New Questions Arise Over "Titanic" Plot : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread



The Public Record Office in London today (Thursday) put on exhibit records related to the Titanic disaster that appear to cast doubt on implications in James Cameron's Titanic movie script that third-class passengers were locked in their areas of the ship in order to allow first- and second-class passengers to board lifeboats first. Commenting on the records, which show the percentages of men, women and children in each area of the ship who survived the disaster, Aidan Lawes, head of publishing at the Public Record Office, told today's (Thursday) London Daily Telegraph: "There is no evidence whatsoever that [the Titanic movie] scene ever happened, and the facts indicate otherwise. John Jacob Astor, the richest man aboard ... asked if he could get into a lifeboat to be with his wife who was very frail. But he was told that he could not." Astor was a victim of the disaster. The records appear to confirm that the evacuation emphasis was on women and children first. Among the documents is a statement to authorities by a passenger in third-class stating categorically that no one was "prevented from getting up to the upper decks by anybody or by closed doors or by anything else."

-- Dan Draghici (, April 09, 1998


The above statement sounds like a rehash of the conclusions of the British Public Inquiry; specifically, the parts which whitewashed the treatment of the steerage passengers.

It should be emphasized that (IMHO) there was no active malice towards steerage; just "benign" neglect.


-- Thomas M. Terashima (, April 09, 1998.

Mr. Lawes references **one** statement from a third class passenger. There are a number of accounts from other third class passengers (Daniel Buckley, Kathy Gilnagh and Minnie Coutts, to name only three), who told of encountering locked doors and gates (sometimes guarded), separating the third class areas from the rest of the ship. There are accounts of third class passengers climbing a cargo crane from the aft well deck to reach B-Deck in the 2nd class area.

To give WSL credit, not all the doors and gates were locked. One steward made two trips to third class to bring up women and children to the Boat Deck (he accounted for nearly half the third class passengers saved). There is no evidence of any WSL policy to deny the steerage passengers access to the lifeboats. But neither there is there any indication of an order from the bridge to open all the gates and bring up the third class passengers.

The statistical breakdown of survivors speaks for itself. As historian Don Lynch commented, Third Class was basically neglected to death.

-- Kip Henry (, April 09, 1998.

Hi Dan: Not to repeat what Kip has said, but the survivor list is the red flag here. The differences between the number of survivors down through the classes are damning. There certainly had to be some restriction of third class. Some say that was because of the number of foreign, non english speaking people in third class and they could not make them understand the serious nature of the situation. That, I feel, is really a poor explanation. The gates were there and probably closed and locked beforehand as a matter of standard procedure. The ONLY innocent reason I can think of for not getting these barriers removed in the crisis would be that nobody thought of it soon enough, and that is really giving those in charge the benefit of the doubt. Again, to me, looking at the passenger list that is broken down by classes and those who survived and those who did not, the class discrimination just jumps off the pages.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, April 09, 1998.

I was under the impression that the answer to whether the gates separating steerage from the rest had been locked (and never unlocked) was found when the Titanic was first discovered in the 80's. They found the two main gates were steerage would have exited from and they were both still locked. Is this incorrect?

-- Mariana Silva (, April 10, 1998.

I saw a snippet of a documentary the other day about this, a new expedition to the site has gone really deeply into the wreck and showed several gates to the third class still locked. To be fair, there was probably many gates, not all of which may have been locked. And considering it was an absolute labyrinth of corridors, many probably just got lost.

-- Lianne (, April 10, 1998.

I agree with Kip and Peter on this one (as if I usually don't!). There are too many accounts from too many different people that tell of holding third-class back to ignore or write off as "Marxist-inspired drivel" as some newspaper article put it. Many of the accounts came from people fairly soon after the sinking, before any grand scheme to coordinate stories could have been attempted. As Kip mentions, and as I pointed out several months ago, none of the discrimination came from any White Star policies; in fact, it really could be said to come from the ***lack*** of any policy for such a situation.

That said, the articles of the past few days on this question all bring up the interesting point that only 8% of second-class males made it off Titanic (Lawernce Beasley was lucky), an even smaller percentage than third-class males. Even allowing for the problems with small number statistics such as these, this seems odd. There are no accounts I know of that claim that second-class passengers faced any serious discrimination in getting to lifeboats. Why were so few second-class males saved?

-- Thomas Shoebotham (, April 10, 1998.

I realize this question has pretty much been answered already, but I though I'd add my 2 cents anyway. I have a friend whose father and grandparents were third class passengers on the Titanic. I don't really know all the details, but he told me that his grandmother always told him that gates had been locked, although she, her husband, and their son obviously found a way out. She and her son (obviously) survived, but her husband went down with the ship.

-- Melissa (, April 13, 1998.

Thomas, due to time constraints, I haven't been able to get an answer to your question on few 2nd class male survivors, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the following: BTW, you all may want to take a look at it. It has been updated since the last time I skimmed it, a few months ago. The writer has some definite opinions!

-- Bob Gregorio (, April 14, 1998.

Thanks Bob! It can't get much more detailed than that!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, April 16, 1998.

One must keep in mind the design and social structure of the Titanic at the time of her sinking. First United States Immagration Laws required the separation of 3rd class passengers from the general populas of the ship. According to the American inquiry most 3rd class testimony absolved any intentional obstruction of the White Star Line. Due to class structure and beliefs at the time most 3rd class passengers were aware of there station in life and accepted that the social order would have been maintained even in the event of lifeboat loading. Language was difinetly an issue. There were immagranits from all walks of life many not knowing the english language. There is historical evidence to support that the rule of woman and children first was adhered to. Many man made no attempt to enter a lifeboat but ensured that woman and child had seats. Many men said there goodbyes knowing that they would not survive. There are several historical accounts of ships personal returning to 3rd class to lead groups of steerage/3rd class passengers to the boat deck.

-- RL-Memeber Titanic Historical Soceity (, January 22, 1999.

Why did so many more first class passengers on the titanic survive the ships sinking than did lower class passengers.

-- Lorena Marenco (, November 04, 2003.

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