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How Captain Smith Died

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How Captain Smith Died

Post by Karen on Sun 15 Apr 2012 - 16:48


Graphic Story of Passenger on the Carpathia.

The heroism and calm bravery of Captain Smith is everywhere the subject of warm commendation. Nobody for a moment believes the story that he committed suicide. He was seen by numerous survivors working hard to help the passengers and crew to save themselves right up to the last.
Before he was washed by a wave from his post, he called through his megaphone, "Be British!" to the mass below. Later, he was seen helping those struggling in the water, refusing an opportunity to save himself.
His first act was to send for the carpenters to sound the ship and report the extent of the damage. While they were doing so he told the wireless operators to prepare to send out the call for help. Ten minutes later he knew the ship was sinking, and ordered the call to be sent.
Mr. Carlos Hurd, staff correspondent of the "New York World," who chanced to be a passenger on board the Carpathia, has furnished a very complete story. Mr. Hurd writes as follows: -

The facts which I have established by inquiries on the Carpathia as positively as they could be established in view of the silence of the few surviving officers, are that the Titanic's officers knew, several hours before the crash, of the possible nearness of icebergs, that the Titanic's speed was nearly twenty-three knots; that speed was not slackened; that the accommodation of the lifeboats of the Titanic was not sufficient to accommodate much more than one-third of the passengers, to say nothing of the crew.


Most of the members of the crew say that there were sixteen lifeboats and two collapsible craft. None says that there were more than twenty boats in all. The 700 who escaped filled most of the sixteen lifeboats and the one collapsible, which got away, to the limit of their capacity.
That women went first was the rule. In some cases it was applied to the extent of turning men back who were with their families, even though there were not enough to fill the boats available at that particular part of the deck. Some few of the boats were thus lowered without being completely filled, but most of these soon filled with sailors and stewards, who were picked up out of the water, and helped to man them.
The bulkhead system, though it was probably working in the manner intended, availed only to delay the ship's sinking. The position and the length of the ship's wound on the starboard quarter admitted icy water, which caused the boilers to explode. These explosions practically broke the ship in two.
Had the ship struck the iceberg head on, at whatever speed, and with whatever resultant shock, the bulkhead system and the watertight compartments would probably have saved the vessel. As one man expressed it, "It was the impossible that happened when, with a shock, unbelievably mild, the ship's side was torn for a length which made the bulkhead system ineffective."
The night was starry. The sea was glassy. The lights in most of the state-rooms were out. Only two or three congenial groups remained in the public rooms. In the crow's nest, the look-out on the bridge, the officers and members of the crew were at their places, awaiting relief at midnight from their two hours' watch.
At 11:45 p.m. came the sudden sound of two gongs warning against immediate danger. The crash against the iceberg, which had been sighted when it was only a quarter of a mile away, came almost simultaneously with the click of levers, operated by those on the bridge, which stopped the engines and closed the watertight doors.
Captain Smith remained on the bridge until just before the ship sank, leaping from her only after those on the decks had been washed away. It is related that when one of the cooks later sought to pull him aboard a lifeboat Captain Smith exclaimed, "Let me go!" and, jerking himself away, went down.


What became of the men with life preservers is a question asked by many persons since the disaster. The preservers did their work in supporting their wearers in the water until the ship went down. Many of those drawn into the vortex in spite of their preservers did not come up again until their dead bodies floated on the surface.
To relate that as the last boats moved away the ship's string band gathered in the saloon and played "Nearer, my God, to Thee," sounds like an attempt to give added solemn colour to a scene which was in itself the climax of solemnity, but various passengers and survivors of the crew agree in declaring that they heard this music.
To the scenes enacted in the next two hours on those decks and in the water below such adjectives as dramatic and tragic do but poor justice. With the knowledge of their deadly peril gaining greater power each moment over those men and women, the nobility of the greater part, both among the cabin passengers, the officers, crew, and steerage, asserted itself.
Mr. Straus, supporting his wife on the way to the lifeboat, was held back by the inexorable guard. Another officer strove to help her to a seat of safety, but she brushed away his arm and clung to her husband, crying, "I will not go without you." Another woman took her place, and her form clinging to her husband's became part of the picture now drawn indelibly on many minds. Neither the wife nor the husband, so far as anyone knows, reached a place of safety.
Colonel Astor, holding his young wife's arm, stood decorously aside as the officers spoke to him. Mrs. Astor and her maid were ushered to seats. Mrs. Harris parted in a like manner from her husband. She saw him last at the rail beside Colonel Astor. Mr. George D. Widener, who had been in Captain Smith's company for a few minutes after the crash, was another whose wife was parted from him, and lowered a moment later to the calm surface of the sea.
Of Major Butt, Mr. C.H. Hays, Mr. Guggenheim, and Mr. W.T. Stead, no one seems to know whether they tarried too long in their state-rooms or whether they forebore to approach the fast filling boats. None of them was in the throng which, weary hours afterward, reached the Carpathia.
When the lowered boats from the upper deck reached the water those in the boats saw what those on the decks could not see, that the Titanic was listing rapidly to starboard, and that her stern was rising at a portentous angle. A rush of steerage men towards the boats was checked by the officers with revolvers in hand. Some of the boats which were crowded too full to give the rowers a chance drifted for a time. None had provisions or water, and there was a lack of covering from the icy air.
As the end of the Titanic became manifestly but a matter of moments, the oarsmen pulled their boats away. The chilling water began to echo with splash after splash as the passengers and sailors with life-preservers leaped overboard and started swimming away to escape the expected suction.
Only the hardiest constitution could endure more than a few minutes of such a numbing bath, and then their first vigorous strokes gave way to heart-breaking cries of "Help! Help!" Then their stiffened forms were seen floating with their features relaxed in death.


