April 14th: A date to remember!


What do Abraham Lincoln, the Titanic and Bombay all have in common? Sounds like a random list to find connections doesn’t it?!  Well, for each one, the 14th of April is a significant date in history. How so?

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was shot on this day in 1865. Lincoln was at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. watching the play Our American Cousin at that time.  Shortly after 10 p.m., the well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head.  He died the following morning. Lincoln was the first US President to be assassinated. 

Fast forward almost 50 years to April 14, 1912. Late that night, the ‘unsinkable’ RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. She was on her maiden voyage and was sailing from Southhampton, England to New York, USA.  She had about 2200 passengers on board, but was equipped with only 20 lifeboats which could carry only about half that number. Truly heartbreaking!

Sadly also, when the Titanic sent out a distress SOS signal to the area, the SS Californian, the closest ship that was only about 20 miles away could not respond for some mysterious reason. Luckily, the RMS Carpathia which was approximately 50 miles away responded. Alas, she arrived on the scene only four hours later despite her best efforts. When she arrived at the location, there was no sign of the Titanic, but the crew noticed a few lifeboats and rescued over 700 survivors from the icy waters.     

The 14th of April is witness to another horrific event in history. On this day in 1944, there was a massive explosion on a cargo ship at the Victoria Dock of Bombay (now Mumbai).  The explosion took place on the ship, SS Fort Stikine, a British ship that was carrying mixed cargo of cotton bales, gold, and ammunition including tonnes of explosives. The fire started in the hold of the ship which was destroyed in two giant blasts. Debris including the gold was scattered for miles. A piece of propeller is said to have landed in St. Xaviers High School which is 3 miles away from the Docks.  The explosion was so intense it resulted in the sinking of some surrounding ships and setting fire to the area, killing around 1,000 people.  It took the firemen three days to bring the fire under control making it one of the biggest disasters the city had seen.

What an uncanny coincidence that three very historic tragic events occurred on the same date though years apart.

Written by: Purnima Thacker, a keen art admirer, nature enthusiast, intellectual property lawyer and mum to a curious 8 year old.

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