Encyclopedia Titanica

Amy Stanley's Letter

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I will tell you now about the Titanic. From Waterloo St. I had just missed the White Star Special so had to take another train. When I reached the dock they hesitated about taking me aboard, as you have to pass the doctor. However, the doctor was found and I had no sooner got on than the gangway was taken up and tender was piloting our boat through an admiring throng of people. There seemed to be an enormous crowd who all seemed to be bent on cheering us. No doubt the new boat attracted them. I was very fortunate to secure a berth with a lady [Elizabeth Dowdell] and child [Virginia Ethel Emanuel]. The lady was very nice and we kept together the whole voyage, even on the Carpathia.

We had a small table in the dining room. There was this lady and child, two single men and three married ones. We were rather amused because one of the married ones seemed frightened of the boat and when we reached Queenstown he got off and took passage back to England. We treated it as a fine joke at the time, paying his passage out and returning home but I guess he is glad now [The identity of a married third-class male passenger that disembarked at Queenstown is unknown].

However, we had a pleasant time of it when the Irish got on at Queenstown. They brought their music and dancing and singing was entered into. We had a nice music room by the way, the two single fellows at our table were able to play the violin so that often we four would get on deck and they would play. On the Sunday we had extra in the dining room. Christmas pudding was on the menu, also ice cream. In the afternoon, one of the men told me that the Italians was going to dance. I was anxious to see that, but it was a very strange dance. However, we cheered them on until they thought they had done something wonderful.

About 10 o'clock I went to bed but I could not sleep so I added some more to the diary which I was writing for a friend at Wallington. I tried to sleep again but it was of no use. Then about 11 o'clock I feel a great shaking. I jumped up, put on a dressing gown and went outside. Many others did the same; in fact the passage was full.

My berth was opposite the deck stair. I was our bedroom steward. He came over to me. I said such, "Whatever is the matter?" He said it was alright, the engines had "only stopped". He said, "They will soon put that alright, but just look at these stupid foreigners. Really, they had no sense at all." He fully assured me it was alright and advised me to go back in bed again, but I said I would, "after I had seen the fun", and the sight of them was irresistible. There was the foreigners with all sorts of luggage hastily put together and dressed in w–– ––––– of the night, some with just a bath sheet on, others in pyjamas jumping in all directions. In fact, they were really insane for the moment.

Some people were by me and we had a good view of them as we were by the deck stair and we laughed. I have been to London Theatre and all sorts of entertainments but never one to come up to that.

I stood there for quite 15 minutes then one Englishman started swearing. Jack the Steward was by me and he told the man not to swear. That opened my eyes. I said such, "You did not tell me the truth!" He told me he was only obeying orders. I went back to Lizzie who was annoyed at the noise. I told her, but I had a difficult task to convince her. We had some port wine and started dressing, but we had hard work to dress the child. She was used to dressing herself and was rather a stubborn child.

The more we hurried her the longer she took. I went into the cabin next ours where Mrs Abbott [Rosa Abbott] and her sons were. I warned her and we distributed the lifebelts and fastened them on, then we went on deck.

When we reached the deck I felt very cold so I went down and picked up my sealskin coat, and also a handbag with £11. 10s which I had got ready to ask the purser to change the next day. When I reached the deck the second time the others had gone. I stood there, fascinated by the scene. There were the rockets going up, another place a ring of people praying. Then you might see a foreigner with her children round her with her rosary in her hand shouting out the Ave Maria, praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were Catholic. Some was swearing and cursing, in some parts more like a battle than anything else. I stood there until an Italian was making signs to me until I understood he wanted my lifebelt. When I made him understand he couldn't have it he was furious.

I was rather frightened, when I heard a noise behind me say, "Why, just the one I was looking for!" I saw then it was one of our fellows at the Dining room. He told me to come away. I followed him and we had to clamber over the railings. I hardly knew what I was doing until I heard someone say, "No more women —here's one! Come on, Miss." I said to the man, "What do they want me for?" "Why, to get in the lifeboat." I said, "What shall you do?" He said, "Go quickly, I shall see you again."

