1912 — The RMS Titanic sets sail on its only voyage

It is probably the best known maritime tragedy in history, and certainly it is the most over-examined. But no one knew what fate awaited the Titanic as it steamed out of Southhampton. They knew only that this was the largest, most luxurious cruise ship ever built.

The Titanic included a number of innovative features, such as possessing both a turbine and two reciprocating engines – a combination that for more versatility in handling and speed. It also, as has been widely attested, possessed rather fewer lifeboats than were necessary to carry the full complement of passengers and crew if anything went wrong – as it did just five days later.

Referenced in:
Desolation Row — Bob Dylan

1912 – The RMS Titanic sinks on its maiden voyage

It is probably the best known maritime tragedy in history. The RMS Titanic, the largest passnger ship afloat and pride of the White Star Line, was three days out of Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York City when it collided with an iceberg and sank. Of the 2223 passengers and crew, fully 1517 of them were drowned, largely due to an insufficiency of lifeboats.

It’s a matter of historical record that the eight members of the ship’s band continued to play as the ship sank, in a feat of gallantry intended to keep spirits high. All eight of these men died in the sinking. Debate has raged over what their final song was. Some claimed that is was ‘Autumn’, others that it was ‘Nearer My God To Thee’. The debate is further complicated by the fact that ‘Autumn’ could have referred to either hymn tune known as “Autumn” or the tune of the then-popular waltz “Songe d’Automne” (although neither of these tunes were included in the White Star Line songbook). Similarly, there are two arrangements of ‘Nearer My God To Thee’, one popular in Britain and the other in America (and the British one sounds not unlike ‘Autumn’) – and a third arrangement was found in the personal effects of band leader’s fiance.

Referenced in:

Dance Band on the Titanic — Harry Chapin
Rest In Pieces (15 April 1912) — Metal Church

1912 – Scott of the Antarctic writes the final entry in his diary

It’s really not clear when exactly Robert Falcon Scott – better known as Scott of the Antarctic – actually died. Certainly, he, Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson were all still alive, albeit in rather poor shape, when his previous diary entry was written six days earlier. It is possible that Scott survived writing this last entry for as much as a day – from the positions of the three men in the tent when their bodies were recovered, he seems to have been the last one to die.

The three were found in their tent in November that year, after the long the southern winter had abated. Scott and his men became martyred heroes to the British empire. Amundsen, whose team had beaten Scott’s to the south pole by five weeks, stated that he “…would gladly forgo any honour or money if thereby I could have saved Scott his terrible death”. Later, as Antarctic exploration slowly transformed into colonisation, Scott’s reputation suffered as historians examined the records of his journey.

Referenced in:

A Human Body — Queen
Restless – Australian Crawl
Dr. Livingstone, I Presume — Moody Blues
History Is Made By Stupid People – Arrogant Worms