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The Titanic Remembered by Tom Baker aka The Pondering Man

Updated on March 10, 2019
My Grandpa Weber
My Grandpa Weber
Interview with Salt Lake Tribune
Interview with Salt Lake Tribune
RMS Titanic
RMS Titanic
RMS Titanic Grand Staircase
RMS Titanic Grand Staircase
Another Interview with Grandpa
Another Interview with Grandpa

Come Sail with Grandfather

Constructed in Belfast Ireland designed by some of the most experienced engineers, with some of the most advanced technology available at the time. The RMS Titanic was believed to be unsinkable. Equipped with sixteen wooden lifeboats, along with four collapsible canvas-sided boats.

This luxury liner began her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, bound for New York City, on Wednesday April 10th 1912. After crossing the English Channel, the Titanic stopped at Cherbourg, France, to board additional passengers and stopped again the next day at Queenstown, Ireland . On Friday April 12th leaving Queenstown the Titanic set out for New York, with 2,223 people aboard.

This ship in its day was considered enormous being almost 3 football fields long (882 Feet 9 inches) and 92 feet wide. The ocean was calm and weather was clear through Saturday. Sunday morning reports starting coming in of ice warnings, during the day seven warnings were received from ships in the area. Lookouts stationed in the crows nest with binoculars watched for icebergs. The temperature on deck was 32 degrees, and the sky was clear. At 10:50 pm The California one of the ships in the area 19 miles away sends a wireless message directly to the telegraph operators on the Titanic telling them that they were stopped and surrounded by Ice.

The Titanic was steaming at 20.5 knots. Suddenly, lookouts, Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee, see an iceberg dead ahead about 500 yards away towering some 55-60 feet above the water. They immediately sound the warning bell with three sharp rings and telephone the bridge: "Iceberg right ahead." The iceberg was believed to have been 200-400 feet long and 50-100 feet high.

Sixth officer Moody on bridge acknowledges warning, relays message to Murdoch who instinctively calls "hard-a-starboard" to the helmsman and orders the engine room to stop engines and then orders full astern. Murdoch then activates the lever to close all watertight doors below the waterline.

The helmsman spins the wheel as far as it will go. After several seconds, the Titanic begins to veer to port, but the iceberg strikes starboard bow side and brushes along the side of the ship and passes by into the night. The impact, although jarring to the crew down in the forward area, is not noticed by many of the passengers. Thirty-seven seconds have passed from sighting to collision.

At 12:05 AM four days into the ship's maiden voyage designer Thomas Andrews and the ship’s carpenter told Captain Smith that the ship can only stay afloat for a couple of hours. Orders were given by Captain Smith to radio operators Harold Bride and Jack Phillips to send "CQD", the distress call (today known as "SOS"). The Titanic's estimated position: 41º 46' N, 50º 14' W. The boilers were then shut down and relief pipes against funnels blew off huge noisy clouds of steam. The Captain also orders the crew to uncover the lifeboats and to get the passengers and crew ready on deck. But there is only enough room in the lifeboats for about half of the estimated 2,223 people on board.

By 12:15 AM numerous ships receive the Titanic's distress signal (CQD) come quick distress, including her sister ship the Olympic, some 500 miles away. Several ships, including Mount Temple (49 miles away), Frankfort (153 miles away), Birma (70 miles), Baltic (243 miles), Virginian (170), and Carpathia (58 miles) prepare at various times to come to assist.

At 12:25 AM the order is given to start loading the lifeboats with women and children first. The Carpathia heads, full speed, to the rescue. By 12:45 AM the first of the lifeboats is safely lowered away. It can carry 65 people but pulls away from the Titanic carrying only 28! The first distress rocket is fired. Eight rockets will be fired throughout the night.

At 1:15 AM Water begins to reach the Titanic's name on the bow. The tilt of the deck grows increasingly steeper. Lifeboats now begin to leave more fully loaded. By 1:40 AM most of the forward lifeboats have been lowered. Passengers now move towards the stern of the ship.

During this time several crew members on the Californian, some 10 to 19 miles away, see lights of a steamer. A number of attempts to make contact with the ship with Morse lamp fail. Rockets are observed, but as they appear so low over the ship's deck, and make no sound, they do not seem like distress rockets, and no great concern is taken. Distance between ships seem to increase until they are out of sight of each other.

