The RMS Titanic departed from
Southampton, England on her first and only voyage Wednesday, April 10, 1912. She was the
largest ship ever built at the time, reaching almost three football fields in length and
twelve stories high.
Edith Russell, First Class Passenger:
"This is the most wonderful boat you can think of. In length it
would reach from the corner of the Rue de la Paix to about the Rue de Rivola. Everything
imaginable: swimming pool, Turkish bath, gymnasium, squash courts, cafes, tea gardens,
smoking rooms, a lounge bigger than the Grand Hotel Lounge; huge drawing rooms, and bed
rooms larger than in the average Paris Hotel. It is a monster, and I can't say I like it,
as I feel as if I were in a big hotel, instead of on a cozy ship; everyone is so stiff and
formal. There are hundreds of help, bell boys, stewards, stewardesses and lifts. To say
the ship is wonderful is unquestionable, but not the cozy ship board feeling of former
The Titanic heading west on the open sea. Friday
afternoon, April 12, 1912
After making stops at Cherbourg, France
and then Queenstown, Ireland she headed for New York City. Two days later, it would slide beneath the North Atlantic, taking with
1,522 passengers and crew, including the captain, E.J. Smith.
The Titanic heads into her final sunset. Sunday, April
14, 1912 - 7:00 p.m.
Lawrence Beesley, 2nd Class Passenger:
"Each night the sun sank right in our eyes along the sea,
making an undulating glittering pathway, a golden track charted on the surface of the
ocean which our ship followed unswervingly until the sun dipped below the edge of the
horizon, and the pathway ran ahead of us faster than we could steam and slipped over the
edge of the skyline - as if the sun had been a golden ball and had wound up its thread of
gold too quickly for us to follow."
The Titanic racing toward destiny. Sunday, April 14, 1912 - 9:30 p.m
Archibald Gracie, First Class Passenger:
"That night after dinner, with my table companions, according
to the usual custom, we adjourned to the palm room, with many others, for the usual coffee
at individual tables where we listened to the always delightful music of the Titanic's
band. On these occasions, full dress was always en regle; and it was a subject both of
observation and admiration, that there were so many beautiful women then especially in
evidence aboard the ship."
Despite reports from other ships warning of ice ahead,
the Titanic continued to increase her speed. Late Sunday night, an iceberg was sighted by
the lookouts in the crow's nest. But it was too late. The Titanic could not turn out of
its way in time and the iceberg scraped along the starboard side of the ship, creating a
series of punctures and buckled plates 300 feet long.
View of the iceberg from the bridge. Sunday, April 14, 1912 - 11:39 p.m.
The Titanic bearing down on the iceberg.
Sunday, April 14, 1912 - 11:40 p.m.
Robert Hichens, Quartermaster:
Early signs of
trouble. Sunday, April 14, 1912 - 11:59 p.m.
"All went along very well until 20 minutes to 12, when three
gongs came from the lookout, and immediately afterwards a report on the telephone,
'Iceberg right ahead.' The Chief Officer (First Officer Murdoch) rushed from the wing to
the bridge. He rushed to the engines. I heard the telegraph bell ring, also give the order
'Hard astarboard'. The sixth officer repeated the order, 'The helm is hard astarboard,
sir.' But during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise
along the ship's bottom. I heard the telegraph ring. The skipper came rushing out of his
room - Captain Smith - and asked, 'What is that?' Mr. Murdoch said, 'An iceberg.'"
Norman Chambers, First Class Passenger:
The Titanic fires
another distress rocket. Monday, April 15,
1912 - 1:10 a.m.
"... I looked at the starboard end of our passageway, where
there was the companion leading to the quarters of the mail clerks and farther on to the
baggage room, and I believe, the mail sorting room, and at the top of these stairs I found
a couple of mail clerks wet to their knees, who had just come up from below, bringing
their registered mail bags. As the door in the bulkhead in the next deck was open, I was
able to look directly into the trunk room which was then filled with water, and within
18" or 2 feet of the deck above. We were standing there joking about our baggage
being completely soaked and about the correspondence which was seen floating about on the
top of the water. While we were standing there three of the ship's officers descended the
first companion and looked into the baggage room, coming back up immediately, saying that
we were not making any more water. This was not an announcement, but merely a remark
passed from one to the other. Then my wife and myself returned in the direction of our
stateroom, a matter of a few yards only, and as we were going down our own alleyway to the
stateroom door our room steward came by and told us that we could go on back to bed again,
that there was no danger."
