Hudson Observer

Thomas Percy Oxenham Tells of His Escape from Titanic

Another of the survivors of the ill-fated Titanic, who is slowly
recovering from the harrowing experiences suffered when that great
leviathan of the deep plunged to its watery grave off the Newfoundland
banks, is Thomas Percy Oxenham, 22 years old, who is residing with his
brother Charles Oxenham, at 966 Tonnele avenue, New Durham. His
experience weakened him, but yesterday he was able to go out. To his
friends and relatives he gave his version of the great disaster and the
anxious moments preceding the final plunge of the "Queen of the Seas."

Oxenham's home was in London. He is a stone cutter and expects to make
his home in this country. He left London with Walter Harris and both
booked on the Titanic. In the scramble for lifeboats and during the
awful confusion which reigned just before the Titanic went down Harris
became separated from Oxenham and was lost. Harris leaves a widow and a
ten year old son in London.

Contrary to most of the statements made by survivors Oxenham says when
the crash happened he was in bed and the impact was so great he was
thrown to the floor. Harris, who occupied the next cabin, was also
thrown to the floor. They dressed quickly and went on deck. Both were
second class passengers. When they reached the deck many persons, not
believing the accident was serious, were admiring the giant iceberg and
some were scraping up handsful of the chopped ice using it for

He did not know exactly what time the crash occurred, but thought it was
about midnight. He said there was no confusion at first. Everyone
seemed to be making fun of the accident. He overheard several men
making bets as to the time the boat would dock in New York. Many
persons, he said, who came out on deck from the smoking and lounging
room, attached no importance to the happening and returned to their

He stayed on deck and noticed that it was a clear night and starry.
bout half an hour later, or so it seemed to him, the order was given to
lower the lifeboats. Up to that time the engines had been pounding
steadily and he said when the great throbbing stopped it was noticeable.

When the lifeboats were being made ready women slightly nervous but not
excited, clamored around the decks. Many of them refused to leave their
husbands. They did not think there was any danger of the ship sinking
and they did not want to take any chances in the lifeboats. For that
reason Oxenham says some of the lifeboats were not filled to their
capacity. He also stated that on some instances the officers had to ask
several times before they could get men to take an oar in the lifeboats.
Not a few preferred to stay on board believing the trip in the lifeboats
was too risky. He said:

"I had been standing with my friend, Harris, watching the lifeboats
depart about three-quarters filled, when he walked to the other side of
the deck to see another boat placed on the calm waters. I remained in
my position when an officer came up to me and said:

"'Are there any more women on this deck to go into the lifeboats?'

"I replied that I did not know, and then he said:

"'Well, jump in here and take an oar, anyway. We need someone here.'
The boat was No. 13. Before we were lowered and away from the ship the
second-cabin women passengers seem to have gone to other parts of the

The following five and a half hours were the most awful I ever put
in. There was neither water nor food in the boat and to add to that
misery many of the passengers were scantily clad. I know that some
of the passengers jumped into the boat at the last minute without
putting on more than night clothes, and the temperature was cold. When
the Carpathia hoved into sight nearly everyone in our boat was exhausted. I
was barely able to hold an oar in my hand, evening [sic] though the
excitement wouldn't let us rest for a second.

"I don't believe there was one passenger who had any idea the big ship
was in danger of going under until twenty minutes before it plunged to
the bottom. The last explosion occurred about that time, and then the
passengers became excited and there was great confusion. By that time
the boat I was in had pulled away a considerable distance. I could hear
music, but couldn't distinguish the tune. When the big ship parted and
the hulks drifted apart before going under we all sat still shivering
and afraid. It was the most wonderful and at the same time awful thing I
ever saw. The halves seemed to rise out of the water, gaining impetus
for the great trip to the bottom 2,000 fathoms deep."

The treatment accorded the survivors aboard the Carpathia, Oxenham said,
was all that could be desired. They were shown every attention and
treated royally at every turn.

Related Biographies:

Walter Harris
Percy Thomas Oxenham


Mark Baber

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