At 2:05 AM the last lifeboat leaves. There are now over 1,500 people left on board the sinking ship. The tilt of the Titanic's decks grows steeper by the minute. Phillips continues to send last radio message. Capt. Smith tells crew members, "It's every man for himself," and returns to the bridge to await the end. Thomas Andrews, the ship's builder, is seen alone in the first-class smoking room staring into space. The Titanic's bow plunges under enabling the ensnared collapsible B to float clear upside down. Father Thomas Byles hears confession and gives absolution to over 100 second and third class passengers gathered at the aft end of the Boat Deck.

The ships band stops playing. Many passengers and crew jump overboard The Titanic's forward funnel collapses crushing a number of swimming passengers. Collapsible A now floats free and about two dozen people in the water grab hold of it. It clears right side up, but is swamped and dangerously overloaded. Lowe, in boat no. 14, saves them just before dawn. Probably as many as half, however, have died two hours and forty minutes from the time the Titanic hit the iceberg.

By 2:18 AM Items in the ship are heard crashing through walls and falling toward the sinking bow. The ship's lights blink once and then go out. Several survivors see the ship break in two. The bow section sinks.

Within two minutes The Titanic's broken off stern section settles back into the water, becoming level for a few moments. Slowly it fills with water and again it tilts its end high into the air, before sinking vertically into the sea. Those struggling in the icy water slowly freeze to death. Over 1500 people perish.

At 3:30 AM the rescue ship, Carpathia's rockets are sighted by the survivors in the lifeboats. By 4:10 AM the first lifeboat is picked up by Carpathia. The Carpathia leaves the area at 8:50 AM bound for New York, carrying 705 survivors. J. Bruce Ismay wires White Star New York offices: "Deeply regret advise you Titanic sank this morning after collision with iceberg, resulting in serious loss of life. Full particulars later."

Shortly before midnight on 14 April 1912, RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank, early on 15 April 1912. The sinking resulted in the deaths of 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board, making it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The high casualty rate was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship did not carry enough lifeboats for everyone aboard. The ship had a total lifeboat capacity of 1,178 people, although the Titanic’s maximum capacity was 3,547.

Titanic surpassed all her rivals in luxury and opulence. The First-class section had an on-board swimming pool, a gymnasium, a squash court, Turkish bath and a Verandah Cafe. First-class common rooms were adorned with ornate wood paneling, expensive furniture and other decorations. In addition, the Café Parisien offered cuisine for the first-class passengers, with a sunlit veranda fitted with trellis decorations.

There were libraries and barber shops in both the first and second-class. The third class general room had pine paneling and sturdy teak furniture. The ship incorporated technologically advanced features for the period. She had three electric elevators in first class and one in second class.

She had also an extensive electrical subsystem with steam-powered generators and ship-wide wiring feeding electric lights, two Marconi radios, including a powerful 1,500-watt set manned by two operators working in shifts, allowing constant contact and the transmission of many passenger messages. First-class passengers paid a hefty fee for such amenities. The most expensive one-way trans-Atlantic passage was US$4,350 (which is more than US$95,860 in 2008 dollars).

Many articles were written about the band playing “Nearer My God to Thee”. These brave souls knowing that they soon would perish continued to play with love of their fellow human being. The radio operators Jack Phillips sitting and his assistant Harold Bride standing next to him continuing to send "SOS" distress signals as the mighty ship is breaking apart until the power in the radio room failed.

Instead of the 1997 film directed, written, by James Cameron with Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane creating a love story and a large diamond with a beautiful song “My Heart Will Go On” sung by Celine Dion.

What about the real love story that took place that night between the passengers themselves, and many crew member knowing they would also give their lives. Adding another meaning for “SOS” Service, Obedience, and Sacrifice.

There were many scenes of heroism and courage aboard the Titanicthat dreadful night. Many willingly gave up their places in the lifeboats to save others. But perhaps no scene grips the heart more than that of the lonely telegrapher Jack Phillip telling Harold to leave while calmly tapping out his distress signal, over and over again, hoping against hope that help would come, that souls would be saved. The crew loading women & children first into the life boats know many of them would perish.

