Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters, The



SOME of the most thrilling incidents connected with the rescue of the Titanic's survivors are told in the following account given by a man trained to the sea, a steward of the rescue ship Carpathia:

"At midnight on Sunday, April 14th, I was promenading the deck of the steamer Carpathia, bound for the Mediterranean and three days out from New York, when an urgent summons came to my room from the chief steward, E. Harry Hughes. I then learned that the White Star liner Titanic, the greatest ship afloat, had struck an iceberg and was in serious difficulties.

"We were then already steaming at our greatest power to the scene of the disaster, Captain Rostron having immediately given orders that every man of the crew should stand by to exert his utmost efforts. Within a very few minutes every preparation had been made to receive two or three thousand persons. Blankets were placed ready, tables laid with hot soups and coffee, bedding, etc., prepared, and hospital supplies laid out ready to attend to any injured.

"The men were then mustered in the saloon and addressed by the chief steward. He told them of the disaster and appealed to them in a few words to show the world what stuff Britishers were made of, and to add a glorious page to the history of the empire; and right well did the men respond to the appeal. Every life-boat was manned and ready to be launched at a moment's notice. Nothing further could be done but anxiously wait and look out for the ship's distress signal.

"Our Marconi operator, whose unceasing efforts for many hours deserve the greatest possible praise, was unable at this time to get any reply to the urgent inquiries he was sending out, and he feared the worst.

"At last a blue flare was observed, to which we replied with a rocket. Day was just dawning when we observed a boat in the distance.


"Eastward on the horizon a huge iceberg, the cause of the disaster, majestically reared two noble peaks to heaven. Rope ladders were already lowered and we hove to near the life-boat, which was now approaching us as rapidly as the nearly exhausted efforts of the men at the oars could bring her.

"Under the command of our chief officer, who worked indefatigably at the noble work of rescue, the survivors in


{illust. caption = MRS. JOHN B. THAYER

Mrs. Thayer and her son were....}

{illust. caption = JOHN B. THAYER

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the boat were rapidly but carefully hauled aboard and given into the hands of the medical staff under the organization of Dr. McGee.

"We then learned the terrible news that the gigantic vessel, the unsinkable Titanic, had gone down one hour and ten minutes after striking.

"From this time onward life-boats continued to arrive at frequent intervals. Every man of the Carpathia's crew was unsparing in his efforts to assist, to tenderly comfort each and every survivor. In all, sixteen boatloads were receives, containing altogether 720 persons, many in simply their night attire, others in evening dress, as if direct from an after-dinner reception, or concert. Most conspicuous was the coolness and self-possession, particularly of the women.

"Pathetic and heartrending incidents were many. There was not a man of the rescue party who was not moved almost to tears. Women arrived and frantically rushed from one gangway to another eagerly scanning the fresh arrivals in the boats for a lost husband or brother.


"One boat arrived with the unconscious body of an English colonel. He had been taking out his mother on a visit, to three others of her sons. He had succeeded in getting her away in one of the boats and he himself had found a place in another. When but a few-yards from the ill-fated ship the boat containing his mother capsized before his eyes.

"Immediately he dived into the water and commenced a frantic search for her. But in vain. Boat after boat endeavored to take him aboard, but he refused to give up, continuing to swim for nearly three hours until even his great strength of body and mind gave out and he was hauled unconscious into a passing boat and brought aboard the Carpathia. The doctor gives little hope of his recovery.

"There were, I understand, twelve newly married couples aboard the big ship. The twelve brides have been saved, but of the husbands all but one have perished. That one would not have been here, had he not been urged to assist in manning a life-boat. Think of the self-sacrifice of these eleven heroes, who stood on the doomed vessel and parted from their brides forever, knowing full well that a few brief minutes would end all things for themselves.

"Many similar pathetic incidents could be related. Sad-eyed women roam aimlessly about the ship still looking vainly for husband, brother or father. To comfort them is impossible. All human efforts are being exerted on their behalf. Their material needs are satisfied in every way. But who can cure a broken heart?


