Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Isle of Man Stamps – Centenary of Titanic Disaster


With the poignant commemoration fast approaching Isle of Man Stamps will be issuing a set of six stamps as a memorial to one of the greatest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

The ‘Titanic’ sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage under the command of Captain Edward John Smith, one of the company’s most respected and experienced officers; the vessel representing the epitome of luxury and decadence with many passengers preparing to enjoy a trans-Atlantic crossing of lavish splendour.

Now on the homeward straight to New York, those dining on a ten course dinner which included oyster, roast squab, asparagus and paté de foie gras were blissfully unaware of their impending fate.

Close to midnight on the 14th April one of the ‘look-outs’ realised the vessel was on course to hit a particularly threatening iceberg, but despite his quick thinking the ‘Titanic’ was ploughing through the waves at 22 knots and disaster was inevitable. It was soon clear to Captain Smith that the liner was doomed and water quickly spilled over the vessel, the sea devouring its prey with startling rapidity.

The operation to abandon ship was chaotic and disorganised and more than 1500 passengers and crew lost their lives, including Captain Smith.

However, many people may not realise that amongst the survivors was a Chief Baker with a Manx connection. Although born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, Charles Joughin was of Manx descent and trained as a baker in the family business in Michael Street, Peel. He played a major role in helping others survive the tragedy and was later to also survive the sinking of SS Oregon in Boston Harbour. Today he is largely remembered for the excessive amounts of whisky he allegedly drank on the night, which were subsequently challenged by others who consider he could not have survived in the ice cold water and his family who believed Joughin to be misrepresented.


Valerie Caine
© March 2012

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