Let’s not forget about some of the elderly women who remained with their husbands so that it left room for others to take their seats in the life boats. The thirds class passengers behind the locked gates comforting others as the ship is breaking apart plunging to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Crew and passengers searching for lost children and missing family members including searching for the family pet. The crew keeping the generators on that controlled the ships lights as long as possible, knowing they too would go down with the mighty ship.

Grandfather age 21, most likely signed on at South Hampton, England along with many of the other Titanic crew members. Grandfather was an engine oiler also called a greaser by the British. Grandpa’s duty was to lubricate the lower moving parts of the Titanic’s two reciprocating engines. On Sunday April 14th 1912 three days out of South Hampton, Grandfather recalled the Titanic, was making good time, and the trip was uneventful.

That evening Grandfather and his buddy Murdock had just gotten off shift, stepped out of the Funnel Structure to get a breath of fresh air on the lower deck instead of going to bed, when they heard a crash that sounded like thunder it was then when the ship crashed into the fateful iceberg. The huge ship quivered and engine boilers hissed. The 2 men became frightened and headed for the #2 lifeboat.

It was about five minutes past midnight when they reached the boat deck. They saw the iceberg looming ahead, but they didn’t think anything of it. From their vantage point they could only see six life boats so they climbed in being No. 2 which was the closest lifeboat. Not being worried about the unsinkable liner going down -- they were afraid the commotion would bring ship’s officers on the deck and they’d get caught off limits!

They had no idea that the ship was going down, until the lifeboat was being lowered. A steward put them in command of the craft. The two had to push men off the lifeboat on to the Titanic deck so the women and children could get in. The two helped 20 women and children get on board their little boat, while crewmen on the ship fought with men to keep them off the lifeboats, which were lowered to the sea and left the ship. Among the passengers was young Mrs. John Jacob Aster, and Mrs. Bush whose famous husbands remained on the Titanic. They became hysterical. Grandfather said he never wanted to go though an experience like that again.

As the lifeboat left the “Titanic” the women sat in the lifeboat in a state of relative composure. They were safe, and after all, wasn’t the “Titanic” unsinkable? After about 30 minutes in the water, that mighty liner’s lights went off. The women were inconsolable, and their screams heightened when they heard the “Titanic” shudder and dive to its death with a roar.

Dawn brought little cheer to the lifeboat’s occupants. So deep was their shock that the craft’s food and water supplies went untouched throughout the day. Manning the lifeboat Grandpa and Murdock circled around and around for 20 hours waiting for rescue. Dusk’s onset brought the sight of a ship’s mast, and spirits rose as the survivors realized that the “Carpathia” had sighted them.

At 3:30 AM the rescue ship, the Carpathia's rockets are sighted by the survivors in the lifeboats. By 4:10AM morning their lifeboat was picked up by the Carpathia. The 20 women along with Grandpa and Murdock are helped aboard the ship. By 8:30AM the last lifeboat had been rescued and 30 minutes later the last survivors was helped safely aboard. They passengers and crew were given blankets and food helping those with medical needs.

Until the day Grandfather passed away 50 years later, he could still hear the women screaming and still feel the roll of the sea. Always picturing in his mind, were frantic men jumping overboard without lifebelts into the sea. 1527 souls perished and only 705 survived during this tragic event.

by Tom Baker

Sources:

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Titanic

Jim’s Titanic Website - Titanic History Timeline

http://www.keyflux.com/titanic/timeline.htm

20th Century Ocean Liners – White Star Line – RMS Titanic

http://www.20thcenturyliners.com/wsl_titanic.htm

Newspaper interview articles 1951 and 1961 Salt Lake Tribune

Newspaper Interview regarding the Titanic with my Grandpa Weber


Salt LakeTribune 1961

It is April 14, 1912, and Fred Weber is aboard a lifeboat with Murdock and 20 women whose hysterical shriefs are the only sounds that in the Atlantic’s freezing stillness.

These are a few of the luxury liner’s survivors – two crewmen and 20 wealthy women widowed by disaster at sea.

