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“I Am Here for Life”: Fifth Officer Harold Lowe

"I Am Here for Life": Fifth Officer Harold Lowe

Harold Godfrey Lowe was born in Wales in 1882, the fourth of eight children. At all of 14 years old, he ran away from home to escape an apprenticeship that his father had destined him for.

I ran away from home when I was about 14, and I went in a schooner. I was in seven schooners altogether, and my father wanted to apprentice me but I said I would not be apprenticed; that I was not going to work for anybody for nothing, without any money.

Well, alright then.

Young Harold Lowe endeavored to get his certificates, then worked for about five years off the West African coast before signing on with the White Star Line.

Even though Lowe had been working at sea for some time and had been on two White Star vessels, these voyages were on Australian routes. As such, Titanic was to be his first transatlantic journey.

He signed on as Fifth Officer, and reported to White Star’s Liverpool offices on March 26, 1912. He then went on to Titanic’s sea trials in Belfast.

Being Fifth, Lowe was considered a junior officer, along with Third Officer Herbert Pitman, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall, and Sixth Officer James Moody. Unlike his fellow officers, who had all worked together in some capacity before, Lowe was not acquainted with anyone at all.

Lowe was off-duty and in bed on April 14, 1912, when Titanic collided with the iceberg. He stated that he was woken up and informed of it by Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall about 30 minutes after the fact, although Lowe did not remember this particular moment.

It must have been while I was asleep. You must remember that we do not have any too much sleep and therefore when we sleep we die.

Lowe grabbed his revolver and presented on deck to assist First Officer William Murdoch in launching lifeboats on the starboard side. He insisted that it was calm, for the most part; only “little knots” of people here and there.

When reading Lowe’s testimony, it’s clear that Lowe was a very forthright—even terse—man. And he had precisely no patience for nonsense as he worked to the lower the boats.

Within the event of the sinking itself, nowhere is this more apparent than in a conflict he had with J. Bruce Ismay, the Chairman of White Star.

White Star Chairman J. Bruce Ismay, circa 1912.


It was a very tense point of contention in the Senate Inquiry that would follow the disaster.

Senator SMITH. What did you say to him?

Mr. LOWE. This was on the starboard side. I don't know his name, but I know him by sight. He is a steward. He spoke to me on board the Carpathia. He asked me if I knew what I had said to Mr. Ismay. I said, "I don't know Mr. Ismay. "Well," he said, "you used very, very strong language with him." I said, "Did I?" I said, "I can not help it if I did." He said, "Yes, you did," and he repeated the words. If you wish me to repeat them I will do so; if you do not, I will not.

Senator SMITH. I will first ask you this: What was the occasion for your using this harsh language to Mr. Ismay

Mr. LOWE. The occasion for using the language I did was because Mr. Ismay was overanxious and he was getting a trifle excited. He said, "Lower away! Lower away! Lower away! Lower away!" I said - well, let it be -

Mr. ISMAY. Give us what you said.

Mr. LOWE. The chairman is examining me.


Lowe went on, at Ismay’s belligerent insistence, to write down and then read out loud the very terrible no-good language he had used.

I told him, "If you will get to hell out of that I shall be able to do something."

…He did not make any reply. I said, "Do you want me to lower away quickly?" I said, "You will have me drown the whole lot of them."

Lowe afterward tried to mitigate, expressing that Ismay was just anxious and trying to help.

While working on Lifeboat 14, Lowe entered into a conversation with Sixth Officer James Moody, and Lowe stated that an officer should accompany the group. Moody deferred to Lowe as the junior-most of the two officers, and insisted that Lowe man the boat, which was about to be lowered away. Moody said he’d take to the next one.

Officer Moody did not survive.

By the time Lifeboat 14 was being lowered, alarm had risen within the crowds. As the vessel descended toward the water, passengers rushed to the edge of the deck, and Lowe fired his pistol three times into the air to ward off some steerage men from jumping down into the boat.

He insisted that his bullets never struck a soul.

Upon reaching the water, Lowe ordered the boat to row approximately 150 yards out from Titanic. He then set to work in corralling four other lifeboats around and lashing them together, to condense the passengers therein and return to the wreck.

Lowe was the only officer to return for survivors.

I herded them together and roped them - made them all tie up - and of course I had to wait until the yells and shrieks had subsided - for the people to thin out - and then I deemed it safe for me to go amongst the wreckage. So I transferred all my passengers - somewhere about 53 passengers - from my boat, and I equally distributed them between my other four boats. Then I asked for volunteers to go with me to the wreck…

Unfortunately, it was done too late. In an effort to avoid the lifeboat being swarmed, they had waited over an hour.

As Lowe maneuvered through the wreckage and corpses, he found only four men alive.

Daylight was breaking by this time, and Lowe perceived the Carpathia steaming ahead in the far distance. He determined then that his lifeboat was fastest, and he rigged the sail. His was the only lifeboat to do so.

Lifeboat 14 (right) approaching the rescue ship Carpathia, with sail up and Fifth Officer Lowe standing. From the George Grantham Bain Collection, courtesy of the library of Congress.


By and by, he came across Collapsible D and took it in tow.

He then discovered Collapsible A in a far worse condition. It had been washed off deck without the canvas sides pulled up, and the few survivors still alive were standing knee-deep in water, including 21-year-old Richard Norris Williams, the young American tennis player destined for fame.

It was also from Collapsible A that Lowe saved to the only woman to be rescued from the water that night: Mrs. Rhoda Abbott, who had lost both her young sons in the sinking.

Lowe also found three corpses within Collapsible A.

As to the three people that I left on her - of course, I may have been a bit hard hearted, I can not say - but I thought to myself, "I am not here to worry about bodies; I am here for life, to save life, and not to bother about bodies," and I left them…

They were dead; yes, sir. The people on the raft told me they had been dead some time. I said, "Are you sure they are dead?" They said, "Absolutely sure." I made certain they were dead, and questioned them one and all before I left this collapsible.

Harold Lowe’s testimony in the subsequent Senate Inquiry was vital—and not a little uncomfortable.

The surviving White Star officers—Lowe, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, Third Officer Herbert Pitman, and Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall—were of course British citizens, who had been sailing on a British vessel. The men resented being interrogated by the American government, and by men who knew absolutely nothing about seafaring life, to boot.

Titanic's surviving officers, from left to right: Fifith Officer Lowe, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall; seated: Third Officer Herbert Pitman.


As if that weren’t aggravating enough, the officers were attempting throughout all of this to defend themselves, their dead peers, and their employer. They were livid that these senators, who were ignorant of all maritime terms and protocol, could so easily call their judgments as sailors into question, especially without having suffered the sinking themselves.

And they endured all this in the immediate wake of their own traumas, both physical and mental. Because the Senate Inquiry began a mere four days after Titanic sank, on April 19, 1912.

The reactions of the four surviving officers reflected Britain’s aghast reaction to the American Inquiry in its entirety.

The British press portrayed Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan, who had spearheaded the entire shindig, as a thoroughly ignorant ass. His questioning was misguided and redundant, and often offensive to the witnesses he interviewed.

And to the delight of his countrymen, Harold Lowe let Smith know it, over and again.

"Frequent tilts between Lowe and Smith," a newspaper reported, "enlivened the proceedings."

Illustrations of Senate Inquiry witnesses, inclding Fifth Officer Lowe (lower right). Illustrated by Lous F. Grant for "The Graphic," circa May 1912.


Lowe began his testimony on April 24, 1912.

It got off on the wrong foot, really, when Senator Smith demanded the Lowe sit differently in his chair. Lowe, already vexed at having to testify to begin with, bristled.

The interview hastily degraded as Smith asked inane questions that merited responses from Lowe like, "I could no more tell you now than fly."

Early on in the testimony, Lowe's tone elicited the following from Senator Smith, who clearly found Lowe’s snarky, defensive responses unnecessary. “Let me say this to you, Mr. Lowe: Nobody is on trial here, and this is not a court; this is an inquiry.”

This helped nothing. The two men bickered frequently.

But their most memorable exchange is easily this.

Senator SMITH. Do you know what an iceberg is composed of?

Mr. LOWE. Ice, I suppose, sir.

The room broke with laughter.

And it did again, when Senator Smith asked about the nature of temperature. Lowe is reported to have over-enunciated his already curt reply.

Senator SMITH. What was the temperature between Southampton and the place of the accident?

Mr. LOWE. The temperature, sir?

Senator SMITH. Exactly. Do you know whether it was cold, or whether it was warm? Was it warm when you left Southampton?

Mr. LOWE. Yes; it was nice weather. I should say it would be about 48.

Senator SMITH. Above zero?

Mr. LOWE. Forty-eight degrees.

Senator Smith also interrogated Lowe about his alcohol consumption, even when Lowe professed himself a teetotaler. All because someone whispered to Senator Smith that Lowe might have been drunk that night.

Lowe's father had been an alcoholic, so he took grave offense to this suggestion. Per contemporary reports, he became flushed and was "extremely angry and spoke the words with some heat."

Senator SMITH. Are you a temperate man?

Mr. LOWE. I am, sir. I never touched it in my life. I am an abstainer.

Senator SMITH. I am very glad to have you say that.

Mr. LOWE. I say it, sir, without fear of contradiction.

Senator SMITH. I am not contradicting you, and I congratulate you upon it; but so many stories have been circulated one has just been passed up to me now, from a reputable man, who says it was reported that you were drinking that night.

The whole thing was such a tense affair that Senator Smith reprimanded Lowe on multiple occasions, chiding him for responding with information that he deemed irrelevant—when in truth, Smith's questions were ignorant, confusing, and often, plainly absurd.

A satirical cartoon of Senator William Alden Smith titled "The Importance of Being Earnest" by David Wilson. Illustrated for "The Graphic" in April 1912.


In contrast, audiences found Lowe irreverent and delightful, and he had many favorable reviews.

He even had fangirls. No, really.

But once Lowe had departed, another survivor's testimony put him in a more negative light; she called his language in the lifeboat "blasphemous" and stated that he must have been drunk to be so profane.

