6. The SS California could see the Titanic’s distress flares, but its “reprehensible” captain failed to go to the ship’s rescue.
The closest ship to the doomed Titanic was the SS California. Under the control of Captain Stanley Lord, the ship was sailing from London to Boston. Just before midnight, the crew spotted a ship’s lights around 12 miles away. They tried to signal it but got no reply. When they then saw the mystery ship fire rockets into the air, some crewmen advised the captain they thought it was in distress. Both the British and American inquiries into the tragedy concluded that hundreds of lives might have been saved had Captain Lord gone to Titanic’s rescue – one even called his actions that fateful night “reprehensible”.
5. Some newspapers initially reported that the Titanic had gone down with absolutely no loss of life!
Famously, the first news reports about the loss of the Titanic reassured readers that the ship’s passengers had escaped with their lives. In Canada, as well as in Britain, the headlines read: “Titanic Sinking: No Lives Lost”. This has gone down in infamy as being the least accurate newspaper headline of all time. So how did the mix-up happen? According to historians of the disaster, wireless operators interpreted a message that all was âOK’ with the rescue ship with confirmation that all the Titanic’s crew and passengers were safe. The truth could not have been more different.
4. Just 330 bodies were recovered from the disaster – with 3 in 4 victims lost to the ocean forever.
Just 1 in 4 Titanic victims were found. For several days after the liner sunk, four different ships patrolled the waters around the spot where the ship went down. In all, they pulled 334 bodies from the ocean. Of these, 150 were transported to Canada and then given a proper burial in the city of Halifax. Notably, around half of the bodies remained unidentified – almost all of them of Steerage class passengers. Indeed, while the bodies of First Class passengers were placed in coffins and embalmed, Third Class victims were wrapped in cloth and placed in an icy storerooms.
3. The first disaster movie about the Titanic was released just 29 days later – and it starred a genuine survivor.
It took less than a month between the Titanic sinking and the first movie about the disaster to be released. Luckily for the producers of Saved from the Titanic, a professional actress had been aboard the doomed liner on its maiden voyage. The American Dorothy Gibson escaped on Lifeboat 7, along with her mother. The silent movie, in which Gibson wore the exact white silk evening dress as she had been wearing when the Titanic went down, was an international hit. However, the film was destroyed in a fire in 1914, one of the great losses of the silent film era.
2. The wreck of the Titanic was eventually found in 1985 but it may soon be gone for good as it rusts away.
It took many years for the wreck of the Titanic to be found – perhaps not so surprising given that when it was found in 1985, it was around 13 miles away from the last coordinates given by the doomed crew. That 1985 expedition revealed that the Titanic had indeed split in two and not gone down whole as had previously been believed. Sadly, given the depth (3,700 meters) and the immense water pressure, it’s highly unlikely that the Titanic will ever be brought to the surface. The wreck is slowly deteriorating and will one day be gone for good.
1. The last survivor of the Titanic disaster – who was just 2 months old at the time – only died in 2009.
The last survivor of the Titanic disaster died just a decade ago, in May 2019. Elizabeth Gladys Dean, sometimes known as Millvina, was just 8 weeks old when the ship went down. She was travelling with her parents in Third Class. Notably, the family weren’t even supposed to be on the doomed liner but a coal strike made them change their travel plans at the very last minute. Dean, her mother and brother all survived after being put onto Lifeboat 10. Her father, however, was lost in the tragedy and his body never recovered.
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources: