Two South Aus­tralians who were aboard the Ti­tanic when it sank 100 years ago lived to tell the tale

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Mars­den was a trav­eller. The sta­tion­mas­ter’s daugh­ter left Hoyle­ton in the state’s Mid-north to ex­plore the world – and her pre­ferred way to see it was from the decks of some of the world’s most mag­nif­i­cent ocean lin­ers. Mars­den wasn’t rich, though. She trained as a nurse be­fore find­ing work as a ship’s stew­ardess, a ca­reer move that al­lowed her to in­dulge her pas­sion for new places: Europe, Africa, the Mediter­ranean.

In 1912, this wan­der­lust put Mars­den in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of be­ing one of the first to ex­pe­ri­ence the style, op­u­lence and state-of-the-art en­gi­neer­ing in one of the won­ders of the age – the RMS Ti­tanic.

She was 28 when Ti­tanic sailed. She was also one of the lucky ones. Eve­lyn Mars­den was one of just two Aus­tralians to sur­vive his­tory’s most fa­mous ship­ping dis­as­ter. By strange co­in­ci­dence the other sur­vivor was also from South Australia, while a third lo­cal per­ished.

Now the story and tragedy of the Ti­tanic is about to be ex­ten­sively re-ex­am­ined as the 100th an­niver­sary of the liner’s sink­ing is com­mem­o­rated around the world, in­clud­ing a spec­tac­u­lar event planned at the Ade­laide Con­ven­tion Cen­tre and an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mar­itime Mu­seum at Port Ade­laide.

The Ti­tanic sank on April 15, 1912, and Mars­den was one of about 700 sur­vivors out of more than 2200 peo­ple who were aboard when the ship struck an ice­berg. Mars­den is doc­u­mented as leav­ing on lifeboat No.16 and help­ing to row it to the Carpathia, the ship which took many sur­vivors to New York. Fam­ily leg­end has it she was one of the last to leave the sink­ing ship and used the row­ing ex­per­tise she picked up as a girl on the River Mur­ray to help guide the craft to the Carpathia. Her hands were re­put­edly rubbed raw by the oars in the freez­ing At­lantic night.

But in the days fol­low­ing the dis­as­ter her par­ents be­lieved Eve­lyn was among those who per­ished. John Jungfer, from Ade­laide’s western sub­urbs, is Eve­lyn’s great nephew. His grand­mother, Agnes, was Eve­lyn’s sis­ter, and his fa­ther, Wally, re­layed the story of how the fam­ily dis­cov­ered she had sur­vived that ter­ri­ble night. “Ev­ery­one as­sumed ev­ery­one was dead,” Jungfer says.

“And he got a tele­gram five or six days af­ter (the sink­ing) and the tele­gram sim­ply said, ‘Eve­lyn alive’. He was re­ported, and I don’t know if it’s true, to be run­ning down the main street of Hoyle­ton scream­ing ‘she’s alive, she’s alive’ and wav­ing the tele­gram.”

A picture of Eve­lyn ap­peared in The Ad­ver­tiser on April 20 un­der the head­line, “On the Ti­tanic – A South Aus­tralian Lady”. But there wasn’t much news. There were only three lines, which didn’t men­tion if she was dead or alive, and the names of her par­ents.

Mars­den’s rel­a­tives are still scat­tered around SA. Her great niece, 80-year-old Mar­garet Haseloff lives in Eudunda on the edge of the Barossa Val­ley and has a col­lec­tion of 100-year-old post­cards from Eve­lyn which at­test to her rel­a­tive’s love of travel. The post­cards were handed down to Mar­garet from her mother Isla, who was Eve­lyn’s niece, and tell a story of a life well trav­elled. Eve­lyn was a reg­u­lar cor­re­spon­dent and all the post­cards are ad­dressed to Isla Jungfer in “Greenock, via Ade­laide, South Australia”.

There are cards from the Suez Canal, Cairo, Dur­ban in South Africa, London, and Mar­seille. There is one dated April 4, 1912, just days be­fore the Ti­tanic sailed from Southamp­ton, writ­ten to Isla from Eve­lyn’s fi­ancé, a doc­tor called Wil­liam James. James was also meant to be on the Ti­tanic but a last-minute ros­ter change saw him taken off the doomed ship. Writ­ten from Mar­seille the post­card tells Isla: “I shall see you some day soon.”

