Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters, The



ONE of the calmest of the passengers was: young Jack Thayer, the seventeen-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Thayer. When his mother was put into the life-boat he kissed her and told her to be brave, saying that he and his father would be all right. He and Mr. Thayer stood on the deck as the small boat in which Mrs. Thayer was a passenger made off from the side of the Titanic over the smooth sea.

The boy's own account of his experience as told to one of his rescuers is one of the most remarkable of all the wonderful ones that have come from the tremendous catastrophe:

"Father was in bed, and mother and myself were about to get into bed. There was no great shock, I was on my feet at the time and I do not think it was enough to throw anyone down. I put on an overcoat and rushed up on A deck on the port side. I saw nothing there. I then went forward to the bow to see if I could see any signs of ice. The only ice I saw was on the well deck. I could not see very far ahead, having just come out of a brightly lighted room.

"I then went down to our room and my father and mother came on deck with me, to the starboard side of A deck. We could not see anything there. Father thought he saw small pieces of ice floating around, but I could not see any myself. There was no big berg. We walked around to the port side, and the ship had then a fair list to port. We stayed there looking over the side for about five minutes. The list seemed very slowly to be increasing.

"We then went down to our rooms on C deck, all of us dressing quickly, putting on all our clothes. We all put on life-preservers, and over these we put our overcoats. Then we hurried up on deck and walked around, looking out at different places until the women were all ordered to collect on the port side.


"Father and I said good-bye to mother at the top of the stairs on A deck. She and the maid went right out on A deck on the port side and we went to the starboard side. As at this time we had no idea the boat would sink we walked around A deck and then went to B deck. Then we thought we would go back to see if mother had gotten off safely, and went to the port side of A deck. We met the chief steward of the main dining saloon and he told us that mother had not yet taken a boat, and he took us to her.

"Father and mother went ahead and I followed. They went down to B deck and a crowd got in front of me and I was not able to catch them, and lost sight of them. As soon as I could get through the crowd I tried to find them on B deck, but without success. That is the last time I saw my father. This was about one half an hour before she sank. I then went to the starboard side, thinking that father and mother must have gotten off in a boat. All of this time I was with a fellow named Milton C. Long, of New York, whom I had just met that evening.

"On the starboard side the boats were getting away quickly. Some boats were already off in a distance. We thought of getting into one of the boats, the last boat to go on the forward part of the starboard side, but there seemed to be such a crowd around I thought it unwise to make any attempt to get into it. He and I stood by the davits of one of the boats that had left. I did not notice anybody that I knew except Mr. Lindley, whom I had also just met 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.


"The list to the port had been growing greater all the time. 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 make the boats that were lying off from the ship, but each time Long got hold of me and told me to wait a while. He then sat down and I stood up waiting to see what would happen. Even then we thought she might possibly stay afloat.

"I got a sight on a rope between the davits and a star and noticed that she was gradually sinking. About this time she straightened up on an even keel and started to go down fairly fast at an angle of about 30 degrees. As she started to sink we left the davits and went back and stood by the rail about even with the second funnel.

"Long and myself said good-bye to each other and jumped up on the rail. He put his legs over and held on a minute and asked me if I was coming. I told him I would be with him in a minute. He did not jump clear, but slid down the side of the ship. I never saw him again.

"About five seconds after he jumped I jumped out, feet first. I was clear of the ship; went down, and as I came up I was pushed away from the ship by some force. I came up facing the ship, and one of the funnels seemed to be lifted off and fell towards me about 15 yards away, with a mass of sparks and steam coming out of it. I saw the ship in a sort of a red glare, and it seemed to me that she broke in two just in front of the third funnel.

"This time I was sucked down, and as I came up I was pushed out again and twisted around by a large wave, coming up in the midst of a great deal of small wreckage. As I pushed my hand from my head it touched the cork fender of an over-

{illust. caption = READING ROOM OF THE TITANIC}

{illust. caption = Copyright, 1912. International News Service. THE SENATORIAL INVESTIGATION—ISMAY ON THE GRILL

J. Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of the........}

turned life-boat. I looked up and saw some men on the top and asked them to give me a hand. One of them, who was a stoker, helped me up. In a short time the bottom was covered with about twenty-five or thirty men. When I got on this I was facing the ship.


