Interesting Eyewitness Accounts


Steven Hall

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“Scarcely any of the lifeboats were properly manned. Two, filled with woman and children, capsized before our eyes.”
Jack Foley, lifeboat No 4. Page 154.

* * * * * * * *
“One statement I want to correct, the lights did not go out, at least not while I was on board. When I ran to the deck I heard Captain Smith order that the air chambers be examined. An effort was made to work the doors closing the compartments, but to no avail. When the ship ran upon the iceberg, the sharp point berg cut through both thicknesses of the bottom and left it in such a position that it filled rapidly.”
Page 122. (no direct reference to said this)

* * * * * * * *
“There was less than ten minutes between the time the Titanic first struck the berg and the second crash, both of which brought big pieces of ice showering down.”
Page 59

* * * * * * * *
Re the bow popping up again;
“The forward end, where we stood, was sinking rapidly, and before we could jump together the water washed my father over. Then, with the explosion, the ship seemed to break in two, and the forward end bounded up again for an instant.”
Page 41

* * * * * * * *
H. E. Steffanson; “declared that he saw the iceberg before the collision.
It seemed to me that the berg, a mile away, I should say, was about 80 feet out of the water. The ice that showed clear of the water was not what we struck. [?] After the collision I saw ice all over the sea. When we hit the berg we seemed to slide up on it. I could feel the boat jumping and pounding, and I realized that we were on the ice, but I thought we could weather it.”
Page 226

* * * * * * * *
“The Titanic was engulfed almost without a murmur. Her stern quivered in a final spasm and than disappeared.”
Page 102

* * * * * * * *
“I saw the ship in a sort of a red glare, and it seemed to me that she broke in two just in front of the third funnel.”
Page 190.

Sinking Of The TITANIC, Eyewitness Accounts
Originally published: Harrisburg, PA : Minter Co., 1912
 

Steven Hall

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Paul,
I posted those up for a few reasons.
The discussion about the bow resurfacing thread.
Foley was not the only one (in lifeboat No 4) to see a lifeboat flooded.
The red glare may have appeared when ship broke apart exposing a fire, electrical discharges or fire perhaps from the boiler room.
The ship does appear to have taken the final dive smoothly.
The stern most likely did quiver as it sank.
If the grounding theory proves correct, than something there supports it. Perhaps the ship was still grounded on an ice shelf (perhaps explaining the list), after she stopped and the command to move the ship was to extricate it from beneath the hull. H. E. Steffanson stated they didn’t hit the visible ice — but that submerged.
And reports the ship moved either forward or in reverse after 10”￾ minutes.

I posted these up because I had nothing to do tonight and thought it might be of some interest.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Those are some interesting statements, partucularly H. E. Steffanson's assertion that he saw the iceberg a mile off and that the ship rode up onto the ice. Whether it can be granted any credibility is another matter entirely. Does anybody know his whereabouts at the time of the accident?

>>If the grounding theory proves correct, than something there supports it. Perhaps the ship was still grounded on an ice shelf (perhaps explaining the list), after she stopped and the command to move the ship was to extricate it from beneath the hull. H. E. Steffanson stated they didn’t hit the visible ice — but that submerged.
And reports the ship moved either forward or in reverse after 10”￾ minutes.<<

Maybe, but while the moving back and forward has some corroberation, the witnesses who saw the event and offered testimony claimed that the ship kept right on going. As said, whether any of this can be taken as credible is problematic, but I'd be interested in seeing more and finding out what if any is out there that backs any of it up.
 

Steven Hall

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Dec 17, 2008
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Michael,
I was just looking through the book the other night and noted some little tidbits of information I underlined years ago.
Sometimes when other testimony from the inquires has been read and discussed so many times (and will continue to be), looking at material like this is like delving into the darker corners of perhaps the less reliable material.
I would never sign anything off unless there were 3 clear references to the same fact or observation.

“Maybe, but while the moving back and forward has some corroberation, the witnesses who saw the event and offered testimony claimed that the ship kept right on going.”￾

I agree — it’s hard to argue that fact.

