Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Javier Lopez on Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:49 pm

The only mexican passenger on board the Titanic was destined to die in the early hours of April 15, 1912. Manuel Uruchurtu Ramirez, 4 times deputy and then acting, went to Europe to visit his friend the ex Vice President Ramon Corral. To return to Mexico, Uruchurtu would travel on board the "France or Paris" steamship (I have found both conflicting versions) but unfortunately he exchanged tickets with Guillermo Obregon (another mexican friend) who was also in Europe and then was the former President of the Great Commission of the Chamber of Deputies (it is unknown why they decided to exchange tickets, maybe because the Uruchurtu's would arrive directly in Veracruz, Mexico). This way Uruchurtu found his final destination on board the "unsinking" transport. However Uruchurtu had a second chance to save his life since his diplomatic condition ensured him a seat in the lifeboats. But once in the lifeboat 11, a British woman approached the crew, begging to be aboarded arguing that her husband and son were waiting for her in New York. Uruchurtu stood up and cavaliery left his seat to the woman who, for some unknown reason, was recued with a baby in his arms (Frank Aks) by the Carpathia. Time after, this argument were proved to be false since her son and husband had died some time before. The British woman was Elizabeth Ramell Nye.
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Dave Bryceson on Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:38 pm

The story that one of the two Mexicans aboard the Titanic, 1st class passenger Manuel Uruchurtu, gave up his seat in Lifeboat 11 to 2nd class passenger Elizabeth Nye is a heart-stirring tale of chivalry from a bygone age. There is only one problem with it though - it is not a true story.

I first started researching the life of Elizabeth Nye in 1988. Nine years later I went online for the first time and it wasn`t long before I came across a relatively small number of Spanish language websites that all contained verbatim accounts of the alleged incident. They claimed that Manuel Uruchurtu had been granted a seat in a lifeboat due to his status as a Mexican Government Official returning from a duty visit abroad. An English lady, named as Elizabeth Nye, was refused entry to the boat as it was already full. She pleaded to be allowed in as her husband and child were waiting for her in New York. On hearing this Mr Uruchurtu ceded his place in the boat to her, asking only that she visit his family in Mexico to explain what had happened. The sites all concluded by saying that it was later found out that Elizabeth Nye had lied as she did not have a family waiting in New York.

From the first time I read the story it told just did not sound right at all. For a start, Titanic`s lifeboats had not been loaded according to status and no one had their credentials checked prior to entering a boat.

As someone who had been researching the life of Elizabeth Nye for ten years before I first read of these allegations I was confused as they certainly did not match the character and personality of the woman I had come to know during my research. Yes Elizabeth was a widow, she had married in 1904 and a daughter born in 1906 had lived for just 9 months. and her husband had died in 1911. The suggestion however that Elizabeth, who was a lifelong Salvationist, had abused the memory of her deceased family and stated that they were awaiting her in New York, was not a story that I and many others were prepared to believe.

There are many other areas where the allegation is at total odds with the evidence as it was recorded in 1912. Elizabeth had left the Titanic in Lifeboat 11 about 0135 hrs by which time it was obvious that the ship was going down and the priority was to save the women and children. Would a lady have been refused permission to enter a lifeboat under those circumstances? In a letter written on board the Carpathia Elizabeth makes no mention of any difficulty in boarding lifeboat 11, and no mention of anyone giving up his seat and his life to save her. (“We were put into the lifeboat and pushed off at once. They put all ladies and children in first”) Elizabeth`s cabin companion Amelia Brown accompanied her to the lifeboat and similarly makes no reference to any difficulty boarding. (“I was bustled to the first class deck and pushed into one of the boats”)

At the subsequent US Inquiry two members of Titanic`s crew who assisted in the loading and launching of Lifeboat 11, Steward Edward Wheelton (“Mr Murdoch told 2 sailors to jump into the boat and we lowered away.”) and Able Seaman Walter Brice (Senator Bourne “Were there any women or children who tried to get into the boat who were unable to do so?” Brice “Not that I saw Sir”) were interviewed at some length. Neither man mentions refusing entry to a lady nor any gentleman giving up his seat.

