After the men had had dinner the taking of their statements was rapidly proceeded with, and it was soon announced that a number of them were at liberty to leave the dock premises if they wished to do so. Most of them availed themselves of this permission, and from a number of them stories of their individual experiences in the trying hours following the Titanic’s collision with the ice berg were gathered. In the main these went over familiar ground. One or two points of interest may be mentioned. A man who stated he was near Mr Bruce Ismay declared that Mr Ismay worked hard and assiduously in putting women into the boats, and it was only at the last moment that he yielded to the importunity of a boat practically full of women to enter it and help to navigate it. Mr Ismay, said this man, had been scandalously ill-used at the American enquiry. Two or three of the men spoke of acts of shooting or threats to shoot on the part of officers. According to one statement shots were fired in the steerage to deter some Italians who were getting out of hand. Another man said that as he was going on deck to his boat station he was threatened with a revolver by an officer, who was evidently under a misapprehension as to his position and duties.
Harry Senior, a fireman, in conversation with a press representative, said that as he was swimming to the boat after diving from the ship he saw Captain Smith in the water. The captain was swimming with a baby in his arms, raising it out of the water as be swam on his back. He swam to a boat, put the baby in, and then swam back to the ship. Senior said that he also had picked up a baby, but it died from the cold before he could reach the boat. Another stoker stated that while the boats were being lowered the band was playing a waltz tune, and several of the stokers ware dancing and smoking.
A stoker described how he escaped by means of a raft consisting of a cabin door and a few other wooden objects which had been hastily collected. Owing to the fearful cold six of those on the raft died before they could be taken off. A fireman stated that in his room there were not enough lifebelts to go round, and several men had to lose time looking round for a belt, which they ought to have had beside their bunks.
Another fireman described how some of the women refused to be parted from their husbands. There were five whom he saw actually break away from the officers who were trying to get them into the boats. They clung to their husbands’ necks and absolutely refused to leave them. He added, “We heard from the boats the awful cries from the Titanic as she sank, and to drown them I asked one of the women to sing. She started “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” and we all took it up.
Related Biographies:Joseph Bruce Ismay
Edward John Smith