People immediately came forward to defend him against the condemnation, including Rhoda Abbott, who said point-blank that if it hadn't been for Lowe, she would have been dead. "It would have been impossible," she said, "for an officer to show more courtesy and many of the criticisms that have been made against this man are very unjust."

Another survivor, Irene Harris, proclaimed him "the real hero of Titanic."

Harold Lowe's reputation went untarnished. The Senate's Sergeant at Arms, Sheriff Joe Bayliss, spoke thusly of him.

I have never prided myself upon being a prophet, but of this I am positive: When the Titanic disaster has become a matter of history, Harold G. Lowe will occupy the hero's place.

© As cited in "Titanic Valour: The Life of Fith Officer Harold Lowe" by Inger Sheil, 2012.

Harold Lowe returned to the mariner life, serving in the Royal Navy Reserve during the First World War and returning to private ships thereafter.

He also volunteered his home as a sector post during the Second World War and served as an Air Raid Warden.

As an ARW, Lowe ensured blackout protocol was observed, soundeded sirens, and generally safeguarded, evacuated, rescued, and sheltered citizens. A job, I think, that Titanic uniquely suited him to perform.

He died in 1944 of hypertension at the age of 61.

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“We Must Get Them Into the Boats”: Colonel Archibald Gracie IV

"We Must Get Them Into the Boats": Colonel Archibald Gracie IV

Archibald Gracie IV was the All-American sort of American.

He was born in Mobile, Alabama, in January of 1858. At the onset of the American Civil War, his father defied his Unionist family and in 1862, he became a general in the Confederate Army. He was killed while he was looking through a spyglass at Petersburg in 1864, when an artillery shell exploded in front of him.

The young Gracie wasn’t yet 6 years old when his father died, and that same year, was sent to boarding school in New Hampshire. Gracie IV grew up to attend (but not graduate) from West Point and become a colonel in the 7th New York Regiment.

Archibald Gracie IV.


Colonel Gracie ended up on Titanic after a solo trip to Europe to decompress; he had spent 7 years writing a book about the Battle of Chickamauga, which his late father had been in.

Gracie spent his time as one would expect a dapper gentleman of stature to, and we know a great deal about how he occupied himself thanks to his account of the sinking, written shortly after the disaster in 1912.

And did he enjoy himself.

During the first days of the voyage, from Wednesday to Saturday… I had devoted my time to social enjoyment and to the reading of books taken from the ship’s well-supplied library. I enjoyed myself as if I were in a summer place on the sea shore, surrounded with every comfort—there was nothing to indicate or suggest that we were on the stormy Atlantic ocean.

Excerpt from "Titanic: A Survivor's Story," by Archibald Gracie, 1912 (reprinted by Sutton Publishing, 2008.)

During his time on “this floating palace,” Colonel Gracie offered his services to a group of women traveling alone. This was a common practice at the time, to escort unaccompanied ladies to ensure their safety and well-being.

Colonel Gracie also spent a great deal of time with Isidor and Ida Straus, whose story of tragic devotion is easily the most famous of all the couples on board Titanic.

Colonel Gracie and Isidor were both armchair historians, and they made a hobby out of discussing the American Civil War, as they had both been affiliated to the Confederate cause. Gracie lent Isidor a book about Chickamauga—his own book, naturally.

Isidor returned it with gratitude to the Colonel on Sunday, April 14, 1912.

Isidor Straus, taken on February 6, 1906. From the George Grantham Bain Collection, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Gracie was also an esteemed member of an impromptu and exclusive club called “Our Coterie,” a group of seven writers, including Hugh Woolner and Edward Austin Kent, who met every day. It was essentially Titanic’s Finer Things Club.

On Sunday morning, Colonel Gracie spent a concentrated amount of time exercising, and made a point to take advantage of Titanic’s many athletic facilities, including the gymnasium, the racquetball court, and the heated swimming bath. The latter activity clearly caused him some mental anguish as he thought back on the sinking.

When Sunday morning came, I considered it high time to begin my customary exercises… I was up early before breakfast and met the profession racquet player in a half hour’s warming up, preparatory for a swim in the six-foot deep tank of salt water, heated to a refreshing temperature. In no swiming [sic] bath had I ever enjoyed such pleasure before. How curtailed that enjoyment would have been had the presentiment come to me telling how near it was to being my last plunge, and that before dawn of another day I would be swimming for my life in mid-ocean, under water and on the surface, in a temperature of 28 degrees Fahrenheit!

…Such was my morning preparation for the unforeseen physical exertions I was compelled to put forth for dear life at midnight, a few hours later. Could any better training for the terrible ordeal have been planned?

Excerpt from "Titanic: A Survivor's Story," by Archibald Gracie, 1912 (reprinted by Sutton Publishing, 2008.)

This was hardly Colonel Gracie’s only moment of irony within his written narrative. He also wrote of returning a book to the First-Class library, and remarked, "How little I thought that in the next few hours I should be a witness and a party to a scene to which this book could furnish no counterpart."

Gracie was awoken by the collision with the iceberg. He testified to hearing the ship’s steam sound off. He also felt the engines cease, though it was only “slight.”

All through the voyage the machinery did not manifest itself at all from my position in my stateroom, so perfect was the boat. I looked out of the door of my stateroom, glanced up and down the passageway to see if there was any commotion, and I did not see anybody nor hear anybody moving at all; but I did not like the sound of it, so I thought I would partially dress myself, which I did, and went on deck.

I went on what they call the A deck. Presently some passengers gathered around. We looked over the sides of the ship to see whether there was any indication of what had caused this noise. I soon learned from friends around that an iceberg had struck us.

Presently along came a gentleman… who had ice in his hands. Some of this ice was handed to us with the statement that we had better take this home for souvenirs. Nobody had any fear at that time at all.

Colonel Gracie went about assisting people into boats—including the ladies that he had made his special charges—and was witness to some of Titanic's most noted partings, including those of the John Jacob Astor and his pregnant young wife. Gracie was also one of those who tried to persuade Mrs. Straus to part with Isidor and get into a lifeboat, but she refused.

I had heard them discussing that if they were going to die they would die together. We tried to persuade Mrs. Straus to go alone, without her husband, and she said no. Then we wanted to make an exception of the husband, too, because he was an elderly man, and he said no, he would share his fate with the rest of the men, and that he would not go beyond. So I left them there.

Unsurprisingly, Colonel Gracie did not take to a lifeboat.

He spent most the sinking assisting Second Officer Charles Lightoller in filling lifeboats and providing those passengers with blankets.

Gracie was also vital to the launch of the so-called "collapsible" lifeboats, handing over his penknife to help cut the boats free from the roof of the officers quarters. They successfully loosed Collapsibles A, C, and D.

But as they worked frantically on Collapsible B, the bridge dipped; Gracie and his friend, who he had been with for most of the ordeal, moved toward the stern. Caught in the crowd of passengers, the water rushed up to meet them.

Colonel Gracie jumped with the wave and grabbed for the bottom rung of a ladder, and pulled himself onto the roof.

So the ship went down.

And Gracie with it.

Down, down I went: it seemed a great distance. There was a very noticeable pressure upon my ears…

Just at the moment I thought that for lack of breath I would have to give in, I seemed to have been provided a second wind, and it was just then that the thought that this was my last moment came upon me. I wanted to convey the news of how I died to my loved ones at home. As I swam beneath the surface of the ocean, I prayed that my spirit could go to them and say, ‘Goodbye, until we meet again in heaven.’

Finally I noticed by the increase of light that I was drawing near the surface. Though it was not daylight, the clear star-lit night made a noticeable difference in the degree of light immediately below the surface of the water... Looking about me, I could see no Titanic in sight. She had entirely disappeared...

What impressed me at the time that my eyes beheld the horrible scene was a thin light-gray smoking vapor that hung like pall a few feet about the broad expanse of sea that was covered with a mass of tangled wreckage.

Excerpt from "Titanic: A Survivor's Story," by Archibald Gracie, 1912 (reprinted by Sutton Publishing, 2008.)

Gracie grabbed a hold of a wooden crate and found his way to--of all lifeboats--Collapsible B, which had floated away upside down when Titanic's deck was submerged.

By Gracie's estimates, there were approximately a dozen men on top of the capsized boat when he managed to pull himself aboard, and about a dozen followed him. All in all, Gracie guessed there were about 30 on Collapsible B.

The boat was kept afloat by an air pocket that inevitably diminished as their weight bore down and the night wore on; multiple survivors speak of the water washing over them.

No one could move. And it was this precarious situation, as the lifeboat sank deeper, that caused the survivors on Collapsible B to deny other survivors who swam near.

Colonel Gracie turned his head away, lest he be begged and made to refuse. There are reports of men being beaten away with oars. And a report, supported by Gracie and another survivor, that a man who was told off replied with, "All right, boys; good luck, and God bless you."

With the morning came the swell of the sea, and the air pocket within leaked. Second Officer Lightoller, the ad hoc leader of Collapsible B and the highest-ranked officer to survive, arranged for the men to stand and shift their weights to counteract the swells.

By the time they were rescued, the water was up to their knees, and multiple men had died.

The recovery of Collapsible B by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett.


Colonel Gracie had to drag himself into Lifeboat 12 when they pulled up alongside Collapsible B. Per his account, there was a dead man in the boat, whose identity has never been determined. Gracie said that he tried desperately to revive him, but it was in vain.

On board Carpathia under a pile of blankets, Colonel Gracie found his body and legs had been cut; he had, it turned out, also sustained a wound to his head.

He was graciously nursed by other survivors, including Frederic and Daisy Spedden, as well as their son’s nursemaid Elizabeth Burns, who provided him with warm drinks. He made a point of thanking them in his manuscript.

Colonel Gracie testified in the resulting Senate Inquiry and set immediately to write a book about the sinking. It is, as you have seen, extraordinarily detailed. He spent a considerable amount of time performing research, curating peer survivor accounts, and determining who was in each lifeboat.

But however bombastic he seems in his writing, the truth is that Colonel Gracie’s vitality, if not his life, was lost to Titanic. He was a diabetic, and the hypothermia he suffered took a severe toll on his health.

