New York Herald, April 21, 1912, page 1:
‘Keep Your Mouth Shut; Big Money for You,’ Was Message to Hide News
Hold Story for ‘Four Figures,’ Marconi Official Also Warned the Carpathia Operator, While Anxious World Waited Details of Disaster.
While the world was waiting three days for information concerning the fate of the Titanic, for part of the time at least, details concerning the disaster were being withheld by the wireless operator of the steamship Carpathia under specific orders from T. W. Sammis, chief engineer of the Marconi Wireless Company of America, who had arranged the sale of the story. This was admitted yesterday by Mr. Sammis, who defended his action. He said he was justified for getting for the wireless operators the largest amount he could for the details of the sinking of the ship, the rescue of the passengers and the other information the world had waited for. The first information concerning the loss of the Titanic came Monday evening, and it was known at that time the survivors were on board the Carpathia. About midnight the first of the list of survivors began to come by wireless, and from that time until Thursday night, when the rescue ship arrived in port, the world waited and waited in vain for the details of how the “unsinkable ship” had gone down. Three messages were sent to the Carpathia telling the operator to send out no news concerning the disaster. Two of these were unsigned, and the last one had the signature of Mr. Sammis.
“Keep Mouth Shut; Big Money.”
The first message was unsigned, and it is said it was sent as a list of names of survivors were being forwarded. It read:– “Keep your mouth shut. Hold story. Big money for you.” The messages from the Carpathia to the Marconi office concerning this matter were not available, but there was evidently some communication, for the second unsigned message followed after an interval. This message read:– “If you are wise, hold story. The Marconi company will take care of you.” The third and last message was addressed to “Marconi officer, the Carpathia and the Titanic,” and signed “S. M. Sammis,” chief engineer of the Marconi Company of America. This one read:– “Stop. Say nothing. Hold your story for dollars in four figures. Mr. Marconi agreeing. Will meet you at dock.” Mr. Sammis was at the Waldorf-Astoria yesterday at the hearing before the sub-committee of the United States Senate, and he was asked about the message.
Mr. Sammis Resents Criticism.
“It is reported,” he was told, “that a message was sent by you to the wireless operator on the Carpathia to which you gave the orders or at least said to him not to give out any details of the sinking of the Titanic, as you had arranged for four figures.” “Well?” he said is a defiant way. “Did you send such a message?” “Maybe. What of it?” he replied. “It would be interesting to know if you actually sent such a message.” “Yes, I sent the message, but whose business is it?” Mr. Sammis asked with some heat. “Perhaps it was no one’s business,” he was told, “but it is interesting to know that when the world was horror stricken over the disaster and waiting for the news, that there were persons preparing to capitalize the suspense and had arranged for ‘four figures.’ ” “Do you blame me for this,” retorted Mr. Sammis, as he backed up against the wall. “Do you blame me for getting the highest price I could for the operator for the story he had to tell about the collision and the rescue. I thought I was doing a good turn for him, and I can’t see how it is the business of anyone.” It is not unlikely that the sending of these messages with the apparent result that no details of the disaster came from the relief ship will form part of the inquiry that is being made by a sub-committee of the Senate. Part of this inquiry has been directed as to why a message from President Taft asking for information about Major Archibald W. Butt was unanswered, and it is not unlikely that in view of the message from Mr. Sammis that this will be taken up again.
Navy Likely to Have Records.
While these messages were intercepted by more than one wireless receiving station, there is one place where the Senate Committee could undoubtedly get copies of them. The New York Navy Yard has a powerful receiving station, and has what is known as an “intercepted message” book. These messages are considered confidential and are never given out, but the book would undoubtedly be at the disposal of the investigating committee. Senator Smith said yesterday that the authorities in Washington knew on Thursday long before the Carpathia arrived, that the White Star line was contemplating the return of part of the Titanic crew to England by the steamship Cedric, and this information undoubtedly came from a government station. John W. Griggs, one time Attorney General of the United States and Governor of New Jersey, is president of the Marconi Wireless Company of America. He said last night he had not heard that the chief engineer of the company was marketing the information of the disaster. “This is a matter which will be looked into,” he said. “I know nothing about it, had not heard of it before, and, of course, cannot say what will be done until it is brought to my attention in an official way.”
I’ll be speaking at the Orange County Libraries (Orlando, FL) at three Branches.
Downtown Branch, Saturday, April 19 at 11:00 a.m.
Dr. Phillips (Southwest) Branch, Sat. April 26th at 2:30 p.m.
Hunter’s Creek (South Creek) Branch, Sat. May 31 at 2:00 p.m.
Kyrila Scully will also be speaking at the Breakfast for the Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista, FL at the Wyndham Resort in Downtown Disney on June 5th.
If you want to book a lecture, tea party or banquet, please contact Titanic Speakers Bureau for more information.
