Arthur Rostron : biography
Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Arthur Henry Rostron Sir Arthur Henry Rostron, KBE, RD, RNR (14 May 1869 – 4 November 1940) was a Captain for the Cunard Line. He was the master of the ocean liner RMS Carpathia when it rescued the survivors of the RMS Titanic which sank on 15 April 1912 after striking an iceberg.
Captain Rostron won wide praise for his energetic efforts to reach the Titanic before she sank, and his efficient preparations for and conduct of the rescue of the survivors. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the U.S. Congress, and in 1926 was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He rose to become the Commodore of the Cunard fleet, and retired in 1931.
Portrayals in Titanic films
He has been portrayed in various Titanic films by several actors. In the 1958 A Night to Remember he is played by Anthony Bushell. In 1979’s SOS Titanic he is portrayed by Philip Stone. In the 1996 TV drama Titanic he is portrayed by .
Rostron continued in command of the Carpathia for a year before transferring to the Caronia. Afterwards, from 1913 to 1914 he took command of the Carmania, Campania, and Lusitania. Rostron was Captain of the Aulania when World War I began and the ship was turned into a troopship which Rostron continued to command. In 1915, Rostron and the Aulania were involved in the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.
In September 1915, Rostron joined the RMS Mauretania and in April 1916 he joined the Ivernia in the Mediterranean Sea. He returned to the Mauretania in 1917 before taking command of the Andania, Saxonia, Carmania and the Mauretania again. In December 1918, he was made Captain on the acting list of the Royal Navy Reserve and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919.
Rostron continued to command the Mauretania after it returned to normal passenger service in June 1919, and in 1926 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In July 1928 Rostron took command of the RMS Berengaria and became the commodore of the Cunard fleet.
After his retirement in May 1931, Rostron was a member and Captain of the Southampton Master Mariner’s Club and wrote an autobiography called Home from the Sea.
When his former ship, the much-beloved Mauretania, sailed for Scotland to the shipbreakers in 1935, Rostron was supposed to have been on board; however, overcome with emotion, he refused to board her and instead waved farewell from pierside, preferring to remember the ship as she was when he commanded her.
Rostron died of pneumonia at the Cottage Hospital, Chippenham, Wiltshire on 4 November 1940 and is buried at the West End Church in Southampton, next to his wife Ethel Minnie Rostron, who died three years later. Rostron Close in West End is named after him.
Arthur Rostron was born in Astley Bridge, north of Bolton, Lancashire, England to James and Nancy Rostron in 1869. Educated at Bolton Grammar School from 1882 to 1883 and Bolton Church Institute in 1884, Rostron then joined the Merchant Navy Cadet School Ship HMS Conway as a cadet. After two years of training on the Conway, he was apprenticed to the Waverley Line of Messrs, Williamson, Milligan and Co. in Liverpool on the iron clipper ship, Cedric the Saxon.
In 1887 Rostron joined the barque Red Gauntlet as a second mate. Soon after, he left the Waverly Line and joined the barque Camphill. In December 1894 Rostron served on board the steamship Concord where he passed the extra master’s certificate. He joined the Cunard Line in January 1895 and earned a position as fourth officer on the ocean liner . In the years afterward he would also serve on other Cunard ships including the Aurania, Etruria, Servia, Cherbourg, Ultonia and Saxonia. As a member of the Royal Naval Reserve, Rostron temporarily left the Cunard Line to serve with the Royal Navy during a period of international tension occasioned by the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905.