At only 54 years old, Colonel Archibald Gracie died on December 4, 1912.

…The members of his family and his physicians felt that the real cause was the shock he suffered last April when he went down with the ship and was rescued later after long hours on a half-submerged raft. The events of the night of the wreck were constantly on his mind. The manuscript of his work on the subject had finally been completed and sent to the printers when his last illness came. In his last hours the memories of the disaster did not leave him. Rather they crowded thicker

His final request was that he be interred in the same clothes he had worn when Titanic sank.

Colonel Gracie's funeral was widely reported. Multiple Titanic survivors were in mournful attendance, including Jack Thayer, a seventeen-year-old who had also survived the night on the back of Collapsible B.

Col. Archibald Gracie's final wish that he be buried in the clothes he wore
when rescued from the sinking Titanic was carried out when he was laid to
rest in Woodlawn cemetery, New York city [sic], yesterday.

The obsequies were held in Calvary church and among those present to pay the
last tribute were many of his fellow survivors from the doomed liner,
including Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Mrs. Edward W. Appleton, Mrs. J. B. Thayer,
and her son, J. B. Thayer, and Mrs. J. J. Brown.

Colonel Gracie’s last words were, “We must get them into the boats. We must get them all into the boats.”


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“Here, There, and Everywhere”: Chief Designer Thomas Andrews

"Here, There, and Everywhere": Chief Designer Thomas Andrews

As a child, Thomas Andrews, Jr., was fond of horses and beekeeping. He was a competitive cricket player.

And of course, he really enjoyed boats.

Thomas Andrews. Taken on July 7, 1911.


Thomas, who often was called “Tommie”, was 16 years old when he was granted a privileged apprenticeship at Harland & Wolff in 1889. This was convenient, since his uncle was none other than Lord William Pirrie, partner of the firm.

Though Thomas's parents were still, of course, required to pay for the opportunity.

Lord William Pirrie's office at Harland & Wolff, where Thomas Andrews undoubtedly spent time. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


During this five-year apprenticeship, Thomas’s daytime hours were spent working in various departments, including the cabinetmakers and draughting office, throughout the firm. And at night, he attended technical college.

In late 1894, he took a proper job at the shipyard; in 1907, he became the managing director of the Draughting Office. Good news, that, as he was engaged to be married.

At the time, Thomas was engaged to Helen Reilly Barbour, who he called Nellie. Apparently, he had proposed to her rather abruptly back in 1906, according to a remorseful letter he sent to her on March 25 of that year. "My dear Nellie," he wrote, "I cannot tell you how much it grieves me to feel that I frightened or gave you any annoyance last night."

Nellie clearly forgave him for his impulsivity, though, and they married in 1908. They had a daughter, nicknamed Elba because of her initials, in 1910.

Thomas with his wife Nellie and daughter Elba. Taken November 29, 1910.


So it was in 1907, after having been promoted, that Thomas began a new project: a line of triplet luxury liners for the White Star Line, beginning with the R.M.S. Olympic.

The draughting office. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


Now by the time of this well-earned promotion, "Tommie" was an extremely popular guy in the yard.

Vera Morrison, who is Nellie's daughter from her second marriage, recounted a story her mother had told her of Thomas’s popularity at Harland & Wolff.

He told Nellie when they were driving out of the shipyard one day together that all the workers who were coming out were his mates. He was so very popular and dearly loved, I think, by so many people.

This anecdote goes hand-in-hand with a biography of Thomas Andrews by Shan Bullock, which was published in 1912.

He would share his lunch with a mate, toil half the night in relief of a fellow-apprentice who had been overcome by sickness, or would plunge gallantly into a flooded hold to stop a leakage. “It seemed his delight,” writes a foreman, “to make those around him happy. His was ever the friendly greeting and the warm handshake and kind disposition.” Such testimony is worth pages of outside eulogy, and testimony of its kind, from all sorts and conditions, exists in abundance.

Despite his esteem, tenure, and status at the shipyard, some of Thomas’s suggestions for the White Star superliners—including a minimum of 46 lifeboats and watertight bulkheads reaching up to B Deck—went unheeded.

Deck plans of the R.M.S. Titanic, as used for reference in the Senate Inquiry.


Thomas had been on the maiden voyages of the Adriatic, Oceanic, and Olympic, so the choice to sail on Titanic was routine--so much so that Chief Baker Charles Joughin had a customary loaf of bread made especially for him at the start of each journey.

None of this is to say that Thomas wasn’t enthused about his newest ship. He wrote the following to Nellie while in Southampton.

The Titanic is now about complete and will I think do the old Firm credit tomorrow when we sail.

Henry Etches, a steward who had also worked on Olympic, attended to Thomas’s needs on board, taking him “some fruit and tea” and helping him to dress in his evening wear every night.

“That would be about a quarter or 20 minutes to 7, as a rule,” Etches said. “He was rather late in dressing.”

By all accounts, Thomas spent his time roaming all about the gargantuan ship looking for improvements to be made. He always took down the minutest of details in his notebook, such as an excess of screws in the stateroom hat hooks and the color of the red tiling on the promenade deck being just a touch too dark.

Etches testified to as much at the American inquiry. When asked by Senator Smith if Mr. Andrews had been busy and worked nights, Etches replied as follows.

He was busy the whole time… He had charts rolled up by the side of his bed, and he had papers of all descriptions on his table during the day… He was working all the time, sir. He was making notes of improvements; any improvements that could be made… during the day I met him in all parts, with workmen, going about. I mentioned several things to him, and he was with workmen having them attended to. The whole of the day he was working from one part of the ship to the other… I happened to meet him at different parts of Deck E more often than anywhere else.

According to Etches, he also knew that Thomas visited the boiler rooms, as he saw the suit that he wore when visiting the boilers discarded on Thomas’s bed.

Thomas’s perfectionism and meticulous attention to detail, however, should not be taken as an implication that he was not pleased with Titanic on the whole. He is reported to have said to first-class survivor Albert Dick, whom Thomas had befriended on board, “I believe her to be nearly as perfect as human brains can make her.”

Thomas routinely worked into the late hours, and is reported to have been awake and working at the time of the collision with the iceberg. Immediately thereafter, he was witnessed taking emergency tours of the ship. Per survivor Albert Dick, as reported in Shan Bullock’s biography of Thomas Andrews:

He was on hand at once and said that he was going below to investigate. We begged him not to go, but he insisted, saying that he knew the ship as no one else did and that he might be able to allay the fears of the passengers. He went.

Steward James Johnstone reported that while he was in the dining saloon, he saw Mr. Andrews run down toward the Boiler Room, followed by Captain Smith.

Johnstone said that while he was stuffing four oranges in his pockets, Thomas resurfaced. Johnstone followed him down to E-Deck, where he watched him descend further still to the mail rooms.

When he peered after Thomas running down the stairwell, he saw water flooding in.

Thomas, who was without a hat and had an insufficient coat for the ocean night-chill, was also witnessed personally seeing to getting passengers to wear their lifebelts and enter lifeboats throughout the entire sinking.

Jack Thayer wrote in his account that he and his parents were directly approached by Thomas.

We saw, as they passed, Mr. Ismay, Mr. Andrews and some of the ship’s officers. Mr. Andrews told us he did not give the ship much over an hour to live. We could hardly believe it, and yet if he said so, it must be true. No one was better qualified to know.

Excerpt from "The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic" by Jack Thayer.

Jack's encounter is hardly unique. Given Thomas’s famed congeniality and his apparent omnipresence on the ship, he was highly esteemed by many passengers and was often stopped for a comforting word or further information about what was really going on. He makes appearances in many survivor accounts.

The testimony of Mr. Etches at the Senate Inquiry sheds light on Thomas’s calm but urgent direction to the stewards, as well as attests to his overwhelming concern for the passengers.

[I saw Mr. Andrews at] 20 minutes past 12. He stopped me. I was going along B Deck, and he asked had I waked all my passengers… Mr. Andrews then told me to come down on C Deck with him, and we went down the pantry staircase together. Going down he told me to be sure and make the passengers open their doors, and to tell them the lifebelts were on top of the wardrobes and on top of the racks, and to assist them in every way I could to get them on, which I endeavored to do.

We walked along C Deck together. The purser was standing outside of his office, in a large group of ladies. The purser was asking them to do as he asked them, and to go back in their rooms and not to frighten themselves, but, as a preliminary caution, to put the lifebelts on, and the stewards would give them every attention. Mr. Andrews said: "That is exactly what I have been trying to get them to do," and, with that, he walked down the staircase to go on lower D Deck. That is the last I saw of Mr. Andrews.

Stewardess Mary Sloan likewise was awed by Thomas’s calm and determined selflessness, despite the fact that his face “had a look as though he were heart-broken”.

She said, “He was here, there, and everywhere, looking after everybody… thinking of everybody but himself.”

Stwardess Annie Robinson’s report likewise speaks to Thomas’s drive to protect those on board. After asking her to open up all the unoccupied rooms and distribute their lifebelts and blankets, as well as to make sure all the ladies had left their rooms, he gently chided her for not wearing her own lifebelt. Per the biography of Thomas Andrews written by Shan Bullock, their exchange went like this.

“Did I not tell you to put on your life-belt. Surely you have one?”

She answered, “Yes, but I thought it mean to wear it.”

“Never mind that,” said he. “Now, if you value your life, put on your coat and belt, then walk round the deck and let the passengers see you.”

“He left me then,” writes the stewardess, “and that was the last I saw of what I consider a true hero and one of whom his country has cause to be proud.”

All of his bravery and pro-activity is belied by perhaps the most famous of all Titanic’s oft-called Last Sightings: that of Thomas Andrews, standing mute, dazed, and lifebelt-less at the fireplace of the First-Class Smoking Room.

Starboard view of the First-Class Smoking Room on Olympic. Thomas Andrews was encountered by the fireplace in Titanic's identical room.


This comes from First-Class Steward John Stewart, who was one of two stewards charged with the Verandah Café. Per the Bullock biography, Stewart’s encounter went thusly.