These sketches were outlined by John B. Thayer, Jr., on the day of the disaster, and afterwards filled in by L. D. Skidmon, of Brooklyn.}

"The stern then seemed to rise in the air and stopped at about an angle of 60 degrees. It seemed to hold there for a time and then with a hissing sound it shot right down out of sight with people jumping from the stern. The stern either pivoted around towards our boat, or we were sucked towards it, and as we only had one oar we could not keep away. There did not seem to be very much suction and most of us managed to stay on the bottom of our boat.

"We were then right in the midst of fairly large wreckage, with people swimming all around us. The sea was very calm and we kept the boat pretty steady, but every now and then a wave would wash over it.


"The assistant wireless operator was right next to me, holding on to me and kneeling in the water. We all sang a hymn and said the Lord's Prayer, and then waited for dawn to come. As often as we saw the other boats in a 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 none of us were able to move around to keep warm, the water washing over her almost all the time.

"Toward dawn the wind sprang up, roughening up 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 on our boat on the bow 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. We had an officer's whistle and whistled for the boats in the distance to come up and take us off.

"It took about an hour and a half for the boats to draw near. Two boats came up. The first took half and the other took the balance, including myself. We had great difficulty about this time in balancing the boat, as the men would lean too far, but we were all taken aboard the already crowded boat, and in about a half or three-quarters of an hour later we were picked up by the Carpathia.

"I have noticed Second Officer Lightoller's statement that 'J. B. Thayer was on our overturned boat,' which would give the impression that it was father, when he really meant it was I, as he only learned my name in a subsequent conversation on the Carpathia, and did not know I was 'junior'."



SURROUNDED by his wife and members of his family, James McGough, of Philadelphia, a buyer for the Gimbel Brothers, whose fate had been in doubt, recited a most thrilling and graphic picture of the disaster.

As the Carpathia docked, Mrs. McGough, a brother and several friends of the buyer, met him, and after the touching reunion had taken place the party proceeded to Philadelphia.

Vivid in detail, Mr. McGough's story differs essentially from one the imagination would paint. He declared that the boat was driving at a high rate of speed at the time of the accident, and seemed impressed by the calmness and apathy displayed by the survivors as they tossed on the frozen seas in the little life-boats until the Carpathia picked them up.

The Titanic did not plunge into the water suddenly, he declared, but settled slowly into the deep with its hundreds of passengers.

"The collision occurred at 20 minutes of 12," said Mr. McGough. "I was sleeping in my cabin when I felt a wrench, not severe or terrifying.

"It seemed to me to be nothing more serious than the racing of the screw, which often occurs when a ship plunges her bow deep into a heavy swell, raising the stern out of water. We dressed hurriedly and ran to the upper deck. There was little noise or tumult at the time.

"The promenade decks being higher from the base of the ship and thus more insecure, strained and creaked; so we went to the lower decks. By this time the engines had been reversed, and I could feel the ship backing off. Officers and stewards ran through the corridors, shouting for all to be calm, that there was no danger. We were warned, however, to dress and put life-preservers on us. I had on what clothing I could find and had stuffed some money in my pocket.


"As I passed the gymnasium I saw Colonel Astor and his young wife together. She was clinging to him, piteously pleading that he go into the life-boat with her. He refused almost gruffly and was attempting to calm her by saying that all her fears were groundless, that the accident she feared would prove a farce. It proved different, however.

"None, I believe, knew that the ship was about to sink. I did not realize it just then. When I reached the upper deck and saw tons of ice piled upon our crushed bow the full realization came to me.

"Officers stood with drawn guns ordering the women into the boats. All feared to leave the comparative safety of a broad and firm deck for the precarious smaller boats. Women clung to their husbands, crying that they would never leave without them, and had to be torn away.

"On one point all the women were firm. They would not enter a Life-boat until men were in it first. They feared to trust themselves to the seas in them. It required courage to step into the frail crafts as they swung from the creaking davits. Few men were willing to take the chance. An officer rushed behind me and shouted:

"'You're big enough to pull an oar. Jump into this boat or we'll never be able to get the women off.' I was forced to do so, though I admit that the ship looked a great deal safer to me than any small boat.

