Guns Aboard the Titanic


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SharpsDressedMan
January 26, 2014, 05:20 PM
Anyone ever discover what and how many guns might have been aboard the Titanic when it sank? I'm surprised they did not find some among the wreckage. Or did they?

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jrmiddleton425
January 26, 2014, 05:27 PM
Titanic, as most British vessels of the same size, was an auxiliary vessel of the Royal Navy. She would carry the same type and number of small arms as any other British vessel with the same number of officers and crew of the time period.

Deaf Smith
January 26, 2014, 05:30 PM
Yes the crew had guns and locked an awful lot of people below to drown.

That is what a true dictatorship will do (and the captain of a ship is just that.)

Deaf

Connecticut Yankee
January 26, 2014, 06:54 PM
Details here:

http://www.williammurdoch.net/articles_13_Guns_on_Titanic.html

http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/forums/gunshots/5111-guns-titanic.html

Tommygunn
January 26, 2014, 06:55 PM
I recall some officers who had to deal with passengers at the lifeboat stations being issued revolvers, but I don't remember what type. IIRC one officer actually fired shots into the air in order to stop a stampede on his lifeboat station.
If any longarms were aboard I do not believe they were issued.
And it's really anyone's guess what guns passengers might have been transporting ... they were a lot less concerned about these sorts of things one hundred years ago.

Gaucho Gringo
January 26, 2014, 08:47 PM
I would make a bet that almost all the guns that the passengers had would have been owned by 1st and 2nd class passengers. Almost all of the 3rd class or steerage passengers would have been onboard with literally just the shirts on their back. If they had a weapon it would have been most likely a knife. The guns on the Titanic that were available for use by captain and senior officers were revolvers and of British manufacture, Webley's. As far as long arms I have not read anything stating that rifles were carried on the Titanic at the time of it's sinking. I am sure the Titanic having been built to be easily converted into a wartime auxiliary cruiser, would have had area's designed to be quickly converted into small arms weapons(rifle and handgun) storage areas. It was also designed to have 6" naval guns and other weapons mounted on it and the accompanying ammunition storage facilities. Only after WWII was the 3 or 4 thousand year tradition of using armed merchant ships as warships was finally abandoned.

Traditionally on merchant ships at that time, firearms were carried onboard but kept locked up and were available only to captains and senior officers, mainly as a deterrent to mutiny or to repel pirates in certain waters. Ordinary crew members were prohibited from carrying weapons although on sailing ships they were allowed knifes only with broken off tips, the reason being a sailor might have to cut a rope to save himself or the ship. I am sure that any of the passengers who did have firearms on merchant sailing or steam ships were 1st or 2nd class passengers.

Hurryin' Hoosier
January 26, 2014, 09:04 PM
Oh well, if there were actually guns aboard the Titanic, that's probably why she sank. The iceburg had nothing to do with it. :eek:

orpington
January 26, 2014, 09:56 PM
I would think that because of the wealth of the First Class passengers, that they would have access to the latest and greatest. What comes to mind is that there must have been at least a few Colt 1911's on board, since they just came out the year before the Titanic sank (especially among American First Class Passengers). I think that is what Calvin Huxley had in the HIGHLY fictitious movie from several years back. Okay, Hollywood does take lots of liberties, but, my guess, is that it would be the firearm that he most likely would have had. At least they had enough sense to use a firearm that actually existed in 1912. I think I saw a Western within the last year in which the year is in the 1860's or early 1870's and one of the characters whips out a Colt SAA, which did not exist until 1873. A Colt SAA might have made its way on board, although I think by 1912 its popularity was waning.

I think longarms would be less likely, but not unheard of, on the Titanic. Someone might have been on Safari and on their way back. I would think that a Winchester 1895 in .405 WCF or a .50-110 Express Model 1886 Winchester (or maybe one in .45-70) would have been a good bet.

I think the best bet would be what I detailed above. Additionally, if anyone has access to information detailing the best selling firearms in 1911 and 1912, I would think the top sellers would be a good bet. It would be interesting to see such a list, independent of its relevance to the Titanic.

