Countdown to Disaster

The Last Days of the R.M.S. Titanic

Monday, April 1, 1912


 Monday, April 1st, 1912, was a cool, crisp morning for the old Irish shipping city of Belfast. A northwesterly wind was whipping up and heading toward the region, making the atmosphere feel wet that day though there was, in fact, no rain in the Belfast area. It was hoped, however, that this wind would not make it difficult for the magnanimous event that was scheduled for the docks that morning. That morning, the second ship of the old and venerable White Star Line's 'Olympic Class' series, namely the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic, would be making her sea-trials, before heading to the English port city of Southampton. The 'Big Three', as the Olympic Class vessels were called, were a series of triplet ships, larger than any ship built at any earlier time, that were guaranteed to secure the elusive prize for best ship, the Blue Ribband, which was continually being claimed by the Cunard Line, one of the White Star's top competitors, for their famed vessel, the Lusitania. These ships were built to be the finest in the shipping industry, outranking in quality most hotels. They were not only built to be fast, but most importantly they were built to be luxurious. Titanic was built to be the largest of the three vessels, though it was the second to be built and launched (it had been launched on the 31st day of May in 1911). It was also, by all standards, the most luxurious. Though the Olympic (Titanic's older sister) was not as large, it was better advertised, as it was, after all, the first of the three. But still, the owners of R.M.S. Titanic expected to turn a great profit from this sailing.

 The Titanic was scheduled to start her trials on the River Lagan at precisely 10 o'clock a.m. that morning. She was to be occupied and controlled by a skeleton crew of 79 crewmembers, who had signed on for the voyage on Saturday, March 29th. Besides these men (all of them the trimmers or stokers or boilermen) there were aboard 41 officers, engineers, and stewards. At about 9:00 a.m. the tugs from Liverpool (all made by the Alexandra Towing Company, and several already familiar with the new ship as they had assisted at the launch) arrived, and started to steam towards Titanic's berth, ready to assist her in her trials. At 10 o'clock, as scheduled, she slipped into the River Lagan, where she was greeted by the tugs. Unfortunately, as the giant vessel steamed towards the Victoria Channel, her crew found that the wind was making things too difficult for her to do much of anything, and so she was quickly sent back to Belfast, where she would rest for the remainder of the day. The wind and the narrow confines of the Lagan had proven too dangerous a combination for the new ship, and it would certainly be best to wait for better weather, so as not to risk damage to the ship before she even made a single Trans-Atlantic crossing. Hopefully there would be better conditions on the 2nd.


 Engineers and officers alike used the rest of the day to give the ship a final examination. They also took the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the ship. The trimmers, the fireman (at the time there was only one actual fireman aboard, that man was Mr. William McQuillan), the officers, able seamen, and the "Black Gang" (the Engineers and Boilermen) were paid an extra five shillings for the delay.


Countdown to Diaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Tuesday, April 2, 1912


 Tuesday, April 2nd, 1912 was a calm and mild day, perfect for the trials and the voyage to Southampton that had been scheduled for the 1st, but postponed due to the bad weather.  That morning, the eight senior officers of Titanic had boarded. Commodore Edward John Smith, RNR, old 'EJ', the venerable and beloved 62 year old who had lived old much of his life at sea, was to be the new ship's captain. In all his years at sea he had never been involved in a shipwreck, the closest he'd come to one had been the 1911 incident with Olympic, the Titanic's older sister ship, which had been accidentally struck by the warship H.M.S. Hawke while leaving Southampton. Luckily, no lives were lost, and there were only minor injuries to the few people who were in the sections of the ships that rammed, and so Smith's reputation as a fine captain was undamaged.


 Along with the great Captain Smith, there were seven lesser officers aboard. These men were: the superb Scottish seaman, Chief Officer William McMasters Murdoch, RNR, then the famed First Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller, RNR, Second Officer David Blair, Third Officer Herbert John Pitman, Fourth Officer Joseph Groves Boxhall, Fifth Officer Harold Godfrey Lowe (a Welshman), RNR, and Sixth Officer James Paul Moody. 34 seamen and 79 trimmers, firemen, etc. also boarded the liner that morning. There was also a change of plans in store for Titanic's owners and officers. Captain Smith had brought along the trustworthy Henry Tingle Wilde, Olympic's chief officer in all Smith's voyages on her. Smith intended to have Wilde placed as Chief Officer, and this was done. Murdoch was thus bumped to First Officer and Lightoller to second, but there were no other changes in staff. Poor Davey Blair then had to leave, taking with him the knowledge of where Titanic's pair of binoculars was stored. Also present that day were the two wireless officers from the Marconi firm, Chief Operator Jack Phillips and Assisting Operator Harold Bride.


 Also present that morning on Titanic were some of the men responsible for her. Her owner, the founder of International Mercantile Marine (IMM), millionaire J. Pierpont Morgan, was unable to be present (he had been present at the launch), high-ranking members of White Star and Harland & Wolff (the Belfast-based shipbuilding firm that constructed Titanic and her sisters for White Star) were present, with the exception of the White Star Line's Chairman, and leading IMM officer Joseph Bruce Ismay was not present. Ismay reported his absence as being due to family matters. Lord William James Pirrie was also absent due to a very severe case of pneumonia that left him constantly covered in towels with his feet in a bucket. Both Ismay and Pirrie sent their replacements, Harold Sanderson and Thomas Andrews Jr., respectively. Sanderson was second in command of the White Star, and Andrews was the nephew of his Lordship, as well as the designer of Titanic. Accompanying Andrews was his chief deputy, Edward Wilding.


 Things started very early that morning with an inspection by Board of Trade supervisor Francis T. Carruthers. Captain Smith and other members of the crew and the companies accompanied him. Messrs. C. J. Smith & Co. of London place several members of their firm aboard to adjust the ship's compasses as she entered the open water. At 6:00 o'clock a.m. the trials started. The four tugs began pulling the huge ship along the River Lagan, through the Victoria Channel towards the Belfast Lough. The Herald was at her port bowlines, the Haskinson was at her port lines, the Herculaneum was at her starboard lines, and the Horbury was at her starboard bowlines. They were watched closely by the bo'sun, the Australian Alfred 'Big Neck' Nichols and his crew, and bo'sun's mate Albert Haines and his crew. One by one, deep inside the ship, the 20 immense boilers of Titanic were lit. As the crowds of spectators lined up all along the Channel to watch the ship, Titanic made her way into the Lough for her trials.


 At about noon, the tugs took her to a spot in the Lough about two miles off the tiny town of Carrickfergus. The crowds rushed towards the town to watch the ship. As a flag signaling the fact that the pilot was aboard flapped about in the light morning breeze, the tugs released their hold on the ship and returned to Belfast, as Titanic's three propellers (her 'triple screws') spun round for the first time. As a blue and white 'A' signal flag indicating that Titanic was undergoing sea trials, was run up, Fourth Officer Boxhall thrust the engine room telegraph handle forward and Titanic moved on it's own for the very first time. At this time, three long blasts from the ship's siren were sounded. Buoy tests were now conducted.


 During this time, the officers and officials devoured salmon, roast chicken, and sweetbreads in the grand First Class Dining Room on D-Deck. During the meal they compared notes and asked each other technical questions, finally concluding that the ship was running better than expected. At about 2 o'clock, Titanic started making a series of runs across the Lough towards the Irish Sea and then and back to it's original position. They found that the ship could go past 20 knots, and that she could be brought to a full stop in just over three minutes, a good period of time for a ship of her size. At 6 o'clock p.m. Titanic headed back to the Lough from the Irish Sea at 18 knots so as it could undergo its final inspection before she made her way to Southampton.


 Carruthers boarded Titanic for one last experiment, raising and dropping her giant anchors. After several minutes of this, the BoT inspector was satisfied, and he presented Andrews and Wilding with a certificate reading "Good for one year from today 2.4.12." That night, at 8 o'clock, the engines were once again started up, this time for the voyage to Southampton, where an empty birth was waiting. Aboard, along with the skeleton crew, Carruthers, Andrews, Sanderson, Wilding, Harland & Wolff's nine-strong 'Guarantee Group', and regular 1st Class Passenger Wyckoff van der Hoef enjoyed the ship's first trip. That evening, the wireless operators were tireless sending updates to Morgan and Ismay about the trip towards Southampton. As the darkness fell the regular officer's watches were held, and lookouts were posted. In the darkness, Titanic rounded the Lizard, passed through the Irish Sea, St. George's Channel, and headed past the coast of Cornwall.


