VERSIONS VARY OF CAPTAIN’S DEATH
First Report That He Committed Suicide denied By Many Survivors.
SEEN STRUGGLING IN WATER
Fell From Titanic’s Bridge, Saved Baby and Regained Ship Before Going Down.
There were many versions today as to just how Captain Smith perished. The first rumor that spread, shortly after the Carpathia docked, was that the old sailor shot himself. Further investigation among the survivors brought out the answer that he had lost his balance while standing on the bridge of the vessel and plunged into the ocean.
And again it was said that the captain stood firm to the last, and went down with his ship.
H. H. Lee, a ship’s printer aboard the Carpathia, was one of the first who circulated the story that Captain Smith committed suicide. Lee stated that he had taken in four members of the Titanic’s crew in his bunk, and among them was a quartermaster who saw the captain calmly walk to the chart room, draw a revolver from his pocket and fire a shot through the right side of his head.
This was done, Lee said, after the life boats had all left the doomed vessel and Smith was satisfied that he had performed his duty. The ship’s printer ventured further to state that he had been told by the Titanic’s survivors that twice previous to killing himself, the captain had been found on the act of taking his life. On the bridge of the Titanic, according to Lee, Chief Officer Wilde snatched the revolver from Smith’s hand and blew his brains out.
Four stewards of the Carpathia, who were surrounded by half a hundred newspaper men also stated that they had been given to understand that Captain Smith shot himself.
Survivors Among Passengers Say Captain Fell From Bridge Into The Ocean.
This theory is offset, however, by a number of the passengers of the Titanic. George Brayton, a prominent businessman of Los Angeles, Cal. Tells a thrilling story of how Captain Smith met death. It was after a majority of the life boats had been filled and Brayton was standing just below the captain when the latter lost his balance and fell from the bridge into the sea.
Smith appeared on the surface of the water and swam toward the sinking vessel. Fifteen yards away was the body of an infant which attracted the struggling sailor. He caught hold of the child and then with his right arm made for a life boat. The little one was safely put aboard and the captain resumed his struggle for the sinking Titanic.
Regained Bridge Is Story Told.
The women in the boat screamed for the old man to grasp a line which was thrown to him, but he refused it and kept on for the ship. A junior officer lowered a line and the captain was hauled aboard. He was urged to make for a life boat but still he refused and took his place at the bridge again. He was alone, when Mr Brayton was taken off in one of the last boats. There was room for the captain, but he responded, “This is my place and I will remain here and go down with the ship.”
Still another story was put forth that the last three men on board the sinking ship were Captain Smith, Colonel Astor and Major Butt. The three had command of the situation to the last and were carried below together. They did not believe that the accident would prove serious until the explosions were heard and the boat tilted at 45 degrees. It was not until then that Captain Smith showed a revolver, and this was only done with the hope of holding the men back to allow the women to be taken off.
Related Biographies:Harold H. Lee
Edward John Smith