[Stewart] saw him standing along in the smoking room, his arms folded over his breast and the belt lying on a table near him, "Aren't you going to have a try for it, Mr. Andrews?"

He never answered or moved. "Just looked like one stunned."

Thing is, this wasn’t the last sighting of Thomas Andrews.

And it was never purported to be.

While Thomas was indeed seen in the Smoking Room, the timeline for this particular Last Sighting is just plain off. Stewart stated that he saw Mr. Andrews only minutes before he took to Lifeboat 15, which left the ship at 1:40a.m. The ship did not sink until 2:20a.m.

It’s a heartbreaking moment for sure, but it was never set forth as Thomas’s last moments alive.

In truth, Bullock states directly thereafter that Thomas was seen on deck during Titanic' final few minutes; he was throwing deck chairs and anything else to hand overboard before being washed off the deck. And as per Mess Steward William Fitzpatrick and disclosed by the authors of “On a Sea of Glass,” he was last witnessed being washed off the bridge alongside or nearby Captain Smith.

Thomas's body was never recovered.

On April 19, 1912, the Andrews family in Belfast received the telegram they’d dreaded.

Interview Titanic’s officers. All unanimous Andrews heroic until death, thinking only safety others. Extend heartfelt sympathy to all.

He was 39 years old.

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“A Trip to See the Stars”: The Spedden Family

"A Trip to See the Stars": The Spedden Family

Frederic Oakley Spedden and his wife Daisy boarded Titanic as First-Class passengers with their six-year-old son Robert Douglas, who was called by his middle name. Along with them was their maid, Miss Helen Wilson, and Douglas’s private nurse, Elizabeth Burns.

Douglas was precious to his very doting parents, as he was an only child. And he loved Elizabeth dearly, and called her “Muddie Boons” because he couldn’t pronounce her name properly. They were practically inseparable.

Mr. and Mrs. Spedden were from New York, and both of them were the heirs of extremely affluent families. The family had been traveling abroad since 1911, beginning in Algiers, and going on to Monte Carlo, then Paris. They had also spent some time in northern Africa, including Egypt.

They elected to sail on Titanic for the return home.

Young Douglas Spedden is one of Titanic’s most recognizable characters. If you’ve seen enough Titanic-related photos—or recall the moment in the 1997 film, when that Jack Dawson casually steals a First-Class passenger’s coat—then you’ll recall Douglas.

He’s the little boy playing with a spinning top on deck.

He stands on his toes in the bright sun, as his father, who has a camera strapped to his shoulder, coaches him. Two unnamed men, standing still in their greatcoats, watch with their back to the camera; one smokes a cigar, the other holds a cigarette behind his back.

The photo was taken on April 11, 1912, by Fr. Francis Browne, who labeled it thusly in his personal photo album.

“The children’s playground” Taken about midday on the Saloon deck.

As reproduced in "Father Browne's Titanic Album: A Passenger's Photographs & Personal Memoir" by E.E. O'Donnell. Messenger Publications, 2011.

We know a bit about how the Speddens spent their time thanks to Daisy’s diary. For instance, Daisy, along with Douglas's nurse, took to the Turkish baths on Saturday, April 13, 1912. Turkish baths were a very popular luxury in the Edwardian period, so Daisy had every reason to believe that it would be delightful.

It was not.

She wrote in her diary, “It was my first and will be my last, I hope, as I’ve never disliked anything so much in my life.”

Daisy did, however, enjoy the dip in the heated swimming pool that followed. She also wrote that she spent Saturday afternoon playing cards.

The Speddens responded very quickly once they learned of the collision with the iceberg. Frederic and Daisy had woken up by the sound of the iceberg scraping the ship, and went up on deck in their nightclothes. When they noticed the listing deck, they dashed downstairs to wake their servants. Muddie Boons immediately roused Douglas.

When he asked why, she told him they were going to take “a trip to see the stars.”

Luckily for the entire family--but especially Frederic Spedden--they found their way to the starboard side of the ship and Lifeboat 3. With no other women in plain view, First Officer William Murdoch permitted Mr. Spedden to join his wife and son in the lifeboat.

Helen Wilson's recounting dated April 22, 1912, described it in detail.

Mr. Spedden was saved by what might be really called a leap for life. He had put his family into the boat which was lowered at once, and there were no more women in the immediate vicinity, so one of the officers seeing room for one more said to Mr. Spedden. 'You may as well jump and save yourself.' He did so and landed in the boat, thus joining his family.

And in all of this, Douglas had a stowaway.

He'd taken with him was his favorite stuffed toy: a Steiff polar bear that his Auntie Nan had purchased from F.A.O. Schwartz, perhaps as a Christmas gift, in 1911.

Fittingly, its name was Polar.

Douglas slept through the night in the arms of Elizabeth Burns, and awoke at dawn. When he looked around him, he was in awe. “Oh, Muddie," he said. "Look at the beautiful North Pole with no Santa Claus on it.”

Douglas was still sleepy when he was brought on board Carpathia. Like all the children rescued from Titanic, he was hoisted aboard in a burlap bag or net, because crewmen feared they would fall from the ladder climbing up the side of the ship.

And Douglas, quite accidentally, left Polar behind. When he realized his beloved toy had gone missing, he was nearly inconsolable. Daisy and Frederic may have sought a replacement in Carpathia's souvenir shop. But for Douglas, only Polar would do.

It was procedural, for rescue ships to haul in a lost vessel’s lifeboats—typically, by hoisting it up via a hook on one end. And when they drew up lifeboat 3, a waterlogged white toy rolled onto the deck.

The crewman who found him wrung him of his water and kept him, hoping to bring it home as a gift for his child. But when he encountered the Speddens and a still-upset Douglas, he connected the dots and presented the little boy with his stuffed bear.

By the grace of fate, all five of the Spedden party were saved—six, actually, if one includes Polar.

In 1913, Daisy wrote and illustrated a little book, which she titled “My Story.” It was, she hoped, a way to explain to young Douglas what they’d all been through, and gave it to her son as a gift for Christmas.

The story was written from the perspective of Polar, from his "birth" in Germany and his life in the toy store, to his happy adoption by Douglas and all his extraordinary adventures since, including the sinking of Titanic.

Sadly, though, the Spedden family's miraculous escape from Titanic did not inoculate them against heartbreak.

In the summer of 1915, while at his family summer home in Maine, Douglas ran out from within some shrubbery to catch a tennis ball and was hit by a car.

The frantic driver, a 27-year-old man named Foster Harrington, carried Douglas back to his home. Douglas briefly regained consciousness in the day following the accident, but declined rapidly and died from “concussion of the brain.” He was one of the first deaths by automobile in the state.

He was only 9 years old.

Bereft, Frederic and Daisy left their son’s room entirely untouched. So there Polar lived, at the bottom of a basket of toys, alone for decades without his boy. And as Douglas's parents died, poor Polar was lost to time.

Until Daisy Spedden’s diaries, along with Polar's original storybook, was discovered in a steamer trunk  in an attic.

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“Dressed Up in Our Best”: Benjamin Guggenheim & Victor Giglio

"Dressed Up in Our Best": Benjamin Guggenheim & Victor Giglio

Benjamin Guggenheim was scheduled to set sail on the Lusitania, until she was put out of commission for repairs.

So he elected to sail on Titanic.

Ben was the fifth son of the Guggenheim dynasty; his father, Meyer Guggenheim, was a mining magnate. It’s rumored that Ben, born in 1865 in Philadelphia, was the stereotype of a playboy; unlike his four older brothers, he had never known a life without luxury. He’d also reportedly been spoiled by his overly doting mother.

Benjamin Guggenheim.


Ben married a woman named Florette in 1884; they had three daughters. It was apparently a tense and nearly miserable union; per a 1978 biography by John Davis, Ben’s was hardly more than “a marriage of family fortunes."

Eventually, Ben found himself spending more and more time in Paris while Florette lived her life in New York.

Ben boarded Titanic in Cherbourg with his trusted valet Victor Giglio, as well as his chauffeur. Along with them was Ben’s mistress, Leontine Aubart, who was a performer in Paris, as well as her maid Emma Sagesser.

Ben was 46; Leontine, who went by “Ninette,” was 24.

There doesn’t appear to be much information about how Ben met Ninette, although it’s presumed it was while she was performing in Paris.

Nor do we know much about Ninette herself during the Titanic era. She was blonde and petite, and was a singer. That’s about all.

There has been speculation, however, that Ninette was actually a courtesan, but this has in no way been proven.

Whatever she was, she is rumored to have performed across Paris, particularly at a famed Montmartre bar called Cabaret du Lapin Agile.

Cabaret du Lapin Agile in Montmartre, Paris, circa 1905.


Ninette and Emma occupied cabin B-35; Ben and Victor, B-84. We don’t know how they behaved on the ship, but it can be assumed that they at least attempted to be discreet, given how scandalous they were.

Ninette and Emma were awoken by the collision with the iceberg. They went to alert Ben and Victor of the danger, and apparently woke them up in doing so.

Emma stated in an interview in 1937 that Victor chided her for making a fuss. Since the interview was conducted in German, interpretations vary, but essentially, Victor teased, “Oh, come on, icebergs? What even is an ‘iceberg’?”

Alongside Victor, Steward Henry Etches testified to attending to Ben in the moments after the collision.

They were in their room. I took the lifebelts out. The lifebelts in this cabin were in the wardrobe, in a small rack, and the cabin was only occupied by two. There were three lifebelts there, and I took the three out and put one on Mr. Guggenheim. He apparently had only gone to his room, for he answered the first knock. He said: "This will hurt." I said, "You have plenty of time, put on some clothes and I will be back in a few minutes."

Etches ended up pulling a large sweater over Ben’s lifebelt. On the boat deck, he saw the group moving from one lifeboat to another; Ben, he said, was trying to assist in loading the lifeboats and echoing the order of “Women first.”

Ben and Victor put Ninette and Emma in Lifeboat 9, despite their protests. Emma reported that Ben took a moment to speak to her in German. "We will soon each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again."

