The British passenger liner, under the control of Captain Edward Smith, had roughly 2,400 passengers on board when it struck an iceberg shortly before midnight on April 14, 1912. The devastating event saw more than 1,500 people lose their lives on the “unsinkable” vessel in one of modern history’s deadliest commercial marine disasters. An official inquiry into the incident was launched by both the British Board of Trade and the US Senate – neither found negligence from the owner, White Star Liner.
The American inquiry concluded that the disaster was an “act of God,” while the British added Mr Smith had followed long-standing practices which had not previously been shown to be unsafe.
Despite this, several myths have developed over what really happened in the years since, according to expert Tim Maltin, who appeared on History Hit’s ‘Debunking the Myths of the Titanic’.
He said: “When the witnesses were giving their evidence, there was a scenographer there who was recording everything and this volume here is all the evidence from the American inquiry and the British inquiry.
“The first thing to do in order to get to the truth of what happened is to listen to the people who were there.
“It took me six years to go through it properly but it is there for anyone to go through.
“What you also need to do is read what people who were there actually said.
“These are the three key books – this is Lawrence Beesley, a maths teacher who was also interested in science so it tells us a lot about the conditions that night.”
Mr Maltin revealed the other accounts he had studied.
He added: “This one here is from a first-class passenger – Colonel Archibald Gracie IV – it tells us a lot about what it was like in first-class.
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“When we think of the weather causing ships to sink, we think of huge storms and the night the Titanic sunk it was the opposite.
“It was a perfectly calm night. And Titanic sank in a perfect storm of calm.
“The water was so cold that it was causing the air to refract light differently.
“The light bent downwards around the curvature of the Earth.”
Mr Maltin laid his theory out in more detail.
He continued: “Everyone knows the hot desert mirage, where you’re desperate for a drink of water and you think there is water there, but there isn’t.
“That is because the light is bending upwards in the hot air. It’s bringing the sky on to the ground. Your brain interprets that as water.
“The exact same thing happens in reverse when you are in an icy area like where the Titanic sank.
“Instead of the light bending upwards and bringing the sky down to the ground, the light bends down and instead of being able to see seven or 12 miles, they could probably see 80 miles ahead.
“Because they could see so much, they could not see the icebergs right in front of them.
“The depth of air they could see through was scattering light, making a silvery-white haze. Precisely the same colour as the iceberg they were looking out for.”