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I just watched the episode "Night of April 14th" of the 1950s television show "One Step Beyond." The premise of the series is to present real life stories involving paranormal supernatural occurrences. In this particular episode, it is claimed five passengers of the Titanic predicted its sinking. Here are three that really stood out to me:

  1. A woman and her fiance had planned a honeymoon trip from their home in England to Switzerland. Shortly before leaving on their trip, the woman has a nightmare about drowning, but her fears are assuaged by her mother who tells her no one ever drowns in Switzerland. The next day her fiance visits her to tell her there is a change of plans and they will instead spend their honeymoon in New York City; having secured two tickets on the Titanic for the trip to America. Despite the young woman's premonitions and instinct, the couple go anyways, and she is saved on a lifeboat after being forced to leave her husband behind.
  2. A painter who is traveling on the ship paints a highly detailed work depicting the sinking of a ship similar to the Titanic.
  3. A priest who holds religious services on the ship, and just before giving his last service before the ship sank, he decides he will sing a hymn related to those imperiled while traveling on the sea.

I've tried to verify that these stories exist in Titanic literature, or even lore, but haven't found anything at all. Is there any evidence these premonitions actually took place? Or are they, and possibly the entire series, nothing more than the work of a creative writer?

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    All are plausible, given that there were 2200 people on board. Mar 8 '18 at 19:32
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    As far as the priest is concerned, the song is almost certainly "Eternal Father, Strong to Save". To grab a Wikipedia quote: "The hymn has a long tradition in civilian maritime contexts as well, being regularly invoked by ship's chaplains and sung during services on ocean crossings."
    – Ben Barden
    Mar 8 '18 at 19:38
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    @DJClayworth I am simply asking if these things happened, without any inquiry as to anything supernatural being the cause.
    – tpm900
    Mar 8 '18 at 23:42
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    I'm sure back in those days, a lot of people had nightmares about their ship sinking prior to a transatlantic voyage. A more interesting question is, did comparable numbers of people predict the sinking of other ships, which didn't sink.
    – colmde
    Mar 9 '18 at 12:50
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    I suspect a bit (a lot?) of something akin to confirmation bias is taking place here. If you have a deep dark sense of foreboding and then nothing happens, you just forget about it. If you have a deep dark sense of foreboding shortly before something terrible happens you might be inclined to think you had a premonition.
    – GordonM
    Mar 9 '18 at 17:45
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The episode in question that OP saw is available on YouTube.


Story 1 : Newlyweds on Honeymoon

Unless details of the story have been extremely modified, this story is false.

Upon watching the story, several inconsistencies arrive.

  1. The couple are identified as an Eric and Mrs. Farley. According to this source there was no one who boarded the Titanic under the surname Farley, nor anyone under either Eric or Erik with a last name resembling Farley phonetically.

  2. The husband states that they are right next to a Mr. John Jacob Astor, Boat Deck, 111-B. Several things wrong here.

  • The Boat Deck had no accommodations for passengers

  • B Deck did not go to room 111.

  • C Deck, where room 111 actually would have been for First Class Passengers, was occupied by a Mr. Benjamin Laventall Foreman, who was traveling alone

  • Mr. Astor was staying in rooms C-62 and C-64, far away from C-111.

  1. The wife is said to have escaped the sinking on Lifeboat 4. According to this list, no woman on board Lifeboat 4 has a last name resembling Farley phonetically in any way. It was likely picked for this work of fiction as it was the same boat that Mr. Astor's widow, Madeleine Talmadge Force Astor, escaped on.

Story 2 : The Minister

The story lists a Dr. Morgan as the Minister of the Rosedale Methodist Church in Winnipeg, Canada during the time of the Titanic sinking. There was indeed a Charles Morgan who was the Cleric of the Rosedale Methodist Church in Winnipeg in 1912.

While there are places online that claim this story to be true, no trustworthy sources seem to be available. None cite their sources, and most of the stories seem to be copy/pasted from each other. The only place where I was able to find anything to be sourced was on Atlantis Rising Magazine which claims that the Toronto Sun was the originator.