Another of the occupants of Lifeboat 11 was 1st class passenger Edith Rosenbaum (later Edith Russell) who was acquainted with Manuel Uruchurtu. Edith was not called to give evidence at either the US Inquiry or the later UK Enquiry but she was, throughout the remainder of her life one of the most vocal of survivors when it came to the subject of the Titanic. I traced a total of nine articles by, and interviews with her, about her departure from the sinking vessel and in not one of them does she make any mention of Mr Uruchurtu.

If there had been any truth in the story then it would have surely have become as endearing a part of the Titanic tale as that of Isidor and Ida Straus and not just a tale that only started appearing on websites some 8 decades later. We must ask ourselves why didn`t this story appear in A Night To Remember or any other book up until 2008 ? There is an explanation - it was becoming increasingly obvious that someone had taken the sketchy details of Elizabeth`s life and fitted a story around them. This would have been done at a time when they had no way of knowing that Elizabeth`s life was being researched for a biography.

Nevertheless I continued to bear the allegations in mind during my remaining research but I never ever came across any fact to even remotely suggest that there might be any truth in them. Elizabeth was a prolific writer and kept in touch with many friends and family members throughout her life. None of them to whom I spoke had any knowledge of her ever visiting Mexico.

I knew no one at that time in that country who might have been able to help. (Happily that situation has now changed ) The number of Spanish language sites carrying the story proliferated over the years - they all appeared to be copied from each other, each telling the same, devoid of detail, verbatim account. Google `Nye Uruchurtu` today and it lists a total of over 27,000 sites on which the names appear together. (This of course will include Titanic sites that show passenger lists)

After a total of twenty years of research my biography of Elizabeth Nye was published in 2009. As I had not discovered one iota of proof in support of the allegations the book contains no mention of Manuel Uruchurtu.

On 11 Apr 12 I was contacted by The Reforma newspaper in Mexico City who told me that a new book about Mr Uruchurtu was about to be published. They asked me if I was in possession of any information that would confirm that Manuel Uruchurtu had ceded his lifeboat place to Elizabeth Nye. My reply was that I knew of no facts which would support the story but I knew of plenty which suggested that no such incident had ever taken place and went on to list them. The story was printed the next day by The Reforma under the heading `Mystery surrounds Uruchurtu gesture` The author of Elizabeth Nye`s biography says to be wary of stories circulating on websites regarding Manuel Uruchurtu……` Happily this article has now started to be repeated on many Spanish language sites.

On the evening of 18 Apr 12 a press conference was held in Mexico City to announce the new book `El Caballero Del-Titanic` (The gentleman of the Titanic) During the evening the book’s main author, Guadalupe Loaeza, stated that at no time during her research did she see any document or other proof that the Nye/Uruchurtu incident had happened, she had worked solely on information supplied to her by the book`s co-author Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu.

The following day was to prove decisive with the publication in The Reforma of a letter sent in by the granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu. Translated it read:

