Alice Phillips letter describes sinking of Titanic

Western Times


Of the “Titanic” wreck by an Ilfracombe Survivor.

Miss Alice Phillips, the Ilfracombe young lady who was one of the surviving passengers of the ill-fated “Titanic,” has supplemented the interview which she recently granted by the following letter to Miss Williams, of 22, Highfield-road, Ilfracombe:


My Dear May, -

    I expect you have read of the awful wreck of the “Titanic” and have seen my name in the list of survivors? I expect you have. Oh! I cannot tell you how dreadful it was! My darling father has perished in the wreck, and I feel almost out of my mind with grief. You know how good he was to me, so you can imagine just what I feel like. It seems almost too hard to bear, dear.

    I cannot give you a full account of everything that happened. It would take too long to tell, but I will try and describe something of it. I had gone to bed on the Sunday night, but was not asleep. About a quarter to twelve we felt an awful crash – when the boat struck an iceberg – and was nearly rocked out of bed. Soon after I heard the engines stop. I rung up the steward to enquire what had happened, and he said it was nothing serious, and that we could go to sleep. I did not feel satisfied. Father came to my cabin, and asked me if I would care to go on deck with him; so I did. We had not been there long when someone said: “All on deck with lifebelts on.” I cannot tell you, dear, how I felt in that moment!

    Dad and I got our belts on, and I went on deck again, and then all the women and children were put into the lifeboats and lowered. I saw my dear father for the last time in this world, and I almost felt as though I would have liked to die with him. To see that boat sinking, and to know that he was there was too terrible to think of. After drifting around for nine hours, almost frozen with the intense cold, we were rescued by the “Carpathia.” I cannot tell you the joy that we felt when we were safely on the boat. We had hot coffee and brandy, which warmed us. We were sleeping in the smokeroom on the floor or anywhere, and were only too thankful to do so!

    We reached New York on Thursday evening, and my uncle was there to meet me. I cannot tell you how pleased I was  to see him. We stayed at the Strand Hotel for the night, and the next day a lady, who is named Mrs. Longstaffe, came and enquired for me, and took us to her home for the day, and provided me with some clothes. I lost everything I possessed, and had not a penny to call my own. I cannot forget the awful cries of those people who perished. It was simply awful!

    If ever you come to America, dear, don’t come in a big boat, as I don’t think they are as safe as the small ones. I expect you have read all about it in the papers, haven’t you? I am here with my aunt and uncle now, and I think, when I have got over my grief, I shall be quite happy with them. One of the stewards on the “Carpathia” gave me a dollar to spend. It was very good of him. Please write to me soon. I am longing to hear from you. Fondest love to you all.

I am,

Your ever devoted friend,


Related Biographies:

Alice Frances Louisa Phillips

Relates to Place:

Ilfracombe, Devon, England


Michael Poirier, Gordon Steadwood


Encyclopedia Titanica (2013) Alice Phillips letter describes sinking of Titanic (Western Times, Tuesday 7th May 1912, ref: #19582, published 27 September 2013, generated 3rd August 2020 11:08:25 PM); URL :