Revolver shots were heard in the ship's last moments. The first report spread among the people in the boats was that Captain Smith had ended his life with a bullet. Then it was said that a mate had shot a steward who tried to push his way to a boat against orders. None of these tales have been verified, and many of the crew say that Captain Smith, without a life preserver, leaped into the water at the last and went down, refusing the cook's proffered aid.
There were sixteen boats in forlorn procession which entered on the terrible hours of rowing, drifting, and suspense. Women wept for their lost husbands and sons. Men choked back their tears and sought to comfort the widowed. Perhaps, they said, other boats might have put off in the other direction towards the east. They strove, though none too sure of it themselves, to convince the women of the certainty that a rescue ship would soon appear.
Dawn brought no ship, but not long after five a.m., the Carpathia, far out of her path and making eighteen knots instead of her wonted fifteen, showed a single red and black stack upon the horizon. In the joy of that moment the heaviest griefs were forgotten. Soon afterwards Captain Rostron and the Chief Steward Hughes were welcoming the chilled and bedraggled arrivals over the Carpathia's side.
The silence of the Carpathia's engines, the piercing cold, and the clamour of many voices in the companion ways caused me to dress hurriedly and to awaken my wife. It was 5:40 on Monday morning. Our stewardess, meeting me outside, pointed to a wailing host in the back of the dining-room, and said: "From the Titanic. She's at the bottom of the ocean."


At the ship's side a moment later I saw the last of a line of boats discharge their loads. I saw women, some with cheap shawls about their heads, some with the costliest fur cloaks, ascending the ship's side. Such joy as the first sight of our ship may have given them had disappeared from their faces. There were tears and signs of faltering as the women were helped up the ladders or hoisted aboard in swings.
For lack of room in which to put them, the Titanic's boats, after unloading, were set adrift. To our north the broad icefield stretched around us, and on either side rose sharp, glistening peaks. One black berg, seen about ten a.m., was said to be that which sank the Titanic. Few of the men of the Carpathia's passengers slept in bed on any of the nights that followed. They lay on chairs on the deck, on the dining tables, or floors.
The captain was the first to vacate his room, which was used as a hospital. In the first cabin library women of wealth and refinement mingled their tears and asked eagerly for news of the possible arrival of a belated boat or a message from some other steamer telling of the safety of their husbands.
Mrs. Ella Thor, Miss Marie Young, Mrs. Emil Taussig, and her daughter Ruth, Mrs. Martin Rothschild, Mrs. William Augustus Spencer, Mrs. J. Stuart White, and Mrs. Walter M. Clark were a few of those who lay back exhausted on the leather cushions, and in shuddering sentences told their experiences. Mrs. Astor and the Countess Rothes had been taken to their state-rooms soon after their arrival on the ship.
Those who talked with Mrs. Astor said that she spoke often of her husband's ability as an oarsman, and said that he could save himself if he had a chance. That he could have had such a chance she seemed hardly to hope. - Reuter's Special Service.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, April 21, 1912, Page 6

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Re: How Captain Smith Died

Post by Karen on Wed 18 Apr 2012 - 23:30

Man Shot by Captain When Rushing a Lifeboat.

