Bullets, Bottles, and Gardenias

Author: August H. Weikman  | Date: April 20, 1912

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Philadelphia Ledger April 20, 1912

"Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes an Iceberg


I. The Ship Strikes an Iceberg

(By the Titanic’s Barber)

[Philadelphia Ledger,April 20, 1912]

When we struck there was a slight shock. The stewards went from cabin to cabin to get everybody out on deck. Tiffs was shortly after 10 o’clock in the evening. When the passengers responded to the calls of the stewards, they were told to put on life belts.

There was no alarm, no confusion. Everything worked smoothly, The passengers once on deck were not allowed to go below again. Some of the crew started to lower the lifeboats from the davits. There was a terrible lot of ropes that got all tangled up.

One hour after the collision the chief steward was found asleep, so slight had been the jar.

Mr. George Widener could have gotten away very easily. I told him the first officer said the ship would sink in half an hour.

He said: "Oh, she’ll be all right."

They put the women and children in the lifeboats and they started to put the crew in with them. One man to every five women. When no women were near the boats they took the men, whether they were passengers or crew, anybody who stood nearest, and this accounts for the three Chinamen who were later taken off.

First officer Murdock shot a foreigner who tried to climb over the rail into a boat . . .

There were two explosions, the first one was a little one, hut it must have blown in the bulkhead to the main boilers. Then there came the big explosion. The pump had been going furl tilt, sending out a great stream of water. The band was playing and about thirty people were standing there.

I was washed overboard by a big wave. Looking backward, I could see Captain Smith, who had been standing on the bridge, swimming back to the place where he had stood, having been washed off the Titanic by the same wave that had washed me from the ship into the water. I was hauled into one of the lifeboats.

Near me was one of the Berthon life rafts, and a lot of people were on it up to their necks in water. There was a life rope running around the raft, and people were hanging onto the edge.

Nobody was pushed off, but as many as fifty dropped away, unable to hang on any longer, I never knew life was so cheap. They gave up without a whimper.

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: August H. Weikman, "Unsinkable Titanic Strikes An Iceberg—I. The Ship 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, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TCTE8S326CLK313.

MLA: Weikman, August H. ""Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes An Iceberg—I. The Ship 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. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TCTE8S326CLK313.

Harvard: Weikman, AH, '"Unsinkable" Titanic Strikes An Iceberg—I. The Ship 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 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TCTE8S326CLK313.