An April fools tragedy: The sinking of the SS Atlantic

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An April fools tragedy: The sinking of the SS Atlantic

Postby Andrew Clarkson » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:22 am

It had all the makings of an April Fool’s joke, but it was a bit late in the day for tomfoolery.

Darkness was falling when a bedraggled Englishman and a few out-of-town fishermen arrived in Halifax with a story about a large ship aground west of the harbour.

It was no joke. The exhausted group had walked from Lower Prospect in snow at times a foot deep. The Englishman was Cornelius Brady, third officer of the SS Atlantic, the pride of a new shipping company called the White Star Line. If that name sounds familiar, it's because they built another vessel called the Titanic. Brady had arrived to report that the White Star Line had just lost its first ship.

The Atlantic was on her side within swimming distance of the shore, next to a small island. The survivors, young men mostly, were already asleep in the beds of the fishermen who had guided Brady to Halifax. The men and women from Lower Prospect, Terence Bay and Prospect had arrived just in time to save them.

Their first sight of the stricken ship in the pale dawn of April 1, 1873 must have been awesome in the truest sense of the word. It was the biggest ship they had ever seen, 440 feet long, her straight iron bow high in the air above the rock that stopped her, her bottom torn out by the unyielding granite that gutted her, her stern submerged with the bodies of almost all the women inside her. By then the children were all dead save for one newly orphaned boy who got shoved up through a porthole. Almost all the married men had died with their families. It sounds like nobody cared, but it was just the worst of luck; they were all in the wrong part of the ship and it happened too quickly.

Read more; ... s-atlantic
All the best,
Andrew Clarkson,
Andrew Clarkson
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