Of course, originating from Southampton, England, a few first class passengers could easily have had with them a few of London's finest, most likely a Holland & Holland double rifle (or shotgun), although possibly a Boss or Purdey. Less likely, though possible, a firearm from a Birmingham maker or even a John Dickson from Edinburgh.

USAF_Vet
January 26, 2014, 10:11 PM
Oh well, if there were actually guns aboard the Titanic, that's probably why she sank. The iceburg had nothing to do with it. :eek:
Yeah, it was actually an AK-15 ghost gun with its 30 magazine clip and shoulder thing that goes up that went crazy and blasted a hole in the hull. That whole iceberg story was a cover up by the NRA.

SharpsDressedMan
January 27, 2014, 12:20 AM
OK, I think the ocean liner had guns for security, etc, and they were probably all English made. Then some passengers were probably transporting some in stowage and luggage, and given trends of the days might even let them have them "on person" or in cabins, etc. As far as 1911's, I seriously doubt it, as the U.S. Army took possession of the first run made for them only a few months earlier, in 1912. Darn few were in civilian hands at all, yet, and probably NONE in Europe to be able to take the ride "home" to the U.S. I was just wondering if there had ever been historic record of what was "standard issue" on the ship, or documented guns as cargo, or anything found on the wreckage, as other artifacts were.

Speedo66
January 27, 2014, 12:56 PM
The Titanic was headed to NYC in 1912. NYS Sullivan Act, outlawing non-permit handguns, had been passed the year before.

May have had an effect on passengers private possession of handguns. However, wealthy passengers may have thought they had the connections not to get arrested, sort of like today.

SharpsDressedMan
January 27, 2014, 07:21 PM
People in Europe in 1912 probably didn't get the letter about the Sullivan Act. Seem to me that few outside of NYC would even know about it, public television and the internet being what it was back then.

TennJed
January 27, 2014, 07:43 PM
People in Europe in 1912 probably didn't get the letter about the Sullivan Act. Seem to me that few outside of NYC would even know about it, public television and the internet being what it was back then.
But shouldn't the people organizing the trip be aware of the laws of the port where they would land?

SharpsDressedMan
January 27, 2014, 08:30 PM
They were not as anal back then. You really can't think of the early part of the 20th century in 21st century terms.

Tommygunn
January 27, 2014, 11:30 PM
Titanic, as most British vessels of the same size, was an auxiliary vessel of the Royal Navy. She would carry the same type and number of small arms as any other British vessel with the same number of officers and crew of the time period.

:eek: "...Of the same size...":scrutiny:
At 882 ft. 6 in. long, there was no other ship of the same size. :neener: The R.M.S. Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time. ;)
That was one of its "selling points."

But I get what you meant.:)

USAF_Vet
January 27, 2014, 11:43 PM
Of course there were. The HMHS Brittanic (882'9") and the RMS Olympic (882'6"), the sister ships of the RMS Titanic. The Titanic was laid in 1909, with the Olympic predating the Titanic by a year, being laid in port in 1908.

Speedo66
January 27, 2014, 11:47 PM
By the way, here's a comparison of the Titanic and a modern cruise ship:

https://www.google.com/search?q=comparison+of+titanic+and+modern+cruise+ship&client=firefox-a&hs=tvL&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&source=iu&imgil=eFs7yKSYN0PRSM%253A%253Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fencrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com%252Fimages%253Fq%253Dtbn%253AANd9GcTZhI-iM9WbzlgWfEMmUSFm9270KrR3dSQdClWn7ngywh6iTLkG%253B640%253B360%253B8AR6mUaBadOkzM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fsploid.gizmodo.com%25252Fthe-titanic-was-absolutely-ridiculous-compared-to-moder-1462306555&sa=X&ei=-ifnUobsM6jksATcqYGgDQ&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAQ&biw=1263&bih=603#facrc=_&imgrc=eFs7yKSYN0PRSM%253A%3B8AR6mUaBadOkzM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.kinja-img.com%252Fgawker-media%252Fimage%252Fupload%252Ft_original%252F1961eyi3lfj8yjpg.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fsploid.gizmodo.com%252Fthe-titanic-was-absolutely-ridiculous-compared-to-moder-1462306555%3B640%3B360

They had newspapers, radio, and the transatlantic cable, which was placed in 1858. News went back and forth across the Atlantic.