A google search points to the Lowell Sun actually being the source, although from the (admittedly terrible) OCR job on the page available as a free sample, it seems to be the same version of the story seen on other pages available online. The article was written in 1975, decades after this episode came out.


Story 3 : The Cartoonist

The man in the story is named as Harry Teller. A google search for "Harry Teller" Titanic only brings up references to the episode in question. A google search for "Harry Teller" cartoonist bring up no relevant results outside of references to the episode.

Similarly, the supposed painting predicting the sinking is shown in the episode. While it's entirely possible that the painting was destroyed, there are no news references to a painting made prior to the Titanic sinking. This story seems to be wholly invented for the purposes of this episode.


Story 4 : The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility

TIME Magazine wrote an article about the similarities between the book and the actual disaster. While there are some eerie similarities between the two stories, it seems to be more a case of Pareidolia than anything else.

Notable excerpts from the TIME article:

“He was someone who wrote about maritime affairs,” (Paul) Heyer said. “He was an experienced seaman, and he saw ships as getting very large and the possible danger that one of these behemoths would hit an iceberg.”


The story’s main focus is a Titan naval officer who finds God, gets the love of his life back and fights alcoholism after the Titan’s sinking. Robertson also throws in some interesting action sequences — like one where the protagonist slays a polar bear to rescue a small child.


After the sinking of the Titanic, Robertson gained great acclaim for being a clairvoyant, a title he denied.

“No,” he would reply. “I know what I’m writing about, that’s all.


Furthermore, the Titanic was not the first, nor would it be the last, ship to sink due to icebergs. Wikipedia provides a non-exhaustive list of ships that have confirmed to have been sank with icebergs. A web archive of icedata.ca provides a larger list of confirmed and suspected sinkings due to icebergs.

Nor would it even be the only ship to sink due to icebergs with a name similar to "Titan". The same source listed a Titania (note the slightly different spelling from Titanic) sinking due to an iceberg in 1880.


So, in conclusion, you have

  • A story directly contradicted by freely available evidence
  • A story whose only verified claim is that they get the name of a church minister correct
  • A story with no available evidence of it being true
  • A book that, while bearing similarities to the sinking, uses a highly dangerous and well known sea hazard to sink a ship using a naming convention that was popular at the time
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    This is a great answer! Mar 11 '18 at 16:28
  • 4
    Times you wish you could give more than one upvote...
    – Phylyp
    Mar 17 '18 at 8:30
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There are many stories about people more or less predicting the Titanic sinking or similar ocean liner disasters.

In some cases there are actually publications written before the sinking of the Titanic.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/titanic-sinking-foretold-in-fictional-accounts-years-before-disaster-1.12897231

One was written by a passenger who died on the Titanic.

There are many stories about people who were going to sail on the Titanic but didn't.

https://listverse.com/2011/12/09/10-people-who-did-not-board-the-titanic/2

And some people claimed, repeat claimed, that they cancelled their Titanic tickets because they had premonitions of disaster.

Encyclopedia Titanica has an article about cancelled Titanic passages.

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/canceled-titanic-passages.html3

There are many stories about Titanic passengers, surviving or not, having premonitions of disaster.

http://www.premierexhibitions.com/exhibitions/3/3/titanic-artifact-exhibition/blog/titanic-passengers-eerie-premonitions4

I have the impression that the topic of premonitions of the Titanic sinking is a very popular one and there are likely to be many thousands of stories about premonitions.

One Step Beyond is described:

Unlike other anthology programs, the ABC network series episodes were presented in the form of straightforward thirty-minute docudramas, all said to be based on true events.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoa_Presents:_One_Step_Beyond5

If you just saw the episode last night, try to remember the names of the passengers who were said to have the premonitions. Then check a list of Titanic passengers at, for example, Encyclopedia Titanica. If the names from the episode are not on passenger lists, it is always possible that the names were changed, a fairly common practice in dramatizations of true stories.

Try to contact Titanic enthusiasts to ask who is an authority on Titanic premonitions.

