Arthur Rostron

Arthur Rostron

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Sir Arthur Henry Rostron, KBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, RD
Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve
The Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve was a medal awarded in the Royal Naval Reserve of the United Kingdom to officers with at least fifteen years of active duty...

, RNR
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (14 May 1869 – 4 November 1940) was a Captain
Captain (Royal Navy)
Captain is a senior officer rank of the Royal Navy. It ranks above Commander and below Commodore and has a NATO ranking code of OF-5. The rank is equivalent to a Colonel in the British Army or Royal Marines and to a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force. The rank of Group Captain is based on the...

 for the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 and was the master of the ocean liner RMS Carpathia
RMS Carpathia
RMS Carpathia was a Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson. Carpathia made her maiden voyage in 1903 and became famous for rescuing the survivors of after the latter ship hit an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912...

 when it rescued the survivors of the RMS Titanic which sank on 15 April 1912 after striking an iceberg.

Captain Rostron won wide praise for his energetic efforts to reach the Titanic before she sank, and his efficient preparations for and conduct of the rescue of the survivors. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the U.S. Congress, and after World War I was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

. He was made the Commodore
Commodore (rank)
Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

 of the Cunard fleet before retiring in 1931.

History


Arthur Rostron was born in Astley Bridge, north of Bolton
Bolton
Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England. Close to the West Pennine Moors, it is north west of the city of Manchester. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the...

, Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 to James and Nancy Rostron. Educated at Bolton School
Bolton School
Bolton School is an independent day school in Bolton, in the North-West of England. It comprises a co-educational Nursery and Infant School and single sex Junior and Senior Schools . With almost 2,400 pupils it is one of the largest independent day schools in the country.-History:Bolton School...

 from 1882 to 1883 and the Astley Bridge High School, Rostron joined the Naval
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 school ship
School ship
A training ship is a ship used to train students as sailors. The term is especially used for ships employed by navies to train future officers. Essentially there are two types: those used for training at sea and old hulks used to house classrooms....

 HMS Conway
HMS Conway (school ship)
HMS Conway was a naval training school or "school ship", founded in 1859 and housed for most of its life aboard a 19th-century wooden battleship. The ship was originally stationed on the Mersey near Liverpool, then moved to the Menai Strait during World War II. While being towed back to Birkenhead...

 at the age of thirteen. After two years of training on the Conway, he was apprenticed to the Waverley Line of Messrs, Williamson, Milligan and Co. in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 on the iron clipper ship
Clipper
A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the 19th century that had three or more masts and a square rig. They were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, small by later 19th century standards, and had a large total sail area...

, Cedric the Saxon
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

.

In 1887 Rostron joined the barque
Barque
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts.- History of the term :The word barque appears to have come from the Greek word baris, a term for an Egyptian boat. This entered Latin as barca, which gave rise to the Italian barca, Spanish barco, and the French barge and...

 Red Gauntlet as a second mate. Soon after, he left the Waverly Line and joined the barque Camphill. In December 1894 Rostron served on board the steamship Concord where he passed the extra master's certificate. He joined the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 in January 1895 and earned a position as fourth officer on the ocean liner . In the years afterward he would also serve on other Cunard ships including the Aurania, Etruria, Servia, Cherbourg, Ultonia and Saxonia. Rostron was made first officer of the RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New...

 in 1907, but was transferred to the Bresica and made the ship's Captain the day before the Lusitania's maiden voyage. The Bresica and his next several ships served the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 region, including his first passenger ship, the Pennonia, whose New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 - Mediterranean route he took command of in 1911.

As a member of the Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

, Rostron temporarily left the Cunard Line to serve with the Royal Navy during a period of international tension occasioned by the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1904 - 1905. He subsequently returned to the Cunard Line and was given command of the passenger liner RMS Carpathia
RMS Carpathia
RMS Carpathia was a Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson. Carpathia made her maiden voyage in 1903 and became famous for rescuing the survivors of after the latter ship hit an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912...

.

The Titanic rescue


The Carpathia was on its regular route between New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Fiume
Rijeka
Rijeka is the principal seaport and the third largest city in Croatia . It is located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of 128,735 inhabitants...

 when early on 15 April 1912 she received a distress signal from the White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

 ocean liner RMS Titanic, which had struck an iceberg
Iceberg
An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

 and was sinking. Rostron was asleep when Carpathia's wireless
Wireless
Wireless telecommunications is the transfer of information between two or more points that are not physically connected. Distances can be short, such as a few meters for television remote control, or as far as thousands or even millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications...

 operator, Harold Cottam
Harold Cottam
Harold Thomas Cottam was the wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia when the SOS from the sinking RMS Titanic was sent. It was also he who awakened Captain Arthur Henry Rostron after receiving the distress signal. Without his diligence, and the somewhat fortuitous circumstances, many more people...

