How many people went down with the ship? : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

I heard only 30 and they were from the boiler room or other rooms deep down in the ship. Does that mean that someone let the third class passengers out before the ship went down? I know that in the deep sea explorations they're discovered some of the gates still closed, but those could've been doors no one was standing in front of. Enquiring minds want to know!

-- Jen (, January 15, 1998


Jen: I don't think there is really any way of knowing that. I believe, according to accounts, that the steerage passengers were let up to the upper decks eventually but not before the last boat had left. I would guess that the ones that actually went "down" with the ship were those who chose to meet their end below decks and those that were killed early on below decks or that were trapped below.In that there were a very limited number of bodies recovered, I do not think we will ever know. Suffice to say, the 28 degree water did most of the carnage.


-- Peter Nivling (, January 15, 1998.

This is something I've been wondering about too. I guess it depends on how you define "going down with the ship." I've seen stated in a couple places that of the 1500 who died, 300 were on the ocean surface before dying of hypothermia. I've presumed the majority of the other 1200 drowned or died of hypothermia inside the ship. Some of course died from injury as the ship sank. Whoever knows something contrary or more detailed than this, please email me your reply as well.

-- Bob Gregoro (, January 16, 1998.

I have also heard 30 as the approximate number of people who actually 'went down' on Titanic but, have not seen how anyone arrived at that number. Personally, I think the number was larger partly because the times that I have seen the number presented it has been to counter the desacrating the grave argument to leave the wreck alone.

There were 330 bodies recovered. Many were buried at sea and the remaining 190 taken to Halifax Newfoundland. As with the disaster, first class passengers had a better chance of being preserved for identification than others.

Since the ships in the area on Monday morning the 15th limited themselves to rescue efforts (the Carpathia recovered no bodies) and an organized attempt to search for the bodies did not begin for about a week, many of them were lost to the Atlantic. Within a short time, the search area would expand to hundreds, if not thousands, of square miles. It is a big ocean.

-- Lynn Macey (, January 16, 1998.

The last section of the ship to go under, the aft well deck and fantail, were third class spaces anyway, so there would have been no reason to lock the third class passengers out of these areas.

Several stokers from the boiler rooms (presumably 5 and 6, which flooded early) were assigned to man lifeboats, and so were saved. The ship's engineers probably made up most of those who "rode" Titanic to the bottom; they stayed at their posts to keep the ship's electrical generators going as long as possible (as the film accurately depicts). The generators were steam-driven, and located adjacent to the engine rooms at the bottom of the ship, so it isn't surprising that none survived.

Undoubtedly there were others who were trapped belowdecks by sudden inrushes of seawater, but the vast majority jumped, swam or floated off the ship as it went under, where they were at the mercy of the sub-freezing water.

-- Kip Henry (, January 16, 1998.

Kip, I assume you're saying the vast majority of 1500 people "jumped, swam or floated off the ship as it went under, where they were at the mercy of the sub-freezing water." What is your source on this? I was under the impression that close to 1200 went down with and died IN the ship (from hypothermia, by drowning, or from injury) since (assuming) the vast majority wore life vests and only ~300 bodies were recovered on the surface.

-- Bob Gregorio (, January 20, 1998.

I have to agree with Kip. None of the engineering staff survived. Their bravery was noted at the time. Since it was the first voyage for the ship, the engineering staff from Harland & Wolff was also on board and suffered the same fate.

I hold that a large majority of the 1500 casualties were on deck when the ship sank and were on the surface after the ship sank. Those who had not already suffered fatal injuries were quickly overcome by hypothermia. If they were not wearing a lifebelt, the bodies sank. Survivor accounts all describe a scene where nearly everyone not in a lifeboat was on deck, climbing away from the rising water.

The remainder became part of a large collection of floating debris. The immediate reaction to the sinking by other ships, once the rescue attempt was completed, was to redirect the transit route far to the south. This was to avoid ice and so that the passengers would not see what became of the less fortunate travelers.

It does not follow that since only 328 bodies were recovered, the rest must have gone down with the ship. Only three attempts were made to recover bodies; two by one ship and one by another. Finding and recovering something as small as a body at sea is not easy even today with the advantages of aerial search capability. I believe that the majority of the bodies were simply not found.

-- Lynn Macey (, January 20, 1998.

