Main Menu
Recent News
Latest Articles
Random photos


The loss of the R.M.S. Titanic: Chapter 3
  Posted on Mon 11 Oct 2004 (34893 reads)
CHAPTER III

THE COLLISION AND EMBARKATION IN LIFEBOATS


I had been fortunate enough to secure a two-berth cabin to myself,--D
56,--quite close to the saloon and most convenient in every way for
getting about the ship; and on a big ship like the Titanic it was
quite a consideration to be on D deck, only three decks below the top
or boat-deck. Below D again were cabins on E and F decks, and to walk
from a cabin on F up to the top deck, climbing five flights of stairs
on the way, was certainly a considerable task for those not able to
take much exercise. The Titanic management has been criticised, among
other things, for supplying the boat with lifts: it has been said they
were an expensive luxury and the room they took up might have been
utilized in some way for more life-saving appliances. Whatever else
may have been superfluous, lifts certainly were not: old ladies, for
example, in cabins on F deck, would hardly have got to the top deck
during the whole voyage had they not been able to ring for the
lift-boy. Perhaps nothing gave one a greater impression of the size of
the ship than to take the lift from the top and drop slowly down past
the different floors, discharging and taking in passengers just as in
a large hotel. I wonder where the lift-boy was that night. I would
have been glad to find him in our boat, or on the Carpathia when we
took count of the saved. He was quite young,--not more than sixteen, I
think,--a bright-eyed, handsome boy, with a love for the sea and the
games on deck and the view over the ocean--and he did not get any of
them. One day, as he put me out of his lift and saw through the
vestibule windows a game of deck quoits in progress, he said, in a
wistful tone, "My! I wish I could go out there sometimes!" I wished he
could, too, and made a jesting offer to take charge of his lift for an
hour while he went out to watch the game; but he smilingly shook his
head and dropped down in answer to an imperative ring from below. I
think he was not on duty with his lift after the collision, but if he
were, he would smile at his passengers all the time as he took them up
to the boats waiting to leave the sinking ship.

After undressing and climbing into the top berth, I read from about
quarter-past eleven to the time we struck, about quarter to twelve.
During this time I noticed particularly the increased vibration of the
ship, and I assumed that we were going at a higher speed than at any
other time since we sailed from Queenstown. Now I am aware that this
is an important point, and bears strongly on the question of
responsibility for the effects of the collision; but the impression of
increased vibration is fixed in my memory so strongly that it seems
important to record it. Two things led me to this conclusion--first,
that as I sat on the sofa undressing, with bare feet on the floor, the
jar of the vibration came up from the engines below very noticeably;
and second, that as I sat up in the berth reading, the spring mattress
supporting me was vibrating more rapidly than usual: this cradle-like
motion was always noticeable as one lay in bed, but that night there
was certainly a marked increase in the motion. Referring to the plan,
[Footnote: See Figure 2, page 116.] it will be seen that the vibration
must have come almost directly up from below, when it is mentioned
that the saloon was immediately above the engines as shown in the
plan, and my cabin next to the saloon. From these two data, on the
assumption that greater vibration is an indication of higher
speed,--and I suppose it must be,--then I am sure we were going faster
that night at the time we struck the iceberg than we had done before,
i.e., during the hours I was awake and able to take note of anything.

