Harry Oliver's account of the sinking

Western Daily Mercury

Harry Oliver, of Southampton, a fireman, told our representative that he had turned in when a crash aroused him, and he went on deck to see what had happened. Then he saw a quantity of ice on deck and, and was told that the ship had struck an iceberg. Satisfied with the information, he returned to his bunk and turned in again, confident that nothing serious had happened. 

He was just dropping off to sleep again when one of the other firemen rushed into the room and said, "Turn out quickly; she is making water in the winding staircase." 

On going to have a look around, Oliver realised that his previous confidence was misplaced and went back to pack his bag, which he took up to the mess-room. Then a leading firemen said, "Put on your stokehold gear, and get ready for watch." This he did and then orders were given to put on lifebelts and get to the boats. On reaching the boat-deck, he found that most of the boats had already been launched except number nine. One of the officers ordered him into the boat, and it was then lowered away, having on board a number of women and children. Recognizing that the Titanic was fast settling down, the crew pulled vigorously to get beyond the region of a possible vortex. 

Suddenly there was a terrible crash, and the great ship appeared to split in 'twain, if not in three distinct sections, the rending of her timbers and steel plates making a noise that carried terror into the hearts of all.

The end came swiftly. One of the huge funnels toppled over the side, and then the bow parted just in a line with the bridge. Tilting forward, the Titanic appeared to be going down slowly by the head, when there was a rush and a roar which led the horrified onlookers to come to the conclusion that the machinery had burst through the bulkhead and had fallen out of the ship. Then for a moment or two the after portion of the vessel looked to be righting herself, and she came up on an even keel, yet with a lurch that raised her stern high in the air. For a brief period she remained in this position, and then vanished from view, whilst at that moment the air was rent with cries of "Mercy!" and "Help!". "It was a pitiable scene, and I can scarcely get the cries out of my ears now. It was too awful to realize that near us were our shipmates doomed to a dreadful death in the icy seas over which but a few hours before the Titanic had been driving in all the pride of a maiden voyage."

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2013) Harry Oliver's account of the sinking (Western Daily Mercury, Monday 29th April 1912, ref: #19634, published 19 November 2013, generated 7th August 2020 10:39:46 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/harry-olivers-account-of-the-sinking-19634.html