My Experience of the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic

Laura Cribb's personal account of the sinking of the Titanic

Laura Cribb's personal account of the sinking of the Titanic

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Steward's Button

My Experience of the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic

This is a Cunard button given to me
By my bedroom steward on the Carpathia.

Father and I set sail for America on the R.M.S. Titanic on April 10th 1912. 1st and last trip, for when within a 50 hr trip to New York, she struck a monstrous iceberg, the upper portion of which crashed on to the deck close to the wireless operators cabin, and the lower portion crashed into the bow of the boat. The ship struck at 11:20 on April 15th (on Sunday). I was not in my bunk until nearly 10 mins, to 11, but was soon sound asleep. I have a very powerful instinct, and I very clearly remember that I suddenly awoke, and with slight shiver sat bolt upright in my bunk, Iam sure I sat there for quite some 3 min, having only the deep breathing of my companions, and the splash of the waves against the port hole, when suddenly the ship gave a violent jerk and then the engines stopped, and a moment after one of my companions woke, and fervently clasping her hands cried out, "Oh my God what has happened?" Then she turned to me and said, " Will you go and find out if any serious accident has happened? As I cannot leave my children." So I got down from my bunk, dressed as quickly as I could, and hurried out into the main passage, which was soon full of people all asking the question "What has happened?"

I had only been in the main passage a few minutes when I heard father calling me, and I answered as loudly as I could and soon he was beside me, and he asked me if I was fully dressed, and I replied that I was, so we went up to the end of the passage to talk with some of our fellow passengers.

After we had been laughing and chatting for awhile, my father turned to me and said that we should probably have to go get in the life boat for half –an-hour or more, as we had met with an accident and they would want to lessen the weight of the ship, and get some of us out of the way, so that they could investigate and repair the damages, but I am sure father knew that something very serious had happened and that once away from the ship we should never return. Just as father finished speaking to me, the Captain and the Officers came through the passage, shouting as loudly as the could "Women and Children must get life belts on at once, then go up on deck."

So I immediately pushed my way back to my cabin, when I found my companions anxiously waiting for me to return with the news, so I told them just what I had heard, then I got up on my bunk and took down all the life belts from the racks, I took one of these for myself, and gave the remainder to my companions, telling them that if they came out into the main passage, someone would assist them to get the life belts on. I then rushed back to father who took the life belt from me, and told me to hurry along with him at once to the deck, and we were the first up there, so we ran swiftly across the deck to the iron stairway leading to the second class deck, which we ascended and easily got over the little gate at the top.

Then we went through the salon and up to the 1st class staterooms and out on to the deck where the life boats were ready to be lowered. As soon as we appeared, and one officer came up to us and told Father to put the life belt on me, which he did at once and then father told me to go and get as near to the life boats as I could. I then left him, and neither of us spoke as we expected to meet again. I was no able to get into the first two boats being lowered but was put into the third, but when we had been lowered about half way down, one of the pulleys got stuck, and we all thought we should be overturned into the sea, but however it started working again just in time to prevent such a calamity.

We had a very difficult time indeed getting away from the Titanic, but the sailors with the help of four females managed to get away from the gradually sinking ship. I must say here that there was very little panic indeed, as the truth of what had happened was not known by a very large number of the passengers until we were away from the ship, then we could see for ourselves what had happened. Though we did not realize just then what it would mean to us in a very short while.

We had only been out about half-an-hour or so when suddenly the lights of the ship went out, and immediately after there was a most terrific, thunderous explosion, mingled with the most terrible shrieks and groans from the helpless and doomed passengers who were left on the wreck of the great ship, the explosion having caused the ship to split in half, and it sank very rapidly indeed. Since leaving my father I had not uttered one word, but as soon as the ship exploded I gave on awful shriek and fell unconscious. When I became conscious again it was dawn and a more beautiful scene that you would not have wished to see.

I asked how long I had been unconscious and was told nearly six hours. I was pretty well frozen and my limbs ached the more dreadfully from having the life belt on all the while. After awhile the Quarter Master (who was in charge of our boat) lifted me up a little and pointed the Carpathia to which we were rowing as quickly as possible, but it seemed as if we should never reach it, every minute seemed an hour, but in about an hour and a half we reached it. I was so stiff with the intense cold that I could not climb the rope ladder, so I had to have the belt and rope adjusted under my arms and round my waist.

As soon as I reached the top, tow blankets were thrown over and about me, and I was carried to the salon, which served well as the hospital that morning. After I had lain still for about 10 mins a nurse came and rubbed me and gave me a cup of very hot black coffee without sugar or milk in it, this she made me drink at once, then she wrapped me up again and went to attend some others. After I was warmed up a little I was helped to a cabin where a nurse was waiting to put me to bed. I had to sleep on the top bunk and as my nerves were ver much shaken I became excited in my sleep and only woke up just in time to prevent myself from falling. After breakfast next morning I was able to go out of my cabin, and as I went through the salon I found everyone at the notice board for news of their loved ones. It was not till then that I finally realized what it would all mean to me, even so I was to weak to fully realize it. I could not think or remember anything for about a month after it was a terrific blow to me when I could understand and realize but while on the Carpathia I had a very faint idea that my dear precious father and I would meet in New York, as I thought it possible that he had been taken up on another liner, but such was not the case God willed it otherwise.

It was very foggy that day a dense yellow fog hung about us so that we made very little progress and the fog horn was going the whole time. The third day was glorious, and we had a very dazzling view of a huge field of ice. The first two days we were on board the Caprathia the bands men were no allowed to play their instruments at all, and were told to assist the ladies as much as possible.

But the third day they played hymns and other soothing selections of music. At last we arrived in New York under cover of darkness about 9:30 on April 18th. We were then taken to a room and given supper and money, (and clothing for those that needed it, as some of the passengers were very scantily clad through having to vacate the ship so quickly)

Then after answering a few questions we were whirled away in ambulance cars to several different hospitals. I was taken to St Vincent’s, and was soon in bed, but friends managed to locate me quickly, and came to fetch me, so I had to get up, and was then taken to their home where we arrived about 12:30 that night, and it was not till the following day that I began to feel the reaction set in, and then I was Ill for nearly two months.

Written by

Laura Marie Cribb

Survivor of the S.S.Titanic

Related Biographies:

Laura May Cribb

Acknowledgements

Courtesy of Ben R. Roberts

Citation

Encyclopedia Titanica (2001) My Experience of the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic ( ref: #115, published 31 March 2001, generated 4th July 2020 06:44:09 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/my-experience-of-the-wreck-of-the-rms-titanic.html