Titanic Sinking - The Rescue & the Wireless Call


Recues Resulted from Coltain's Untiring Devotion to Duty.

Harold Thomas Cottam, the wireless operator of the Carpathia, through whose efforts more than to any one else the saving of a part of the Titanic's passengers was made possible, is only 21 years old. He is an English boy, born in Nottinghamshire, where his father is a builder and operator.

Last February he was chosen from a number of applicants as the chief operator of the Cunard liner Carpathia. His trip on this liner to New York last week was his first trip. It was the first time that young Cottam had ever been in New York.

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Apr 1912


How the Wireless Call Came.

Arpad Lengyel, surgeon of the Carpathia made the following statement to a Times reporter upon the arrival of the ship last night:

"For three days we had been having splendid weather. We hoped to make Gibraltar on day earlier than usual. Suddenly at 12:10 P. M. on the 14th we received a Marconigram with the terrible message that the Titanic was in a sinking condition. We instantly replied that we would give assistance to her. But we knew that where she was then there was ice.

"It was a beautiful starlight night, but the weather was very cold. The night before it had been very dark, and foggy, but the night of the catastrophe it was clear and beautiful. I came on deck in response to a call to quarters, issued by the Captain, H. Rostron, who immediately ordered all hands on deck as soon as he received the news of the disaster.

"The Carpathia was in darkness at the time the message were asleep. As soon as the Captain's order was issued, calling the crew to the deck, the lights were all turned on and the ship became a brilliant mass of light. Preparations were made to meet every possible emergency. I was put in charge of the steerage, which was the receiving ward. The Italian doctor was put in charge of the second cabin. The Captain ordered coffee prepared for 1,000 persons. Full surgical dressings and appliances of every description were taken from our well-equipped drug store.

Made Five Extra Knots an Hour.

"These arrangement were made for first, second and third class passengers. We, at this time, changed our course and started in the direction from which the message calling for help had come. When we started steaming, we saw ice, but no boats. The Carpathia, which makes 13 knots under the normal conditions, made 18 knots during the entire time until we picked up the first boat from the Titanic. At 12:30 A. M. they commenced sending up rockets, which we continued to do. We went forty miles to the north. At about 2 A. M. we saw the first Coston light. This light was from a lifeboat, and was not from the Titanic.

"It was 3:30 when we picked up the first boat. This boat was filled with steerage passengers. The Carpathia had then stopped her engines. Suddenly we saw the sea dotted with little saltering, appearing in and off among the ice peaks. The people we picked up in this boat were so overcome with the cold that they were brought to the deck in a helpless condition by means of a boatswain's chair.

"There were twenty-two people in this boat, most of whom were women. All of them had worn life belts. These belts were cut from them. To some we gave coffee and to others brandy. To all of them we administered massage. Some of them were crying and could not be comforted. Though I am a surgeon and used to terrible sights and scenes. I will say to you that it is beyond human belief that any man's eyes could see what mine have seen. It was terrible, even to me.

"Many of them were wounded, perhaps from jumping. When we sighted the flotilla of lifeboats we stopped our engines and let them come to us, because it was easier for them to manoeuvre[sic].

"Clinging to the side of the first boat we picked up were four men who had been swimming from two to three hours in the cold water. Two of them were sailors, one of them was a passenger, and the other was the second Marconi man. Although these men were swiming[sic], automatically keeping their heads above the surface, they were mentally unconscious of the fact that they had been rescued.

"Mr. Daniels, who is a banker from Philadelphia, was clothed only in a woolen sleeping garment. He was delirious. There were a number of children taken from the lifeboats who did not have parents. There were four cases in which infants and mothers were separated, being in different boats and being united after we had gotten the entire number of survivors aboard.

"In one case there was a nursing infant separated from its mother. Each was saved in a different boat. We took from the boats four dead bodies.

Dr. Lengytl said later that he had talked with a survivor of the Titanic, who told him that the survivors in his lifeboat had said that Capt. Smith of the Titanic had shot down two men who had tried to climb into a lifeboat, and that the Captain had also shot the man on the lookout in the crow's nest of the Titanic.

The manner in which the rescue of the survivors was accomplished by the Carpathia was related in graphic style by J. W. Barker, one of the stewards of the Cunard liner.

"At eight bells, midnight, I had gone below and turned in." said Barker. "Twenty minutes later I heard the hiss and crackle of the wireless, but paid no attention to it until the chief officer knocked at my cabin and told me to get ready to receive 3,000 passengers from the White Star liner, which was in distress and from which and "S. O. S." call had been picked up.

"When Bruce Ismay was taken on board the first thing he did was to demand something to eat, and went into the dining room for some breakfast. One of the stewards gave it to him, and he offered the man $2 as tip. At first it was refused, but he insisted, saying that he was going to see to it that all of the "boys" on the Carpathia would be rewarded generously. It was then that the steward learned that the hungry passenger was Mr. Ismay.

"The officers of the Carpathia and the male passengers gave up their cabins very gladly to accommodate the passengers from the Titanic. There were five or six little children. They seemed to recover from their first fright very quickly and were soon romping about and playing. One of the children had a case of pneumonia, as it was at first thought, but it turned out to be a case of measles. All the women passengers on the Carpathia got busy at once, knitting and sewing babies' clothing.

"I have asked some of the passengers how it happened. They tell me that about 12 o'clock they heard a great noise. According to their stories when they came on deck and asked what had happened, the captain told them there was nothing to be alarmed about, and that she had only poked her nose into an iceberg. It was not until sometime later that we got ready for the lifeboats.

"While the sailors were busy getting the lifeboats ready, there was an explosion and it was only then that the captain ordered that every person should put on a life belt and that the women and children should be put into the lifeboats."

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Apr 1912