Bullets, Bottles, and Gardenias

Author: A. H. Rostron  | Date: April 20, 1912

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New York Daily Tribune April 20, 1912

"Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes an Iceberg


V The Survivors Rescued (By Captain Rostron of R.M.S. Carpathia)

[The New York Daily Tribune, April 20, 1912]

R.M.S. Carpathia,April 19, 1912

General Manager Cunard Steamship Company Ltd., Liverpool

Sir: I beg to report that at 12:35 a. m. on the 15th inst. I was informed of urgent distress message from Titanic, with her position. I immediately ordered ship turned around and put in course for that position; we being fifty-eight miles S. 52-E (T) from her. Had heads of all departments called and issued what I considered the necessary orders to be in preparation for any emergency.

At 2:40 a. m. saw flare half a point on Port bow, taking this for granted to be ship. Shortly after we sighted our first iceberg (I had previously had lookouts doubled, knowing that Titanic had struck ice, and so took every care and precaution).

We soon found ourselves in a field of bergs, large and small, and had to alter course several times to clear bergs; weather fine and clear, light airs, calm sea, beautifully clear night, though dark.

We stopped at 4 a. m., thus doing distance in three hours and a half, picking up the first boat at 4:10 a. m.; boat in charge of an officer and he reported to me that Titanic had foundered.

At 8:30 a. m. last boat picked up. All survivors aboard and all boats accounted for, viz., fifteen lifeboats alongside, One lifeboat abandoned, two Berthon boats alongside (saw one bottom upward among wreckage), and according to second officer (senior officer saved) it having got jammed, making sixteen lifeboats and four Berthon boats accounted for.

By the time we had cleared first boat it was breaking day, and we could distinguish the other boats all within an area of four miles. We also saw that we were surrounded by icebergs, large and small . . .

At 8 a. m. the Leyland S. S. Californian came up. I gave him the principal news and asked him to search and I would proceed to New York . . .

After getting all survivors aboard and while searching I got a clergyman to offer a short prayer of thankfulness for those saved and also a short burial service for those lost, in the saloon . . .

As most of the passengers saved were women and children, and they were very hysterical, and not knowing what medical attention they would require, thought it best to go to New York . . .

The majority of the women, first, second and third classes, lost their husbands, and considering all, have been wonderfully well.

Our first class passengers have behaved splendidly, giving up their cabins quite voluntarily, and supplying the ladies with clothes and so forth. Our crew also turned out to let the crew of the Titanic take their quarters . . .

I can assure you that I am very proud to have such a ship’s company under my command.

Public reaction to the Titanic disaster was so strong that a special committee of the United States Senate under Senator Smith was appointed to investigate the sinking. The committee found that the Titanic, though warned by wireless of the existence of an icefield in the vicinity, had dashed ahead at full speed; that the ship did not have sufficient lifeboats or lifebelts; that the crew was small and badly trained; that the wireless service was inadequate; and that the lookouts lacked proper glasses. Later in London a special commission presided over by Lord Mersey issued a complete report on the disaster. As a result of these two inquiries, laws regarding proper facilities for ocean liners were revised in both England and the United States as a means of forestalling further major disasters of this kind.


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Chicago: A. H. Rostron, "Unsinkable Titanic Strikes an Iceberg," Bullets, Bottles, and Gardenias in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed December 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=5DVA5XH4L4KWC21.

MLA: Rostron, A. H. ""Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes an Iceberg." Bullets, Bottles, and Gardenias, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 4 Dec. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=5DVA5XH4L4KWC21.

Harvard: Rostron, AH, '"Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes an Iceberg' in Bullets, Bottles, and Gardenias. cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 4 December 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=5DVA5XH4L4KWC21.