The Titanic sinking was one of the greatest casualties in history—an unsinkable ship that not only sunk but took thousands of its passengers down with it. Stories have become legend, much like the ship itself.
There are even some people out there who still believe the Titanic never even sank. The video below outlines the fascinating conspiracy theory:
Here are few of the lesser known stories of the people who were aboard the Titanic that fateful night of April 15, 1912.
There was an actual Jack on board the Titanic.
Unfortunately, he’s not the Jack Dawson of every ’90s teen girl’s fantasy. This Jack was 17-year-old Jack Thayer who was returning from a trip to Paris with his parents. When the Titanic hit the iceberg and pandemonium set in, Jack was separated from his parents and, in the confusion, ended up finding a friend he had met earlier on the ship, 29-year-old Milton Long.
They did the Jack and Rose move (no, not that one) where they held onto the bow of the ship as it plunged into the water and then they jumped. Long never surfaced, but Jack did. He found a turned-over rescue boat and climbed on top and waited to be rescued, along with 23 other passengers.
The following morning he was reunited aboard the Carpathia with his mother where they learned his father did not survive. Jack went on to get married and have two children, but as of a curse of that night, in true Final Destination style, his older son was killed in World War II and Jack committed suicide in 1945 at the age of 51.
The recovery team found an unknown child.
There was a body recovered on April 21, 1912, of a boy about two years of age. No one could place him or recall who he was and his identity became a mystical curiosity which encapsulated so many other children lost with the sinking of the Titanic.
This Unknown Child resonated with people in their grief, including the crew of the ship that recovered his body. When he was buried a couple weeks later, it was that very crew who paid for his memorial and put a medallion inside the coffin that read “Our Babe.”
Speculation grew about the boy’s identity and it was passed from legend to legend for over 100 years. In 2007, DNA testing identified the boy as Sidney Leslie Goodwin. He was born Sept. 9, 1910, in England and was the youngest of six children. The family was on board the Titanic to move to New York where their oldest son was working.
The Goodwins were originally going to sail on another ship but were transferred to the Titanic due to a coal strike which held up their original plan. The entire family perished in the disaster.
Sidney’s grave has become a symbol for all youths lost in the Titanic disaster. His shoes are on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
The band in the 1958 and 1997 films was based on a real story.
That famous scene in the film where the band is about to quit and try to board a lifeboat, but then decide to stay and play until their impending doom really happened.
John Law Hume, or Jock as he was called, was one of eight musicians hired as a band on the Titanic. His body is buried in Nova Scotia but there is a memorial in his honor in his home town of Dumfries, Scotland.
Sadly, the 21-year-old Hume left behind a pregnant fiancée as well as a bill—the company who hired Hume to play on the Titanic billed his father after it sank, saying they were owed money for his suit rental.
All of this and more can be found in a biography about Hume written by his great-niece Yvonne Hume in 2011. In it she describes how the band played until they could literally play no more, hoping to raise the spirits of those on board the sinking Titanic.
Two boys who survived the sinking were known as the Orphans of the Titanic.
Michel Navratil was a Frenchman who separated from his wife, Marcelle Caretto, in 1912. Caretto received custody of their two small children, Michel Marcel and Edmond, and would only let Navratil see them on holidays. On Easter weekend of 1912, Navratil visited his sons and kidnapped them; from Monte Carlo, they went to London, and from there, boarded the Titanic with a plan on building a new life in America where he could be their full-time father again. Aboard the ship, Navratil used the name Louis M. Hoffman while the boys went by the names Louis and Lola.
When the ship began to sink, he made sure his boys got on a lifeboat but he went down with the ship. He was the 15th body recovered and was buried in Halifax.
His boys, who were only 4 and 2 at the time, were cared for by another French-speaking passenger while their pictures were posted in newspapers to try to find living relations. Their mother saw the pictures and made the trip to America to reunite with them; she brought them back to France to live.
Edmond went on to become an architect and fought for the French Army in World War II; he was a prisoner of war and this contributed to his early death at age 43 in 1953. The other boy, Michel Marcel, became a professor of philosophy; he eventually visited his father’s grave in 1996. On Jan. 3, 2001, Michel was the last male passenger to pass away. He was 92 years old.
