Lucky 13

Titanica!

Only 13 second class men passengers survived the sinking of the Titanic. They had the lowest chance of survival of all passenger categories. Coincidentally, second class children (definition of child; those who were not yet twelve years old) had the highest chance of survival of all categories. The table looks like this:

1. Second class children – 100% (22 out of 22)

2. First class ladies – 97.2% (139 out of 143)

3. Second class ladies – 87.4% (83 out of 95)

4. First class children – 80% (4 out of 5)

5. Third class ladies – 50.8% (91 out of 179)

6. Third class children – 37.5% (30 out of 80)

7. First class men – 33% (58 out of 176)

8. Third class men – 13.3% (60 out of 450)

9. Second class men – 8.2% (13 out of 159)

How come so many were lost? One explanation to the big percentage of lost in the category of second class men is that 2nd Officer Lightoller described them as ''the average Teutonic crowd,'' waiting for/obeying orders. Another explanation is that second class passengers as a rule seem to have entered the boat deck on the port side, where men were not permitted to enter the boats. Of the 105 women and children saved in second class, about 30 seem to have entered a starboard boat and nearly 70 one of the aft port boats; some seem to have been rescued in boats 4 and D. This would likely indicate that many men passengers from second class found themselves on the port side, where the ladies entered the boats, subsequently barred from entering the boats themselves.

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How, then, did the 13 second class gentlemen survivors actually escape the sinking Titanic? Here are their stories:

Edward Beane

He had been travelling with his wife, Ethel, from Norfolk, England. They had recently been married and were going to New York to settle there. Mr. Beane gave several, contradictory, versions of his escape. In the New York Times, April 21, 1912, he stated that he put his wife in a half-full boat and then jumped overboard and swam to the very boat he had put her into, and his wife then dragged him into the boat. In The Syracuse Herald, May 3, 1912, however, he said that he put his wife into ''the ninth boat,'' which had a blue light in it, and then jumped overboard, swimming a considerable distance, finally being helped into the boat in which his wife was. There were only about 30 people in the boat, which could have held 60, he said. His wife, in a letter to his parents, claimed they both entered the boat together and in a letter, published in George Behe's ''On Board the RMS Titanic,'' he wrote that he waited until he and his wife could enter a lifeboat together. If one puts all these details together, it seems likely Mr. and Mrs. Beane entered boat No. 9 together.

Lawrence Beesley

Lawrence Beesley

Mr. Beesley, a college professor of physics, from London, described his survival quite extensively. He had been standing on the top deck of the Titanic, not exactly knowing what to do. He looked over the side and saw boat 13 hanging in its davits. Someone asked him if there were any ladies where he was and when Mr. Beesley answered ''no,'' he was asked to jump into the boat. He did. He said there were about 60 people in the boat, including 25 or more crewmembers. His story is well covered in Jack Winocour's book.

Albert Caldwell

Albert Caldwell

Courtesy of Charles Caldwell

Mr. Caldwell was an American, returning with wife and child from Siam. All of them entered boat 13 as it was being lowered away. Mr. Caldwell gave a lengthy interview in the Monmouth Daily Atlas on April 24, 1912, describing their escape.

Stuart Collett

Stuart Collett

Mr. Collett, a student of theology, said he helped two young ladies, Kate Buss and Marion Wright, to boat No. 9 and, explaining he was looking after them, was allowed to enter the boat with them. Strangely, neither Miss Buss nor Miss Wright mentioned him helping them.....Be that as it may, Collett was rescued in boat 9, in which he in one interview said there were about 35 people, including six crewmen at the oars. Another interview of Mr. Collett's:

'I jumped up, put on light clothing and went up on deck. The steam was blowing with a deafening noise. They said that we had struck an iceberg and had to look up to see it. I did not see the iceberg, myself. I talked to the officers and the Captain ordered us to get the ladies. I ran down, got more clothing and went to Miss Wright. She had got up and was out on the deck. I went up and saw them getting the lifeboats ready. I was down again and told many women that I thought it only right to let them know that they were getting the boats out and that the accident was serious.....There was one boat filled and one had gone....I asked my friend, the young man from Guernsey who had played for us whether he was going in. He went over to the other side and I never saw him again. There were no more women to go and I asked the officer if there was any objection to my going in that boat. He said, 'no, get in' and I was the last one in. I think it was the third from the last to go from that side. It was No. 9 and we had to get away fast. Besides other boats coming down there was danger from the sinking boat. I cannot describe the sinking in any other way than to say it was like the noise from a football field, not loud like a shout of victory, but hushed as though there was a canvas over it. There were two loud noises as she went down. It was like as if all the cargo went from one side of the ship to the other at once. It may have been bursting of the boilers or the vessel breaking in two... We worked all night at the oars and Paddy McGuffe was master of our boat. He was a stoker or a sailor, rather, for he wore his oil clothes. One other seaman was in our boat and he had brought a bag of clothing which he distributed around among the women.......I did not hear any music at all...(Auburn Weekly Bulletin, April 24/25, 1912)

