Herald, only two were steerage experiences. Suppositions about how the bulk of the Titanic's more than 2,000 passengers responded during the ship's last moments must be left to our individual imaginations, as must surmises about how we ourselves would have behaved during those terrible hours.
Iceberg] Is Not Iceberg2
Icebergs are commonly regarded as white. But not all icebergs are that color. When a melting iceberg becomes top heavy and rolls over, it turns dark blue until the water runs out of it. At night, icebergs undergoing this change are quite hard to see. The iceberg that struck the Titanic was most likely one of these "blue" icebergs. It was invisible until it was just a third of a mile away, and there were witnesses, who testified at inquiries that were held following the disaster, who said that it looked dark as it passed the ship.
Passengeri Is Not Passenger2 Is Not Passengers
The Titanic's passengers were divided into three classes, determined not only by the price of their ticket, but by their wealth and social position. Individuals tra- veling in first class, the wealthiest passengers on board, included the cream of American and British society. Among the Titanic's first-class passengers were John Jacob Astor IV (who was worth well over $100 million in 1912, which would make him a multibillionaire in today's world), George Widener (after the Titanic tragedy, his wife donated a library at Harvard University in her son's name), Isidor Straus (co-owner of Macy's department store), Benjamin Guggenheim (he became famous for spending his final hours changing into for- mal evening wear in order to die with dignity as a gentleman), and Mrs. Margaret Tobin Brown (a woman who posterity has dubbed "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"—the nickname refers to the help she rendered in the ship's evacuation and her insistence that Lifeboat No. 6 go back to look for survivors).
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Second-class passengers were middle-class individuals and included teachers, writers, clergymen, and tourists. Third-class passengers, or "steerage" as the class was popularly labeled, were mainly immigrants moving to the United States and Canada.
First-class passengers resided on five levels from the upper to the prome- nade decks. They had easy or relatively easy access to the boat deck where all the lifeboats were housed. Sixty percent of first-class passengers survived the sinking, as did two "first-class pets," a Pomeranian and a Pekinese, who accompanied their owners into hfeboats.
Second-class passengers were located on the middle, upper, and saloon decks. Where second-class passengers were on the same deck as first-class passengers, the second-class passengers were further aft. More by social than physical barriers, many second-class passengers would have refrained from entering the first-class section of the boat deck. Forty-two percent of second-class passengers survived the sinking.
Third-class passengers had rooms on the lower decks of the ship and, with a few exceptions, had no direct or immediate access to lifeboats on the boat deck. Some gates separating the third-class section of the ship from the other areas, like the one leading from the aft well deck to the second-class section, were locked. Numerous third-class passengers who made it through the' disaster did so only by reaching the last of the lifeboats that were launched. Twenty-five percent of third-class passengers survived the sinking.
Class distinctions were followed in death as in life. After the Titanic went down, the cable ship Mackay-Bennett gathered floating corpses in the water. The bodies of first-class passengers were put into coffins on deck, while those of the second and third class were sewn into canvas bags and stored on ice in the hold. Survivors on the rescue-ship Carpathia also observed class divisions by coming ashore from that steamer in class order.
The Importance of Radio Operatorn There were two wireless operators on the Titanic. Jack Phillips, age 25, was the senior operator and Harold Bride, age 22, was his assistant. The men, who made less than $300 each per year, worked in a small windowless room and had to keep the wireless operating round the clock. Between shifts they slept on bunks in a tiny space next door.
Phillips and Bride signed Ship's Articles and were therefore part of the crew and under the captain's command. But their chief devotion was to their employer, Marconi International Marine Communication Company Limited,
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an outfit that made most of its profits from sending Marconigram messages of the "Having a wonderful time, wish you were here" variety.