Countdown to Diaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Wednesday, April 3, 1912


 Wednesday, April 3rd, 1912 was mild and chilly. That morning, as the 882 ½ foot long White Star liner Titanic cut through the waves towards Southampton from the Irish Sea. She was making towards the city from Belfast after completing her sea-worthiness trials the past day. The trip from Belfast to Southampton was approximately 570 miles. The ship entered a dense fog at 2 o'clock a.m., and the fog would not disperse until 6 o'clock a.m. That morning, the ship's officers and the officials aboard her sat down to a pleasant breakfast. The menu read:

Quaker Oats
Fillets of Whiting
Kippered Herrings
Calves' Liver & Bacon
Grilled Ham or Grilled Sausage
Minced Chicken
Poached & Fried Eggs
Plain & Tomato Omelettes
Mashed & Sauté Potatoes
Cold Meat
Rolls or Scones
Strawberry Conserve

   At 10:30 a.m. she was 150 miles east of Fastnet. She would pass over the day Cornwall, Prawle Point, and St. Catherine's Port. At this time, the ship was moving at 23 ¼ knots, the fastest she would ever move. At about noon she passed the green cliffs of Land's End, where she made contact over wireless with Teneriffe (2,000m miles away) and Port Said (3,000 miles).


 That night she passed the Isle of Wight where she met with the Nab Light vessel, from which Southampton's old and celebrated harbour pilot, George Bowyer, came aboard. Bowyer had been present on the bridge of Olympic with Captain E.J. Smith during the Hawke incident. The ship entered the Spithead as darkness fell. At 12 o'clock midnight Titanic arrived at the aged British city of Southampton, and was taken forth to the White Star's dock. Along the way she passed her own sister ship, the Olympic, headed off on a voyage of her own.


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Thursday, April 4, 1912


 Thursday, April 4th, 1912, Maundy Thursday, was a very important day for the R.M.S. Titanic. Not only had she conquered, in a sense, the narrow confines of the River Lagan and completed successfully her trials, she was now entering the port of Southampton for the preparations for her first Trans-Atlantic voyage. At the exact start of April 4th, at 12:00 a.m. that morning, Titanic was headed straight for Southampton. The lights on her decks ablaze, few spectators watched as she emerged from the gloomy darkness into the dock of Southampton, guided by the green and red lights of the buoys before her.  

 At her sides chugged five Red Line tugs, the tugs Ajax, Hector, Hercules, Neptune, and Vulcan, each of the tiny vessels guided by Titanic's bo'sun, 'Big Neck' Nichols and his superb team of able bodied seamen. Berth No. 44 sat empty, awaiting the giant White Star liner. Guided by the tugs (and by the harbor pilot, George Bowyer), Titanic was warped into her berth. The dockyard workers had some trouble getting enough space for the ship's big bulk. Oceanic and New York were berthed ship-by-side in Berths 38 and 39, while across the water from Berth 44 the American Line ships Philadelphia, St. Louis, and White Star's Majestic all sat tied together.

 When the dawn came, a large group of people came down to the quay to see this new ship Titanic, and no one came away unimpressed. The ship appeared with the dawn, towed in during the night, and not at all visible until the morning hours. On this day, many of the officers took the opportunity to become familiar with Titanic. David Blair, the Second Officer who had to leave the ship's roster when Henry Wilde came in as Chief Officer, got a good look at the ship that he would not sail on as well. He voiced his praise of her in a letter to his sister-in-law. "This is a marvelous ship, and I feel very disappointed I am not to make the first voyage." Though he was disappointed by the absence of his friend Blair, James Moody, the Sixth Officer, was also impressed with the ship, saying that he was happy to have a room of his own, even despite the fact it was only the size of a cupboard. First Officer William Murdoch seems to have taken some time examining the ships lifeboats and their Wellin davits. He may have taken notice of the fact that the boats could only hold half of the Titanic's passengers (a fact pointed out by both White Star official Alexander Carlisle and Board of Trade member Ernest Shackleton). He was impressed by the davits. "I thought what a jolly fine idea they were, because with the old-fashioned davits it would require about a dozen men to life her [the lifeboat], a dozen men at each end." Not everyone was pleased with the ship, however. Fifth Officer Lowe complained that he was "a stranger to everyone aboard." Wilde had different problems, he didn't like the ship at all. It was simply too big.

 A large amount of silverware and china was taken aboard the ship this day. There would be, in all, some 2,000 salt shakers, 4,500 breakfast plates, 3,000 tea cups, 5,500 ice cream plates, 12,000 dinner plates, 1,000 finger bowls, and 1,500 mustard bowls aboard, as well as hordes of other assorted bunches of cutlery and plates and dishes. It seemed that the first items to be loaded aboard the doomed vessel were to be the crockery.  


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Friday, April 5, 1912


 Friday, April 5th, 1912 was Good Friday. Early in the morning, dockyard workers fixed hordes of assorted colored flags and pennants up upon the ship's rigging. This was done for two reasons: firstly, to honor Holy Week, and secondly, to honor the people of Southampton, Titanic's 'hosts'. Today was the only day in her short history that Titanic was ever "dressed", although some artists like to picture her with these flags and pennants as she leaves the Southampton dock.

 As the Bard wrote in Henry V "…the scene is now transported, gentles, to Southampton; there is the playhouse now, there must you sit." Southampton is located 78 miles southwest of London, in Hampshire. It was always a perfect spot for a port. It is built at the convergence point of the Rivers Test and Itchen, and is protected from severe sea-storms by the ancient Isle of Wight that sits in the waters nearby. There has been a settlement at Southampton since Emperor Claudius invaded Britannia. The White Star Line did not have a dock of it's own in this city until 1907, when they changed the outlet of their express passenger service from Liverpool (White Star's headquarters) to Southampton.

 Due to Good Friday, the dock was, for the most part, deserted. There were to be no visitors on this holy day. April the 5th would also prove to be the first recruitment day in Southampton for the ship's crew (though few men actually signed up until the following day). Much of the ship's cargo was taken aboard the ship on this day as well. At night, the flags were taken down. It had been a relatively inactive day for the Titanic, and indeed for the dockyard, but tomorrow would be very different.  


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Saturday, April 6, 1912


 Saturday, April 6th, 1912 was, of course, Holy Saturday. This day was, for Titanic, a much more active day than the previous day, and was to be much more active than anything expected on the next day. Much of the ship's cargo is brought aboard today – almost 500 tons of it in all – in about 11,524 individual pieces. While this was going on, in the area around Titanic's Berth 44, dockyard workers scrambled about the port loading more coal (from various shipping and coaling ports) into the ship's boiler rooms. The process of lugging all this coal to the ship lasted the full 24 hours of the day. After this, with areas of the ship covered in a layer of soot, the ship's "boots men" (whose jobs were to clean both shoes, and on occasion, the ship herself), led by 34-year-old S. Stebbing were called into action. They cleaned the areas of ship covered by the fine black dust, and apparently did a fine job of it as well.

 Today was also the recruitment day for the majority of Titanic's crew. The White Star's hiring halls were packed with the seamen, eager to put their names down for a spot on the new ship on her maiden voyage. 228 men came from the British Seafarer's Union and about 100 men were from the National Sailor's Union and the Firemen's Union alone. These men were all eager to get back to work, now that the national coal strike had finally been ended this day due to the hard work of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith.

 The trouble had begun on January 12th, 1912, when the coal miners of Britain had voted overwhelmingly to go on strike until they would be allowed to receive minimum wages instead of the pittance they had been receiving as of late. Despite Prime Minister Asquith's best attempts to make for a peaceful negotiation, the strike began in late February, and, urged on by such socialist political leaders as Ben Tillett (who would later cause grief to White Star about conditions of 3rd Class Passengers), would become increasingly problematic for the shipping industry and the government alike. Despite the settlement on the 6th, large amounts of coal in Southampton would be scarce until about a week after the settlement. The White Star had already announced that the two Olympic Class vessels that would be making voyages this week, Olympic and Titanic would have their usual speed of 23 knots reduced to 20 knots to conserve coal.