And try to research how accurate One Step Beyond is about other allegedly true incidents.

https://www.google.com/search?q=one+step+beyond+tv+series&oq=One+step+beyond+tv+s&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.7207j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-86

For example "The Day the World Wept: The Lincoln Story" is about premonitions of thee Lincoln assassination so Lincoln experts would have opinions about its accuracy. "The Peter Hurkos Story" is based on famed psychic Peter Hurkos (1911-1988). "Night of the Kill" is one of the earliest TV stories about bigfoot.

Of course you might get lucky and avoid a big research project if an expert on the Titanic reads your question and answers.

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Did the incident concerning the Reverend Charles Morgan portrayed in the ‘Night of April 14th’ episode of ‘One Step Beyond’ actually happen? Ian Stevenson, the first of five commentators to dwell at length on Titanic ‘premonitions’ (followed by Rustie Brown, Martin Gardner, George Behe and Bertrand Méhest), wrote in 1960 that Morgan, in a ‘trancelike state’, saw the number of an unfamiliar hymn presented to him on the evening of 14 April, 1912 and felt compelled to have it sung at his service. He claims, quoting correspondence in a book by R. DeWitt Miller ('You Do Take It with You', 1955) that at the time Morgan’s congregation was singing ‘Hear, Father, while we pray to Thee, for those in peril on the sea’ (‘about two hours’ before Titanic struck the iceberg), second-class passengers on Titanic were also singing it, although he gives no indication of whether a time-difference between Winnipeg and ship time on Titanic is taken into account and, if so, what it is. (Brown asserts - without giving a source - that a second-class passenger on Titanic was ‘simultaneously’ requesting the same hymn at the evening prayer meeting,)

Gardner simply relates Stevenson’s account, but while Behe makes no reference at all to Morgan, Méheust takes up the case, suggesting that Morgan forgot the hymn-number after his dream, then remembered it just before the evening service, though he also later argues that no text bears witness to the timing of the dream, and that there is nothing to exclude the possibility of a coincidence. He says that it was Reverend Ernest Carter who requested the hymn on Titanic, and that Colonel Gracie describes this episode in his memoirs (although, in fact, Gracie refers to an entirely different ‘coincidence’ concerning a hymn).

It is a clear error to think that Morgan was onboard Titanic, but, as with so many Titanic ‘premonitions’, at best it all comes down in the end to the percipient’s own account. Morgan may well not have set out deliberately to deceive, but it has always seemed to me that an element of self-deception can easily enter into the record of such cases.

SOURCES

  • Miller's book was published by The Citadel Press, New York, 1955.
  • Stevenson's claim is in the first of his two articles on Titanic premonitions, 'A Review and Analysis of Paranormal Experiences Connected with the Sinking of the Titanic’, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, vol. 54, October 1960, p.159.
  • Brown's claim is in her book, 'The Titanic, the Psychic and the Sea', Blue Harbor Press, Lomita, California, 1981, p.28.
  • The reference for Gardner is his 'The Wreck of the Titanic Foretold?, Prometheus Books, New York, 1986, p. 19.
  • The four references to Meheust's book, 'Histoires paranormales du Titanic', J’ai lu, Paris, 2006, are to p.112, p.119, p.189 and p.215.
  • Archibald Gracie's book is 'Titanic. A Survivor’s Story', The History Press, Stroud, 2008, p.5 (First published as 'The Truth About the Titanic', J.J. Little & Ives, New York, 1913.)
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    The answer being...? Isn't this just a copy of the claim ending with your guess?
    – pipe
    Mar 28 at 7:04
  • No. It's looking at evidence 'new' on this question. Morgan was a real person, who presumably made some claim that can be interpreted as a 'premonition'. How can we know FOR CERTAIN exactly what that claim was, let alone whether it accurately reflects what he experienced? Mar 28 at 7:54
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    @TerenceKeefe Hi! Can you add more sources for your answer? (e.g. "He claims, quoting correspondence in a book by R. DeWitt Miller ('You Do Take It with You', 1955)...") Mar 28 at 16:43
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    Can you edit those sources into your answer, please?
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 29 at 19:45
  • SOURCES are now available at the end of the Answer itself. Mar 30 at 17:05

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