Fol­low­ing the Ti­tanic dis­as­ter, Eve­lyn and Wil­liam mar­ried and re­turned to live in Australia. They vis­ited the Jungfers in Greenock and set­tled for a while in the city, liv­ing at the Ruthven Man­sions in Pul­teney St. Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports Dr James worked for a time at the Royal Ade­laide Hospi­tal, although there is no record of this. The cou­ple also lived and worked in Wal­la­roo on the Yorke Penin­sula, be­fore they moved to Syd­ney where they stayed for the rest of their lives.

But the night on the Ti­tanic left its scars on Eve­lyn. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal his­to­rian Al­lan Peters, the hor­rors Eve­lyn saw that night “were to haunt her un­con­scious mind and waken her with fright from the very sound­est sleep, night af­ter night, for the rest of her life”. Eve­lyn died in Bondi on Au­gust 20, 1938, aged 54. Her hus­band died a week later of a bro­ken heart, ac­cord­ing to fam­ily. They had no chil­dren and both are buried in Syd­ney’s Waver­ley Ceme­tery.

An­other South Aus­tralian, Arthur Mcrae died in the dis­as­ter. Mcrae was born in Ade­laide in 1880, stud­ied en­gi­neer­ing in Syd­ney and was trav­el­ling to Canada aboard the Ti­tanic to see friends. He, like many of the vic­tims, is buried in Hal­i­fax, Canada.

The other lo­cal sto­ries are harder to piece to­gether. The only other Aus­tralian sur­vivor is thought to be Charles Dahl. He was born in Nor­way in 1866 but moved to Ade­laide to work as a joiner in 1882. He was a third class pas­sen­ger on the Ti­tanic, trav­el­ling to the US to visit his mother. Af­ter the sink­ing it is be­lieved he came back to Australia to live, although per­haps not in Ade­laide. He died in Nor­way in 1933.

From here lo­cal con­nec­tions be­come even more mys­te­ri­ous. At a ceme­tery in Aldinga there is a head­stone mark­ing the rest­ing place of Alan Mcrae (no re­la­tion to Arthur) with the me­mo­rial “Alan 1889-1912 (miss­ing SS Ti­tanic)”. How­ever, no Alan Mcrae was listed as a pas­sen­ger or crew on the ship.

There was also a Lon­doner called Thomas Bell who lived for many years in Ade­laide and claimed to be a cabin boy on the Ti­tanic. Again, his name does not ap­pear on of­fi­cial records but lo­cal ex­perts were con­vinced of the ve­rac­ity of his tale. THE

Ti­tanic was launched in 1911, and its maiden voy­age in 1912 from Southamp­ton to New York was one of the events of the age. It was the largest float­ing ob­ject ever built, the most lux­u­ri­ous ship ever de­vised. It was a tech­no­log­i­cal won­der that was claimed to be un­sink­able – although not by its White Star own­ers.

It de­parted Southamp­ton on April 10, 1912, stopped briefly at Cher­bourg, France, and Cobh, Ire­land, be­fore steam­ing across the At­lantic. Shortly be­fore mid­night on April 14 look­outs spot­ted an ice­berg dead ahead. It was too late to avoid im­pact. The ship swiped the ice­berg and the hull was punc­tured six times over a length of about 90m. Less than three hours later, at 2.20am on April 15, the Ti­tanic slipped be­low the waves, tak­ing al­most 1500 souls with it.

The story slowly fil­tered through to Australia. The Ad­ver­tiser first re­ported it on April 17 un­der the head­ing, “An Ap­palling Ma­rine Dis­as­ter”. By April 20, peo­ple were look­ing for ex­pla­na­tions and blame. One para­graph reads: “Com­ment­ing on the fact that the cap­tain of the Ti­tanic had learned by wire­less teleg­ra­phy of the prox­im­ity of the ice­field, The New York Times says the ves­sel did not at­tempt to avoid the re­gion but steamed at high speed, a pro­ceed­ing not merely im­pru­dent and reck­less, but crim­i­nal.”