The girls wore nothing but their nightclothes and light coats, and suffered from painful exposure as a result. Despite, this Ninette later waxed poetic in her account to the Daily Mirror dated May 13, 1912.

I had in my cabin jewels worth 4,000 (GPB) as well as many trunks of dresses and hats. One does not come from Paris and buy one's clothes in America. That is understood, is it not?

Nothing could I take with me; nothing at all. Just as we were, in our night clothes, [Emma] and I went on deck where the lifebelts were put around us. One the deck there was no commotion; none at all. Oh these English! How brave, how calm, how beautiful! I, who am patriotic french woman say that never can I forget that group of Englishmen- every one of them a perfect gentleman- calmly puffing cigarettes and cigars and watching the women and children being placed in the boats…

My last night of the upper decks was still a group of those Englishmen, still with cigarettes in mouth, facing the death so bravely that it was all the more terrible.


Ben and Victor were, in many opinions, the shining example of this valiant stoicism that Ninette so admired.

And so, the two men are often remembered for the final moments of their friendship, when they would not be persuaded to be parted.

After seeing off Ninette and Emma, it is reported that both Ben and Victor disappeared below decks.

When Etches saw them again, their lifebelts were gone, and they were dressed in fine evening attire. They looked as though the hadn't a care between them.

Things weren't so bad at first, but when I saw Mr. Guggenheim about three-quarters of an hour after the crash there was great excitement. What surprised me was that both Mr. Guggenheim and his secretary were dressed in their evening clothes. They had deliberately taken off their sweaters, and as nearly as I can remember they wore no lifebelts at all.

“’What's that for?’ I asked.

“We’ve dressed up in our best,’ replied Mr. Guggenheim, ‘and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.’

Ben then asked Etches to communicate a message to Florette back in New York City.

The steward produced a piece of paper. He had written the message on it, he said, to be certain that it would be correct. This was the brief message:

"If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I've done my best in doing my duty."

Apparently, this was not Ben’s only attempt to communicate a last message back to Florette. According to the Washington Times dated April 20, 1912, Steward John Johnson reported that he had also been given a task.

[Benjamin Guggenheim] sent for Johnson, who he knew was an expert swimmer, and for his secretary and asked them, if they should be saved, to get word to Mrs. Guggenheim.

"Tell her, Johnson," the steward related, "that I played the game straight to the end and that no woman was left on board this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward. Tell her that my last thoughts will be of her and our girls."

Guggenheim then, according to Johnson, lit a cigar and sauntered up to the boat deck and was engulfed with the ship.

The enduring mystery is why Ben Guggenheim never entered a lifeboat.

Lifeboat 9 was the fifth boat to be launched on the starboard side by First Officer William Murdoch, who let men aboard  when there were no more women in his line of sight.

One could argue for chivalry, of course, but a recent discovery has led historians to believe that maybe Ben simply refused to abandon Victor.

A photo of Victor Giglio has come to light. Taken in 1901, it’s an image of Victor when he was only 13 and boarding at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire.

Victor’s father was Italian; his mother, Egyptian. This confirmed photo of Victor not only gives us an idea of what he would have looked like when he went down with the Titanic at all of 24 years old, but also demonstrates that he had dark eyes and a dark complexion—which almost guaranteed that he would have been refused a seat in a lifeboat.

This has led some to believe that Ben would not board a lifeboat while leaving his dear friend and confidante behind to die.

What happened to Benjamin Guggenheim and Victor Giglio as Titanic sank will never be known. Neither were ever recovered.

On board Carpathia, Ninette sent out a single telegram.

Moi sauvee mais Ben perdu

“I’m saved, but Ben lost”

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“I Love This Life”: Cellist Roger Bricoux

"I Love This Life": Cellist Roger Bricoux

Roger Bricoux was an exceptional cellist. He had been educated at the famed Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna in Italy for three years, and in that time was awarded for his talents. Roger then moved on to Le Conservatoire de Paris.

All of that, and he was just 20 years old.

Roger Bricoux.


Roger hailed from an artistic family. His father Leon was an acclaimed horn player who, in 1883, had secured First Horn in the resident band that played at the casino in Monte Carlo. Leon's father and uncle were both artists as well.

So Roger was raised there, in glamorous Monaco. He was Leon's third of four sons, but the first to survive. In fact, Roger's mother was three months pregnant with Roger when his older brother had suddenly died. Roger's younger brother, who was nicknamed Lolo, also survived childhood.

By all accounts, young Roger was extraordinarily close with his family, which we can see in his surviving letters to both his parents and Lolo.

Having completed his studies in Paris in 1910, Roger evidently came to the attention of C.W. & F.N. Black, a company that booked talent for various organizations. He made his way to Leeds, England, to work in the Grand Central Hotel orchestra.

Roger arrived in England ready to hit the ground running, although he knew little to no English. It was reported that he was jovial and "possessed many friends among the musicians of Leeds," and he was described as a "handsome young fellow, although his gait was somewhat married by a limp, the result of an injury due to a motor bicycle accident."

Roger took to learning English very quickly, and attended to his job. Not much is discoverable, however, in the way of details about Roger's stint in Leeds, although his overall schedule can be inferred from those of other contracted hotel musicians. He would have had to perform in at least two sessions per day, and report to a variety of special events as necessary. It was a life of late nights and low pay.

Roger was keen to prove himself self-sufficient to his father, who knew the lifestyle all too well. It was also point of pride in particular for Roger, that he did not have to offer music lessons to pay his way through life.

It's also reasonable to assume that he explored the area and traveled during his down-time. Roger wrote with excitement to Lolo about making a visit to London for his 18th birthday.


Dear Lolo,

Father wrote to tell me that you're coming to London. I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you that if you want to come to see me that would give me such pleasure that I will put you up, feed you, and pay for your journey to London and back so it would cost you nothing apart from the effort but I think you know you'll have some fun too.

As cited in © "The Band that Played On" by Steve Turner.

Once his contract in Leeds was up, Roger moved to Lille, France, and lined up some gigs, particularly at bars with bohemian vibes.

On December 30, 1911, he wrote home to his beloved parents from his lodging in Lille.

My Dear Parents,

As it is New Year I am writing to you as I have done in previous years to wish you a good and happy year, good health and as few cares as possible because I know you have some but believe me when I say that I do not have any. You would be right to say, “You’ll see when you earn your living” and I do see and it’s hard. But it seems to me that I m unburdening myself of a huge weight because I love you very much. I have many faults perhaps but don’t think that I do not think about you often.

As cited in © "The Band that Played On" by Steve Turner.

It turns out that Roger had been back in touch with C.W. & F.N. Black, and shortly thereafter was offered a trial period as a ship’s musician. Uncharacteristically, Roger didn’t write his parents to inform them until he was already on board. When he did, he said he left Lille to return to England, and received the contract.

Roger played on Carpathia—the ship that was destined to rescue Titanic survivors—with a pianist named Theodore Brailey, who he would also work with on Titanic.

Roger wrote excitedly to his parents from Gibraltar on March 18 about his newest assignment. And in that same letter, he divulged his uncertainty about his personal life.

I love this life but I would happily be with you. As for getting married, I will never marry unless it’s to a girl with money because my tastes… I only want to “love in silk” or at least “a comfortable home,” not living in attics with the fear of not eating the next day. Ambition?  Perhaps. And why not? Something tells me that it is necessary if one is to succeed.

As cited in © "The Band that Played On" by Steve Turner.

Roger may not have planned to get married, but rumor is that he may have inadvertently had a child.

On March 5, 1912, a domestic servant named Adelaide, who was 18 years old and residing in Staffordshire, had given birth to a daughter whose father was conveniently left off of her birth certificate.

The father, Adelaide told her family, was a cellist who was about to set sail on the Titanic.

Roger did not mention anything even alluding to Adelaide in his letters to his family, although he did mention some “bad behavior” in passing… but then, as we know, he was extremely close with them and appears to have been very forthcoming about his circumstances.

For what it’s worth, Adelaide’s daughter did bear a strong resemblance to Roger as she grew up.

Regardless, Roger met up with again the pianist Brailey on April 2, 1912, in advance of Titanic's departure. This is also the day that he met Wallace Hartley, his bandmaster, for the first time.

Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley.


All the members of the Titanic orchestra boarded as Second-Class passengers, with a universal ticket number of 250654 issued to each of them.

After being acquainted, or in some cases, reunited, the musicians would have reviewed their placements as assigned by bandmaster Wallace Hartley.

The two units had different repertoires, though all eight men would have been in possession of the White Star music book, which contained 352 pieces they were obligated to know by heart. Every First-Class passenger was also provided a copy of the book, so if someone requested a tune--almost any tune--they had to be able to play it.

Despite this, we know very little about what selections the two units actually made during the voyage. Eyewitness accounts attest to classical, of course, but also to songs that were popular in America and the United Kingdom.

Ragtime was mentioned often, as well as waltzes, fox trots, operatic pieces, and show tunes. Ragtime, in particular, was a bold choice, as it was considered salacious.

Roger played in the cello-violin-piano trio that played in the B Deck Reception Area, lending a cosmopolitan ambience to the A La Carte Restaurant and Cafe Parisien; it consisted of himself, Mr. Brailey, and violinist George Krins.

Despite these official designations, there are multiple reports of a quartet in both the First and Second Classes, which was apparently led by an additional and very lively violinist who loved to play a good "Scotch tune." Some speculate that this impromptu bandleader was 21-year-old Scotsman Jock Hume.

Cafe Parisien on R.M.S. Titanic, in which vicinity Roger's trio would have played. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


No member of the orchestra survived the sinking.

They are renowned and immortalized in (what is understood to have been) their final act of valor: playing "Nearer, My God, to Thee" on the boat deck until--as most accounts have it--the water reached their knees.

Titanic's orchestra, as published by the Amalgamated Musicians Union in 1912. Roger's photo is in the upper right corner.


Corpses of three of the eight band members were recovered by the Mackay-Bennett.

Roger's was not among them.

