BE BRITISH, MY MEN CAPT. SMITH'S ORDER

BE BRITISH, MY MEN CAPT. SMITH'S ORDER

Worcester Evening Gazette

WASHINGTON, April 19- But for the unparalled self-sacrifice and heroism of Capt. Smith and the Titanic's officers, the sea would have claimed an even greater toll when the gigantic ship went down. From the bridge, Capt. Smith called through his megaphone, "Be British," and that became the rallying cry of the officers and crew.

Such was the graphic description of the conduct of men responsible for the saving of human souls on the stricken Titanic, as told today by John Johnson, a member of the crew who took an oar in the lifeboat. He gave his version of how the ship struck the iceberg and went down, how officers and male passengers stood unafraid on the deck awaiting the inevitable hour; and how husbands and wives said their last farewells.

"When the crash came," he said, "the Titanic was going 23 knots an hour. She ripped herself clear apart. There was no panic. It was very quiet. When the boats were lowered there were many who refused to go. One of the most pathetic scenes was the refusal of Mrs. Isidor Straus to leave her husband. She remained with him to the last.

" When the first signal was given to lower the boats, some of the crew pressed forward. It was then that the rallying cry came through the megaphone from the bridge, 'Be British, my men.' It was Capt. Smith's voice. Every man obeyed the command and faced death calmly. They knew that there was no hope and as the big, strong English seamen assisted the women and children into the boats they gave no sign that they realized that Capt. Smith's words 'Be British,' had sealed their fate. They remained at their posts and died like men."

When J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the International Mercantile Marine Co., stepped into the last lifeboat, Johnson said, there were no women left on deck. He was forced into the boat by officers of the ship and this was done, Johnson said, just as the boat was being lowered.

Related Biographies:
Joseph Bruce Ismay
James Johnston
Edward John Smith

Contributor
Julie Dowen
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    Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Sunday 1st August 2004, last updated .