The weather was too perfect.
The night the Titanic sank there was no wind, no major waves, and no storm. The visibility above sea was as good as could be for night time, but within the water the calm water meant no glowing plankton.
When there are big waves or wind, it disturbs plankton in the ocean they glow. If it would have been windy, the plankton would have been disturbed and lit up the surroundings of the iceberg field.
When next to an iceberg there can also be a sudden rise and fall in temperature as wind passes through, but since it was so calm there was no chill and nothing to really suspect.
By the time Second Officer Charles Lightoller (ironic name, isn’t it?) spotted the iceberg, it was too late. Evidence suggest the Titanic only had 50 to 70 seconds to maneuver out of the way which was far too little of a window since the ship was moving above normal speed trying to make it to New York in record time.
One passenger who lost his life wrote eerily similar stories before the sinking.
In 1886, an author and newspaper editor by the name of William T. Stead wrote a fictional story about a steamer ship that sinks due to a collision with another one. In the story most of the passengers died due to a lack of lifeboats. Stead wrote the story in hopes of directing attention toward nautical regulations which often sent large ships out to sea without the proper amount of life boats.
A few years later, Stead wrote another story which has a tragic turn of events. In this story, a ship called the Majestic was captained by Edward J. Smith, who, coincidentally, was the captain of the Titanic when it sank. In the story, the Majestic rescues survivors of a ship that collided with an iceberg and sank.
Twenty years later, Snead himself boarded the Titanic, only to lose his life in a setting much like the stories he fictionally wrote about.
A novella written in 1898 by American author Morgan Robertson, called Futility, also had eerie similarities to the Titanic‘s sinking. The ship in the novella is called the Titan and is nearly the same size; the ship, also described as unsinkable, hits an iceberg and sinks in mid-April. The Titan carried the bare minimum of lifeboats needed. Talk about creepy!
The Titanic was lost at the bottom of the sea for 73 years.
It wasn’t until 1985 that researcher Robert Ballard discovered the ship’s final resting place.
Ballard had an idea to use an unmanned camera sled 20,000 feet below the sea. He proposed the idea to the Navy, who agreed to fund his project if he would help them track and find two sunken nuclear ships. Then with any time leftover he could use the device to search for the Titanic. He found the nuclear ships and then had 12 days to discover the Titanic before the Navy stopped his funding.
With some help of other researchers, they found one of Titanic‘s boilers and then the hull. They were ready to pop champagne until they noticed it was nearly 2:20 a.m.: the time the ship sank 73 years before. He said of the moment, “We were embarrassed we were celebrating, and all of a sudden we realized that we should not be dancing on someone’s grave.”
A couple days later they found the bow of the ship and documented everything with hundreds of infamous pictures. He returned in July 1986 for the first of several return dives to document the wreck. Ballard is a strong opponent of salvaging the wreck; the debate continues on whether the Titanic should be excavated or stay at rest, as a final burial site for all who passed away with the ship.
There are some great stories of bravery and acceptance, as well as irony and luck.
The chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay, helped women and children into lifeboats before boarding one himself, but with his survival came a life of ignominy that he could never live down in the press. Both inquiries into the sinking cleared him of any wrong-doing but the public had spoken.
Thomas Andrews, the naval architect who designed the Titanic, was seen in the first-class smoking room staring blankly at a painting of Plymouth Sound, England, on a wall. Later, he assisted women onto lifeboats, threw deck chairs into the ocean for passengers, and left the ship at the last moment.
The co-owner of Macy’s department store, Isidor Straus, was saying goodbye to his wife, Ida, who refused to board a ship without him. They let other women and children take her spot in the lifeboat and then went back to their cabin and went down with the ship together.
American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet went to their rooms and changed into evening wear (it was around midnight already) and began drinking and smoking on the deck saying, “We are dressed in our best and prepared to go down like gentlemen.”
Molly Brown tried getting lifeboats to turn around and save victims from the water as some boats only had around 30 passengers when they could hold over 60. Due to fear of being swamped by desperate people and getting overturned, the officers made the decision to leave them in the freezing water.