And then, as I read in the quietness of the night, broken only by the
muffled sound that came to me through the ventilators of stewards
talking and moving along the corridors, when nearly all the passengers
were in their cabins, some asleep in bed, others undressing, and
others only just down from the smoking-room and still discussing many
things, there came what seemed to me nothing more than an extra heave
of the engines and a more than usually obvious dancing motion of the
mattress on which I sat. Nothing more than that--no sound of a crash
or of anything else: no sense of shock, no jar that felt like one
heavy body meeting another. And presently the same thing repeated with
about the same intensity. The thought came to me that they must have
still further increased the speed. And all this time the Titanic was
being cut open by the iceberg and water was pouring in her side, and
yet no evidence that would indicate such a disaster had been presented
to us. It fills me with astonishment now to think of it. Consider the
question of list alone. Here was this enormous vessel running
starboard-side on to an iceberg, and a passenger sitting quietly in
bed, reading, felt no motion or list to the opposite or port side, and
this must have been felt had it been more than the usual roll of the
ship--never very much in the calm weather we had all the way. Again,
my bunk was fixed to the wall on the starboard side, and any list to
port would have tended to fling me out on the floor: I am sure I
should have noted it had there been any. And yet the explanation is
simple enough: the Titanic struck the berg with a force of impact of
over a million foot-tons; her plates were less than an inch thick, and
they must have been cut through as a knife cuts paper: there would be
no need to list; it would have been better if she had listed and
thrown us out on the floor, for it would have been an indication that
our plates were strong enough to offer, at any rate, some resistance
to the blow, and we might all have been safe to-day.

And so, with no thought of anything serious having happened to the
ship, I continued my reading; and still the murmur from the stewards
and from adjoining cabins, and no other sound: no cry in the night; no
alarm given; no one afraid--there was then nothing which could cause
fear to the most timid person. But in a few moments I felt the engines
slow and stop; the dancing motion and the vibration ceased suddenly
after being part of our very existence for four days, and that was the
first hint that anything out of the ordinary had happened. We have all
"heard" a loud-ticking clock stop suddenly in a quiet room, and then
have noticed the clock and the ticking noise, of which we seemed until
then quite unconscious. So in the same way the fact was suddenly
brought home to all in the ship that the engines--that part of the
ship that drove us through the sea--had stopped dead. But the stopping
of the engines gave us no information: we had to make our own
calculations as to why we had stopped. Like a flash it came to me: "We
have dropped a propeller blade: when this happens the engines always
race away until they are controlled, and this accounts for the extra
heave they gave"; not a very logical conclusion when considered now,
for the engines should have continued to heave all the time until we
stopped, but it was at the time a sufficiently tenable hypothesis to
hold. Acting on it, I jumped out of bed, slipped on a dressing-gown
over pyjamas, put on shoes, and went out of my cabin into the hall
near the saloon. Here was a steward leaning against the staircase,
probably waiting until those in the smoke-room above had gone to bed
and he could put out the lights. I said, "Why have we stopped?" "I
don't know, sir," he replied, "but I don't suppose it is anything
much." "Well," I said, "I am going on deck to see what it is," and
started towards the stairs. He smiled indulgently at me as I passed
him, and said, "All right, sir, but it is mighty cold up there." I am
sure at that time he thought I was rather foolish to go up with so
little reason, and I must confess I felt rather absurd for not
remaining in the cabin: it seemed like making a needless fuss to walk
about the ship in a dressing-gown. But it was my first trip across the
sea; I had enjoyed every minute of it and was keenly alive to note
every new experience; and certainly to stop in the middle of the sea
with a propeller dropped seemed sufficient reason for going on deck.
And yet the steward, with his fatherly smile, and the fact that no one
else was about the passages or going upstairs to reconnoitre, made me
feel guilty in an undefined way of breaking some code of a ship's
régime--an Englishman's fear of being thought "unusual," perhaps!

