A Swanage Man's Story of the Disaster

Bournemouth Echo

Iceberg mistaken for a cloud

The Two Swanage survivors of the ill-fated Titanic messers J W. Gibbons of Studland and Charles Burgess arrived in England on Sunday in the "Lapland". They both arrived in Swanage on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

A simple but graphic account of the sinking of the Titanic was told on Tuesday by Mr. Gibbons who is a married man with five children, was on the maiden voyage, and had taken the trip to improve his health. Describing his experiences he said:

"I had just turned into the 'glory-hole' as our sleeping quaters are termed- and was hanging up  my watch when I felt a sudden jar.

"The shock was very slight, and to this fact I attribute the great loss of life as many of those aboard must have gone to sleep again under the impression that nothing serious had happened.

When I got up on deck the boats were being lowered away, but many of the passengers seemed to prefer sticking to the ship. I helped some of the passengers into boat No. 11, including two little children. Before doing this I had scanned the deck for others but could see nobody about"

Mr. Gibbons commenting on the obstinate way in which passengers would go back to their cabins for nick-nacks said :- "I saw one lady covered in furs complaining that she had several more left behind. She had a mascot in the shape of a little pig which played a tune and she would not leave the ship until she had secured her treasure [see Edith Russell].

"We drew away from the Titanic in charge of Mr. Wheat another steward and when about half a mile away saw her sink. The cries of those onboard were terrible and I doubt whether the memory of them will ever leave me during my lifetime.

"It has been denied by many that the band was playing but it was doing so and the strains of "Nearer my God to Thee" came clearly over the water with a solemnity so awful that words cannot express it"

Mr. Gibbons mentioned a curious circumstance in connection with the iceberg that struck the Titanic. The berg, he said was seen early in the morning by the passenger who mistook it for a cloud.

[also in Western Gazette - Friday 03 May 1912]

Related Biographies:

Charles Burgess
Jacob William Gibbons

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