REJECTION OF HEROIC ACT

Dear Editor,
In the culture section dated 11th April there is a report regarding the book written by Guadalupe Loaeza about Manuel Uruchurtu `The Gentleman of the Titanic`
Guadalupe Loaeza has taken advantage of the claim to write a book, which is not based on any facts, surrounding Manuel Uruchurtu my late Grandfather who died in that unfortunate tragedy.
Maybe with the best intentions?? she is referring to how a gentleman gave up his place on a lifeboat to a woman.
In an article in The Reforma newspaper she states `his relatives assure us that he gave up his place on a lifeboat to 2nd class passenger Elizabeth Rammel Nye`
I am the granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu and neither my father Armando Urquhart (who was 5 years old at the time) or my young aunties Amparo and Dolores Uruchurtu aged 15years and 17 years or anyone else in the family who lived with my grandmother in the last few years of her life have ever heard of this alleged incident which, had it genuinely occurred, I am sure they would have spoken about openly and proudly.
That story was made up by another (not so close) relative by the name of Alejandro Garate Uruchurtu who has appeared on television claiming to be the grandson of Manuel Uruchurtu, and whom I believe feels the need to give notoriety (unnecessarily) to the surname Uruchurtu.
I want to make it quite clear that none of his surviving grandchildren, that is my brother and myself now aged 74, have any proof of that alleged heroic act, although many including my father and aunties spoke of the tragic deaths of his parents Manuel and Gertrudis. We know that grandfather Manuel was an extraordinary and exceptional person and find it uncomfortable and ridiculous that anyone should try to dramatize his death.
If you see fit you may publish what I have written here.
I am comfortable with the article by Erika P. Bucio regarding the `Mystery surrounds Uruchurtu gesture`
Gertrudis Uruchurtu
Granddaughter of Manuel Uruchurtu


Such positive testimony from the nearest surviving relative to Manuel Uruchurtu totally vindicates Elizabeth Nye from any involvement with this story.

Mr Garate however does not agree. The following day`s edition of the newspaper contained his reply to Gertrudis - calling into question her honesty and sense of family honour. He stated where he says his proof may be found. He claimed that Edith Rosenbaum gave evidence at the US Inquiry that she had met Mr Uruchurtu at Cherbourg and had witnessed his heroic act in lifeboat 11 as she was also in that boat. He also claimed that recognition of the heroic act is contained in “United States Congress, Senate …” 62nd Congress` 2nd Session, 20 August 1912. Document 933 having been located there by Robert Bracken, eminent Titanic Researcher. The alleged visit by Elizabeth Nye to Mexico, said on many websites to have been in 1924, he now claimed to have been two visits, one in 1915 and another the following year.

Document 933 mentioned is a 92 page booklet which is still readily available today. It is an abbreviated version of the UK British Board of Trade Enquiry into the loss of the Steamship Titanic. It contains no reference to any heroic act by Manuel Uruchurtu.

In an effort to clarify his alleged involvement I contacted Robert L. Bracken. Bob replied that he had never heard of Mr Garate, had never been in contact with him and he knew full well the contents of Document 933 and that it did not contain any `recognition of heroic act`. He was unaware why his name had been used to support Mr Garate`s claim.

My concern over the book written by Guadalupe Loaeza is that she has chosen to write the chapter involving Elizabeth Nye in the first person, i.e. as if it were Elizabeth who had written it. My fear is that this will confuse many readers who will assume that they are reading an autobiographical work by Elizabeth and they will be duped into believing the story is true, as indeed Miss Loaeza herself was.

Yes, I believe that Manuel Uruchurtu was a hero of the Titanic, but only to the same extent that all 1,500+ who had to remain on board and face the certainty of imminent death were heroes. Did he compound his heroism by giving up a seat in a lifeboat ? No he did not.
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Karen Kamuda on Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:22 pm

Hi Dave,

When I read the first post you said what I thought: "From the first time I read the story it told just did not sound right at all. For a start, Titanic`s lifeboats had not been loaded according to status and no one had their credentials checked prior to entering a boat."

[color=#0080FF]In all the years we've been at this and the many, many versions we've read, especially personal accounts from survivors and letters Ed has collected going back to the 1950s, no one ever brought up status, it just doesn't work that way on a British ship or one of the well-known shipping companies. Think of the "Birkenhead" disaster in 1852, it was women children first.

Thanks for posting and keeping a sharp eye for revisionist history.

Karen and Ed
[/color] 8-)
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” ~~ P. J. O’Rourke
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Dave Bryceson on Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:32 am

For a further update to this story please see

http://mexicoperspective.com/Guadalupe- ... cated.html
Dave Bryceson
 
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Dave Bryceson on Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:43 am

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.
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Karen Kamuda on Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:38 pm

Thanks Dave for persisting and getting the facts out. The Internet is an advantage whether one is contacting people or finding sources. People can't get away with claims as easily as before.

