IN THIS ISSUE
As this is written in January 2013, an important milestone in Titanic history has been reached––the Titanic Historical Society is 50. We hope you will join us on September 4 through 8, 2013 at THS’s 50th Anniversary Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where we’ll reflect and remember. Latest details are inside the issue and on our website under Events.
Five decades has brought an incredible change in the Titanic world. The ship has become a worldwide phenomenon. It wasn’t always that way. It’s hard to believe that in the summer of 1963 at the Kamuda residence in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, a handful of young men struggled for an identity for a new organization whose mission was to preserve the history of Titanic. It fell, for the most part, on deaf ears. Who cared about a ship disaster fifty years ago when there have been so many important events since? The 1960s were a time of civic disruption across the country and a dismissal of history and tradition. The lack of interest by the general public was discouraging but it was also an opportunity. At this time Edward Kamuda and a few THS members had been corresponding with Titanic survivors who, at that time in their later years, were thrilled that anyone cared about their experiences a half century ago. Permanent friendships were formed. Their personal accounts were written in their own hand which became the foundation for articles in this journal that was mailed to members in the United States, Canada, the UK and Europe and thus, the beginnings of preserving Titanic history and reaching many people.
As you can see from past Commutators featured on the front and back covers, there are many Titanic and related subjects that were introduced decades ago that became the foundation for research for additional information which had a ripple effect. More knowledge was found and built on the shoulders of earlier Titanic Commutators–– Persistence by a handful of people in the early years is a source of pride.
Over the course of the anniversary year this journal will be calling attention to those Titanic survivors, the builders, etc.––people who have affected the Titanic and White Star chronicle.
The headliner article, A Short History of Harland & Wolff, was written by employees, George Lavery and Alan Hedgley, in 1980, provides a preview:
“The original Queen’s Island is a legend now, part of Belfast’s history. The gantries which once stood so high, and beneath which some of the world’s great liners were constructed are now gone; they were dismantled in 1972 … Whenever I am in that area, I always get this strange, almost peaceful feeling as though I am walking on “sacred ground”––ground which I feel privileged to walk upon; the very same ground where the men who built the Titanic once walked––men like Edward Harland, Gustav Wolff, Thomas Henry Ismay, J. Pierpont Morgan, Lord Pirrie, Joseph Bruce Ismay––all who have stood on this very ground. … There is a strange atmosphere here in this area of Harland & Wolff; it’s as though if I listened hard enough, I might hear the whistle of the wind through the gantries, the constant clatter of the riveter’s hammers, the sound of a frame erector shouting orders to a crane driver high above or the clomping of hob-nailed boots on the concrete slipways.”
In keeping with the Harland & Wolff theme in this issue are stories of the Arrol Gantry, Olympic’s first crossing and Titanic’s launch excerpted from period newspapers. Patrick Stenson adds a piece to his original article on Boxhall’s walk and the timing of the collision in Evidence Revisited. Mark Chirnside asks an intriguing question with Whatever Happened to Germanic/Homeric?
It’s going to be an exciting year.
STORY OF HARLAND & WOLFF
By George Lavery and Alan Hedgely
By Patrick Stenson
From A Day in a Shipyard
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO: GERMANIC/HOMERIC?
By Mark Chirnside
TITANIC CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL GARDEN AND WALKWAY DONORS
OLYMPIC ENDS HER FIRST VOYAGE
From New York Herald, June 22, 1911
TITANIC LAUNCH DESCRIBED
By Belfast Evening Telegraph May 31, 1911
THS’S 50th ANNIVERSARY CONVENTION INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION
SEA POSTE Seeking information about a table base used in 2nd class; additional comments on Patrick Stenson’s article about the timing of Titanic’s collision by Mr. Porter and Mr. Stephenson; question about a document used on HMHS Britannic for soldiers; an inquiry about a Titanic postcard with Captain Smith and Colonel J.J. Astor; crow’s nest and binoculars locked away is complete rubbish according to Tom McCluskie who worked at Harland & Wolff his entire life; information on the original HMS Bounty.
BOOK NOTES The Report into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal by Sam Halpern, Cathy Aker-Jordan, George Behe, Bruce Beveridge, Mark Chirnside, Tad Fitch, Dave Gittens, Steve Hall, Lester J. Mitcham, Captain Charles Weeks, Bill Wormstedt, reviewed by Ray Lepien; Four Thousand Lives Lost by Alastair Walker, reviewed by Ray Lepien; Titanic Madness: What Really Sank the Great Ship by Thomas Power Lowry, M.D., reviewed by Ray Lepien; On Board RMS Titanic Memories of a Maiden Voyage by George Behe, reviewed by Karen Kamuda; White Star Line-The Company & The Ships by Les Streater, reviewed by Karen Kamuda
COVERS: A sampling of selected issues progressing from 1963 to 2012 showing various formats and the change from black and white to full color covering five decades of The Titanic Commutator.