RMS Titanic news: These first stories of the sinking disaster dated April 15, 1912 were wildly inaccurate

Newspaper front pages with the first Titanic stories (1912)

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These are some of the newspapers that broke devastating Titanic news to the world — and they got it mostly wrong…

Here are some front pages of newspapers around the country, showing very first reports of the Titanic disaster.

As you can see, several of the Titanic news headlines were completely inaccurate. Of course, that’s to be expected — there was very little information available at the time, and the news that did come in was delivered via telegraph.

Furthermore — just like the breaking news of today — many Titanic news reports were hampered by confusion in the chaos, as well as by some opinions presented as fact.

For example, one statement was issued by the White Star Line that said, in part, “I am free to say that no matter how bad the collision with an iceberg, the Titanic would float. She is an unsinkable ship.”

By the next day, almost everyone knew the truth: some 1,500 people had died on that cold, dark night.

Titanic news headline: Titanic’s passengers saved; Liner sinking

Ill-fated vessel begins to founder while limping toward Halifax after all aboard are rescued

Monster of ocean badly damaged by collision with iceberg; Many notables on list

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California)

Titanic sinking headlines - Oakland Tribune Mon Apr 15 1912

Breaking Titanic news: White Star liner Titanic, biggest steamship afloat, strikes iceberg on first trip and is sinking

Women being put off in life boats — the Allan Liner Virginian gets wireless call for help and proceeds to aid of sinking ship

1,300 passengers aboard the giant liner, among them may who are prominent — Collision off Cape Race — The Virginian 170 miles away and will not reach the Titanic till 10am today — Titanic sinking by the head

The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut)

Titanic sinking headlines - Hartford Courant Mon Apr 15 1912

How I was saved from the Titanic: A Titanic survivor's story (1912)

Titanic news: Titanic smashes iceberg; 1,470 saved

Wireless bring aid; passengers transferred at sea

Liners rush to assistance of White Star Leviathan reported sinking; Vessel still afloat and under control

The Bingham Press and Leader (Bingham, New York)

Titanic sinking headlines - Press and Sun Bulletin Mon Apr 15 1912 (1)

Breaking Titanic news: “Titanic” rammed an iceberg

Largest ship ever built wrecked on maiden trip

Great steamers rushed to her assistance when wireless flashed out the call for help — Passengers transferred in safety — Crippled monster being towed to Halifax.

The Evening Observer (Dunkirk, New York)

Titanic sinking headlines - Dunkirk Evening Observer Mon Apr 15 1912

White Star Liner Titanic strikes an iceberg — Passengers are safe and the vessel is in tow

Largest vessel in the world on last leg of maiden voyage, when accident occurs, endangering the lives of 1,300 people — wireless message for assistance intercepted by liner Virginia — The passengers transferred from damaged ship without accident

Early reports that the titanic is sinking causes anxiety among company officials — passengers to be landed in city of Halifax.

Elmira Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York)

Titanic sinking headlines - Star Gazette Mon Apr 15 1912

Inside the Titanic: When the largest ship sank in 1912, here's what the luxury-first interior looked like

Titanic news: Passengers of Titanic transferred in safety to Parisian and Carpathia

Greatest of modern leviathans in tow of Virginia is moving toward Halifax and will reach port

Wrecking tugs will be bent to meet disabled vessel and assist in bringing her into harbor — International Mercantile Marine Company announces that New Haven Road will take passengers on special trains sent to Halifax.

Titanic news in the Bridgeport Evening Farmer (Bridgeport, Connecticut)

Titanic sinking headlines - The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer Mon Apr 15 1912

Iceberg wrecks Titanic

Most thrilling story of the sea in modern times told by wireless

Giant steamship Titanic struck by iceberg in midocean and reported sinking with 2,200 on board — All were saved from watery grave — Appeal for aid brought other vessels to the rescue and passengers were transferred.

