Col. Gracie Tells How He and Also E. A. Kent Died Bravely
After reading letters in the morning papers from friends of James Clinch Smith, asking why no account had been written of the part he must have taken in the heroic work of rescue from the sinking Titanic, Col.Archibald Gracie, one of the survivors, said yesterday:
"What has particularly distressed me in the way of omissions in my account of the Titanic disaster has been the part taken by my friends, James Clinch Smith and Edward A. Kent. Nothing has appeared to do justice to them.
"The position of James Clinch Smith during the critical period was at the bow, on the port side, where the boats were being loaded under the direction of Second Officer Lightoller. There was not a single man allowed in the boats at this point, and no one made a suggestion that he should be allowed in any one of them, with the solitary exception of Col. Astor, who, after his wife had been placed in the boat, requested permissionof [sic] the officer to accompany her. Under the circumstances of Mrs. stor's [sic] delicate condition this would have been granted, but, of course, Lightoller did not know Astor nor the circumstances.
"When the last boat at this quarter had been loaded and the ship began to list on the port side, both Smith and I called out, 'Are there any more ladies?' At this juncture, too, the Second Officer, when the ship began to list palpably, ordered all passengers to the starboard side, where Smith and I went. Here at the bow and the starboard side, as has previously been described, the crew were trying to launch a collapsible canvas boat, and this is where the last was seen of John B. Thayer and his friend, George D. Widener. When Smith and I saw that there was little chance of getting the boat and that it would be overcrowded, when we heard and saw the water rise to the boat deck, we decided to move toward the stern, still on the starboard side, but our progress was blocked by a mass of humanity which suddenly appeared fro mthe [sic] decks below and consisted of second cabin or steerage passengers.
"Behind us the water approached rapidly, and we entered a cul de sac to which the only outlet was the bridge deck, above. Smith tried to reach it by jumping, and so did I, but the height was too great for us. The water was now upon us, and just as it struck me I rose with it as with a billow on the seashore, giving a jump at the same time, and was carried high up, when I grasped the brass railing around the bridge deck and held on with might and main. Glancing about for Smith, at the instant I could see no one, but was myself immediately taken deep down into the water with the ship, but not so deep as to affect my nose or ears. I had taken a good breath, and did not allow water to enter my mouth and strangle me.
"My personal experiences have been related elsewhere, but so far as my friend, James Clinch Smith, is concerned, I wish to pay him the highest tribute of respect. He had no fear, and sacrificed himself that others might live. His relatives and friends should be proud of him and of his record in this terrible disaster. "
Related Biographies:John Jacob Astor
Madeleine Talmage Astor
Edward Austin Kent
Charles Herbert Lightoller
James Clinch Smith
John Borland Thayer
George Dunton Widener