I would be interested to know what time darkness fell that night. There is one or two observations of a haze seen ahead of the ship by some passengers before sunset.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I would never sign anything off unless there were 3 clear references to the same fact or observation.<<

Can't say as I blame you. Not that I would casually dismiss some of it, but I'd take it with a large grain of salt. Passengers and crew who gave accounts after the disaster were not above "gilding the lily" so to speak...especially if it would get some pesky newshawk off his/her back or even fatten the bank account a bit.

Some writers didn't mind putting in passenger/crew accounts whether they were genuine or not. Hay...why let something as inconvenient as the facts get in the way of a good story?
 

Steven Hall

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Dec 17, 2008
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Michael,
You can selectively take material and twist it to suit whatever your agenda is.

said Hitchens. “From 8 to 10 o’clock I was the stand-by man, and from 10 to 11 o’clock I had the wheel. When I was at the stand-by it was very dark, and while it was not dark, there was a haze. I cannot say about the weather conditions after 10’ o’clock, for I went into the wheelhouse, which is enclosed.
“Almost instantly, it could not have been more than four or 5 seconds, when the lookout men called down the telephone, Ice-berg ahead!’ Hardly had the words come to me when there was a crash.”￾
“I ain’t likely to forget this, sir, how the crash came. There was a light grating on the port bow, then a heavy crash on the port bow, then a heavy crash on the starboard side. I could hear………….”￾

Lady Duff-Gordon; commented after the disaster. “The night was perfectly clear. We had watched for some time the fields of ice. There was one just before I went below to retire.”￾
She stated that one of the ships officers pointed out to her a large ice field in advance of the ship that appeared to be miles wide. “It was way off in the distance”￾

Mrs. Candee later commented on the collision. “There was two distinct shock, each shaking the ship violently…………………”￾
 

Steven Hall

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“I suggest you refrain from personal attacks, they are NOT welcome here. Read the RULES and abide by them.”￾
Jason what rot are you on about.
I was not having a shot at Michael. We had been discussing how individuals can scoop up vague material and twist it to suit an agenda they may choose to hawk. Both I and Michael absolutely understand how some individuals have taken material (with only one reference) and twisted it around to press a theory.
I could make up all sorts of doggerel from what some people have testified to having seen.
The material I posted (however) offers up some little reported material that could be useful to the more practical, open minded researcher.
I have received several emails from well established researchers that have seen something useful in the material (which is why I posted it up).
Michael would have taken no offence in what I said. I was only exchanging emails with him several hours previous.
It’s about time I moved on anyway. I’m sick of posting here and having people ignoring it.
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Steve: The Hitchens, Duff-Gordon and Candee accounts need not be read as conflicting ones; indeed - each in its partial way - concurring. Your fascinating reference that the "forward end bounded up again for an instant" would have been a much-appreciated contribution to the 'Thayer's Drawing' thread; which has an unfortunate history of being submerged whenever it surfaces! Your quote is yet another example: this need not be read as conflicting with other accounts; 2 of which give as 5 minutes the entire time it was to any extent above surface. The full, true account of an event is not just anyone's - nor only everyone's.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Steve, as Jason indicated, he merely misinterpreted what you said. Given the recent fireworks on the forum lately and the stress caused all around, it's not at all suprising that my colleagues are going to be a bit sensitive to this sort of thing.

>>We had been discussing how individuals can scoop up vague material and twist it to suit an agenda they may choose to hawk. Both I and Michael absolutely understand how some individuals have taken material (with only one reference) and twisted it around to press a theory.<<

Indeed we can. Hell, this little game started in 1912 and has been going on unabated ever since. Anymore, when I'm nosing about in the Inquiries, I find myself wondering what hidden agenda is being pressed in every statement and appendix I see. About the only thing that's changed since Senator Smith and Lord Mersey ran their little dog any pony shows are the names of the players in the game!

>>“The forward end, where we stood, was sinking rapidly, and before we could jump together the water washed my father over. Then, with the explosion, the ship seemed to break in two, and the forward end bounded up again for an instant.”￾<<

That, as Donald said, is an interesting statement. Any idea who it came from and who the statement was offered to?
 