It was a ter­ri­ble tragedy, and the world’s fas­ci­na­tion with it con­tin­ues. Ade­laide has its own Ti­tanic and Steamship His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, of which Margie Monk is a keen mem­ber. Her en­thu­si­asm for all things Ti­tanic is in­fec­tious. Over a cof­fee near her bal­loon shop in the city, Monk is all hand ges­tures and wide-eyed won­der in de­scrib­ing the story and the legacy of the ship.

She traces her fas­ci­na­tion back to watch­ing as a young girl the old black and white film A Night To Re­mem­ber, star­ring Ken­neth More and Ron­ald Allen which told the story of the sink­ing. She much prefers it to the James

Cameron’s 1997 ef­fort, Ti­tanic, with Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslett, although she is far too po­lite to say so out­right. “It was made for its time and it was very suc­cess­ful so who am I (to say oth­er­wise)?”

The lo­cal Ti­tanic So­ci­ety boasts about 1000 mem­bers and is the co-or­di­na­tor for a com­mem­o­ra­tion event planned for the Ade­laide Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on April 14. Monk is hop­ing as many as 2000 peo­ple will turn up for the Ti­tanic-themed pro­duc­tion, which will cost about $500,000 to stage. Billed as 1912 The Event, de­sign­ers from the US, the UK and New Zealand will be in­volved in turn­ing the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre into a mini-ti­tanic. There is a plan for a domed roof mim­ick­ing the fa­mous one on the Ti­tanic, as well as a copy of the bow of the ship. As on the Ti­tanic, three classes of tick­ets are be­ing sold so you can sit in first, sec­ond or third class. There will be a world record num­ber of bal­loons dropped, with an aim for 191,200 to fall, there will be tele­graph sta­tions to send tele­grams be­tween ta­bles and the room will be cooled later in the evening to repli­cate the chill of the North At­lantic. “It’s not a cheap pro­duc­tion by any means, trust me,” says Monk. “You will go away feel­ing the whole story of Ti­tanic.”

Monk says the en­dur­ing ap­peal of the Ti­tanic story is multi-lay­ered. It can be seem as a link be­tween the old Vic­to­rian world and a newer, tech­no­log­i­cal age. It helped break down class bar­ri­ers, it was a cat­a­lyst for changes in safety, and the use of the Mar­coni wire­less ra­dio to send dis­tress mes­sages, in­clud­ing the rel­a­tively new SOS, was seen as a break­through. (Mar­coni him­self was said to have been wait­ing to board the ship in New York). “The very, very wealthy and the very, very poor are locked to­gether for all time,” Monk says. “That was maybe the first time in his­tory that was brought home with such a thud.”

And there are other lit­tle odd­i­ties in­volved. The Ti­tanic was sup­posed to sail a month ear­lier but af­ter its sis­ter ship, the Olympic, was dam­aged in an ac­ci­dent, the ship’s owner di­verted re­sources to its re­pair. By co­in­ci­dence, Eve­lyn Mars­den was also on the Olympic when it was struck by the Royal Navy war­ship HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight.

White Star built three of these enor­mous and lux­u­ri­ous ships. Olympic was the first, fol­lowed by the Ti­tanic. A third, orig­i­nally

called the Gi­gan­tic but re­named the Bri­tan­nic, sank while be­ing used as a hospi­tal ship in World War I af­ter ei­ther hit­ting a mine or be­ing tor­pe­doed.

But it is the Ti­tanic that has lived long­est in mem­ory. The dis­cov­ery of the ship’s final rest­ing place 3600m be­low the At­lantic by Robert Bal­lard in 1985 only in­creased the fas­ci­na­tion. Ghostly images of the bow of the ship, still up­right on the floor or the sea, stirred the imag­i­na­tion and added an­other el­e­ment to the al­ready en­thralling story.

To mark the an­niver­sary one tourism op­er­a­tor is of­fer­ing guided tours to the wreck in Rus­sian Mir sub­mersibles. For $US66,257, you can take a 15-day tour to the site, leav­ing from Hal­i­fax and in­clud­ing the dive. Ac­cord­ing to the Kens­ing­ton Tours sched­ule it takes about 2½ hours to dive to the Ti­tanic. Af­ter that, the tourists spend three or four hours ex­plor­ing the site, with the dive fo­cus­ing on the bow sec­tion, the bridge and prom­e­nade ar­eas.