I climbed the three flights of stairs, opened the vestibule door
leading to the top deck, and stepped out into an atmosphere that cut
me, clad as I was, like a knife. Walking to the starboard side, I
peered over and saw the sea many feet below, calm and black; forward,
the deserted deck stretching away to the first-class quarters and the
captain's bridge; and behind, the steerage quarters and the stern
bridge; nothing more: no iceberg on either side or astern as far as we
could see in the darkness. There were two or three men on deck, and
with one--the Scotch engineer who played hymns in the saloon--I
compared notes of our experiences. He had just begun to undress when
the engines stopped and had come up at once, so that he was fairly
well-clad; none of us could see anything, and all being quiet and
still, the Scotchman and I went down to the next deck. Through the
windows of the smoking-room we saw a game of cards going on, with
several onlookers, and went in to enquire if they knew more than we
did. They had apparently felt rather more of the heaving motion, but
so far as I remember, none of them had gone out on deck to make any
enquiries, even when one of them had seen through the windows an
iceberg go by towering above the decks. He had called their attention
to it, and they all watched it disappear, but had then at once resumed
the game. We asked them the height of the berg and some said one
hundred feet, others, sixty feet; one of the onlookers--a motor
engineer travelling to America with a model carburetter (he had filled
in his declaration form near me in the afternoon and had questioned
the library steward how he should declare his patent)--said, "Well, I
am accustomed to estimating distances and I put it at between eighty
and ninety feet." We accepted his estimate and made guesses as to what
had happened to the Titanic: the general impression was that we had
just scraped the iceberg with a glancing blow on the starboard side,
and they had stopped as a wise precaution, to examine her thoroughly
all over. "I expect the iceberg has scratched off some of her new
paint," said one, "and the captain doesn't like to go on until she is
painted up again." We laughed at his estimate of the captain's care
for the ship. Poor Captain Smith!--he knew by this time only too well
what had happened.

One of the players, pointing to his glass of whiskey standing at his
elbow, and turning to an onlooker, said, "Just run along the deck and
see if any ice has come aboard: I would like some for this." Amid the
general laughter at what we thought was his imagination,--only too
realistic, alas! for when he spoke the forward deck was covered with
ice that had tumbled over,--and seeing that no more information was
forthcoming, I left the smoking-room and went down to my cabin, where
I sat for some time reading again. I am filled with sorrow to think I
never saw any of the occupants of that smoking-room again: nearly all
young men full of hope for their prospects in a new world; mostly
unmarried; keen, alert, with the makings of good citizens. Presently,
hearing people walking about the corridors, I looked out and saw
several standing in the hall talking to a steward--most of them ladies
in dressing-gowns; other people were going upstairs, and I decided to
go on deck again, but as it was too cold to do so in a dressing-gown,
I dressed in a Norfolk jacket and trousers and walked up. There were
now more people looking over the side and walking about, questioning
each other as to why we had stopped, but without obtaining any
definite information. I stayed on deck some minutes, walking about
vigorously to keep warm and occasionally looking downwards to the sea
as if something there would indicate the reason for delay. The ship
had now resumed her course, moving very slowly through the water with
a little white line of foam on each side. I think we were all glad to
see this: it seemed better than standing still. I soon decided to go
down again, and as I crossed from the starboard to the port side to go
down by the vestibule door, I saw an officer climb on the last
lifeboat on the port side--number 16--and begin to throw off the
cover, but I do not remember that any one paid any particular
attention to him. Certainly no one thought they were preparing to man
the lifeboats and embark from the ship. All this time there was no
apprehension of any danger in the minds of passengers, and no one was
in any condition of panic or hysteria; after all, it would have been
strange if they had been, without any definite evidence of danger.

As I passed to the door to go down, I looked forward again and saw to
my surprise an undoubted tilt downwards from the stern to the bows:
only a slight slope, which I don't think any one had noticed,--at any
rate, they had not remarked on it. As I went downstairs a confirmation
of this tilting forward came in something unusual about the stairs, a
curious sense of something out of balance and of not being able to put
one's feet down in the right place: naturally, being tilted forward,
the stairs would slope downwards at an angle and tend to throw one
forward. I could not see any visible slope of the stairway: it was
perceptible only by the sense of balance at this time.

