John Jacob Astor IV-The richest man on the Titanic.

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It is often assumed that it was mainly the poorer passengers that died on the Titanic, but this assumption is only true to an extend. In fact the richest man on board, an it can be argued the richest man on the planet, also perished in the cold Atlantic waters on April 15 1912. Financier John Jacob Astor IV was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor. He helped build the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

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On 1 May 1891 Astor was married to Ava, daughter of Edward Shippen Willing of Philadelphia . Together they had a son and one daughter. However, in 1909 Astor divorced Ava and, two years later, married eighteen-year-old Madeleine Force (who was a year younger than his son Vincent). Public opinion was divided concerning the respectability of Astor’s actions, and the newlyweds decided to winter abroad in order to let the gossip die down at home. Mr and Mrs Astor travelled to Egypt and Paris and, in the spring of 1912, decided to return to America as First Class passengers on board the brand new Titanic.astor_madeleine_1911.jpg

 

They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with Colonel Astor’s manservant Mr Victor Robbins , Mrs Astor’s maid Miss Rosalie Bidois , Miss Caroline Louise Endres Mrs Astor’s private nurse and their pet Airedale Kitty. Their ticket was PC 17757 which cost £224 10s 6d. They occupied cabins C-62-64.

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After the accident Astor left his suite to investigate, he quickly returned and reported to his wife that the ship had struck ice. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious.

Later, when the first class passengers had begun to congregate on the boat deck , the Astors sat on the mechanical horses in the gymnasium. They wore their lifebelts but Colonel Astor had found another and cut the lining with a pen knife to show his wife what it was made of.

Even as the boats were loaded Astor appeared unperturbed, he ridiculed the idea of trading the solid decks of the Titanic for a small lifeboat ‘we are safer here than in that little boat’ . He had changed his mind by 1:45 when Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4 . Astor helped his wife to climb through the windows of the enclosed promenade and then asked if he might join her, being as she was in ‘a delicate condition’. Lightoller told him that no men could enter until all the women had been loaded. Astor stood back and just asked Lightoller which boat it was. After boat 4 was lowered at 1:55 Astor stood alone while others tried to free the remaining collapsible boats.

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Astor’s body was recovered on Monday April 22 by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett (#124):

–NO. 124 – MALE – ESTIMATED AGE 50 – LIGHT HAIR & MOUSTACHE
CLOTHING – Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with “A.V.”; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; “J.J.A.” on back of collar.

EFFECTS – Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.

FIRST CLASS NAME-J.J.ASTOR—

The body was delivered to Mr N. Biddle and forwarded to New York City on May 1, 1912. He was buried at Trinity Cemetery, New York.

 

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The iceberg did not discriminate, to it it didn’t matter who was on board, young,old.poor, rich on that day it didn’t matter.

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St Elizabeth’s flood 1421

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The Dutch have always been in constant war with the sea. Most people know about the 1953 flood but there have been floods throughout the centuries with higher casualties.

I specified the year in the title because today is the 597th of the St Elizabeth’s flood, but technically this is the 2nd flood with that name,because nearly to the date 17 years earlier on the 19th of November 1407, there had been another Elizabeth’s flood.

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The St. Elizabeth’s flood of 1421 was a flooding of an area in what is now the Netherlands. It takes its name from the feast day of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary which was formerly November 19. It ranks 20th in the list of worst floods in history. During the night of November 18 to November 19, 1421 a heavy storm near the North Sea coast caused the dikes to break in a number of places and the lower lying polder land was flooded. A number of villages were swallowed by the flood and were lost, causing between 2,000 and 10,000 casualties. The dike breaks and floods caused widespread devastation in Zeeland and Holland.

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It is thought that the flood was caused by an extremely heavy north-western storm, followed by an extremely high storm tide. A spring tide was not responsible, as in 1953, but instead, wet weather led to the increase in river water levels. Gaps in the coastal line of the ‘Grote Waard’ (the southern side of the present-day province of South-Holland), resulting from previous floods, increased the severity of the flood. As a result, the flood reached a large sea arm between South-Holland and Zeeland, destroying the Grote Waard. The Grote Waard would never return to its original shape and form again.