"One of the earliest boats to arrive was seen to contain a woman tenderly clasping a pet Pomeranian. When assisted to the rope ladder and while the rope was being fastened around her she emphatically refused to give up for a second the dog which was evidently so much to her. He is now receiving as careful and tender attention as his mistress.

"A survivor informs me that there was on the ship a lady who was taking out a huge great Dane dog. When the boats were rapidly filling she appeared on deck with her canine companion and sadly entreated that he should be taken off with her. It was impossible. Human lives, those of women and children, were the first consideration. She was urged to seize the opportunity to save her own life and leave the dog. She refused to desert him and, I understand, sacrificed her life with him.

"One elderly lady was bewailing to a steward that she had lost everything. He indignantly replied that she should thank God her life was spared, never mind her replaceable property. The reply was pathetic:

"'I have lost everything—my husband,' and she broke into uncontrollable grief.


"One incident that impressed me perhaps more than any other was the burial on Tuesday afternoon of four of the poor fellows who succeeded in safely getting away from the doomed vessel only to perish later from exhaustion and exposure as a result of their gallant efforts to bring to safety the passengers placed in their charge in the life-boats. They were:

"W. H. Hoyte, Esq., first class passenger.

"Abraham Hornner, third class passenger.

"S. C. Siebert, steward.

"P. Lyons, sailor.

"The sailor and steward were unfortunately dead when taken aboard. The passengers lived but a few minutes after. They were treated with the greatest attention. The funeral service was conducted amid profound silence and attended by a large number of survivors and rescuers. The bodies, covered by the national flag, were reverently consigned to the mighty deep from which they had been, alas, vainly, saved.

"Most gratifying to the officers and men of the Carpathia is the constantly expressive appreciation of the survivors."

He then told of the meeting of the survivors in the cabin of the Carpathia and of the resolution adopted, a statement of which has already been given in another chapter.



YOUNG and old, rich and poor were prostrated by the news of the disaster. Even Wall Street was neglected. Nor was the grief confined to America. European nations felt the horror of the calamity and sent expressions of sympathy. President Taft made public cablegrams received from the King and Queen of England, and the King of Belgium, conveying their sympathy to the American people in the sorrows which have followed the Titanic disaster. The President's responses to both messages were also made public.

The following was the cablegram from King George, dated at Sandringham:

"The Queen and I are anxious to assure you and the American nation of the great sorrow which we experienced at the terrible loss of life that has occurred among the American citizens, as well as among my own subjects, by the foundering of the Titanic. Our two countries are so intimately allied by ties of friendship and brotherhood that any misfortunes which affect the one must necessarily affect the other, and on the present terrible occasion they are both equally sufferers.


President Taft's reply was as follows:

"In the presence of the appalling disaster to the Titanic the people of the two countries are brought into community of grief through their common bereavement. The American people share in the sorrow of their kinsmen beyond the sea. On behalf of my countrymen I thank you for your sympathetic message.


The message from King Albert of Belgium was as follows:

"I beg Your Excellency to accept my deepest condolences on the occasion of the frightful catastrophe to the Titanic, which has caused such mourning in the American nation."

The President's acknowledgment follows:

"I deeply appreciate your sympathy with my fellow-countrymen who have been stricken with affliction through the disaster to the Titanic."


King Alfonso and Queen Victoria sent the following cablegram to President Taft:

"We have learned with profound grief of the catastrophe to the Titanic, which has plunged the American nation in mourning. We send you our sincerest condolence, and wish to assure you and your nation of the sentiments of friendship and sympathy we feel toward you."

A similar telegram was sent to the King of England.

