The Titanic Commutator Issue 174


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The ships of the White Star Line have many great tales to tell––some are well known –– many are not. Ceramic is one vessel this journal has not featured until now. The great transatlantic liners, like celebrities, overshadowed the less glamorous services, nevertheless, White Star Line’s triple-screw steamer Ceramic, 18,000 tons and 675 feet long was the largest steamer sailing to Australia from Liverpool for many years. She was a large and very important ship. Her colossal cargo and passenger capacity made her valuable. Bruce Ismay’s last vessel before retiring met a very tragic end in the Second World War and her sinking occurred when secrecy by government censors was compulsory. Circumstances of her high death count were not reported immediately nor resolved. The author, whose ship captured the captain of the submarine that sank Ceramic, fills in some blanks.

At THS’s convention in London several years ago a remembrance service was held at Tower Hill concluding with the laying of a floral wreath remembering Ceramic, Carpathia, Californian and hundreds of ships – many with terrible losses of life, 1939 – 1945; Twenty-four thousand of the Merchant Navy and fishing vessels who gave their lives for their Country and have no grave but the sea.

A few years ago The Commutator listed the dogs on Titanic plus a cat that walked off with her kitten at Southampton. Animal lovers will enjoy two more stories: Doodles from Cedric and a cat who made his home on Arabic.

Another intriguing study concerns the sinking of Titanic by Sam Halpern. It is a follow-up to Simon Mills,’ More Questions Than Answers and Parks Stephenson’s reply in the previous issue. Halpern cites Titanic’s angles of trim and heel at specific times and his take, along with extensive diagrams, adds another informational ingredient.

Human and spiritual nature is the theme of an article on the funeral of Lillian Gertrud Asplund. Paul Phaneuf is a funeral director and a keen observer who wrote down his thoughts at the interment of the last American Titanic survivor.

Mark Rick’s research is thorough and a pleasure to read. His story about the Minihans and their European holiday that ended in tragedy when they sailed on Titanic is absorbing reading.

Tom McCluskie’s life experiences at Harland & Wolff weigh in on Nomadic’s return to Belfast in SeaPoste. Tim Trower contributes his review of Clare Hardy’s new book on Ceramic. Randy Bryan Bigham penned a biography of Dorothy Gibson with a lively description her film for THS’s October convention. This rare, one-reeler is its first public showing since its release in April 1912.

Contents in this Issue

Lillian Asplund’s Funeral, A Personal View by Paul Phaneuf.

Sinking of the SS Ceramic, adapted from We Captured a U-Boat by Rear Admiral D. V. Gallery, USN.

Screening Dorothy by Randy Byan Bigham.

Titanic: Angles of Trim and Heel by Sam Halpern.

William E. Minahan by Mark Rick.

Aristocats of the High Seas, Cats on White Star Ships, assorted sources.

A Reel Titanic Survivor by Randy Byan Bigham.

Sea Poste: Topics include: WHOI Engineers Honored for Titanic Images; Nomadic Returns to Belfast; Value and preservation of 2 Canadian newspapers dated 4/15 and 4/16/1912; information on Charles Payne; Titanic’s latitude and longitude; Book Review: SS Ceramic The Untold Story by Tim Trower.

Cover: “The Spirit of Today” expressed in a 1932 advertisement, A White Star Liner Sails, featuring Olympic. The White Star Line converted second class accommodations and even some of Olympic’s first class staterooms into “new and modern” Tourist class touting “more luxurious.” The colors were printed as they originally appeared. Image: Kamuda Collection.

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 11 × 9 × 0.25 in