The families of the five lost members were uniquely agonized. They could not bury their sons. They were forever left with questions about their boys' final moments, what exactly had happened to each of them after the last note was played.

Leon Bricoux wrote to C.W. & F.N. Black hoping to ascertain any possible details about Roger. The company wrote back that, sadly, Roger's body had not been recovered.

They went on, stating that if it were to be recovered, Leon would be required to pay 500 francs for an embalming in New York City. His son's remains would be then be shipped back, of course, but only to Liverpool or Southampton. Leon would have to find his own way to England, and then would have to transport the corpse back to France out-of-pocket.

Along with the letter, Leon found a postal order paid to the amount of 19 shillings.

It was Roger's pay for his five fated days on Titanic.

In 1914, France called its sons up to serve in World War I. When Roger Bricoux didn't respond, he was labeled as a deserter.

He would not be considered officially deceased by the French government until 2000.


Turner, Steve. "The Band That Played On." Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2011.

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“When Picked Up Out of the Sea”: First-Class Barber Augustus Weikman

"When Picked Up Out of the Sea": First-Class Barber Augustus Weikman

Augustus Henry Weikman was Philadelphia-born in 1860, and aged 52 when he boarded the RMS Titanic. He and his wife, Mary, had wed in 1884. They had four living children.

Augustus worked as a barber for First-Class passengers, and signed on to work on Titanic directly from his same position on the Olympic. He was evidently very glad for his luck in being assigned to the maiden voyage, as he stated in a telegram to his wife from Southampton.

Augustus Weikman.

PUBLIC DOMAIN (photo taken prior to 1923)

Augustus had been working for the White Star Line since 1892, and he had the distinction of being the oft-reported sole American White Star employee on Titanic.

Mr. Weikman's seniority and skill had distinguished him among the elite passengers of First Class. He reportedly had an excellent rapport with his regular clients, and enjoyed talking about the stock market with Philadelphia millionaire George D. Widener, and even J.P. Morgan. It was reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in its April 19, 1912, issue that old J.P. would let no other man attend to him whilst traveling at sea.

J.P. Morgan, circa 1910.


The First-Class barbershop was located only a little ways off the after Grand Staircase, on C-Deck.

It was a pretty nice setup for its specialized services: installed with two swivel chairs and matching sinks, as well as a leather waiting bend and a marble counter. For a shilling, the dapperest of passengers would get a shave, a shampoo, and hairdressing. That shilling, along with any tips paid by happy customers, made for a nice paycheck for Augustus.

The Aft Grand Staircase on R.M.S. Olympic.


The barbershops on Titanic—plural, because there was Second-Class counterpart to the first—also served as little souvenir shops.

It was here that passengers could purchase postcards, tobacco, pens, flags, wallets, chocolates, as well as necessary items such as collars and combs, and a whole array of bric-a-brac, all boasting the White Star logo.

Strung from the ceiling were plenty of little trinkets, including hats, dolls, and penknives.

It’s been speculated that teddy bears might have also been available, as they were quite popular at the time and peer liners such as the rescue ship Carpathia had them available for sale.

Since there was no “stock list,” so to speak, of which sundries were kept in these shops, it’s a lot of reasonable speculation.

The Second-Class barbershop on R.M.S. Olympic. Taken for the White Star Line in the late 1910s.

PUBLIC DOMAIN (Taken prior to 1923)

Very few souvenirs from Titanic’s First-Class barbershop exist, but those that have survived include few engraved spoons, a hat ribbon with “R.M.S. Titanic” on it, and a pin cushion that Fr. Francis Browne bought for his niece while on board from Southampton to Queenstown.

It is a lifebuoy with the Union Jack, the American Flag, and "Titanic" on the ring. In the letter that accompanied it, Fr. Browne wrote that the little gift was “not beautiful, but it may be useful.”

Oh, painful irony.

Match tin souvenir from the R.M.S. Olympic, circa 1911. Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.


The First-Class barbershop was only open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but Augustus was evidently a night owl, because he testified in his affidavit to the Senate on April 24, 1912, that he was chilling in the barbershop upon Titanic’s collision with the iceberg at 11:40 p.m.

For note, this affidavit is contrasted by Augustus’s report to the North American on April 20, 1912, in which he spun a much more dramatic yarn.

“I had closed my shop," he continued, "and was taking a turn on the promenade. Looking through the windows I could see the passengers in the main saloon playing cards and reading. Suddenly, I was startled to hear the hoarse voice of a lookout command “Port your helm!"

There was a dead silence for a moment and then I felt the vessel lurch slightly and heard the side plates of the ship wrench and scrape. The bell in the engine room then clanged out the signal for reversing the engine, and I knew that we had struck something.

Augustus said that it was only a “slight shock,” but he never the less immediately made his way to A-Deck.

He met Thomas Andrews along the way. When Augustus asked what the damage report was, Thomas is reported to have replied, “My God, it’s serious.”

Augustus made his way to the First-Class gymnasium and found John Jacob Astor and George Widener standing at leisure together, watching men hit at a punching bag. When Augustus suggested to Mr. Widener that he should put on a lifevest, Mr. Widener laughed at him.

"What sense is there in that?" Widener is claimed to have replied. "This boat isn't going to sink."

Augustus later saw the same two men standing together on the deck after they had bid farewell to their wives. This is the last known sighting of either Astor or Widener.

John Jacob Astor, circa 1909.


Augustus spent the sinking assisting women and children into lifeboats, reportedly alongside White Star Chairman J. Bruce Ismay, whose conduct during the sinking--id est, saving himself--Augustus later defended with vehemence.

Because, according to Augustus, "the lifeboats offered no opportunity for the savings of a humble barber," he at some point took the time to go change his clothes and grab a pair of gloves. He said he didn't want to ruin his new uniform.

Augustus appears to have recounted the details of his own rescue a little differently in every contemporary journalistic retelling, but the basics go something like this: he seems to have been washed off his feet by the vertical rising of the deck, and was submerged—possibly against the railing alongside a dozen deckchairs all tethered together.

The Camden Post Telegram reported the following in its May 15, 1912, issue.

The crisis came while I was aiding in getting loose the last collapsible boat," said [Weikman]. "All at once the bow of the Titanic dipped down into the ocean about 500 feet and the stern reared itself in the air about 350 feet. No person under deck at this time had a possible chance to escape, and all on deck were hurled into a jumble in the center of the boat. I was covered with ropes, timbers and chains and while endeavoring to extricate myself could hear the shrieks, yells and moans of the dying. Finally I got loose except for a rope fastened about my foot. This gave me considerable trouble, but I finally got free and began to swim away from the ship.

I had not gone more than fifteen feet when there was an explosion on the boat and I was hurled about 100 feet away from her with a lot of the ship's appliances falling about me. In the wreckage were a dozen or so deck chairs tied together. This fell near me and saved my life.


When Augustus resurfaced, he climbed on board the nearby deckchairs and used them as a raft. He stated that if he had hauled himself entirely aboard that the entire thing would have been submerged, so his feet and legs were dangling off of it.

Augustus stated that, while the deck chairs were literal life-savers, that they had struck him when he was thrown into the air. He believed that the blunt force he sustained from them did some damage to his spine.

He saw a lifeboat in the near distance and paddled his way to it with only his hands and his bottom half dragging in the water, because he realized that he would be more likely to be saved the closer he was to it.

As he got closer, it’s reported that someone aboard called out, “Gus, is that you?”

The lifeboat had looked crowded from afar, but when he finally approached, he was surprised to find the opposite. Augustus realized that the crowd had thinned because the lifeboat was several inches underwater and barely floating, so every time the craft lurched, people were thrown into the water and lost to hypothermia.

There were a number of people clinging to ropes on the side as well; when Augustus expressed his surprise that they did not try to pull themselves up and aboard, he found out that they were frozen dead.

There is little discoverable information about which lifeboat this was, but its submersion has led many Titanicophiles to conclude that it had to be Collapsible A, which had been washed off the deck before its side could be pulled up.

Collapsible A was finally approached by Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in Lifeboat 14, and its few survivors suffered from extensive damage to their legs and feet, which Weikman likewise sustained.

Because of the extent of his injuries, the severe cold, and a friendly hit of brandy, Augustus is reported to have passed out and brought up onto Carpathia barely conscious.

Titanic survivors waiting to board Carpathia. From the George Grantham Bain Collection, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


And according to his grandchildren, he was so deeply unconscious and his pulse so faint that he was mistaken for dead.

They say that Augustus's effects, including his watch, were stripped from him, and he woke up in a body bag in the makeshift morgue on board Carpathia. As the story goes, he literally kicked and screamed his way out until someone came to his aid.

While I cannot find any primary source for this story, it is never the less borne out by the fact that Augustus was originally not listed among Titanic survivors.

In fact, his wife was reportedly in the midst of being consoled by neighbors on April 17, 1912, when the miraculous telegram arrived: Augustus Weikman was, against all odds, alive.

Per the Trenton Evening Times, which published an interview with Augustus taken when the Carpathia docked in New York City, “Weikman showed the effects of the terrible experiences through which he had just passed, and at time his talk was almost incoherent.”

Augustus Weikman took quite some time to recover from his injuries; he was confined to a wheelchair, and it was feared he might lose his feet. But he made a full recovery, and his great-grandson has stated that, according to family lore, Augustus used a poultice of chicken manure to regain circulation in his legs.

When Augustus returned to his home in Palmyra, New Jersey, he was celebrated as a hero; his neighbors are reported to have lined the street just to shake his hand as he was wheeled inside his house.

August kept some invaluable mementos of the sinking, including a one-dollar bill that he’d found in his pocket once rescued. He inscribed it thusly.

“This note was in my pocket when picked up out of the sea by ‘S.S. Carpathia’ from the wreck of ‘S.S. Titanic’ April 15th, 1912/A.H. Weikman, Palmyra, N.J.”

As inscribed by Augustus Weikman on the dollar bill he found in his pocket after surviving the sinking of Titanic.

