Norfolk (Virginia) Ledger – Dispatch

That Captain Smith, of the ill-fated Titanic, stepped into a lifeboat and then back on the steamer just as she was going down, was asserted today by Mrs. S. Aks, who was among the third-class passengers rescued and brought to New York by the Cunard liner Carpathia.

“Captain Smith stepped into the last boat; stepped back on the Titanic; stepped into the small boat again, and just as his steamer was going down stepped on her deck and perished with the passengers and other officers and crew,” said Mrs. Aks.  “Our boat was a short distance from the Titanic and I could see the captain as long as the big ocean liner was above the water.”

Mrs. Aks arrived here yesterday from New York, accompanied by her 7-months-old baby and her husband, who went to the metropolis to bring his family to Norfolk.  They are stopping, temporarily, with Harry Greene, ladies’ tailor, at 131 College Place, and gave out her first interview in Norfolk to a reporter for the Ledger – Dispatch this morning.

Mrs. Aks is a pretty and intelligent young woman and tells a very interesting story of the loss of the White Star Line steamship and the incidents that followed.

How She Was Saved

That she was saved, she said, was due to the anxiety of another young woman to know what would become of her husband or brother, who had not followed her into one of the small boats.

“I had been kept out of this boat, which was next to the last one that left the ship,” said Mrs. Aks, “because it would not hold another passenger.  When this young woman jumped back on the Titanic to look for her companion, I got in the boat and we pushed off.  The young woman whose place I took went down with the ship.”

Mrs. Aks tells of her baby being torn from her arms and its recovery after she had landed on the Carpathia, but declares she does not know where the baby was from the time she lost it on the deck of the Titanic until it was placed in her arms by an Italian passenger in the hospital ward of the Cunard liner.  That it was knocked over the side of the ship and into a small boat underneath, as reported she said was not true.  In the excitement, it was knocked from her arms, she said, and she supposed that it was picked up on the deck and cared for until the mother was found.

Story of Mrs. Aks

Here is the story of the sinking of the Titanic, as told by Mrs. Aks:

“The weather was fine and the water smooth after we left London on the 10th of April,” she said.  “On the following Sunday evening everybody was in good spirits and down on the deck with the third class passengers, where I and my baby Philip had our stateroom, the people were dancing, having concerts and passing away the time in various ways.  I retired rather early, and about 12 o’clock a woman knocked on my door and awoke me.  She asked me if I knew the ship had struck something, and I told her I did not.  Taking her advice, I dressed and went out on the deck.   I asked one of the crew if there was any danger, and he told me that everything was all right; that there was nothing to be alarmed about.  Then I said I would go back and get my baby, and while some of the others told me there was no danger and advised me to let the baby sleep, I went in and got the little fellow and came out on deck again with him.

Young Men Aided Her

“When I looked out on the water, I saw the little boats full of people and more people getting into other boats from the first and second class decks.  While I had only a coat and hat on, I tried to get into one of the boats with my baby, but they wouldn’t let me go up on the second class deck and I was about to give up all hope when some of the young men came to my rescue, and by placing their hands together made a ladder by which they lifted me on the outside of the ship from the steerage deck to the second class deck.  The passengers were pushing and shoving in their efforts to get into the small boats, and in the crush my baby was knocked from my arms.”

“It was done so quickly that I did not see where the baby went, but I asked everybody to help me find it and everybody said they had not seen the baby.  After I had looked everywhere on the deck for the little fellow I turned to get into the small boat that was then about to leave the ship.  It was so full of passengers that they would not let me on, and I almost gave up.  Then a young woman jumped back on the Titanic to look for her husband or brother and I took her place in the lifeboat.  I am sure the young woman went down with the Titanic, as I saw the last boat pull away, and she was not in it.”

Saw Titanic Go Down

“With our boat but a short distance from the Titanic, I could see the big steamer distinctly as she went down, and the scenes are too horrifying to relate.  The passengers and crew were praying, while many were crying and the groans could be heard distinctly.  I saw Captain Smith step into the last boat, but he immediately stepped back on the ship.  Then he stepped back into the lifeboat again, but turned, and as he saw the water going over his ship, stepped back on the deck and went down with her.”

Mrs. Asks said she saw Isidor Straus and his faithful wife while they were standing on the deck of the Titanic after the boats had left.  She said Mrs. Straus would not leave her husband, but stuck by his side, although every effort had been made to induce her to enter one of the lifeboats.

“While I managed to get into one of the boats,” continued Mrs. Aks, “I was compelled to stand up as were the other thirty-six passengers, and I almost froze to death.  It was so dark that we could not see anything, and every iceberg that loomed up we thought was a boat waiting for us, and we would turn the head of our boat toward it, only to find that it was a mass of ice.”

Discovered at Daybreak

“We burned paper, handkerchiefs and even pieces of clothing in hope that the light might attract the attention of some passing vessel, but it was daybreak before we were picked up by the Carpathia, and when we got aboard that vessel, I was numb from cold and exposure.

“The first thing I thought of when I was placed on board the steamer was my baby.  I asked everybody if they had seen my baby, and every baby on the steamer was brought to me to look at.

“Presently an Italian came with my baby, wrapped in a sailor’s coat and very cold.  A young lady on the Carpathia gave me some wraps for Philip and a five dollar gold piece.  The reaction put me to bed and I remained there until about the time the Carpathia reached New York.  And oh, there were so many newspapermen there to interview us, and they asked us so many questions, I didn’t know what I was telling them.  I was so weak and upset from the awful experience I had been through with.  And then they wanted to keep me in New York to testify at the investigation, but I couldn’t tell them anymore than they already knew.”

Died on the Boat

Mrs. Aks said that the boat in which she was rescued picked up a young man who was swimming in the ocean, and that while others were picked up out of the water, they died shortly after being placed in the boat.  She said everybody had on lifebelts and she tried to get one on her baby, but it was too large and would not fit.

Asked if she had heard anybody say anything about the dangers of an iceberg on the evening the Titanic crashed into one, or if there was any noticeable change in the temperature, Mrs. Aks replied, “No.”

She Lost Everything

Mrs. Aks is twenty-one years old and while born in Warsaw, Russia, was educated in London, and speaks English well.  She said she lost everything she possessed when the steamer sank and that the baby would have perished, too, had she not carried it with her when she first left the stateroom, as when she went back after some of her belongings, the door of the stateroom was locked and could not be opened.

Her husband has been unable to do any work since the disaster, and as he had sent her all the money he had earned in order that she might come to America, they are now in straitened circumstances and will be cared for by Mr. Greene and his wife until some further arrangements can be made.

Related Biographies:

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Don Lynch


Encyclopedia Titanica (2019) MRS. AKS TELLS HOW SHE ESCAPED DEATH (Norfolk (Virginia) Ledger – Dispatch, Wednesday 24th April 1912, ref: #59, published 20 June 2019, generated 9th August 2020 12:48:09 AM); URL :