Exactly 96 years ago today, at 2.20am, the R.M.S. Titanic (which sailed from Southampton, close to where I live) disappeared beneath the surface of the North Atlantic, two hours and forty minutes after striking an iceberg. 1,223 people died - 705 survived. My partner has been a student of Titanic's history ever since the wreck was discovered on September 1, 1985.
So, on this day, we remember the great ship, the lives that were lost and the people who suffered as a result of the tragedy. This year, as well, I would like to add my bark and pay tribute to those canine passengers who accompanied their partners on the Titanic.
(my partner actually has a lovely memorial postcard from 1912, but it was packed safely away when the decorators were in and we can't find it, so you'll have to make do with this picture instead).
The Titanic Dogs Roll Call
Gamon de Pycombe, French Bulldog. Died (but was seen by several witnesses swimming in the water after the ship went down).
Sun-Yat-Sen, Pekingese. Survived.
Frou-Frou, breed unknown. Died.
Name unknown, Chow-Chow. Died.
Name unknown, King Charles Spaniel. Died.
Name unknown, Airedale. Died.
Name unknown, Pomeranian. Survived (while waiting for the lifeboat, Mr. J. Clinch-Smith joked to Miss Hays, the dog’s owner, that the White Star Line should have provided a little life-jacket for the dog. Mr. Clinch-Smith died).
Kitty, Airedale. Died.
Name unknown, Airedale. Died.
Name unknown, Fox Terrier. Died.
Name unknown, Pomeranian. Survived.
Name unknown, Newfoundland (or may have been a St. Bernard or Great Dane). Died.*
And Jenny, the ship's cat - along with her litter of newborn kittens. Died.
* It is widely believed that this last dog belonged to Miss Ann Isham, one of only four First Class ladies to die when the ship went down. It was reported in a 1912 newspaper (The Daily Sketch) that she refused to get into a lifeboat without her dog, choosing to stay with him until the end. Another contemporary 1912 newspaper report, held in the Southampton City Heritage Collection, states the following:
"From our own correspondent, New York, Wednesday. More than 100 of the Titanic's victims were seen floating on the water by the steamship Bremen, which arrived today from Bremen, when, on April 20, the German liner passed over the spot where the Titanic went down. Mrs. Johanna Stunke, a first cabin passenger on the Bremen, gave a vivid story of the scene from the liner's rail. 'We had been told by some of the officers that [we were] going to pass within a few miles of the position given by the Titanic when she sank... we all rushed to the starboard rail. It was a beautiful afternoon... but as we drew nearer we could make out small dots floating around in the sea... We passed within a hundred feet of the wreckage... we distinctly saw a number of bodies so clearly that we could make out what they were wearing, and whether they were men or women...
There was another woman, fully dressed, with her arms tight around the body of a shaggy dog that looked like a St. Bernard.'"
My partner would not have boarded a lifeboat and left me behind, either.