On D deck were three ladies--I think they were all saved, and it is a
good thing at least to be able to chronicle meeting some one who was
saved after so much record of those who were not--standing in the
passage near the cabin. "Oh! why have we stopped?" they said. "We did
stop," I replied, "but we are now going on again.". "Oh, no," one
replied; "I cannot feel the engines as I usually do, or hear them.
Listen!" We listened, and there was no throb audible. Having noticed
that the vibration of the engines is most noticeable lying in a bath,
where the throb comes straight from the floor through its metal
sides--too much so ordinarily for one to put one's head back with
comfort on the bath,--I took them along the corridor to a bathroom and
made them put their hands on the side of the bath: they were much
reassured to feel the engines throbbing down below and to know we were
making some headway. I left them and on the way to my cabin passed
some stewards standing unconcernedly against the walls of the saloon:
one of them, the library steward again, was leaning over a table,
writing. It is no exaggeration to say that they had neither any
knowledge of the accident nor any feeling of alarm that we had stopped
and had not yet gone on again full speed: their whole attitude
expressed perfect confidence in the ship and officers.

Turning into my gangway (my cabin being the first in the gangway), I
saw a man standing at the other end of it fastening his tie. "Anything
fresh?" he said. "Not much," I replied; "we are going ahead slowly and
she is down a little at the bows, but I don't think it is anything
serious." "Come in and look at this man," he laughed; "he won't get
up." I looked in, and in the top bunk lay a man with his back to me,
closely wrapped in his bed-clothes and only the back of his head
visible. "Why won't he get up? Is he asleep?" I said. "No," laughed
the man dressing, "he says--" But before he could finish the sentence
the man above grunted: "You don't catch me leaving a warm bed to go up
on that cold deck at midnight. I know better than that." We both told
him laughingly why he had better get up, but he was certain he was
just as safe there and all this dressing was quite unnecessary; so I
left them and went again to my cabin. I put on some underclothing, sat
on the sofa, and read for some ten minutes, when I heard through the
open door, above, the noise of people passing up and down, and a loud
shout from above: "All passengers on deck with lifebelts on."

I placed the two books I was reading in the side pockets of my Norfolk
jacket, picked up my lifebelt (curiously enough, I had taken it down
for the first time that night from the wardrobe when I first retired
to my cabin) and my dressing-gown, and walked upstairs tying on the
lifebelt. As I came out of my cabin, I remember seeing the purser's
assistant, with his foot on the stairs about to climb them, whisper to
a steward and jerk his head significantly behind him; not that I
thought anything of it at the time, but I have no doubt he was telling
him what had happened up in the bows, and was giving him orders to
call all passengers.

Going upstairs with other passengers,--no one ran a step or seemed
alarmed,--we met two ladies coming down: one seized me by the arm and
said, "Oh! I have no lifebelt; will you come down to my cabin and help
me to find it?" I returned with them to F deck,--the lady who had
addressed me holding my arm all the time in a vise-like grip, much to
my amusement,--and we found a steward in her gangway who took them in
and found their lifebelts. Coming upstairs again, I passed the
purser's window on F deck, and noticed a light inside; when halfway up
to E deck, I heard the heavy metallic clang of the safe door, followed
by a hasty step retreating along the corridor towards the first-class
quarters. I have little doubt it was the purser, who had taken all
valuables from his safe and was transferring them to the charge of the
first-class purser, in the hope they might all be saved in one
package. That is why I said above that perhaps the envelope containing
my money was not in the safe at the bottom of the sea: it is probably
in a bundle, with many others like it, waterlogged at the bottom.

Reaching the top deck, we found many people assembled there,--some
fully dressed, with coats and wraps, well-prepared for anything that
might happen; others who had thrown wraps hastily round them when they
were called or heard the summons to equip themselves with
lifebelts--not in much condition to face the cold of that night.
Fortunately there was no wind to beat the cold air through our
clothing: even the breeze caused by the ship's motion had died
entirely away, for the engines had stopped again and the Titanic lay
peacefully on the surface of the sea--motionless, quiet, not even
rocking to the roll of the sea; indeed, as we were to discover
presently, the sea was as calm as an inland lake save for the gentle
swell which could impart no motion to a ship the size of the Titanic.
To stand on the deck many feet above the water lapping idly against
her sides, and looking much farther off than it really was because of
the darkness, gave one a sense of wonderful security: to feel her so
steady and still was like standing on a large rock in the middle of
the ocean. But there were now more evidences of the coming catastrophe
to the observer than had been apparent when on deck last: one was the
roar and hiss of escaping steam from the boilers, issuing out of a
large steam pipe reaching high up one of the funnels: a harsh,
deafening boom that made conversation difficult and no doubt increased
the apprehension of some people merely because of the volume of noise:
if one imagines twenty locomotives blowing off steam in a low key it
would give some idea of the unpleasant sound that met us as we climbed
out on the top deck.

