Splash Splash Splash
"The tolling of the bell summoned all hands to the forecastle where thirty bodies are ready to be committed to the deep, each carefully weighed and carefully sewn up in canvas. It is a weird scene, this gathering. The crescent moon is shedding a faint light on us, as the ship lays wallowing in the great rollers. The funeral service is conducted by the Reverent Canon Hind, for nearly an hour the words For as must as it hath pleased - - ' we therefore commit his body to the deep are repeated and at each interval comes, splash! as the weighted body plunges into the sea, there to sink to a depth of about two miles. Splash, splash, splash. " - Fred Hamilton Engineer on the Mackay-Bennett.
Not Only the bodies....
Besides the bodies there were remnants of the elegant ship, Hundreds of deck chairs, a piece of newl post from the first class stairway, panneling from the lounge.
"The Very Last Body to be recovered was in June." Continues Don Lynch, " A steamer was on it's way to Germany found a body floating and a table next to it from the dining saloon and they picked him up and buried him at sea and sent his belongings to his family after that."
Edward .J. Smith
While a total of 356 bodies were ultimately recovered-some of the most famous names were missing- fueling myths and legends that would persist for years later.The Most celebrated being that of TITANIC's Captain, Edward. J. Smith.
"Captain Smith Probably survived the actualy sinking of the ship," Says John P Eaton and Charles .A. Haas authors of ' TITANIC: Triumph and Tragedy', " He was observed by someone as approaching in the water, one of the lifeboats."
"People in the boat offered to help him aboard," John continues " And he just held onto the boat very briefly, and then pushed himself away. There's also the somewhat apocryphal story, which dosn't have too much to support it, and that is namely that he had in his arms, a child when he approached the boat- the child was otherwise unaccounted for. So That seems to be not quite true."
Some Remember smith diving of the bridge just before it went under.
Some Claim an officer shot himself and remember that man as Smith. Other witnessess swear it was Murdoch, The first officer in command when the TITANIC hit the iceberg, who took his own life.
" I've Always wondered if Chief Officer Wilde Might of been the man who commited suicide -if anybody did" suggests the late Walter Lord, Author of The classic novel 'A Night to remember' " The trouble was, People weren't sure who were these officers who were lowering the boats-both wilde and Murdoch were lost. We Don't know who was shot or who did the shooting-we'll never know."
Rememberance and grief
In three Halifax cemiteries, the unclamied victims who were not buried at sea, were laid to thier final rest. The Official numbers were now in, among passengers and crew a total of 1,522 lives were lost. Among the saved, the descrimination based on class was enourmous. More First Class Men Survived than third class children.
"One thing that really strikes me about the sinking," States George Behe, the Vice president of the Titanic Historical society," Is in a sense it's easyin one way to look at a list of 1500 people who died on the TITANIC, that number is actually meaningless, it's so large that it's meaningless-it's 1500 numbers. It's only when you stop and think that every single solitary name on that list of victims was a human being just like you or I, had dreams and hopes, and wishes and, happiness, and sadness, and they were all cut short by the TITANIC disaster."
A shaken Era
"As soon as the day after the TITANIC sank and everybody knew she was gone," Walter Lord continues, "It didn't turn out to be so difficult to put in lifeboats for everybody-which was immidiatley done. The German ships, The French Ships, The British ships, all within a week had obtained lifeboats and life rafts to take care of everybody onboard-Even thought they had said untill the Titanic Sank that it was just totally inpractical trying to have lifeboats for everybody. It Took No time at all to change thier minds! But it Needed a disaster to do it."
A Changing Era
A week had barely passed but TITANIC had already changed forever the complacent era that built her. Wolrdwide, releif agencies sprung into action to help widows, orphans and penniless steerage passengers. In America, United States Senator William Alden Smith, demanded an immidiate inquiriy.
