Huge Liner Carrying over 2300 Passengers Crashes into Ice-Berg and Sinks in Two Hours
Only 745 Rescued by Liner Carpathia Two Hours Later
Ship Sinks with Band Playing
By BENSON HEWITT
Anyone listening to the news these days knows that on April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic, a British passenger liner, sank after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City.
The sinking caused deaths of 1,514 people in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history. Including crew, she carried 2,224 people.
Considering the impact of this news, I wondered how soon the people of Fogo Island learned about this disaster. Radio would have been in its infancy, and although at that time Fogo was connected to the rest of the world by telegraph and Marconi — and some news may have trickled through — most would hear about it, I’m assuming, only when newspapers carrying the details reached the island, and that would take some time. The nearest newspaper to Fogo Island was at nearby Twillingate, The Twillingate Sun and conceivably that could reach here within a day or so.
Be that as it may, the bold heading preceding this piece is the heading that the Twillingate Sun carried on April 20, 1912; five days after the event took place. What follows is an exact replica of what the newspaper carried. Some of it may have been later revised:
“One of the worst disasters in shipping circles recently was when the new White Star Liner, Titanic, of 20,000 tons, on her first trip across the Atlantic crashed into an ice-berg about 300 miles off Cape Ray on Monday (April 15). Details are yet very meager, but it seems evident from the length of time which elapsed between striking the berg and sinking – two hours, that the water-tight bulkheads must have been unable to stand the strain and collapsed; otherwise, there would have been more time to transfer more than 700 passengers to the boats. A number of notables were on board, including W.T. Stead and Jacob Astor, the millionaire, the former of whom is reported to be drowned. Of the survivors, 100 are sick on board the Carpathia and ____ have died (the number was not given) before she reached New York. The Titanic was valued at nine million, and carried five million in insurance. She was 852 feet long, 92 broad, and 60 feet deep. Latest reports indicate that those who were on board at the time she sank, died like men, the band playing on the deck as she plunged to the bottom.”
There was this other report on April 27, 1912:
“Particulars of the Titanic horror are gradually filtering through, and in spite of the terrible happenings on that Sunday night, we cannot help being struck by the coolness that prevailed. There was absolutely no panic, and apparently so little excitement that the veteran journalist Stead, who came on deck after the collision, returned to his berth and possibly died peacefully in his sleep. The night was clear and starlit without a moon, and the ship was apparently at her dead best – about 21 knots. Passengers report that the berg was seen, but it seems likely that the attraction of the ship’s bulkhead, which smashed the New York cables like twine, had some share in sending her to the bottom. Her bow and side were stove in. Altho’ she carried davits enough for double the number, she had only fifteen lifeboats. The water-tight doors, which were supposed to make her practically unsinkable, failed to close. Her Captain stood on the deck till the last, and jumped from the sinking ship with one of two children, who had found their way to his side, a stoker taking the other in his arms. This man was saved, but had the child struck from his grasp by the water while Captain Smith and the other child were drowned.”
On May 4, 1912, the editor of the Twillingate Sun editorialized on the condition of our coastal boats, Prospero and the Clyde, under government charter, which was servicing Notre Dame Bay which would have included Fogo Isand:
“What lesson has the Titanic disaster for us? While the Titanic disaster is yet fresh in our minds, it is worth to look at ourselves and see if our ‘skirts are clean’. The Prospero left St. John’s late last fall, loaded with freight to the smokestack, and crowded with passengers in a positively unsafe condition. What the results would have been had any disaster happened to her we shudder to think. Her boats had probably not been in the water for the summer, with the exception of the mail boat, and even if there were enough to take the passengers – which is more than improbable – it is doubtful if they would have floated if launch. Weekly during the fall the Clyde and Prospero carry far more passengers than there is boat accommodations for, and whoever heard of a boat drill on board either, or ever saw any of the boats, barring the mail-boat, afloat? Fortunately, the new arrangement may ease the burden somewhat, but the danger is yet there, and we need some rigid inspection and check on this insane cramming with freight, or valuable lives will be lost.”