April 21, 1912
My dear Mamma,
Here we are at Bernardsville...went to St. Vincent's Hospital, when we met first some young boys and afterwards some girls who had been on the Titanic. There were a large number of the survivors there, being fitted out with clothes used for relief. Whilst we were there the Cardinal came in and we had the privilege of a few minutes with him in the corridor. He spoke very nicely of Roussel and of all the good he must have done on board. The survivors told us there were two priests on board - Father Byles, an English priest, and a german priest. They saw him on deck every day, so that evidently Roussel was at least fairly well. On Sunday afternoon Roussel had Rosary and prayers and preached a sermon on the new life they were to enter into in America, and the dangers to their Faith they had to guard against - his last sermon.
After the accident Roussel appeared on deck in full clothes and moved about among the crowd from group to group giving absolution (without confessions) and starting all the Catholics on the Rosary. One girl said the sailors wanted to put him into a lifeboat, but he refused, and went on with his work. The passengers were all together on the higher decks - First, Second and Third all mixed up, so all participated in his ministrations. Can you see all those poor people saying the Rosary, and Our Lady at the other end of the Rosary pulling some of them into lifeboats, and others to hear the happy command "Enter thou into the Joy of the Lord."?
From St. Vincent's we went to the Chelsea Hotel, where we met Mr. & Mrs. Bean, who had only been married a month, and were both saved together. They knew little, but they gave us the address of Roussel's cabin companion. If he has been saved we may hear more from him.
We meant to call on Father Clifford enroute, but the chauffer lost his way. I had a little conversation with him on the telephone. He is going to have a public Mass for Roussel on Wednesday.
Goodbye, Mamma, and many, many thanks for giving me Katherine. She shall always be my greatest treasure - a pearl of great price. Pray for us every day that we may join Roussel and May, where they are now all together.
Thomas Roussel Davids Byles
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(1912) Letter from William Byles to his mother-in-law Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1924, accessed 2nd July 2015 04:37:27 AM) URL : http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/letter-from-william-byles-his-mother-law.html
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Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Friday 21st November 2003, last updated Saturday 25th April 2015.