 Now that the coal strikes were over, the seamen (who had been, since February, struggling to make a living) scrambled to sign on for any available ship, but many wanted Titanic, both because of the ship herself and her captain, the beloved EJ. The majority of the crewmembers were from Southampton, but there were also men from London, Liverpool, Belfast, and Queenstown. Several important additions were made to Titanic's crew today. Dr. Edward J. Simpson would be the Assistant Surgeon aboard the ship, working under the careful eye of Chief Surgeon William Francis Norman O'Loughlin, a man every bit as much beloved to passengers and crew alike as Captain Smith himself. A Londoner, Reginald Leonard Barker, signed on as Titanic's purser, to be paid the sum of 15 pounds per month. He would be demoted to Assistant Purser when yet another popular officer of the White Star, Hugh McElroy, was taken aboard as Chief Purser. White Star also transferred the likable Andrew J. Latimer from Olympic, to be Titanic's Chief Steward. It seemed that the White Star Line was, in a sense, assembling an 'all-star cast' for the Titanic's high-ranking officers aboard. The cream of the White Star were to be present, this would truly be a voyage to remember.


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Sunday, April 7, 1912


 Sunday, April 7th, 1912 was Easter Sunday. Titanic spent her fourth day resting in Berth No. 44 at the White Star dock in Southampton, preparing for her maiden voyage. The tide in Berth 44 was up to a depth of 40 feet above the main tide. The same would be true for Berth 43, which had previously held Titanic's sister ship Olympic, which had departed Southampton April 4th, the day Titanic arrived. Due to Easter, there was very little activity at the White Star dock, most of the crew was gone as well.

 There was no time to send Titanic any newly mined coal, so she was loaded with coal from five other I.M.M. ships, as well as with left over coal from the Olympic. The new ship's huge boilers had already consumed 415 tons of coal in the last week (mainly to heat the ship and to operate her cargo winches). The ship had arrived in Southampton with 1,880 tons of coal. 4,427 tons of the stuff had been brought aboard in Southampton, mainly on the previous day.

 In all, aboard Titanic, all was peaceful. The dock was completely deserted due to the significance of the day. The only movement on the ship was that of the Blue Ensign that had been hoisted up that evening, which gently fluttered in the breeze. With evening came the lookout, who rang the ship's bell to mark off the hours.

 These were to be the last quiet hours Titanic would ever know.


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Monday, April 8, 1912


 Monday, April 8th, 1912 was rainy and grey. Titanic remained warped in Berth 44 in Southampton's dock. On this day some 4,427 tons of coal was loaded aboard her, as well as a large amount of the foodstuffs. Seamen still packed the White Star's hiring halls to reserve a place as a crewman on the newest and largest ship built by White Star, or by any company for that matter. These men applied for positions as Able Seamen, Firemen, Trimmers, Stewards, and many other such tasks. A large group of Europeans from Luigi Gatti's restaurants in England came down to sign on Titanic to fill the spots needed to run Luigi Gatti's newest restaurant, the a'la Carte, which was aboard Titanic herself. Over the course of the day, hundreds of crewmembers were added to the ship. Names like Reginald Jones, Alfred Maytum, Thomas Barker, Cyril Ricks, Frank Prentice, Bertram Noss, Charles Joughin, Arthur May, his father A.W. May, were all added to the ship's roster. 34-year-old Joseph Scarrot joined Titanic's crew today as an Able Seaman:

 "I signed on the 'articles' as 'A.B.' [Able Seaman] on Monday, April 8th, 1912. The signing on seemed like a dream to me, and I could not believe I had done so, but the absence of my discharge book from my pocket convinced me. When I went to the docks that morning I had as much intention of applying for a job on the Big 'Un as we called her, as I had of going for a trip to the moon."

 Also, many fresh food supplies were loaded aboard today, including:

75,000 lbs. of Fresh Meat
11,000 lbs. of Fresh Fish
4,000 lbs. of Salted and Dried Fish
75,000 lbs. of Ham and Bacon
25,000 lbs. of Poultry and Game
2,500 lbs. of Sausage
40,000 lbs. of Fresh Eggs
2,200 lbs. of Coffee
1,120 lbs. of Jams and Marmalade
1,000 Sweetbreads
800 lbs. of Tea
10,000 lbs. of Rice, Dried Beans, etc.
10,000 lbs. of Sugar
200 barrels of Flour
10,000 lbs. of Cereals
36,000 (180 boxes of) Oranges
16,000 (50 boxes of) Lemons  


25 cases of Biscuits
1,750 quarts of Ice Cream
1,196 bags of Potatoes
6 cases of Confectionery
22 cases of Mushrooms
3 cases of Tea
10 cases of Mixed Vegetables
225 cases of Mustard
8,000 cigars  

 And to drink:

20,000 bottles of Beer and Stout
1,500 bottles of Wine
15,000 bottles of Mineral Waters
850 bottles of Spirits  

 The meat and produce was put into large refrigerators on G-Deck. Officers Murdoch and Lightoller supervised the taking of this food down to where it was to be placed. The Refrigerators were to be watched over and tended by Extra Assistant 4th Engineer Thomas Hulman Kemp.

 Last minute details were overseen by Titanic's designer Thomas Andrews, who made another of his routine inspections of the ship at 6:30 p.m. before returning to the Harland & Wolff office to prepare for the coming voyage. Andrews tireless wandered the ship in the last two days before the voyage, followed by his secretary Thomas Hamilton. Andrews inspected every bit of the ship, and was busy noticing what definantly had to be changed before the next trip. There were too many screws, for example, in stateroom hat hooks. The restaurant galley hot press wasn't working correctly, either. It would definantly have to be replaced before the next voyage.

Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Tuesday, April 9, 1912


 Tuesday, April 9th, 1912 was to be the last full day that the huge new liner Titanic would remain warped in Berth 44 at the White Star dock in Southampton. Food and provisions continued to be brought aboard her that day, and early that morning the ship was visited by Board of Trade surveyor, Captain Maurice Harvey Clarke. Clarke and Thomas Andrews inspected the ship with the help of 5th Officer Harold G. Lowe and 6th Officer James P. Moody. Clarke tested the Morse Lamp on the ship's wheelhouse, and afterwards fired one of Titanic's white signal rockets. He approved of them.

 Near the end of his inspection, Captain Clarke jumped into Lifeboat no. 11, and he had the two officers lower it for him from the davits. After spending a few minutes in the boat, testing it's sea-worthiness in a variety of ways, Clarke left, approving of everything he had inspected. Soon afterwards Captain E.J. Smith inspected the ship himself, with the help of Chief Officer Henry T. Wilde and First Officer William M. Murdoch. While on Titanic's bridge, a London photographer took a photograph of Captain Smith. It is the only known photograph of Smith on Titanic's bridge.

 Today was also the final day open to seamen to sign on at the White Star hiring halls as the new ship's crewmen. The former purser of Titanic's sister, Olympic, Mr. Hugh Walter McElroy, a popular thirty-eight year old from Liverpool, was transferred to be Titanic's chief purser, replacing Reginald Barker, who was made Assistant Purser. McElroy was the final choice made by White Star personally for the ship's crew, and he was most certainly a good one. Like Capt. Smith, Dr. O'Loughlin, and Chief Steward Latimer, Purser McElroy was beloved by passengers and crew alike. McElroy would be paid 20 pounds a month for his service aboard Titanic.

 That night, all the ship's officers, excluding the Captain, slept in their quarters aboard the ship. During the night, the ship's officers supervised the dock and kept regular watches over Titanic. Thomas Andrews wrote to his wife Helen that evening: "The Titanic is now about complete and will, I think, do the old firm credit tomorrow when we sail."  

Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Wednesday, April 10, 1912


 Wednesday, April 10th, 1912 was to be the first day of Titanic's maiden voyage. At 5:17 a.m., the sun rose over Southampton, revealing for the last time Titanic warped in the White Star dock's Berth 44. Today would mark the start of her first voyage, and the start of her career as a passenger steamer, a career that would, by all indications, be a long and successful one. Things got started on this day a short time later when Captain Edward J. Smith himself arrived in his long coat and black bowler hat. On the bridge, Chief Officer Henry Wilde handed the Captain the day's sailing report. The Captain made his way to his cabin on the boat deck to change into his captain's outfit and to read over the report. This was a fine day for a voyage.

