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The Sinking of the RMS Titanic and other ships.

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  • #16
    Hi Shangas and Celeste,

    There is also one of the darkest stories of the sea: the burning of the turbo electric Ward liner MORRO CASTLE in September 1934. Over 130 people (mostly passengers) were burned or drowned in the disaster, and the exact cause is still a mystery. Indeed, one of the heros of the disaster, the radioman, may have set the fire - in his later career he murdered two neighbors and ended in prison. There was a good book on the story: SHIPWRECK by Max Thomas and Max Morris Witt (I think that is their names).

    Some mysteries do get somewhat solved. In 1898 the steamer Portland was lost in a terrible gale off Massachusetts, but her exact fate was unknown (all the 200 people on board were lost - no survivor accounts). But four years ago the wreck was found. From studying it, apparently a wave smashed the superstructure of the boat (where the passengers were) and carried it away.
    Then the ship sank.

    There are also the trio of dreadful shipwrecks in the U.S.:

    1) The Sultana - probably the worst shipwreck in American history - 1,700 to 1,900 returning Union soldires blown up, burned to death, or drowned when the steamer Sultana blew up (probably due to a boiler explosion - but possibly a hidden explosive in the coal supply has been suggested) on the Mississippi River south of Memphis.

    2) The General Slocum - called "the Titanic of Queens" as this excursion boat burned in June 1904 with over 1020 men, women, and children (most from the "Little Germany" section of Manhattan) were burned to death or drowned in the area around North Brother Island between the East and Harlem Rivers and the Long Island Sound. Prisoners from Rykers Island assisted in rescuing survivors. The disaster has some personal connection to me. My grandmother was visiting a school friend who was ill and upset that she and her family were unable to go on the excursion. While grandma comforted her friend as best she could, they hears screams from the street - people were yelling that the Slocum was on fire!

    3) The Eastland - The worst disaster in the history of the Great Lakes (though not as well recalled as the Edmund Fitzgerald which has a song about it). Eight hundred passengers were drowned on the Chicago River when the Eastland capsized while still moored to it's pier (the passengers were going on an excursion). Recent studies show that safety devices were added to the Eastland in the wake of the Titanic, and helped increase its unsteadiness. Those 800 passengers perhaps should be added to the 1490 to 1522 from the Titanic as killed by the same set of circumstances and results.

    4) The Waratah - the great mystery of the sea from 1909, when this large British vessel on a schedule run from London to Australia and back disappeared in heavy seas off South Africa. They still try to find it's wreckage around the Cape of Good Hope.

    Best wishes,

    Jeff

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    • #17
      Hi Jeff,

      Yes, Rogers may have set the Morro ablaze so he could play hero. He is also suspected of poisoning the Captain first. One account I saw said that he may have set the fire to conceal the murder of the Captain.
      Last edited by sdreid; 08-07-2008, 06:03 AM.
      This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

      Stan Reid

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      • #18
        What a wonderful idea for a thread! I love anything to do with the Titanic. I guess that sounds aweful considering it's such a tragedy but like my interest with Jack the Ripper, it's one of those things that eats away at my mind and I just have to get my hands on anything related.

        Thanks to the other posters for bringing up all the other ships...I recognized some of them. Another ship wreck that I didn't see posted was the Andrea Doria (not sure if I got the spelling right).

        Esther

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        • #19
          Hi
          people always seem to forget the biggest tragedy (when it comes to lifes lost) of them all:
          On the night of 30. January 1945 the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk by a sovjet submarine in the baltic sea and over 9000 people, mostly refugees, died.

          Christian

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          • #20
            The Gustloff was a shocking thing, although by all accounts, if the captains had followed wartime procedure, it may never have happened at all.

            According to a documentary, there were three captains (or two, I forget) onboard the Gustloff. Civilian, and military captains.

            Wartime procedure went thus:

            You sailed with your lights, OFF - Harder to spot in the dark.
            You sailed in a zig-zag fashion - Harder for the enemy to aim.
            You sailed close to the shore - Harder for submarines to get close.

            The idiot captain onboard the Gustloff sailed in open waters in a straight line with all the ship's navigational lights burning.

            BOOM!

            Sad to say, but the Gustloff really was a sitting duck, and a disaster waiting to happen. If they'd followed those simple rules, the ship might never have sunk.

            The makeup of the Gustloff was of nurses, German wounded, refugees and of course, the ship's crew. Total onboard was between 9,000-10,000, some say even more. A certain number of these survived and were picked up by other German vessels.

            The sinking of the Andrea Doria was just human error.

            Upon two ships heading towards each other on a collision-course, maritime law states that they must both turn STARBOARD (to the right), in order to make a safe pass.

            Instead of both turning starboard, the Doria turned starboard, and the Stockholm turned Port. BOOM! The stockholm crashed into the Doria and ripped the ship open like a sardine-can. The Andrea Doria immediately sent out an SOS call by radio and other ships nearby responded immediately to the disaster. 56 people died.

            The mystery of the Waratah is one that may never be solved. It left Australia, sailing for England (presumably Southampton) and...it never made it. "Witnesses" included a radio-operator on another ship (or possibly a land-station, I forget), who said he recieved a morse-code message from a ship. The reception was extremely bad, and he only caught the last three letters: "TAH".

            Gracie did indeed write an account about his survival of the Titanic. Gracie was one of the last people to get off the ship alive. He was still onboard when it made its final plunge, but managed to get into a lifeboat at the last minute. The shock and the physical toll of hypothermia impacted his health greatly, and he died less than six months after the sinking.
            "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" - Admiral David Farragut.

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            • #21
              "The Gustloff was a shocking thing, although..."

