Encyclopedia Titanica

Frederick Dent Ray Interviewed in 1958

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Mr. Ray, could you tell me what you were doing on the night of the 14th of April, 1912?

I went to bed about 10:30. Yes. ...just dozing off when I felt a shock. Similar to a train being pulled up in the station. I laid awake some time, probably about ten minutes. And was then called by a superior steward who told me to get up right away because ship had struck an iceberg. Yes. ...very serious. We got to get up to the boats. I laid awake some time after that. I thought he was pulling my leg, and I dozed off again. And then what happened? Somebody else came and shout out in the doorway. All hands to the boats. Then I thought it was time to get up.

So you got up and what did you do then?

I went up on deck from E-deck to A-deck. Stood about there on deck; which is the boat deck? Yes. And... seemed to... things seem to be dragging, rather, and it was very cold. So I decided I'd like to get an overcoat to put on. I went down from A-deck to E-deck, ... back to your cabin... Back to my cabin and got my overcoat, opened my suitcase, took some handkerchiefs out, which my wife always supplied me so that I had a good supply of and 1 or 2 other things my toothbrush and shaving gear. I thought wherever I was next... long, I should require them and came out. Nobody about, [the] deck was deserted. The alleyway was deserted. I got through the doorway onto the main staircase. There I met Mr. Rothschild walking up the main staircase, and we joined company, and I walked up with him, and he started talking about the accident. He said he didn't think it was serious enough to trouble. And I said, Well, I said, I've got to get along. I said, I'm one of the members of the crew and they'll want me for rowing. And so I went up. On the way up, I saw the purser with five of the staff of the pursor's office with the safes open, and they had mailbags there. They were putting the jewels and jewel boxes into the mailbags, nothing[?] and talking, chatting one to the other. I continued my... on my way up to the boat deck, and on the way up, I heard a fiddle. I wondered whoever was playing a fiddle at that time? ... and [it] transpired afterwards that it was a band. I thought it might be a passenger playing a fiddle.

Did you recognise what tune they were playing?

No, they weren't playing any tune. They were... they were tuning on the fiddle. And I went along to the boat... number 13 boat. I saw that it was nearly full up. We were... I started putting other passengers and people in, helping them over the boat... over the rail, into the boat. There was one very fat lady there, and she was crying out. She didn't want to go into a boat. She says I've never been in an open boat in my life. And she said I don't want to go. And I said, Well, I said, you've got to go. So you'd better keep quiet. And it took about four minutes and two men in the boat and about two on the deck to hoist her over the rail to get her into the boat. And eventually we got her in. And then I saw another somebody else helping the people in. I recognised the man named Washington Dodge. He was a recorder in San Francisco and I met him on the Olympic in on the previous occasion and I persuaded him to come on the... come back on the Titanic. And of course, when we sailed from Southampton, I recognised him, and we had a chinwag and talked to one another, and he had a wife and a little boy about four years old, about [?] of that. And... they all got in the same boat? No, they didn't. I said, Where's your little... where's your wife and little boy? He said, well, he said, they've gone in another boat. And I said, well, I said come on. I said you get in this boat. We want somebody to row. And later on, on the Carpathia, when his wife said, How did you come to get in the boat? He said, Well, he said, I was ordered in by an officer. I had my peaked cap on, which you'd never seen me in before, recognised me as an officer and to my order and got into the boat.

There were at this time, I presume no woman or children left on the deck?

No, there were no children or anybody. As a matter of fact, only

Where would the other people have been at this time then?

Well, they were inside. It must have been inside the ship. I could see the whole length of the ship because it was light. The lights were on, on the ship at that time, and there was nobody in sight.

So, in fact, they thought they were safer in their own cabins?

They didn't realise that they the people didn't get into the boats, didn't want to get into the boats until it was too late.

I see. Well, then your boat was lowered?

 but it was lowered and very jumpy. Business first. You were tipping up this way and they were tipping up that way. And I thought, if we get in the water, all right, we should be very lucky. And eventually we did get in the water. And next problem was to get the boat loose from the ship, so we didn't go down with the ship.

So you succeeded in doing that and pulling away. And then you watch the ship go down.

Watched the lights... portholes disappearing, one after the other, you know, And of course, everybody in the boat was anxious to get away before the ship went down because they thought that they would be. They said we're alongside the ship. When she goes down, we shall be sucked down with her, and the boat will be upset. But...

How many people would you have had in your boat?


62. That was all.

They counted them on the Carpathia. You see when each boat came up, they got the number of the boat, and they counted them as we went up.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2023) Frederick Dent Ray Interviewed in 1958 ( ref: #22346, published 28 March 2023, generated 22nd May 2023 08:24:31 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/frederick-dent-ray-interview-1958.html