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The Titantic

John Simkin

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I am not aware of any school teachers who use the Titanic as a history investigation. However, there is a good new book that lends itself to this approach: Nick Barratt's Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History.

Starting from its original conception and design by the owners and naval architects at the White Star Line through construction at Harland and Wolff's shipyards in Belfast, Nick Barratt explores the pre-history of the Titanic. He examines the aspirations of the owners, the realities of construction and the anticipation of the first sea-tests, revealing that the seeds of disaster were sown by the failure to implement sealed bulkheads - for which the original plans are now available. Barratt then looks at what it was like to embark on the Titanic's maiden voyage in April 1912. The lives of various passengers are examined in more detail, from the first class aristocrats enjoying all the trappings of privilege, to the families in third-class and steerage who simply sought to leave Britain for a better life in America. Similarly, the stories of representatives from the White Star Line who were present, as well as members of the crew, are told in their own words to give a very different perspective of the voyage. Finally, the book examines the disaster itself, when Titanic struck the iceberg on 14 April and sunk hours later. Survivors from passengers and crew explain what happened, taking you back in time to the full horror of that freezing Atlantic night when up to 1,520 people perished. The tragedy is also examined from the official boards of inquiry, and its aftermath placed in a historic context - the damage to British prestige and pride, and the changes to maritime law to ensure such an event never took place again. The book concludes by looking at the impact on those who escaped, and what became of them in the ensuing years; and includes the words of the last living survivor, Millvina Dean.


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  • 4 months later...

Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 pm, April 14, 1912. She foundered at 2:20 am, April 15th.

Here is a newsletter that I received today from titanic.com.

April 14th 1912...

09.00am: Titanic receives a message from the Caronia warning of field ice and icebergs at 42 N, from 49 to 51.

10.30am: Divine services held in first class dining room.

11.40am: Noordam reports 'much ice' in area previously reported by Caronia .

Noon: Ship's officers gather on wing bridge to calculate Titanic's position.

01.42p.m.: Fellow White Star Line stable mateBaltic reports 'large quantities of field ice' located at latitude 41 51' N, longitude 49 52' W, about 250 miles ahead of Titanic. This message was delivered to Captain Edward John Smith, who in turn passed it to Joseph Bruce Ismay, who pocketed the message.

01.45p.m.: Warning received from Amerika of 'large iceberg' in vicinity of 41 27' N. 50' 8' W.

05.30 - 07.30p.m.: Surrounding air temperature plummets by 10 degrees to 33 F.

05.50p.m.: Captain Edward John Smith alters Titanic's course slightly to the south and west of the usual course, perhaps as a precaution to avoid the reported ice.

06.00p.m.: Second Officer Charles Lightoller relieves Chief Officer Henry Wilde on the bridge.

07.15p.m.: First Officer William Murdoch orders the forecastle hatch to be closed as the glow from it was interfering with the lookouts vision in the crow's nest up above.

07.30p.m.: Three warnings of large icebergs are received from the Californian in the vicinity of 42 3' N, 49 9' W. These messages are delivered to the bridge. Captain Edward John Smith is attending a dinner party in the first class dining room.

08.40p.m.: Second Officer Charles Lightoller passes-on orders to Titanic crew to look after the ship's fresh water supply, as temperature of surrounding sea water is close to freezing.

08.55p.m.: Captain Edward John Smith leaves the dinner party and returns to the bridge, discussing the clear weather and the visibility of icebergs at night with Second Officer Charles Lightoller.

09.20p.m.: Captain Edward John Smith retires for the night, with orders to wake him 'if if becomes at all doubtful'.

09.30p.m.: Second Officer Charles Lightoller advises the lookouts in the crow's nest to watch carefully for icebergs until morning.

09.40p.m.: Heavy pack ice and iceberg warning received from Mesaba, in vicinity of latitude 42 N to 41 25', longitude 49 W to 50 30' W, however, the message was overlooked as radio operators are busy with passenger traffic.

10.00p.m.: Second Officer Charles Lightoller relieved by First Officer William Murdoch on the bridge. The lookouts are also relieved, with the new watch in the crow's nest advised to watch for icebergs.

10.30p.m.: Sea temperature down to 31 F.

10.55p.m.: Approximately 10 - 15 miles north of Titanic, the Californian is stopped in field ice, and sends out warnings to all shipping in the area. The Californian contacts the nearby Titanic with a further warning of ice, and receives a by a very blunt, 'Keep out. Shut up. You're jamming my signal. I'm working Cape Race'. Californian's radio operator listens to Titanic's messages for a short while, then closes at


11.30p.m.: The lookouts in the crow's nest note a slight haze appearing directly ahead of the Titanic.

11.40p.m.: Titanic is moving at slightly-less than 21 knots, when suddenly, the lookouts see an iceberg directly ahead, approximately 500 yards away. The lookouts immediately sound the warning bell with three rings, and then telephone the bridge with the message, 'Iceberg right ahead'. First Officer William Murdoch, upon hearing the message, calls 'hard-a-starboard' to the helmsman, and at the same time orders the engine room to stop engines, and then full astern, and at the same time, he activates the watertight doors below. After several seconds, Titanic begins to veer to port, but it's not enough, and she makes contact with the iceberg down her starboard side.

"This extract from the Titanic Timeline is familiar to us all of course, however, it's very easy to get caught-up in the times and events, without really thinking about the PEOPLE. There were people who the journey was just another jaunt, but there were a whole section of people who were making the journey in order to, hopefully, change their lives for the better. Many had spent their all on the journey, with hopes of a bright, new future in the New World.

Sadly, their journey didn't change their lives. It ended them. In many cases, even saved people had their lives destroyed by the memory, in a way no movie will ever accurately portray.

Please think of these people today...

All the best,

Andrew Clarkson,

http://www.titanic-titanic.com "

Edited by Kathy Beckett
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