Read Titanic: A Survivor's Story Online

Authors: Archibald Gracie

Titanic: A Survivor's Story (20 page)

BOOK: Titanic: A Survivor's Story
2.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Senator Bourne:
You say you saw the stern end after you got on the collapsible boat?
Mr. Collins:
Yes, sir.
Senator Bourne:
Did you see the bow?
Mr. Collins:
No, sir.
Senator Bourne:
How far were you from the stern end of the ship when you came up and got on to the collapsible boat?
Mr. Collins:
I could not just exactly state how far I was away from the
Titanic
when I came up. I was not far, because her lights were out then. Her lights went out when the water got almost to amidships on her.
Senator Bourne:
As I understand it, you were amidships of the bow as the ship sank?
Mr. Collins:
Yes, sir.
Senator Bourne:
You were washed off by a wave? You were under water as you think for two or three minutes and then swam five or six yards to the collapsible boat and got aboard the boat? The stern (of ship) was still afloat?
Mr. Collins:
The stern was still afloat.
Senator Bourne:
The lights were burning?
Mr. Collins:
I came to the surface, sir, and I happened to look around and I saw the lights and nothing more, and I looked in front of me and saw the collapsible boat and I made for it.
Senator Bourne: How do you account for this wave that washed you off amidships?
Mr. Collins: By the suction which took place when the bow went down in the water. There were probably fifteen on the boat when I got on. There was some lifeboat that had a green light on it and we thought it was a ship, after the
Titanic
had sunk, and we commenced to shout. All we saw was the green light. We were drifting about two hours, and then we saw the topmast lights of the
Carpathia
. Then came daylight and we saw our own lifeboats and we were very close to them. When we spied them we shouted to them and they came over to us and they lifted a whole lot of us that were on the collapsible boat.

J. Joughin, head baker (Br. Inq.):

I got on to the starboard side of the poop; found myself in the water. I do not believe my head went under the water at all. I thought I saw some wreckage. Swam towards it and found collapsible boat (‘B’) with Lightoller and about twenty-five men on it. There was no room for me. I tried to get on, but was pushed off, but I hung around. I got around to the opposite side and cook Maynard, who recognized me, helped me and held on to me.

The experience of my fellow passenger on this boat, John B. Thayer, Jr., is embodied in accounts written by him on April 20th and 23rd, just after landing from the
Carpathia
: the first given to the press as the only statement he had made, the second in a very pathetic letter written to Judge Charles L. Long, of Springfield, Mass., whose son, Milton C. Long, was a companion of young Thayer all that evening, April 14th, until at the very last both jumped into the sea and Long was lost, as described:

Thinking that father and mother had managed to get off in a boat we, Long and myself, went to the starboard side of the Boat Deck where the boats were getting away quickly. Some were already off in the distance. We thought of getting into one of them, the last boat on the forward part of the starboard side, but there seemed to be such a crowd around that I thought it unwise to make any attempt to get into it. I thought it would never reach the water right side up, but it did.
Here I noticed nobody that I knew except Mr. Lingrey, whom I had met for the first time that evening. I lost sight of him in a few minutes. Long and I then stood by the rail just a little aft of the captain’s bridge. There was such a big list to port that it seemed as if the ship would turn on her side.
About this time the people began jumping from the stern. I thought of jumping myself, but was afraid of being stunned on hitting the water. Three times I made up my mind to jump out and slide down the davit ropes and try to swim to the boats that were lying off from the ship, but each time Long got hold of me and told me to wait a while. I got a sight on a rope between the davits and a star and noticed that the ship was gradually sinking. About this time she straightened up on an even keel again, and started to go down fairly fast at an angle of about thirty degrees. As she started to sink we left the davits and went back and stood by the rail aft, even with the second funnel. Long and myself stood by each other and jumped on the rail. We did not give each other any messages for home because neither of us thought we would ever get back. Long put his legs over the rail, while I straddled it. Hanging over the side and holding on to the rail with his hands he looked up at me and said: ‘You are coming, boy, aren’t you?’ I replied: ‘Go ahead, I’ll be with you in a minute.’ He let go and slid down the side and I never saw him again. Almost immediately after he jumped I jumped. All this last part took a very short time, and when we jumped we were about ten yards above the water. Long was perfectly calm all the time and kept his nerve to the very end.

How he sank and finally reached the upset boat is quoted accurately from the newspaper report from this same source given in my personal narrative. He continues as follows:

As often as we saw other boats in the distance we would yell, ‘Ship ahoy!’ but they could not distinguish our cries from any of the others, so we all gave it up, thinking it useless. It was very cold, and the water washed over the upset boat almost all the time. Towards dawn the wind sprung up, roughening the water and making it difficult to keep the boat balanced. The wireless man raised our hopes a great deal by telling us that the
Carpathia
would be up in about three hours. About 3.30 or 4 o’clock some men at the bow of our boat sighted her mast lights. I could not see them as I was sitting down with a man kneeling on my leg. He finally got up, and I stood up. We had the Second Officer, Mr. Lightoller, on board. He had an officer’s whistle and whistled for the boats in the distance to come up and take us off. Two of them came up. The first took half and the other took the balance, including myself. In the transfer we had difficulty in balancing our boat as the men would lean too far over, but we were all taken aboard the already crowded boats and taken to the
Carpathia
in safety.

One of these boats was No. 4, in which his mother was.