 At this same time in London, a 1st Class Boat Train left Waterloo Station, headed for Southampton and Titanic. Among it's passengers there was the American mining and smelting millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim, one of the many sons of Meier Guggenheim of New York. Travelling with Guggenheim was his chauffeur and his manservant, as well as his French mistress, Madame Aubert the singer, who was kept well out of sight from Mrs. Guggenheim, who, thankfully for Mr. Guggenheim, wasn't present, and was instead waiting for him in New York. The venerable Isidor Straus, the co-founder and co-owner of Macy's Department Store in New York was also aboard with his wife Ida, and several servants. The 2nd and 3rd Class Boat Train left Waterloo Station at 10 o'clock a.m., headed for Southampton.

 All over the city of Southampton, people began making their way to the ship. These were mostly crewmen getting ready for the muster that was to be held aboard. There was little chance of sailing without being present at the muster. From all over the city, the various crewmen arrived and began climbing aboard. Also arriving near Berth 44 was a long black limousine. Out stepped a green uniformed chauffeur, who opened the doors of the Daimler Benz. The passengers of the car emerged, and looked up and the ship, talking to each other. This was J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line, his wife, and his children. They had been staying at the old Southwestern Hotel from the 9th onward. Though his family would not be sailing with him, Bruce Ismay would be present for the Titanic's maiden voyage. He would be travelling with his butler, Richard Fry, his secretary, William Henry Harrison, and his steward, Ernest Freeman. Also aboard were Thomas Andrews and Harland & Wolff's nineman Guarantee Group. Not all of the ship's owners and builders were aboard, however. Lord Pierre was still suffering from pneumonia, though he did manage to come down and visit the ship and Captain Smith before she departed. J.P. Morgan, the ships' owner, had originally booked passage, but he proved to be too ill to make the trip. He would not be saved by missing the voyage, however, as this same disease would prove fatal to him in 1913.

 The muster of Titanic's crew began at 8 o'clock a.m. when the Blue Ensign was hoisted up. In one corner stood the inspectors, Captain Benjamin Steele, Captain Smith, Dr. W.F.N. O'Loughlin, and Dr. Edward Simpson. These men would inspect the crew for their sea-worthiness. The two surgeons gave them all a health inspection. While the muster was beginning, Captain Maurice Clarke of the Board of Trade (who had inspected Titanic on the 9th) had come back aboard. He tested Lifeboat 15 with the assistance of Officers Lowe and Moody, who had assisted him the day before. He was pleased with what he saw. Smith presented him with his Master Report to the Company, which read:

 "I herewith report this ship loaded and ready for sea. The engines and boilers are in good order for the voyage, and all charts and sailing directions are up to date. Your obedient servant, Edward J. Smith."

 The Boat Train for the First Cabin arrived at 9:30, the 2nd and 3rd Cabin Train arriving at 11:30. At about this time, Harbor Pilot George Bowyer made his way aboard and his flag was run up. Bowyer was now well familiar with the Olympic Class vessels, as he had taken the Olympic out of port several times now, and had been at the helm when the ship had it's fateful collision with the H.M.S. Hawke. At about noon, a Second Class Passenger, a schoolteacher from Dulwich named Lawrence Beesley, watched from his cabin window as three Irish stokers, the three Slade brothers, arrived at the crew's gangway. Unfortunately for the Slades, they had not only missed the muster, but the ship. The three had misspent their time in the famous and venerable pub known as the Grapes. They were not allowed aboard. At noon, Titanic's huge sirens boomed, and the ship moved to the mouth of the dock.

 In Berth 38, the S.S. New York was still tied to the White Star ship Oceanic. When the giant liner passed Berth 38, the ropes connecting the New York to the Oceanic snapped, and the smaller ship was loose. Dragged on by Titanic's fast movement to the mouth of the dock the little vessel headed straight for the Titanic's side, much to the horror of both Titanic's passengers and crew and the reporters trapped aboard the New York. This was not helped by the fact that the White Star liner's tremendous bulk made it nearly impossible to move away in the confined area of the dock. It must have seemed like déjà vu for Smith and Bowyer. Thinking (and acting) quickly, Bowyer managed to avert disaster by using Titanic's main propeller to push the small ship away and as this was done, Captain Gale's tug Vulcan towed the New York back to her berth. After dropping off the Pilot, Titanic headed for France.

 Aboard Titanic now were some of the richest and most famous individuals in the world. Besides Guggenheim and the Strauses, there was Major Archibald Willingham de Graffenreid Butt and the artist Francis Davis Millet. Major Butt was the military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, and a good friend to both. The recent political friction between Roosevelt and Taft had caused Butt a good deal of grief, and so he sought relief by taking a trip to Europe with his friend, famed artist Francis Millet, most famous for such paintings as Between Two Fires. Millet was president of an art academy in Rome (despite his American birth), and so this was where the two friends headed. While in Rome, Butt also had an audience with the Pope, as President Taft had wished. Now that the holiday was over and Butt was feeling much better, the two were headed back to the United States on Titanic. That afternoon, the two men were photographed on the A-Deck Promenade.

 Then there was William Thomas Stead, the famed editor and political activist. He was undoubtedly the most famous man on Titanic, due to his political activism and his papers The Pall Mall Gazette and The Review of Reviews. He was also famous by this time for his exposing of London prostitution, and for being the man who called for General Gordon's transfer to Khartoum to fight the Mahdi. He was making "one last crusade" now by taking the ship to Washington, on the request of President Taft, for an international conference on peace. Also boarding in Southampton would be many more familiar faces, including Theodore Roosevelt's cousin, the historian Archibald Gracie, the son of General Archibald Gracie of the Confederacy States of America, who was killed at Petersburg in late 1864. There was Jacques Furtrelle, the mystery writer, and his wife May. The two had been up all night, holding a farewell party until 3 o'clock a.m., after which they packed their bags and headed for Southampton. He was photographed that afternoon up on the Boat Deck by the ship's gymnasium. There was also the famous president of the Grand Trunk Railway aboard, Charles Melville Hays of Illinois (travelling with his family), who was travelling under the personal invitation from Bruce Ismay himself.

 At 5:30 p.m., Titanic had finished crossing the English Channel and was fast approaching the French port city of Cherbourg. The city of Cherbourg was neither all that old, nor all that large, but was the most important port of France. She had also seen some violent combat. In 1864, in the height of the American Civil War, the U.S.S. Kearsage and the C.S.S. Alabama had dueled just outside it's port. As the ship approached Cherbourg, the White Star tenders Nomadic (carrying 1st and 2nd Class Passengers) and Traffic (carrying 3rd Class Passengers, or 'Steerage', and mail, of which there were 1,385 sacks taken aboard) pulled up alongside Titanic. Under the fading light that evening, hundreds of passengers boarded the ship, including some of the most famous millionaires on Earth. Most of these passengers had arrived in Cherbourg on the Train Transatlantique. Here, the debarking Cross-Channel passengers were taken to Cherbourg on these tenders when they were finished loading passengers and mail.

 This lot included, of course, Colonel John Jacob Astor and his new bride Madeleine. John Astor was from a long line of millionaires, and he was one of the richest men in the world, if not the richest. He was not only a millionaire, but had been, in his time, a Colonel in the Spanish-American War, an inventor, and a novelist. Now he had created a scandal, however, divorcing his wife for the much younger (and beautiful) Madeleine. Astor was nearing the age of fifty, while Madeleine was a mere eighteen. The scandal this created was enough to have the Astors prolong their honeymoon, spending the better part of a year in Europe and Africa. After wintering in Cairo, Mr. and Mrs. Astor decided to finally return to America on the Titanic. Madeleine was, by this time, pregnant with Astor's son. Also aboard were Lord Cosmo Edmund and Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon. The beautiful Lucille was the famed dress designer, and the sister of Elinor Glyn.

 At 8:30, all the new passengers aboard her, Titanic departed from Cherbourg for Ireland, her lights ablaze, cutting through the darkness of the night.  She moved once more through the English Channel, and past the South Coast of England.  

Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Thursday, April 11, 1912


 Thursday, April 11th, 1912, was the first full day of R.M.S. Titanic's maiden voyage. When the morning came, Titanic was moving at a speed of 21 knots. Early that morning, the ship's compass was upgraded. Soon, she passed the Daunt Light Vessel and picked up Queenstown's harbor pilot. An emergency full dress rehearsal was held that morning, complete with the alarm bells sounding and the watertight doors closing. The two men in the ships' wireless office celebrated the 25th birthday of the Senior Operator, Jack Phillips.

