Liner's Last Moments Graphically Described

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Palmyra Resident, Titantic's [sic] Barber, Tells of Thrilling Experience; Shock on Striking Iceberg was Slight; Saw Officer Shoot Man Who Tried to Climb Into Life Boat; Two Explosions Occurred

August H. Weikman, of Palmyra, ship's barber on the Titanic, who was among those rescued, graphically described at his home yesterday the wrecking and sinking of the Titanic.

Weikman, who declares that he had crossed the ocean 705 times, is 56 years old. For the last 34 years he has been employed in the capacity of ship's barber by the White Star Line and served under Captain Smith, of the ill-fated Titanic, when the latter was in command of the Olympic at the time she rammed the British cruiser Hawke.

According to Weikman he was the last man on the Titanic who spoke to Colonel John Jacob Astor and George D. Widener as the two stood side by side waiting for the leviathan to settle beneath the waves. Both men, he declared, calmly awaited the end, each one having given way to women in the lifeboats.

At the time the Titanic struck the iceberg, Weikman declares, the huge screws were turning 75 revolutions per minute. This was 15 revolutions per minute less than their maximum. The reason for this, Weikman states, was due to orders issued to Captain Smith that he husband all the coal possible, fear of the labor troubles here and in England leading the steamship officials to believe that it would be a difficult matter to obtain coal in the future.

In describing the work of rescue Weikman was emphatic in declaring that J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the International Mercantile Marine Company, who was among those saved, did not try to get into any of the lifeboats, and only took his place among the women and children when ordered to do so by one of the ship's officers. Of Major Archibald Butt, aid to President Taft, Weikman declares he saw nothing.

In speaking of what happened on board the Titanic Weikman said:

"When we struck there was a slight shock. The stewards went from cabin to cabin to get everybody out on deck. This was shortly after 10 o'clock in the evening. When the passengers responded to the calls of the stewards they were told to put on life belts.

"There was no alarm, no confusion. Everything worked smoothly. The passengers once on deck were not allowed to go below again. Some of the crew started to lower the lifeboats from the davits. There was a terrible lot of ropes that got all tangled.

"Many of the passengers stood watching us undo them, and several times we asked them why they did not help. Mr. Astor was standing in the crowd around the davits.

"One hour after the collision the chief steward was found asleep, so slight had been the jar.

"They put the women and the children in the lifeboats and then they started to put in the crew with them. One man to every five women. When no women were near the boats they took the men, whether they were passengers or crew, anybody who stood nearest, and this accounts for the three Chinamen who were taken off. First Officer Murdock [sic] shot a foreigner who tried to climb over the rail into a boat.

"There were two explosions, the first one a little one, but it must have blown in the bulkhead to the main boilers. Then there came the big explosion. The pumps had been going full tilt, sending out a great stream of water. The band was playing and about 30 people were standing there.

"While this was going on I was on the upper deck assisting the passengers to the boats. I had a life belt on, and when the forward part of the ship listed I was washed overboard by a huge wave. Looking backward, I could see Captain Smith, who had been standing on the bridge, swimming back to the place where he had stood, having been washed off the Titanic by the same wave that had washed me from the ship into the water.

"When I slipped off the deck into the water, I tried to swim away from the ship. The wash of the waves when the second explosion occurred pushed me on to a lot of wreckage and debris, to which I clung until I was hauled into one of the lifeboats.

"The accident, in my mind, was unavoidable. The iceberg we struck was one of the kind which has submerged projections, which extend for hundreds of feet in the water. The crash started the plates at the bottom of the ship and the water poured in as through a sieve."

Weikman was accompanied to his home by his brothers-in-law, A. H. and John Hendricks. His brother, William Weikman, is ship's barber aboard the Cedric, which sailed but recently from New York.

The barber of the Titanic will not go to sea again. He said the finish of his 706th sea voyage was enough to shake his determination to follow the sea in the future.

Weikman will be tendered a reception by his neighbors. All day yesterday Mr. and Mrs. Weikman were the recipients of many congratulatory messages. Weikman's escape is considered as miraculous by all friends.

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Augustus Henry Weikman

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Mark Baber


Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) Liner's Last Moments Graphically Described (Daily Enterprise, Saturday 20th April 1912, ref: #418, published 28 August 2003, generated 4th August 2021 04:21:09 AM); URL :