Encyclopedia Titanica


New York Times

    Hide Ads

Tried to Do His Duty, He Asked Steward to Tell Her
He and His Secretary, Facing Death, Wore Full Evening Dress
Brother Bitter Against Company

James Etches, assistant steward in the first cabin of the Titanic, appeared at the St. Regis Hotel early yesterday morning and inquired for Mrs. Benjamin Guggenheim. He said that he had a message from Benjamin Guggenheim, one of the victims of the sea disaster. He said that it had to be delivered in person.

Mrs. Guggenheim was in the care of Daniel Guggenheim whose apartments are at the St. Regis. The steward was admitted, but was not permitted to see Mrs. Guggenheim, who is prostrated with grief. He insisted that he must see her personally, but finally consented to transmit the message through her brother-in-law.

"We were together almost to the end," said the steward. "I was saved. He went down with the ship. But that isn't what I want to tell Mrs. Guggenheim."

Then the steward produced a piece of paper. He had written the message on it, he said, to be certain that it would be correct. This was the brief message:

"If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I've done my best in doing my duty."

“That's all he said," added the steward. "There wasn't time for more."

Little by little Mr. Guggenheim got the whole story of his brother's death from the steward. It was the first definite news that he had received from his brother.

“Mr. Guggenheim was one of my charges," said the steward anew. "He had his secretary with him. His name was Giglio, I believe, an Armenian, about 24 years old. Both died like soldiers.

“When the crash came I awakened them and told them to get dressed. A few minutes later I went into their rooms and helped them to get ready. I put a life preserver on Mr. Guggenheim. He said it hurt him in the back. There was plenty of time and I took it off, adjusted it and then put it on him again. It was all right this time.

“They wanted to go out on deck with only a few clothes on, but I pulled a heavy sweater over Mr. Guggenheim's lifebelt, and then they both went out. They stayed together, and I could see what they were doing. They were going from one lifeboat to another, helping the women and children. Mr. Guggenheim would shout out. 'Women first,' and he was of great assistance to the officers.

"Things weren't so bad at first, but when I saw Mr. Guggenheim about three-quarters of an hour after the crash there was great excitement. What surprised me was that both Mr. Guggenheim and his secretary were dressed in their evening clothes. They had deliberately taken off their sweaters, and as nearly as I can remember they wore no lifebelts at all.

“’What's that for?’ I asked.

“’We’ve dressed up in our best,’ replied Mr. Guggenheim, ‘and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.' It was then that he told me about the message to his wife, and that is what I have come here for.

"Well, shortly after the last few boats were lowered and I was ordered by the deck officer to man an oar, I waved good-bye to Mr. Guggenheim, and that was the last I saw of him and his Armenian secretary."

Daniel Guggenheim told a reporter for THE TIMES last night that his brother had had a chauffeur aboard named Rene Pernot. The chauffeur, he said, had traveled second class and had not been heard from. He said that Mrs. Guggenheim, with the receipt of the steward's message from her husband, had been greatly consoled.

"And I'd like to say," added Mr. Guggenheim, "that I feel very bitter against such a state of conditions which made this disaster possible. It was absolutely unnecessary. Of course I am prejudiced. My loss is great.

"But the lesson is dearly paid at any price. The disaster, I can only hope, will raise such a cry against luxury, speed, and crowding that the ship companies won't soon forget it. They are trying to tell us that they can't find room for more lifeboats on big liners. Do they think we will believe that? I know that modern ingenuity can construct steamers which will carry enough lifeboats if those boats are wanted. The trouble is they weren't wanted. What do we want with gymnssiums [sic] and swimming pools? What we want is safety, safety, safety!

"If I had any influence in this official investigation the inquisition would go as near to the bottom of this outrage as the Titanic is near to the bottom of the ocean. I would argue for a trained body of soldiers for each ocean liner. Each soldier ought to know his duty and preserve order with pistol in hand, if necessary. Wouldn't it be cheap in the end to have twenty-five soldiers aboard every crowded liner? Wouldn't it be a cheap price for safety?

"The Congressional Committee, I hope, will also enforce the regulations for fixed crews for each lifeboat. And there ought to be a provision that fresh food be placed in the lifeboats each day. It makes no difference whether the food isn't used. Isn't that comparatively little amount of food a cheap price for safety?"

Efforts to find the body of Benjamin Guggenheim, who was the fifth of the seven Guggenheim brothers, as well as the bodies of other victims, will be made by the six surviving brothers. Aside from scouring the seas with small steamers, it is probable that hydro-aeroplanes will be rushed to the scene of the disaster. An aviator named F. C. Ditmar, who has attained some fame on the Pacific Coast, telegraphed to Robert Guggenheim yesterday from San Diego, Cal., suggesting the sending of four aviators and as many hydro-aeroplanes there on steamers. He would have the aeroplanes equipped with calcium phosphate signals and make them scout for a hundred miles in all directions from the deathbed of the Titanic, with a view of locating floating bodies.


Mark Baber, USA


  Send New Information

Find Related Items


Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) GUGGENHEIM, DYING, SENT WIFE MESSAGE (New York Times, Saturday 20th April 1912, ref: #3718, published 10 September 2004, generated 27th March 2023 01:50:59 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/guggenheim-dying-sent-wife-message.html