The Titanic story of Toronto's Maj. Arthur Peuchen

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The Titanic story of Toronto's Maj. Arthur Peuchen

Postby Andrew Clarkson » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:27 am

On April 15, 1912, rumours of a disaster at sea involving the new White Star liner RMS Titanic began to circulate throughout our fast-growing city that now boasted more than 400,000 citizens.

One of those Torontonians whose fears grew as unconfirmed stories of the mighty ship’s sinking after it collided with an iceberg was the major’s wife, Margaret. Having received a telegram five days earlier in which her husband confirmed that he was able to book his passage home on board Titanic’s maiden trip, she was fretful that the major might be involved somehow. Her concern was real even though one or two of the earliest reports stated that all the passengers and crew members were safe and the damaged ship was being towed to Halifax. The only change to the liner’s schedule was its port of arrival and the time.

But it wasn’t long before the sheer magnitude of the disaster was confirmed. But for Mrs. Peuchen, the only thing that really mattered was the fate of the major. For the next two days Margaret and her two children fretted as they waited for news. The news reports continued to get worse. More than 1,500 passengers had died. Was the major one of them? Finally, on this day 104 years ago, she received a telegram from the ship’s owner, the White Star Company, confirming that Maj. Arthur Peuchen was indeed one of the 705 survivors. Greatly relieved, Margaret quickly made plans to greet the major when the rescue ship Carpathia docked in New York City, an event scheduled for the evening of April 18.

While the major was no doubt relieved to have been rescued, his troubles certainly weren’t over. It started when he was approached by the many newspapers that descended on the returning Titanic survivors for first-person stories. For whatever reason, Peuchen made disparaging comments that reflected badly on the ship’s captain, as well as some members of his crew, for the actions taken (or not) to save his passengers when it was apparent the ship was in peril.

Peuchen also claimed to have been ordered by Titanic’s second officer, Charles Lightoller, to help crew one of the ship’s lifeboats. He also said he had a list signed by several of the survivors who the major claimed were under his “charge.” Unfortunately, he was unable to present either document when people began to question why so many men had died in the disaster while the major survived. The controversy plagued Arthur Peuchen for the rest of his life.

Read more; ... ur-peuchen
All the best,
Andrew Clarkson,
Andrew Clarkson
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