Titanic Stories from the Deep
Explore the gripping true tales of love, deception, fate and heroics from that fateful voyage to celebrate new TV documentary Titanic: Stories From The Deep
April 14, 1912, was a moonless evening with calm seas. These should have been perfect conditions for the Titanic’s dazzling voyage from Southampton to New York.
But its debut trip turned into terror after the ship collided with a massive iceberg that ripped a 300ft gash along the vessel’s starboard side.
On board the fateful ship were 2,224 passengers and crew, among them some of the richest people in the world plus emigrants hoping to start a new life in America – each of them with their own story.
More than 100 years on, those tales of the deep are still unfolding.
To celebrate the start of Titanic: Stories From The Deep - which airs on Yesterday channel every Tuesday at 8pm - we've delved into The Mirror Archives and looked at episodes from the show to reveal some of incredible stories of survival and loss, artefacts salvaged from the deep and fascinating facts about the doomed ship...
The amazing artefacts
A menu from the final voyage shows what passengers ate for lunch just hours before the ship sank.
Survivor Abraham Lincoln Salomon, who died in 1959, took the document as he fled.
Despite the opulence of the ship, the menu's fare contains some surprisingly ordinary items, such as corned beef and dumplings.
There was also a buffet serving up potted shrimps, Norwegian anchovies, soused herrings, sardines and roast beef.
Sweet options on the day were custard pudding, apple meringue and pastry.
The menu sold at auction for £52,000 in 2015.
One of the most bizarre items which survived the Titanic was a single plain cracker.
It was part of a survival kit in one of the lifeboats, and was saved by James Fenwick, a passenger on the Carpathia which picked up Titanic survivors.
He kept it in an envelope complete with the original notation, “Pilot biscuit from Titanic lifeboat April 1912”.
It was sold for an astonishing £15,000 at auction in 2015 to a collector in Greece.
A rusty key used by a heroic steward on the Titanic to unlock stowed away lifejackets sold for £85,000 at auction 104 years after it was used.
The key was recovered from the drowned body of Sidney Sedunary who was last seen passing the cork-filled life preservers to third class passengers on a lower deck of the sinking liner.
The fob was engraved with the words 'Locker 14 'F' Deck' and would have unlocked a cupboard housing the lifejackets.
Sidney, whose wife Madge had just discovered she was pregnant when he boarded Titanic in April 1912, was the second third class steward.
F Deck was in the bowels of the ship and Sidney would have had to wade through icy sea water that filled Titanic after it struck an iceberg to carry out his duties.
A fur coat worn by a stewardess when the Titanic sank also survives to this day.
Wearing just a nightdress when the lifeboat crews arrived, Mabel Bennett grabbed the garment for protection from the elements.
Ms Bennett, who worked in the first class section of the Titanic, also wore the coat aboard the Red Star Line SS Lapland, which was used to transport the surviving Titanic crew back to Britain.
It was described as "one of the most visual" items to be sold from the Titanic.
Ms Bennett, who died aged 96 in 1974, gave the coat to her great-niece in the 1960s.
It comes with a letter of provenance, which reads: "This coat was worn by my Great Aunt Mabel who was a Stewardess.
"On her rescue from the Titanic she was in her nightdress and this coat was the first garment she snatched for warmth.
"My aunt gave me the coat in the early 60s. Because of her advancing years she found the weight of the coat too much for her."
A photo of the Iceberg
The day after the disaster the chief steward of a liner that passed the same iceberg took a photo of it.
On one side red paint was plainly visible
But he had no idea of the tragedy that had unfolded just hours before and that the Titanic was now sitting at the bottom of the sea.
He later described seeing scrapings of red paint on the side of the iceberg.
He wrote a note alongside the photograph, which reads: "On the day after the sinking of the Titanic, the steamer Prinz Adalbert passes the iceberg shown in this photograph.
"The Titanic disaster was not yet known by us. On one side red paint was plainly visible, which has the appearance of having been made by the scraping of a vessel on the iceberg. SS Prinz Adalbert Hamburg America Line."
The document is signed by the chief steward and three other crewmen.
A travel advertising poster for excursions on the ill-fated Titanic was found hidden behind a false wall in a Victorian home.
The stunning piece of artwork was attached to the back of a painting which was hidden away and only discovered when the homeowners were renovating.
The lithographic print is one of three ads produced in 1911 for the White Star Line.
A plaque presented to a shipbuilder when work on the Titanic finished was bought by someone completely clueless to its value or significance, who just wanted it to "decorate his room".
Neither Leo Lorenzo Sancho nor his collector grandfather realised the significance of the find which had been offered for sale by a British man 12 years ago "because he needed money”.
In fact, Leo's grandfather thought it had no value and no history and refused to buy it himself.
The bronze and silver plaque was presented to the Irish shipbuilder and former Southampton Mayor, Lord William James Pirrie, chairman of Harland and Wolff, during a ceremony in the city on April 9, 1912.
How the Daily Mirror covered the Titanic disaster
April 16, 1912
The Mirror first reported on the Titanic’s tragic fate on April 16, two days after it sank.
However the initial reports claimed everyone had survived and the “helpless giant” was being towed to a nearby port. It was described as a “morning of relief”.
The headline read: “Disaster to the Titanic: World’s largest ship collides with an iceberg in the Atlantic during her maiden voyage.”
In a series of stories, the coverage included pieces on the cost of the ship, the “unlucky captain”, the wealth of the guests on board and some of the well-known passengers.
April 17, 1912
By the following day it had emerged that initial reports were incorrect, and that hundreds of people had in fact died in the tragedy. However, the full extent of loss of life was still unknown.
The identities of some of the victims and survivors of the Titanic came to light, with the Mirror telling their stories and publishing photographs. There was also a large picture of the ship taken as she left the port of Southampton.