There were literally thousands of fascinating stories that took place on the Titanic in 1912. One of the most unique is that of Leah Rosen Aks. She was 18 years old and traveling with her ten month old baby “Filly” (Phillip). After the collision with the iceberg at twenty minutes to midnight on April 14th Leah and her infant son were escorted from third class up to the boat deck.
It was a frigid night and when Mrs. John Jacob Astor saw the shivering baby, she removed her shawl and covered the child. Moments later Filly was yanked from Leah’s arms and thrown into a lifeboat. Leah screamed and yelled, but there was too much pandemonium for anyone to listen.
In a daze, moments later Leah entered lifeboat 13 and for hours she worried if her baby was safe. When she was rescued and on the Carpathia, she searched everywhere for Filly. Suddenly she saw a lady holding Filly in her arms. She rushed up to the woman, and was shocked when the lady holding her child said that it was her baby and not Leah’s.
Soon Captain Rostron of the Carpathia was forced to play the role of King Solomon. He asked Leah and the other woman if there was anything unusal about the child. The woman holding Filly was silent, but Leah pointed out that Filly had a unique birthmark on his back. Captain Rostron verified this and then took Filly from the woman and handed the crying child back to Leah.
Leah vowed to name her next child after the Carpathia, because the rescue by Captain Rostron and his crew had given her a new life. She passed away in 1967 and Phillip died in 1991.
This graphic video provides a frame-by-frame video depiction of the sinking of the Titanic in real time. Check your watches, turn on your Titanic music or favorite movie of the Titanic and watch how it all unfolded 102 years ago on April 15, 1912.
By Wade Sisson
I’ve spoken about the Titanic at a lot of schools since my book, Racing Through the Night, was published in 2011, and I soon learned that kids always ask the best – and most humorous – questions.
For that reason, it’s been my visits to schools that I’ve enjoyed the most. There’s something about the Titanic story that captures the imaginations of young people. You can see it in their eyes as you start talking about it. When you ask them if they know anything about the Titanic, they all raise their hands.
The questions are usually evenly split between Titanic, the ship and Titanic, the James Cameron movie. Were Jack and Rose real? Why didn’t the ship see the iceberg in time to miss it?
They’re always disappointed to learn that Jack and Rose were fictional characters – but they’re fascinated to learn about the real people who are part of the Titanic story. They always seem especially touched by the story of Millvina Dean, the last of the survivors, who died in 2009.
Most of the schools do an amazing job of preparing the kids in advance. By the time I arrive, they’ve already studied the ship, the passengers and have even dipped their hands in 28-degree water.
That doesn’t mean I don’t the occasional oddball question. Like the time one little fourth-grader asked me, “Did you bring up any gold?” I told him I’d actually never been to the wreck site – and I didn’t have any gold. He didn’t believe me and asked me again several times during the discussion. Then as I was leaving the classroom he stopped me. “Dude, seriously, where’s the gold?”
The children also try to tie the Titanic story in with other lessons they’ve had. During one school visit our discussion got hijacked by a few well-meaning third-graders. It started with one question: “Did the Titanic sink in the Bermuda Triangle?” I assured the class that the Titanic was nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle, but once the thing had been mentioned, it took on a life of its own. Another student said “Maybe the Titanic hit the iceberg because they couldn’t see inside the Bermuda Triangle.” I had to confess I was not a Bermuda Triangle expert and that seemed to satisfy them enough to stop their line of questioning.
There’s always at least one child who reminds me of myself at that age – completely drawn into the Titanic story and eager to learn as much as possible. But it’s all of the children – and their genuine interest in the history – that makes these school visits worthwhile.
The Titanic was the second in the Olympic Class for White Star Line and left port from Southampton on Wednesday, April 10th, 1912 for New York, stopping at Cherborg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.
The technology on the ship was state of the art and designed to move large numbers of people comfortably across the North Atlantic in a year when over 200,000 passengers were carried back and forth in ships.
Welcome to the Titanic Speakers Bureau; the home of some of the foremost authorities, historians and authors of the RMS Titanic alive today. From Daniel Allen Butler, Bruce M. Caplan, Wade Sisson, Ken Rossignol, to Capt. E. J. Smith actor Lowell Lytle and the great-grand-daughter of the Unsinkable Molly Brown – Helen Benziger.
The Titanic Speakers Bureau will enable you to learn more about our wonderful speakers, read of their travels, books, and views on one of the most enduring stories of all times and of perhaps the greatest sea disaster known to modern history – the voyage of the White Star Liner RMS Titanic.
Various speakers such as Tammy Knox and Robert W. Walker, are also fantasy and fiction writers with the ability to use their creative genius to bring the story of the Titanic alive using genres of horror and mysteries to enhance and develop the actual history of the ship.
Contact Ken Rossignol at 301 535 8624, firstname.lastname@example.org for rates for speakers. Typically, speakers charge between $800 and $2,000 depending on the arrangements. Airfare from speaker’s nearest airport to the event, transportation to the hotel and to the event as well as hotel rates apply. Helen Benziger travels with a service dog, who is quiet and enjoys attending formal dinners.