By A Nephew Of A Mt. Vernon Man
Who Was Rescued In One Of The Life Boats
Charles Burgess Arrives At Home In England
And Tells Interesting Story To A Newspaper
A Thrilling Account Is Told By The Survivor
Mr. John Brining of this city is in receipt of a copy of the Swanage and Wareham Guardian, published in England, which contains the following interesting interview with Mr. Brining's nephew, Charles Burgess, who was on board the Titanic and who was rescued in a lifeboat.
Just upon half-past seven the second local survivor from the terrible disaster arrived from Southampton in the person of Mr. Chas. Burgess, second class baker of the Titanic. A large crowd had assembled at the station to give him a welcome home. Although no cheers were given the hearty congratulations he received on all hands as he made his way out of the station in company with his elder brother were none the less sincere. By a coincidence it happened to be the weekly practice night of the bellringers, and soon after his arrival the bells of the Parish Church rang our a merry peal which seemed to welcome him home. It is just two years ago last month that Mr. Burgess joined the White Star Company, making his first voyage in the Oceanic, in which he sailed for 18 months. After the Olympic came out of dock from being repaired as the result of the collision with H. M. S. Hawke, he was transferred to that ship, doing five trips in her. On the Titanic coming into service he was transferred to that vessel.
In conversation with our local correspondent Mr. Burgess, describing his experiences, said that out of his 24 trips across the Western ocean he never had a finer trip. The sea was perfectly calm and the weather conditions were splendid. The gallant ship was making a fine passage, everything running quite smoothly. On the Sunday evening he went on duty at nine o'clock, being in the night-watch. There were four of them working together, the first and second class bakehouse being on the D deck. They had just had supper when they felt a slight shock, and all of them simultaneously exclaimed "Hallo! there goes a blade!" They took no further notice and went on working. The bread were due out of the oven then (11:50 p.m.) and they got it out, and he then prepared the oven for the scones. He proceeded to put the butter in to melt for the corn bread which the American passengers are fond of. No sooner had he done this when the order came, "All hands on deck; bring your lifebelts." He was proceeding up to the boat deck when he remembered the butter, and, thinking it might melt too much and catch alight, he returned and took it out, placing it on a cold stove. Proceeding, Mr. Burgess said: I then went to the boat deck at my station, which was No. 13 boat on the starboard side. As we stood there awaiting orders someone told me to go and call the other bakers who were off duty and had turned in. I went down to our quarters and told them to get up and come up with lifebelts. They simply rediculed me and told me when the ship was sinking to give them another call. I went down again later, but they took no notice and only abused me for disturbing their sleep. I never saw them again. On returning we were ordered to get in the boat and lower to A deck and take in women and children. We took in about 40 women and six children, and as there were no more about ten male passengers were told to get in. We were then loweed down, and we totalled about 70. Then came the most exciting moment of my experience. We had got down within five feet of the water when they stopped lowering, those above evidently thinking we had reached the water. On looking up we saw No. 15 boat coming down on top of us. The shouts of our coxswain and bowman to lower away were useless. It was a case of chance, and our coxswain ordered the ropes (falls) to be cut and let the boat drop. Fortunately, both severed together, and we were so evenly sitting in our life boat that she dropped on the keel quite evenly. Then we were faced with another danger. Just below us was the sluice, out of which the water was pouring from the condensers. As we dropped we pushed away from the ship's side with our oars, and the rush of water miraculously caught the bow and forced us away just in time as the other boat dropped alongside. We pulled away from the ship for about ten minutes and then laid on our ours waiting, as we expected to get orders to return to the ship again. We had no idea that she would sink or that the damage done ws so great. It was then we noticed that she was sinking by the head. Slowly the lights from the portholes became extinguished as the water rose up deck after deck.
On being asked if it was correct about the band playing "Nearer, My God To Thee," Burgess replied "yes, it is. I heard it distinctly. It sounded grand across the water." Just before she sank for good all the lights went out, the stern rose high into the air, and then, as the ship broke in two, the stern righted for a few seconds and then the rattle and rumbling as if everyting was rushing out of her was awful, followed by the groans and screams of the drowning and the explosions of the boilers as the ship glided beneath the waves. To drown the cries, and groans of the drowning we started singing in our boat as the passengers were getting very restless. I'm quite sure that those left on board did not relaize that boat would sink. We pulled about all night, following a green light in the first boat. Providentially the sea was calm, in fact I never knew it finer off the Banks. It was beautifully starlight, but imtensley cold. I was only clad in my white ducks, just as I worked in the bakehouse. The six children were placed together in a sack bag and put in the cuddy under the stern bulkhead, where the pretty dears slept thoughout the night until brought out to be placed on board the Carpathia. They knew nothing of the awful tragedy that had taken place. Daylight seemd ages coming, and when it did it seemed to come all at once. Wherever one looked there was nothing but ice. Once we thought we could see a schooner with all sails set, but it turned out to be an iceberg. Never shall I forget the feeling of all on board our boat when the Carpathia hove in sight. We who were at the oars pulled with renewed spirits, and one by one the boats took up the hymn "Pull for the Shore, Sailor," as we put our backs to the work. The officers and crew of the Carpathia were kind and attentive beyond all praise, as were the American people on our arrival in New York. They fitted us all out with a double suit of everything. On our homeward journey by the Lapland we were treated most kindly. I was fortunate enough to be given something to do which greatly helped me to forget the awful experience of the past days.
In conclusion, Mr. Burgess said all praise should be given to the men of the Carpathia who, when they learnt of the accident volunteered to a man to go down and help stoke; also their own engineering staff, who, poor fellows, remained at their posts "faithful even unto death."