A Newhaven A.B. Who Has Faced Many
Perils of the Deep
Mr Will Clifford Weller, who was an able-seaman aboard the White Star liner “Titanic,” and who is among the survivors, has, since his return to England by the “Carpathia,” been on a visit to his mother, who resides at No. 6, Parkstone Villas, Railway Road, Newhaven. He was accompanied by his wife, to whom he was married only last September, she having been in service at Seaford, and who is a native of a village near Chichester.
Mr. Will Weller, who is about 20 years of age, was called on by a representative of the Chronicle on Monday morning. The disappointing announcement was, however, made that he had left Newhaven for his home at Southampton by the early morning train that very day. Immediately on his arrival he had to report himself to H. M. Customs, and had, as a matter of fact, to obtain special permission to come to Newhaven to see his mother.
Mrs Weller sen., showed unfeigned delight at having her son safe and sound after the terrible experience he had gone through on a memorable night. He is the youngest member of her family of six. When the news of the disaster was first reported she had naturally been much perturbed and had eagerly scanned the list of survivors.
From the first she was hopeful, although her son’s name, which was at first spelt correctly was afterwards given in different ways. She was not the only one who betrayed anxiety on his account, for she had another son, who holds an important position in one of the big passenger and ocean-going services. This son is a quartermaster in the [Union] Castle Line, and also lives at Southampton. He came to see her directly the dread intelligence of the loss of the “Titanic” became known, and glad he was, from special inquiries, to be able to reassure the widowed mother that “Will” was safe.
“I am sorry you are not able to see my son Will,” she remarked to the Chronicle representative, “but I don’t think he would have cared to say anything about the affair, as he is practically under ‘arrest;’ I mean by that, he has to give evidence before the Board of Trade inquiry. All I can say is that while here he continually spoke of the great kindness shown towards him and the other members of the crew on their landing at New York and again at Plymouth, when they came back in the ‘Carpathia’ [sic, actually Lapland]. The men were provided with everything at New York, food, clothing – everything down to razors and toothbrushes.”
Asked as to whether her rescued son had said much about the incidents connected with the disaster, Mrs Weller shook her head and answered with a sad smile, “It was too terrible a time to ever forget, and I don’t think it will ever be blotted from my son’s memory. Of course, he told me a great deal of what he went through, but I don’t think it would be right to say anything myself.”
“You don’t happen to know how he came into the lifeboat? Was he one of the crew told off to take change of a boat for the safety of passengers?” These were two of the leading questions asked, to which Mrs Weller answered that she believed he has jumped or swam to one of the boats, from which was inferred that her son must have been one f the last to leave the ship on her settling down into the deep.
Asked as to his connection with Newhaven, Mrs Weller said her son, who was known as “Cliff” but more generally as “Will,” had formerly worked on the R.M.S. “Sussex,” and about eight years ago was invalided out from the Navy through an injured foot, for which he had an allowance of about ninepence per day.
“He was fortunate in being among those saved from the ‘Titanic,’” Mrs Weller added, “but he has been rather unfortunate, poor lad, in his sea experience. He was aboard the ‘Olympic’ at the time of the collision with the ‘Hawke,’ and had been in another shipping disaster – I can’t remember for the moment the name of the ship.”
“But he has been lucky !” – “His life has been spared.”
In the course of further conversation, Mrs Weller said her husband had been connected with the Cross-Channel service and had for twenty-eight years held a berth on one of the boats. She said the White Star Company were [sic] treating the surviving crew very kindly and were, up to the present, paying their wages.
In reference to the large sums of money that were being subscribed for the widows and sufferers of those who had been sacrificed, this brought forth the remark from Mrs Weller that she hoped some appropriation would be made from the funds to those of the crew who, like her son, had been saved, but had lost their kit and all belongings.