Remembering the Members

Remembering those who lost their lives in the sinking of RMS Titanic

With the anniversary of the Titanic coming up on the 15th I was thinking about what I could post for the occasion. Frankly my idea jar is coming up empty but I did consider this short article.

During the short lifespan of the Titanic Society of South Africa I encountered all manner of people. Some were back office workers while others were right at the front leading the way forward. Naturally there were ups and downs and looking back now over the years got me thinking about some of them.  I know of 4 people that were involved with the society that are no longer with us,  and I am sure there are many others who have passed on that I do not know about. I have always said the Titanic disaster is not so much about a ship, it is about people who were faced with an unthinkable unsinkable and who had to made decisions that would either end their lives or change it forever. The decision to step into a lifeboat would haunt Bruce Ismay for the rest of his life,  and the decision to remain behind would mean that Thomas Andrews would drown.  Andrews, had he survived would have provided an incredible insight into the loss of the ship but he chose to remain behind. 

And what about those who decided that 16 lifeboats were enough? or those that decided to step back from their families that were in the lifeboats? what about those parents who stayed behind with their children in Steerage, knowing that they would not survive? Or what about Wallace Hartley and his brave musicians? or the Engineers who kept the lights burning? so many snap decisions had to be made on that fateful night and each still resonates with us so many years after the fact. 

I was looking at a photograph that I have that was taken one year when we went to visit the Webber grave in Braamfontein Cemetery. Two of the people in that photograph have passed on too, and little did I know how much time I would eventually spend in that cemetery photographing war graves.  That was a decision that I made.  

Rudi van Dijk, Derek Walker, George Durant, Hymie Alper, Neville Dolley

We also lost Val MacKeown in 2014, and I suspect that Jim MacKeown has passed on as well. Rudi passed on in 2018 and Hymie passed away in 1993.  For a few brief years we were all in the same boat, our mutual interest bringing us together, just like that ship brought all of it’s passengers to the same point in time.  

There are no living Titanic survivors, but the memory is carried forward by enthusiasts who still use their microscope to unravel the disaster. We know so much more nowadays, and we have seen the ship is she so many years after the fact. Was it worth it? I met many interesting people and corresponded with so many others outside of South Africa back then, and I too have my memories.  The members made the society and I was just one of them.

DRW © 2021/ Created 14/04/2021 

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