S

Susan Leighton

Guest
"I posted these up because I had nothing to do tonight and thought it might be of some interest"


These quotes are very interesting and I appreciate your posting them here. This is the aspect of Titanic I find the most intriguing. The story of the passengers and their experiences and perceptions; each one different, yet each one the same.....,in so many ways.

Good stuff, Steve.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Here is another odd passenger quote. This is from the book: "Story of the wreck of the Titanic". Page 237.

Mrs.Harry Collyer of Bishopstoke. "The end of the Titanic she described as appalling, as seen from the lifeboats through the starlit night. First one end of the steamer lifted, then the other: then with a great wail from hundreds still onboard, it sank."

Factual? who knows. This old lady must have real good eyes. Or perhaps a vivid imagination!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>This old lady must have real good eyes. Or perhaps a vivid imagination! <<

Or perhaps the writer did. This is one of those "quickie books" that came out in 1912 that were renowned for a lot of things. Accuracy wasn't one of them. You can read a commentary by Michael Tennero on this one HERE.

That's not to say it wouldn't be useful, but as a way of seeing how the disaster was viewed in 1912.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Michael,

The first half of this book really made my cringe as it is written so dramatically. The part I found most interesting was at least two detailed reports of the coal fire bunker. While I have heard it mentioned before, this was the first place I've seen it in print.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm sure the reports of the coal bunker fire were pretty dramatic, but I strongly doubt that what was written in the book had much of anything to do with the reality. Coal bunker fires were more of an annoyance then a threat and were dealt with by shoveling coal into the boilers as needed then drowning the glowing embers once they got close enough to do so.

Irritating, but no big deal.

My problem with this and other books of this time period was that so few were properly researched, being cobbled together from what was in the media of the time whether it was accurate or not. (And the media didn't mind making up "survivor accounts" whole cloth.) That's why I prefer primary sources such as the inquiries as well as those accounts known unquestionably to have been spoken or written first hand by the survivors themselves. Right or wrong, at least you know the provanance of the source.
wink.gif
 

Steven Hall

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Lady Duff-Gordon’s Experiences.
Chapter 13 — pages 216 to 234
Sinking Of The TITANIC, Eyewitness Accounts
Originally published: Harrisburg, PA : Minter Co., 1912

[Narrative] One of the best accounts was given by Lady Duff-Gordon, wife of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, who dictated it. Her tale [account] shows that the Titanic was near icebergs before she went to bed on the night of the disaster.
Here is her story, as well as that of others.
Without reciting the whole dialogue — the following is a selection of interesting extracts.
“The night was perfectly clear. We had watched for some time the fields of ice. There was one just before I went below to retire.”
She stated that one of the ships officers pointed out to her a large ice field in advance of the ship that appeared to be miles wide.
“It was way off in the distance”
At what point did she make this observation? Both she & husband had been seen by Daisy Minahan in the ale cart restaurant at 7.15pm that evening. Obviously it was not Captain Smith she later talked with on deck, for if it had been, she would have been most specific with that fact. (Smith, as we know was also in the restaurant, but dinning with the Widener group)
She states; “There was one just before I went below to retire.” This means that after she left the restaurant she must have taken a stroll along either the A deck promenade or the boat-deck with Sir Cosmo. At this point, she happens upon one of the ships officers. (It could have only been 1 of 3 officers she spoke to)
She later describes the collision. “I was awakened by a long grinding sort of shock. It was not a tremendous crash, but more as though some one had drawn a giant finger all along the side of the ship.”
This tells us she was asleep in her cabin at 11.40 pm. This narrows down what time she had the conversation on deck.
H. E. Steffanson also later stated; “ declared that he saw the iceberg before the collision. It seemed to me that the berg, a mile away, I should say, was about 80 feet out of the water.”
So he also had been on deck that evening also.
Later in the lifeboat No 1 she witnessed; “Suddenly I had seen the Titanic give a curious shiver. The night was perfectly clear. (Skip a bit of the narrative) Almost immediately after the boat gave this shiver (I like the way women describe things — makes it so easy to image) we heard several pistol shots (likely the No 1 funnel stays snapping) and a great screaming arose from the decks.
“Then the boats stern lifted in the air and there was a tremendous explosion. Then the Titanic dropped back again.” (Skip a bit of the narrative) “Ten minutes later after this there was another explosion. The whole forward part of the great liner dropped down under the waves.”
So what’s happened ? The ships gives a curious shiver, the bow is not submerged at this point — than the funnel stays snap — the stern rises clear of the water and shortly after there is what she describes as an explosion — (the bow is still not submerged which gives an approx angle) the ships stern than drops slightly (or noticeably) back down again. Several minutes later there is a similar explosion and with this the bow than dips below the water.
She than goes on to say; “The stern rose a hundred feet……” (Skip a bit of the narrative). “Then there was another great explosion and the great stern of the Titanic sank as though a great hand was pushing it gently under the waves.” (Skip a bit of the narrative).”It went down slowly without a ripple”
(re earlier post) “The Titanic was engulfed almost without a murmur. Her stern quivered in a final spasm and than disappeared.” (from page 102)
(from page 89) “We rowed two hundred yards away, as they had told us, watching the great ship. Then the lights began to go out and than came a terrible crash like dynamite.
I heard a woman in the bow [of the lifeboat] scream and than came three more terrific explosions. The boat gave a sudden lurch and than we saw men jumping from the decks.”
(re earlier post) “The forward end, where we stood, was sinking rapidly, and before we could jump together the water washed my father over. Then, with the explosions, the ship seemed to break in two, and the forward end bounded up again for an instant.”
From the above — its clear there was at one point multiple explosions in quick succession.
This is the beauty (and danger sometimes) of looking at obscure or little publicized testimony / recollections / narrative and such, and trying to analyze what happened.
From my experience — readers love this type of speculative material.
But sometimes — a writer can just as easily twist it around to say something else.
Posted just for interest value only.
 

