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Told And Untold Stories Of R.M.S. TITANIC (Part V)

April 02, 2012  by: S. Chowdhury  Points: 12   Category: Others  Earning $0.70   Views: 822

What is an integral part of the history about ‘R.M.S. Titanic’ is not only the human stories of that fateful night of the tragedy, but also the survivor accounts and their testimonies recorded later. The wreck of Titanic has stayed out of bounds of human civilization until Dr. Robert Ballard discovered it in 1985 and presently it is in shambles due to innumerable commercial visits and natural elements.

         

(Continued from Part IV)



The loss of the Ship, the freezing waters of North Atlantic and immediate help not coming in time resulted in Catastrophe! 1517 of men, women and children died in the aftermath – mostly from Hypothermia – including both passengers and crewmembers. 706 people survived the tragedy but many of them had to start life from scratch. There were families who had lost either their sole breadwinner or all their possessions and even there were cases where a whole family had been wiped out.

There was a wealthy American lady among the first class passengers by the name of ‘Mrs. Margaret Brown’ or ‘Molly Brown’, as she was sometimes referred as. She was already quite famous by then because of her philanthropic activities and social activism but History remembers her as the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ because of the role she played during the tragedy. After the lifeboats were launched she helped many women and children get to lifeboats until was forced to board lifeboat six. Since the lifeboat was filled well below capacity she advocated going back to the spot of the sinking to pick up more people from the freezing waters once the ship was gone. The crewman in charge of the lifeboat – Robert Hichens – vehemently opposed this lest being swamped by those floating in the ocean. Some reports suggest that passengers were shifted from that lifeboat to another one later and it came back after that to pick up survivors but those reports are not confirmed. In the lifeboat she not only helped to boost the sagging spirit of mourning passengers but also rowed herself.


Mrs. Margaret Brown

Later in Carpathia ‘Mrs. Brown’ raised funds for the victims of the tragedy who had lost everything in the mishap and headed the ‘Titanic Survivors Committee’ to take care of the poor victims. She even awarded ‘Sir Arthur Henry Rostron’, the captain of ‘R.M.S. Carpathia’, with a trophy and medals for the other crewmembers on behalf of the committee and raised a memorial for the Titanic victims in Washington. She did many other notable things in life subsequently and fought for many causes besides receiving various esteemed awards but the incidents of that particular night made her immortal more than anything else!


Trophy awarded to the captain of R.M.S. Carpathia by Mrs. Brown

The shock of the tragedy was so much that most of the survivors led a secluded life after that. Though most of them were never able to shake out the horrors of that night till they past away but some of them saw it from a positive viewpoint as well as a second chance in life to which so many has been denied and went on to achieve greater glories in the remaining years of their stay on Earth. Still the utter shock, trauma and a sense of guilt that the majority of people withstood for the rest of their life cannot by any logic ever be undermined.

I remember a survivor by the name of ‘Katie Gilnagh’ – only 16 at that time – who was miraculously saved by a mysterious man she never saw afterwards, as per her own testimony. I saw excerpts from an interview she gave on American Television in the 1950’s, about 40 years later, where she was finding it extremely difficult to control her emotions. It is reported that many of the survivors suffered from acute depression later in life and 13 of them were known to have committed suicides. The last known survivor to pass away in 2006 – who vividly remembered the tragedy – was 3rd class passenger ‘Lilian Gertrand Asplunde’.


Katie Gilnagh

Asplunde was only six years old during the tragedy and her father and three brothers went down with the ship. She never forgot those heart-rending moments while staring at her father and brothers with eyes filled with tears from her lifeboat, clinging on to the railings of the tilted ship, even in her late nineties! Later she, her mother and one surviving brother struggled a lot to revive their broken lives from the hopelessness of penury. She and her family led the life of a recluse all the while they survived. I gave these examples to describe the effects this iconic disaster had on the psyche of the survivors.