In July of 1912, upon hearing of fundraising for a Titanic memorial by Mrs. John Hays Hammond, Augustus Weikman sent the inscribed dollar bill, enclosed in a letter recounting his experience.

Augustus also treasured his pocket watch, almost lost when he was given up for dead on board the rescue ship, if not for the fact that it was engraved with his initials.

It was stopped forever, as he said, on 1:50 a.m.

Weikman had sworn off the sea in April, but by August of 1912, he was offered the position of Admiral's Barber on Titanic's elder sister Olympic once he had recovered from his injuries. He chose instead to sign on to the Lusitania, which was reported by the New York Times on August 6, 1912.

[Augustus Weikman] is unable to content himself ashore. Mr. Weikman said after his experiences that he would never go to sea again, but he has arranged to resume his old position as chief barber, and will sail from New York on the Lusitania to-morrow.

Mr. Weikman has been traversing the ocean for a number of years, and says that when on land he is like a fish out of water, and it is impossible for him to be content except on the ocean.

"After all,' he said to-night, "an accident like the Titanic's may never occur again, and I think I will risk it, anyway."

Augustus Weikman died on November 7, 1924, in Pennsylvania.

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“Everything & Everybody Spellbound”: Dorothy Gibson

"Everything & Everybody Spellbound": Dorothy Gibson

Dorothy Gibson was 22 years old and a "leading photoplayer" in motion pictures by April of 1912.

She’d been signed on as a leading lady by a French motion picture company called Éclair after a stint as an actress and dancer on Broadway. Even more famously, she had been the muse for artist Harrison Fisher, modeling for many of his illustrations. Over the years, she graced postcards, magazine covers, and other merchandise.

Dorothy Gibson was the model for this illustration by Harrison Fisher, circa 1911.


Dorothy and her mother departed for Egypt on St. Patrick's Day of 1912, and evidently took the opportunity to go for a lark to Europe as well. Dorothy had only just completed a series of films, and needed some time for self-restoration.

They were enjoying Italy when Dorothy received word from her producer and secret lover Jules Brulatour that she was needed back to complete a new series, and she and her mother bought their First-Class tickets while in Paris.

A publicity shot of Dorothy Gibson, circa 1911.


Dorothy was enjoying a late-night game of bridge with her mother and two new gentleman friends when Titanic struck the iceberg. One of the men, banker William Sloper, clearly took a shine to Dorothy, as evidenced by his  account of the sinking.

I returned to the library of the ship and sat down at one of the desks to write thank you letters to some of my London friends with whom I had visited during the two weeks I was there. A very pretty young woman approached my desk and introduced herself as Miss Dorothy Gibson. She explained that she and her mother were seated across the room hoping that they would be able to find another card player to make a fourth at bridge. Although I was not then and never have been a good bridge player I accepted to join her as soon as I finished my letter.

Dorothy recounted the circumstances of the card game herself, as well as her recollection of the moment of collision, to the New York Dramatic Mirror, which was published in the May 1, 1912 issue.

Four of us had been breaking the rules of the boat by playing bridge on Sunday evening. After the steward had told us that he must put out the lights, we begged to finish the rubber and have some Poland water. These ceremonies over, I walked down to my room, at just 11.40. No sooner had I stepped into my apartment than there suddenly came this long drawn, sickening crunch.


Mr. Sloper, who had agreed to take a stroll on the promenade with Dorothy, continues in his retelling.

Suddenly the ship gave a lurch and seemed to slightly keel over to the left. At the same moment Dorothy came hastily up the stairs and we ran together onto the promenade deck on the starboard side. Peering off into the starlit night, we could both of us see something white looming up out of the water and rapidly disappearing off the stern.

As soon as the ladies returned, the four of us passed out onto the forward promenade deck. As we came amidship I asked the others if they didn't think we were walking down hill?

According to Mr. Sloper, the group continued to walk, all the while growing increasingly concerned about the deck tilt. It was then that they nearly collided with Thomas Andrews.

At this moment the designer of the ship at whose table in the dining saloon Mrs. Gibson and Dorothy had been sitting at mealtime during the voyage came bouncing up the stairs three steps at a time. Dorothy rushed over to him, putting her hands on his arm demanded to know what had happened.

Andrews apparently did not answer Dorothy with anything other than a “worried look on his face” as he continued running up the stairs.

The group of four—Dorothy, her mother, William Sloper, and the other bridge-player Frederick Steward—dispersed to grab their coats and lifebelts, then reunited up on deck; they found themselves near Lifeboat 7, which was on the starboard side, and therefore presided over by First Officer William Murdoch and Third Officer Herbert Pitman.

They could barely hear one another over the roar of the steam escaping the funnel that stretched above them.

A publicity shot of Dorothy Gibson.


Dorothy only stated that she and her mother were soon ordered into the lifeboat, and that she had to quite literally jump in as it swung to and fro on the davits.

William Sloper went into more detail, stating that an unspecified officer used a megaphone, inviting passengers to enter the boat if they’d like. A few stepped on before it was the group's turn to decide whether to stay or go, at which point Mrs. Gibson and Dorothy were placed into the boat.

For the rest of his life, Mr. Sloper credited Dorothy as his savior that night, because she refused to let go of his hand and insisted that he and Mr. Steward get in the boat, or she would not leave without them. No one else stepped forward, and the men relented to Dorothy’s pleas, even though the many still on deck around the boat continued to stand indecisive and still.

According to Mr. Sloper, Dorothy seemed to be the only one who comprehended the gravity of the situation at hand, and so was adamant about boarding the lifeboat.

Every passenger seemed to have taken a firm grip on his nerves. Dorothy Gibson was the only one who seemed to realize the desperate situation we were in because she had become quite hysterical and kept repeating over and over so that people standing near us could hear, ' I'll never ride in my little grey car again '. There was no doubt in Dorothy's mind in what she wanted to do.

It took some more minutes, but 19 more people eventually took seats in the lifeboat; when no one else stepped forward to board, the unnamed officer had the boat lowered away.

Dorothy recounted that there was no plug in the lifeboat and that water was flooding in through the floor, but that everyone in the boat worked to stuff it with, as she put it, “lingerie of the women and the garments of men.”

Dorothy’s description of the sinking itself is particularly haunting.

It seemed like a nightmare. The lights flickered out, deck by deck, until the bow was quite submerged. Then with a lurch, the Titanic slid forward under the waves. Instantly there sounded a rumble like Niagara, with two dull explosions.

A pause of silence held everything and everybody spellbound, until the stern shot back into sight and immediately sank again. Then, there burst out the most ghastly cries, shrieks, yells and moans that a mortal could ever imagine. No one can describe the frightful sounds, that gradually died away to nothing.

At the boarish insistence of her producer-slash-lover Jules Brulatour, Dorothy was IMMEDIATELY set up to star in the world's first film about the disaster: "Saved from the Titanic." It was a 10-minute long silent film, which premiered all of 29 days after Titanic sank on May 14, 1912.

Just like today, the sinking created a ravenous market, so needless to say, "Saved from the Titanic" drew a large crowd. The film was generally well-received for its technically aspects, and Dorothy was praised for her acting and bravery in reliving the raw trauma for its benefit.

There were also, of course, objections to the brazen commercialization of such a violent tragedy mere weeks after it had occurred.

Advertisement from "Saved from the Titanic," which debuted on May 14, 1912. Courtesy of Eclair Films.


"Saved from the Titanic" happened with such haste that Dorothy, who essentially played herself, wore the exact clothes that she had actually worn during the sinking.

She is rumored to have often undergone debilitating mental anguish, often breaking down in tears, during production. But she completed it regardless, because it was an “opportunity to pay tribute to those who gave their lives on that awful night”.

The original and only confirmed prints of “Saved from the Titanic” were destroyed in 1914, in a fire at the Éclair studios in New Jersey. It is considered one of the most significant "lost films" in cinematic history.

A still of Dorothy Gibson in "Saved from the Titanic" in 1912.


Shortly thereafter, Dorothy ended her film career.

In 1913, Dorothy was driving Jules Brulatour's sports car in New York when she ran over and killed a pedestrian; in the resulting trial, it came to light that Dorothy was, in fact, Brulatour's mistress.

Within a few years, Dorothy withdrew from public life entirely after her scandalous marriage to and swift divorce from Jules Brulatour.

Following that, there is very little in the way of information about her to be had.

But we know that three decades after Titanic sank, Dorothy found herself living in Paris and visiting her mother in Italy at the onset of Hitler’s rise to power.

But owing to the trauma she experienced on Titanic, refused to travel via sea to America.

So there, in Italy, Dorothy Gibson, the Titanic survivor and former starlet, was eventually arrested for being an anti-Fascist agitator and jailed in the San Vittore prison in Milan.

She was eventually aided in her escape from the prison she called “a living death” by Italian official(s) who insisted that she was not anti-Fascist, but in fact was willing to become a double agent to spy for the German cause.

So in 1944, she appeared quite suddenly in Switzerland for interrogation by the American consulate. Her allegiances--whatever they actually were--were never determined.

In 1945, Dorothy returned to Paris.

In 1956, she died alone in her suite at Hotel Ritz.

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“In Discouraging Games of Chance”: The First-Class Smoking Room

"In Discouraging Games of Chance": The First-Class Smoking Room

Titanic’s First-Class Smoking Room was a Georgian-style masterwork: all wooden paneling in luscious dark mahogany, every breadth of which was ornately hand-carved and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The ceiling was molded with elaborate plaster medallions, and the floors were tiled in an alternating pattern of blue and red. This color scheme has been confirmed via tiles that have been salvaged from the wreck site.

It was designed with an old-school gentleman’s club in mind, because it was exclusively available to men in possession of a first-class ticket. In the warmth of Titanic’s only coal-burning fireplace, Very Important Men could imbibe, gossip, gamble, read—and smoke, of course.

Starboard view of the fireplace in the First-Class Smoking Room on board R.M.S. Olympic, Titanic's elder sister, circa 1912. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


From their seats in the upholstered, round club chairs—Titanicophiles speculate this furniture may have been green leather (because Olympic’s were), but more probably burgundy (to better suit the décor)—these fancy men sat around square tables with raised edges, lest drink spillage ruin their evening wear.

