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RMS Carpathia To The Rescue

Brought across the Seas by Wireless to Aid the “Titanic”, the Cunarder “Carpathia”, Which Picked up the Only Passengers of the Ill-Fated Liner. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 697. GGA Image ID # 100c056ad4

The Man Who Saved over 700 Lives through Sitting up a Little Later Than Usual: Mr. Cottam, the Wireless Operator of the “Carpathia” as a Student. The Illustrated London News (18 May 1912) p. 760. GGA Image ID # 100c3ae183

It will be remembered that the "Titanic‘s" wireless call for help was received by the "Carpathia" sometime after the hour at which the latter's operator, Mr. Cottam, usually retired. Had he gone to bed that night at his usual time, it is said, the all would not have been hard, and probably few, if any, of the "Titania's" people would have been saved.

Alter the wreck, Mr. Cottam worked for days without sleep under extra. The photograph shows him as a student at the British School of Telegraphy in Clapham Road, where Mr. Harold Bride also studied.

Captain Arthur Henry Rostron Next to the Silver Loving Cup Presented to Him in May 1912 by Survivors of the Titanic in Recognition of His Heroism in Their Rescue.

Captain Arthur Henry Rostron Next to the Silver Loving Cup Presented to Him in May 1912 by Survivors of the Titanic in Recognition of His Heroism in Their Rescue. Library of Congress (LC-DIG-ggbain-10426). GGA Image ID # 100cc5cbfb

Hand-Written Account by Captain A. H. Rostron of the R.M.S. Carpathia Describing His Response to the Distress Signal of the Titanic on 15 April 1912.

Photocopy of Hand-Written Account by Captain A. H. Rostron of the R.M.S. Carpathia Describing His Response to the Distress Signal of the Titanic on 15 April 1912. Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-64157). GGA Image ID # 100d7296d0

Mrs. J.J. Brown Presenting Trophy Cup Award to Capt. Arthur Henry Roston, for His Service in the Rescue of the Titanic.

Mrs. J.J. Brown Presenting Trophy Cup Award to Capt. Arthur Henry Roston, for His Service in the Rescue of the Titanic. Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-121013). GGA Image ID # 100c6a1f54

Rescued Titanic Survivors on the Carpathia

Group of Survivors of the Titanic Disaster Aboard the Carpathia after Being Rescued.

Group of Survivors of the Titanic Disaster Aboard the Carpathia after Being Rescued. Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99341). GGA Image ID # 100d18f317

Stuart Collett - One of the Titanic Survivors Arriving on the Carpathia.

Stuart Collett - One of the Titanic Survivors Arriving on the Carpathia. Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-85391). GGA Image ID # 100d8af71a

Succouring the Saved: Women Passengers on the Carpathia Sewing for the Titanic Survivors and Distributing Clothes. The Illustrated London News (18 May 1912) p. 731. GGA Image ID # 100e2d545e

Rescued Titanic Passengers Aboard the Carpathia: Mr. George A. Harder, Who Was the Only Man Saved of Eleven Honeymoon Couples. Mr. & Mrs. G. A. Harder and Mrs. Charles M. Hayes Talking Whose Husband Was Lost. Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-56452), GGA Image ID # 100dc7846f

Photograph taken aboard the "Carpathia" by Miss Bernice Palmer. Mr. Harder was the only man saved out of eleven honeymoon couples aboard the "Titanic." 

Mr. and Mrs. Harder were in the concert-room listening to the music when the collision occurred. They heard the cry to man the life-boats and for fun, believing there was no danger, jumped into the first boat—very fortunately as it turned out for themselves.

Mrs. Charles M. Hays who was rescued lost her husband, the President of the Grand Trunk Railway. His body was afterwards picked up by the cable-steamer "Minia" near the scene of the disaster.

Groups of Titanic Survivors Aboard Rescue Ship Carpathia: Unidentified Group on Deck.

