On 1 Ocr 12 this follow-up article appeared in The Reforma newspaper in Mexico City. (NB: PRI is a Mexican political party)
Loaeza rejects her novel `Gentleman of the Titanic`
TITANIC HERO SINKS
Experts deny that Manuel Uruchurtu saved a British passenger from the ship
Erika P. Bucio
The story of the Mexican Titanic hero doesn`t hold water.
Neither the investigations of the U.S. Senate nor of the British Government about the sinking of the ship in 1912 show any validity or prove any credence that Manuel Uruchurtu saved the life of English passenger Elizabeth Nye.
Don Lynch, official historian of The Titanic Historical Society, established in 1963, states: “I am not aware of any `act of heroism` recognised by the U.S. Senate”
Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu, nephew grandson of Manuel Uruchurtu, who has been spreading this story for 30 years, states that the Mexican lawyer gave up his seat to the English lady passenger in the lifeboat and this “heroic act” earned him the recognition of the Upper House.
Sourced document 933 `Unites States, 62nd Congress, Senate, 2nd Session, 20 August 1912` whose findings are attributed to the investigator Robert Bracken, was not found by REFORMA. Bracken, Treasurer of The Titanic International Society, contradicted Garate Uruchurtu and expressed his surprise to see his name involved in the case. He states “I have never written a word nor found any material on Ramell and Uruchurtu I assure you”.
The U.S. Senate report states on its website that document 933 is actually a reprint of the British Investigation into the sinking of the Titanic. Lynch confirms “It contains no personal history like that mentioned, neither does it mention the name `Uruchurtu` except in the passenger list.
Consulted by REFORMA, Mary Baumann of the Senate Historical Office said they had not located any record of such a distinction.
Garate Uruchurtu insists that journalist Edith L. Rosenbaum, a passenger in first class, gave evidence to have shared a lifeboat with the Mexican passenger. But Rosenbaum was not among the 86 witnesses called to testify at the hearings conducted by the special subcommittee of the `Senate Commerce Committee, April 19th to 25th May 1912.`.
Lynch confirmed that Edith Rosenbaum, who did not changer her name to Russell until 1918, did not testify in the U.S. Investigation nor in the British one.
The transcripts of the hearings, covering more than one hundred thousand pages, were published in 1912 as Document 726, Titanic Disaster Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate. Report 806 of May 28th 1912 contains the findings of the investigation into the causes of the disaster. The transcripts of the hearings in the United States, the research carried out in Great Britain and final reports can be viewed on www.titanicinquiry.org
The Senate also published on its website Document 806. At no stage of the investigation are Uruchurtu or Ramell mentioned.
The name Elizabeth Nye does not appear in the memoirs of Colonel Joaquin Pita who Garate Uruchurtu cites in support of his story. In his account, published on June 30th, 1948 in El Universal, Pita mentions the visit of an American woman who he does not identify, to Gertrudis Caraza, widow of Uruchurtu in Mexico City in 1912. Pita says that he and his son Charles were the only two witnesses at that meeting in which the foreign woman told “in Spanish” how her life was saved thanks to a gentleman, who only after the sinking learned he was a Mexican who had given up his seat in the lifeboat.
Ruth Freeman, Ramell`s niece, disputes that version in a letter. “My aunt never spoke of such a fact or visited Mexico. She only spoke English.”
“There were no assigned seats for passengers in the lifeboats,” Lynch explains “It was women and children first. Therefore, I can not imagine how Mr Uruchurtu could have given up a seat”
According to Pita, Uruchurtu`s widow died of sadness two months after the accident, leaving three children orphaned. The Grandmother actually died four years after the sinking of the Titanic from TB, penniless and leaving five children confirmed Gertrudis Uruchurtu the granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu, who has argued that the heroic act attributed to her Grandfather is an invention.
Garate Uruchurtu assures that there was a subsequent visit by Ramell to `Hermosillo` in January 1916 to meet the mother of the Mexican passenger, Mercedes Ramirez. From that encounter, he claims, are the oral testimonies of their families and chronicles of Gilberto Escobosa, who was the chronicler of the city `Hermosillo at the time” But Escobosa wasn`t born until a year after the alleged visit and was the official chronicler of the city from 1980 until his death in 2007.
“Escobosa makes reference to when the family made a donation of the `House of Uruchurtu` to the State Government in 1985 (later transferred to the Sonoran History Society” corrects Garate Uruchurtu, who is a member of the Titanic Historical Society based in Southampton, England.
The British Titanic Society denied the existence of said Society at the port where the liner set sail on April 10th, 1912. “There was never any such society here” replies Brian J. Ticehurst, partner and Southampton resident for 76 years.
Despite the lack of evidence the Sonoran History Society (SSH) which includes amongst its honorary members Garate Uruchurtu, named Manuel Uruchurtu as `Hero of Chivalry` as a first step towards achieving national recognition.
Hermosillo made the title official on 22 February 2011 and local Congress agreed on April 18th to send a exhort to the Union Congress.
Rangel Palafox, treasurer of the SSH and promoter of the distinction since 2009 anticipates that they will ask the new Senators for PRI for Sonora, Ernesto Gandara and Claudia Pablovitch to resume the proposal supported in the last term by Senator Alfonso Elias Serrano and Congressman Ernesto Luke Hopkins.
But Gertrudis Uruchurtu rejects the attempt to make her Grandfather a hero of the Titanic. “For me it would be embarrassing” she says. “He was the Deputy in charge of the work for El Charnizal on the Arizona border outside of Mexico. This could be because of the famous `heroic act` …
Loaeza will never again publish `The Gentleman of the Titanic`
as there is no evidence of the heroic act
Writer Guadalupe Loaeza has decided not to reprint `The Gentleman of the Titanic` (Aguilar) finding no evidence of the heroic act attributed to Manuel Uruchurtu. She wrote the novel, she admits, based on the testimony of Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu.
“He has for 30 years been feeding the legend without a single paper” said Loaeza. Of the eight thousand copies of the initial print run, just over half were sold. Although the remaining books are not being removed from sale, she will not participate in any sales promotions.
But Garate Uruchurtu, who wrote the preface and collects a percentage of the royalties, warns there is an existing contract of five years. “The publisher will have to come to an agreement with me and the author because there are copyrights registered. If they release me from this I can take it to another publishing house.”
There were attempts by Aguilar to exclude the foreword in order to thin out the book which is almost 300 pages in length.
“(When) they decided to include my prologue and without changing anything is when I told them (if) my prologue is not included and I`m not in this, I will retract all the details regarding Uruchurtu and will not authorize the publishing” says the PRI.
Loaeza admits it was a mistake not to consult more sources, including the biographer of Elizabeth Ramell, Dave Bryceson, who has refuted the heroic act.