Bullets, Bottles, and Gardenias

Author: John Borland Thayer  | Date: April 21, 1912

Show Summary
The New York Sun April 21, 1912

"Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes an Iceberg


II. Abandoning Ship

(By a Philadelphia Schoolboy)

[New York Sun,April 21, 1912]

Father and I say "good-bye" to mother at the top of the stairs on A deck . . . Father and Mother went ahead and I followed. All went down to B deck and a crowd got in front of me. That is the last time I saw my father. This was about half an hour before she sank.

On the starboard side the beats were getting away quickly. Some beats were already off in the distance. We thought of geeing into one of the boats, the last boat to go on the forward side of the starboard side. But there seemed to be such a crowd around that I thought it unwise to make any attempt to get into it . . .

The list to Fort had been growing greater all the time. About this time the people began jumping from the stem. I thought of jumping myself, but was afraid of being stunned on hitting the water. Three times I made up my mind to jump out and slide down the davit tope and try to make the boats that were lying off from the ship, but each time Long got hold of me and told me to wait a while. He then sat down and I stood up waiting to see what would happen. Even then we thought she might possibly stay afloat.

I got a sight of a rope between the davits and a star and noticed that she was gradually sinking. About this time she straightened up on an even keel and started to go down fairly fast at an angle of about thirty degrees. As she started to sink we left the davit and went back and stood by the rail about even with the second funnel. Long and myself said "Good-bye" to each other and jumped up on the rail. He put his legs over and held on a minute. He did not jump clear, but slipped on the side of the ship. I never saw him again. About five seconds after he jumped I jumped out feet first.

I was clear of the ship, went down and as I came up I was pushed away from the ship by some force. I came up facing the ship and one of the funnels seemed to be lifted off and fell toward me, about fifteen yards away, with a mass of sparks and steam coming out of it.

I saw the ship in a sort of red glare and it seemed to me that she broke in two just in front of the third funnel. At this time I was sucked down and as I came up I was pushed out again and twisted around by a large wave, coming up in the midst of a great deal of small wreckage.

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: John Borland Thayer Jr., "Unsinkable Titanic Strikes An Iceberg—II. Abandoning Ship," 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 10, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CDXAYLNXJHSBK27.

MLA: Thayer, John Borland, Jr. ""Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes An Iceberg—II. Abandoning Ship." 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. 10 Dec. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CDXAYLNXJHSBK27.

Harvard: Thayer, JB, '"Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes An Iceberg—II. Abandoning Ship' 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 10 December 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CDXAYLNXJHSBK27.