Titanic Sinking - Survivor Account, part 2
Band Plays in Rag-Time.
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 alive.
I went to the place I had seen the 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 an oarlock and I went off with it. The next I knew 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. 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 only one thing on my mind---to get away from the suction. The band was still playing. I guess all the band 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.
Pulled Into a Boat.
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 so 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 remember 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. The same crowd was on it.
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 that it would hold and it was sinking.
At first the larger waves splashed over my clothing. Then they began to splash over my head and I had to breathe when I could.
As we floated around on our capsized boat and I kept straining my eyes for a ship's lights, somebody said, "Don't the rest of you think we ought to pray?" The man who made the suggestion asked what religion of the others was. Each man called out his religion. One was Catholic, one a Methodist, one a Presbyterian.
It was decided the most appropriate prayer for all was the Lord's Prayer. We spoke it over in chorus with the man who first suggested that we pray as the leader.
Some splendid people saved us. They had a right-side up boat, and it was full to its capacity. Yet then 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 cold 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 by one the men were taken off of it.
One Dead on the Raft.
One man was dead. I passed him and went to the ladder, although my feet pained terribly. The dead man was Phillips. He had died on the raft from exposure and cold, I guess. He had been all in from work before the wreck came. He stood his ground until the crisis had passed, and then he had collapsed, I guess.
But I hardly thought of that then. I didn't think much of anything. I tried the rope ladder. My feet pained terribly, but I got to the top and felt hands reaching out to me. The next I knew a woman was leaning over me in a cabin and I felt her hand waving back my hair and rubbing my face.
I felt somebody at my feet and felt the warmth of a jolt of liquor. Somebody got me under the arms. Then I was hustled down below to the hospital. That was early in the day I guess. I lay in the hospital until near night and they told me the Carpathia's wireless man was getting "queer" and would I help.
After that I never was out of the wireless room, so I don't know what happened among the passengers. I saw nothing of Mrs. Astor or any of them. I just worked the wireless. The sputter never died down. I knew it soothed the hurt and felt like a tie to the world of friends and home.
How could I then take news queries? Sometimes I let a newspaper ask a question and get a long string of stuff asking for a full particulars about everything. Whenever I started to take such a message I thought of the poor people waiting for their messages to go---hoping for answers to them.
I shut off the inquirers, and sent my personal messages. And I feel I did the white[sic] thing.
If the Chester had had a decent operator I could have worked with him longer but he got terribly on my nerves with his insufferable incompetence. I was still sending my personal messages when Mr. Marconi and the Times reporter arrived to ask that I prepare this statement.
There were, maybe 100 left. I would like to send them all, because I could rest easier if I knew all those messages had gone to the friends waiting for them. But an ambulance man is waiting with a stretcher, and I guess I have got to go with him. I hope my legs get better soon.
The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while we were working wireless, when there was a ragtime 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.
The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Apr 1912