, by chance left his headset on while undressing for bed and so heard the signal. Cottam ran to Rostron's cabin to alert him.

Rostron immediately ordered the ship to race towards the Titanic's reported position, posting extra lookouts to help spot and maneuver around the ice he knew to be in the area. About 58 nautical miles (93 km) separated the Carpathia from Titanic's position, but the Carpathia was the closest ship to respond to Titanic's distress signal. Rostron and his engineering crew skillfully obtained the maximum speed possible from the Carpathia, coaxing her up to 17.5 knots - three and a half more than she was rated for. Even so, Carpathia, travelling through dangerous ice floes, took about 3½ hours to reach the Titanic's radioed position. During this time Rostron turned off heating to ensure the maximum amount of steam for the ship's engines and had the ship prepared for the survivors; including getting blankets, food and drinks ready, and ordering his medical crew to stand by to receive the possibly injured survivors. Altogether, a list of 23 orders from Rostron to his crew was successfully implemented before Carpathia had even arrived at the scene of the disaster.

When Rostron believed he was getting close to the Titanic, he had green starburst rockets launched to encourage the Titanic if she was still afloat, or her survivors if she was not. Carpathia began picking up survivors about an hour after the first starburst was seen by those in the lifeboats. The Carpathia would end up rescuing 710 survivors out of the 2,228 passengers and crew on board the Titanic; at least one survivor is said to have died after reaching the ship. After consulting with White Star Line managing director and Titanic survivor J. Bruce Ismay
J. Bruce Ismay
Joseph Bruce Ismay was an English businessman who served as chairman and managing director of the White Star Line of steamships. He came to international attention as the highest-ranking White Star official among the 706 survivors Joseph Bruce Ismay (12 December 1862 – 17 October 1937) was...

, Rostron decided to turn the ship around and return to New York City to drop off the survivors.

Later, Rostron testified about the events the night Titanic sank at both the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 inquiry and the British Board of Trade's
Board of Trade
The Board of Trade is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government department with a diverse range of functions...

 inquiry into the disaster. Titanic survivors, including Margaret Brown
Margaret Brown
Margaret Brown was an American socialite, philanthropist, and activist who became famous due to her involvement with the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, after exhorting the crew of lifeboat 6 to return to look for survivors. It is unclear whether any survivors were found after life boat 6...

, presented Rostron with a silver cup and gold medal for his efforts the night Titanic sank. He was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the Thanks of Congress
Thanks of Congress
The Thanks of Congress are a series of formal resolutions passed by the United States Congress originally to extend the government's formal thanks for significant victories or impressive actions by American military commanders and their troops. Although it began during the American Revolutionary...

, the American Cross of Honor, a medal from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society and a gold medal from the Shipwreck Society of New York.

Later life


Rostron continued commanding the Carpathia for a year before transferring to the Caronia. Afterwards, from 1913 to 1914 he took command of the Carmania, Campania, and Lusitania
RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New...

. Rostron was Captain of the Aulania when World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 began and the ship was turned into a troopship
Troopship
A troopship is a ship used to carry soldiers, either in peacetime or wartime...

 which Rostron continued to command. In 1915, Rostron and the Aulania were involved in the Battle of Gallipoli
Battle of Gallipoli
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli, took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War...

 in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

In September 1915, Rostron joined the RMS Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

 and in April 1916 he joined the Ivernia in the Mediterranean Sea. He returned to the Mauretania in 1917 before taking command of the Andania, Saxonia, Carmania and the Mauretania again. In December 1918, he was made Captain on the acting list of the Royal Navy Reserve and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 1919.

Rostron continued to command the Mauretania after it returned to normal passenger service in June, 1919 and in 1926 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In July, 1928 Rostron took command of the RMS Berengaria and became the commodore of the Cunard fleet.

After his retirement in May 1931, Rostron was a member and Captain of the Southampton Master Mariner's Club and wrote an autobiography
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 called Home from the Sea.

When his former ship, the much-beloved Mauretania, sailed for Scotland to the shipbreakers in 1935, Rostron was supposed to have been on board; however, overcome with emotion, he refused to board her and instead waved farewell from pierside.

Rostron died of pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 on 4 November 1940 and is buried at the West End Church in Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, next to his wife Ethel Minnie Rostron, who died three years later.

External links