Although I do remember reading a British newspaper headline, "Channel Completely Fogged, Europe Cut Off"

TennJed
January 27, 2014, 11:51 PM
By the way, here's a comparison of the Titanic and a modern cruise ship:

https://www.google.com/search?q=comparison+of+titanic+and+modern+cruise+ship&client=firefox-a&hs=tvL&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&source=iu&imgil=eFs7yKSYN0PRSM%253A%253Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fencrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com%252Fimages%253Fq%253Dtbn%253AANd9GcTZhI-iM9WbzlgWfEMmUSFm9270KrR3dSQdClWn7ngywh6iTLkG%253B640%253B360%253B8AR6mUaBadOkzM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fsploid.gizmodo.com%25252Fthe-titanic-was-absolutely-ridiculous-compared-to-moder-1462306555&sa=X&ei=-ifnUobsM6jksATcqYGgDQ&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAQ&biw=1263&bih=603#facrc=_&imgrc=eFs7yKSYN0PRSM%253A%3B8AR6mUaBadOkzM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.kinja-img.com%252Fgawker-media%252Fimage%252Fupload%252Ft_original%252F1961eyi3lfj8yjpg.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fsploid.gizmodo.com%252Fthe-titanic-was-absolutely-ridiculous-compared-to-moder-1462306555%3B640%3B360

They had newspapers, radio, and the transatlantic cable, which was placed in 1858. News went back and forth across the Atlantic.
cool pic. here is another

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSmIg3D8EA6mT-3vLWBwf-5SgUXaGMZIxe56RLYJCvGYBbMMv6A

Tommygunn
January 27, 2014, 11:52 PM
Of course there were. The HMHS Brittanic (882'9") and the RMS Olympic (882'6"), the sister ships of the RMS Titanic. The Titanic was laid in 1909, with the Olympic predating the Titanic by a year, being laid in port in 1908.

The Titanic may have been larger by a few inches ...but it was LARGER.:neener:

I don't know where you got the Britanic's measurement at 882'9" .... the Titanic was the largest of the three sisterships. Perhaps the extra inches came after a refit ....? (The Olympic was 882' 0" according to my sources. If you ever get to Alnwick, England, you can see some of the Olympic's interior fittings at the White Swan Inn. Man they made FINE woodwork back then.....).

USAF_Vet
January 28, 2014, 12:18 AM
But the Britannic had a larger displacement. The Brit was newer than Titanic, not seeing its maiden voyage until after the Titanic met her fate.

Olympic was slightly smaller, but its a matter of semantics to compare the two. Almost like comparing a C-5 to an AN-124.

Tommygunn
January 28, 2014, 12:33 AM
But the Britannic had a larger displacement. The Brit was newer than Titanic, not seeing its maiden voyage until after the Titanic met her fate.

Olympic was slightly smaller, but its a matter of semantics to compare the two. Almost like comparing a C-5 to an AN-124.

But none of the sisters were "of the same size?"

AHA!:neener: GOTCHA!:neener:



OK, I realize I have now decended into utter absurdity. In my defense let me say it's getting late. I may be a little punchy.
I'll be good and get some sleep now ....:o

Mk VII
January 28, 2014, 04:45 PM
The first commercial M1911s shipped a few days before the Titanic left Southampton, so it's not feasible that they made their way across the pond in time to be taken back again.

Some years ago a Webley came up at auction as supposedly having been owned and carried by one of the ship's officers. It was pointed out that the serial proved it had been made long afterwards and the lot was withdrawn.

Although Titanic and other fast transatlantic liners could be taken up as auxiliary vessels in wartime (and some were, although they proved to be unsuitable as they were designed to only carry enough coal and food/water for the short Atlantic crossing) there's no reason why they should have carried an extensive range of smallarms in peacetime.

