The Titanic Commutator Issue 183


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There are many gaps in our collective knowledge of His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Britannic. An example of that is the official transport number assigned when she was in hospital ship service. It had been reported as G.618, prior to 2004, with the exception of Captain Bartlett’s report following the ship’s loss which gave the number as G.608. Captain Bartlett would have been in a position to know his own ship’s assigned number, however, as the report was completed shortly after the sinking, Bartlett’s slip could be written off as a minor mistake and natural under the circumstances to get a single digit wrong, and the letter and other two numbers otherwise matched. All that changed in 2004, when a new photograph surfaced. It was a stunning, hitherto unknown image of Britannic at Southampton in early 1916…

Of all the mysteries surrounding Titanic, one is how Captain Smith met his end. Popular myth holds that Smith went down with his ship. This legend has been sustained by portrayals of his death in books and movies, perhaps most memorably in J. Arthur Rank’s A Night to Remember (1958), and in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997).

The majority of eyewitness accounts do not shed any light given the small number who remained onboard to the end and survived to talk about it. When one considers how few would have been in a position to see Captain Smith at the end, it is even less. Those who did talk often gave conflicting evidence which only adds to the confusion. The Fate of Captain Smith is an attempt to examine information objectively to see if any conclusions can be reached

In the conclusion of Speed and More Speed, Titanic’s increased steadily throughout her voyage. Evidence supports that revolutions were increased, boilers brought online and preparations were being made to light the remaining auxiliary boilers and increase the ship’s speed. Early on, she was broadly running level with Olympic’s performance and as it increased, Titanic was well placed to exceed her sister’s average speed.

Contrary to popular myth, Titanic was not short of coal. Her supply was plentiful and she had plenty in reserve. Analyzing recollections of passengers including Elisabeth Lines, Emily Ryerson and Jack Thayer, there is a case that Ismay had a greater knowledge of the ship’s speed than he was (and understandably) prepared to admit. Elisabeth Lines provides a clear and sincere account of overhearing Bruce Ismay discuss the ship’s performance with Captain Smith. It would be entirely natural for the two men to hope that Titanic’s maiden voyage would be faster than Olympic’s.

The old “Titanic tile” caper resurfaces. Ten years ago they were being offered for sale by a company in the United States that contacted the Titanic Historical Society to sell for its Museum Store. The THS declined. A decade later the tiles are still being sold in the UK and the term, Caveat Emptor applies more than ever. The latest began with a recent letter to the THS…

There is more good reading including articles about THS’s recent “Titanic Celebration of a Legacy.” Dave DeMarco wrote a descriptive story about the convention in his inimitable style in THS’s Internet Forum however this edition’s deadline for inclusion had passed before it was complete. The other half of THS’s 45th anniversary year convention will take place on Queen Mary at Long Beach on April 3, 4 and 5 2009. We hope to see you many of you there. Additional details inside and under Events on this website.

Contents in this Issue

HMHS Britannic A mystery of numbers By Mark Chirnside.

Miss Andrew’s Account: Titanic’s Sinking With thanks to Don Lynch.

Speed and More Speed Part 2 By Mark Chirnside and Sam Halpern.

Down with the Ship: The Fate Of Captain Smith Part 1 of 2 By Tad Fitch.

“Titanic Tile” resurfaces With thanks to Tom McCluskie, MBE.

The “Real” Titanic Calendar By Karen Kamuda.

President Edward Kamuda on THS’s 45th Anniversary By Edward Kamuda.

Titanic Celebration of a Legacy Photos Barbara Magruder, Barbara Kamuda & Karen Kamuda.

I’m Haunted… not in a bad way… but in a sad way By Mark Statler.

Sea Poste: A THS member from Argentina sent photos of the Artagaveytia mausoleum in Central Cemetery in Montevideo where first class passenger Ramon de Artagaveytia is buried; a U.S Senate staff member was looking to identify details in a photo from the US Senate Inquiry into Titanic’s sinking; question about a list of employees at Harland & Wolff, was there a union?, who did the Marconi people work for on Titanic? The author of “Polar, the Titanic Bear” discovered another Titanic connection while working on a show house on Long Island, New York. Page 136.

Book Notes: Reviews of “The Titanic, An Interactive Adventure” “Titanic: Relative Fate” and “The Last True Story of Titanic” by Tim Trower

Front and Back Covers: An interesting comparison––passengers wave from R.M.S. Olympic in New York to people on the pier while across the Atlantic, R.M.S. Titanic sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage. The date of these photos are April 10, 1912. Library of Congress Collection

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 11 × 9 × 0.25 in