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This was not an easy page to create. Why? Because the base information is so often conflicting & contradictory. It is the best I can today create, from a few relatively definitive sources, & gives a good idea of the sequence of events. But it surely is not perfect!


October 2 - Th. Volturno leaves Rotterdam for New York via Halifax.
October 9 - Th.  
6:00 a.m. Fire alarm sounded aboard Volturno. Passengers assemble on deck and don lifebelts. (2)
  Four crewmen die in forecastle fire. (1)
8:00 a.m. First Volturno SOS message broadcast. (1)
about 10:00 a.m. First (full) Volturno lifeboat launched, commanded by First Officer Miller.
It (No. 2 lifeboat) turned upside down and all passengers were pitched into water. Two crew members, (Chief Steward and Stewardess) succeeded in getting back into boat. Boat drifted away. Never seen again (1)
It smashed against side of vessel and broke in two. All lives lost. (2)
  Second (full) Volturno lifeboat launched.
It (No 6 lifeboat under 4th Officer Langyel) got away safely, but drifted away. Never seen again (1)
It smashed against side of vessel. All drowned. (2)
  No 7 lifeboat launched. Stern of Volturno settled down on lifeboat in heavy seas and crushed it. All lives lost. (1)
  Three more lifeboats launched?
about noon Carmania arrives on scene (1)
soon thereafter Carmania launches lifeboat - rescue attempt unsuccessful (1)
  Carmania circles to locate first 2 Volturno lifeboats - without success (1)
3:30 p.m. Seydlitz arrives on scene (1)
  Grosser Kurfürst arrives (1)
4:30 p.m.  Volturno requests a tanker in a wireless message
6:00 p.m. Kroonland arrives (1)
followed by Arrival of Minneapolis & La Touraine (1)
after 9:30 p.m.
thru 11 p.m.?
Walter Trentepohl jumps into the sea with two companions. Trentepohl alone is picked up by Carmania. (1)
October 10 - F.  
early Rappahannock, Devonian, Czar and Narragansett arrive (1)
  Seydlitz attempts lifeboat rescue (1)
  Carmania drops life-rafts overboard (1)
6:30 p.m. Desperate wireless message received from Volturno - plates would soon give way (1)
  Volturno lowers lifeboat under 2nd Officer Lloyd to attempt to prove that it could be done in the sea conditions. Reaches Grosser Kurfürst. Crew saved. Boat destroyed (1)
  Final wireless message "For God's sake send us some boats or do something" (1)
9:30 p.m. Flames shoot about 70 feet in air. (1)
October 11 - Sa.  
soon after midnight Grosser Kurfürst launches boat with double crew. 2/3 hour attempt fails. Boat returns (1)
  Minneapolis launches boat. Calls for Volturno passengers to jump. None do. Crew picked up by Carmania after 5 hours. Boat destroyed. (1)
  Other boats launched. 70 or 80 jump. All rescued except for five or six. (1)
  The tanker Narragansett arrived and commenced spreading oil on the surface of the sea.
6:05 a.m. Devonian No. 5 lifeboat launched. Successfully took full load of survivors aboard - the first such load. At 6:30 a.m. survivors taken on board Devonian by means of coal baskets (3)
daylight Other boats launched. Devonian's boat first to take survivor's off. (1)
8:00 a.m. Final rescue boat departs Volturno for Kroonland with Captain Inch aboard. And also Chief Engineer and 2 Marconi operators. (1)
8:45 a.m. Devonian leaves scene. (3)
October 17 - Su.  
late Charlois finds abandoned vessel (1)
10:45 p.m. Charlois lowers boat (1)
October 18 - M. Charlois crew board vessel. Volturno permitted to sink. (1) & (5)
October 28 - Th. The Winson liner Toronto, reported, upon arriving in Boston, Mass. from Hull, U.K., that it had circled an empty and damaged Volturno lifeboat still afloat in the Atlantic. (4)


1. Arthur Spurgeon book
2. Spurgeon telegraph message with Trentepohl interview
3. Liverpool Echo of Oct. 14, 1913
4. Edmonton Daily Bulletin (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) of Oct. 29, 1913, page 2.
5. Edmonton Daily Bulletin (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) of Oct. 31, 1913, page 8.

The Marconi Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony, 1918, stated, "This signal [SOS] was adopted simply on account of its easy radiation and its unmistakable character. There is no special signification in the letter themselves, and it is entirely incorrect to put full stops between them [the letters]." All the popular interpretations of "SOS," "Save or Ship," "Save Our Souls," or "Send Out Succour" are simply not valid. Stations hearing this distress call were to immediately cease handling traffic until the emergency was over and were likewise bound to answer the distress signal.

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