Lady Duff Gordon, who left the "Titanic" in one of the last boats, said that panic had begun to seize some of the remaining passengers by the time her boat was lowered. Everyone seemed to be rushing for that boat. A few men who crowded in were turned back at the point of Captain Smith's revolver, and several of them were felled before order was restored.
"I recall," she said, "being pushed towards one of the boats and being helped in. Just as we were about to clear the ship a man made a rush to get aboard our lifeboat. He was shot and apparently killed instantly. His body fell in the boat at our feet. No one made any effort to move him, and his body remained in the boat until we were picked up.
"I saw bodies in the water in all directions. The poor souls could not live long in the terribly cold water."
Mr. George Brayton, of California, says that he saw one of the stewards shoot a foreigner who tried to press past a number of women in order to gain a place in the lifeboats.
Miss Bannell, of Youngstown, Ohio, says: - "The men in the second-class cabin certainly behaved with splendid heroism. There was no panic among the second-cabin passengers, but the men in the first cabin flew into a rage and were wild.
"I heard several shots from revolvers, and I was informed that the officers fired on the men who tried to crowd the women out of the lifeboats."
William Jones, eighteen years of age, one of the firemen, whose home is at Southampton, who was making his first trip, declares that when the Titanic went down four lifeboats were swamped.
Mr. Richmond and Mr. Daniels, two of the survivors, told our representative that of all the passengers Major Butt and Howard Case were the bravest. They instituted a system to get the women off, and they saw that the system was carried out. They were the big heroes of the disaster," said Mr. Daniels.

One of Thirty Picked Up Later from a Raft by Lifeboats.

Colonel Archibald Gracie, an officer of the United States Army, who was the last man saved, actually went down with the Titanic, but was picked up by a lifeboat. He told a remarkable story of personal hardship, but emphatically denied the reports to the effect that there had been any panic on board. He praised in the highest terms the behaviour of both passengers and crew, and paid a high tribute to the heroism of the women passengers.
Colonel Gracie said: "When Sunday evening came we all noticed the increased cold, which gave plain warning that the ship was in close proximity to icebergs and an icefield. I am credibly informed that the officers had been advised by wireless of the presence of dangerous floes in the vicinity. The sea, however, was as smooth as glass, and the weather was clear, so that there seemed to be no occasion for fear. When the vessel struck the passengers were not alarmed, but joked over the matter. The few who appeared on deck had taken time to dress properly. There was not the slightest indication of panic."
The most thrilling portion of Colonel Gracie's narrative was that in which he told how he was driven to the topmost deck when the ship settled down. He was the sole survivor after the wave that swept the liner just before the final plunge. By great good fortune he managed to grasp the brass railing on the railing deck above. He hung on with might and main. When the ship plunged he was forced to let go. He was swirled around and around for what seemed to be an interminable time. Eventually he came to the surface unhurt, and managed to seize a wooden grating that was floating near by. When he recovered his breath he discovered a large canvas and cork raft which had floated up. A man was struggling towards it from some wreckage to which he had clung.
"The two of us," Colonel Gracie continued, "then began the work of rescuing those who jumped into the sea and were floundering about in the waters. When dawn broke there were thirty of us on the raft, standing knee-deep in water, and afraid to move lest we should be overturned. The hours that elapsed before we were picked up by the Carpathia were the longest and most terrible I have ever spent."
Mr. Robert E. Daniel, a young cotton broker of Philadelphia, said:
- "I was in my cabin dictating to the stenographer when the ship struck the berg. The shock was not violent. The officers who survived told me afterwards the Titanic slipped up on the iceberg and tore her bottom out. No one seemed to be alarmed at first. I went on dictating until somebody knocked at my door and cried out that the ship was sinking. I grabbed a life preserver and went to the deck. The sixteen boats were filled with passengers, most of them women.


Mrs. Edgar J. Meyer, of New York, highly praised the officers and men of the Titanic. Her husband was among those who went down with the ship. She said that after the first shock she and Mr. Meyer ran to the lifeboats. She pleaded with her husband to be allowed to remain with him. He finally threw her into the lifeboat, reminding her of their nine-year-old child at home. Mrs. Meyer, with an English girl, rowed in her boat for four and a half hours.
"We were well away from the steamer when it sank," she said, "but we heard the screams of the people left on board. There were about seventy of us widows on board the Carpathia. The captain and the passengers did all they could for us."
George Rheims, of New York, who was on the Titanic with his brother-in-law, Mr. Joseph Holland, a London resident, said that none seemed to know for twenty minutes after the boat struck that anything had happened. Many of the passengers stood round for hours, with their lifebelts on. He saw the people getting into the boats. When all the boats had gone he shook hands with his brother-in-law, who would not jump, and leaped over the side of the boat. He swam for a quarter of an hour and reached a lifeboat. It had eighteen occupants, and was half under water. The people were in the water up to their knees. Seven of them died during the night. Only those who stood all the time remained alive.


Mr. A.H. Barkworth, of Tranby House, East Yorkshire, one of the Titanic's passengers, says he saw Mr. Stead after the collision. Mr. Stead described to him how the forecastle of the vessel was full of powdered ice scraped off the berg.
Some of the survivors are reported as saying that Mr. Stead came to the door of his state-room and then went back to his bed.
Mr. Barkworth escaped by jumping into the sea, from which he was picked up later by one of the boats.

Refused His Mate's Offer to Relieve Him.