Titanic news reported in the The Daily Gate City (Keokuk, Iowa)

Titanic sinking headlines - The Daily Gate City Mon Apr 15 1912

All Titanic passengers are safe; Transferred in lifeboats at sea

Parisian and Carpathia take human cargo

Steamship Virginian now towing great disabled liner into Halifax — All doubt as to steamer reaching port set at rest — Wireless massages state that no lives have been lost on the damaged vessel.

Breaking Titanic news in The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland)

Titanic news headlines - The Evening Sun Mon Apr 15 1912

As we all know, reports that the Titanic was being towed to shore were little more than wishful thinking — and the product of a very rushed newsroom with looming deadlines but very little solid information.

The Titanic reportedly sank at about 2:20 am GMT on April 15. The 2:15 am wireless message mentioned in the first paragraph was, therefore, correct — despite the rest of this article seeming to contradict it.

Little did they realize that the Titanic was already long gone by the time this story hit the streets.

Inaccurate Titanic news: Disabled ship under tow after hitting big iceberg

Wireless brings steamships to scene of disaster, and passengers, including many notables, are transferred to Carpathia and Parisian

The Evening World. (New York, NY) April 15, 1912, Final Edition

Halifax, Nova Scotia, April 15 1912 — The Canadian Government Marine Agency here at 4.15 PM received a wireless dispatch that the Titanic is sinking. The message came via the cable ship Minia off Cape Race.

It said that the steamers towing the Titanic were endeavoring to get her into shoal water near Cape Race for the purpose of beaching her.

It was said at the White Star line’s offices at 4 o’clock this afternoon that a dispatch had been received from a Canadian news agency that the Titanic was in a sinking condition. No confirmation of this report had been received. From another source, it was reported to the line late this afternoon that all the disabled vessel’s passengers had been put aboard the Carpathia, Parisian and Virginian.

Authentic wireless reports late this afternoon from the White Star liner Titanic, which was in collision with an iceberg 400 miles off the Newfoundland coast at 10.25 o’clock last night, is that the badly disabled steamship had safely transferred her passengers and is being attended by three big steamships.

Shortly before noon, the first official news of the fate of the Titanic since the flash of the disaster fourteen hours before was received from Cape Race, New Foundland, in the following wireless despatch from Capt Haddock of the Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship.

Liners taking off passengers

“Parisian and Carpathia in attendance on Titanic. Carpathia has already taken off twenty boatloads of passengers, and Parisian five. Baltic is approaching. Olympic 260 miles from Titanic.”

Vice-President Franklin of the International Mercantile Marine declared in making public his message from the Olympic that the Titanic would be safely towed to port and that her passengers would be landed at Halifax.

A wireless message received at Cape Race from the Parisian this afternoon stated: “Cunard liner Carpathia is in attendance upon the disabled liner Titanic and has picked up twenty boatloads of Titanic’s passengers.”

No word had been heard from the Virginian at the main offices of the Allen Line in Montreal up to 3 o’clock this afternoon to supplement the first wireless message that reported the Virginian on her way to the scene of the wreck.

No details of the transfer of passengers have been received from any source.

At 1 o’clock this afternoon, the White Star line officials here received the following bulletin from Boston: “Allen line. Montreal (by telephone), confirms report Virginian, Carpathia and Parisian in attendance.”

The operating officers of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company have been notified that the Titanic’s passengers will be landed at Halifax, and that there will be about six hundred passengers requiring transportation to New York in sleeping cars and some eight hundred by ordinary day coaches.

Twenty-three sleeping cars and two dining cars will be made up into trains between New York and Boston tonight and sent on to Halifax. It is expected that the passengers of the crippled leviathan will be landed at Halifax some time Wednesday.

The Carpathia, which, with the Parisian, took off the Titanic’s passengers, is a Cunard liner in Mediterranean service and left New York on April 13. Parisian is an Allen liner and sailed from Glasgow for Halifax on April 6. The Allen liner Virginian, out of Halifax for Glasgow, is reported to have the disabled liner in tow. The White Star steamship Baltic should be in attendance by this time, according to calculations of the line’s officials.