Karen and Ed ;)
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” ~~ P. J. O’Rourke
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Dave Bryceson on Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:11 am

ELIZABETH NYE - MANUEL URUCHURTU
A FACT UNREAL


With the number of views to this Manuel Uruchurtu Forum about to go over 1,700 there is obviously a great deal of interest in this subject and I thought the readers might like to know some more about the events between April and October this year that have not appeared in the posts thus far.

First of all I must express my sincere thanks to all those who have helped me clear the name of Elizabeth Nye from any involvement in the alleged incident with Manuel Uruchurtu. Chief amongst those is Reforma Culture Section journalist Erika Perez Bucio who was the first to set out to determine the veracity or otherwise of the claims about Manuel Uruchurtu. Erika traced my contact details through a BBC website and made the initial contact which was to lead to such a decisive conclusion. In true journalistic fashion Erika`s reporting remained throughout thorough and impartial. I know that she spent many hours painstakingly searching the El Universal archives before eventually finding the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita.

My thanks for help and encouragement along the way go to Fumiko in Mexico who has become a firm friend (to the extent that we have exchanged favourite recipes!) Richard Grabman in Mexico. Also to David Geddis Smith in CA for his investigative and translation skills, and to His Excellency Eduardo Median Mors, Mexican Ambassador to the Court of St James. Finally, also to Ed and Karen who, as ever, were most generous with their time and knowledge.

At the press conference to launch `El Caballero Del Titanic` in April 2012 Mr Garate was asked about the claims I was making that his story was untrue. Mr Garate stated that he dismissed my claims and that I was only defending Elizabeth Nye because I was a member of The Salvation Army. Those who know me will find that suggestion amusing! I am not, and have never been, a member of that fine organization. I mention the incident merely to illustrate how quick Mr Garate is to invent stories when he does not know the facts.

I have mentioned before the similarity of the Mexican websites when telling the tale, there is one however that I came across during my research with its own spin on the story. The writer states that Elizabeth Nye had sought to enter a lifeboat that was intended for men only. On a British ship?!?! The writer however fails to explain why, of the 37 persons so far to have been identified as saved in Lifeboat 11, 24 were women and children!

Following Miss Loaeza`s speech in San Diego on 21 Aug 12 she prepared a video address which when reported on in the Mexican press stated that the Uruchurtu/Nye story as claimed by Mr Garate was a `fact unreal.` I do not know if that is the correct Mexican wording or perhaps a quirk of google translation but it struck me as the most appropriate heading for this post. I do know that at Post 23 Mr Garate was praising Guadalupe Loaeaza as one of the most prestigious writers in Mexico. On 25 Aug 12 his comments on one of the sites reporting her speech included this extract “I was warned by many famous serious writers not to give the opportunity to Guadalupe who is seen in the literary world as a writer of light novels and entertaining to a certain group of readers primarily social in nature.”

My fears that readers of El Caballero del Titanic might think that they are reading a work by Elizabeth Nye have were woefully short of the mark - it is not just the readers but also a number of book retailers who are advertising the book as `containing the testimony of the woman he rescued` and have the book listed in their Autobiography section. I am grateful to Miss Loaeza, with whom I have been in contact, for her decision not to have any more copies printed beyond the initial 8,000 print run.

This year, co-incidentally, has seen the sale by auction of two identical 1903 black and white photographs of Manuel Uruchurtu each displayed behind an oval photographic mount. The first, signed by Mr Uruchurtu and dedicated to Joaquin and family (presumably Col Pita) sold in Mexico for an undisclosed amount. The second, signed with no dedication, sold in the UK for a sum which exceeded £2,000.

