LEAVES SINKING SHIP IN BOAT 13 AND STILL LIVES

Hudson Observer

Thomas Percy Oxenham Tells of His Escape from Titanic---------------CRASH SO GREAT HE IS THROWN FROM BERTHAnother of the survivors of the ill-fated Titanic, who is slowlyrecovering from the harrowing experiences suffered when that greatleviathan of the deep plunged to its watery grave off the Newfoundlandbanks, is Thomas Percy Oxenham, 22 years old, who is residing with hisbrother Charles Oxenham, at 966 Tonnele avenue, New Durham. Hisexperience weakened him, but yesterday he was able to go out. To hisfriends and relatives he gave his version of the great disaster and theanxious 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 makehis home in this country. He left London with Walter Harris and bothbooked on the Titanic. In the scramble for lifeboats and during theawful confusion which reigned just before the Titanic went down Harrisbecame separated from Oxenham and was lost. Harris leaves a widow and aten year old son in London.Contrary to most of the statements made by survivors Oxenham says whenthe crash happened he was in bed and the impact was so great he wasthrown to the floor. Harris, who occupied the next cabin, was alsothrown to the floor. They dressed quickly and went on deck. Both weresecond class passengers. When they reached the deck many persons, notbelieving the accident was serious, were admiring the giant iceberg andsome were scraping up handsful of the chopped ice using it forsnowballs.He did not know exactly what time the crash occurred, but thought it wasabout midnight. He said there was no confusion at first. Everyoneseemed to be making fun of the accident. He overheard several menmaking bets as to the time the boat would dock in New York. Manypersons, he said, who came out on deck from the smoking and loungingroom, attached no importance to the happening and returned to theirenjoyment.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 tolower the lifeboats. Up to that time the engines had been poundingsteadily and he said when the great throbbing stopped it was noticeable.When the lifeboats were being made ready women slightly nervous but notexcited, clamored around the decks. Many of them refused to leave theirhusbands. They did not think there was any danger of the ship sinkingand they did not want to take any chances in the lifeboats. For thatreason Oxenham says some of the lifeboats were not filled to theircapacity. He also stated that on some instances the officers had to askseveral 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 lifeboatswas too risky. He said:"I had been standing with my friend, Harris, watching the lifeboatsdepart about three-quarters filled, when he walked to the other side ofthe deck to see another boat placed on the calm waters. I remained inmy 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 thesecond-cabin women passengers seem to have gone to other parts of theship.The following five and a half hours were the most awful I ever putin. There was neither water nor food in the boat and to add to thatmisery many of the passengers were scantily clad. I know that someof the passengers jumped into the boat at the last minute withoutputting on more than night clothes, and the temperature was cold. When the Carpathia hoved into sight nearly everyone in our boat was exhausted. Iwas barely able to hold an oar in my hand, evening [sic] though theexcitement wouldn't let us rest for a second."I don't believe there was one passenger who had any idea the big shipwas in danger of going under until twenty minutes before it plunged tothe bottom. The last explosion occurred about that time, and then thepassengers became excited and there was great confusion. By that timethe boat I was in had pulled away a considerable distance. I could hearmusic, but couldn't distinguish the tune. When the big ship parted andthe hulks drifted apart before going under we all sat still shiveringand afraid. It was the most wonderful and at the same time awful thing Iever saw. The halves seemed to rise out of the water, gaining impetusfor 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 andtreated royally at every turn.

Related Biographies:

Walter Harris
Percy Thomas Oxenham

Acknowledgements

Mark Baber

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Copyright © 1996-2020 Encyclopedia Titanica (www.encyclopedia-titanica.org) and third parties (ref: #6191, published 1 June 2008, generated 14th January 2020 11:30:19 PM)
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