Encyclopedia Titanica


New York Times

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PARIS, April 19---Three French survivors---Fernand Omont, Pierre Marechal, son of the French Admiral, and Paul Chevre, the sculptor---jointly cabled to The Matin a graphic narrative of the Titanic disaster, in which they repeatedly insist that more lives could have been saved if the passengers had not had such dogged faith that the Titanic was unsinkable. Several boats, they declare, could have carried double the number they had when lowered away from the Titanic.

The three Frenchmen say that they were playing bridge with a Mr. Smith of Philadelphia when a crunching mass of ice packed up against the port holes. As they rushed on deck there was much confusion, but this quickly died down. One of the officers, when questioned by a woman passenger, humorously replied:

"Do not be afraid. We are merely cutting a whale in two."

Presently the Captain appeared to become somewhat nervous and ordered all to put on life preservers. The boats were then lowered, but only a few people stirred, and several of the boats put off half empty. The writers saw one with only fifteen persons in it.

When the Frenchmen's boat rowed off half a mile, the Titanic presented a fairy-like picture, illuminated from stem to stern. Then suddenly the lights began to go out and the stern reared high in the air. A terrible clamor rose on all sides and for an hour anguish [sic] cries rang out. It was, say the narrators, like a great chorus chanting a refrain of death with wild persistency. Sometimes the cries died out and then the tragic chorus began again, more terribly and more despairingly.

The narrative continues:

"Those shrieks pursued us and haunted us as we pulled away in the night. Then one by one the cries ceased and only the noise of the sea remained.

"The Titanic was engulfed almost without a murmur. Her stern quivered in a final spasm, and then disappeared."

The Frenchmen and their companions suffered bitterly from the cold. They cried out to attract attention, and a German Baron who was with them emptied his revolver in the air. When finally the Carpathia appeared a feeble hurrah went up from the small boats, every one of which moved as swiftly as possible toward the liner.

The Frenchmen related tragic incidents which they saw as they were leaving the Titanic. After all the boats had been launched many passengers who had stayed behind too long tried to embark on a collapsible raft, which worked badly. Fifty persons climbed on to the raft, which was half-filled with water.

One after another of the passengers on the raft was drowned or perished with the cold. When a corpse was found in the way it was thrown overboard, and only fifteen of the fifty ho had taken refuge on the raft were saved by the Carpathia.


Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2006) HEARD DEATH CHORUS FOR OVER AN HOUR (New York Times, Saturday 20th April 1912, ref: #5010, published 19 February 2006, generated 23rd March 2023 02:22:38 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/death-chorus.html