Encyclopedia Titanica


Christian Science Monitor

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Miss Caroline Bonnell Says Great Vessel Stood Still in Tracks and Then Gave a Great Shiver


(Written for the United Press by Miss Caroline Bonnell) (Copyright 1912 by the United Press)

Miss Bonnell with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. George D. Wick, her cousin, Miss Mary Wick of Youngstown, O., and her aunt, Miss Elizabeth Bonnell of Southport, Eng., were on board the Titanic. All but Mr. Wick were saved.

NEW YORK--"Well, thank goodness, Nathalie, we are going to see our iceberg at last." That--that single, foolish little sentence--was the one thing of all others that I said to my cousin as the great, beautiful Titanic was shivering beneath her blow. Nathalie Wick and I were lying in our berths half asleep when the blow came. It was terrible. For a second the whole boat just stood stock still in its swift tracks and then it gave a great shiver all through. When we got out on to the deck, everything was as calm as an August afternoon. The sea was as smooth as glass. There wasn't a berg nor an ice floe in sight. And the sky was just thick with stars. I never saw so many stars in my life as there were that night. The water itself glittered blue with their glow. We had just decided to go back to bed when an officer about came up to us and to another group of people who had gotten up to find out what was the matter. "Go below and put on your life belts," he said. "You may need them later." We went down at once and told my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. George Wick, what we had been told. Uncle George just laughed at us. "Why, that's nonsense, girls, " he said. "This boat is all right. She's going along nicely. She just got a glancing blow, I guess." That's the way every one seemed to think and we went into our stateroom, but in a minute or so an officer knocked at the door and told us to go up on the "A" deck. He said there was really no danger and that it was just a precautionary measure. When we got on the deck uncle and aunt were there and I went down again to another part of the steamer and got my aunt Elizabeth. When I got back with her, there were crowds of people standing all around. Nobody seemed very excited; every one was talking and it seemed to be the general idea that we would soon be ordered back to bed. Just then an officer came up to us and said we should go up to the next deck--the boat deck. By that timer nearly every one was up. Mrs. John Jacob Astor was there sitting in a steamer chair. Her husband, Colonel Astor, was beside her and her maid was helping her to finish her dressing. THere was no confusion here even yet, although we noticed that the boat was beginning to list to starboard. Miss Bonnell then goes on to tell of the removal of the women and children into the boats. And those that were in the lifeboats which were close to the vessel say that the orchestra played till the very last and that the men went down into the sea singing "Nearer My God to Thee." In the lifeboats it was terrible. Some of the women had scarcely any clothes on at all, and they suffered greatly with the cold. One woman had white satin slippers and an evening dress on. I don't know whether she had that attire on when we struck ot whether, in her excitement, she put it on by mistake. We were provided with the most miserable little oil lamps I have ever seem. I guess it didn't have any kerosene in it for it kept going out as fast as we could light it with the matches which the steward happened to bring along. We couldn't have seen at all nor signalled had it not been for the fact that one woman had a cane that had a little electric light in the end of it. As far as I know there was no food or water in the craft, but I will not complain of that for we were the luckiest, I guess, of all the survivors. The other boats all leaked and the women told us afterwards that the water was up to their knees. And that water was below freezing point 31 degrees to be even. Miss Bonnell here tells of the long wait for the Carpathia and the transfer to the rescue ship.
It wasn't long before they let down a little wooden seat about two feet long and a foot wide. Men on the deck held the ends of the cables to which this seat was attached. The lifeboat was bobbing up and down on the waves and it was pretty hard to stand up in it long enough to climb out to the seat, but you can wager we all did it. After we picked up all the lifeboats we steamed again about the scene of the disaster. In among the glassy, towering peaks of ice we threaded our way, seeing a bit of wreckage here and a baby's bonnet or a man's glove there, but no boats, and at noon we turned toward Ambrose lightship and home. The distress of the Titanic survivor's secured for them every concession from the passengers of the Carpathia. Women and men alike gave up their staterooms to us and slept on the floors of the library and smoking room. Mrs. John Jacob Astor was given one of the best rooms in the cabin and she never emerged from it during the trip. Every one on the Carpathia was kindness itself. Captain Rostron, the surgeon, the stewards, every one could not do enough for us. And to think that Nathalie and I wished to see an iceberg all the way over.


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) WOMAN SURVIVOR OF TITANIC TELLS OF THE LAST HOURS OF SHIP (Christian Science Monitor, Friday 19th April 1912, ref: #1209, published 28 August 2003, generated 30th March 2023 02:09:26 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/woman-survivor-titanic-tells-last-hours-ship.html