Encyclopedia Titanica


Washington Herald

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The Chief Officer of Carpathia Relates His Thrilling Experiences
By CAPT. R. [sic] H. ROSTRON
Statement by the captain of the Cunard steamship Carpathia, rescuer of the Titanic survivors
“I cannot yet make a connected statement. I have gone through so much since I received aboard my ship the first distress call of the Titanic that a complete narrative is impossible. I was between fifty and sixty miles away from the Titanic when the wireless sang into the ears of my operator the first call for help. The operator said that we received only one call.

“The silence after the first frantic appeal for relief was ominous to me. Our Marconi sent out rays that scraped the sky in vain, but there was no response whatever to any of our inquiries. I swung the Carpathia around straight to the position the poor Titanic’s first aerogram said she occupied. Our engines were put at top speed.

Pessimism at First

“The silence of the air so far as the Titanic was concerned made me shudder as we sped on our way to the rescue. I realized what it meant. On and on we sped. Our stokers never worked harder. When the first faint daylight came and I knew we were still miles from the spot of the tragedy, I felt we should arrive too late to be of any service.

“When, however, after full daylight, we sighted the first lifeboat filled with women and children and eight or ten strong-armed and brave-hearted men of the Titanic’s crew, I realized that we could at least save a few human lives. I was too busy for the next hour or so to recall now just what occurred. My mind was wholly set upon saving the lives of the people who crowded the boats.

“The sea was calm. There was scarcely a ripple upon its face. Great ice floes were crunching down from the north. In the distance several icebergs shimmered like mirrors. Why the lifeboats were not crushed by the swiftly moving ice floes I could not understand. The sixteen boats seemed at first to be occupied solely by women.

“I remember that it occurred to me that the good God had stretched out His might hand and had checked further murder by His elements.

“We got aboard the Carpathia every human being in the sixteen lifeboats of the Titanic. Every officer and member of our crew stood by like the brave and loyal lads they are and did his full duty.

“My mind is in no condition now to tell you much more of what I heard and felt during the two hours’ work of the rescue.

Some Were Unconscious

“We took aboard 705 women and children who were alive, but some of them were unconscious. We also dragged to the decks of the Carpathia, four members of the Titanic’s crew who had been tolled off to man the lifeboats and were stark dead. They had been frozen to death. Their strong, horny fingers still clutched the oars that they had been desperately pulling. We buried these men in sailors’ graves only yesterday from the deck of the Carpathia.

“I am told that it was reported to President Taft by Capt. Chandler, of the scoutt cruiser Salem, that the Carpathia had received Monday night wireless messages from the commmander of the Salem, asking, in the name of the President, if Maj. Butt, John Jacob Astor, Frank Millet, Clarence Moore, and Isidor Straus were aboard his vessel.

“Upon my word as a man, upon my honor as a sailor, I cannot remember receiving any such message from Capt. Chandler or anyone else in the name of the President, or any other person. Had such a message been received by me I immediately would have ordered that all other business of the wireless be sidetracked until the answer could have been sent to the President that none of his friends, of whom he had inquired, was aboard the Carpathia.

“It is possible the Carpathia’s wireless operator acknowledged but refused to answer messages even from the President of the United States received after Wednesday night, as he had been at his post more than seventy-two hours without rest. But he never reported such a message to me, and I don’t blame him.

No Story of Shooting

“After I reached the Cunard pier I was asked as to the truth of reports that some passengers, and particularly some men passengers, on the Titanic, were kept back from the lifeboats at the point of the pistol and that two well known men were shot. Of course, I was not there. I did not see the ship go down. But from the survivors who came aboard my ship I heard no such story.

“I do not give the least credence to that report. If I had to write about it I would denounce it as an abominable lie. The Carpathia was amply provisioned for the accommodation of the 705 passengers rescued, and, likewise, comfortable sleeping room for the unexpected increase of her passenger list by bringing into requisition the big lounges in the salons.

“I thank the people who have congratulated me, but I am not entitled to any more credit than would have been due any other man of the sea, had the opportunity for the service my ship rendered been afforded to others. I thank God Almighty that I was within wireless hailing distance, and that I got there in time to pick up every one of the 705 survivors of the Titanic wreck.”


Mark Baber, USA

Comment and discuss

  1. Alina Gordelli said:

    A true noble man and a great sailor!

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) CAPT. ROSTRON TELLS OF RESCUE (Washington Herald, Friday 19th April 1912, ref: #4111, published 2 November 2004, generated 26th October 2021 09:01:17 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/capt-rostron-tells-rescue.html