Maria Backstrom's account

Uusi Aura

At about 10 o'clock, most people in third class had gone to bed. At a quarter to twelve, Mrs. Backstrom was woken up by a big bang. She woke her husband up. He went on deck to ask what had happened and came back, saying that the ship had hit an iceberg. Husband and wife were terrified and went on deck. Mrs. Backström did not even have the time to dress properly. There was already a lot of people on deck, but they seemed calm since the crewmen were trying to tell them there was no danger. However, they said that as a safety measure, women and children were to be put into the lifeboats. Nobody seemed to fully realize the seriousness of the situation. Some gentlemen on the deck went inside again, saying it was safer on the ship than in small boats.... Little by little, the crewmembers started looking worried and the passengers became more and more frightened and wanted to get into the lifeboats, away from the unsafe ship. Order on deck deteriorated – one could hear panic-stricken yells and there was jostling and pushing. The officers tried to calm the crowds. Mrs. Backström says she did not hear any shooting, just rockets being fired. To start with, men were not permitted to enter the lifeboats. This meant that Mrs. Backström did not want to get into one, since her husband would not be allowed to come with her. When one of the last lifeboats was lowered away, she got into it, her husband having promised her that he would follow on a later one. Her boat was so full that she could not move. All of them stood next to each other, lightly clad, some in thin nightgowns, without shoes or hats. Some had more clothing than others, some were wearing furs. Mrs. Backström was, as mentioned above, only wearing her under garments and a lifebelt which protected her somewhat from the cold. The strange thing during these awful circumstances is that, while women and children were put in the lifeboat, a few men got in the boat with them, but some unfortunate ones had to remain on the deck. A third man threw himself into the boat and, since we could not get him off of the boat in the haste, he remained on the bottom of the boat, where he had landed. Later, we discovered that he had died, probably from injuries after his was a horrible sight, said Mrs. Backström, in a low voice, when the ship with its lights disappeared underneath the waves. Heartbreaking cries could be heard, from the ship as well as from the lifeboats, where those who had been rescued were watching their loved ones were left in Death's jaws. The ship's electricity was working until the last moment. When the last row of lights disappeared, everybody knew the ship had sunk. The stars were shining, the sea was as calm as a pond, lots of people were swimming around – some fought the cold, some gave up almost immediately. From the lifeboats, cries and lamentations were heard. We asked each other who had been saved. The children were shivering with cold, they were hungry and missing their parents. At 2.20, the Titanic had sunk.

Related Biographies:

Karl Alfred Backström
Maria Mathilda Backström


Translation by Henri Nyman

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