That may seem a strange title and you my say what in the world does Angkor wat which is located in Cambodia have to do with THe Titanic? Well I will get to that.
Here are some cold facts that I am sure many of you have seen before or at least heard:
Of the 2,223 passengers on the Titanic, only 706 survived leaving 1,517 dead. The largest percentage of survivors were first class passengers, followed by second class, and finally third class. Most of the deaths were due to hypothermia in the freezing water, which would cause death in less than 15 minutes. 6 of the 7 children in first class survived. All of the children in second class survived, whereas only 34 percent were saved in third class. 4 first class women died, 86 percent women survived in second class and less than half survived in third class. Overall, only 20 percent of the men survived, compared to nearly 75 percent of the women. First-class men were four times as likely to survive as second-class men, and twice as likely to survive as third class men. Another disparity is that a greater percentage of British passengers died than American passengers; some sources claim this could be because many Britons of the time were too polite and queued, rather than to force and elbow their way onto the lifeboats as some Americans did. The captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out: “Be British, boys, be British!” as the ocean liner went down, according to witnesses.
What brought this subject to mind is yesterday my son Daniel was home sick and was watching the movie "The Titanic". He asked questions so I started telling him about what I knew. I have another son who is 11 who was given on his birthday an collectors book of the Sinking of The Titanic. He at a very young was outraged at the fact that most of the 3rd class passengers never stood a chance. You can see from the figures above how it was.
I was just reading in the book that my son Ian was given, the name of the book is "Titanic, The Truth Behind the Disaster" . I had read before how the life boats were under filled. I have a photo of a half filled life boats. Well back to one instance where a Lady Duff Gordon, her husband Sir Cosmo and her secretary were in Life Boat #1. That boat held only twelve when it was launched. That was probably the worse example of under filling of a life boat. Surprisingly The 1997 movie on the Titanic, had scenes that were actually factual, like the orchestra and staying to play "Nearer, my God, to Thee" while passengers tried to get on life boats.
Here is something from the inquiry about the filling of the lifeboats.
At the British investigation, Charles Lightoller as the senior surviving officer was questioned about the fact that the lifeboats were not filled to capacity. They had been tested in Belfast on 25th March 1912 and each boat had carried seventy men safely. When questioned about the filling of lifeboat number six, Lightoller testified that the boat was filled with as many people as he considered to be safe. Lightoller believed that it would be impossible to fill the boats to capacity before lowering them to sea without the mechanism that held them collapsing. He was questioned as to whether he had arranged for more people to be put into the boats once it was afloat. Lightoller admitted that he should have made some arrangement for the boats to be filled once they were afloat. When asked if the crew member in charge of lifeboat number six was told to return to pick up survivors, the inquiry was told that the crew member was told to stay close to the ship. (questions 13883 - 13910) Lifeboat number 6 was designed to hold 65 people. It left with 40.
Titanic also carried 3500 lifebelts and 48 life rings; Useless in the icy water. The majority of passengers that went into the sea did not drown, but froze to death.
Many people were confused about where they should go after the order to launch the lifeboats had been given. There should have been a lifeboat drill on 14th April, but the Captain cancelled it to allow people to go to church.
Many people believed that Titanic was not actually sinking but that the call to the lifeboats was actually a drill and stayed inside rather than venture out onto the freezing deck.
Life Boat #1 carried 12, Life boat #6 that carried Margaret Brown or as she later became known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and Helen Churchill Candee who would go on to write one of the first survivor accounts and then later go on to travel to Cambodia and Angkor Wat.
Some asked why they waited for over an hour before even launching any of the life boats. Something we will never know.
I read an account of a young brother and sister who were buffeted from side to side by people scrambling to find a way to get onto a life boat. When all the 1st class passengers were safely aboard life boats that could get onto one (But again they were under filled) at that, These two were trying in vain to find their family. They were standing on the deck crying and a man who the young boy later identified as Col. John Jacob Astor put them in a life boat after he made sure his young pregnant wife was safely aboard a boat. That was the last time anyone saw that man, the richest man at that time in the world went down with the mightiest ocean going vessle.
So now I get back to why the Titanic and Angkor Wat are connected... because of one survivor Helen Churchill Candee.
Helen Churchill Candee wrote in 1922 from Angkor Wat:
It is with hesitation that I mention the larger ladies of the carvings, the Tevadas or sacred dancers. I am made shy in their presence, while they remain unperturbed. They are so many to know all at once, and their character is to me unfathomable.
Angkor Wat, 1922
Her account was one of the first English accounts of this wonderful place. Up till then most accounts were in French.
I have a lot of old travelogues but this one means a great deal to me being about the country of my natural children's birth and where my grandchildren still live. I lived there for about 11 years and hope to get back there this coming May.