Category Archives: 1912

The Titanic headline that wasn’t true…

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“2,000 lives are saved off wrecked Titanic by wireless; vessel is reported sinking.”

Hold on, are we in an alternative universe? Two thousand lives saved off the Titanic when every historian will tell you only 705 passengers survived the sinking on April 15, 1912?

No, this isn’t some Edwardian version of the Twilight Zone. The headline above was printed on April 15, 1912 by The Denver Times.*

According to the Monday evening edition (consisting of sixteen pages and costing 2 cents), several ships including the Virginian and the Parisian were within distance of the Titanic and the Baltic “was coming up fast.”

The newspaper went on to report that all the women and children had been rescued and the lifeboats were the “…very latest in the lifeboat design, wide and unsinkable.” No mention was made of the fact there weren’t enough lifeboats on the Titanic to save all the passengers.

The story continued for several pages and on page 5, the headline decreed: “Dreaded C.Q.D. of wireless brings rescuers quickly to the side of the crippled Titanic.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The only ship close enough to effect a rescue was the Cunard liner Carpathia and she was 58 miles away. When her captain, A. H. Rostron, received the distress message from the Titanic, he turned his ship around and traveled full speed ahead through dangerous icy waters to reach the sinking liner.

When the ship arrived, all they found were half-frozen men and women in a few lifeboats.

My heroine in TITANIC RHAPSODY, Katie O’Reilly, was in one of those boats:

“The glassy icebergs entombed the lifeboats.

“Impenetrable guardians they were, reminding Katie of their silent power to destroy everything she loved. Something in her stomach twisted at the sight of the bergs tinted a pale gray against a pinkish horizon, but she fought back the pain. Fought hard, until all that was left was a nagging prayer that reminded her she still wasn’t safe.

“She pulled the chilly air into her lungs, held her breath, then put her shoulder to the oar and tried to ignore the mountains of icebergs emerging through the darkness as daylight crept over the ice field. She wasn’t alone in her despair. Through the veil covering her face, she looked at the other passengers.

“Women, mostly first cabin ladies with some steerage speaking a language she didn’t understand.

“Babies, seamen.

“All trying desperately to survive the night.”

The Carpathia was the only ship to rescue passengers from the Titanic.

On April 16, 1912, the Denver Post went to press with a headline closer to the truth: “1,300 perish when Titanic sinks; 866 known to be rescued.” (1,517 perished and 705 survived).

Also on the front page in large letters was a quote from Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) worth noting:

So fleet the works of men, back to the earth again; ancient and holy things fade like a dream.”

~Jina

Tomorrow: another Titanic story!

A very special post: “What you don’t know about that night to remember…”

I’ll take you through that fateful night of April 14th from the POV of a first class lady, a second class gentleman, and a third class or steerage mother and her family.

Believe me, it’s a night you’ll never forget.

Check out my Titanic novel, “Titanic Rhapsody,” about a poor Irish girl who becomes a countess aboard the Titanic…

Titanic Rhapsody on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B007TUXNJE

*The Denver Times was the afternoon edition of the Rocky Mountain News, which ceased publishing in 2009.


Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Titanic Rhapsody is available on Amazon.

Titanic: Where have all the lifeboats gone?

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Women and children first

This was the cry heard on that cold, bitter night of April 14, 1912. Earlier that Sunday morning passengers of all classes had attended divine services and offered prayers for a safe crossing.

At 11:40 pm the Titanic struck an iceberg and she was sinking fast.

Everyone scrambled to get to the lifeboats.

“Women and children first,” called out the ship’s officers.

Why then, when lifeboat number 5 was lowered (capacity 40), were there only 2 women and 10 men aboard?

If the call was for women and children first, why were gentlemen permitted to get into the boats on the starboard side?

While no male passengers were allowed to enter a lifeboat on the port side of the ship when there were women and children about?

And who can forget the look of pain on faces of the Irish family–the da, mum and three children–who fought their way up from the bowels of the ship only to discover there were no more lifeboats?

No more lifeboats.

With only a rosary and prayer and their arms wrapped around each other, they faced the end bravely.

Still, the question, persists, why were there not enough lifeboats?

Some put the blame on J. Bruce Ismay, the Chairman and Managing Director of the White Star Line, who insisted the number of lifeboats be cut from 48 to 16 (in addition, 4 Englehardt or collapsible lifeboats were stored on the Boat deck) because they “cluttered” the deck.