George Harris

Mr. Harris, a gardener in his early 60s, was returning to Connecticut from a trip to England. He said he was in boat 13, but his story might well indicate he was in fact in boat 15. As Harris recounted the ordeal to an Advocate reporter four days after the disaster, he recollected that he was lowered to safety in the fourth boat to leave the ship -- Lifeboat 13, with 49 others. "Although I am over 60 years of age, I rowed that boat with five others from 11 that night until we were picked up by the Carpathia.'' (Stamford Advocate, April 19, 1912)

Masabumi Hosono

Working for the Japanese Ministry of Transport, Mr. Hosono had been to Russia to research their railway system. He was returning via England and the USA. On the night of the sinking, he found himself on the port side of the ship and managed to get into boat No. 10. Many survivors in boat 10 mentioned a ''Chinaman'' hiding in the boat. This was Mr. Hosono: he described his survival in his memoirs, mentioning being in the boat with, among others, an Armenian.

William Mellors

William Mellors

Mr. Mellors, on his way to New York City, did not find a place in one of the regular lifeboats. He was forced to jump overboard. In a letter to Dorothy Ockenden, he described his survival in boat A; he said only ten or eleven were saved from it.

Percy Thomas Oxenham

Mr. Oxenham, a mason, was going to his brother in New Durham, New Jersey. He travelled with Walter Harris. Interviewed by the Hudson Daily Observer (April 23, 1912), he said that they made their way to the deck and saw lifeboats being lowered away. For some reason, Walter Harris went to the other side of the deck and shortly after that, Mr. Oxenham got the question from a crewman in a lifeboat whether there were any more women where he was. He answered that he did not know and was subsequently asked to get into the boat, No. 13.

Julian Padro y Manent

He travelled with Emilio Pallas and Asuncion and Florentina Duran. They lived in Barcelona and their destination was Havana, Cuba. Padro and Pallas helped the Duran ladies into boat 12 and then, having been barred from entering half-filled boat 12, hurried to the other side of the deck, to see if their chances were better on that side of the ship. They made their way to a boat and Padro got into it without further ado. Pallas seems to have had more trouble; he had to get past a crewman trying to keep him back and when jumping into the boat, which was about to be lowered away, he injured his foot. It is likely the boat they jumped into was No. 9, where the crew in fact let men passengers in when there were no more women to be found. Their interview appeared in a Havana newspaper shortly after the disaster.

Emilio Pallas y Castello

He entered (probably) boat No. 9 with Julian Padro y Manent (cf. above).

Emilio Portaluppi

Emilio Portaluppi

Mr. Portaluppi, a stonemason, was returning to his home in Milford, New Hampshire, after a visit with relatives in Italy. Exactly how he managed to get away from the sinking Titanic is a bit difficult to ascertain. In the New York Times, April 19, 1912, he said he had been forced to jump overboard and holding on to a cake of ice he drifted around in the water for over two hours. He was then seen by one of the lifeboats that had got safely away from the steamer and was picked up. There were thirty-five persons in the boat when he was hauled aboard. In an interview in the Milford Cabinet, he said that he was climbing into a lifeboat when he lost his footing and fell into the sea. He swam 400-500 yards away from the sinking Titanic and, after quite some time, he was seen by a passing lifeboat and they dragged him in. A few of those in the boat died, he added. The truth of these statements is unknown; it may turn out that he was the alleged fourth person rescued by boat 14, but it may also be that he simply entered a starboard lifeboat, never having been in touch with the water. Be that as it may, he survived the disaster.

Charles Whilems

Mr. Whilems, a 32-year old foreman at a glass factory in London, was going to New York City. His story of survival was as follows; ‘I am not sure, but I think I was in the last boat and there were about fifty-five others with me, of whom all but eight were women. There were three members of the crew. I don’t know the name of the man in command, but I know he was the Quartermaster in command of the second saloon deck. I have a strong impression the the boat was No. 9. There was a sail in it, but this was not used. We rowed away about 400 yards from the ship before we saw her settling slowly by the head. Then there was an explosion. The lights went out and the ship seemed to break, her nose plunging down and her stern bucking almost straight up….Our boat remained apart from the rest. We had an electric torch in our boat….’ (The New York Times, April 21 1912, p. 11)

Charles Williams

Charles Williams

Mr. Williams, a rather well-known tennis player, would describe jumping into the sea, saving himself. Yet, this was not so. In the American Senate hearings, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe said about those in boat 14 with him;

Mr. Lowe: ... And there was another passenger that I took for rowing.
Senator Smith: Who was that?
Mr. Lowe: That was a chap by the name of C. Williams, Racket Champion of the World, No. 2 Drury Lane, Middlesex, England...

One of the stewards in No. 14 also described Charles Williams staying in the boat with them when they rowed back to look for survivor.

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This means that five of the 13 surviving gentlemen seem to have escaped in boat No. 9, three in boat 13 and one in No. 15 (if Mr. Harris was there and not in No. 13 as he believed), for a total of nine in the starboard aft boats. One was in boat A, one in boat 10 and one in boat 14, Mr. Portaluppi's means of survival being slightly difficult to establish.

 

Contributor

Peter Engberg

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