The first news of the Titanic’s accident was received at midnight by a wireless operator at Cape Race. It said: “Have struck an iceberg; we are badly damaged; rush aid. Titanic, lat. 41.46 North, long. 50.14 West.”

Titanic sinking headlines - The Evening World Mon Apr 15 1912

Titanic hits iceberg; people safe

Big liner sustains a terrific shock; towed to Halifax

Steamship Titanic, the largest in the world.

The Seattle Star (Seattle, Washington)

Titanic sinking headlines - The Seattle Star Mon Apr 15 1912

2210 persons taken from great liner by rescuers

Sea reported calm, no further danger

Captain and crew of 860 men refuse to leave vessel after passengers are placed in lifeboats and believe ship will reach harbor — Anxious relatives crowd offices of company in New York to learn latest news from headquarters — many millionaires aboard — from four St. Louisiana passengers.

The St. Louis Star (St. Louis, Missouri)

Titanic sinking headlines - The St Louis Star and Times Mon Apr 15 1912

See how the Titanic survivors in lifeboats were rescued by the ship Carpathia (1912)

Completely wrong Titanic newspaper article: Titanic survives iceberg crash tho badly damaged; passengers safe

Giant liner under tow to Halifax and passengers being transferred to other vessels called to her aid by wireless

Saved by bulkheads — Many notables included in passenger list of 1,360 — $5,000,000 in bonds and diamonds aboard. — Huge ice fields stretch for miles.
Asbury Park Evening Press (Asbury, New Jersey)

Titanic sinking headlines - Asbury Park Press Mon Apr 15 1912

Breaking Titanic news: Biggest ship afloat sinking in mid-ocean

Over two thousand persons on board

The Titanic strikes an iceberg, and last heard from her she was sinking and women were being taken off on life-boats — wireless messages break off abruptly.

Titanic newspaper article: Great Falls Daily Tribune (Great Falls, Montana)

Titanic sinking headlines - Great Falls Tribune Mon Apr 15 1912

Titanic news: White Star Liner, Titanic, in collision with iceberg on Atlantic Ocean

Giant steamer Titanic collides with iceberg and big ocean liners race to lend assistance to 2,000 persons on board ill-fated vessel

Ship sends out distress signals declaring that immediate relief is necessary; Majority of 1,500 passengers are American; All transferred in safety — Women reported to have been rescued and lowered to life boats; Officials of steam-ship company say “Greyhound will not sink”; Prominent men and women on trip

Titanic newspaper article in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

Titanic sinking headlines - Harrisburg Telegraph Mon Apr 15 1912

Frantic crowds storm White Star offices for Titanic news (1912)

NEW YORK — Police reserves had to be called to several sections of the city tonight to control crowds gathered around newspaper bulletin board for news of the Titanic.

The disaster stunned the gay Broadway district as perhaps no disaster ever had so completely before, for many of those who poured out of the theatres had friends on the steamer.

The newspaper districts were crowded till after midnight. Wealth and society rubbed elbows with poverty in the crowd that besieged the White Star Steamship line offices, and both classes were in deep grief.

Crowd in front of White Star offices - Titanic 1912
Crowd gathered in front of the White Star liner office in New York’s lower Broadway to get the latest Titanic news.

There were many instances of fashionably-gowned women going into hysterics when the hopeful reports of the afternoon were blasted with the news that probably only 675 persons had been saved.

Vincent Astor, only son of Colonel John Jacob Astor, accompanied by A J Biddle of Philadelphia; and Colonel Astor’s secretary, were among the crowd at the offices, and left with tears in their eyes after a short conference with Vice-President Franklin. Relatives of Isidor Straus, and of a number of other prominent passengers, came away with the same dejection.

