agonizing cries of death from over a thousand throats, the wails and groans
of the suffering, the shrieks of the terror-stricken and the awful gasping
for breath of those in the last throes of drowning, none of us will ever
forget to our dying day.
|While the shocked survivors waited to be rescued, the first telegrams dispatched by the White Star Line to Londonís General Post Office on April 15, 1912 erroneously informed postal officials that nothing significant had happened aboard Titanic. The company noted that several rescue ships were reportedly on the scene to provide assistance. Minutes later the White Star Line provided a gloomier, but more accurate report, and finally the company was forced to acknowledge the loss of the ship and its mail. These three telegrams chronicle the confusion.|
The 705 survivors of Titanic who floated aimlessly in their lifeboats in the chilly morning hours of April 15 had no idea when help would arrive. They knew little, if anything, of R.M.S. Carpathia, which was racing to their aid. Titanicís survivors could think of nothing but their personal losses. Wives lost husbands, children lost fathers and crew members lost friends.
MAIL WAS LOST?
While there is no way of knowing exactly how many letters were lost when Titanic sank, newspaper accounts at the time indicated that there were 200 registered mail sacks containing approximately 1.6 million pieces of mail, while the remaining 3,164 standard mailbags each held about 2,000 pieces of mail each. The entire loss is estimated between six and nine million pieces of mail. Between 700 and 800 parcel post shipments were also lost.
TO THE RESCUE
During the rescue, no thoughts were given to the mail lost aboard Titanic. But the mail still had one more role to play in this tragedy, delivering a package of hope for the future.
lifeboats maneuvered alongside Carpathia, rope ladders were dropped
for the survivors to climb to safety and shelter. But many in the lifeboats
were dazed and exhausted, paralyzed by fear and the memory of what they
had just experienced. In particular, mothers with infants and small children
clinging to them were unwilling to let go of what remained of their family.
Reportedly, a quick-thinking sea post clerk aboard Carpathia came
to their rescue by constructing a sling from an empty U.S. mailbag. The
tethered mailbag was used to hoist small children to safety.