The many expressions of grief to reach President Taft included one signed jointly by the three American Cardinals, who were in New York attending the meeting of the trustees of the Catholic University. It said:


"The archbishops of the country, in joint session with the trustees of the Catholic University of America, beg to offer to the President of the United States their expression of their profound grief at the awful loss of human lives attendant upon the sinking of the steamship Titanic, and at the same time to assure the relatives of the victims of this horrible disaster of our deepest sympathy and condolence.

"They wish also to attest hereby to the hope that the law-makers of the country will see in this sad accident the obvious necessity of legal provisions for greater security of ocean travel.

"JAMES CARDINAL GIBBONS," Archbishop of Baltimore.
"JOHN CARDINAL FARLEY," Archbishop of New York.
"WILLIAM CARDINAL O'CONNELL," Archbishop of Boston.


Formal tribute to the Titanic's dead was paid by the House of Representatives when it adjourned for twenty-four hours.

The prayer of the Rev. Henry N. Couden in opening the House session was, in part:

"We thank Thee that though in the ordinary circumstances of life selfishness and greed seem to be in the ascendancy, yet in times of distress and peril, then it is that the nobility of soul, the Godlike in man, asserts itself and makes heroes."

The flags on the White House and other Government buildings throughout the country were at half-staff.


A special telegram from Rome stated that one of the victims most regretted was Major Butt, whose jovial, bright character made many friends there. Besides autograph letters from the Pope and Cardinal Merry del VaI{sic?} to President Taft, the major had with him a signed photograph of the Pontiff, given by him personally.

Cardinal Merry del Val had several conversations with Major Butt, who declared that the cardinal was "the first gentleman of Europe." Shortly before he was leaving Rome, regretting that he had not a signed picture of Cardinal Merry del Val, Major Butt entrusted a friend to ask for one. The cardinal willingly put an autograph dedication on a picture, recalling their pleasant intercourse.


British indignation, which is not easily excited, was aroused over the knowledge that an antiquated law enables steamship companies to fail to provide sufficient life-boats to accommodate the passengers and crew of the largest liners in the event of such a disaster as that which occurred to the Titanic. It will be insisted that there be an investigation of the loss of life in the Titanic and that the shortage of boats be gone into thoroughly.

The newspapers commented adversely on the lack of boats and their views were emphasized by the knowledge that no attempt has been made to change the regulations in the face of the fact that the inadequacy of boats in such an emergency was called to the attention of Parliament at the time of the collision between the White Star liner Olympic and the cruiser Hawke. It was pointed out at this time that German vessels, much smaller in size than the Olympic, carried more boats and also that these boats were of greater capacity.

T. W. Moore, Secretary of the Merchant Service Guild, when seen at the guild's rooms in Liverpool, said:

"The Titanic disaster is an example, on a colossal scale, of the pernicious and supine system of officials, as represented by the Board of Trade. Modern liners are so designed that they have no accommodations for more life-boats. Among practical seamen it has long been recognized that the modern passenger ship has nothing like adequate boat capacity.

"The Board of Trade has its own views, and the shipowners also have their views, which are largely based upon the economical factor. The naval architects have their opinions, but the practical merchant seaman is not consulted.

"The Titanic disaster is a complete substantiation of the agitation that our guild has carried on for nearly twenty years against the scheme that has precluded practical seamen from being consulted with regard to boat capacity and life-saving appliances.


Immediate and searching inquiry into the Titanic disaster was promised on the floor of the House of Commons April 18th, by President Sidney Buxton, of the Board of Trade, which controls all sea-going vessels.

Buxton, in discussing the utterly inadequate life-saving equipment of the big liner, declared that the committee of the board in charge of life-saving precautions had recently recommended increased life-boats, rafts and life-preservers on all big ships, but that the requirements had been found unsatisfactory and had not been put in force. He frankly admitted the necessity for increased equipment without delay.

The board, he said, was utterly unable to compel the transatlantic vessels to reduce their speed in the contest for "express train" ships. He also said the board could not force ships to take the southerly passage in the spring to avoid ice.