 At 11:30 a.m., Titanic anchored two miles off Roche's Point, near Queenstown, to await the 2nd and 3rd Class passengers that were to be brought aboard her. The tenders America and Ireland left Scott's Quay at Queenstown, Ireland, bound for the ship. Boarding were hundreds of 3rd Class passengers, the poorest people on the ship. Many of them had just come from an early morning mass at St. Colman's Cathedral, which dominated the city's skyline. As the tenders came up alongside, Lifeboat 2 of the Titanic was swung out, just in case of accident. The press was allowed aboard and they came onto the Officer's Promenade Decks. One reporter managed to catch Captain E.J. Smith and Purser Hugh McElroy, and asked them to pose for him. They did so, posing near the Captain's Quarters.

 The First Class Promenade Deck soon became covered with the wares of dozens of Irish linen merchants, all displaying their best products. One lucky vendor managed to get a good $800 for a single article from Colonel J.J. Astor for his young wife Madeleine. As the Ireland pulled up to the ship's side, a soot-faced stoker popped his head up from the liner's dummy fourth funnel, peering down at the tender and the Titanic. To some aboard, this was seen as a bad omen, symbolizing an impending doom. At least one passenger left the ship because of it.

 A fireman, John Coffee, a native of Queenstown, hid himself in the bottom of some empty mailbags and left the ship, with the full pay he had received for the voyage. He said that he did this as he was homesick for his country, and when he saw it from the ship he could not resist it. Also debarking were a Mr. E. Nicholls, the Odell family, and Fr. Francis Browne, S.J., the now famous photographer who was travelling with the Odells. At 1:15, while on a tender, Fr. Browne looked up with his camera and photographed the Starboard Bridge Wing, and the man peering down from it. As he must have known, this man Browne photographed was Captain Edward John Smith. This photograph was the last ever taken of the Commodore of the White Star Line. At about this time, 1st Officer Murdoch and Second Officer Lightoller closed the Titanic's gangway door. As she prepared to leave for open sea, 3rd Class Passenger Eugene Daly, leaving behind his native Ireland for the New World, played on his bagpipes 'Erin's Lament'.

 At 1:30 p.m., after Mr. E.J. Sharp, the immigration officer had a quick inspection, the ship's anchor was raised and she left for America, stopping once at the Daunt Light Vessel to drop off the pilot. Titanic left, passing the Old Head of Kinsale on her way through St. George Channel.


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Friday, April 12, 1912


 Friday, April 12th, 1912 was the second full day of Titanic's voyage. Traveling at about 21 knots, Titanic had covered 386 miles (between noon of the 11th of April and noon of the 12th), and from noon Friday to Saturday she would cover another 519 miles. The weather was fine, and all was running smoothly. In fact, it seemed as if nothing at all could go wrong. Unfortunately, plenty did.

 The wind was rather chilly and the ship was listing to port. Purser McElroy theorized that this was most likely because too much coal was being used on the starboard side. This was due to the fact that a fire in Boiler Room 6 had been recently discovered. Firemen were desperately attempting to put it out, but it seemed to be out of control. The fire had been caused by coal left to dry, which, rubbing together, had flicked a spark which had spontaneously combusted. Apparently, the smoldering had started during the trials almost two weeks before.

 That day, Titanic's wireless room had been packed with incoming and outgoing messages, several incoming messages were from ships with greetings and warnings of ice (among them were messages from the Avala, California, President Lincoln, La Tourine, Montrose, Manitou, St. Laurent, Corsican, East Point, Empress of Britain, and Lackawanna). That same day, the French Line Steamer Niagra had stopped, surrounded by ice. It was soon discovered that she was damaged, and she sent a call for assistance. The Carmania traveled to the ship to wait for further information, and a message was sent out to the ships that further aide was not required.

 At about 11 o'clock p.m., the wireless system on board the Titanic ceased to function and Junior Operator Harold Bride was sent to inform the Captain. The two men, Phillips, the senior, and Bride, the junior, spent hours trying to locate the problem and fix it. On the 13th, they discovered that the culprit was actually a piece of machinery called a secretary and went to work on it immediately. That night, vessels encountered a huge, rectangular-shaped ice field right in Titanic's path.  


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Saturday, April 13, 1912


 Saturday, April 13th, 1912 was the third full day of Titanic's voyage, which had actually started four days ago on the 10th. Between noon Friday and noon Saturday, Titanic covered 519 miles. During the day the ships Borderer, Minnehaha, and Hellig Olav all encountered heavy ice directly in Titanic's path. Titanic would not hear of it, however, as the operators still had not managed to fix the wireless.

 At about 10:30, Captain Smith set out on his daily inspection of the ship. While in the Engine Room, the Chief Engineer, Joseph Bell, informed the Captain that the fire in Boiler Room 6 had finally been put out and the danger was over. However, the bulkhead that formed part of the coal bunker was damaged and a stoker was sent to rub oil on it. It would be an ugly scar that the ship would carry until she returned from the voyage, but it was better than having the New York Fire Department put out the blaze when they reach the United States.

 The ship's wireless was still being repaired, the damaged object being the secretary. Work on it began early, but it would not be fixed until the afternoon. That morning, Major Butt from the 1st Cabin came down to see it in action, but was informed by Phillips that it was still under repair. Though disappointed, Butt was impressed by the operator's dedication.

 At dinner, Dr. O'Loughlin raised a glass to the Titanic. Mary Sloan, a young Irish stewardess, recalled seeing him later leaning against one of the banisters of the Grand Staircase, speaking to the ship's designer Thomas Andrews, who had just come back from another of his inspections. He addressed Andrews by his Christian name, calling him 'Tommy.' Unbeknownst to nearly all aboard, Titanic was sailing straight for dangerous waters off Newfoundland.  



Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Sunday, April 14, 1912


 Sunday, April 14th, 1912 was the fifth day of the maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic. Things were busy for the operators of the ship's wireless today, as now that the wireless was repaired the operators were hopelessly backlogged with messages, many warning of ice in Titanic's path. At 9 o'clock a.m., a message from the Caronia was received, reading:

     "Captain, Titanic- West bound steamers
    report bergs, growlers, and field ice in
    42 N. from 49 to 50 W."

 Other ships that reported ice that day were Canada, Lindenfels, Trautenfels, Montcalm, Corinthian, Memphian, and Campanello. At 11:40 a.m., a message was received from the Noordam:

     "Congratulations on new command Captain.
    Had moderate westerly winds, fine weather,
    no fog, much ice reported in 42 24' to 50 2'".

 And at 1:40, a message from the Baltic was received:

     "Captain Smith, Titanic. Have had moderate
    variable winds and clear fine weather since
    leaving. Greek Steamer Athinai reports passing
    icebergs and large quantity of ice today in
    latitude 41.51 N., longitude 49.52.W. Wish you
    and Titanic all success".  

 At 1 o'clock p.m., 2nd Officer C.H. Lightoller posted Caronia's message, after showing it to his senior officer, 1st Officer W.M. Murdoch, who simply replied, "All right". Captain Smith took Baltic's message and gave it to Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line. At the time, Ismay was speaking with the George Dunton Wideners (Mr. Widener's father was P.A.B. Widener of the I.M.M.). The Chairman of the White Star Line simply stuffed the message into his pocket, only reading it later that afternoon, and taking it lightly. In fact, Mrs. Arthur Ryerson remembers that he personally flashed it at her, saying that he was confident in his vessel.

 The weather was fine, and between noon Saturday and noon Sunday the Titanic covered 546 miles. It is suspected by some that Mr. Ismay himself was pushing Captain Smith to go at full speed in the icy water, so that the new ship could break the record set by her sister ship Olympic the year before. 24 of her 29 boilers had been fired up and she was travelling at about 22 knots, the fastest speed that she would ever achieve during the voyage. A message from the Amerika was received, warning of ice, and a second warning of ice, and then yet another, would be intercepted from the Californian to the Antillian.

