The RMS Titanic and The RMS Carpathia

Everyone knows the ill-fated story of the RMS Titanic, but do you know the story of the rescues and the RMS Carpathia?

The RMS Carpathia had embarked on a cruise on April 11th, 1912 with some 700 people on board…. the Carpathia’s wireless operator heard the Titanic’s S.O.S. calls…

Captain Arthur Rostron immediately ordered the ship to assist the sinking liner. They set off at full steam through an ice field to reach the titanic, which was 60 miles away.

As the ship made its way to the Titanic, Captain Rostron issued a series of orders to prepare the Carpathia for rescue operations. Extra rooms, officers’ quarters and common rooms were prepared to receive survivors while blankets, soups and drinks were readied. Dinning rooms were transformed into makeshift hospitals.

Lifeboats were swung out, all gangway doors were opened and the heating, hot water and steam supply to the passenger cabins were cut to increase the ship’s top speed to help the Carpathia shave an hour off the journey.

As the Carpathia neared the suspected site of the sinking at 4am on April 15th Rostron ordered green starburst rockets be launched to alert the sinking ship, or her survivors. They then began rescuing survivors in an operation that lasted some four hours. By 8:15am, the Carpathia had rescued 705 survivors.

The Carpathia had just delivered immigrants to New York and was on its way back to Fiume when it received the fateful S.O.S. from the Titanic. It raced to the rescue at top speed, plowing through ice flows all the way.

Because of his emergency training and experience, it was Dr. Lengyel who was stationed at the point where the 705 survivors were lifted onto the ship and was the triage doctor who determined priority of care.

All the survivors were in shock, and their hands numb with cold could not grab ahold of the rope ladder. They had to be individually lifted onto the dock by means of pulleys.






Dr. Lengyel noted many broken bones and sprains among the passengers, caused during the time of panic or when they got into the lifeboats. He performed surgical procedures on 42 of them. Four of the survivors died the same day, due to shock or internal injuries. They were buried at sea.

In a letter to his brother, Dr. Lengyel wrote: “It was terrible to see these people, the women were screaming for their husbands and children whom they had seen being lost, and some solitary children who had lost their parents came on board. We consoled them with sobbing hearts….Our return trip to New York was very sad, everywhere we heard crying and wailing…”

“We could barely manage the amount of work and consoling people.”

As can be imagined, the whole rescue experience left Dr. Lengyel terribly shaken. He resigned from the Cunard Lines and never went to sea again. He never spoke of the ordeal unless hard pressed, and then only very briefly.

Dr Árpád Lengyel

The ship's doctor of the Carpathia - which vessel was the first to hurry to the Titanic's aid, was the Hungarian Dr Árpád Lengyel, who did all within his power to save the survivors, endangered by hypothermia. The survivors gave him a medallion in gratitude.


Captain Arthur Henry Rostron

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 rose to become the Commodore of the Cunard fleet, and retired in 1931.

Titanic Book.jpg

“The Great Titanic Disaster” by Thomas H. Russell, A.M., L.L., D.

The titanic tragedy occurred on April 14th, 1912.

This book was written just a few months later and was the first of its kind to be written about the disaster.

This is a first edition and extremely rare, as no other paperback copy is known to still exist. The book was re-printed later in the year and in the years to follow, but never again had this cover or this title.

(The new title became “Story of the Wreck of the Titanic World’s Greatest Sea Disaster”)

This Book Is A Part of The NHPSH Museum Library