View Full Version : Amazing Lusitania or Titanic Find

11-03-2012, 06:46 AM
I'm a huge fan of PBS' History Detectives, but it's sadly only shown during the Summer for some reason. Normally I'll miss a couple episodes here and there due to Pledge Break times, but this past Summer there was this little thing called the London Olympics which also threw a monkey wrench into watching and also burning on to DVD the episodes, and I only saw the first four or five of Season 10 this past Summer.

Fast forward to last night and I decided that now we've got Wireless/High Speed service here, it was as good as time as any to head over to their website and start catching up on the episodes I missed. The listing of interesting cases highlighted on the Main Page looked interesting, but one in particular caught my eye.

Two cousins had contacted the show to help get to the bottom of a Family Heirloom. It was a picture frame that had belonged to their Great Grandfather. He had been a crew member on the Cable Ships of the early 20th Century that laid down the various telegraph cables across the Atlantic. Now, the cousins had heard two similar, but also different stories from their Grandmother about the frame. The one cousins, she had been told their Great Grandfather picked up the wood the frame was made of when his ship and fellow crew members were sent to the Lusitiania wreck site to recover bodies and he had picked it out of the water as proof he had been there and a part of History. The other cousin, he was told the same story, only he had been told the piece came from Titanic.

How did this turn out and what, if anything, was found out?

You didn't seriously think I'd tell you that, did you? Nope...You'll need to watch that part of the episode to find out all on your own. :D ;)

PBS : History Detectives ~ Season Ten Episode on Wreck Art Picture Frame, Woolworth Signs and Nazi Spy Toys (http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/video/2264466371/)

Can't wait to hear what the other Titanic fans here at FSU think after watching this. My mouth was just hanging open in amazement for a good five minutes last night. Oh, and also watch the other two parts of the episode. Especially the story about two very Historic Woolworth store signs from North Carolina. Gave me the chills.

11-03-2012, 09:59 AM
You terrible tease! :P Sounds like a great show and great for your cousins!

11-03-2012, 03:42 PM
Can't watch it (not on high-speed) but an American or Canadian cable ship? Titanic. The museum in Halifax has a metric ton of stuff cable ships like MacKay Bennet picked up when going out to pull bodies. Someone turned up on Pawn Stars with a chess board made from scrap wood (he had documentation as he'd bought it at an auction of Titanic relics.) The Halifax cable ships were pretty much the main recovery vessels for bodies and many of the sailors aboard took debris as souvenirs. (No, they didn't loot. They actually developed a pretty good system for keeping belongings attached to the correct body, one that they used again with the Halifax explosion and even with SwissAir Flight 111 recovery efforts.)

Lusy would be less likely unless they were from Ireland or England-that was wartime, I don't recall cable ships being a big part of the recovery, and she actually went down a lot faster and more intact than Titanic (torpedo, plus igniting whatever ILLEGAL WARTIME MATERIEL she was carrying, and they barely were able to launch the lifeboats.) Less scrap, and she doesn't seem to have been the subject of as much souvenir-hunting. Probably because, again, U-boats in the water, less flotsam, and she was much closer to shore so it took a lot less effort to go looking for bodies. Titanic involved searching over hundreds of miles over several days--they were still finding junk (including a lifeboat with four bodies) weeks later.

...Which means it would probably be worth more if it's from Lusy, at least to highly-specialized collectors. EVERYONE has Titanic stuff (heck, I've got a survivor autograph). OTOH, non-specialists would be more interested in a Titanic relic, because she's more famous.

LOL, wouldn't it be funny if it were just something made from Olympic scrap (she was broken up in the thirties and a lot of wood got sold off. The fate of most ships including Lusy's sisters Mauritania and Aquitania. None so ignoble as Berengaria, though--she got broken down and her scrap metal was made into cat-food cans.)

11-04-2012, 04:46 AM
Buzz, not my cousins. I wish. The link is there to watch it if you're able to.

dancer....It wasn't Olympic scrap and the investigator and another person she found during her investigation did have to go to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to get the answer.

It's not just what ship this piece of wood came from, but also *where* it was on the ship, that's the real shocker. As I said, my mouth literally dropped and stayed that way after hearing all of that. I hope there's someway you're able to see this.

11-04-2012, 02:54 PM
If it ever runs on my PBS AND I remember AND I happen to be home...or this is still on the front page when I'm somewhere with high speed!

The Maritime Museum (I was there last summer on QM2--they make a massive production in Halifax when a Cunard ship is in port! Of course, it's the home of Sir Samuel Cunard himself) has a MASSIVE collection of Titanic flotsam. Weirdly it's not their most interesting exhibit, though it might have been I'd just seen the touring exhibit from RMS Titanic Inc. in May--I found the Halifax Explosion exhibit a lot more compelling, maybe because it's not something everyone has heard about.

11-04-2012, 04:27 PM
Great story & great detective work in some of my favourite "stomping grounds" in my home province.

I have an interest in both of the ships mentioned because of family history. My paternal grandparents sailed out to Canada in 1913 and passed over the site of the Titanic sinking exactly one year later. The captain of their ship held a memorial service that day. Their ship arrived in Halifax but they settled first in Ontario, but returned to Nova Scotia in 1926, settling in Digby. An Irish cousin who had been living in the USA but was returning home died in the sinking of the Lusitania. I have visited her grave in Ireland.

On a side note, I also have an interest in the Halifax Explosion of 1917 as my maternal grandparents and my mother were living there at the time - they survived but their home was damaged.

By the way, you can see live views of the Halifax waterfront from several of the Nova Scotia webcams, including one set up on the boardwalk looking at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Check it out here http://www.novascotiawebcams.com/halifax/maritime-museum.html and then follow the links to other cameras in the Halifax area and those on the other tabs to cameras around the province. The cameras don't stream video but refresh still images very frequently and each one also stores a 24-hour history. Well worth a visit from time to time :)

11-04-2012, 09:07 PM
Wish I'd known about the webcams when I was on my trip! Halifax as a great city, I wish I'd had longer than one day there. Another trip....

11-04-2012, 09:52 PM
I can understand why the Explosion part of the place would be more interesting. As you said dancer, everyone knows about Titanic, but not everyone knows about the Explosion. The two part Mini Series the CBC did about ten years ago called Shattered City is excellent and well worth finding if you can. We're getting close to the Centennial of that tragic day. Only a couple of years away IIRC.

We never did go to Halifax when we visited the East Coast in the Summer of 85 and I wish we had. For both my Dad and I, w/all of the History and Historic places to visit, we would have been in Heaven. :)

11-05-2012, 06:05 AM
It's beautiful, and I'm sure for people who have NOT od'd on Titanic this year (I have to give my lecture AGAIN in two weeks...we've been invited to give it SIX TIMES, easily a record for either of our museums, but everyone wants to hear about Titanic), that exhibit was great, too. And there's so much else to see! I went up to Peggy's Cove (something like 40 K from downtown?) in the morning and it's some of the most beautiful country and seashore there is.