Conclusion of Mrs. Brown’s Titanic Story

End of Statement of the Great Disaster

Thursday, May 30th, 1912- The Gravity of the situation was there and then relieved, if the expression on faces was any criterion. The tense mental anxiety was perceptibly mitigated. A large number of the passengers living out of New York, were momentarily embarrassed for funds, and only needed enough to tide them over. The committee waited upon the owner—the survivors demands being made known, he conceded all. The demand was that the White Star Line furnish transportation and other necessities to their destination.

 

The second officer, who acted as spokesman for the crew of the Titanic stated that their services were at an end when the Titanic sank, and upon reaching New York they would be sent adrift. It was immediately seen to that their transportation to England would be given, and also employment on reaching there.

LISTING THEIR NEEDS

The three succeeding days were spent among the passengers, listing their needs and making provision in the way of clothes, as many escaped in their night-clothing, over which was drawn a cloak. A number who were in our boat had only sandals on and no stockings.

 

The day before landing, three Irish girls were found in the steerage, they having kept their berths since the rescue, having no clothes and refusing to rise with blankets only to wrap around them, they were among the passengers going to New York.

As the Carpathia was nearing the harbor, it was surrounded by smaller boats that went out to meet it, in which were newspaper men and photographers to take flashlights. They impeded the progress of the Carpathia. The excitement of this and the Captain calling through a megaphone to the pilot to dispurse the crafts or he would be unable to reach the docks, and the seeing and hearing of the multitude of humanity on the wharf so frightened these women that they refused to quit the ship and go with the ladies of the Travelers Aid Society, who came on to take them to a place  of safety until friends were found and arrangements were made for them to either return to their homes in Europe, or other destinations in America. Feeling it a duty to remain with those, and after the army of Red Cross doctors and nurses, White Star Line officials and general aid corps, had taken leave of the ship, we found it was necessary to improvise beds in the lounge, so I remained with them on board all night. There were many who had friends on the dock, but did not know them, so with each one was sent an escort and the names called out, and those finding their friends would return to the ship and report, and we kept a list of their whereabouts. For some of those remaining, telegrams were sent that night and the next morning. Friends of many came aboard, and the others less fortunate, consented to go with the ladies of the Travelers’ Aid, conditionally that they would be allowed to see me at the Ritz-Carlton, where I would be, and I promised to have their various consuls there, and we would try to find their friends, whose addresses their husbands had when the ship sank. Those took some days afterwards.

 

REWARD FOR THE CREW

            The next morning on the ship, I was joined with five members of the committee, who brought on $5,000 so they said, in funds to be distributed among the much overworked crew of the Carpathia. This being done, an order was given for the loving-cup to be presented to the captain on the return of his ship from Naples. Having taken a list of those of the survivors who were to be assisted, a copy was made and given to the White Star agents who came on the boat.

The further work of the committee of the survivors of the Titanic was to see, by keeping check, that the company was keeping their promise, and that all were cared for.

The only comment that could be made was that the Carpathia did not follow the customary procedure on boats. Where there is death on board, they usually bury them at night, in place of adding to the horror of passengers by burying the men who died on board after being rescued from the collapsible boat at the hour of four in the afternoon, when the passengers were around. They possibly may have had a good and sufficient reason for such departure from the usual procedure. The men who died were rescued by the lifeboat in which were the four prominent lady personages. In rescuing these, the plug in their lifeboat was dislodged and a foot of water covered the bottom of their boat, which to prevent the filling of the boat, it was needful that they bail it out with a large dipper hanging from the seat. In the boat two of the men rescued, I was told, died and lay for hours in the bottom of the boat during the six hours on the open sea before the passengers were rescued by the Carpathia.

It was very apparent that the consideration and solicitation shown toward the unfortunate survivors had been taken exception to from some sources. On one occasion, when ladies of the committee stopped to inquire the way to reach the second and third class, they were intercepted by the doctor, as he emerged from the quarters of the secluded plutocrat. He approached one of the ladies and said “Madam, we have the situation under perfect control. Blankets have been cut up, and we are having clothes made, “Cutting up blankets would not soothe their tortured minds.” Then and there, we were more determined, and a notice was posted that the hours of eleven to one and three to six the committee would be in the dining-salon. During these hours, the survivors came in twos and fours and poured out their grief and story of distress. Between flows of tears, they unburdened their sorrows, that lay like a weight upon their breasts. The gratitude shown by these people and the evidence that the great mental strain they were under was partly relieved when they knew that some one was interested in their welfare, was proof conclusive to the committee that they were working along the right lines, regardless of how the doctor felt in the matter, feeling that he was voicing only the sentiment of the secluded autocrat, as a number of these foreign women of the first and second class were told that now they had no funds their arrival in America would be under the Alien Law. They were terrified at their being subject to such humiliation. They were fully convinced that such was not the case that they would be provided with means and transportation. They arose and said their loads was then and there lifted, and their minds were very much relieved.

