02.06.

1878: Wallace Hartley – Heroic Bandleader on the Titanic

1878: Wallace Hartley – Heroic Bandleader on the Titanic
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Bust of Wallace Hartley in Albert Road, Colne

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 2 June 1878
  • In order to help keep the passengers calm as they were boarding the lifeboats, Wallace Hartley continued to play with his band until the very end. None of the band members survived the sinking of the Titanic.

On this day Wallace Hartley, a musician who became a legend as a band leader on the sinking Titanic, was born in 1878.

Specifically, Hartley and his band continued to play practically until drowning. None of the band members survived the sinking of the Titanic.

The reason they played after hitting the iceberg was to calm down the panic during the boarding of the lifeboats. In the media, this Hartley’s move was portrayed as noble and heroic.

Some of the witnesses said that the band really did play almost to the very end. Although it is impossible to say which song was the last that they played, “Nearer, My God, to Thee” gained acceptance.

Namely, Wallace Hartley was the son of an English church choirmaster. In the Oscar-winning 1997 film by James Cameron, exactly that song was used.

Interestingly, the body of Wallace Hartley was found after the sinking and he was buried in England.

The song “Nearer, My God, to Thee” was played at his funeral. It is tragic that Hartley was engaged at the time of his departure on the Titanic (he just recently proposed to his fiancée), but never managed to realize that marriage.

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