15 April 1912 – The Day the “Titanic” Sank

It was a disaster like no other at that time. The world’s biggest (and self-proclaimed ‘unsinkable’) ship set off from Southampton on 10 April 1912, bound for New York. It was her maiden voyage, and the crowd seeing it off was huge. Little did they know that just 5 days later all onboard would be fighting for their life, with the vast majority not making it.

2.20am, 15 April 1912, just a mere 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable. The Titanic sank.

Route of Titanic's first/last maiden voyage, 10-15 April 1912 (Creative Commons licence, Prioryman)

Route of Titanic’s first/last maiden voyage, 10-15 April 1912
(Creative Commons licence, Prioryman)

total capacity: 3547 passengers and crew
total onboard: 2206 passengers and crew
total survived: 703 passengers and crew 

That was 105 years ago, and it still has an impact.

The movie below is from British Pathè’s collection, and is just one of the 85,000 old movies they have made freely available. Showing actual footage of the ship, the rescue ships, together with interviews of some survivors, it is chilling.

There’s no doubt that the Titanic has become the stuff of legend.

I remember asking my grandma about it though she wasn’t born at the time, but her older sisters were, and they remembered it, being aged 11 and 12.

So I decided to see what the local South Australian newspapers wrote about it.

The following was the first report of it in South Australia’s “The Advertiser”, was was dated 18 April 1912. Not too bad considering that communication back then wasn’t as instant as we have today. It didn’t make front page like it did in the US or England, but it did make a big article on page 9. The article blow is just a small portion of it.

The Wreck of the Titanic, (18 April 1912, The Advertiser , p. 9.) http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5336985

The Wreck of the Titanic, (18 April 1912, The Advertiser , p. 9.) http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5336985

And as you would expect, every Australian newspaper ran the story, together with all the reports afterwards. For newspapers just in South Australia, and just in April 1912, Trove has 1000 articles. I’ll admit it, I didn’t read them all.

There’s no doubt this tragedy rocked the world, but something that I was reminded of reading a current news article relating to the 105th Anniversary of this event, was of those who had to go out afterwards and “collect the dead”. We tend to think of the rescuers, but forget about those who went in afterwards.

“As rescue ships approached the ghostly sea where the Titanic plunged into the ocean in the dead of the cold night on April 15, 1912, white specks began to appear in the distance. To onlookers aboard, they looked like “clustering and moving along the waves like a flock of seagulls”. Hundreds of them. All grouped together. The white specks were frozen bodies of the dead, wrapped in the ill-fated steamer’s life belts. For days, great quantities of these bodies, along with doors, pillows, chairs, tables, and scattered remains, floated along the North Atlantic.”

You can read the “Rescue Crews Reveal the Grisly Aftermath of the Titanic Tragedy” here.

So on this day, 105 years on, we remember not only those who lost their life and their families, as well as who were fortunate enough to survive this tragedy, but also those who had the horrific task of “cleaning up” afterwards. Every one of them would have had their life changed from the events that took place on 12 April 1912.

More info on the Titanic:
For more Titanic related old movies from British Pathè click here
100 Facts about the Titanic
Timeline of the Titanic
Wikipedia’s entry for RMS Titanic

Please Note: there are slight discrepancies in the number who died, and the number who survived. One articles says 703 survived, another says 706, another says 705. Another article says 1503 died, another 1517. I’m no professional historian, so I can’t say for sure which is the real figure, but it would be a matter of looking further at how each have calculated their numbers.