Antonio Uruchurtu Aguayo is the nephew of Mr Garate and assists his uncle in their endeavours to have Manuel Uruchurtu officially recognised as a Hero of Chivalry in Mexico. Antonio has been quoted on the internet as saying that Manuel`s heroic act was witnessed by Ramon Artagaveytia. A little difficult to see how he gave evidence to that effect as Mr Artagaeytia was also a victim of the sinking! Antonio has also claimed that the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita contain confirmation of the meeting between Mrs Uruchurtu and Elizabeth Nye. As we now know this is totally incorrect, the Colonel states only that the woman, who he did not name, was American and spoke in Spanish. How, and why the 1912 description of an American Spanish-speaker had by 1980 turned into an English woman who spoke no foreign languages at all is a question I believe only Mr Garate can answer.

I mentioned in an earlier post that a search then on google produced a total of 27,000 internet sites that mentioned the two names Nye and Uruchurtu. Thankfully that number is now down to 3,000. It will be some time yet though before the misleading story naming Elizabeth Nye disappears from the net.

Thanks to the enquiries made by The Reforma there is now general awareness that the claims listed by Mr Garate as his `proof` of the tale, a) that the US Senate officially recognised the heroic act - is false. b) that mention of it is made in Doc 933 - is untrue, and c) that Edith Rosenbaum made a statement confirming the act - is another fabrication.

Mr Garate appears to have made no reply following the Reforma article. The only post-article I have seen came from the Sonoran History Society, which lists Mr Garate amongst their membership, and who are the occupants of the former home of Manuel Uruchurtu in Hermosillio which was bequeathed to the Mexican Nation and allocated to the Society in 1985. Not unexpectedly the Society confirm their belief in the version of the story as told by Mr Garate. With such blinkered vision it is not surprising that the Society fails to see what everyone else can see.

However, all Mr Garate is left with from his list of documents that he was saying support his story is the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita as printed in El Universal in June 1948. For the information of all readers a translated copy of those memoirs appears at the next Post.







ELIZABETH NYE - MANUEL URUCHURTU
A FACT UNREAL


With the number of views to this Manuel Uruchurtu Forum about to go over 1,700 there is obviously a great deal of interest in this subject and I thought the readers might like to know some more about the events between April and October this year that have not appeared in the posts thus far.

First of all I must express my sincere thanks to all those who have helped me clear the name of Elizabeth Nye from any involvement in the alleged incident with Manuel Uruchurtu. Chief amongst those is Reforma Culture Section journalist Erika Perez Bucio who was the first to set out to determine the veracity or otherwise of the claims about Manuel Uruchurtu. Erika traced my contact details through a BBC website and made the initial contact which was to lead to such a decisive conclusion. In true journalistic fashion Erika`s reporting remained throughout thorough and impartial. I know that she spent many hours painstakingly searching the El Universal archives before eventually finding the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita.

My thanks for help and encouragement along the way go to Fumiko in Mexico who has become a firm friend (to the extent that we have exchanged favourite recipes!) Richard Grabman in Mexico. Also to David Geddis Smith in CA for his investigative and translation skills, and to His Excellency Eduardo Median Mors, Mexican Ambassador to the Court of St James. Finally, also to Ed and Karen who, as ever, were most generous with their time and knowledge.

At the press conference to launch `El Caballero Del Titanic` in April 2012 Mr Garate was asked about the claims I was making that his story was untrue. Mr Garate stated that he dismissed my claims and that I was only defending Elizabeth Nye because I was a member of The Salvation Army. Those who know me will find that suggestion amusing! I am not, and have never been, a member of that fine organization. I mention the incident merely to illustrate how quick Mr Garate is to invent stories when he does not know the facts.

I have mentioned before the similarity of the Mexican websites when telling the tale, there is one however that I came across during my research with its own spin on the story. The writer states that Elizabeth Nye had sought to enter a lifeboat that was intended for men only. On a British ship?!?! The writer however fails to explain why, of the 37 persons so far to have been identified as saved in Lifeboat 11, 24 were women and children!

