Encyclopedia Titanica


New York Times

    Hide Ads
Survivor Says He Heard Command by Veteran Skipper to Take More Aboard
Mrs. Emil Taussig Declares Men Were Barred from Boats with Ample Room
The fact that Capt. Smith realized that some of the Titanic's lifeboats were launched when only half filled with passengers was disclosed last night by Peter D. Daly of Lima, Peru, one of the first cabin survivors, who relates that he saw the veteran skipper rush to the railing after the boats had put out from the sinking ship, and call: “Bring those boats back, they are only half filled!"

“Of course," added Mr. Daly, “it is a fact that many boats did get away only half filled. I can relate merely the incident I witnessed. How many boats obeyed the Captain's order to return I am unable to tell."

Mr. Daly, who is the representative at Haes & Sons, stock brokers of London, says that he was in his cabin when the Titanic struck the iceberg.

"I had on my pajamas and my slippers,” he said, "and when I felt the shock, I slipped on my overcoat, and went on deck to see what had happened. I was told that the ship had struck an iceberg, and I then proceeded to the port side, but could see nothing but some ice which had fallen on the deck. I heard one young woman say to another: ‘Oh, come and let’s see the berg. We never have never seen one before.'

"No one seemed to think the ship was in danger. In fact, our fears were set at rest by the officers, who told us that the Titanic was in no danager. [sic]

"Meanwhile I returned to my cabin and dressed. I again went on deck and I was told to put on my life preserver. I returned to my cabin and adjusted my life preserver. I also took my wallet of money.

"By this time the Titanic had begun to list forward on the port side, and the people were being assisted into the lifeboats. Let me say right here that I never saw a braver set of men in my life than the officers of the Titanic, who did all they could to assuage the fears of the women and see them safely launched from the sinking ship.

"I had taken my stand on the starboard deck near the Captain's bridge, and I made three trips across to the port side to try to ascertain what was happening. I could see nothing but the increased listing of the he boat. I never caught sight of the iceberg, nor could I see any ice floes in the water.

"Many persons have told how the ship's orchestra was playing all the time the Titanic was sinking, and this I can repeat is a fact. They struck up lively airs, ragtime music, until shortly before the Titanic took her final plunge.

“The water had begun to creep over the deck where I was standing, when a woman rushed up to me and said ‘Oh, save me! save me!’ Just at that moment I saw one man jump overboard head first, and I replied to the woman, ‘Good lady, save yourself. Only God can save you now.' The woman was terribly frightened, and she begged me to help her make the jump. I took her by the arm and helped her overboard, and then jumped over myself, just as a big wave swept over the deck and carried me out some distance from the sides of the sinking vessel. I never saw the outline of the Titanic after that moment.

"After a struggle I found myself again on the surface of the water, floating on my back. It must have been just at the minute that the Titanic went out of sight, for I felt myself drawn back toward the vessel by the suction. I know there was suction in the wake of the sinking ship, in spite of what others may say, for I was twisted and turned in the eddies and rapidly drawn toward the ship until I was thrown away from the spot by the force of what must have been an explosion.

"I don't know whether it was an explosion. I heard no sound. All I could see was a mass of wreckage and ice. I saw a number of chairs floating around me and men were struggling desperately to get hold of them. There was a cry of despair, awful to hear, that pierced the silence when the great ship disappeared.

"I don't know whether it was a minute or a half hour that I was drifting about in the icy water, when suddenly I bumped into a lifeboat and called for the men in it to give me a hand. I was pulled in by R. N. Williams and George Rheims. There were about thirty men and women in the boat. I see by the statement of Col. Gracie and Mr. Rheims that they thought the passengers were mostly stokers. I do not think this is accurate, as is shown by the fact that Col. Gracie didn't show Mr. Rheims, and they may have mistaken others in the boat who were passengers for stokers.

“Even in the lifeboat it was a desperate struggle for life, because of the confusion. We were only saved by the bravery and composure of such men as Rheims, Gracie, Mellars, and Williams.”

Mr. Daly says that hundreds of lives could have been saved had the boats been filled, and he believes they would have been filled had the people on the Titanic realized that the vessel was really sinking.

"Why," he said, "I overheard numerous men telling the ladies, 'This is only a precaution; good-by, you'll be back in the morning for breakfast; there's no danger.'

"I have no criticism to make of the crew or any of the men on the Titanic. They all were heroes. I have heard that several persons were shot for crowding into the lifeboats ahead of women, but I think these reports which were thought to be pistol shots were the rockets sent up as signals. I saw one officer with a small pistol."

The wreck of the Titanic is the second accident on the sea which has befallen Mr. Daly. About ten years ago he was on a petroleum steamer returning to Peru, when the vessel struck a derelict in the Bay of Callao and was saved only by the buoyancy of the petroleum tanks which she carried.

Mrs. Emil Taussig, who was saved with her eighteen-year-old daughter, Ruth, while her husband stood by on the deck, also tells a story of half-empty boats, but she adds that incompetent stewards, unable to handle an oar, were assigned to man them.

"When we came on deck," said Mrs. Taussig, "Capt. Smith was preparing the eighth boat to be let down. There was only one seaman in sight, but a number of stewards had rushed up between the crowding men and women. The Captain turned to the stewards and asked them if they knew how to row. They answered ‘Yes' hastily, and four of them were allowed to jump in.

"Only twenty women were near the boat, and these were put in. My daughter Ruth was among the first, but I said that I wouldn't go if my husband did not accompany me. There was room for fourteen more after the last woman had found her place, and they all pleaded to let the men take the empty seats.

"But the Captain said that he would not allow it. I was frantic. There was that boat, ready to be lowered into the water and only half full. Then the order came to lower. The men were pleading for permission to step in, and one came forward to take a place next to his wife. I heard a shot and I am sure it was he that went down.

"Then the boat swung out from the deck. I was still with my husband, and Ruth had already disappeared below the deck. I gave a great cry---I remember perfectly calling out the name of my daughter---and two men tore me from my husband's side, lifted me, one by the head and one by the feet, and dropped me over the side of the deck into the lowering boat. I struck on the back of my head, but I had furs on, and that fact probably saved me from greater injury.

"The terrible thing was that we had so much room left for the poor men who were snatched away. When we got to the water the four stewards who had told the Captain they could row couldn't row at all. There was only one seaman to command the boat and an English woman whose name I cannot now remember took an oar and rowed until we were half a mile from the Titanic. My daughter also had furs on. The sailor took them from her.

“’You’ll not need them,’ he said, and we never saw them again. Yes, we saw the boat go down. Gradually as she sank the lights in front would disappear. In that way we could see how slowly she sank---it was very slow.”

Mrs. Taussig, who is living with her father, Herman Mandelbaum, at 1,229 Park avenue, complained that there was no alarm to awake the passengers. She says that the lack of sailors to man the lifeboats and the disorder in filling them was due to the fact that most of them were still below when the necessity of lowering became urgent.

She said that her husband, who was abandoned while the half-filled boat was lowered, was an expert oarsman and volunteered his services to the Captain.

“But he was ordered back," she said, “while the four stewards who couldn’t row at all were permitted to jump in.”


Mark Baber, USA


 Upload Media   Contact Us


Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) SMITH CALLED BACK HALF-FILLED BOATS (New York Times, Monday 22nd April 1912, ref: #3520, published 20 August 2004, generated 12th August 2022 09:54:07 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/smith-called-back-half-filled-boats.html