April 18, 1912
The following morning it was reported that the death toll had risen to 165, however it also stated that the Carpathia, which came to the rescue, had only saved 705 people. There was a piece about there not being enough lifeboats, saying the builders blamed the Government for inadequate regulations.
There was also a story about relief funds that had been set up, including a £1,000 donation from the King and Queen.
April 19, 1912
On this day, the Mirror’s front page focused on the lack of lifeboats. The headline read: “Why were there only 20 lifeboats for 2,207 people on board the ill-fated Titanic?”
There were also stories from the concerned relatives still desperately waiting for news of their loved ones.
April 20, 1912
Six days after the disaster, the Daily Mirror ran a powerful front page featuring the sheet music for the song the band played as the ship sank.
The headline read: “Bandsmen heroes on the sinking Titanic play Nearer, My God, To Thee as the liner goes down to her doom”.
There were stories of heroic people on board who spent their final moments desperately trying to help other passengers.
The newspaper also featured photos from a memorial service held in London.
April 22, 1912
On this day, the Mirror ran the story of Eleanor Smith, the wife of the Titanic’s captain. He went down with his ship, reportedly shouting “Be British” before he died.
Inside there were was a story asking why “the truth” of the disaster was “kept back”.
Stories of survival and loss
The Navratil brothers
Brothers Edmond and Michel Navratil were aged two and four when their Czech-born father bought them tickets for the Titanic.
He registered them under fake names as he was taking them to America without their mother’s permission, having just separated from her.
When the ship started to sink he put the boys on a lifeboat, remaining on the deck himself and no one ever saw him again.
A young woman in the same lifeboat as they boys took care of them and continued to look after them until they were reunited with their mother.
It took some time as it was hard for their mum to prove they were her children due to the fake names, but a month later the family were finally back together.
Their story became known around the world.
I remember the plop the lifeboat made as it hit the water.
Recalling the tragic day decades later, Michel said: “He handed us over to a pretty American. I remember the plop the lifeboat made as it hit the water. I went to sleep in the boat. Then when I woke up at dawn our lifeboat was moving away from the icebergs.”'
When Michel died in 2001 he was one of the five final survivors.
Tennis player who proposed to girlfriend in lifeboat
Karl Behr boarded the Titanic in a bid to impress 19-year-old Helen Newsom, whom he wanted to marry.
She was on board taking the trip as a holiday with her parents, who were yet to give their consent to the couple’s marriage.
Twenty-six year old Karl represented the United States at Wimbledon in 1907, losing in the doubles final. At the peak of his career he was the US’s number three.
When the ship started to go down, Behr was asked to help with one of the half-empty lifeboats - and he agreed.
According to reports, he popped the question and asked Miss Newsom to be his wife while they were in the lifeboat. They married a year later.
Bizarrely Behr ran into another professional tennis player after being rescued from the ship - Dick Williams.
While Behr helped other people on the Carpathia, doing everything he could to assist, Williams walked up and down the deck to restore circulation in his legs. He reportedly told the doctor: “I’m going to need those legs”.
Six weeks after the ship sank Williams played in a tennis tournament and won.
To make the story even more strange, Behr and Williams met on court later that year.
Couple who chose to die together
While Rose and Jack’s characters were fictional in the blockbuster Titanic movie, one of the most heartbreaking moments in the film was based on real-life events.
The film shows a couple lying on their bed cuddling as the ship goes down, which was included to represent Isidor and Ida Straus.
The couple were first class passengers who opted to die together rather than be separated as the ship went down.
According to reports, Ida had been offered a space on a lifeboat but refused to leave her husband’s side.
Isidor – who was the owner of Macy’s department store – was also offered a space but refused, saying that the women and children should have priority.
However the true story isn’t quite as peaceful as the film made out, and while the characters died in their bed cuddling, eyewitnesses at the disaster are said to have watched them perish on the deck as a wave swept over the sinking ship.
As we have lived, so will we die together
Ida is said to have given her fur to her maid, Ellen Bird, and was said to have been heard saying of her husband: "As we have lived, so will we die together”.
Speaking about their relationship, the couple’s great grandson Paul Kurzman said: “The intimacy between them was truly exceptional.
“I often asked my grandmother, ‘Would you make the decision that your mother and father made?’
“She said, ‘Paul, I’m not sure. But I’m not surprised it was the decision of my parents’.”
Isidor’s body was recovered from the sea by the ship The Mackay-Bennett, but Ida’s body was never found.
6,000 people are reported to have attended Isidor’s funeral in New York.
The real life Uncle Albert
George Beauchamp is the only person to escape alive from both of the two worst maritime disasters of the 20th century - the Titanic and the Lusitania.
After his second brush with death, he told his family: "I have had enough of large ships - I'm going to work on smaller boats."
George was working as a fire stoker below deck when the RMS Titanic hit the iceberg. He recalled hearing a "roar like thunder" on impact and was up to his waist in seawater before being permitted to leave the engine room.
He then went up an escape ladder onto deck and helped frantic passengers into a “crowded” lifeboat before getting in himself.
I had one foot on the deck and one on the lifeboat and I was helping ladies and children in.
He later told the British Inquiry into the disaster how he helped up to 70 passengers into Lifeboat Number 13.
He said: "I had one foot on the deck and one on the lifeboat and I was helping ladies and children in. The order was given, 'That will do – that is enough for that boat', and I stepped into it and went away with it.”
They were picked up 10 minutes later by the rescue ship the RMS Carpathia, which saved 705 people fleeing the doomed ocean liner.
Following that ordeal London-born George, remained at sea and is believed to have been on board the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk during the First World War.
The Lusitania, once the world's largest passenger ship, was torpedoed by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915 off the southern coast of Ireland.