Miss Bowker's Account

The Observer (Cheshire)

The Little Sutton Schoolroom was well filled on Friday, when Mr. G. H. Bowker, whose sister was one of the survivors of the Titanic, gave a lecture on the gigantic ship. The Rev. A. H. Rhodes presided.

Mr. Bowker mentioned that if the ship’s stern could have been place against the Red Lion Hotel, Little Sutton, her bow would have reached to within a few yards of Mr. Coulter’s shop.

When the accident came Miss Bowker was engaged in her office. She felt a slight shock, and then a curious grating noise. Going on deck, she noticed that the engines were stopped and blowing off steam. Being unable to learn anything definite, she went below to her cabin. On the way she met Mr. Andrews, nephew of Lord Powie [sic], the designer of the ship. He told her to get her lifebelt and go on deck. Answering a question from Miss Bowker as to whether anything serious had happened, Mr. Andrews replied ’Oh, yes; she is going down.’ Miss Bowker was told to get into a boat on the port side by Captain Smith himself. She was reluctant to do so, until dragged in by one of the sailors.

The discipline and coolness of the captain and officers, who must have known well the awful danger, was admirable. The boat was launched with difficulty, threatening to upset through swinging against the side of the ship. There were only two men and a boy to row, and when these were exhausted Miss Bowker had to take an oar. Once in the water, they rowed away from the ship for fear of suction.

The Titanic, seen from this level, with all her countless lights blazing, was a spectacle of fairy-like beauty. It seemed an insult to human intelligence and human handicraft that such a gigantic craft should ever sink. At length it was obvious that her bow was dropping slowly. Tier by tier the ligths went out, and then suddenly there was what seemed a series of explosions. The ship broke in two, and there was an astounding rattling noise, as though the machinery had broken loose. Finally she sank quietly. The ensuing cries, Miss Bowker declared, still rang in her ears, and never would be forgotten.

Her boat was one of the last to be picked up, and before the longed-for Carpathia arrived the sea and wind had got up so that the lifeboat threatened to capsize. Their lifebelts probably saved them from pneumonia. On the Carpathia they were treated with every possible kindness, though the discomfort on such a small ship was naturally considerable. It was indeed a ship of mourning. Terrible stories were told by some of the survivors who had remained on the Titanic to the last.

On entering New York harbour, frantic efforts to obtain news were made by the American journalists, many of whom had chartered tugs, from which questions were bawled at the Carpathia through megaphones. ’Did John Jacob Astor die a hero?’ is a fair specimen of these.

At New York most of the crew and staff were transferred direct to the Lapland. A delightful passage to England greatly benefitted shattered nerves and exhausted bodies.

Related Biographies:

Ruth Harwood Bowker

Acknowledgements

Peter Engberg

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Copyright © 1996-2019 Encyclopedia Titanica (www.encyclopedia-titanica.org) and third parties (ref: #76, published 29 September 2019, generated 9th December 2019 03:55:33 PM)
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