The View from the Caronia

At 10:30 that night we received a message from the Titanic tosay that she had struck an iceberg. She would then be about two hundredand forty miles away. We established communication with the Germansteamer Breslau, about forty miles from the Titanic, and the Carpathia, then about sixty miles away. At about midnight the Titanic reportedthat she was sinking, and asked ships near by to hasten to her. At 2a.m. she reported that she was sinking rapidly, and that was the lastwe heard from her. It was not until much later that we were informed ofthe seriousness of the disaster, thinking that the Carpathia would bethere in time. Captain Barr was not particularly perturbed. Ittherefore came as a great shock to hear that so many people had losttheir lives. A friend of mine who actually went down in the ship, butwas eventually saved, told me that Captain Smith behaved with wonderfulheroism. Amongst the male passengers very few escaped. They watched theboats being lowered, very often not full, with only women and childrenin them; but obeyed orders with the greatest courage and calmness. Theengine staff stuck to their posts till the ship went down, keeping thepumps and the electric lights going to the very last moment. Thepurser's staff, also the doctor's, were drowned to a man and themajority of stewards were also lost. The purser, Mr. McElroy, who was afriend of mine, was standing on the B deck rail just before she sank.He made a remark that will live for ever at sea. Looking at the menaround him, he said: " It will be sand in the morning for breakfast. "


Charles Spedding (1926) Reminiscences of Transatlantic Travellers, Chapter7. The Sinking of the "Titanic"

Charles Spedding was the purser aboard the Caronia at the time ofthe Titanic sinking. He later survived the sinking of the Laconia. Heended his career with Cunard as the purser of the Aquitania. He went onto write a book about his career at sea.

Related Biographies:

Hugh Walter McElroy
Edward John Smith

Acknowledgements

Michael Poirier

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