Third Officer Herbert Pitman:
"I should say about a dozen rockets were fired. They were fired
from the rail. They make a report while leaving the rail, and also an explosion in the
air, and they throw stars, of course, in the air."
There were not enough lifeboats on the Titanic for all the
passengers. The prevailing wisdom at the time was that a ship the size of the Titanic,
which was "practically unsinkable," would never have a need for that many
The bow sinks
closer to the surface. Monday, April 15, 1912
- 1:20 a.m.
Elizabeth Shutes, First Class Passenger:
"Our lifeboat, with 36 in it, began lowering to the sea. This
was done amid the greatest confusion. Rough seamen all giving different orders. No officer
aboard. As only one side of the ropes worked, the lifeboat at one time was in such a
position that it seemed we must capsize in mid-air. At last the ropes worked together, and
we drew nearer and nearer the black, oily water. The first touch of our lifeboat on that
black sea came to me as a last good bye to life, and so we put off - a tiny boat on a
great sea - rowed away from what had been a safe home for five days. The first wish on the
part of all was to stay near the Titanic. We all felt so much safer near the ship. Surely
such a vessel could not sink. I thought the danger must be exaggerated, and we could all
be taken aboard again. But surely the outline of that great, good ship was growing less.
The bow of the boat was getting black. Light after light was disappearing ..."
Lifeboat 15 descends on Lifeboat
13. Monday, April 15, 1912 - 1:25 a.m.
Lawrence Beesley, Second Class
Passenger in No. 13:
number 14 and 16. Monday, April 15, 1912 -
"... And all the time we got closer to the sea and the exhaust
roared nearer and nearer - until finally we floated with the ropes still holding us from
above, the exhaust washing us away and the force of the tide driving us back against the
side. The resultant of these three forces was that we were carried parallel to the ship,
directly under the place where boat 15 would drop from her davits into the sea. Looking up
we saw her already coming down rapidly from B deck; she must have filled almost
immediately after ours. We shouted up, 'Stop lowering 14' (He did not know the correct
number of the boat at the time) and the crew and passengers in the boat above, hearing us
shout and seeing our position immediately below them, shouted the same to the sailors on
the boat deck; but apparently they did not hear, for she dropped down foot by foot -
twenty feet, fifteen, ten - and a stoker and I in the bows reached up and touched her
bottom swinging above our heads, trying to push away our boat from under her. It seemed
now as if nothing could prevent her dropping on us, but at this moment another stoker
sprang with his knife to the ropes that still held us and I heard him shout, 'One! Two!'
as he cut them through. The next moment we had swung away from underneath 15, and were
clear of her as she dropped into the water in the space we had just before occupied."
Fifth Officer Harold Lowe:
Collapsible C is
lowered. Monday, April 15, 1912 - 2:00 a.m.
"Numbers 12, 14, and 16 were down about the same time. I told
Mr. Moody that three boats had gone away and that an officer ought to go with them. He
said: 'You go.' There was difficulty in lowering when I got near the water. I dropped her
about five feet because I was not going to take the chance of being dropped down upon by
somebody. While I was on the Boat Deck, two men tried to jump into the boat. I chased them
out. We filled boats 14 and 16 with women and children. Lightoller was there part of the
time. They were all women and children, barring one passenger, and he sneaked in dressed
like a woman. He had a shawl over his head. As I was being lowered, I expected every
moment that my boat would be doubled up under my feet. I had overcrowded her, but I knew
that I had to take a certain amount of risk. I thought if one additional body was to fall
into that boat - that slight additional weight might part the hooks, or carry away
something. So as we were coming down past the open decks, I saw a lot of people all along
the ship's rails. They were glaring more or less like wild beasts, ready to spring. That
is why I yelled out to 'look out' and let go, bang! ... right along the ship's side. There
was a space I should say of about three feet between the side of the boat and the ship's
side, and as I went down I fired these shots without any intention of hurting anybody and
with the positive knowledge that I did not hurt anybody. I fired, I think three
George Rowe, Crewman:
"All the time my boat was being lowered the rubbing strake kept
on catching on the rivets down the ship's side, and it was as much as we could do to keep
her off. When the boat was in the water the well deck was submerged. It took us a good
five minutes to lower the boat on account of this rubbing going down."