About 9 AM on Sunday, April 14, the Titanic received an ice advisory from the Cunard liner Caronia that told of field ice ahead. Around 20 minutes before noon, the Dutch liner Noordam reported ice in much the same area, and at 1:41 PM a warning of ice from the SS Baltic was received. A German ship, the Amerika, conveyed a message that it had passed two large bergs at 1:45 PM. Not all these warnings were given to the officers navigating the Titanic.
The wireless stopped working around midday on Sunday, April 14, and Phillips and Bride spent the next seven hours locating the problem and making repairs. They got the wireless functioning again just a little after 7 PM, and Phillips began to deal with the backlog of passenger messages that had collected at his desk.
Shortly after 9:30 PM, Phillips received an ice warning from the SS Mesaba that a large number of icebergs, heavy pack ice, and an ice field lay in the path of the Titanic. Phillips, who was busily occupied transmitting passenger messages, did not send the warning to the bridge. Had Captain Smith known of that warning, which contained a detailed reading of the dangerous ice conditions in the area surrounding the Titanic, he might have considered changing course or reducing speed.
Around 11 PM, less than an hour before the Titanic hit the iceberg that sank it, Phillips was once more interrupted by another ship, the SS Californian. The Californian's wireless operator relayed that his vessel was encircled by ice and had stopped. The Californian was quite close and the signal came in very loudly over Phillips' headphones, which led him to respond "Shut up!" and to put the message aside for later delivery. This communication was also not for- warded to the bridge, which was most unfortunate because if heeded it could have prevented the Titanic's sinking.
At 11:30 PM, a half hour after he had imparted his ice update to the Titanic, the Californian's radio operator switched off his set and went to bed for the night. As a result, he missed the wireless distress signals that were sent from the Titanic 45 minutes later, an incredibly unlucky happen- ing, as the Californian was close by and could have helped save people.
Following an investigation into the Titanic disaster, the U.S. Congress passed the Radio Act of 1912. This law, along with the International Conven- tion for the Safety of Life at Sea, mandated that radio communications on passenger ships be operated 24/7 along with a secondary power supply, so as not to miss distress calls. The Radio Act also compelled ships to maintain
A GENERAL SEMANTICS ANALYSIS OF THE RMS TITANIC DISASTER 153
contact with vessels in their vicinity and coastal onshore radio stations. And it called for all U.S. radio operators to be licensed by the Department of Com- merce and Labor. This latter proviso meant that to fulfill federal guidelines, radio operatori, radio operator2, radio operators, and all radio operators going forward had to operate in a standardized manner, as radio operatorn so to speak. (NB: Pay for wireless operators also substantially increased and working conditions were improved.)
Steamships (1894) Are Not Steamships (1912)
No one thing relating to the huge loss of life from the Titanic's sinking has provoked more fury than that the ship did not carry enough lifeboats for all its crew and passengers. The most recent law concerning lifeboats dated from 1894 and required a minimum of 16 lifeboats for ships over 10,000 tons. This law had been established when the largest vessels afloat were the 12,950-ton-Cunarder RMS Lucania and her identically weighted sister RMS Campania. Since then, the size of ships had dramatically increased without a corresponding boost in lifeboat requirements, the consequence being that the 46,328-ton Titanic was legally required to carry only enough lifeboats for less than half its capacity.
The White Star Line actually exceeded regulations by including four col- lapsible lifeboats, providing a total capacity of 1,178 people, which amounted to about a third of Titanic's total capacity of 3,547. As there were around 2,200 passengers on the Titanic's maiden voyage even had its lifeboats been fully loaded, which they were not (only 705 people were loaded or made it onto the lifeboats the night of the tragedy), more than 1,000 passengers would not have been able to board them.
Some of the lifeboats were lowered half full, in large part because many of the passengers believed that the "unsinkable" Titanic was itself a lifeboat and the crew, which was new to the ship and had not been told that the life- boats could be safely loaded at full capacity, was afraid if the lifeboats were full that the added weight would cause them to buckle while they were sus- pended over the side.