 Amerika's warning, for one reason or another, never made it to the bridge. Just before 6 o'clock p.m., Captain Smith altered course slightly to south and west of his normal course. South 86 West was now the course of Titanic. At 6 o'clock, 2nd Officer Lightoller took over on the bridge as Officer of the Watch (OOW). At 7:15 p.m., he took a break to get a little dinner. Murdoch, whom had had his, took over for a short time. At this time, in the Second Class Dining Saloon, the Reverand Mr. Carter led a hymn singing service. Earlier in the day, Captain Smith himself had held a service for the First Class passengers. While Carter and 2nd Class sang, up a few decks, a party was being held in Mr. Gatti's a'la Carte' restaurant. 1st Class Passenger George D. Widener, in honor of Titanic's Captain, Edward J. Smith, hosted the party. This voyage was to be Smith's last, so he hoped. He was planning a retirement as soon as they returned to Southampton. At 9 o'clock p.m., Captain Smith excused himself, went up onto the bridge, and there told Lightoller (who had finished his dinner long before) to keep a sharp lookout. At 9:20 p.m., Smith retired to the Chart Room next to his cabin.

 Meanwhile, in the wireless cabin, Jack Phillips, the Senior Operator who had just turned twenty-five on April 11th, was at the key, Bride having a nap in his bunk. At 9:40, Phillips received a message from the Masaba, a message that would never be brought to the bridge. The message indicated a large rectangular icefield that the Titanic's crew was not aware of. The ship was already inside it.

 At 10 o'clock p.m., Officer Murdoch took over as Officer of the Watch, relieving Lightoller. Fifty-five minutes later, while Phillips was conversing with Cape Race over the wireless, a message came through from Californian's operator, Cyril Evans. Due to the close vicinity of the Leland Liner, the message boomed in loudly into the ears of the tired Phillips. While Evans typed out that the Californian was stopped and surrounded by ice, Phillips sent him the rebuking message, "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, I'M BUSY WITH CAPE RACE." Annoyed, Evans turned off the wireless set and retired to his bunk to get some sleep.

 At 11:30, while the ship was still travelling at the great speed of 22 knots, OOW Murdoch came out onto the port wing. However, things weren't going well for the watch. The night was growing pitch black, and there was no wind or moon. The water was entirely calm, "calm as glass", and black as the sky, blending sky and water, so that they became almost indistinguishable. No sailor could be pleased by these circumstances. If there was ice about, then, it would be black ice (a.k.a. blue ice), and so it would not be noticeable in this darkness, on this night. The area was long feared by sailors since it's discovery over a thousand years before by the Norsemen. Even in 1912, the area of the Grand Banks was called 'The Devil's Hole'. In the crow's nest, high above the bridge, lookouts Reginald Lee and Frederick Fleet stood shivering, without a pair of binoculars (no one knew where the pair of binoculars was even kept). At about five minutes before 11:40, Lee and Fleet noticed a slight haze in the distance. Fleet kept his eyes on it, knowing that if it was ice he would not be able to be totally sure of it until Titanic was practically on top of it.

 At 11:40 p.m., the bridge telephone began to ring. 6th Officer J.P. Moody, Junior Officer of the Watch, picked it up, saying, "What is it?"

 Fleet cried into the telephone, "Iceberg! Right ahead!"

 "Thank you," replied Moody, calmly hanging up the phone, shouting to Murdoch "Iceberg! Right ahead!" However, by now the First Officer had already seen the berg, and was going into quick action. "Hard' a' starboard!" he cried to the Quartermaster, Robert Hitchens. He then grasped the handle of the engine telegraph and thrust it to full speed astern. Deep inside the ship, Titanic's engineers went into quick action. Murdoch then closed the watertight doors. Engineers and Firemen below had to move quickly through the doors so as not to be caught in one of the watertight compartments. After a few minutes, there was a light grinding sound.

 Chunks of ice lay on the promenade and boat decks, catching the attention of several passengers and crew.

 Captain Smith ran up onto the bridge from the chart room, crying to Murdoch: "What have we struck?"

 "An iceberg, sir," responded the 1st Officer. He then explained his actions, all that an officer could do in the circumstances he had done.

 Thomas Andrews, the inspector, was quickly fetched from his cabin on A-Deck, and was taken down the decks to inspect the damage. Officers Wilde and Boxhall had already made inspections, none of which had shed any light on the thing. Andrews, though, looked over the damage, a series of holes in the ship's skin. It was not good, in fact Andrews believed it was critical. The ship, he thought, was doomed. Captain Smith soon asked him how long he expected the ship would float. The answer was very grave: "An hour, maybe two, not much longer."

 By 11:55, the Postal Office, deep with the bowels of the ship, was already flooded. As up on the A-Deck in the Smoking Room, gamblers paid blackjack and other card games, and men like Major Butt, Mr. Millet, and Harry Widener took a cigar and a drink over a conversation, deep below in the ship the postal clerks desperately dragged the post bags up the decks, away from the approaching green water of the North Atlantic. By midnight, three of the five postal clerks had disappeared, perhaps dead. The Titanic was sinking by the bow.  


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Monday, April 15, 1912


 Monday, April 15th, 1912, were the final day of the Titanic's career and the last day of over one thousand-five hundred people. The horror experienced by the ship's passengers and crew in the opening hours of the 15th can never be fully understood. Within twenty minutes of scraping the black iceberg in the darkness at 11:40, the ship was already sinking fast, and the deck was already beginning to grow steeper. Captain Edward J. Smith had already given the order to uncover the lifeboats. There was nothing else one could do under the circumstances.  By now, not only had the Postal Office become submerged, but the Squash Court was also underwater.

 After giving the order to uncover the boats, Captain Smith made his way to the Wireless Cabin and ordered the Operators, Phillips and Bride, to send a message of distress, asking for assistance. Phillips began sending off the distress code CQD, but under Bride's suggestion he also used the new distress code SOS, and became one of the very first ships in history to use this code. This done, Captain Smith gave orders for passengers to be awakened. Stewards were sent around to knock on cabin doors, or go into the smoking rooms, and ask the passengers to come up on deck, as there had been an emergency. At first no one suspected there was much amiss, a propeller had been dropped, or something to that effect, but gradually there came the realization that Titanic was sinking.

 Some of these awakened passengers did not first make for the Boat Deck at all, instead heading for C-Deck to the Purser's Office. There they demanded their valuables from the pursers, Hugh McElroy and Reginald Barker, as well as the Clerk, Ernest King.

 By 12:25, the orders had been given to swing out and fill up the boats and then to lower them. As officers began to persuade passengers to get into the boats, the bellhops and other stewards began rushing about, putting foodstuffs and blankets into the boats. While making his way up to assist in lowering the boats, the author Colonel Archibald Gracie bumped into the Squash Instructor, Fred Wright. In a jovial sort of way, Gracie commented to Wright that he had better cancel the appointment he'd set with him for the afternoon. Wright already knew that the Squash Court was already underwater, but did not say so to Gracie. Wright would not survive to see the afternoon.

 At 12:45, Boat 7 became the first of Titanic's lifeboats to be lowered that morning. In the darkness it had been filled with such passengers as Mr. and Mrs. Dickinson Bishop, Mrs. Boulton Earnshaw, the Gibson women, Mr. William B. Greenfield, Mrs. Leo Greenfield, Mr. Pierre Marechal, Mr. Paul Cherve (the sculptor who had just finished a bust of Charles Hays, who would go down with the ship), Mrs. Thomas Potter, Mr. and Mrs. John Snyder, Mr. James McGough, Mr. William T. Sloper, Miss Margaret Hays, Mr. Robert Williams Daniel, Mr. Fred Kimber Seward, and Mr. Gilbert Tucker. Boat 7 was put under the charge of Lookout George Hogg, and was manned by Lookout Archie Jewel and Able Seaman Weller. Although the boat could hold a good 65, only 28 passengers were aboard. At the same time Boat 7 was lowered down the tremendous side of the ship, Quartermaster George Rowe and 4th Officer Boxhall began to launch several white signal rockets from the ship's bridge, after Captain Smith had suggested it. Boxhall then proceeded to attempt to contact a light in the distance, which he took to be a ship. He used a Morse Lamp for this, but after some time of this, he gave up, with no success.

 Not far away, on the Leyland Liner California, officers on watch saw these rockets, and indeed what they took to be a ship. As Operator Evans was asleep, they were not receiving Titanic's distress calls, and so the ship, commanded by Captain Stanley Lord, did nothing. It was stopped for the night. Had it have gone on to the sinking vessel, the passengers and crew of Titanic would have been saved.

