The Tragic Story of the Empress of Ireland And Other Great Sea Disasters
Spelling errors and other inaccuracies in the lists of survivors and rolls of the dead are preserved as printed.
The Tragic Story
Empress of Ireland
An Authentic Account of the Most
Horrible Disaster in Canadian History,
Constructed from the Real
Facts Obtained from Those on
Board Who Survived
And Other Great Sea Disasters
Author of “The Story of Polar Conquest,” “The
Story of the Panama Canal,” Etc.
Containing the Statements of
CAPTAIN HENRY GEORGE KENDALL
Commanding the Empress of Ireland
CAPTAIN THOMAS ANDERSEN
Commanding the Storstad
With Numerous Authentic Photographs and Drawings
Copyright, 1914, by
L. T. MYERS
One of the finest ships of the Canadian line. Soon after leaving Quebec on her voyage toLiverpool with over 1,300 souls on board, she was struck by the Norwegian collier “Storstad” offFather Point, Quebec, on May 29, 1914, at 2.10 A. M., and sank about fifteen minutes later, carryinga thousand of her passengers down with her.
|I.||The Empress of Ireland Sails to Her Doom||13|
|II.||Captain Kendall Blames the Storstad||29|
|III.||Captain Andersen’s Defense||33|
|IV.||Miraculous Escape of the Few||37|
|V.||The Stricken Survivors Return||44|
|VI.||Heroes of the Empress Disaster||64|
|VII.||The Surgeon’s Thrilling Story||71|
|VIII.||Ship of Death Reaches Quebec||74|
|IX.||Solemn Services for the Dead||83|
|X.||Crippling Loss to the Salvation Army||92|
|XI.||Notable Passengers Aboard||110|
|XII.||List of Survivors and Roll of the Dead||118|
|XIII.||The Storstad Reaches Port||125|
|XIV.||Parliament Shocked by the Calamity||132|
|XV.||Messages of Sympathy and Help||134|
|XVI.||Placing the Blame||140|
|XVII.||Empress in Fact, as in Name||156|
|[Pg 6]XVIII.||The Norwegian Collier Storstad||161|
|XIX.||The St. Lawrence: A Beautiful River||163|
|XX.||The Tragic Story of the Titanic Disaster||175|
|XXI.||The Most Sumptuous Palace Afloat||178|
|XXII.||The Titanic Strikes an Iceberg||186|
|XXIII.||“Women and Children First”||197|
|XXIV.||Left to Their Fate||221|
|XXV.||The Call for Help Heard||231|
|XXVI.||In the Drifting Life-Boats||235|
|XXVII.||The Tragic Home-Coming||254|
|XXVIII.||Other Great Marine Disasters||284|
|XXIX.||Development of Shipbuilding||292|
|XXX.||Safety and Life-Saving Devices||300|
|XXXI.||Seeking Safety at Sea||307|
NUMBER of persons aboard, 1,475.
Number of persons saved, 397.
Number of persons dead, 1,078.
Total number of first-class passengers, 87.
Total number of second-class passengers, 256.
Total number of third-class passengers, 717.
Total number of crew, 415.
The Salvation Army Delegation numbered 150; of these 124 were lost.
The Empress of Ireland was a twin-screw vessel of 14,500 tons.
The vessel was built in Glasgow in 1906 by the Fairfield Company,Ltd., and was owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Storstad is a single-screw vessel, registering 6,028 tons.
The vessel was built by the Armstrong, Whitworth Company atNewcastle in 1911, and is owned by the Dampsk AktieselkMaritime of Christiania, Norway.
THOSE who go down to the sea in ships” was oncea synonym for those who gambled with death andput their lives upon the hazard. Today the mortalityat sea is less than on common carriers on land. Butthe futility of absolute prevention of accident is emphasizedagain and again. The regulation of safety makes catastropheslike that of the Empress of Ireland all the more tragic andterrible. A blow, a ripping, the side taken out of a ship,darkness, the inrush of waters, a panic, and then in the hushthe silent corpses drifting by.