I went to the sailors and two of them caught hold of me and simply threw me to some sailors who caught me in the lifeboat. It was No.15. The next thing was to cut her adrift but that was more easily said than done for it was fastened by a steel lash and the men were some time before they could manage it while No.16 [sic, #13?] was hanging over us, waiting for us to go, and the shouts of officers ordering the men back. I heard shots but the cries of "Keep back!" were awful. As it was, a man managed to jump from the deck into our boat. He landed next to me and my shoulder got bruised through him.

Well we started. I asked one of the sailors to lift me out and I could sit where they were steering the boat as it was not crewed there. Then the man who jumped was crying and his little baby was slipping off his knees. I took the child then and men were pulling as hard as they could.

The child was very quiet and I was looking at the Titanic. What a lovely sight on the water with all the lights peering through the port holes, but I did not realise her size until I was moving from her. The Titanic was slanting. The end struck [bow?] was more in the water. I did not think she would sink so quickly, but I could plainly see the end struck going deeper down, until row by row of the lights went under.

Further down she went, struck end first, then there was an awful noise. She broke in the middle. The people sliding where she broke into the water then accounted for the awful screaming which followed, which noise I could not get rid of for some time. Then the whole of the parts went down but one part came and floated for a time.

Our object was for all the lifeboats to keep in touch with each other but as there was only one with a lamp this was very difficult so the boat next ours we have to keep shouting to, as we had to keep a certain space between. We had been shouting to them for a time but after the Titanic had gone down there was a silence in the boats. No one wanted to speak then. I saw a huge dark object on the water and I was afraid their boat had overturned so I could not be quiet. So, I asked a sailor what had happened so he started shouting again so that the dark object must have been a shark.

I was very cold. I had not got a hat on and I was very stiff. One Irish woman next me said, "Oh, lady, pray to the Blessed Virgin for I am afraid." I said to her, "Why need you be afraid if God wills you to die now or later if the time has come you will have to go." Then she said, "Oh, lady, I had a husband and son on the boat and they are dying now. "Well", I said, "pray for them, for you will live, I know". For though through the night when we did not know our fate I seemed to know that I should live. She seemed better after then.

The child began to be sick. It was about 12.30 and I gave it back to the father. After the Titanic had gone down the men at the oars simply let the boat drift as then there was no fear of suction. The women were quiet but I was talking to the sailors who were joking, all the time. It was a glorious night but we had no food, water, or light just then we had not known how long we might be before help came. I thought of books I had read, also The Ancient Mariner, but we waited for the morning.

Just about 3am next morning we sighted the Carpathia. Then we started cheering, but the sailors told us to stop as we might get excited and overbalance the boat. We got on board the boat at 7:15. The women were taken up on a rope with a seat on, babies in a sack, men on a rope ladder, but it was difficult to steady the lifeboat as there was not anything so the boat rolled first one side then the other. I am surprised we did not all fall into the water.

I helped to fix the women in the seat rope as they all seemed dazed and went up any how 'til I put them right on the Carpathia. The doctor looked at me. I said, "I'm all right." However, he made me have some brandy and coffee then I went to the Saloon where I saw that lady and child who were pleased to see me again.

On the Monday all the people were in a terrible state — hysterical — one woman went mad. They brought her little girl to her; she told them it was not hers that was drowned.

About Tuesday I went to another part of the boat and there was Mrs Abbott whose berth was next mine on the Titanic. She was bruised very badly and in a very serious condition. She told me her boys were dead. She saw them go. She herself was picked up clinging to some wreckage, kind of a raft [Collapsible A]. Four men were taken off with her. They died after being on this boat. Mrs Abbott still writes to me. I did a lot for her, for we had to manage as best we could.

We used to sleep on the saloon floor on the Carpathia. We had a trying time on this boat but you ought to have seen us when we sighted New York. We landed at New York in a very poor condition but the people were very good to us. All the streets that was by the stage was roped off that people could not get to us — only friends allowed on the landing stage. We had coffee, then eleven more and I were taken to the Junior League House. A gentleman on the Carpathia paid for some cablegrams for me off the Carpathia but I won't think they reached England or I should have heard.


Thus I shall expect some picture postcards, for I got about four towards my collection."

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2022) Amy Stanley's Letter ( ref: #648, published 22 February 2022, generated 24th May 2023 03:13:13 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/amy-stanleys-letter.html