This flood separated the cities of Geertruidenberg and Dordrecht which had previously fought against each other during the Hook and Cod (civil) wars. Most of the land remains flooded even today.

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At the lowest point in-land where the flood waters reached, which was passed the city of Dordrecht, the water still remains today.

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The sinking of MS Sinfra-Survivors Executed

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Sinfra was a cargo ship built in 1929 as Fernglen by Akers Mekaniske Verksted in Oslo, Norway, for a Norwegian shipping company.

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The ship was sold to Swedish owners in 1934 and to a French company in 1939, on the last occasion having her name changed to Sinfra.

Sinfra was confiscated by German authorities in 1942, and used by them in the Mediterranean. On 19 October 1943, Sinfra was bombed and sunk by Allied aircraft north of Souda Bay, Crete. Around 2,000 people were killed in the sinking, the majority being Italian POWs.

 

When Armistice between Italy and the Allies was announced on September 8, 1943, the Italians on the island were offered the choice of continuing to fight with the Germans or to be sent to perform forced labor. The Germans used ships to transport those who would not continue fighting.

The armistice was signed on The British battleship Nelson in Malta,Eisenhower signed for the Allies and Badoglio for Italy.

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On 18 October 1943, 2,389 Italian prisoners were loaded into the cargo hold of Sinfra to be transported to Piraeus on the Greek mainland.There were 204 Germans on board the ship, as well as a cargo of bombs. Less than an hour after departing Souda Bay, accompanied by the escort vessels GK 05 and GK 06,the ship came under Allied air attack. A total of ten USAAF North American B-25 Mitchell and RAF Bristol Beaufighter aircraft engaged the ship, some 19 nautical miles (35 km) north of Souda Bay.

At 22:05, after nightfall, Sinfra was struck by a torpedo near the front hatch, and at 23:00 the ship was hit by a bomb which penetrated the engine room.The hits knocked out the ship’s steering and set Sinfra on fire. At 02:31 on 19 October, the ship blew up and sank.Most of those who died in the sinking were Italian POWs. The number of dead is disputed, with estimates ranging from 1,857 or 2,098 killed, up to 5,000 dead.Amongst the survivors were 597 Italians, 197 Germans and 13 Greeks. Some 3% of the Germans on board died in the sinking, while according to conservative estimates close to 77% of the Italians perished.

The ship had insufficient safety equipment in relation to the number of people on board.In addition to the two escort vessels, eleven other German vessels responded to the SOS signals sent out by Sinfra. The rescue vessels were under orders to prioritize the rescue of Germans.While rescue efforts were going on, a No. 603 Squadron RAF Bristol Beaufighter strafed a German Dornier Do 24 flying boat which was participating in the rescue.

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The Do 24 later sank.As Sinfra burned, the German guards on board locked the prisoners in the holds and threw hand grenades at them.When the panicking surviving prisoners broke out of the holds and charged the guards, attempting to board life boats, the guards opened fire with small arms and machine guns, killing many. According to Italian naval archives, some 500 Italians were rescued from the sinking ship, but after the survivors had been brought to Chania, Crete, about half of them were executed “for undisciplined behaviour … and the killing of guards” during the sinking.

The Titanic

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There have been far greater sea disasters then the Titanic but for more then 100 years it still captures the imagination of people like no other nautical disaster.

Below are just some pictures of that famous unsinkable ship.

Unfinished, at Belfast, on May 31, 1911.

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Under construction.

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The Titanic, ready to be launched

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The iceberg suspected of having sunk the RMS Titanic. This iceberg was photographed by the chief steward of the liner Prinz Adalbert on the morning of April 15, 1912, just a few miles south of where the Titanic went down.

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The last lifeboat off the Titanic.

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Survivors of the Titanic safely aboard the Carpathia.

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These French boys, brothers Michel (age four) and Edmond Navratil (age two) boarded the ship with their father, who assumed the name Louis Hoffman. Hoffman did not survive. This photo was taken before the orphans were properly identified

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Mrs. J.J. Brown (“The Unsinkable Molly Brown”) presenting a trophy cup award to Carpathia Captain Arthur Henry Roston for his service in the rescue of the Titanic.

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