Groups of Titanic Survivors Aboard Rescue Ship Carpathia: Unidentified Group on Deck. Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-56453). GGA Image ID # 100e939fef

The Rescue of Titanic Survivors

At 4 o'clock in the morning, the lights of the Carpathia were seen and all the boats rowed in the direction of the approaching steamer. The Cunarder had made good time, though forced to alter its course several times on account of icebergs. At 4:10 a. m. the first lifeboat was picked up and at 8:30 a. m. the last of the survivors were aboard.

Day was breaking when the first boat was unloaded and after that the surface of the ocean for miles around was visible. Thirteen of the lifeboats were picked up and taken to New York. Capt. Rostron, in his official report, said that at this time his ship was surrounded by icebergs, large and small, and that three miles to the northwest was a huge field of drift ice with large and small bergs in it.

At 8 o'clock, the Californian came up and was requested to continue the search for survivors or bodies. The Mount Temple also reached the scene in the morning and assisted in the search, but no bodies were found. It is believed that those subsequently picked up had been carried by strong currents away from the spot where the Titanic went down or were hidden by the extensive ice.

At 8:30 a. m., the Carpathia started directly for New York. While the rescue work was in progress a clergyman aboard offered a prayer of thankfulness for those saved and performed a short burial service for the dead. Everything possible was done for the survivors of the wreck, passengers and officers giving up their rooms and providing articles of clothing for those needing them.

The wireless equipment of the Carpathia was not of the best and more or less trouble was had in sending messages ashore or to other ships. The regular operator, Thomas Cottam, was assisted by Harold S. Bride of the Titanic, who was saved in a crippled condition.

They confined themselves to sending official and private messages and the names of the rescued, paying no attention to requests for details of the disaster, or even to the efforts of the operators on the United States scout cruiser Salem, who tried to get information as to the fate of Maj. Archibald Butt for President Taft.

The operators on the Carpathia excused themselves later on the ground that the wireless men on the warship were incompetent and that it was a waste of time to reply to them. Because of this lack of definite information, the arrival of the Carpathia was awaited with much anxiety.

When the ship finally reached its dock in New York at 9:30 p. m., Thursday, April 18, it was met by a large number of people eager to welcome the survivors and to make inquiries about the missing. Those of the rescued who were ill or disabled were taken to hospitals, while others went to their homes or to hotels to proceed to their destinations on the following day.

Statement of Passengers from the Titanic

Upon the arrival of the Carpathia a statement signed by a committee of twenty-five of the Titanic' s passengers, with Samuel Goldenberg as chairman, was given to the press. After detailing briefly the facts of the wreck and giving approximately the number of persons on board, the number saved, and the number lost, the statement concluded:

"We feel it our duty to call the attention of the public to what we consider the inadequate supply of life saving appliances provided for on modern passenger steamships and recommend that immediate steps be taken to compel passenger steamers to carry sufficient boats to accommodate the maximum number of people carried on board.

The following facts were observed and should be considered in this connection:

  • The insufficiency of lifeboats, rafts, etc.
  • Lack of trained seamen to man the same (stokers, stewards, etc., are not efficient boat handlers).
  • Not enough officers to carry out emergency orders on the bridge and superintend the launching and control of lifeboats.
  • Absence of searchlights.
  • The board of trade rules allow for entirely too many people in each boat to permit the same to be properly handled.
  • On the Titanic the boat deck was about seventy-five feet above water and consequently the passengers were required to embark before lowering the boats, thus endangering the operation and preventing the taking on of the maximum, number the boats would hold.
  • Boats at all times should be properly equipped with provisions, water, lamps, compasses, lights, etc.
  • Life saving boat drills should be more frequent and thoroughly carried out and officers should be armed at boat drills.
  • Great reduction should be made in speed in fog and ice, as damage, if collision actually occurs, is liable to be less.
  • In conclusion we suggest that an international conference be called to recommend the passage of identical laws providing for the safety of all at sea and we urge the United States government to take the initiative as soon as possible.

James Langland, M.A., (Compiled by), "The Rescue," and "Statement of Passengers," in the Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year-Book for 1913, Chicago: The Chicago Daily News Company, p. 153-154.

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