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Titanic the birth of a legend


Every new ship carried an elite trouble-shooting team on its maiden voyage to handle any problems. In a grand statement typical of the Titanic, her problem-solvers were known as the Guarantee Group. The Guarantee Group was only decided shortly before the maiden voyage. The prospect of a place on the Guarantee Group was a powerful incentive to work hard and make a good impression with the bosses. Being selected to the Guarantee Group represented Harland & Wolff’s confidence in you as an employee and was a reward for doing a good job. Only the best employees would make the grade and make the voyage.

Originally a group of nine was planned but in the end just eight of the 14,000 shipworkers were onboard. Liam Flaherty, a Catholic shipwright and joiner, had a place on the Guarantee Group but in the end he didn’t go because his father, a fellow shipworker, was beaten up by some of the Protestant workers at Harland & Wolff and told not to return to his job. The attack saved Liam’s life.

the guarantee group posing on the gangplank

The final Guarantee Group included some of the men that Titanic: Birth of a Legend followed - Thomas Andrews, Artie Frost, Roderick Chisholm and Alfie Cunningham. The others in the group were William Campbell (apprentice joiner), Frank Parkes (apprentice plumber), William Parr (assistant manager in the Electrical department) and Ennis Watson (apprentice electrician).

None of the Guarantee Group survived.

Also onboard was Tommy Millar who had helped to build the Titanic – he was serving as a member of the crew. As was Joseph Bruce Ismay, boss of the White Star Shipping Line. His presence was intended to demonstrate just how important the Titanic was to White Star. But some reports found that, in an effort to please the boss, the crew of the Titanic pushed her faster than she should have been going when they hit the iceberg. Bruce Ismay found a place in the lifeboats. The disgrace ruined his career.