Encyclopedia Titanica

Lady Duff Gordon Saw Men Shot by Captain Smith

A man made a rush to get aboard and was shot.

New York Herald

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Lady Duff Gordon Saw Men Shot by Captain Smith

Several in Crowding for Boats Mortally Wounded by the Titanic’s Commander, She Says – One Man Shot Dead Jumping Into Her Lifeboat.

Lady Duff-Gordon was suffering from a severe attack of nervousness following the terrible ordeal. She was treated by a physician on board the Carpathia. As she gave a brief description of the wreck she closed her eyes and shuddered.

“The adventures of that night are horrible beyond description,” said she. “It is impossible to paint a word picture that would be vivid enough and which would give all the details and instances of heroism and cowardice, of self-sacrifice and selfishness. The crash came on the side of the ship that my cabin was located on. The shock was terrific. It seemed to me that every one rushed on deck and made for the same lifeboat. Many men crowded for the boats and were shot down by Captain Smith. Several fell to the decks mortally wounded before there was a semblance of order or discipline.

I recall that I was pushed along toward one of the boats and helped n. The boat was lowered part way down on the davits. Just as we were about to clear the ship a man made a rush to get aboard and was shot. He was apparently killed instantly and his body fell into the boat at our feet. No one made an effort to move the body, and it remained beneath our feet until we were picked up by the Carpathia.

I saw bodies in the water in all directions. The poor souls could not have lived long, because the water was terribly cold. Most of the people were scantily clad and the suffered from the cold.”

Lady Gordon said that she did not see Colonel John Jacob Astor after the crash. She also declared that Captain Smith was on the bridge when the liner took her final plunge to the bottom.

Mr. Ismay Rowed Boat.

Among the survivors arriving at the Ritz-Carlton at about half-past ten o’clock last night were Countess Rothes, Lord and Lady Duff-Gordon and Mr. and Mrs. T.D.M. Cardeza. “Countess Rothes fainted in the sitting room of the hotel.

“I was in the lifeboat in which Bruce J. Ismay was rescued,” said Mr. Cardeza. “Mr. Ismay did not intend to board the boat. It was hanging from its davits. Our boat was filled with women and men who could not handle it. None of the crew was on board. We all begged Mr. Ismay to take charge of the boat. He is an expert oarsman. He consented and for the five hours of horror on the water before we were picked up by the Carpathia he rowed and directed that boat’s fortune. He saved the lives of all on board.”

Saw Colonel Astor Kiss Wife.

Mrs. Thomas D.M. Cardeza said :- “Colonel Astor helped his wife into the lifeboat and refused to follow her. He took her hand and kissed her on the lips. Soon we were lowered to the water and Mr. Astor was left standing on the fast sinking deck.

The Titanic settled very fast and it seemed to me that it was only a half hour when finally with a great sucking noise she disappeared beneath the surface. As she went down the cries of the drowning ones were terrible.

Leaped Overboard and Was Saved.

R.W. Daniels, a banker from Philadelphia, said he remained on board until all the lifeboats in sight were filled and sent away. He said he ran aimlessly around the deck seeking something that he could use for a raft. He said he became delirious and remembered leaping over the rail. His next conscious moment was twelve hours afterward, when re regained his senses on board the Carpathia. He was among the third class passengers when found.

Mr. Daniels was picked up by one of the lifeboats which had been swept back as his unconscious form came over the side.

Called Farewell to Husband.

One of the most broken hearted and enfeebled women who came from the Carpathia was Mrs. A.F. Chaffee, of Amenia. S.D. Considerably past middle age Mrs. Chaffee and her husband started for America on the Titanic and they were among the first to be roused when the towering liner ran up on the icy shelf. Mr. Chaffee, a stalwart westerner, declined to go aboard the boats. His wife and he had a pathetic farewell and Mr. Chaffee saw his wife lifted into one of the boats. Both were weeping as the yawl drifted away from the sinking liner and they called farewells as the space between the two lengthened. Mr. Chaffee went down with the ship.

Mrs. Chaffee was met at the pier last night by a daughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. George Sloan, of Glen Ridge. N.J., and Mr. James G. Morrisey. Mrs. Chaffee fainted as she stepped off the gang plank and was carried to a resting place. Later she was taken to the Hotel Belmont.

Her Husband Got Into Boat.

Albert F. Caldwell, his wife Sylvia, and their ten-months-old boy, A.G. Caldwell, who went to the Chelsea Hotel on their arrival at New York, according to a friend of the family, were asleep at the time of the accident and were awakened by the fearful shock and thrown from their beds. Hearing the cry, “All hands on deck!” they rushed out just as the lights were extinguished. There was a great confusion and Mrs. Caldwell was suddenly taken and placed in one of the lifeboats.

Her husband followed her to the side and was about to hand the baby to his wife when she called “Can’t my husband come aboard with the baby?” Some one behind him shouted “Sure!” and he was shoved into the boat beside his wife, a couple of other men jumping in on top of him. As they rowed away one of the ropes caught against the vessel, causing the lifeboat to tip, and they had great difficulty in cutting loose. No officer seemed to be in charge, and one of the sailors finally succeeded in getting the boat free, and they drifted away. Several shots were fired, seemingly from some foreigners who stood on the deck of the vessel behind them.

Mrs. Alexander T. Compton and her daughter, Miss Alice Compton, of Lakewood, N.J. went directly to the Murray Hill Hotel from the Cunard pier. Mrs. Compton was prostrated by the loss of her son, Alexander Compton, who went down with the Titanic, and Mrs. Compton refused to see a reporter, but told her story through her lawyer, E.H. Wells, of No. 150 Nassau Street. Mr. Wells said Mrs. Compton told him :-

“All put on life preservers,” ordered captain Smith while the officers and crew began distributing them. “They will keep you warm if you do not have to use them.” Then the crew began clearing the boats and putting the women into them. My daughter and I were placed in the boat which was commanded by the fifth officer, and as I said goodbye to my son I did not realise the great danger in which he was.

“There was a moan of agony and anguish from those in our boat when the Titanic sank, and those who had lost loved ones insisted that the fifth officer head back for the place where the Titanic had plunged beneath the waves. We found one man with a life preserver on him struggling in the cold water and for a minute I thought that he was my son. It was with a sharp pain that I saw he was a stranger. We took him on board.”


Gordon Steadwood


Encyclopedia Titanica (2014) Lady Duff Gordon Saw Men Shot by Captain Smith (New York Herald, Friday 19th April 1912, ref: #20079, published 22 May 2014, generated 5th December 2021 02:51:21 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lady-duff-gordon-saw-men-shot-by-captain-smith.html