Titanic tragedy remembered in special events


Highlights from the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Titanic disaster

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is being remembered at a number of a special events, including one in the ship's birthplace Belfast.

A memorial service for the 1,500 people who died was held at the North Atlantic wreck site on cruise ship MS Balmoral, which is retracing the Titanic's route.

A minute's silence was held and wreaths were cast into the sea at the moment the Titanic sank.

And a plaque featuring the names of those who died was unveiled in Belfast.

The ship, which at the time was the largest vessel in the world, was built in the city.

The plaque, in the Titanic Memorial Garden, lists the names of those who died in alphabetical order.

At the scene

In the middle of the Atlantic a ship's whistle sounded to mark exactly 100 years since the Titanic struck an iceberg.

At that moment passengers stood in silence on the decks all around the MS Balmoral looking out into the darkness.

Hundreds of miles from land some imagined the despair they would have felt being lowered into the sea in a lifeboat. Others thought of their relatives who had drowned here a century earlier.

After the excitement of the departure and earlier days at sea, the ship seemed eerily quiet.

In the cold of the north Atlantic one person described the atmosphere as "almost ghostly".

The Balmoral had traced the route of the Titanic from Southampton to the spot where the ship sank. There it was met by another vessel that had travelled from New York, the destination Titanic never reached.

The ships sat side-by-side thousands of metres above the wreckage, allowing passengers to pay tribute at what some relatives regard as a grave site.

Thousands attended or listened to the Belfast service, which was held at the city hall.

Una Reilly, head of the local Titanic Society, said: "We are all proud of this ship. What happened was a disaster, she was not."

And a memorial service was held in Southampton, from where the ship set sail five days before its sinking.

The anniversary has been marked in a number of services across the UK.

Earlier, on the Balmoral, passengers and crew members listened in silence as the names were read out of those who died when the liner sank on its maiden voyage.

Jane Allen's great-uncle, Thomas Pears, was one of those who died.

Explaining the emotions she felt during the service, she told the BBC: "It was just so eerily quiet.

"And then you look down over the side of the ship and you realise that every man and woman who was not fortunate enough to get into a lifeboat had to make that decision of when to jump or to stay with the ship, until the lights went out.

"And when the lights went out it must have been horrendous. We witnessed that tonight."

Melinda Norris, whose relative Charles Lightoller was a surviving crew member, said: "You still get a chill just looking at that water, imagining you have to go into it.

"We've been listening to the names of the 1,500 people who died.

A child looks at a plaque in Belfast which features the names of those who died when the Titanic sank A newly unveiled plaque at the Titanic Memorial Garden in Belfast features the names of those who died on the Titanic

"It's just an unimaginable amount of suffering took place here, so it's surreal to be here."

Richard Hyman's great-grandfather was also on board Titanic and lived to tell the tale.

Mr Hyman said: "You imagine it's pitch black, freezing cold, nothing is anywhere near you other than an iceberg.

"The fear that must have been with all those people who were either stuck on the ship or in a lifeboat, not knowing whether they were going to survive or not.

"And people did freeze to death as well, even though they'd survived the disaster."

Another cruise ship, Azamara Journey, which has travelled from New York, also held a service at the site of the disaster, which occurred 400 miles (640km) off the coast of Newfoundland.

Passengers participating in a memorial service on MS Balmoral Many of those who participated in a memorial service on board MS Balmoral were related to people who died when the Titanic sank 100 years ago

The sinking is also being remembered in other parts of the globe including New York, which had been the Titanic's intended destination.

About 1,300 passengers, ranging from millionaires to poor emigrants, and about 900 crew were on board the Titanic when it sank on its maiden voyage.

The ship left Southampton on 10 April 1912. It headed to Cherbourg in France and Queenstown - now Cobh - in the Irish Republic before heading for New York.