KimberUltra
January 28, 2014, 05:20 PM
In the movie though that cop guy have that silver 1911 if I remember correctly. So they must have had them in real life. :)

Leanwolf
January 28, 2014, 05:43 PM
It was not unusual back at the turn of the century for travelers who "toured" in foreign countries, to be armed.

My great uncle and great aunt were Broadway actors and later successful silent screen stars in Hollywood. They traveled overseas a number of times, often to exotic places, not only to see the sights but to publicize my great uncle's silent movies. According to my great aunt, he always had a Colt revolver with him when they were in foreign countries, and in certain U.S. cities. She did not remember the caliber, nor what happened to it. He died in 1949.

Obviously they traveled overseas on cruise ships. He had grown up in Pennsylvania, hunting, etc., and was on his college's shooting team.

Back in those days, my great aunt often carried a "muff gun," a Colt 1908 .25 ACP, hidden away. About 36 or 37 years ago, she gave it to me. I still have it. Shoots like a champ, too. :D

Things are kinda different these days, huh? ;)

L.W.

EDIT: Here is a picture of my late great uncle in the driveway of his home in the Hollywood Hills above Sunset Blvd. The man standing with him is his good friend from Broadway days, John Barrymore. Barrymore is on my great uncle's left.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v473/Leanwolf/HutchampBarrymore001.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Leanwolf/media/HutchampBarrymore001.jpg.html)

Prince Yamato
January 28, 2014, 06:29 PM
People in Europe in 1912 probably didn't get the letter about the Sullivan Act. Seem to me that few outside of NYC would even know about it, public television and the internet being what it was back then.

I honestly don't think that Europeans cared an iota about American gun laws. Moreover, The Sullivan Act was only enforced against poor Americans and immigrants. Teddy Roosevelt could have walked around Times Square with a suppressed pistol, shooting at squirrels and rats, and nobody would have blinked, except maybe if they wanted to cheer him on. If your name was Alfonso, Guido, or Pasquale, and you came from Kings County with only one set of clothes to your name, yes, you were getting arrested.

orpington
January 28, 2014, 07:55 PM
It is possible, I suppose, that a third class passenger (or second class passenger) might have secreted away a revolver with his life's belongings in a chest full of clothes. Obviously nothing ornate. This was before the days of metal detectors, so anything is possible. A British Bulldog or something similar...

_________

I commented earlier about how a Colt 1911 could have been on board, and was quickly corrected, as they only were available in the US a few days before the Titanic sailed from Southampton. In the highly fictitious movie, Calvin has a Colt 1911 and I commented how at least a firearm that actually existed in 1912 was used in the movie. Obviously, once again, Hollywood got it all wrong when it comes to guns. A Webley would have been a better choice...

Speedo66
January 29, 2014, 04:11 PM
Teddy Roosevelt could have walked around Times Square with a suppressed pistol, shooting at squirrels and rats, and nobody would have blinked, except maybe if they wanted to cheer him on. .
Well of course he could, he was a NYC police commissioner.

Sistema1927
January 29, 2014, 05:22 PM
An interesting webpage:

http://www.williammurdoch.net/articles_13_Guns_on_Titanic.html

And another:

http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/gunshots-on-titanic.html

WestKentucky
February 5, 2014, 12:29 AM
Lots of early, quite good double actions would have been available as would have been early autos from fn, Mauser, and others. It was truly an awesome time in the evolution of arms. JMB still alive and kicking tail with designs he would not live to see become the most famous, long lived, successful designs of all time. Newfangled bottom loaders in 25acp 7.63 32acp and 45acp coming out along with the fairly recent conversion to smokeless powder. The world of arms was changing very quickly. Realistically they went from single action revolvers to a 1911 over the course of about 25 years spanning all of the gaps and hurdles in between. Also consider in the mix the relatively new machine gun technology developed by maxim. We will never see another day in history so bright with innovation as the early 20th century. Remington m11 changed the world of shotguns. 1911 changed the world of handguns. BAR changed the world of rifles. The history is truly incredible.

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