Mr. Harold Bride, the assistant wireless operator on the Titanic, tells a remarkable story of the disaster. The chief operator, Mr. Jack Phillips, was lost in the wreck, but Mr. Bride came through safely. The news of his rescue was sent by wireless two days before the arrival of the Carpathia at New York to his anxious parents at their home in Ravensbourne-road, Bromley, Kent.
He states that at about 11:30 on Sunday night, when he entered the wireless room to relieve Mr. Phillips, Captain Smith entered immediately after, and said, "We have struck an iceberg. Get ready to send out the call for help but hold on until I give the word."
"In ten or fifteen minutes the captain shouted in at the door, "Call for assistance." "What shall I send?" asked Phillips. "The regulation international call," said the captain.
"Phillips began sending out both CQD, the old signal, and SOS, the new one. As he did so we joked about it, because we had felt very little impact from the berg, and we did not think at that time that there was any danger.


"Presently, however, the danger became apparent, and instead of releasing his key to me, Phillips insisted upon sticking to his post. He now began to send out the signal rapidly and frantically, and while he did so I strapped a lifebelt around him.
"The installation was working perfectly, and presently we picked up the Frankfurt. We gave her our position, and said, "We have struck an iceberg, and need assistance."
"The Frankfurt operator asked us to wait a moment while he informed his captain. When he returned we told him that we were beginning to sink by the head. Just then the Carpathia answered us, and we repeated our position and the instructions.
"In a few minutes the Carpathia's operator told us that the captain had changed his course, and was making for us at all speed. Phillips asked me to inform Captain Smith of this. In order to do so I had to run through a great mass of people on the deck. There was considerable excitement and scrambling, but I saw no fighting.
"As I returned I saw a man bending over Phillips, who was still pounding away at his key. The man was trying to get off Phillips's lifebelt. I struck the man on the head. I don't know whether I killed him or not; I hope so.
"Phillips and I then left the wireless room, as the captain had told us that there was no use waiting any longer. We had done our duty, he said, and now we were entitled to look out for ourselves.
"The last boat had gone, and the deck was awash. We might have got off sooner, but Phillips insisted upon sticking to his duty until the last moment, like the brave fellow he was, and then it was too late.
"As we dashed out on the deck Phillips ran aft, and that was the last I saw of him. I could hear the band playing a merry rag-time tune. I went to where I knew there was a collapsible boat, and to my surprise it was still in position, with men trying to launch it.


"None of the men were sailors, and I was able to be of considerable assistance; but just as we were about to release the boat a wave boarded us, and carried us, boat and all, off together.
"I held on to the gunwale, but the boat turned over, and I was partially submerged under it. I got out, however, and hung on to the overturned boat. The sea was full of people, all about me. Each one had on a lifebelt.
"I had floated some distance from the ship, and as I looked back at her she was a beautiful sight. Smoke was pouring out of her funnels, and there were bright lights everywhere. She seemed to me to go down by the head when she took her final dive. I heard the band playing until the very last. I had a lifebelt on, and I swam as far as I could, but I felt no suction from the sinking Titanic. Presently a boat came near me, and I swam to it, and was pulled aboard. It was a collapsible, and she was half full of water. We were afterwards taken off by the people in another boat. They let us come aboard, although their boat was full.
"I was fearfully cold, and I had great pain in my feet. Before the Carpathia came along to take us off I saw the dead body of Phillips pass on a raft. He had died from exposure.
"I could hardly climb the ladder of the Carpathia, but I was helped up, and the next thing I knew was that I was in a cabin, where a woman rubbed some life into me and gave me some brandy.
"I was taken to the ship's hospital, and afterwards, owing to the pressure of the wireless work, was asked to help the Carpathia's operator. After that I never left the wireless room, but worked night and day sending official and personal messages.
"Phillips was a brave man, and I loved him that night when he stuck to his key while a panic raged outside on the decks. If Phillips had had a chance to go to his room and get warmer clothing, as I did, he probably would be alive today; but duty was first with him."
Mr. Bride explains why the Press got no message from the Carpathia, a point that everybody has wanted to know. He said they refused, on board the Cunarder, to send Press despatches because there were so many personal messages from survivors to go.
"I thought the friends waiting with such anxiety for knowledge of those on board the Carpathia ought to be served first, and I did my best to get off all such messages I could."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, April 21, 1912, Page 6

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Re: How Captain Smith Died

Post by Karen on Fri 20 Apr 2012 - 23:13


A model of Commander Edward J. Smith, R.N.R., captain of the Titanic, has been added to Madame Tussaud's great collection. Mr. John Tussaud has gone to great pains to make a faithful representation of the original, and has modelled the figure from a photograph taken on board the Titanic shortly before she started on her fatal voyage. The model, which is life-sized, occupies a prominent position by itself on a dais in the principal room at the exhibition.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, May 12, 1912, Page 9

Karen Trenouth
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Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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