Following Miss Loaeza`s speech in San Diego on 21 Aug 12 she prepared a video address which when reported on in the Mexican press stated that the Uruchurtu/Nye story as claimed by Mr Garate was a `fact unreal.` I do not know if that is the correct Mexican wording or perhaps a quirk of google translation but it struck me as the most appropriate heading for this post. I do know that at Post 23 Mr Garate was praising Guadalupe Loaeaza as one of the most prestigious writers in Mexico. On 25 Aug 12 his comments on one of the sites reporting her speech included this extract “I was warned by many famous serious writers not to give the opportunity to Guadalupe who is seen in the literary world as a writer of light novels and entertaining to a certain group of readers primarily social in nature.”

My fears that readers of El Caballero del Titanic might think that they are reading a work by Elizabeth Nye have were woefully short of the mark - it is not just the readers but also a number of book retailers who are advertising the book as `containing the testimony of the woman he rescued` and have the book listed in their Autobiography section. I am grateful to Miss Loaeza, with whom I have been in contact, for her decision not to have any more copies printed beyond the initial 8,000 print run.

This year, co-incidentally, has seen the sale by auction of two identical 1903 black and white photographs of Manuel Uruchurtu each displayed behind an oval photographic mount. The first, signed by Mr Uruchurtu and dedicated to Joaquin and family (presumably Col Pita) sold in Mexico for an undisclosed amount. The second, signed with no dedication, sold in the UK for a sum which exceeded £2,000.

Antonio Uruchurtu Aguayo is the nephew of Mr Garate and assists his uncle in their endeavours to have Manuel Uruchurtu officially recognised as a Hero of Chivalry in Mexico. Antonio has been quoted on the internet as saying that Manuel`s heroic act was witnessed by Ramon Artagaveytia. A little difficult to see how he gave evidence to that effect as Mr Artagaeytia was also a victim of the sinking! Antonio has also claimed that the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita contain confirmation of the meeting between Mrs Uruchurtu and Elizabeth Nye. As we now know this is totally incorrect, the Colonel states only that the woman, who he did not name, was American and spoke in Spanish. How, and why the 1912 description of an American Spanish-speaker had by 1980 turned into an English woman who spoke no foreign languages at all is a question I believe only Mr Garate can answer.

I mentioned in an earlier post that a search then on google produced a total of 27,000 internet sites that mentioned the two names Nye and Uruchurtu. Thankfully that number is now down to 3,000. It will be some time yet though before the misleading story naming Elizabeth Nye disappears from the net.

Thanks to the enquiries made by The Reforma there is now general awareness that the claims listed by Mr Garate as his `proof` of the tale, a) that the US Senate officially recognised the heroic act - is false. b) that mention of it is made in Doc 933 - is untrue, and c) that Edith Rosenbaum made a statement confirming the act - is another fabrication.

Mr Garate appears to have made no reply following the Reforma article. The only post-article I have seen came from the Sonoran History Society, which lists Mr Garate amongst their membership, and who are the occupants of the former home of Manuel Uruchurtu in Hermosillio which was bequeathed to the Mexican Nation and allocated to the Society in 1985. Not unexpectedly the Society confirm their belief in the version of the story as told by Mr Garate. With such blinkered vision it is not surprising that the Society fails to see what everyone else can see.

However, all Mr Garate is left with from his list of documents that he was saying support his story is the memoirs of Col Joaquin Pita as printed in El Universal in June 1948. For the information of all readers a translated copy of those memoirs appears at the next Post.
Dave Bryceson
 
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Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Dave Bryceson on Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:16 am

Wednesday, June 30, 1948
El Universal newspaper, Mexico City
Memories of Col. Joaquín Pita
Translation into English by David Gaddis Smith, Cross-Border Editorial Services, San Diego, California.

