Daily Graphic, April 20, 1912
Mrs Walter Donald Douglas (Mahala Dutton), 48, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Deephaven, MN, USA boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with her husband Mr Walter Donald Douglas and her French maid Berthe LeRoy. Travelling as first class passengers, they occupied cabin C-86.
After the collision, as the lifeboats were loaded Mahala begged her husband to come with her but he refused saying it would make him 'less than a man.' or 'No, I must be a gentleman.'
Mahala and Ms LeRoy escaped the sinking ship in Lifeboat 2. After several hours adrift, during which Mrs Douglas handled the boats tiller, they drew along side the rescue ship Carpathia. As they did so Mrs Douglas supposedly screamed.'The ship is gone, All of them are gone.' or 'The Titanic has gone down with everyone on board' before being silenced by Fourth Officer Boxhall.
After the disaster Mrs Douglas testified at the American Senate inquiry.
"We dined in the restaurant, going in about 8 o?clock....As we went to our stateroom...we both remarked that the boat was going faster than she ever had. The vibration...was very noticeable.
"The shock of the collision was not great to us; the engines stopped, then went on for a few moments, then stopped again. We waited some little time, Mr Douglas reassuring me that there was no danger before going out of the cabin. But later Mr Douglas went out to see what had happened, and I put on my heavy boots and fur coat to go up on deck later. I waited in the corridor to see and hear what I could. We received no orders; no one knocked at our door; we saw no officers nor stewards?no one to give an order or answer our questions.
"Now people commenced to appear with life preservers, and I heard from some one that the order had been given to put them on. I took three from our cabin, gave one to the maid, telling her to get off in the small boat when her turn came.
"Mr Douglas [and I]...went up on the boat deck. Mr Douglas told me if I waited we might both go together, and we stood there waiting. We heard that the boat was in communication with three other boats by wireless: we watched the distress rockets sent off?they rose high in the air and burst.
"No one seemed excited. Finally, as we stood by a collapsible boat lying on the deck and an emergency boat swinging from the davits was being filled, it was decided I should go....I asked Mr Douglas to come with me, but he replied, ?No, I must be a gentleman," turning away...
"The rowing was very difficult, for no one knew how....Several times we stopped rowing to listen for the lapping of the water against the icebergs.
"In an incredibly short space of time, it seemed to me, the boat sank. I heard no explosion. I watched the boat go down, and the last picture to my mind is the immense mass of black against the starlit sky, and then?nothingness."
Mahala continued to life at her mansion by Lake Minnetonka until her death in 1945 aged 81. She, is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, alongside her husband.
|MAHALA DOUGLAS WITH BERTHE LEROY|
|WALTER DONALD DOUGLAS|
Articles and Stories
|Rahway Daily Record (1912)||STORY OF DISASTER TO MAMMOTH LINER FROM A SURVIVOR|
|THE DOUGLASES REMEMBERED BY NIECE|
|Cedar Rapids Gazette (1945)||MRS. WALTER DOUGLAS DIED IN CALIFORNIA|
|New York Times (1912)||TO HOLD ISMAY TO THE END|
|Unidentified Newspaper (1945)||MRS DOUGLAS DIES AT 81|
|Washington Herald (1912)||PEUCHEN COMES BACK AT ISMAY|
|Titanic Research (2004)||BERTHE LEROY: TITANIC SURVIVOR|
Mrs Douglas's niece Gail Burck was born September 20, 1906 and died in November of 1962. Her nephew George Dutton was born March 31, 1909 and died in Cedar Rapids on October 16, 1989. Great-nieces and nephews still reside in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
State of California Certificate
Cedar Rapids Gazette (Iowa), 22 April 1945, Obituary
United States Senate Hearings, Affidavit of Mrs Walter Donald Douglas
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912