Inger Sheil

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Mistrust of some of these purported 'interviews' is well-merited - some reporters were very creative indeed. Lady Duff-Gordon was questioned specifically about some of this material at the British Inquiry, for example:

quote:

12920. There is one question. Have you seen in the London "Daily News" what purports to be an article specially written by yourself in America? - I have.

12921. Did you write such an article? - No.

12922. It is an entire invention from beginning to end? - Which article?

12923. The one in the "Daily News" which appeared on the 20th April? - Yes, it is rather inventive. A man wrote it from what he thought he heard me saying.

12924. (The Commissioner.) Do you mean to say that somebody came to interview you? - Oh, quantities of people came to interview me.

12925. But this particular man from the "Daily News"? - No, he did not; he was a friend having supper with us the night we arrived.

12926. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Will you kindly look at that article (Handing the same to the Witness.)? - What am I supposed to say?

12927. If you will look at the heading of the second column on this side you will see that it is an article supposed to be specially written by you, and what purports to be your signature appears at the foot of the column.

12928. (The Commissioner.) Are you looking at it now, Lady Duff-Gordon, for the first time? - For the first time.

12929. Do you mean to say you have never seen the "Daily News" with that article in it up to today? - Never; this is the first time. The last little bit here is absolutely a story.

12930. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Absolutely what? - A story.

12931. Then if your signature appears there it is a forgery, is it? - Oh, absolutely.

Mr. Duke: Do you mind letting me see that. (The same was handed to the learned Counsel.) I have never seen it till this moment.

12932. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I want to use it for a moment (The document was handed to Mr. Edwards.) (To the Witness.) You say that a friend came and had supper with you, and you suggest he is responsible for what appears here? - I know he is.

12933. You know he is? - Oh, yes.

12934. Some of it may be true and some of it may be false? - Would you like me to tell you the story?

12935. I should like you to answer the question. Is this true that you watched several women and children and some men climb into the lifeboats, and did an Officer say, "Lady Gordon, are you ready?" - It is not true that the Officer spoke to me, but I did see women and children being handed into the lifeboats.

12936. Is it true that he said, "Lady Gordon, are you ready?" - It is untrue.

12937. Is this true: "I said to my husband, "Well, we might as well take a boat, although the trip will only be a little pleasure excursion until the morning"? - Quite untrue.