              There is no "although". One always could add that: Wrong speed in iceberg waters etc etc.

              9000 victims. Nine thousand.


              C

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              • #22
                Yes master...
                "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" - Admiral David Farragut.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Esther Wilson View Post
                  What a wonderful idea for a thread! I love anything to do with the Titanic. I guess that sounds aweful considering it's such a tragedy but like my interest with Jack the Ripper, it's one of those things that eats away at my mind and I just have to get my hands on anything related.

                  Thanks to the other posters for bringing up all the other ships...I recognized some of them. Another ship wreck that I didn't see posted was the Andrea Doria (not sure if I got the spelling right).

                  Esther
                  Hi Esther, Welcome to the Casebook. We know what you mean about loving anything to do with the Titanic! Enjoy you time here. Looking forward to chatting with you.

                  Best,

                  Cel

                  UHHH... hold on a minute. Weren't you MaryKelly yesterday? Now, I am confused.
                  Last edited by Celesta; 08-08-2008, 01:02 AM.
                  "What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: "Why is it so dark in here?"" From Pyramids by Sir Terry Pratchett, a British National Treasure.

                  __________________________________

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                  • #24
                    Hi Cel,

                    Sorry, I asked to get my profile name changed but yes for a short period of time I was MK...well in name only of course. Sorry for the confussion.

                    Esther

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Hi all,

                      My favorite story about the loss of Waratah is that one of the passengers who was on board kept having a dream where he saw a horrible, colossus like figure with a bloodstained sword arise from the sea,and yell the name "Waratah". This gentleman discovered he could stand it no longer, and when the ship docked at Durban (I think it was Durban), he left the ship with his luggage and took a train to Cape Town and took another ship to England.
                      So this man was one of the few passengers who survived that last voyage.

                      [Mike, take note.]

                      If you mention the loss of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" you have to mention two other German refugee ships and another bombed ocean liner that altogether cost roughly 33,000 lives. The other refugee ships from Eastern Europe headed for Germany were the "Goya" (loss of 3,000) and "General Steuben"
                      (loss of about 8,000). THe bombed ocean liner was the "Cap Arcona" which was holding nearly 11 - 14, 000 Jews in its cramped hold when the port (Bremen?, I'm not sure) was bombed by the Allies. The ship capsized killing many on board. But what was worse was that Jews who managed to get to swim from the wreck were machined gunned by the Nazis when they got to land. Ironically, when the Nazi film TITANIC was made by UFA in 1943, scenes supposedly on the "Titanic" were shot on the "Cap Arcona".

                      Speaking of the Baltic let us not forget (only over a decade ago) the "Estonia", sunk in a crazy storm ... although there is some controversy about whether it may have also hit a mine. In that shipwreck 900 lives were lost.

                      And there is also that magnificent refloated maritime museum, the "Vasa", which sank in Stockholm harbor in 1628, on its maiden voyage ("Titanic" actually got further). Now it is admired in a dry dock museum for its ornate
                      carvings and designs. Similarly Britain has the "Mary Rose" also retrieved from grave at sea - although not as totally as the "Vasa".

                      Best wishes,

                      Jeff

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                      • #26
                        Archibald Gracie's other book

                        Almost forgotten postscript.

                        Col. Gracie actually left two valuable books. Besides his account of the "Titanic", he wrote a still useful account of the last major Confederate battle victory in the American Civil War - THE TRUTH ABOUT CHICKAMAUGA.

                        Jeff

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                        • #27
                          If I recall, the Vasa sank due to an unequal distribution of weight and a top-heavy design, right? The ship rolled, and the open gunports let the water rush in and the ship just tipped right over and sank.
                          "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" - Admiral David Farragut.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Esther Wilson View Post
                            Hi Cel,

                            Sorry, I asked to get my profile name changed but yes for a short period of time I was MK...well in name only of course. Sorry for the confussion.

                            Esther
                            Got it! I was thinking it was kind of ballsy of you to use MK's name and then suddenly it was gone! Actually I thought of doing that when I first registered but then, out of superstition, changed my mind.

                            Take care,

                            Cel
                            "What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: "Why is it so dark in here?"" From Pyramids by Sir Terry Pratchett, a British National Treasure.

                            __________________________________

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
                              Almost forgotten postscript.

                              Col. Gracie actually left two valuable books. Besides his account of the "Titanic", he wrote a still useful account of the last major Confederate battle victory in the American Civil War - THE TRUTH ABOUT CHICKAMAUGA.

                              Jeff
                              Hi Jeff, I was at Chickamauga a couple of weeks ago. We went up to the Nat'l Cemetary to my parent's grave and stopped back by there. I have never seen so many monuments. It's actually divided into two sites, one up on the ridges and the other down on the lower ground. We weren't able to tour it the way I would have wanted due to time constraints. I'll look into this book and find out what the truth is.

                              Best to you, Jeff.
                              "What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: "Why is it so dark in here?"" From Pyramids by Sir Terry Pratchett, a British National Treasure.

                              __________________________________

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Hi Celesta,

                                I suspect that the aspects of the battle that Gracie concentrated on were the following:

                                1) Who was responsible for the victory over the Federal troops under William Rosecrans (the actual commander of the Confederate army, Lt. General Braxton Bragg, or the "borrowed" commander of the troops from the forces of General Robert E. Lee, Lt. General James Longstreet?

                                2) Who was really responsible for the fatal error that hurt the Federal defense perameter, Rosecrans of hs closest advisor, Major General James Garfield? As Garfield was the martyred 2nd Assassinated President (see Dr. Tumblety and his possible connection to Charles Guiteau), Gracie was involved in a delicate problem in discussng this matter.

                                Best wishes,

                                Jef

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