1
British Report (p. 38) puts this boat first to leave port side at 12.55. Lightoller’s testimony shows it could not have been the first.
2
‘An English girl (Miss Norton) and I rowed for four hours and a half.’ – Mrs. Meyer in
New York Times
, April 14th, 1912.
3
British Report (p. 38) puts this boat second on port side at 1.10. Notwithstanding Seaman Fleet’s testimony (Am. Inq., p. 363), I think she must have preceeded No. 6.
4
By the testimony of the witness and Steward Crawford it appears that Mr. and Mrs. Straus approached this boat and their maid got in, but Mr. Straus would not follow his wife and she refused to leave him.
5
British Report (p.38) says third at 1.20. I think No. 6 went later, though Buley (Am. Inq., p. 604) claims No. 10 as the last lifeboat lowered.
6
British Report (p. 38) says this was the fourth boat lowered on port side at 1.25 a.m.
7
British Report (p. 38) says this was the fifth boat on the port side, lowered at 1.30.
8
Undoubtedly reference is here made to the same Japanese described in an account attributed to a second-class passenger, Mrs. Collyer, and which follows Crowe’s testimony.
9
British Report (p. 38) gives this as the sixth boat lowered from the port side at 1.35 a.m.
10
British Report (p. 38) gives this as the seventh boat lowered on the port side at 1.45 a.m.
11
Probably the same officer, Murdoch, described by Maj. Peuchen, p. 80, this chapter.
12
British Report (p. 38) says this was the eighth and last lifeboat that left the ship and lowered at 1.55 a.m.
13
Picked up from sea.
14
Picked up from sea but died in boat.
15
I agree with this statement though other testimony and the British Report decide against us. The difference may be reconciled by the fact that the loading of this boat began early, but the final lowering was delayed.
16
British Report (p. 38) puts this as the last boat lowered at 2.05.
17
The interval of time can then be approximated as nearly a half hour, that we remained on the ship after the lifeboats left.

CHAPTER SEVEN

S
TARBOARD
S
IDE
: W
OMEN
F
IRST
, B
UT
M
EN
W
HEN
T
HERE
W
ERE
N
O
W
OMEN

I
know of the conditions existing on the port side of the ship from personal knowledge, as set forth in the first five chapters describing my personal experience, while the previous chapter VI is derived from an exhaustive study of official and of other authoritative information relating to the same side from experiences of others. I have devoted an equal amount of study to the history of what happened on the starboard side of the ship, and the tabulated statements in this chapter are the outcome of my research into the experiences of my fellow passengers on this side of the ship where I was located only during the last half hour before the ship foundered, after all passengers on the port side had been ordered to the starboard in consequence of the great list to port, and after the departure of the last boat ‘D,’ that left the ship on the port side. During this last half hour, though it seemed shorter, my attention was confined to the work of the crew, assisting them in their vain efforts to launch the Engelhardt boat ‘B’ thrown down from the roof of the officers’ house. All the starboard boats had left the ship before I came there.

Many misunderstandings arose in the public mind because of ignorance of the size of the ship and inability to understand that the same conditions did not prevail at every point and that the same scenes were not witnessed by every one of us. Consider the great length of the ship, 852 feet; its breadth of beam, 92.6 feet; and its many decks, eleven in number; counting the roof of the officers’ house as the top deck, then the Boat Deck, and Decks A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and, in the hold, two more. Bearing this in mind I illustrated to my New York friends, in answer to their questions, how impossible it would be for a person standing at the corner of 50th Street and Fifth Avenue to know just what was going on at the corner of 52nd Street and Madison Avenue. Therefore, when one survivor’s viewpoint differs from that of another, the explanation is easily found.

Consideration must also be taken of the fact that the accident occurred near midnight, and though it was a bright, starlit night, and the ship’s electric lights shone almost to the last, it was possible to recognize only one’s intimates at close quarters.

My research shows that there was no general order from the ship’s officers on the starboard side for ‘Women and children first.’ On the other hand, I have the statements of Dr Washington Dodge, John B. Thayer, Jr., and Mrs. Stephenson, also the same of a member of the crew testifying before the British Court of Inquiry, from which it appears that some sort of a command was issued ordering the women to the port side and the men to the starboard, indicating that no men would be allowed in the port boats, and only in the starboard side boats after the women had entered them first. If such were the orders, they were carried out to the letter. Another point of difference, especially conspicuous to myself, is the fact that on the starboard side there appears to have been an absence of women at the points where the boats were loaded, while on the port side all the boats loaded, from the first up to the last, found women at hand and ready to enter them. It was only at the time of the loading of the last boat ‘D,’ that my friend, Clinch Smith, and I ran up and down the port side shouting: ‘Are there any more women?’ This too is the testimony of Officer Lightoller, in charge of loading boats on the port side.

B
OAT
N
O
. 7
1

No disorder in loading or lowering this boat.

Passengers
: Mesdames Bishop, Earnshaw, Gibson, Greenfield, Potter, Snyder, and Misses Gibson and Hays, Messrs Bishop, Chevre, Daniel, Greenfield, McGough, Marechal, Seward, Sloper, Snyder, Tucker.

BOOK: Titanic: A Survivor's Story
2.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano
Outcast (The Blue Dragon's Geas) by Matthynssens, Cheryl
Red Moon Rising by Elizabeth Kelly
Dangerous to Know by Katy Moran
Deadly Descent by Charlotte Hinger