Lilian Gertrand Asplunde as a child

The wreck of ‘R.M.S. Titanic’ has been another object of interest for a lot of people and many unsuccessful attempts were made in the past to get to the wreck, until in 1985, when a group of Oceanographers and scientists led by ‘Dr. Robert Ballard’ – a renowned Ocean Explorer – working on a secret mission of the U.S. Navy to find its two sunken submarines, was able to locate the wreck of Titanic on the Ocean floor after trying for days at the very end of the mission. It was Dr. Ballard’s sheer intelligence that led the team to the wreck, following a debris-trail made by the almost destroyed stern of the Ship, which imploded because of trapped air while sinking, creating a debris-field with scattered objects from the Ship that covered several square miles. The bow of the Ship on the other hand was in much good shape but since lot of time has passed by since 1912 and the pressure of water in that huge depth, some kind of microbes, corrosive salts and rusting altogether had wear down the Ship a lot.


Dr. Robert Ballard

The discovery of the wreck of Titanic by Dr. Ballard settled one long disputed theory about the ship breaking into two parts prior to sinking once and for all. Some survivors have since the tragedy stated in their testimonies that the ship broke into two halves prior to sinking, while others differed from their views and stated that the ship sank in one piece. This mystery remained unsolved till Dr. Ballard’s discovery in 1985, when the relatively intact bow of Titanic and the almost destroyed stern, separated in two distinct parts, both by size and location, was a rude jolt for many Titanic enthusiasts. As Titanic sank in two parts, items from the ship started scattering away and later settling in the ocean floor, forming a huge area of debris, particularly from the imploded stern, which by current estimates extend up to three-by-five-mile area in totality.

It’s been 27 years since Dr. Ballard and his team discovered the wreck of Titanic, but in 2004, on his return dive back to the challenging depths of the North Atlantic, to the wreck of ‘R.M.S. Titanic’, Dr. Ballard was utterly shocked to find that many parts of the Ship that he and his team revealed to the world once again after staying in that awesome depth for more than 70 years without any human attention, back in 1985, had disappeared. Scientists say that the wreck of Titanic will wear away slowly by natural phenomenon, but if private parties continue to frequent the place it might happen sooner rather than later. This is the very reason why Dr. Ballard wanted to keep the exact location of the Titanic wreck a secret. He didn’t even collect a single Titanic related item from the bottom of the ocean in any of his deep dives to the wreck of Titanic. Dr. Ballard considers the place a mass gravesite and dropped memorial plaques in his later visits as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives in the tragedy.


The wreck of Titanic currently in pretty bad shape

If all had approached the wreck of Titanic like Dr. Ballard, the place sadly wouldn’t have been desecrated. I read an article in a newspaper in August 2003, where an ocean scientist by the name of ‘Alfred S. McLaren’ said he was shocked to see some parts of the wreck of Titanic collapsed in his latest dive a month earlier, that he saw intact in his previous dive in 1999, in a mere gap of four years! The report also goes on to say that Tourists have paid up to 36,000$ a dive to private parties and a couple even married in a miniature submarine resting on the bow of the Ship. The place has been found littered with debris like beer and soda bottles that were not related to the Titanic. If things go like this and the authorities of the Countries that matter keep mum then we may lose even the remains of this grand legendary liner very soon.


Reference:

Wikipedia.
Encyclopedia Titanica.
Several other websites.

(Concluded)




Comment(s)
Author: gaurisood        
Posted Date: 04/06/2012    Points:6    

S Chowdhury ,I have been reading all your articles on the subject of RMS Titanic with great interest and I found them very fascinating and well written .It is obvious that you have researched extensively on the topic .What I liked best about the article were not only the accurate technical facts but also the human angle associated with the tragedy that you covered ,without undue dramatization and exaggerations .Every individual story uncovers different aspects of humanity - from the the despair and helplessness of Captain Smith ,to the brave and duty bound Radio operators who tried their best to save others and to those who ultimately survived to tell these tales . The timing of the article is a almost like a tribute on the eve of the 100th anniversary of this tragedy .

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