 On Titanic, people were beginning to become much more concerned than earlier. The deck was noticeably getting steeper. However, no one saw this as being life-threatening. At most, there would have to be a trip to Belfast to fix up the ship, and the passengers would simply have to take another vessel to America. Colonel Astor and his wife Madeleine were seated in the gymnasium on one of the electric camels. Mrs. Astor was hesitant of putting on one of these lifebelts that she had been given, and was indeed hesitant of entering a boat as well. Finding an extra lifebelt, he cut it open with his penknife to show her what was inside, and to demonstrate how safe it was. He should know about this sort of thing after all, he had been an inventor, he may have reminded his wife.

 At 1:25, Quartermaster Rowe left the bridge, finished with the rockets. Only eight had been fired, each at seven-minute intervals, and they had done little good. No ships would be coming simply because they saw rockets, it seemed. Several ships were coming however, because of the efforts of the wireless operators. The closest that was reached was the Carpathia, but it was still hours away. Below the Boat Deck, on the A-Deck Promenade Deck, Lightoller began lowering Boat 4. It held the richest women aboard the ship, such as Mrs. Widener, Mrs. Carter (and her children), Mrs. Thayer, and Mrs. Astor. As he watched his wife's boat row off away from the ship, Colonel Astor stepped back into the crowd.

 By 12:45, Boiler 5 was almost empty of her crewmen, but the valiant remaining crewmen still worked to keep back the green seawater. While running from one area of the room to another, Junior Assistant 2nd Engineer Jonathan Shepard slipped and fell down an empty manhole, breaking his leg. Junior 2nd Engineer Herbert G. Harvey and Firemen Frederick Barrett ran to help him, dragging him up from the darkness of the manhole, putting his dirtied and injured body in the Pump Room, where he sat against a wall, watching the others work. Suddenly, a nearby bulkhead seemed to explode, and the sea rushed in on the crewmen. Shepard could not move out of the way of the emerging sea and was engulfed in the surf. Harvey ordered Barrett to get up on deck. Barrett reached the deck safety and was saved, but he would always remember that as he made his way up the ladder, Barrett took one look back, seeing Harvey making his way into the Pump Room to help his friend Shepard. The farther he went towards the room, the deeper the water became. Soon it rushed over his head, and Herbert Harvey disappeared under the green water.

 At 12:55 a.m., Boat 6 was lowered from the Boat Deck. Mr. Tyrrell Cavendish was seen here, putting his young wife into the boat. He then stepped back into the crowd. Aboard also are Mrs. Helen Candee and Mrs. Molly (Margaret) Brown of Denver. The 'unsinkable' Molly Brown was seen to walk away from the boats when two men, among them Edward P. Calderhead, picked her up and tossed her into the boat. The Boat was commanded by Quartermaster Hitchens, who had been at the helm when Titanic struck the iceberg. However, once in the water, QM Hitchens discovered, to his horror, that he had only a single crewman (Lookout Fleet) in the boat to help him, and he called up to Officer Lightoller that he needed another crewman. There were few about, and so Lightoller asked for a passenger to volunteer who had experience as a seaman. A Yachtsman, Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen volunteered himself. He had to climb down the falls to assist, and as he jumped into the boat he became a hero.

 On the other side of the deck, where Murdoch directed the loading and lowering of the Boats, Boat 5 was swung out and lowered by Murdoch, Pitman, Lowe, and Mr. Ismay. It contained Mr. Calderhead, Mr. Karl Behr (the Squash Champion), Mrs. H.W. Frauenthal, Mrs. Washington Dodge, and the Frollichers. Officer Pitman commanded it, himself. As the boat was lowered away, Murdoch shook Pitman's hand, saying, "Goodbye, good luck." Watching the boat lower away, Dr. Frauenthal became very much afraid, and took a jump into the boat, landing on poor Mrs. Stengle. Two of her ribs were broken, and she herself was knocked unconscious. At 1 o'clock a.m., the painted name of Titanic disappeared under the sea. After lowering Boat 5 into the water, Murdoch and another officer (either Lowe or Moody) made their way to Boat 3 to load it up. He instructed Seaman Moore to get into the boat and to pass in the ladies. When there were no more women in sight, Murdoch allowed several men to get in. Among them was Mr. Frederick O. Spedden, who came aboard to join his wife and young son. Another hero was made this night when Mr. Howard B. Case assisted in helping the women into the boat. He then stepped back and made no attempt to get into the boats. The boat would contain 32 passengers and 11 crew. Walking to Murdoch, Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon saw another rocket, soaring 800 feet into the air, and then bursting. He pointed to Boat 1, sitting empty, asking, "Can my wife and I go in?" The answer was problem an "all right", but Duff Gordon always insisted Murdoch said, "I wish you would." Lord and Lady Duff Gordon went aboard with Lady Lucille's secretary, Miss Laura Francatelli. Also coming aboard was Mr. C.H. Stengle (who's roll into the boat gave Murdoch a good reason to laugh), and Mr. Abraham Salomon. Lookout George Symons (at the boat's helm) and Fireman Sam Collins commanded the boat. Only eleven people were aboard Boat 1 when lowered, and most of them were crew.

 At about this time, Boiler Room 3 was flooding, and most of the stokers had been relieved of their posts and they were now scrambling to get away from the fast moving currents. Chief Engineer Bell was sending them out of these flooding rooms as quickly as possible. Only a handful of men still worked in Room 3, directed by several surviving engineers. Soon that room too was filled with the water of the North Atlantic, and all the crew of Room 3 were taken under the water as well. At least one engineer had made it to the Boat Deck. Senior Second Engineer William Edward Farquarson was now helping load and lower boats. He and all the engineers of Titanic would die that morning. Bands of men would stick together that night. All the members of the nine strong Guarantee Group of Harland & Wolff would go down with the ship. At this time, Lightoller sent Bo'sun 'Big Neck' Nicholls and a group of his seamen down below into the ship to open some blocked passages and to prepare a way to load boats from passengers on lower decks. Nicholls and his men would not return from their mission. They all vanished without a trace, no report came from them. It was assumed that they had found themselves trapped on a lower deck and had been lost when the water rose.

 At this time, on the port side, Boat 8 was being loaded. As this was happening, Mrs. Ida Straus was asked to step in. She refused to do so without her husband. When Mr. Straus was allowed to get in because of his old age, he refused to go before the other men. The couple would stay together in life and death. Mrs. Straus handed her jewels to her maid Miss Ellen Bird, who then stepped into the boat. The couple then sat down together on deck chairs, and would not be seen again. Passing them was the Countess of Rhodes and her cousin Gladys Cherry. They were put in the boat, and the Countess would become quite a hero for her work at the tiller. Boat 8 was put under the command of Able Seaman Tom Jones. Passing as the boat was lowered was Captain Smith himself, who would remain, like Chief Officer Wilde, very aloof and brisk that evening, appearing every so often, and then seeming to disappear into some unknown area of the deck. He appeared to be in shock and oblivious to everything about him.

 Boat 9, on the starboard side, was filled to capacity, holding 58, including several men who had come when women were scarce. The ship had now developed quite a list to the starboard. During the loading of Boat 9, Purser McElroy sent three men in to help the women get past a large gap between the deck and the boat after a French woman nearly fell through it. Mrs. Jacques Futrelle was the last to go aboard, after refusing several times to leave her husband. When the ship hit the water, the crew found to their horror that none of them had a knife to cut the falls, and a woman from the 3rd Class finally handed them her pocketknife.

 Boat 11 was sent down to the A-Deck Promenade windows, where 70 passengers boarded, including Mrs. Emma Schabert and her brother, Philip Mock. But it was all very dangerous, the boat having been loaded over five times her wait. The ship's pump discharge was a fat jet of icy water, and when the boat reached the water she was nearly swamped. The boat only barely escaped.

