New book casts doubt over musician Wallace Hartley’s actions on board the Titanic as it sunk
Apr 15 2010 by Joanne Douglas, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
The book adds: “We also know from a talk given by Archibald Gracie to the Washington University Club in November 1912, shortly before he died from the exposure he suffered the night the Titanic sank, that the band stopped playing about half an hour before the ship sank. He added that he himself saw the musicians lay down their instruments.”
However, the author Tim Maltin himself is wary of relying on their comments, saying: “There is evidence that Hartley once said if he was on a sinking ship he would play Nearer, My God to Thee.
“It could have been that they put their instruments down to get their life jackets because they knew they were doomed, then returned to playing hymns – it’s a strong possibility.”
However, the band’s music left a deep impression on many survivors.
The Countess of Rothes told how, when dining out about a year after the sinking, she experienced the feeling of cold and intense horror she associated with the Titanic. She realised that it was because the orchestra was playing selections from the Tales of Hoffman – played by the Titanic’s band after dinner on the evening of April 14.
A plaque in honour of Hartley remains on the house in West Park Street, Dewsbury, where he lived as an adult. His family moved there from Colne, where he was born.
The book 101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic... But Didn’t! by Tim Maltin is published by Beautiful Books.