But after all it was the kind of phenomenon we ought to expect:
engines blow off steam when standing in a station, and why should not
a ship's boilers do the same when the ship is not moving? I never
heard any one connect this noise with the danger of boiler explosion,
in the event of the ship sinking with her boilers under a high
pressure of steam, which was no doubt the true explanation of this
precaution. But this is perhaps speculation; some people may have
known it quite well, for from the time we came on deck until boat 13
got away, I heard very little conversation of any kind among the
passengers. It is not the slightest exaggeration to say that no signs
of alarm were exhibited by any one: there was no indication of panic
or hysteria; no cries of fear, and no running to and fro to discover
what was the matter, why we had been summoned on deck with lifebelts,
and what was to be done with us now we were there. We stood there
quietly looking on at the work of the crew as they manned the
lifeboats, and no one ventured to interfere with them or offered to
help them. It was plain we should be of no use; and the crowd of men
and women stood quietly on the deck or paced slowly up and down
waiting for orders from the officers. Now, before we consider any
further the events that followed, the state of mind of passengers at
this juncture, and the motives which led each one to act as he or she
did in the circumstances, it is important to keep in thought the
amount of information at our disposal. Men and women act according to
judgment based on knowledge of the conditions around them, and the
best way to understand some apparently inconceivable things that
happened is for any one to imagine himself or herself standing on deck
that night. It seems a mystery to some people that women refused to
leave the ship, that some persons retired to their cabins, and so on;
but it is a matter of judgment, after all.

So that if the reader will come and stand with the crowd on deck, he
must first rid himself entirely of the knowledge that the Titanic has
sunk--an important necessity, for he cannot see conditions as they
existed there through the mental haze arising from knowledge of the
greatest maritime tragedy the world has known: he must get rid of any
foreknowledge of disaster to appreciate why people acted as they did.
Secondly, he had better get rid of any picture in thought painted
either by his own imagination or by some artist, whether pictorial or
verbal, "from information supplied." Some are most inaccurate (these,
mostly word-pictures), and where they err, they err on the highly
dramatic side. They need not have done so: the whole conditions were
dramatic enough in all their bare simplicity, without the addition of
any high colouring.

Having made these mental erasures, he will find himself as one of the
crowd faced with the following conditions: a perfectly still
atmosphere; a brilliantly beautiful starlight night, but no moon, and
so with little light that was of any use; a ship that had come quietly
to rest without any indication of disaster--no iceberg visible, no
hole in the ship's side through which water was pouring in, nothing
broken or out of place, no sound of alarm, no panic, no movement of
any one except at a walking pace; the absence of any knowledge of the
nature of the accident, of the extent of damage, of the danger of the
ship sinking in a few hours, of the numbers of boats, rafts, and other
lifesaving appliances available, their capacity, what other ships were
near or coming to help--in fact, an almost complete absence of any
positive knowledge on any point. I think this was the result of
deliberate judgment on the part of the officers, and perhaps, it was
the best thing that could be done. In particular, he must remember
that the ship was a sixth of a mile long, with passengers on three
decks open to the sea, and port and starboard sides to each deck: he
will then get some idea of the difficulty presented to the officers of
keeping control over such a large area, and the impossibility of any
one knowing what was happening except in his own immediate vicinity.
Perhaps the whole thing can be summed up best by saying that, after we
had embarked in the lifeboats and rowed away from the Titanic, it
would not have surprised us to hear that all passengers would be
saved: the cries of drowning people after the Titanic gave the final
plunge were a thunderbolt to us. I am aware that the experiences of
many of those saved differed in some respects from the above: some had
knowledge of certain things, some were experienced travellers and
sailors, and therefore deduced more rapidly what was likely to happen;
but I think the above gives a fairly accurate representation of the
state of mind of most of those on deck that night.