The steamer Californian observes with binoculars
Monday, April 15, 1912 - 2:00 a.m.
Second Officer Herbert Stone, Steamer Californian:
The last lifeboat
is lowered. Monday, April 15, 1912 - 2:10 a.m.
"Have a look at her now, Gibson. She seems to look queer
Apprentice James Gibson, Steamer Californian:
"She looks rather to have a big side out of the water."
Hugh Woolner, First Class Passenger:
"... the electric lights along the ceiling of A Deck were
beginning to turn red, just a glow, a red sort of glow. So I said to Steffanson: 'This is
getting rather a tight corner. I do not like being inside these closed windows. Let us go
out through the door at the end.' And as we went out through the door the sea came in onto
the deck at our feet. Then we hopped up onto the gunwale preparing to jump out into the
sea, because if we had waited a minute longer we should have been boxed in against the
ceiling. And as we looked out we saw this collapsible, the last boat on the port side,
being lowered right in front of our faces. It was full up to the bow, and I said to
Steffanson: 'There is nobody in the bows. Let us make a jump for it. You go first.' And he
jumped out and tumbled in head over heels into the bow, and I jumped too, and hit the
gunwale with my chest, which had on this life preserver, of course, and I sort of bounced
off the gunwale and caught the gunwale with my fingers, and slipped off backwards. As my
legs dropped down I felt that they were in the sea. Then I hooked my right heel over the
gunwale, and by this time Steffanson was standing up, and he caught hold of me and lifted
me in. Then we looked over into the sea and saw a man swimming in the sea just beneath us,
and pulled him in. By that time we were bumping against the side of the ship. She was
going down pretty fast by the bow. We were exactly opposite the end of the glass windows
on the A Deck."
Two hours and forty minutes later the brand new Titanic -
the largest in the world - sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The bridge dips
below the surface as the Titanic begins her fateful plunge. Monday, April 15, 1912 - 2:16 a.m
Second Officer Lightoller:
Seconds before the
ship breaks apart. Monday, April 15, 1912 -
"Just then the ship took a slight but definite plunge -
probably a bulkhead went - and the sea came rolling along up in a wave, over the steel
fronted bridge, along the deck below us, washing the people back in a dreadful huddled
mass. Those that didn't disappear under the water right away, instinctively started to
clamber up that part of the deck still out of water, and work their way towards the stern,
which was rising steadily out of the water as the bow went down. It was a sight that
doesn't bear dwelling on - to stand there, above the wheelhouse, and on our quarters,
watching the frantic struggles to climb up the sloping deck, utterly unable to even hold
out a helping hand."
Olaus Abelseth, Third Class Passenger:
The Titanic rears
up. Monday, April 15, 1912 - 2:19 a.m.
"I was standing there, and I asked my brother-in-law if he
could swim and he said no. I asked my cousin if he could swim and he said no. So we could
see the water coming up, the bow of the ship was going down, and there was kind of an
explosion. We could hear the popping and cracking, and the deck raised up and got so steep
that the people could not stand on their feet on the deck. So they fell down and slid on
the deck into the water right on the ship."
George Crowe, Dining Room Steward:
The stern section floats upright. Monday, April 15, 1912 -
"After getting clear of the ship the lights were still burning
very bright, but as we got away she seemed to go lower and lower, and she almost stood up
Edward Buley, Able Seaman:
In the water. Monday, April 15, 1912 - 2:25 a.m.
"She went down as far as the afterfunnel, and then there was a
little roar, as though the engines had rushed forward, and she snapped in two, and the bow
part went down and the afterpart came up ... She uprighted herself for about five minutes,
and then tipped over and disappeared."