For the record, Mr. Ismay escaped the sinking in collapsible lifeboat C.

The White Star Line argued that it had followed the British Board of Trade regulations that dictated for a liner the size of the Titanic (using a specific formula based in tonnage), sixteen lifeboats was more than the number of boats required.

Here is a model of the Titanic decks and lifeboats showing rigging and funnel so you can get an idea of what the upper deck looked like.

Here is a model of the Titanic decks and lifeboats showing rigging and funnel so you can get an idea of what the upper deck looked like.

This rule was hopelessly outdated when the Titanic was launched.

But no one seemed to notice.

Until it was too late.

It does me heart in, as my heroine Katie O’Reilly would say, to write this post, knowing so many more passengers could been saved if they’d had more boats. As it was, several lifeboats were lowered half full or less. (The first lifeboat left with only 28 people–it could hold 65). Again, there is some confusion as to why this happened. The lifeboats had been tested and could hold forty to sixty-five people, but the captain decided to lower them half full, then fill the boats with passengers from the lower gangways.

That never happened. The doors were never opened.

As the lifeboats rowed away and the horrified passengers in the lifeboats watched the horrifying scene. I wrote about it in Katie O’Reilly:

The Titanic sinking into the black, calm sea as smoothly as if a Divine hand parted the waters to ease its descent into a lasting grave…the wild explosions shattering the quiet night… then the harrowing distress calls…the unbearable moans in a chorus of shouting and cries that lasted more than an hour then became feeble until they died out…then silence. As cold and still as the sea surrounding them.

God rest their souls…

 ~Jina

Tomorrow: another Titanic story!

“The Titanic headline that wasn’t true”

Check out my Titanic novel, “Titanic Rhapsody,” about a poor Irish girl who becomes a countess aboard the Titanic…

Titanic Rhapsody on Amazon

The Titanic film time forgot…

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I adore the movie “Titanic.”

Every time I come across the film when I’m flipping channels, I can’t resist stopping for a few minutes and watching Rose and Jack. No matter where we are in the story, it always grabs me.

But there’s another Titanic film I bet you don’t know about. A film starring…

A survivor of that fateful night in 1912.

Did you know the first movie about the Titanic was released days after the sinking?

Starring real life survivor, Dorothy Gibson, the silent film was called “Saved from the Titanic” and was shot in less than two weeks in black and white with color scenes. Unfortunately, the prints of the film were destroyed in a fire in 1912. No known footage exists. Only a few stills showing Miss Gibson wearing the same dress she wore that night on April 15, 1912 when the ship sank.

Can you imagine wearing the same outfit you wore? Think about it. It would be like going to your high school reunion wearing your old prom dress.

The public loved it. They couldn’t get enough about the Titanic.

According to Moving Picture News, Dorothy was a model and belonged to a stock company before working for the Éclair Company of America (a film production company originally founded in France in 1907). She also worked in vaudeville as a singer/dancer and was a leading lady or “star” in her time, but she is remembered for surviving the Titanic.

Dorothy’s film was the first of many about the Titanic: In Nacht und Eis (Night and Ice) was a German film also made in 1912; more films emerged, some inspired by the sinking: Atlantis, made in 1913 in Denmark and Atlantic in 1929 (based on a play).

Then the ship of dreams made an appearance in 1933 in Noel Coward’s Cavalcade.

However, the first film with “Titanic” in the title wasn’t a British or American production, but a German propaganda film. Titanic premiered in 1943, when its blatant anti-British sentiment had little effect. The special effects, however, are stunning and were later used in various television dramas about the event.

After WWII, Titanic began to fade. By the 1950s, television began to take up the mystique of the ship when the Kraft Television Theatre presented the docudrama “A Night to Remember” starring Claude Rains as the narrator and the Telephone Hour produced a half-hour show about the Unsinkable Molly Brown (both productions used footage from the German film Titanic).

The world of celluloid also discovered Titanic on the big screen. Several films and mini-series have been made in over the past fifty plus years, but I can’t forget Miss Dorothy Gibson, the film star who survived the sinking.

When the actress returned to New York. I was surprised what I found when I searched through the New York newspapers filled with stories about the disaster even before the Carpathia, the rescue ship, reached New York with the survivors aboard.