So with the Canadian liner. She has gone to her graveleaving a trail of sorrow behind her. Hundreds of humanhearts and homes are in mourning for the loss of dear companionsand friends. The universal sympathy which iswritten in every face and heard in every voice proves thatman is more than the beasts that perish. It is an evidenceof the divine in humanity. Why should we care? There isno reason in the world, unless there is something in us thatis different from lime and carbon and phosphorus, somethingthat makes us mortals able to suffer together—
[Pg 10]The collision which sent the Empress of Ireland to thebottom of the St. Lawrence with hundreds of passengers intheir berths produced a shudder throughout the civilizedworld. And the effect on the spirits of the millions whoreceived the shock will not soon pass off. The Titanic tragedysat heavy on the minds of the people of this generation formonths after it happened.
There is hardly any one in touch with world affairs who willnot feel himself drawn into the circle of mourners over such adisaster. From every center of great calamity waves ofsympathetic sorrow spread to far-distant strangers, but theperishing of great numbers in a shipwreck seems to impressour human nature more profoundly than do accidents orvisitations of other kinds in which the toll of death is asgreat. Our concern for those in danger seems to turn especiallyto those in peril on the sea.
Science has wrought miracles for the greater protection ofthose afloat. Wireless telegraphy, air-tight compartments,the construction which has produced what is called “theunsinkable ship,” have added greatly to the safety of oceantravel. But science cannot eliminate the element of error.None of the aids that the workers for safe transit havebestowed on navigation could avail to prevent what happenedin the early hours of May 29, 1914. The Empressof Ireland was rammed by another vessel, and so crushed asto be unable to remain afloat for more than fifteen minutesafter the impact.
Overwhelmed by the catastrophe we fall back upon that[Pg 11]faith in the Unseen Power which is never shaken by the appearanceof what seems to be unnecessary evil or inexplicablecruelty. Trust in God involves the belief that behind thestupendous processes of natural life there is a divine wisdomso deeply grounded upon reality that no human mind cancomprehend its precepts and a divine love so boundless in itscompassion that no human heart can measure its scope. Weconcede the knowledge of the divine mind to be “too wonderful”for our understanding. “It is high: I cannot attain untoit.”
Therefore we are prepared for the awful, the mysterious, andeven the terrible. Nothing in the universal process can disturbor confound us. If a thing appears to be evil it is wisdomwhich is at fault. If an event seems to be cruel it is our lovewhich is blind. We look upon the chances and changes ofhuman experience even as we gaze at night upon the movementsof the heavenly spheres; we would as little think ofquestioning the beneficence of the one as of the other.
Come sorrow or joy, failure or success, death or life—it isall the same. We trust God, and therefore we trust life, whichis simply the thing that God is doing. “Though he slay me,yet will I trust in him!” Yea, it is only when God seems toslay us that we can trust in Him, for trust begins only whenknowledge fails; just as the stars shine only when the sun isgone!
ANOTHER TOLL OF THE SEA—THE EMPRESS SAILS FROM QUEBEC—THEHOLIDAY HUMOR OF THE PASSENGERS—CAPTAINKENDALL WARNED OF FOGS—THE STORSTAD SIGHTED—FOGSUDDENLY SETTLES—THE STORSTAD CRASHES INTO THEEMPRESS—INJURY ON STARBOARD SIDE—A MORTAL BLOW—WIRELESSCALLS FOR HELP—HUNDREDS DROWN IN CABIN—NOTIME TO ROUSE PASSENGERS—LIFE-BOATS LAUNCHED INRECORD TIME—THE EMPRESS GOES DOWN
ONCE again an appalling sea disaster comes to remindus that no precautions man can take will make himimmune against the forces that nature, when she sowills, can assemble against him. It is a truism to say thatthe most recent marine disaster was preventable. An accidentsuggests the idea of preventability. The Empress ofIreland was equipped with modern appliances for safety.She had longitudinal and transverse water-tight steel bulkheadsand the submarine signaling and wireless apparatus.She was being navigated with all the precaution and carewhich the dangers of the course and the atmospheric conditionsdemanded. The Storstad had been sighted and[Pg 14]signaled. The Empress was at a standstill, or slowly movingbackward in response to a hasty reversal of