 At 1:25 a.m., Boat 13, holding 64 (including Mr. Lawrence Beesley and Dr. Washington Dodge), was lowered. The boat also came dangerously close to the discharge but those aboard the boat cried out to the seamen at the davits above, and the boat ceased lowering. The occupants managed to push the boat away from the discharge. But now Boat 15 was descending directly above it, endangering everyone in both boats. Once again there were shouts, and the lowering of the 15th Boat was temporarily ceased, giving Boat 13's crew to cut the falls and float away. Boat 15 hit the water as soon as Boat 13 was safety away. At 1:30, Lightoller lowered Boat 12. It was under command of Seamen Frederick Clench and John Poigndestre. At about this time, Officer Lowe, standing next to Boat 14, fired three shots along the side of Titanic as a rush at the boat from several passengers began. A man leapt towards the Boat, but missed altogether and fell into the sea. Lowe stepped into Boat 14 and ordered it lowered away. On deck, Ben Guggenheim, his valet, Victor Giglio, and Chauffeur Rene Pernot were dressed in their finest clothing. Guggenheim remarked that he would die like a gentleman. It was now clear to most of the passengers that the ship was doomed. At 1:36, Boat 16 was lowered. It held 50, including the famed Stewardess Violet Jessop. At 1:40, Officer Wilde lowered Collapsible C. At the last moment, William E. Carter and another man came aboard. The other man was the Chairman of the White Star Line. It was Joseph Bruce Ismay.

 The last boat to be lowered was Collapsible D, containing 54, which included the famous Navratil children. In the Smoking Room, Thomas Andrews, Titanic's designer, stood alone, his lifebelt lying discarded on a nearby table. A steward running past would be the last to see him. Thomas Andrews was last seen staring blankly at a painting entitled "Approach to the New World."

 According to some people, with the seawater now closing in, an officer shot himself on the Boat Deck. Some have suspected that this man was Chief Officer Wilde. However, there is no conclusive evidence that this indeed happened at all, and so it should never be brought to a conclusion as to whom it was, if indeed there was any officer who shot himself. Collapsibles A and B were still on top of the Officer's Quarters as a huge wave swept over the ship's side. There were many crewmen who were attempting to free these boats when the wave struck, knocking the boats and the seamen (probably including Murdoch and Moody) into the sea. Collapsible A landed upright and swimmers got into her, but Boat B landed upside down. However, a few men managed to survive by standing atop it. These men included 2nd Officer Lightoller, Junior Wireless Operator Bride, Jack Thayer, and Colonel Gracie. It is believed that Operator Phillips also made it to the boat, but was dead before dawn.

 At about this time, Captain Edward John Smith of the Titanic was last seen, reportedly on the bridge. He may have been there even when the bridge went under. At the same time the bridge went under, the forward funnel collapsed, falling forward, smashing part of the bridge and crushing several swimmers in the water nearby, including Charles Williams and Colonel Astor. At 2:20, the stern of the White Star liner faced the stars. The band was playing a hymn, and Father David Byles was taking last moment confessions on the Boat Deck. Everyone was soon struggling to remain upright. The ship was beginning to make its final slide into the glass-like sea. It was then that the ship broke in half, the bow going under first, the stern rearing up once more, and then sinking into the sea. In one instant, the cries of the passengers and crew aboard the ship were suddenly silenced forever.

 Titanic had died. With her died Edward Smith, Henry Wilde, William Murdoch, James Moody, Thomas Andrews, John Jacob Astor, Jack Phillips, Alfred Nicholls, Hugh McElroy, Reginald Barker, William O'Loughlin, James Simpson, Andrew Latimer, Benjamin Guggenheim, John Thayer, George Widener, Harry Widener, Isidor Straus, Ida Straus, Archibald Butt, Francis Millet, William Stead, Joseph Bell, and a host of others.

 Two hours later, a Cunarder, the Carpathia, appeared in the distance. It then began picking up the survivors and the boats at about 4 o'clock a.m., the last boat at 8 o'clock.

 712 people had survived the sinking of the Titanic.

 1,523 had not.


Countdown to Disaster has been prepared for ACT I by Titanic Researcher Addison Hart of DeKalb, Illinois.


Carpathia Races to NY

U. S. Senate Takes Action 

April 17, 1912

The day following the sinking of the White Star Liner RMS Titanic, The Cunard Liner Carpathia was racing back to New York with the 712 survivors of the disaster.  Information received from the rescue ship was sketchy at best.  Carpathia's captain, Arthur Rostron, had ordered that his wireless operator Harold Cottam, 21, devote his energies to sending "official messages" only, as well as messages from Titanic passengers wiring family members at home.  Other messages simply didn't through because there was so much activity wiring the ship.  Even a message from President Taft inadvertently went unanswered.  Young Mr. Cottam, who had been at his apparatus since late Sunday night when he received the CQD from Titanic's senior operator Jack Phillips, was now near exhaustion from spending close to nearly two days of being continuously at his work.  Tuesday evening, Titanic's junior wireless operator, Harold Bride, 22, who had been badly injured during the sinking ( his feet were badly frostbitten) was released from the Carpathia hospital so he could assist Mr. Cottam in the wireless room and give him much needed relief.  Harold Bride would remain at the Carpathia's apparatus until the ship docked in New York Thursday night.

At the same time, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the ship Mackay-Bennett set sail for the wreck site with the intention of searching for victims.  Over three hundred bodies would eventually be recovered.

Meanwhile, in much the same way that the world responded to the events of September 11 in our own time, people all over the world reacted to the news of Titanic's sinking with shock and horror, and Carpathia's arrival in New York was awaited desperately.  White Star Line's offices were besieged with inquiries.   In Washington D. C., Republican William Alden Smith, the senior senator from Michigan, who had once sailed with Titanic's Captain Edward Smith, decided to go into action.  He was concerned for the massive loss of life, particularly the American lives lost, and decided that the United States Senate should conduct an investigation.  Senator Smith was also concerned that British crew members and officials who had survived the sinking would try to get back to England as quickly as possible and thus be out of range to contribute to such an investigation.  In fact, White Star Line's Bruce Ismay, sending telegrams under the name Yamsi, was already quietly making arrangements for himself the British crew to leave American immediately.  Senator Smith decided that such his inquiry would of necessity have to begin immediately.  And so on Wednesday, April 17, 1912, at the urging of Senator Smith, the full Senate authorized that the Committee on Commerce, or a subcommittee thereof, should be empowered to conduct such an investigation, and Senator Smith was appointed chair of this special subcommittee.

Carpathia would arrive in New York the following night, on Thursday.  Senator Smith would be there, at the dock, subpoenas in hand, to see to it that White Star Line's managing director, Bruce Ismay, as well as Titanic's surviving crew, would be detained for his investigation, thwarting the plans they had already made for a quick getaway back to England.


April 18, 1912


As the Carpathia rushed to New York, preparations by Senator Smith for the investigation of the disaster by his subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce forged ahead.  The U. S. Navy then began intercepting telegrams sent from the Carpathia by Bruce Ismay, under a code name Yamsi.  Ismay was making arrangements for a British ship, the Cedric, due to set sail from New York Thursday morning, to delay its sailing until that night, so that British crew members could board it and be whisked away to England without ever setting foot on land.  When the Navy contacted Senator Smith, he arranged for a hasty meeting at the White House with President Taft.  Taft, after consulting with the Attorney General, assured Senator Smith that there was no impropriety in issuing subpoenas to British citizens as long as they were actually within the United States.  Then Smith, along with Senator Francis Newlands of Nevada, as well as marshalls and other officials, rushed to New York, subpoenas in hand, to intercept Ismay and the British crew members on board the Carpathia before they could board the Cedric.

But Senator Smith was not the only one interested in what the occupants of the returning steamer had to say.  Personal wireless messages arrived at the ship for the two young wireless operators, Harold Cottam, 21, of the Carpathia, and Harold Bride, 22, of Titanic, with the signature of their employer, Guglielmo Marconi of the British Marconi Company.  Cottam was instructed to go the the Strand hotel, with this message . . . 

                "Say, old man. Marconi Co. taking good care of you.  Keep your
            mouth shut and hold your story; It is fixed for you so you will get big
            money.  Now, please do your best to clear."

When the ship docked around 9:00 o'clock that night, it was besieged by reporters as well as Senator Smith and other officials of the United States Senate.  Subpoenas were served, as the Senate hearings were to convene the very next morning at 10:00 AM, with J. Bruce Ismay to be the opening witness.

Harold Bride, unable to walk due to his injuries sustained in the sinking, remained aboard the Carpathia, faithfully at his post in the apparatus room.  As for Harold Cottam, he was off to the Strand Hotel.

Senator Smith would soon be asking questions about a lot more than just a sunken ship.