The ship hit an iceberg at 23:40 (Ship's Time) on 14 April 1912, and sank two-and-a-half hours later.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    The Titanic disaster led to the Safety of Life At Sea Convention and the establishment of the International Maritime Organisation. These two measures have made safety at sea far greater than it was when the Titanic sank. This is also why the Titanic is remembered and the Dona Paz is not- it did not lead to increased safety of ferries in Philippine domestic waters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    #46 - Watched interesting documentary and if it had hit the iceberg head on, less damage would have been done and it could have limped to New York. But it tore alongside the iceberg, popping rivets of inferior/lesser quality inasmuch as not being steel but wrought iron of lesser strength available. Some were steel. Bulkheads were a lower height too, so water filled compartments quicker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    #44 thanks

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    The fatal error that the officer on watch made was trying to dodge the iceberg

    He should have rammed it head on with the engines going astern

    Then Titanic would have probably survived, two people would have lost their jobs (the watch officer and the captain), and the Titanic would have limped into new york

    It's one of those decisions that you may have to make when you're a deck officer

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    For all those wondering why we should remember the Titanic beyond the loss of life... its sinking led to the foundation of the International Ice Patrol and helped get rid of the antiquated law that the number of lifeboats be based solely on ship tonnage. The loss of 1514 men, women, and children was a terrible price to pay, but it has helped save countless lives since.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    #42 - The links will likely show nearer the time (ie. less than 2 hours from now), so just keep a wee watch on the main BBC News website.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    @41 et al FrTed

    Ah...go on ,go on, go on, go on, go on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    #39 i saw all that i looked around this site and cant find were to watch it on here im stuck over in canada

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    38. Name number 6
    @ 35 FrTed

    True, but please see my post 25.

    To all those "who go down to the sea in ships" (Ps.107) - may your courage be recognised and your spirits rest in peace.

    'Remember' in human's eyes is but a lifetime. For some, it is an eternity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    People seem to not know the reason behine the fame attached to the sinking of the Titanic.
    It mostly stemmed from two things, as far as I can see;
    1 - The ship was billed as 'unsinkable' due to the design of multiple watertight bulkheads (which didn't help as too many were damaged at once)
    2 - The ship was one of the most luxurious of the time, and sank on its maiden voyage

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    #34 - “From 06:00 BST on Sunday, 15 April there will be live coverage of the Titanic commemorations on our Titanic live web page and from 06:20 BST on BBC Two Northern Ireland and BBC Radio Ulster. There will also be coverage on BBC Breakfast and on the BBC News Channel.”

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    @ 35 FrTed
    ''And re 31. Not posh - but the enormity of the loss of life
    Life is life, whether it is 1st or 3rd class.''

    So how come no one remembers MV Dona Paz Loss of 4,341 and as recent as 1987? I Didn't remember it until I looked it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The sinking of the Titanic somehow symbolises the "bringing down to earth" of a society that had maybe become a bit too sure of itself, having ridden on the Victorian Industrial Revolution. With ''new technological marvels appearing all the time' nothing seemed impossible.
    The tragedy brought a re-examination of values that has shaped attitudes to this day. Certainly within the maritime world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    @27 spinonthis'The Lusitania has 9 letters the Titanic has seven.

    Next Question Please'

    What does your name spell backwards?

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    26. Name number 6

    "Can anyone explain the difference to me between the Titanic and The Lusitania?"

    Titanic Lusitania
    1514 lost 1198 lost
    peace war
    1912 1915
    iceberg torpedo

    And re 31. Not posh - but the enormity of the loss of life.

    Life is life, whether it is 1st or 3rd class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Does any body have a link to were i can watch the live coverage of the Titanic commemorations or the link to the Titanic live web page thanks

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    RIP all those who died on board. It is interesting to see the debate as to whether this is a news story. On the one hand without the films this would have been a memorable private event. Yet potentially this was such a horrific accident that it is engrained on the memory of humanity. I agree with the latter - there is a reason why we remember these events.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    There is a lack of imagination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Add your comment...

    I'm just curious to know what makes The Titanic so special, is it the 'posh' element?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    21. totes32

    "Harland and Wolff Belfast that built the ship had a policy of employing protestants over catholics another story to add to the list."

    Very true. The political and religious history of Ireland needs to be remembered as well.

    But not at this moment.

    Do not begrudge us this time to remember ....


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