Archibald Gracie, First Class Passenger:
"What impressed me at the time that my eyes beheld the horrible
scene was a thin light-gray smoky vapor that hung like a pall a few feet above the broad
expanse of sea that was covered with a mass of tangled wreckage. That it was a tangible
vapor, and not a product of my imagination, I feel well assured. It may have been caused
by smoke or steam rising to the surface around the area where the ship had sunk. At any
rate it produced a supernatural effect, and the pictures I had seen by Dante and the
description I had read in my Virgil of the infernal regions of Charon, and the River Leth,
were then uppermost in my thoughts. Add to this, within the area described, which was as
far as my eyes could reach, there arose to the sky the most horrible sounds ever heard by
mortal man except by those of us who survived this terrible tragedy. The agonizing cries
of death from over a thousand throats, the wails and groans of the suffering, the shrieks
of the terror-stricken and the awful gaspings for breath of those in the last throes of
drowning, none of us will ever forget to our dying day."
arrives on the scene. Monday, April 15, 1912 -
Archibald Gracie himself survived the
disaster only to die in December that same year from illness.
Bertha Mulvihill, Third Class Passenger:
"Dawn was just breaking when I saw a light way off in the
distance. I spoke to the nearest sailor about it and asked if it possibly could be a
vessel coming to us. He said it must be a ship's light, but someone spoke up and said it
was probably a boat's light. Then two big green lights broke through the mist above it,
and we knew it was a ship coming to rescue us. We cheered and cheered. Some cried. I just
sat still and offered up a little prayer."
Its final resting place 12,460 feet down on
the bottom of the ocean was discovered in 1985. Many expeditions had tried to find the
fabled liner in the intervening 73 years, but each had been unsuccessful. The
Titanic had almost mystical attraction it was "The Ship Of Dreams" In this
pre-world-war era there was a total belief in the marvels of new technology. Such
was the optimism of the time that people could actually believe such a thing as
"unsinkable" and "ocean liner" could be paired in the same sentence.
Faith in the new technology that went into creating the unsinkable Titanic (costing
a little over eight million dollars to build) was so strong that it carried only enough
lifeboats to accommodate 1,178 of the 2,227 on board (the ship was actually capable of
carrying 3,500 passengers and crew).
The faith in his unsinkable ship encouraged
the captain to virtually ignore a total of seven iceberg warning messages sent to the Titanic
as he kept plowing on full steam ahead in the hope of breaking the transatlantic
crossing record. And he would have done so, were it not for an encounter with one of those
icebergs he had been warned about.
The Titanic struck the iceberg shortly after
midnight on Sunday, April 14. Many on board never even realized the collision had taken
place. When the captain ordered everyone to assemble on deck, the first class passengers
complained about going outside in the cold. After all, what was there to worry about on an
When the decision to abandon ship was made, the
first lifeboat left with only 36 people on board, although it could carry 65. The other
lifeboats similarly left the ship loaded to only about half capacity. By 2:00 am, all the
lifeboats were in the water. Shortly after, the Titanic disappeared from sight, the
unsinkable ship going down to a watery grave in a little over two hours. In all, only 705
You have heard their words, picture the image of what it
Out on the icy cold Atlantic that fateful dark
Aboard the boasted Titanic, the greatest ship
ever to be made.
Your feet freezing cold from waters of a bow
that has started to fade.
One of hundreds of doomed passengers with no
salvation in sight.
The ocean begins to take this vessel and all
left remaining this night.
Crying, screaming wails, prayers offered up
from the young and old.
No boats left to save, no land within sight,
nothing but the sea so cold.
Knowing their fates, there was no doubts as the
ship snapped in two.
The stern rose as in a last grand farewell
salute to those in her view.
As if pausing for one last look she inhaled her
Drawing down hundreds with her as she took to
the ocean's depth.
The bitter iceberg chilled waters surrounded
The lungs that no longer took air were then
added to the toll.
Lovers held to each other as the ocean waters
formed their grave.
No more pain and grief, nor burdens of life to
make them a slave.
Young and old, wealthy and those of meager
No social classes, upper and lower decks had no
purpose it seems.
Equality was had by those who slipped into the
cold ocean that night.
No religious order, no color, no race found but
waters in sight.
Equally they were returned from whence they all
These terrified souls who died in an ocean that
will never be tamed.
Some feel their presence now sheltered forever
in the ocean so deep.
A lesson learned at the expense of many we
shall always keep.
Boasting never again about the impossibilities
of man's creations.
Titanic like the Hindenburg and Challenger
among the reasons.
To those lost and long departed souls now
remembered this day.
Had you ever envisioned creating history in
quite this way?
2,227 people were on board this ill-fated
voyage. Only 705 survived.
This work is dedicated to the 1,522 people who
lost their lives in the icy Atlantic waters that night.
Cheryl C. Helynck