“The Titanic Disaster and the Heroic, Lifesaving Act, at the Price of His Own Life, of Mexican Lawyer Manuel Uruchurtu”

During the first part of March 1912 the ocean liner Titanic inaugurated service between European ports and New York. The inaugural voyage was greeted with great enthusiasm, given the luxuriousness and accommodations of the ship, which could be considered the best of the steamers making the voyage between Europe and America. Such was the demand for passage on the ship that it was a coup to get a ticket on the biggest ship of its time. My unforgettable friend Manuel Uruchurtu managed to gain passage, and considered himself lucky to be making what was likely to be an entertaining trip featuring a large and select group of travelers aboard the floating palace.
The ship’s passage was made with surprising speed until disaster struck in the area of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. At that moment, the ship’s orchestra was playing the waltz from the operetta “The Merry Widow.” All was happiness and joy, as a festive ritual was taking place to celebrate the ship’s approaching its final destination. Then the terrifying, indescribable collision took place between the Titanic and the mountain of ice that suddenly appeared in front of the ocean liner, cutting the king of the seas in half. When the collision occurred, a large number of the couples dancing in the grand ballroom were thrown into the sea, and the large number of passengers who hadn’t been hurled off began gathering at the lifeboats. Despite the fear produced by the terrible collision, the passengers’ departure from the ship was rather orderly given the anguished circumstances, including that there were not enough lifeboats because there were more passengers and crew than the ocean liner’s owner had calculated. My dear lawyer friend Don Manuel Uruchurtu had managed to escape being thrown into the sea at the moment the ship was cut in half. Wearing a life vest, he managed to make it to the prow of the ship, where the captain was giving orders for saving the lives of the remaining passengers on board. Uruchurtu had, like every passenger, a lifeboat number and corresponding seat. As he was about to get into the lifeboat, an American woman, desperately seeking to be saved, appeared. At that point, the great, heroic Mexican said the words “LADIES FIRST,” and through this lofty act gave up his seat and sacrificed his life for a woman he did not know, taking into account only her gender. Then, accompanied only by the captain, he planted his feet on deck and sank as half the ship disappeared into the sea. The woman to whom Uruchurtu had surrendered his seat, now safely in the lifeboat, watched the slow sinking of the remainder of the ship and with it the two heroic men, one who died because the sacred duty of a captain is to go down with his ship and the other who sacrificed a life full of goodness and love in exchange for saving the life of a stranger because his only thought was to provide the protection a man is obliged to give a woman.
I was in Veracruz when the press published the first news about the terrible catastrophe that threw so many homes in various parts of the world into mourning. I stayed in Veracruz the rest of April, and upon my return to Mexico City, my first step was to visit the distinguished Mrs. Caraza, wife of my ill-fated friend. Mrs. Caraza, who lived in a house on Roma Moreno street, received me with her customary grace, and we had begun to talk about the terrible event in question when the arrival of a foreign woman was announced. Uruchurtu’s wife, believing the woman might be bringing news that her beloved husband had survived, welcomed her in.
She entered the living room and told her respected hostess: “I am an American citizen. For my return from England to New York, I took passage on the star-crossed Titanic. I was rescued, and have a sacred duty to fulfill. I am now in your honorable presence, and I implore that you grant me forgiveness if I further wound your broken heart with the terrible tale overshadowing my existence. Uruchurtu’s wife, filled with anxiety, replied, “You can tell me, I want to know what happened—even if it costs me my life!”
“Madam, it was a very beautiful night aboard the ship, but cold and sad on the high sea; because I am not fond of parties, I was in my cabin when an indescribable noise, a terrifying upheaval, lights going out, shouting, people running about, and voices begging God for mercy brought me to the realization that a disaster had taken place—a disaster I did not want to have to deal with. I left my cabin like a woman possessed. Survival was a matter of minutes! I arrived at the prow of the ship. The other half of the ship had almost sunk. The emergency lights had come on and it was bright. Near the captain was a tall, relatively young, dark-skinned gentleman wearing a life vest over his evening wear who was about to throw himself into a lifeboat bobbing on the furious swells. The lifeboat had just one seat left, and it belonged to that gentleman. I, facing the imminent prospect of being swallowed up by the vast ocean, got on my knees and begged the man to let me be saved. He responded by saying the words, ‘LADIES FIRST.’ I didn’t think any more about it, and that was it. Then, moving away in the boat that saved my life, an indescribable terror possessed me as the part of the ship I had been standing on minutes earlier kept sinking. Then I saw for the last time THE GENTLEMAN I WILL NEVER FORGET FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE standing pensively with his arms crossed near the captain as they slowly disappeared into the furious waters of the Atlantic. I lost consciousness and that is all I know. I was among the survivors. Many investigations in New York before maritime and government authorities. It was an international matter! Nothing happened; it was a disaster, but one where no one could be blamed! Cruel fate! I later found out that my savior, that heroic and noble-minded gentleman, was a Mexican who had a family and a wonderful life in Mexico. I tried to put myself together and fulfill the most sacred duty of my bitter existence.”
The distinguished and highly esteemed wife of Don Manuel Uruchurtu, sobbing, then said, “That’s how Manuel was! My unfortunate children will never know about what you have spoken; I want them to live their lives in the hopes that their incomparable and unforgettable father lives, albeit on an unknown island.”
The entire conversation took place in Spanish, which the American spoke well. The only people present for the conversation were Mrs. Caraza de Uruchurtu, the woman in question, my son Carlos, and me. When the Titanic disaster took place, Don Manuel Uruchurtu held a seat in the federal legislature. He was originally from Sonora and had married the virtuous and distinguished Mrs. Caraza, a prominent lady in Xalapan society, and they had two daughters and a son. A great harmony reigned in their home, leading people to think they would be happy forever, when terrible reality did away with the hopes and dreams of that good and noble family. Uruchurtu had had a brilliant career. He had gotten a law degree and exercised his profession with remarkable success, as he was quite intelligent and enjoyed the good graces of the men running the country at the time. His best friend was his fellow countryman Don Ramón Corral, and he shared his office on Madero Avenue with the great lawyer and writer Don Esteban Maqueo Castellanos. Castellanos, while originally from Oaxaca, had developed strong relationships with prominent men in Sonora as a result of having been a district judge in the state, where his honesty and capabilities had left a lasting impression.
The heroic action of Don Manuel Uruchurtu has been nearly forgotten and it would be an act of great justice to erect a monument to this great Mexican, an exceptional man who, sacrificing his own life, saved a woman’s. Mexico has a number of awards it can give out, and I think the best choice, given his great act of heroism, would be to present one to his descendants. Mexico should take pride in having had among its own a man who took action solely on the basis of chivalry. Uruchurtu was a real man, one of those gentlemen who distinguish themselves through a humanitarian act, an act which must be reclaimed by history.
All Mexicans must feel proud that one of their brothers sacrificed his valiant life to save a woman who cried for help. While this respected Mexican’s name has fallen into oblivion, it is hoped that it will shine anew while letting the world know that in Mexico, a land of valiant and noble people, there are illustrious men like the Hero of Nacozari* and Uruchurtu.
EPILOGUE: The distinguished Mrs. Caraza, wife of the unfortunate lawyer Manuel Uruchurtu, who had been able to unite two lives into one, heartbroken by the loss of her husband, died two months** after the maritime disaster took place. Her death orphaned three children who will always remember that they had an exceptional father, a man who, after witnessing the horrific scenes preceding the last moments of the remaining half of the Titanic, sacrificed the life he loved so much so that a woman would not lose hers.

* On Nov. 7, 1907, a train engineer whose dynamite laden cars caught fire drove the train out of town, losing his life in the explosion, but preventing many other deaths.
Dave Bryceson
 
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:06 am

Re: Mexican passenger was destined to die in the Titanic.

Postby Timothy Trower on Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:57 am

Dave,

I (among others) really appreciate this new information and your update; this topic has recently been discussed extensively on a Facebook page (to which I've posted a link to this thread) and I believe that your extensive writings on this subject will be of great interest.

Thanks!
All the best,

Tim

THSMB Admin -- timtrower@NOSPAMtitanichistoricalsociety.net (just remove the NOSPAM before sending an email).
Timothy Trower
 
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