12938. That is untrue. Is it untrue that you said it was the captain's special boat, that five stokers got in and two Americans - Mr. Salomon, of New York, and Mr. Stengel, of Newark? - I do not remember saying that.

12939. It is true, is it not, that that number of persons did get in? - It was Mr. Salomon and Mr. Stengel and Miss Franks [Francatelli], my husband and myself. We were the passengers.

12940. "Besides those two passengers there were Sir Cosmo, myself, Miss Franks [Francatelli], an English girl." is it true you said that? - I think that might easily be.

12941. Is this true that you said this: "Numbers of men standing near by joked with us because we were going out on the ocean"? - No, that is not true.

12942. That is invention? - Absolutely.

12943. Is it true that you said that some of them said "The ship cannot sink," and that one of them said, "You will get your death of cold out there amid the ice." Is that true? - No, not true.

Is it true that you said you were slung off and cruised around for two hours, and it did not seem very cold? - Quite untrue.

12944. Is it true that you said "I suddenly clutched the sides of the lifeboat. I had seen the 'Titanic' give a curious shiver." That is invention, is it? - Yes, quite.

12945. Did you say "Everything could be clearly made out; there were no lights on the ship, save for a few lanterns"? - No.

12946. Is this true that you said this: "We watched her - we were 200 yards away - go down slowly, almost peacefully"? - No.

12947. Did you say then, "An awful silence seemed to hang over everything, and then from the water all about where the 'Titanic' had been arose a Bedlam of shrieks and cries"? - No, I never said that.

12948. That is entirely untrue? - Absolutely.

And is it true that you said this -

12949. (The Commissioner.) Who was this gentleman? - He was the editor of the "Sunday American." His name was Mr. Merrett.

12950. What is the "Sunday American"? - It is a newspaper.

12951. Is it published in London? - No.

12952. Where is it published? - In New York. I could tell you exactly how it came out if I were allowed to.

12953. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Is this true that you said this: "Women and men were clinging to bits of wreckage in the icy water"? - No.

12954. "And it was at least an hour before the awful chorus of shrieks ceased, gradually dying into a moan of despair"? - No, I never said that.

12955. Did you say this: "I remember the very last cry; it was a man's voice calling loudly, 'My God, my God,' he cried monotonously, in a dull, hopeless way." That is untrue? - Absolutely untrue.

12956. "And we waited gloomily in the boats through the rest of the night, the stokers rowing as hard as they could to keep themselves warm"? - Quite untrue.

Mr. Duke: May I borrow that?

Mr. Clement Edwards: Yes. (Handing the paper to the learned Counsel.)

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

12957. Do you write for any American papers at all? - Yes, the "Sunday American."

12958. Did you supply an article to the "Evening Herald"? - No.

Mr. Duke: I do not think Lady Duff-Gordon can hear; I cannot - whether "he" wrote or "she."

The Attorney-General: She.

12959. (Mr. Lewis.) Do you write in the "Evening Herald"? - No.

The Commissioner: Mr. Duke, do you wish to ask anything?

Mr. Duke: Yes, my Lord. I think Lady Duff-Gordon should explain about this article.

Examined by Mr. DUKE.

12960. When you were at New York you went to an hotel? - Yes.

12961. And that evening you had supper together with your husband? - Several people - six ladies.

12962. Did Mr. Merrett come there? - Yes.

12963. Was he a gentleman you had known? - A great friend of ours.

12964. Had you any idea of any publication of anything at that time? - Yes.

12965. What did he say to you? - After he had left us about half-an-hour he telephoned to me, and he said, "Mr. Hurst has just rung me up, and must have your story of the 'Titanic' wreck for tomorrow morning's newspaper." He said, "May I tell your story as I have heard it?"

12966. What did you say? - I said "Yes," and he tells me afterwards that he telephoned to their head office all he knew about it, and then a clever reporter put all that into words and it appeared next morning in the "New York American."

12967. Your friend told some clever American reporter what he had heard? - Yes.

12968. And then you were advertised as having written and signed this false article? - That is it.

12969. And was that published in various papers, did you find? - Oh, all over - everywhere.

12970. But you had not seen this in the "Daily News" till when? - Just now; here.
 

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