For the first hour, many passengers did not take the order to get into life- boats all that seriously. They preferred the comfort and warmth of the ship to sitting in a small, exposed rowboat on the open seas. Also, there had been no hfeboat drills on the voyage, so people did not know which boats they had been assigned to or how to get to those boats quickly in an emergency.
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It had been presumed that if a serious accident occurred in the well- traveled North Atlantic sea-lanes, assistance from other vessels would be close by. Lifeboats then would be used to ferry passengers and crew from the incapacitated ship to its rescuers. Having enough lifeboats on the stricken vessel to accommodate all its passengers was considered superflu- ous to support this activity.
After the Titanic disaster, recommendations were made by both British and American authorities that (1) ships would carry enough lifeboats for those aboard, (2) mandated lifeboat drills would be implemented, and (3) life- boat inspections would be conducted. These recommendations were incorpo- rated into a global maritime safety treaty known as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which took effect in 1914. (Nowadays, due partly to the Titanic's tragic loss of life, cruise ships must have enough lifeboats to hold 25% more people than the total number of passengers and crew on board.)
Alexander Carlisle, the chairman of the managing directors from Harland and Wolff, the firm that built the Titanic, had originally plarmed for 64 lifeboats to be on the ship. But in a rare cost-cutting and space-saving exercise, the White Star Line overruled him by deciding that only 20 lifeboats would be carried on the Titanic. Carlisle didn't push the matter, and the rest, sad to say, is history.
Ship Safety in the North Atlantic (1912) Is Not Ship Safety in the North Atlantic (Today)
The Titanic disaster led to the convening of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in London, on November 12, 1913. On January 30, 1914, a treaty was signed at the conference that resulted in the formation and worldwide funding of the International Ice Patrol, an agency of the United States Coast Guard that to the present day monitors and reports on the location of North Atlantic icebergs that could pose a threat to transatlantic sea traffic. Over the years, the Coast Guard has experi- mented with ways of removing dangerous bergs. They've tried gunfire, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, and bombing, but just giving ships early warning so the ice can be avoided has ended up being the most practical solution.
The Brave Postal Workers and Engineers Aboard the Titanic
The Titanic's official name was RMS Titanic. RMS stood for Royal Mail Steamer. The ship's official job was to deliver tons of mail to countries on
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either side of the ocean. The mail was very important because it was one of the few ways of communicating with other people in 1912. The Titanic car- ried over 3,000 mailbags and five postal workers, three Americans and two Brits, on its maiden voyage.
When the Titanic hit the iceberg its lower decks began to flood. The postal workers responded by assembling the mail and pulling it to higher decks. They were racing against time, hoping to keep the mail safe until help arrived. Sadly, help never came and the frigid, 28-degree waters of the North Atlantic claimed them all on the morning of April 15. The mail was lost as well.
The entire complement of 34 engineers and assistant engineers— electricians, plumbers, and boiler room personnel—under the control of Joseph Bell, the chief engineer officer, was also lost when the Titanic sank. These brave men kept the power on and the lights burning until almost the very last moment. Their commitment to duty is commemorated in the Titanic Engineers' Memorial, which was unveiled in Southampton, England, two years after the disaster. (NB: Seventy-eight percent of the Titanic's crew went down with the ship.)
The Valiant Musicians Aboard the Ship The White Star Line hired musicians for the voyage but registered them as second-class passengers, so the company could avoid paying union wages. During the sinking, the bandleader, Wallace Hartley, led the musicians in playing music, to keep those on board the ship from panicking. Reports from survivors indicate that the band was successful in that mission.
Passengers who were in lifeboats some distance from the Titanic could hear, above the tumult and clamor, the orchestra playing lively tunes. Legend has it that Hartley released the musicians only when the incline of the ship made further playing impossible. None of the eight musicians aboard the Titanic survived when the great leviathan took its final plunge to the bottom of the ocean.
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Copyright of ETC: A Review of General Semantics is the property of Institute of General Semantics, Inc. and
its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's
express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.