During those uncertain days when news was slowly filtering in, the newspapers were filled with pictures and stories about Society women, but not one mention of Dorothy Gibson.

Can you imagine the press of today not reporting on a well-known film star aboard the ship?

My, how times have changed.

~Jina

Tomorrow: another Titanic story!

“Titanic: Where have all the lifeboats gone?”

Check out my Titanic novel, “Titanic Rhapsody,” about a poor Irish girl who becomes a countess aboard the Titanic…

Titanic Rhapsody on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B007TUXNJE


Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Titanic Rhapsody is available on Amazon.

 

The Titanic and the Pig — the true story

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Downton Abbey is but a memory…but it will be forever in our hearts. Do you remember that first scene six seasons ago when a messenger on a bicycle brought a telegram to the Crawley family that would forever change their lives?

And ours?

A telegram about two male relatives lost at sea.

On the Titanic.

Hard to believe it’s 104 years ago today the grand ship Titanic left Ireland. We know what happened next.

So in honor of the souls who perished that night and those who survived, here is a lesser known story about the Titanic.

And the pig.

According to the New York Herald on April 19, 1912: “Five women saved their pet dogs …another woman saved a little pig, which she said was her mascot.”

The reporter goes on to say that she didn’t know how the woman cared for her pig aboard the Titanic, but she carried it up the “side of the ship [the Carpathia, rescue ship] in a big bag.”

How did the pig get into the lifeboat? Was the pig traveling first class?

In a word, yes.

More about this intrepid little piggy and the important part it played in the sinking of the Titanic later. First, it seems you can’t get away from pigs and the Titanic.

In the Julian Fellowes’ mini-series “Titanic,” a passenger in third class isn’t happy about traveling steerage to New York. She tells her husband that her daughter said their Irish Catholic family is like “…six little pigs packed into that cabin, all trussed and bound for market…”

They’re not the only Irish aboard the ship with pigs on their mind.

Katie O’Reilly, the heroine in my historical romance, TITANIC RHAPSODY, nearly doesn’t make it on board the ship because of a pig.

Katie runs away from the grand house where she is in service after she is wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet. The law is after her, but she has one chance to escape.

The Titanic.

“Stop in the name of the law, Katie O’Reilly!” she heard the constable yell down from the open second story window.

She looked up at him, disbelieving. Stop? Was the man daft?

With her ticket clutched in her fist, Katie took off running, up one winding street and down the next. The smell of cooked onions and cabbages filled her nostrils as she sidestepped piles of horse manure in the middle of the road.

Then her hat flew off. When she stopped to pick it up, she nearly collided with a large pig being driven through the streets by a farmer.

Was she about to be done in by a pig?

She thought not.

Katie jumped out of the way, then bent down to retrieve her hat.

The pig’s hooves had ripped it to shreds.

She kept going, the morning dew on the air giving way to a fine salty mist, sweeping away her fear and clearing her mind as the offices of the White Star and American Lines came into view.

Will Katie make it on board the Titanic before she sails? Only by the skin of her teeth.

Does she see the pig during the crossing?

Few passengers did because the cute little pig with the curly tail was the lucky mascot of Miss Edith Russell.

She loved to wind up its tail and it would play a lively musical tune similar to a two-step called “Maxixe.”

You see, the pig was musical pig.

The reporter on the Carpathia didn’t know the real story behind Miss Russell’s pig. How it was given to her after she survived a horrific motorcar crash. She promised her mother it would never be out of her sight. When she realized the Titanic was sinking and she’d left her mascot in her cabin, she sent the steward to retrieve her lucky pig.

Still, Edith was hesitant to get into a lifeboat. When a seaman tossed her pig into a boat (believing it was a baby wrapped up in a bag), Edith insisted on getting into the boat, too. Its nose was gone and its legs broken, but Edith and her little pig escaped in lifeboat no. 11.

Overcrowded with sixty-eight passengers (nearly one-third were children), Edith realized her little pig could comfort others as it had her. She wound up its tail so it would play music for the children. Most of the little ones stopped crying as the pig’s sparkling musical notes calmed their fears.

Its furry, white-gray body wet with sea spray.

Its cute grin giving them hope they would be saved.

It was the little Titanic pig that could.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Jina


Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Titanic Rhapsody is available on Amazon.

 

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