"Our boat was the second off. Forty or more persons were crowded into it, and with myself and members of the crew at the oars, were pulled slowly away. Huge icebergs, larger than the Pennsylvania depot at New York, surrounded us. As we pulled away we could see boat after boat filled and lowered to the waves. Despite the fact that they were new and supposedly in excellent working order, the blocks jammed in many instances, tilting the boats, loaded with people, at varying angles before they reached the water.


"As the life-boats pulled away the officers ordered the bands to play, and their music did much to quell panic. It was a heart-breaking sight to us tossing in an eggshell three-fourths of a mile away, to see the great ship go down. First she listed to the starboard, on which side the collision had occurred, then she settled slowly but steadily, without hope of remaining afloat.

"The Titanic was all aglow with lights as if for a function. First we saw the lights of the lower deck snuffed out. A while later and the second deck illumination was extinguished in a similar manner. Then the third and upper decks were darkened, and without plunging or rocking the great ship disappeared slowly from the surface of the sea.

"People were crowded on each deck as it lowered into the water, hoping in vain that aid would come in time. Some of the life-boats caught in the merciless suction were swallowed with her.

"The sea was calm—calm as the water in a tumbler. But it was freezing cold. None had dressed heavily, and all, therefore, suffered intensely. The women did not shriek or grow hysterical while we waited through the awful night for help. We men stood at the oars, stood because there was no room for us to sit, and kept the boat headed into the swell to prevent her capsizing. Another boat was at our side, but all the others were scattered around the water.

"Finally, shortly before 6 o'clock, we saw the lights of the Carpathia approaching. Gradually she picked up the survivors in the other boats and then approached us. When we were lifted to the deck the women fell helpless. They were carried to whatever quarters offered themselves, while the men were assigned to the smoking room.

"Of the misery and suffering which was witnessed on the rescue ship I know nothing. With the other men survivors I was glad to remain in the smoking room until New York was reached, trying to forget the awful experience.

"To us aboard the Carpathia came rumors of misstatements which were being made to the public. The details of the wreck were wofully misunderstood.

"Let me emphasize that the night was not foggy or cloudy. There was just the beginning of the new moon, but every star in the sky was shining brightly, unmarred by clouds. The boats were lowered from both sides of the Titanic in time to escape, but there was not enough for all.



ONE of the most connected and detailed accounts of the horrible disaster was that told by Harold Bride, the wireless operator. Mr. Bride said:

"I was standing by Phillips, the chief operator, telling him to go to bed, when the captain put his head in the cabin.

"'We've struck an iceberg,' the captain said, 'and I'm having an inspection made to tell what it has done for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don't send it until I tell you.'

"The captain went away and in ten minutes, I should estimate the time, he came back. We could hear a terrific confusion outside, but there was not the least thing to indicate that there was any trouble. The wireless was working perfectly.

"'Send the call for assistance,' ordered the captain, barely putting his head in the door.

"'What call shall I send?' Phillips asked.

"'The regulation international call for help. Just that.'

"Then the captain was gone Phillips began to send 'C. Q. D.' He flashed away at it and we joked while he did so. All of us made light of the disaster.

"The Carpathia answered our signal. We told her our position and said we were sinking by the head. The operator went to tell the captain, and in five minutes returned and told us that the captain of the Carpathia, was putting about and heading for us


"Our captain had left us at this time and Phillips told me to run and tell him what the Carpathia had answered. I did so, and I went through an awful mass of people to his cabin. The decks were full of scrambling men and women. I saw no fighting, but I heard tell of it.

"I came back and heard Phillips giving the Carpathia fuller directions. Phillips told me to put on my clothes. Until that moment I forgot that I was not dressed.

"I went to my cabin and dressed. I brought an overcoat to Phillips. It was very cold. I slipped the overcoat upon him while he worked.

"Every few minutes Phillips would send me to the captain with little messages. They were merely telling how the Carpathia was coming our way and gave her speed.

"I noticed as I came back from one trip that they were putting off women and children in life-boats. I noticed that the list forward was increasing.