"William Alden Smith," Wyn Wade, Author of 'Titanic End of a Dream' Starts,"was a maverick republican senator from the state of Michigan. he was intensly curious about all the potential bad things that the titanic might have done-and therefore he had a resoultion passed in senate saying anyone who uses American Ports are responsible for answers to questions when Americans are lost. He was going to sepina; Ismay, the crewman, and any passengers that he needed too, to get the full story of the TITANIC to be able to change legislation in the untited states."
" The British government were very very upset that the americans would have the cheek to have an inquiry about a British ship and British crew with british passengers!" Brian Ticehurst of the British Titanic society tells us, " What the British government convienently forgot was the fact that The White Star was completley American owned, The TITANIC was completley owned by the americans, and that the majority of the first class passengers were americans! So they have every right to have an inquiry!"
On Friday April the 19th , just one day after the Carpathia's arrival in New York, The east ballroom of a local hotel played host for the first of the american hearings.
" The TITANIC senetarings, we have to call the first hearings that had any kind of ship value. It was a social event, people wanted to go and hear it, it was pyscho-drama, it was theatre, and nothing before had quite been seen like that." Says Wyn wade.
As spectators, reporters and photographers fought for a place in the already over-crowded ballroom, Bruce Ismay-nervousley twirling his moustache began his testimony.
"Bruce Ismay, was the chairman of the White Star line" George Behe continues "he denied ever having tried to influence Captain Smith as to the TITANIC's speed or the arrival time in New York-he maintained that the TITANIC was always schedualed to arrive in New York at about 5 am on wednesday morning, Bruce Ismay, was just not telling the truth about that."
" He was asked pointfully how he maneged to escape into a lifeboat" states Wyn Wade," and he explained that the boat was there, it was going down, and he instinctivly stepped into it. He basically came off Professional and highly nervous, but never the less the American press looked for any possible weakness or fault or flaw in his performance and exagerated it as much as possible."
The TITANIC had indeed made a record, it is a record of manslaughter unparallel to marine history. J. Bruce Ismay survives to tell how 1,400 lives commited to the care of the White star line-and on his ship perished while he escaped. -The New York American.
What do you think i am? asks Ismay Do you believe i'm the sort that would have left that ship as long as there were any women and children aboard her!? That's the thing that hurts. And it hurts all the more because it's false and baseless. I Have searched my mind with deepest care. I have thought long over each single incident that i could recall of that wreck. And I'm sure that nothing wrong was done, that i did nothing that i should not have done, My conscience is clear and i have not been a leanient judge at my own hands.
A changed Era
During the month long hearings, Senator Smith questioned more than 80 witnessess, seeking to establish negligence on the part of the White Star Line, so passengers could then sue for damages.
" What He found was that what had seemed negligent to him, and what seemed negligent to the american public" Wyn Wade Continues, " was a violation of written law.And since the negligent couldn't be demonstrated, he missed his hope of being able for, especially the poor TITANIC victims, to recover damages from IMM."
What this Nation needs are some severe lessons that would strengthen the pillars of it's faith, We're running made with the lust of wealth and of power, and of ambition, that we are seperating society into casts, of fabulous fortunes upon the one side, and destitution and poverty on the other. It Takes a terrible warning to bring us back to our mournings-and to our senses.
-- Senator William Alden Smith.
By The end of May, the american hearings were over, and the TITANIC surviving crew were on thier way to Plymouth, England, where they were met by a further summons, this time to the British Inquiry, presided over by the distinguished Lord Mersey.
Niether Inquiry fixed blame on IMM, White Star , or it's employees. But together both hearings made possible far reaching regulartary changes, that still protect seafarers today.
" They agreed on one thing," Wyn Wade persists, "that there would be lifeboats for everybody on board,and they also agreed to create a service, which the United States took the responsibilty for, Called the ' International Ice Patrol' that goes through the North Atlantic lanes, and blows up Icebergs before the become a hazard to navigation. In addition, wireless would need to be carried on any ship carrying a certain amount of passengers, and that there would have to be a 24 hour service on the wireless."
At The completion of both inquiries, passengers and crew with complaints against IMM would wait much longer for reporation for thier losses- what little reporation there was.