All this time people were pouring up from the stairs and adding to the
crowd: I remember at that moment thinking it would be well to return
to my cabin and rescue some money and warmer clothing if we were to
embark in boats, but looking through the vestibule windows and seeing
people still coming upstairs, I decided it would only cause confusion
passing them on the stairs, and so remained on deck.

I was now on the starboard side of the top boat deck; the time about
12.20. We watched the crew at work on the lifeboats, numbers 9, 11,
13, 15, some inside arranging the oars, some coiling ropes on the
deck,--the ropes which ran through the pulleys to lower to the
sea,--others with cranks fitted to the rocking arms of the davits. As
we watched, the cranks were turned, the davits swung outwards until
the boats hung clear of the edge of the deck. Just then an officer
came along from the first-class deck and shouted above the noise of
escaping steam, "All women and children get down to deck below and all
men stand back from the boats." He had apparently been off duty when
the ship struck, and was lightly dressed, with a white muffler twisted
hastily round his neck. The men fell back and the women retired below
to get into the boats from the next deck. Two women refused at first
to leave their husbands, but partly by persuasion and partly by force
they were separated from them and sent down to the next deck. I think
that by this time the work on the lifeboats and the separation of men
and women impressed on us slowly the presence of imminent danger, but
it made no difference in the attitude of the crowd: they were just as
prepared to obey orders and to do what came next as when they first
came on deck. I do not mean that they actually reasoned it out: they
were the average Teutonic crowd, with an inborn respect for law and
order and for traditions bequeathed to them by generations of
ancestors: the reasons that made them act as they did were impersonal,
instinctive, hereditary.

But if there were any one who had not by now realized that the ship
was in danger, all doubt on this point was to be set at rest in a
dramatic manner. Suddenly a rush of light from the forward deck, a
hissing roar that made us all turn from watching the boats, and a
rocket leapt upwards to where the stars blinked and twinkled above us.
Up it went, higher and higher, with a sea of faces upturned to watch
it, and then an explosion that seemed to split the silent night in
two, and a shower of stars sank slowly down and went out one by one.
And with a gasping sigh one word escaped the lips of the crowd:
"Rockets!" Anybody knows what rockets at sea mean. And presently
another, and then a third. It is no use denying the dramatic intensity
of the scene: separate it if you can from all the terrible events that
followed, and picture the calmness of the night, the sudden light on
the decks crowded with people in different stages of dress and
undress, the background of huge funnels and tapering masts revealed by
the soaring rocket, whose flash illumined at the same time the faces
and minds of the obedient crowd, the one with mere physical light, the
other with a sudden revelation of what its message was. Every one knew
without being told that we were calling for help from any one who was
near enough to see.

The crew were now in the boats, the sailors standing by the pulley
ropes let them slip through the cleats in jerks, and down the boats
went till level with B deck; women and children climbed over the rail
into the boats and filled them; when full, they were lowered one by
one, beginning with number 9, the first on the second-class deck, and
working backwards towards 15. All this we could see by peering over
the edge of the boat-deck, which was now quite open to the sea, the
four boats which formed a natural barrier being lowered from the deck
and leaving it exposed.

About this time, while walking the deck, I saw two ladies come over
from the port side and walk towards the rail separating the
second-class from the first-class deck. There stood an officer barring
the way. "May we pass to the boats?" they said. "No, madam," he
replied politely, "your boats are down on your own deck," pointing to
where they swung below. The ladies turned and went towards the
stairway, and no doubt were able to enter one of the boats: they had
ample time. I mention this to show that there was, at any rate, some
arrangement--whether official or not--for separating the classes in
embarking in boats; how far it was carried out, I do not know, but if
the second-class ladies were not expected to enter a boat from the
first-class deck, while steerage passengers were allowed access to the
second-class deck, it would seem to press rather hardly on the
second-class men, and this is rather supported by the low percentage
saved.

