Encyclopedia Titanica


The Toronto Daily Star

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Was in That Last Awful Swirl That Followed When Monster

Sank------Came to Surface After an Age------Saved

by Life-Raft With Thirty Others.



Canadian Press Despatch

New York, April 18.-----Col. Archibald Gracie, U.S.A., the last man saved from the Titanic, went down with the vessel, but was picked up. Col. Gracie told a remarkable story of personal hardship and denied emphatically the reports that there had been any panic on board. He praised in the highest terms the behaviour of both passengers and crew, and paid a high tribute to the heroism of the women passengers.

"Mrs. Isidore Straus," he said, "went to her death because she would not desert her husband. Although he pleaded with her to take her place in the boat she steadfastly refused and when the ship settled at the head the two were engulfed by the wave that swept her."

Col. Gracie told of how he was driven on to the topmost deck when the ship settled, and was the sole survivor after the wave that swept her just before her final plunge had passed.

"I jumped with the wave," said he, "just as I have often jumped with the breakers at the sea shore. By great good fortune I manaked to grasp the brass railing on the deck above, and I hung on with might and main. When the ship plunged down I was forced to let go and I was swirled around and around for what seemed to be an interminable time. Eventually I came to the surface to find the sea a mass of tangled wreckage.

Came up Again.

"Luckily I was unhurt and casting about managed to seize a wooden grating floating nearby. When I had recovered my breath I discovered a larger canvas and cork liferaft which had floated up. A man, whose name I did not learn, was struggling toward it from sone wreckage to which he had clung. I cast off and helped him to get onto the raft, and we then began the work of rescuing those who had jumped into the sea and were floundering in the water.

"When dawn broke there were thirty of us on the raft, standing knee-deep in the icy water and afraid to move lest the creak craft be over-turned. Several unfortunantes , benumbed and half-dead," besought us to save them and one or two made an effort to reach us, but we had to warn them away. Had we made an effort to save them we might all have perished.

Ship Sank at 2:22 a.m.

He was in his berth when the vessel smashed into the submerged portion of the berg and was aroused by the jar. He looked at watch, he said, and found it was just midnight The ship sank with him at 2:22 a.m. for his watch stopped at that hour.

"The conduct of Col. John Jacob Astor was deserving of the highest praise," Col. Gracie declared. "The millionaire New Yorker," he said, "devoted all his energies to saving his bride nee Miss Force, of New York, who was delicate health.

"Colonel Astor helped us in our efforts to get her into the boat " said Colonel Gracie. "I lifted her into the boat and as she took her place Colonel Astor requested permission of the second officer to go with her for her own protection

"No, sir," replied the officer not a man shall go on a boat until all the woman are off

"Colonel Astor then inquired the number of the boat which was being lowered away, and turned to the work of clearing the other boats and in reassuring the frightened nervous woman.

"The hours that elasped before we were picked up by the Carpathia were the longest and most terrible I ever spent. Pratically with any sensation of feeling because of the icy water, we were almost dropping from fatigue. We were afraid to turn around to look to see whether we were see by passing craft, and when someone who was facing the stern passed the word that something that looked like a steamer was counting up, one of the men became hysterical under the strain. The rest of us too, were nearing the breaking point."

Col. Gracie denied with emphasis that any men were fired upon, and declared that only once was a revolver discharged.

No Confusion or Panic.

"This was for the purpose of intimidating some steerage passengers," he said. "who had tumbled into a boat before it was prepared for launching. This shot was fired in the air, and when the foreigners were told that the next would be directed at them they promptly returned to the deck. There was no confusion and no panic."

Contrary to the general expectation, there was no jarring impact when the vessel struck according to the army officer.

"By this time the ship began to list frightfully to port. This became so dangerous that the second officer ordered everyone to rush to starboard. This we did, and we found the crew trying to get a boat off that quarter. Here I saw the last of John B. Thayer and George D. Widener, both of Philadelphia."

No Slowing Down Despite Warnings.

Col. Gracie said that despite the warnings of icebergs, no slowing down of speed was ordered by the commander of the Titanic. There were other warnings too, he said.

"In the twenty-four hours run ending the 14th," he said, "the ship's run was 546 miles, and we were told that the next twenty-four hours would see even a better record posted. Non diminution of speed was indicated in the run , and the engines kept up their steady running. When Sunday evening came we all noticed the increased cold, which gave plain warning that the ship was in close proximity to icebergs or ice fields. Officers, I am credibky informed, had been advised by wireless from other ships of the presence of icebergs and dangerous floes in that vicinity. The sea was as smooth as glass and the weather clear so that it seems there was no occasion for fear.

Passengers Joked Over Accident.

"When the vessel struck the passengers were so little alarmed that they joked over the matter. The few that appeared on deck early had taken their time to dress properly, and there was not the slightest indication of panic. Some of the fragments of the ice had fallen on the deck, and these were picked up and passed around by some of the facetious ones, who offered them as mementoes of the occasion. On the port side a glance over the side failed to show any evidence of damage, and the vessel seemed to be on an even keel. James Clinch Smith and I, however soon found the vessel was listing heavily. A few minutes later the officers ordered men and women to don life preservers."

A Women Fatalist.

One of the last women seen by Col. Gracie, he said, was Miss Evans, of New York who virtually refused to be rescued, because according to the army officer, "she had been told by a fortune teller in London that she would meet her death on the water."

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2009) LAST MAN TO LEAVE TITANIC WAS COLONEL GRACIE, U.S.A. (The Toronto Daily Star, Friday 19th April 1912, ref: #10018, published 9 April 2009, generated 23rd March 2023 02:18:51 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/last-man-to-leave-titanic-was-colonel-gracie-usa-10018.html