Merewether Survivor Recalls Horror 25th Anniversary

The Newcastle Sun

   Hide Ads

The terrifying experiences of those on board are recalled vividly by Mrs. A. Howland, of Berner-street, Merewether, who was a masseuse on the liner.

Twenty-five years ago to night the White Star liner Titanic, while on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, struck an iceberg in mid-Atlantic and sank in two miles of water. The terrifying experiences of those on board are recalled vividly by Mrs. A. Howland, of Berner-street, Merewether, who was a masseuse on the liner.

Mrs Howland

Titanic disaster survivor, Mrs Howland of Merewether

The Titanic sailed from Southampton on Wednesday, April 10,1912. She was 1000 feet long and had a registered tonnage of 46,328. which was over 1000 tons more than the next largest ship in the world, her sister ship the Olympic. On April 12 Captain Smith received a warning from the French liner Touraine that the latter was in an icefield. Saturday passed and Sunday came. The hours slipped away and - as darkness descended over the waters, there was no sign of impending peril, except that the wind blew with an icy breath.

The Titanic struck the iceberg, which was from 60 to 100 feet high, at 11.35 p.m. The blow was a glancing one on the starboard side, which was ripped open, rendering useless the essential watertight compartments.

In The Last Boat

The ship sank in two miles of water, two hours and 45 minutes after she struck.

"1 was in bed when It happened, 'said Mrs. Howland today. 'After the bump, the ship seemed to jerk and shiver like a horse-bus being driven over a stony road. The bravery of the officers and men is a thing which I shall never be able to forget. They did not think about their own lives, but devoted all their energy to assisting the women and children. I was in the last boat to leave the Titanic. There were 70 or 80 others and we drifted all night among the ice waiting for death. We had practically no clothing on.'

When the last lifeboat pulled away into the darkness, there remained more than 1000 human beings face to face with death. The Titanic was sinking by the head.

Suddenly there was the sound of a great explosion. It was the signal of death. The ship was broken in two and her mighty stern rose clean out of the water. Then her head went down and very quietly, without great turbulence of waters, the big ship dived down Into the dark sea and disappeared for ever from the sight of men.

When the day dawned, the Titanic was no longer visible above water, but all around were dead bodies. The miserable survivors In the boats then saw looming up through the morning haze the Cunard liner Carpathia, to which the Titanic's wireless operator had been sending the S.O.S. right up to the time the ship sank. The Carpathia took the survivors on board and landed them in New York.

Only 703 Saved

The total list of passengers and crew carried was 2206, of whom 703 were saved. Mrs. Howland, who at the time was Miss A. Caton, of Highbury Hill, London, was engaged as a masseuse in the Turkish baths.

The Carpathia received the first S.O.S. message at midnight, and arrived on the scene of the disaster about 4 a.m. Monday. Her officers and crew had been preparing all night for the rescue work and for the comfort of the survivors. These were received on board with the most touching care and kindness, every attention being given to all, irrespective of class.

Mrs. Howland said to-day that the events of that fearful night 25 years ago were still very fresh in her memory. At times she heard again the screams of the doomed passengers and the piteous cries of those around her when they sat huddled in the boat floating among the Ice and waiting for death.

Vivid recollections of a wireless message, 25 years ago to-day, telling of the sinking of the Titanic, are retained by the secretary of Newcastle Electrical Trades Union (Mr. L. Wells), who was then on his way to Australia from England aboard the Orsova. A short time previously Mr. Wells's sister and her husband had booked their passages by the Titanic, but they cancelled their bookings at the last minute.

Share on FaceBook Twitter

Related Biographies:

Annie Caton

Relates to Place:

Merewether, New South Wales, Australia


Gavin Bell


Encyclopedia Titanica (2019) Merewether Survivor Recalls Horror 25th Anniversary (The Newcastle Sun, Wednesday 14th April 1937, ref: #69, published 25 July 2019, generated 1st August 2021 03:15:13 AM); URL :