Titanic news below: Headlines from April 16, 1912, L to R: The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, North Carolina), The Kansas City Times (Kansas City, Missouri)

Frantic crowds storm White Star offices for Titanic news (1912)

This Titanic news really didn’t age well… The morning after Titanic sank, executives still insisted the ship was “unsinkable.” How many hours before this bold assertion was proven wrong?

Titanic unsinkable: She cannot sink, says official of White Star Line (1912)

The Evening World (New York, NY) April 15, 1912, Final Edition

“Absolutely no fear is entertained for the safety of the passengers.”

P A S Franklin, Vice-President of the International Mercantile Marine, declared this morning that the Titanic was unsinkable, and that, notwithstanding the alarming reports of her collision with an iceberg, absolutely no fear was entertained for the safety of the passengers.

“While we have had no direct wireless communication from the Titanic,” said Mr Franklin, “we are satisfied that the vessel is unsinkable. Our only reports thus far are from the Associated Press.

“The fact that the Titanic has sent us no wireless does not cause alarm. In the first place, her failure to communicate with the line may be due to atmospheric conditions; and, in the second place, she may be too busy communicating with nearby ships.

“No one need fear that the Titanic will go down. Even though all her former compartments and bulkheads were stove in by the iceberg, she would still float indefinitely.

“She might go down a little at the bow, but she would float. I am free to say that no matter how bad the collision with an iceberg, the Titanic would float. She is an unsinkable ship.

“From the messages we have received we estimate that the Titanic is 1,000 miles from New York, in latitude 41.46 and longitude 50.14 west. That would make her 600 miles southeast of Halifax.

“The steamship Virginian, out of Halifax, should reach Titanic at 10 o’clock this morning. The Olympic, bound east, should make to the rescue at 8 o’clock tonight, and the Baltic, which had passed the Titanic, has put about and should join the rescuing fleet at 4 o’clock.

“We feel certain that all of the passengers will be landed safely in Halifax. Their relatives and friends need entertain no fears. From our revised lists we find that there are 325 saloon passengers, 300 second cabin passengers, and 800 steerage passengers.”

The morning after Titanic sank, executives still insisted the ship was unsinkable (1912)

There are fifteen bulkheads in the Titanic. Two of these are what is known as collision bulkheads, and the other thirteen are water tight and of the kind common to modern steamers.

One collision bulkhead is in the fore part of the hull, fifty feet from the bow. It is of steel, with no inlet into the hold, and it is entered from the main deck when an examination is necessary. The other collision bulkhead is at the stern and also must be entered from the main deck.

The other thirteen bulkheads divide the hull of the Titanic into separate compartments and doors into these divisions can be closed separately or all at one time. The closing mechanism is hydraulic.

It is said by marine engineers that there is no case on record in which any collision or other accident to a modern steamer has put this hydraulic mechanism out of commission.

There is, however, and element of weakness in the strongest of the water-tight bulkheads of even such a ship as the Titanic, which lies in the pressure resisting power of the bulkheads.

While it is claimed that two compartments of the Titanic could be flooded with water without the vessel either sinking or losing steerageway, it is admitted that, were any of the compartments flooded with water, the pressure of water on those bulkheads might cause a leak which would admit water into the next compartment, and so on from one bulkhead to the next, until the hull was water-logged.

Inside the Titanic: When the largest ship sank in 1912, here's what the luxury-first interior looked like

Builders of Titanic say she’d survive great blow

titanic designed to be unsinkableBelfast, April 15, 1912. — A representative of Harland and Wolff, the constructors of the Titanic, interviewed today, said that if the Titanic were sinking, the collision must have been of great force.

The plating of the vessel, he said, was of the heaviest caliber and even if it were pierced, any two of her compartments could be flooded without imperilling the safety of the ship.

At right: Clip from marketing brochure on Titanic and her sister ship: “As far as it is possible to do so, these two wonderful vessels are designed to be unsinkable…”

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. The Titanic disaster is so scary and sad. I can only imagine how relatives of passengers had to deal with waiting for news only to have hope when some of the “false” news was released.

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