"Phillips told me the wireless was growing weaker. The captain came and told us our engine rooms were taking water and that the dynamos might not last much longer. We sent that word to the Carpathia.

"I went out on deck and looked around. The water was pretty close up to the boat deck. There was a great scramble aft, and how poor Phillips worked through it right to the end I don't know.

"He was a brave man. I learned to love him that night and I suddenly felt for him a great reverence to see him standing there sticking to his work while everybody else was raging about. I will never live to forget the work of Phillips for the last awful fifteen minutes.

"I thought it was about time to look about and see if there was anything detached that would float. I remembered that every member of the crew had a special life-belt and ought to know where it was. I remembered mine was under my bunk. I went and got it. Then I thought how cold the water was.

"I remembered I had an extra jacket and a pair of boots, and I put them on. I saw Phillips standing out there still sending away, giving the Carpathia details of just how we were doing.

"We picked up the Olympic and told her we were sinking by the head and were about all down. As Phillips was sending the message I strapped his life-belt to his back. I had already put on his overcoat. Every minute was precious, so I helped him all I could.


"From aft came the tunes of the band. It was a rag-time tune, I don't know what. Then there was 'Autumn.' Phillips ran aft and that was the last I ever saw of him.

"I went to the place where I had seen a collapsible boat on the boat deck, and to my surprise I saw the boat and the men still trying to push it off. I guess there wasn't a sailor in the crowd. They couldn't do it. I went up to them and was just lending a hand when a large wave came awash of the deck.

"The big wave carried the boat off. I had hold of a row-lock and I went off with it. The next I knew I was in the boat.

"But that was not all. I was in the boat and the boat was upside down and I was under it. And I remember realizing I was wet through, and that whatever happened I must not breathe, for I was under water.

"I knew I had to fight for it and I did. How I got out from under the boat I do not know, but I felt a breath of air at last.

"There were men all around me hundreds of them. The sea was dotted with them, all depending on their life-belts. I felt I simply had to get away from the ship. She was a beautiful sight then.

"Smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnel, and there must have been an explosion, but we had heard none. We only saw the big stream of sparks. The ship was gradually turning on her nose just like a duck does that goes down for a dive. I had one thing on my mind—to get away from the suction. The band was still playing, and I guess they all went down.

"They were playing 'Autumn' then. I swam with all my might. I suppose I was 150 feet away when the Titanic, on her nose, with her after-quarter sticking straight up in the air, began to settle slowly.

"When at last the waves washed over her rudder there wasn't the least bit of suction I could feel. She must have kept going just as slowly as she had been.

"I forgot to mention that, besides the Olympic and Carpathia, we spoke some German boat, I don't know which, and told them how we were. We also spoke the Baltic. I remembered those things as I began to figure what ships would be coming toward us.

"I felt, after a little while, like sinking. I was very cold. I saw a boat of some kind near me and put all my strength into an effort to swim to it. It was hard work. I was all done when a hand reached out from the boat and pulled me aboard. It was our same collapsible.

"There was just room for me to roll on the edge. I lay there, not caring what happened. Somebody sat on my legs; they were wedged in between slats and were being wrenched. I had not the heart left to ask the man to move. It was a terrible sight all around—men swimming and sinking.

"I lay where I was, letting the man wrench my feet out of shape. Others came near. Nobody gave them a hand. The bottom-up boat already had more men than it would hold and it was sinking.

"At first the larger waves splashed over my head and I had to breathe when I could.

"Some splendid people saved us. They had a right-side-up boat, and it was full to its capacity. Yet they came to us and loaded us all into it. I saw some lights off in the distance and knew a steamship was coming to our aid.

"I didn't care what happened. I just lay, and gasped when I could and felt the pain in my feet. At last the Carpathia was alongside and the people were being taken up a rope ladder. Our boat drew near, and one b{y} one the men were taken off of it.

"The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while we were working wireless, when there was a rag-time tune for us, and the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea, with my life-belt on, it was still on deck playing 'Autumn.' How they ever did it I cannot imagine.

"That and the way Phillips kept sending after the captain told him his life was his own, and to look out for himself, are two things that stand out in my mind over all the rest."

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