The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Prayers and silence mark 100th anniversary of Titanic disaster

  • Print

ABOARD MS BALMORAL — Cruise ship passengers and crew said prayers Sunday at the spot in the North Atlantic where the Titanic sank 100 years ago with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

Passengers lined the decks of MS Balmoral, which has been retracing the route of the doomed voyage. After a moment of silence, three floral wreaths were cast onto the waves as the ship's whistle sounded in the dark.

Jane Allen from Devon in southwest England, whose great-uncle perished on the Titanic, said the moment had vividly reminded her of the horror of the disaster.

"All you could hear was the swell splashing against the side of the ship. You could see the white breakers stretching out to sea," she told the BBC. "You are in the middle of nowhere. And then you look down over the side of the ship and you realize that every man and every woman who didn't make it into a lifeboat had to make that decision, of when to jump or stay on the ship as the lights went out."

Another cruise ship, Journey, which has travelled from New York, also held a service at the site of the disaster, about 650 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland.

The Titanic, the world's largest and most luxurious ocean liner, was travelling from England to New York when it struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. It sank less than three hours later, with the loss of all but 700 of the 2,208 passengers and crew.

A century on, events around the globe are marking a tragedy that retains its grip on the world's imagination.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the Titanic was built, a memorial monument was unveiled Sunday at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries, relatives of the dead and explorer Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic on the ocean floor in 1985.

A brass band played as the granite plinth which bears bronze plaques was uncovered beside Belfast City Hall. Officials say it is the first Titanic memorial to list all victims alphabetically, with no distinction between passengers and crew members, or between first- and third-class travellers.

After a minute's silence, a choir sang "Nearer My God To Thee" — the hymn Titanic's band is reported to have played as the ship went down.

Belfast spent decades scarred by its link to the disaster, but has come to take pride in the feats of engineering and industry involved in building the Titanic.

On Saturday, thousands attended a memorial concert in Belfast featuring performances by Bryan Ferry and soul singer Joss Stone. At St. Anne's Cathedral in the city, a performance of composer Philip Hammond's "The Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic" was followed by a torch-lit procession to the Titanic Memorial in the grounds of city hall.

The requiem — performed by male choristers dressed as ship's crew and female performers in black — also included words by Belfast novelist Glenn Patterson, who imagined the victims reflecting on all they had missed in the last 100 years.

"We passed instead into myth, launched a library full of books, enough film to cross the Atlantic three times over, more conspiracy theories than Kennedy, 97 million web pages, a tourist industry, a requiem or two," Patterson said. "We will live longer than every one of you."

Remembrance ceremonies also were being held in the ship's departure port of Southampton, southern England — home to hundreds of Titanic crew who perished — and in Halifax, where more than 100 victims of the tragedy are buried.

The most famous maritime disaster in history was being marked even in places without direct links to it.

Venues in Las Vegas, San Diego, Houston and Singapore are hosting Titanic exhibitions that include artifacts recovered from the site of the wreck. Among the items: bottles of perfume, porcelain dishes, and a five-metre piece of hull.

The centenary of the disaster has been marked with a global outpouring of commemoration and commerce. Events have ranged from the opening of a glossy new tourist attraction telling the ship's story in Belfast to a 3-D re-release of James Cameron's 1997 romantic weepie "Titanic," which awakened a new generation's interest in the disaster.

Helen Edwards, one of 1,309 passengers on memorial cruise aboard the liner Balmoral who have spent the past week steeped in the Titanic's history and symbolism, said the story's continuing appeal was due to its strong mixture of romance and tragedy, history and fate.

"(There are) all the factors that came together for the ship to be right there, then, to hit that iceberg. All the stories of the passengers who ended up on the ship," said Edwards, a 62-year-old retiree from Silver Spring, Maryland. "It's just a microcosm of social history, personal histories, nautical histories.

"Romance is an appropriate word right up until the time of the tragedy — the band playing, the clothes. And then there's the tragedy."

As the world paused to remember the victims, a U.S. official revealed that there may be human remains embedded in the ocean floor where Titanic came to rest.

James Delgado, director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, said Saturday that one photograph taken during a 2004 expedition shows a coat and boots in the mud. He said the way they are "laid out" makes a "compelling case" that it is where "someone has come to rest."

He released the full image this week to coincide with the disaster's centenary. It was previously seen in a cropped version.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Perry Bellegarde elected as national chief of Assembly of First Nations

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you watch The Interview?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google