Almost immediately after this incident, a report went round among men
on the top deck--the starboard side--that men were to be taken off on
the port side; how it originated, I am quite unable to say, but can
only suppose that as the port boats, numbers 10 to 16, were not
lowered from the top deck quite so soon as the starboard boats (they
could still be seen on deck), it might be assumed that women were
being taken off on one side and men on the other; but in whatever way
the report started, it was acted on at once by almost all the men, who
crowded across to the port side and watched the preparation for
lowering the boats, leaving the starboard side almost deserted. Two or
three men remained, However: not for any reason that we were
consciously aware of; I can personally think of no decision arising
from reasoned thought that induced me to remain rather than to cross
over. But while there was no process of conscious reason at work, I am
convinced that what was my salvation was a recognition of the
necessity of being quiet and waiting in patience for some opportunity
of safety to present itself.

Soon after the men had left the starboard side, I saw a bandsman--the
'cellist--come round the vestibule corner from the staircase entrance
and run down the now deserted starboard deck, his 'cello trailing
behind him, the spike dragging along the floor. This must have been
about 12.40 A.M. I suppose the band must have begun to play soon after
this and gone on until after 2 A.M. Many brave things were done that
night, but none more brave than by those few men playing minute after
minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea and the
sea rose higher and higher to where they stood; the music they played
serving alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be
recorded on the rolls of undying fame.

Looking forward and downward, we could see several of the boats now in
the water, moving slowly one by one from the side, without confusion
or noise, and stealing away in the darkness which swallowed them in
turn as the crew bent to the oars. An officer--I think First Officer
Murdock--came striding along the deck, clad in a long coat, from his
manner and face evidently in great agitation, but determined and
resolute; he looked over the side and shouted to the boats being
lowered: "Lower away, and when afloat, row around to the gangway and
wait for orders." "Aye, aye, sir," was the reply; and the officer
passed by and went across the ship to the port side.

Almost immediately after this, I heard a cry from below of, "Any more
ladies?" and looking over the edge of the deck, saw boat 13 swinging
level with the rail of B deck, with the crew, some stokers, a few men
passengers and the rest ladies,--the latter being about half the total
number; the boat was almost full and just about to be lowered. The
call for ladies was repeated twice again, but apparently there were
none to be found. Just then one of the crew looked up and saw me
looking over. "Any ladies on your deck?" he said. "No," I replied.
"Then you had better jump." I sat on the edge of the deck with my feet
over, threw the dressing-gown (which I had carried on my arm all of
the time) into the boat, dropped, and fell in the boat near the stern.

As I picked myself up, I heard a shout: "Wait a moment, here are two
more ladies," and they were pushed hurriedly over the side and tumbled
into the boat, one into the middle and one next to me in the stern.
They told me afterwards that they had been assembled on a lower deck
with other ladies, and had come up to B deck not by the usual stairway
inside, but by one of the vertically upright iron ladders that connect
each deck with the one below it, meant for the use of sailors passing
about the ship. Other ladies had been in front of them and got up
quickly, but these two were delayed a long time by the fact that one
of them--the one that was helped first over the side into boat 13 near
the middle--was not at all active: it seemed almost impossible for her
to climb up a vertical ladder. We saw her trying to climb the swinging
rope ladder up the Carpathia's side a few hours later, and she had the
same difficulty.

As they tumbled in, the crew shouted, "Lower away"; but before the
order was obeyed, a man with his wife and a baby came quickly to the
side: the baby was handed to the lady in the stern, the mother got in
near the middle and the father at the last moment dropped in as the
boat began its journey down to the sea many feet below.
Index :: Print :: E-mail
The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.



Recent Photos


Copyright © 2006-2012 Titanic.com
Home Photos Advertise Link to us