I forget who it was, but someone claimed to have been looking fown into the decks from the top of the fourth funnel, saw the break, and then was suddenly in the water without remembering how he got there. If the funnel had flattened, I don’t think he would’ve been able to tell the tale (that is, if it’s true).
Alfred White gave his account many years later and described how he climbed to the top of the 4th funnel. He witnessed the ship breaking in two, but he did not remember how he ended up in the water, or how he found himself on Collapsible A. I believe if the funnel had remained cylindrical after it fell then Alfred would have been sucked into it as the water rushed in, but if the funnel had collapsed upon impact with the deck or the water then the sudden 'flattening' of the funnel may have expelled a large amount of air and burst Alfred out (like popping a bag of potato chips and they burst out).
Note - Alfred White gave his first account back in 1912 right after the Carpathia arrived. In that original account he describes the same thing (climbing the dummy funnel), except he describes how he climbed down the funnel and approached the bridge where he found Captain Smith and heard him say "Everyman for himself". Alfred said he then slid down one of the lifeboat falls and dropped into the water and only now did he hear the explosion and witness the ship break apart while he was already in the water, and then he was later picked up by Collapsible A.
It is understandable that in his later account he did not remember climbing down the funnel and climbing down the ropes into the water (owing to the traumatic events that were playing around him and the decades of memories that would muddle his memory). The strange thing is, that he distinctly remembered seeing the ship breaking in two when he was at the top of the funnel and was looking down, yet in 1912 he said the ship broke when he was in the water.
I think he witnessed the ship starting to buckle or break and immediately rushed back down the funnel, and then he heard one of the officers cry out "Everyman for himself" and perhaps he mistakenly believed that was the captain, and then he climbed down one of the aft lifeboat falls and dropped into the the water and then he witnessed the complete break up of the ship, and found Collapsible A and swam towards it.
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