Emily Jat­eff is one of the few peo­ple in SA to have taken that jour­ney. In 2005 she was part of the team as­sem­bled by movie di­rec­tor James Cameron, who was mak­ing his Last Mys­ter­ies of the Ti­tanic doc­u­men­tary. Jat­eff was 26 at the time and study­ing ma­rine ar­chae­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of West Florida.

Jat­eff is now part of the Mar­itime Mu­seum of South Australia and is cu­rat­ing its Ti­tanic: Voy­age of the Cen­tury ex­hi­bi­tion in Port Ade­laide, which opens on March 24. She says the link be­tween or­gan­is­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion and her ex­pe­ri­ence with Cameron is co­in­ci­den­tal and not a Ti­tanic fix­a­tion. In­deed she strug­gles to ex­plain her emo­tions about see­ing the Ti­tanic close up. Partly this is be­cause it was hard to take in through the small win­dows of the Rus­sian sub­ma­rine in which she was a pas­sen­ger and partly be­cause she was there to do job and not just be a sight­seer. “I was very con­scious of look­ing at it like an ar­chae­ol­o­gist, try­ing to dis­as­so­ci­ate my­self as much as pos­si­ble from the emo­tional as­pect of the wreck,” she says. She has been more emo­tion­ally touched by putting to­gether Ti­tanic: The Last Voy­age be­cause it tells the sto­ries of the peo­ple in­volved.

The ex­hi­bi­tion chron­i­cles Ti­tanic’s life from in­cep­tion to build, through me­dia frenzy, the voy­age and the dis­as­ter. It can­vasses the myths and re­al­i­ties of the sink­ing and has in­ter­ac­tive com­po­nents. Jat­eff has chased down a va­ri­ety of Ti­tanic-re­lated mem­o­ra­bilia, in­clud­ing a col­lec­tion loaned by the grand­son of Harold God­frey Lowe, who was fifth of­fi­cer on the Ti­tanic. One of the things the ex­hi­bi­tion does not have is any relics from the wreck it­self. This is an eth­i­cal decision by the mu­seum in keep­ing with rec­om­mended stan­dards of the In­ter­na­tional Congress of Mar­itime Mu­se­ums. Many be­lieve the wreck site is a me­mo­rial and a mu­seum, and arte­facts should not be re­moved from the Ti­tanic be­cause it is also a mass grave. They see it as loot­ing.

Which leaves one of the other big­gest events in the Ti­tanic centenary year un­der a cloud. A com­pany called RMS Ti­tanic Inc won the sal­vage rights to the Ti­tanic in 1994 af­ter a long le­gal bat­tle. It has brought up more than 5000 items from the sea floor, in­clud­ing a 15m slice of hull, and is go­ing to auc­tion the lot in New York in April. The col­lec­tion is val­ued at about $180 mil­lion but due to the or­der of a US judge it can­not be bro­ken up and sold piece­meal. It will all have to go to a sin­gle bid­der.

Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and mu­se­ums have been seen as the most likely bid­ders but ac­cord­ing to Jat­eff none of those bod­ies “can eth­i­cally take it so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how that turns out”. Out­side of the ex­hi­bi­tion at Port Ade­laide, the Mar­itime Mu­seum is also get­ting into the swing of the 100th an­niver­sary. It is hold­ing a Last Drinks on the Ti­tanic party on April 13. Oth­ers are also join­ing in. The Ade­laide Sym­phony Or­ches­tra is per­form­ing the mu­sic of El­gar at the Fes­ti­val Theatre to mark the mo­ment.

But John Jungfer is plan­ning a more low-key ac­knowl­edge­ment. He will prob­a­bly at­tend the 1912: The Event but doesn’t want much of a fuss made be­cause of his fa­mous an­ces­tor. “It was in­ter­est­ing to me when my dad told me sto­ries about it,” he says. “And when the film came out there was a tad more in­ter­est. But cer­tainly I will be hav­ing a thought about her on the day.”

A pho­to­graph folder con­tains post­cards Eve­lyn Mars­den sent to her niece, Isla Jungfer, and, be­low, from The Ad­ver­tiser of April 17, 1912.

Emily Jat­eff is cu­rat­ing a Titanic ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mar­itime Mu­seum of SA, and, in­set, from The Ad­ver­tiser of April 20, 1912.

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