Thanks, Lynn. Since the weather soon got worse after the rescue, it's understandable that the bodies were dispursed. I guess it's also possible that some of the corpses, once arriving warmer waters, were consumed by sharks and what not (sorry to be graphic). God bless their souls.

-- Bob Gregorio (, January 20, 1998.

Absolutely Bob, and not just sharks. All manner of sea life would have capitalized on this unexpected bounty. :-( As I mentioned in an earlier posting, 190 of the bodies were embalmbed and returned to Halifax. For the time, a lot of effort went in to collecting information that would help to identify the bodies. This included a physical description, personal effects and photographs of the body. The remainder of the bodies were considered to be in too bad shape and were buried at sea. Some were damaged during the sinking and others had already been subject to predation.

The first bodied that was identified was John J. Astor's. His personal effects included thousands of dollars in cash.

-- Lynn Macey (, January 20, 1998.

I don't know how many people went down with the ship or anything like that, but my Dad and I were talking and I asked him how long it would take some of the bodies to be disposed of(sorry I couldn't think of a better word). He said that the little crustecian like things would devour the bodies quite quickly. Also the process of decay would be sped up because of the massive amounts of water. See Ya

-- Nikki (, January 20, 1998.

Lynn, thanks for picking up the ball on that one.

The only thing I would add is that when Fifth Officer Lowe took lifeboat #14 back into the debris field, sometime around 3:30 to 4:00 AM, the corpses were so dense that the crewmen had difficulty rowing. Yet, by the time Carpathia had finished picking up the last of the survivors, the bodies had largely dispersed.

When Capt. Rostron made his last pass around the wreck site before heading back to New York, shortly before 9:00 AM, only one body was seen in the water. The accounts I've read indicate that some bodies were found as much as 130 miles from the wreck.


-- Kip Henry (, January 20, 1998.

I read a survivor's account about 10 years ago in American History magazine. It stated that in the weeks following the sinking quite a few bodies were found as they crossed the shipping lanes south of where Titanic sank. It also stated that one of the bodies was John Jacob Astor, his pockets were stuffed with cash.

-- Linda D (, January 22, 1998.

Underpants? Were they wearing underpants?

-- Johnny V (, January 22, 1998.

I read and heard that for months after the sinking, bodies were discovered at sea and washed up at various places and by that time were unidentifiable. This is not uncommon as a body will sink first then rise later after some decay has occurred. This is evident (all too often) in my part of the country (Cape Cod, MA) when a fishing boat sinks or someone goes overboard. Pretty gruesome subject but I believe that is what happened. Certainly, many bodies were never recovered.

-- Peter Nivling (, January 23, 1998.

One note about lifejackets. In 1912, the material inside a lifejacket (Probably kapok or cork) would eventually become waterlogged and rendered useless, even adding to a negative bouyancy situation which would account for the lack of bodies in lifejackets floating on the surface.

-- Peter Nivling (, January 23, 1998.

JJ Astor's body was found with pockets stuff with cash because he unsuccessfully tried to bribe his way onto a boat, which this movie had Cal do. Isn't it amazing the way Cameron weaved fact into these fictitious characters?

-- Bob Gregorio (, January 28, 1998.

Bob, I have never seen any account where anyone claimed to have seen a Titanic officer take a bribe. Walter Lord goes so far as to say that it did not happen. Of course, proving that something didn't happen is much harder than proving that something did. :-)

Something to reflection on, why would a person with the means of, and as identifiable as, Mr. Astor stuff over $4,000 in his pockets prior to trying to evacuate? Personally, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he did not try to buy a seat. We will never know what happened.

-- Lynn Macey (, January 28, 1998.

Lynn, I wasn't saying that an officer accepted a bribe, just that JJ Astor unsuccessfully tried to make one. I learned this from either PBS' "Titanic" or Discovery's "Titanic--Great Adventures of the 20th Century" recently.

-- Bob Gregorio (, January 29, 1998.

Thanks Bob, I haven't spent time with either of those documentaries. I will look for it when I get a chance to see them. I would not be surprised. I don't know what other reason he would have that amount of cash on he person for in the situation.

-- Lynn Macey (, January 30, 1998.

i heard that 1500 survived and 1500 went down with the ship! thats what i heard! e-mail me back soon!

-- tiffani samiller (, April 16, 2001.

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