Mr. Weber and the crewmen he knew only as Murdock found themselves on the lifeboat minutes after the liner rammed an iceberg.

They helped the women on the lifeboat as men fought to get aboard. Crewmen held them back, though.

Mr Weber remembers no gallantry among the men, no children, no playing of “Nearer My God To Thee” by the ship’s band, no dramatic, poignant farewells.

All was chaos.

This ship was the “Titanic,” the $7.5 million luxury liner that was three days out of Southampton on her maiden voyage.

Before the “Titanic” went down the women sat in the lifeboat in a state of relative composure. They were safe, and after all, wasn’t the “Titanic” unsinkable?

After about 30 minutes in the water, that mighty liner’s lights went off. The women were inconsolable, and their screams heightened when they heard the “Titanic” shudder and dive to its death with a roar.

Dawn brought little cheer to the lifeboat’s occupants. So deep was their shock that the craft’s food and water supplies went untouched throughout the day.

Dusk’s onset brought the sight of a ship’s mast, and spirits rose as the survivors realized that the “Carpathia” had sighted them.

A young pretty Mrs. John Jacob Astor, 19 other women survivors and the two seamen could now count themselves among the 600 survivors. More than 1500 died.

Fred Weber lived to leave the sea and settle in Salt Lake City. He married and reared a family. For years he supported that family by working in the Hotel Utah’s kitchen.

Now 70 and retired, he resides at 211 W. Fifth North. His story of escape was overlooked by writers who sought to capture sensational aspects of the disaster by interviewing bejeweled passengers.

But they missed a good story when they failed to interview Fred Weber. It about how he happened to get on that lifeboat.

Mr. Weber then 21, worked as an oil tender in the boiler room with Murdock. Crewmen were not allowed to go on the decks. Those areas were reserved for passengers.

But the ship was new and elegant and the pair’s curiosity took them to forbidden are on ship’s top deck. They’d just gotten off shift and it was about five minutes past midnight when they reached the deck.

They saw the iceberg looming ahead, but they didn’t think anything of it. It was when the ship crunched into that iceberg that they became frightened.

Seamen Murdock and Weber weren’t worried about the unsinkable liner going down -- they were afraid the commotion would bring ship’s officers on the deck and they’d get caught of limits!

Murdock grabbed Mr. Weber and they headed for the closest place they could find to hide—in the lifeboat.

They had no idea the ship was going down until they felt themselves being lowered. When the boat reached a lower level, a steward placed them in command of the boat.

What if the pair had gone to bed after their shift?

“We’d have drowned like rats,” said Mr. Weber.

And that’s the story of how Fred Weber is alive today because he was in the wrong place at the right time.

Ferdinand August Weber – Born: Aug 28, 1890 Died: Oct 26,1962

Comments

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    • profile image

      Mike 

      8 years ago

      Let's think about this. There is a sign up sheet still on file, there are relief funds still on file. Ellis Island records for every survivor on Carpathia. So many people over the years have claimed to be on Titanic, and I'm sorry in your grandfather's case, it isn't true. His story doesn't even jibe with what happened that night. I am sure you don not even have his discharge book. Go to Encyclopedia Titanica. Information on every single passenger and crewman.

    • profile image

      Tom Baker 

      8 years ago

      Not all crew members were listed.

    • profile image

      Cindy 

      8 years ago

      This was so exciting to read this I love this Lind of history... Thx so much!

    • profile image

      Helen Luksan 

      9 years ago

      You captured some great heroic moments as well as some of the chilling details. I won't be forgetting what you have written here. You must have a very special love for your grandfather, Fred Weber.

    • profile image

      Teresa Hull 

      10 years ago

      What a great story! Your grandfather was very lucky to survive to tell about it. I don't blame him for not ever going back out to sea!

    • profile image

      repeater1945@hotm 

      10 years ago

      To have a Titanic survivor as a close relative, was an amazing resource . I'm pleased that you are sharing his story with all of us.

    • TomBaker profile imageAUTHOR

      TomBaker 

      10 years ago from Spanaway, Washington

      For Music click on this link.

      Celine Dion - Titanic (LIVE)

      5 min - Oct 29, 2006

      www.youtube.com

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHyJTpDFgc8

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