The regulations under which the Titanic carried life-boat accommodations for only about one-third of her passengers and crew had not been revised by the committee since 1894. At that time the regulations were made for ships of "10,000 tons or more." The Titanic's tonnage was 45,000, for which the present requirements are altogether insufficient.


Several foreign governments telegraphed to the British Government messages of condolence for the sufferers. The King sent a donation of $2625 to the Mansion House fund. Queen Mary donated $1310 and Queen Alexandra $1000 to the same fund.

Oscar Hammerstein proffered, and the lord mayor accepted, the use of his opera house for an entertainment in aid of the fund.

The Shipping Federation donated $10,500 to the Mayor of Southampton's fund, taking care to explain that the White Star Line was not affiliated with the Federation.

Some public institutions also offered to take care of the orphaned children of the crew.

Large firms contributed liberally to the various relief funds, while Covent Garden and other leading theaters prepared special performances to aid in the relief work.


All Germany as well as England was stunned and grieved by the magnitude of the horror of the Titanic catastrophe. Anglo-German recriminations for the moment ceased, as far as the Fatherland was concerned, and profound and sincere compassion for the nation on whom the blow had fallen more heavily was the supreme note of the hour.

The Kaiser, with his characteristic promptitude, was one of the first to communicate his sympathy by telegraph to King George and to the White Star Line. Admiral Prince Henry of Prussia did likewise, and the first act of the Reichstag, after reassembling on Tuesday, was to pass a standing vote of condolence with the British people in their distress.


The German laws, governing the safety appliances on board trans-oceanic vessels, seem to be as archaic and inadequate as those of the British Board of Trade. The maximum provision contained in the German statutes refers to vessels with the capacity of 50,000 cubic metres, which must carry sixteen life-boats. The law also says that if this number of life-boats be insufficient to accommodate all the persons on board, including the crew, there shall be carried elsewhere in the vessel a correspondingly additional number of collapsible life-boats, suitable rafts, floating deck-chairs and life-buoys, as well as a generous supply of life-belts.

A vessel of 10,000 tons was a "leviathan" in the days when the German law was passed, and it appears to have undergone no change to meet the conditions, imposed by the construction of vessels twice or three times 10,000 tons, like the Hamburg-American Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, or the North German Lloyd George Washington, to say nothing of the 50,000-ton Imperator, which is to be added to the Hamburg fleet next year.

The German lines seem, like the White Star Company, to have reckoned simply with the practical impossibility of a ship like the Titanic succumbing to the elements


Although Germany's and Berlin's direct interest in the passengers aboard the Titanic was less than that of London, New York or Paris, there was the utmost concern for their fate.

Ambassador Leishman and other members of the American Embassy were particularly interested in hearing about Major "Archie" Butt, who passed through Berlin, less than a month before the disaster, en route from Russia and the Far East. Vice-president John B. Thayer and family, of Philadelphia, were also in Berlin a fortnight ago and were guests of the American Consul General and Mrs. Thackara. A score of other lesser known passengers had recently stayed in Berlin hotels, and it was local friends or kinsmen of theirs who were in a state of distressing unrest over their fate.

Their anxiety was aggravated by the old-fogey methods of the German newspapers, which are invariably twelve or fifteen hours later than journals elsewhere in Europe on world news events. Although New York, London and Paris had the cruel truth with their morning papers on Tuesday, it was not until the middle of the forenoon that "extras" made the facts public in Berlin.

William T. Stead was well and favorably known in Germany, and his fate was keenly and particularly mourned. Germans have also noted that many Americans of direct Teutonic ancestry or origin were among the shining marks in the death list. Colonel John Jacob Astor is claimed as of German, extraction, as well as Isidor Straus, Benjamin Guggenheim, Washington Roebling and Henry B. Harris. All of them had been in Germany frequently and had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Only one well-known resident of Berlin was aboard the Titanic, Frau Antoinette Flegenheim, whose name appears among the rescued.

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