KARL BEHR LAUDS WORK OF ISMAY

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Tennis Champion Gives the Eagle Account of What Happened.

DIDN’T THINK OF SINKING

Men and Women Helped Into First Lifeboats by White Star Director.

                  Karl H. Behr, the famous tennis player, hockey enthusiast, golfing star, who hails from Brooklyn and is a member of the Crescent athletic Club, was one of those rescued from the Titanic. He dictated to an Eagle reporter the following narrative, in which he lauds Mr. Ismay for his generalship and help in saving many people.

                  Mr. Behr is a lawyer in new York and was returning from a business trip to Berlin. He is a famous Yale athletic star and represented this country in the fight to regain the coveted Davis Tennis Cup on several occasions.

By Karl H. Behr.

                  “We were a party of four, Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Beckwith, their daughter, Miss Helen W. Newson, and myself. I had a stateroom on C deck, they two on D deck, near where the actual blow was struck.

                  “Mr. Beckwith and myself had stayed up in the card room while the women had retired at 11:30. We left the smoking room just before the closing for the night and I started to undress in my cabin. I felt a distinct jar, followed by a quivering of the boat. It was distinct enough to know we had hit something. I dressed and immediately went after my party, having clearly in mind what course I would pursue. I met Miss Newsom in the passage, she having been awakened by the thud. We went together to the very upper deck and found it bitterly cold. The ship noticeably listed to starboard, the side which had been hit. I knew the boat was dangerously injured, although I could not then believe she was doomed. Together we went to the cabin of the Beckwiths, telling them to dress. Everybody put on warm clothing.

                  “When we were proceeding along the passage someone told us orders were issued to don life belts, which we did very calmly. We met Captain Smith on the main stairway and he was telling everyone to put on life belts. Knowing exactly where the life boats were, I led my party to the uppermost deck. We waited quietly while one boat was filled. It appeared to be comfortably occupied. We then went to the second boat, which had about forty in it. Mr. Ismay himself directed the launching splendidly. Before getting in, however, Mrs. Beckwith turned to him and asked if the men-folks could come too and he said “Why certainly.” We got into the boat and then Mr. Ismay asked if there was anybody else to get in and there was no one at all left around there.

                  “Fully three minutes he waited for others to come along, before he gave orders to launch the boat, having sent in two petty officers and two or three seamen. The latter were under perfect control. We were evidently the last passengers on the top deck. This was later explained by the fact that passengers were ordered  to go to A deck, while we had gone above that. There were other lifeboats on our side, but they must have been filled later from the lower decks. Our boat being lowered into the water, we rowed immediately away from the ship. We could only work four oars at a time on account of the somewhat cramped positions. We made good progress, however, and were soon a safe distance from the ship, which we still did not believe was going to sink. We stopped rowing when far enough out and transferred some of our passengers to another boat, probably the first one launched. The night was perfectly clear and all we could do was to sit and wait. We had no idea of the number of lifeboats, and, although it only seemed a few minutes, it was two hours before the boat actually sank. The officer in charge of our boat, seeing the men swimming in the water, refused to go back and I guess he was right, for he claimed we surely would have been swamped by the hundreds in the water. Fortunately for us, when we left the ship, everything was handled in the most perfect manner and discipline, thanks to Mr. Ismay. He made sure that our crew was complete.

                  “What happened actually on board, of course, I saw little of. No panic was evident and I heard no pistol shots. We floated around until dawn, when we saw the lights of the Carpathia, and started to row in her direction, as did all the lifeboats. The people aboard the Carpathia were fine, and officers, men and passengers cannot be praised too highly. They had made every preparation for our comfort. Quarters and clothes were generously distributed. Personally I am a little ????ived, but otherwise none the worse for the experience.”

Related Biographies:

Karl Howell Behr
Joseph Bruce Ismay

Acknowledgements

Gordon Steadwood

Contributor

Michael Poirier

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