When I say that I am a survivor of the Titanic you will know at once that my story is to be one of great tragedy, for even after fourteen years, the name of that ill-fated vessel brings a shudder of horror to those who remember it's wreck.
On the day the Titanic set out on her first and only voyage (10th April, 1912) I was just a girl in my teens looking forward with a schoolgirl's anticipation to a voyage in the worlds latest and finest liner on a tour through North America.
The weather was brilliant and the docks at
We passengers were
The noise made in getting the luggage aboard was deafening, but when the Titanic started on it's journey and even greater pandemonium broke loose - the cheering of thousands of people and the shrieking of many sirens.
Then - as if some unseen hand had silenced them, a hush suddenly fell upon the people. I went to the side to see what was the matter and found that the passing of the mighty
On the fateful Sunday evening I went into the music saloon to listen to the band and found myself in company of a man who had previously taken a fatherly interest in me. He was travelling alone and seemed to suffer from his loneliness, for he had been one of the passengers most affected by forebodings.
When ten o'clock came and I was called away to bed, he begged me to remain with him a little longer, saying he was sure something awful was about to happen. Perhaps he was influenced by the fact that the band was playing such pieces as '
His seriousness and pessimism frightened me, so for once in my life I was quite glad to be sent to bed. I bade him 'Goodnight' and never saw him again.
After I had been in bed for about an hour and a half, I was awakened by a terrific
I was about to get up when a steward came and said, 'Miss we have struck an
I prepared myself for sleep once more, but in a few minutes the steward was back again, telling me not to be afraid, but to dress quickly, put on my
Still realising nothing of the danger I was in, I joked with him about the funny way in which it was fixed. He did not answer, but smiled very sadly, and shook his head. Then I knew that something serious had happened.
I was carried by a swarm of other passengers to the
There were men swearing horribly and women quietly
But there was no panic, and I, with the fortitude of youth, looked on in wonder.
It was bitterly cold.
I watched them preparing to lower the lifeboats. I heard the order, '
An elderly officer, with tears streaming down his cheeks, helped us into one of the
As the lifeboat began to descend, I heard him say, 'Goodbye, remember you are British'.
We dropped over 60 feet down the side of that huge vessel and it seemed an eternity before the lifeboat reached the water. There were about thirty-five of us in the boat including three of the crew - a seamen, a steward, and a cook.
These men had been told to get away from the Titanic as quickly as they could, lest the lifeboat be drawn under by the
When we were at a safe distance they stopped rowing and we watched the Titanic sink rapidly into the black depths. She was ablaze with
Then I heard the terrible last cries of the twelve hundred men, women, and children left aboard her, rising above the din of the explosion of the
Then came the awful silence - more terrible then the sounds that had gone before.
The sea was calm, otherwise no one would have been saved, but by now it was studded with the wreckage and with bodies of the dead and dying.
Some poor souls reached the lifeboats, only to be pushed back into the relentless ice-cold sea, for the boats were full and in grave danger of swamping.
We had one loaf of bread in our lifeboat and this had been trampled upon. There was neither drinking water, compass nor clock and our single lamp would not light. Because of this we drifted away from other lifeboats.
We rowed all through the night, taking turns at the sweep.
I took my place and remember that my long hair was very much in the way for it often caught between my hands and the oar and caused me terrible pain.
They steered our boat towards the lights of a
The disappearance of the tramp steamer seemed to leave us on the ocean - a handful of people in an open boat - and we were faced with a worse fate than drowning.
To add to our misery the sea became rough and our boat was pitching and tossing helplessly.
At last the morning came and we saw several icebergs around us, grim spectres that would crush our frail craft like an eggshell.
As our eyes became accustomed to the light, however, we saw the objects that we had taken for a iceberg was a ship - the cunard liner
We soon reached the Carpathia and were taken up her great side one more time in a kind of a cradle- just a piece of board, strong hands and a willing hands at the top.
This was no easy operation, for the lifeboat was being dashed along the Carpathia's side and while waiting to be taken up we were jerked backwards and forwards by the fury of the waves.
As soon as I reached the deck, kindly hands put a rug around my shoulders and pressed brandy to my trembling lips.
I was safe, thank god, and little the worse for my adventure.
It was a terrible story, but I shall never shrink form telling it, for above the horror of the tragedy there stands out the noble British gentlemen who perished that we women might live.
Roberta Elizabeth Mary Maioni
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Roberta Maioni (1926) My Maiden VoyageEncyclopedia Titanica (ref: #9097, accessed 18th April 2014 07:04:55 AM)
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Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Thursday 2nd October 2008, last updated Friday 18th April 2014.