April 15, 2011

Let us all pause to remember the sinking of the Titanic

Day 105 of Vintage 365


The story of the Titanic is one that, at first glance, may seem as though it needs no retelling. Since the fateful night precisely 99 years ago today that this seemingly mighty and unsinkable ship went down, every generation has heard tell of how one of the grandest ocean liners of all time meet its nearly unthinkable end. And yet, given the gravity of this event, how cannot stop and reflect upon the story - the real story, not merely the glamorized Hollywood version - of the events that unfolded in those staggeringly cold Atlantic waters on April 15, 1912.

I have always wondered if part of the reason why the sinking of the Titanic remained so visibly in the public eye over the decades is because she went down on her maiden voyage. While the same grim fate has befall other ships throughout time, too, perhaps none had received such press and publicity prior to their launch as the RMS Titanic did.

At the time of her completion the Titanic, which was owned by the White Star Line, was the largest steamship on earth. This majestic vessel had been designed by world class engineers and built with some of the most cutting edge technology and extensive safety features of its day.

Tragically however, the ship was only constructed with enough lifeboats to hold 1,178 people, whereas on the night she went down, the Titanic had 2,223 passengers on board. However, in the end (which came surprisingly quickly for such a seemingly impenetrable and resilient ship) far fewer people than there was theoretically lifeboat space for survived the nightmarish ordeal that freezing April eve.

{An artist's version of what the Titanic may have looked like as it approached the iceberg that would be its murderous undoing. Image via Vivid.ro.}


As the Titanic cut across the unpredictable Atlantic waters on a night that was described by most accounts as being cold, but calm and pleasant, its starboard side collided with a large iceberg that buckled the hull in multiple spots (causing numerous rivets that were located below the waterline to pop free).

The structural damage this impactful hit had resulted in the ship taking on water rapidly, which in turn weighed the mighty vessel down considerably (therefore causing more and more water to come rushing into the ship as it submerged further below the waterline).

The rest, as they say, is history. Less than three hours after the Titanic struck that direful iceberg, it had gone down, resulting in a mind boggling 1,517 fatalities (including, especially heartbreaking, one woman, Alma Pålsson and all ten of her children).

Though various movies over the years have tried to capture the horrendously frightening last minutes of this ill-fated ship's life, only those who were there as the Titanic sunk will ever truly know what conspired that night and what it felt like to witness the unthinkable.

Today, one year shy of a full century since the RMS Titanic was lost at sea, let us all take a few moments of solemn silence to remember and honour the over one thousand, five hundred souls - men, women, and children of all ages - whose lives were robbed of them by the sea on April 12, 1912.

Though gone, I believe, and very much hope, that due to the gravity of this maritime disaster, those passengers - like the very ship that transported them across the sea - will never be forgotten.


  1. One of my favorite writers, Bailey White, was also a teacher who said she taught children to read with a book about the Titanic. She knew it surprised people but the children became so engrossed they began teaching themselves to read so they could read ahead and see what happened!

  2. I was obsessed with the Titanic when I was younger and fascinated by the whole story and discovery. I can't believe it's almost been 100 years ago.

  3. My great-grandfather did cabinetry work on the titanic. My grandfather actually saw the ship when he was a boy, once, when he went to deliver lunch to his father with his older brother. He said it was crushing to his father to hear it had sunk, after all the work he'd done on the ship.

  4. Really beautiful post and an excellent reminder.

  5. Thanks for reminding us to pause and remember this tragic event, Jessica. I can't even imagine the terror those poor people on the boat much have gone through, those who lived and those who passed away in the frigid waters.

  6. Thank you for reminding us of the tragedy. I'm facinated by the Titanic and saw the exhibit at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. It was amazing how glamorous the ship was (they had built an exact replica of the staircase and staterooms). They also had an iceburg that you could touch to feel how cold it was that night. I put my hand on the ice and it felt like stabbing needles. Such a tragedy should never be forgotten.
    Thank you again for the reminder.
    Take care,

  7. I also saw the Titanic exhibition but in Florida. I touched the iceberg too and it was so so cold you just knew that no one could survive in water that cold for long.

    It was very moving to see the exhibition and the Titanic always holds a fascination for me although as far as I know I did not have any relatives on it.

    I think the Titanic is always remembered not just because it was its maiden voyage but also because it was supposedly unsinkable!!!! However, as we know the forces of nature are so strong and can overcome so many things.

    May I just point out that it was in fact 1912, not 1915 as in your post - assume a typo.

  8. Hi everyone,

    Thank you very, very much for your excellent, insightful comments, I appreciate them each deeply.

    Thank you, Jordiegirl, too, for pointing out that in one spot in this post I did accidentally put the date as "1915", whereas elsewhere it is correctly listed as 1912. Clearly that's what happens when one writes most of their blog posts in the wee hours of the night! ;) I appreciate your eagle eye spotting and have fixed that small mistake.

    Wishing you all a serene & wonderful weekend,

  9. I have been interested in the story of the Titantic since I was in middle school. All these years it has fascinated me, and I recently heard about a newly published book called "The Band That Played On" about the band that continued playing all the while the vessel was sinking. It's kind of a bio. book about the musicians.

    In just a few months it will be the centennial anniversary of this tragic event; I think that is reason enough for me to buy that book.