Another instance when the ladies were made to feel that they were overstepping their bounds in their endeavor to relieve the situation for those people, was when the resolutions were read. They were told emphatically it was an absolute affront to the owner and manager who was on board. We replied we were only compelled to do what he had neglected as his duty. If this interest had been shown by him, it would have placed him in a very different light than that of doing as he did, concealing himself behind closed doors, to the exclusion of everyone. The contrast was extremely noticeable, as he was the most conspicuous figure on the Titanic before she went down. He was six feet tall and of the Orinental [sic] type, with manner of pacing the deck with an expression of intensity of purpose and determination, he had always been in extreme evidence. Assuming this attitude at this time was extremely ridiculous.

In passing up the stairs at noon, on the day we were rescued, two tall men stood aside for me to pass. Looking up, I saw the face of the man and his friend who had told me to get my life-preserver, and who later put me into the boat, when I was walking way on the Titanic. Putting out my hand, it is needless to say how profuse I was in expressing my gratitude. I asked to whom I was indebted for my life and safety. He handed me their cards, reading “Calderhead and Bough, buyers for Kimball Brothers, New York. They stated that, in seeing the distress of many women who were bereft of their husbands and some who had perished, it made them feel exceedingly embarrassed, and their attitude in keeping out of sight other than when they came to the dining salon for meals, was that of men feeling that their lives being saved was somewhat of a stigma, and the worn expression of their faces, as though they continually were asking themselves the question, what woman’s place in the lifeboat did they fill, and in an apologetic they told how inadvertently they caught the last boat being lowered half-empty. They told me of the navigation laws restricting men from the boats when women and children were on board. I replied that such must have been the ancient law, and now that equal rights existed, truly all should be relieved, as I chance; that their conscience on that score should be relieved, as I was living evidence of their thoughtfulness to womankind, as at the time they placed me in the boat, I had no intention of getting off, but was most concerned in knowing what was taking place on the other side of the steamer, and marveling all the while at the clumsiness of the crew in letting down the lifeboats, comparing the discipline of what I had seen in my travels on German liners, where a daily drill of military tactics in handling lifeboats took place. It was truly shown at the time that the crew of the Titanic were amateurs in comparison to what I had seen on a German ship on the China Seas, when we encountered the outer forces of a typhoon that set us aground until the tide took us out to the rescue of those floating around in the wreckage of a submerged tramp steamer. The comparison seemed crude indeed, as their was no organization or discipline shown at the time, though it was known, as soon as she struck the high iceberg and when riding over the submerged one, the bottom of the boat was ripped off, as immediately trunks began to float about in the hold and an officer was seen dragging at the mailbags a few minutes after she struck, giving them time to realize the worst had happened and for the crew to be at their posts.

On the contrary, it was plain to be seen that, of the seventy stewards who were saved, none attempted to warn those in the staterooms of their danger.

One of the heroes on board was the eighteen-year-old son of the Thayers of Philadelphia. He and his father, after having taken an affectionate farewell of his mother, after placing her in the lifeboat, while walking on the deck of the Titanic, plunged off. While swimming he was drawn twice under the keel by the suction. In his struggles he grasped hold of the collapsible boat and was among those who were rescued. He was on board the Carpathia when his mother was hoisted from the lifeboat. She was under the impression that both her husband and son had perished on the Titanic, but, to her supreme joy, she was clasped in her son’s arms. In her great thankfulness in having one spared her, for the rest of the voyage not more than a few minutes at a time would she permit him to be separate from her.

The attitude of the men who were rescued was indeed pathetic. Each and all seemed as though they were trying to efface themselves, when they were encountered passing to and fro. It was noticed how they all tried to explain how it came about like a miracle that their lives were saved, with an expression of apology, as though it were a blight on their manhood. One man displaying an order he had demanded from the officer when he asked to get in the lifeboat half-filled with women that he might row, all stating that they took the boats when there was no one around to get in.

The third day on the Carpathia, I talked at great length, with one of the officers of the Titanic, who had had in his command five lifeboats, he having the one that went back and rescued those on the collapsible. In talking it over, he stated that they saw to it that, among those who were saved would not be any of the rich nabods, again reiterating the same, adding, “We saw to it that they would take their chances with good men.” While preening his feathers over this fact, he stated that there was no one who got through without the officers knowing it. He later displayed his weapon, and told how that, he made one who persistently attempted to get in the boat with his wife, he was told in the strong expletive of the masculine lexicon to “chase himself around the deck.” He stated the only thing he regretted was the oaths he had used towards the ladies in the boats.

(The End)

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2 thoughts on “Conclusion of Mrs. Brown’s Titanic Story

  1. Hi! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

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