And all around, in every periphery and all through the day and evening, large stained-glass windows glowed. These windows, set in impedimented niches, were backlit by electrical lighting.

Alternate view the First-Class Smoking Room on board R.M.S. Olympic, Titanic's elder sister, circa 1911. Taken by William Herman Rau for Harland & Wolff, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


A drink and good cigar could be ordered in the Smoking Room from a steward working the bar, which according to deck plans, was adjacent to the Smoking Room, behind the white-marble fireplace. The bar closed at half-past 11 p.m., and the Smoking Room itself shuttered at midnight.

A specially commissioned work by Norman Wilkinson called “Plymouth Harbor” was hung above the fireplace, although it’s often been mis-reported that the painting was Wilkinson’s “Approach to the New World,” which was actually housed on the Olympic.

In 1996, Wilkinson’s son created a faithful reproduction of “Plymouth Harbor,” presumably from his father’s notes and/or sketches.

And if the menfolk fancied a change of scenery, a revolving door to the right of the fireplace led into the smoking section of the Verandah Café, also called the Palm Court: a sunlit room with ivy trellises, potted ferns, and wicker furniture, where they could meet their wives or mistresses to take refreshment.

The Palm Court on the R.M.S. Olympic.


The First-Class Smoking Room was also the setting of one of Titanic’s most famous, though misreported, farewells: that of Chief Shipbuilder Thomas Andrews.

Generally speaking, it was a frequently occupied space, by both groups and individual men.  Spencer Silverthorne, for instance, attested to reading in the Smoking Room when Titanic struck the iceberg.

But the Smoking Room was a popular place for more nefarious reasons than reading: it was the haunt of some hardcore card-sharps.

This wasn’t a Titanic-specific phenomenon. In fact, transatlantic liners were plagued with professional gamblers. Bearing this in mind, the following warning was issued alongside Titanic’s passenger manifest.


The attention of the Managers has been called to the fact that certain persons, believed to be Professional Gamblers, are in the habit of travelling to and fro in Atlantic Steamships.

In bringing this to the knowledge of Travelers the Managers, while not wishing in the slightest degree to interfere with the freedom of action of Patrons of the White Star Line, desire to invite their assistance in discouraging Games of Chance, as being likely to afford these individuals special opportunities for taking unfair advantage of others.

The warning was not without merit. Titanic had at least three confirmed conmen on board, all of whom survived. They included Charles Romaine—C. Rolmane on this particular voyage, thanks—who, according the Chicago Tribune on April 19, 1912, was enjoying a highball in the Smoking Room when Titanic struck the iceberg.

I had been standing on the deck. I had become chilled and went inside for a warming drink before going to bed. Suddenly there came the shock, and my first thought was that we had struck a larger cake of ice than usual.

The boat suddenly tilted, so sharply that my highball slid from the table. Then came a cry: ‘We’re sinking,’ and the lights grew dimmer and dimmer and finally went out.

Charles is believed to have survived in Lifeboat 9.

There was also George Brereton, who boarded under the alias “George Brayton” and was staking out his next target in the Smoking Room when the collision happened.

The other confirmed card-sharp on board was Harry “Kid” Homer, who boarded Titanic as a first-class passenger under the alias “E. Haven”. Harry was a pretty notorious criminal by 1912, starting with an arrest in New York back in 1901 “as a dangerous and suspicious character,” when he “was given twenty-four hours to leave that city.”

Later that same year, Harry was arrested in Cincinnati. Then arrested in 1905 in Cleveland, and 1906 in Arkansas. Then in 1908, he appeared in New Orleans.

Per the Time Democrat issued November 24, 1908, “Homer is said to have had his picture in the local rogue's gallery, and has been arrested in various cities in connection with wire-tapping, pocket-picking and other alleged crooked work” at which point Harry insisted that “he had stopped off [in New Orleans] only a few hours while en route to San Antonio, Texas.”

Harry, damn.

Anyway. Harry never divulged details about how he survived the sinking, other than his occupancy in Lifeboat 15.

On May 11, 1912, The Witney Gazette published an article stating that Harry, another conman by the name of Doc Owens, and a third unnamed man were playing cards in the Smoking Room when the collision occurred; thereafter, Doc Owens called on a steward that he’s previously bribed to keep hush about their identities.

[Doc then snuck him] a roll of bank notes, got him to furnish women’s clothing and hats. Dressed in these clothes, the three men hurried to the deck and leaped into a lifeboat filled with women just as it was being lowered.

Afterwards they stripped themselves of the women’s clothes, which they threw overboard. The boat they were in was filled with immigrant women and children, and did not have enough men to work the oars. Accordingly, their assistance was welcomed.

Despite the inclination to vilify petty criminals, this report is contested. Specifically, The New York Times reported on April 18, 1912, that Doc Owens’s presence in the city had been confirmed and that he was not a passenger. According to this same report, neither were other conmen Jimmie Bell and Ernest “Peaches” Jefferys.

Except that Ernest Jefferys was not a criminal at all. And he had, in fact, been on Titanic.

He was socializing with his brother Clifford and brother-in-law Peter when Titanic struck the iceberg, and had died in the sinking. His sister survived, and threatened to sue the Times for their error.

Another criminal, Jay Yates, was reported as having gone down with the Titanic… because he was attempting to fake his own death, being wanted by the police for stealing two grand in postal money orders.

Yates reportedly hired a woman to pose as a survivor and deliver his heartfelt goodbye note to a newspaper office with the following note, as per the Chicago Inter Ocean on April 21, 1912, which reported that  “Jay Yates, gambler, confidence man and fugitive from justice” had gone down with the ship.

You will find note that was handed to me as I was leaving the Titanic.
Am stranger to this man, but think he was a card player. He helped me
Aboard a lifeboat and I saw him help others. Before we were lowered I saw
Him jump into the sea. If picked up, I did not recognize him on the Carpathia.
I do not think he was registered on the ship under his right name.

Jay Yates was arrested in June of 1912 in Baltimore, MD.

The First-Class Smoking Room was decimated in the sinking, being aft of the break and susceptible to complete destruction as the stern spun toward the ocean floor.

Although there are photos of the First-Class Smoking Room on the nearly identical RMS Olympic, no photos of Titanic's Smoking Room are known to exist.

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“That Together With Sorrow and Worries”: Anna & Adolf Dyker

“That Together With Sorrow and Worries”: Anna & Adolf Dyker

Adolf Fredrick Dyker, who went by “Fred,” was born on a ship.

Fred’s parents were making a transatlantic journey from Sweden to New Haven, Connecticut, where public records indicated his father had lived since about 1870.

But the elder Mr. Dyker, who was naturalized in 1879, still owned a café in Stolkholm, where he traveled often. So Fred, despite spending at least some of his childhood in the United States, received his education in Sweden.

After a stint in a New York bank, Fred found work in his kinda-sorta hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, as a tram conductor on the Woodmont line during the summer of 1911.

It was recorded by the American Red Cross that Fred’s pleasant and courteous approach made him “an unusually valuable employee” who would have been fast-tracked for promotion. He earned $14 a week, which was probably a reasonably handsome paycheck for 1911.

Union Station in New Haven, Connecticut, circa 1914, where Fred Dyker would have reported to work as a tram conductor.


I’ve also read that Fred kept a collection of the tram stubs he’d taken on his shifts, but I cannot find a primary source for this. It’s pretty adorable, though, so let’s assume it’s true.

In 1908, Fred married Anna Elisabeth Judith Andersson, a Massachusetts-born American who was also of Swedish descent.

Anna went by “Liza,” and was a musician and singer. She had attended Yale School of Music and sometimes participated in church choir, and was also giving music lessons to get by. Per census records, they lived in West Haven, Connecticut, with Liza’s parents.

In 1911, Liza and Fred received word that Fred’s father was dying in Sweden; they re-mortgaged their home to enable themselves to go abroad to arrange and settle his estate.

Titanic was their ride home. They boarded as Third-Class passengers at Southampton on April 10, 1912.

The steerage class is often considered minimal at best—particularly in contrast to the nearly criminal opulence of First Class—but in truth, it was some of the best quarters, dining, and overall treatment than some of its passengers would experience elsewhere or ever again.

The Third-Class Dining Saloon on RMS Olympic, Titanic's elder sister, circa 1991. Courtesy of Bedford Lemere & Co.


On the night of the collision, Liza and Fred were wakeful. They were so awake, in fact, that Liza reported that she was still in her dayclothes, sans hat.

The couple soon found themselves at Lifeboat 16, which was far aft and under the supervision of Second Officer Charles Lightoller.

By all reports, Fred did not attempt to board the lifeboat with his wife, but rather stepped aside for other women and children. Fred gave Liza a kiss, as well as his hand to help her climb the gunwale, and said, “I’ll see you later.”

His tone has been reported to be flippant and cheery, and this is not unlike many husbands and fathers who put their loved ones into lifeboats alone. As the lifeboat pulled away from Titanic's side, Fred waved at Liza from the boat deck.

And as was true for so many broken couples and divided families, Liza and Fred would never see each other again. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported Liza’s statement in its April 19, 1912, issue.

I ran to the deck where I met Adolph. He had with him a satchel which contained two gold watches, two diamond rings, a sapphire necklace and 200 crowns. He couldn’t be saved in the boat I was in and he grabbed a preserver and said he would jump and try to save himself. That was the last I saw of him.

To add cruel insult to debilitating injury, Liza said the satchel that Fred had given to her was stolen as she was boarding Carpathia.

On board the rescue ship, Liza was suffering from extreme exposure and was under the care of the doctors on board. She managed to send only a brief telegram to New Haven that said, “Liza saved, Fred lost.”

At only 22 years old, she was already widowed.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on April 19, 1912, that Liza was “hysterical” when she disembarked from the Carpathia.

R.M.S. Carpathia docked in New York City after rescuing Titanic survivors, April 1912. From the George G. Bain Collection, courtesy of the Library of Congress


When she finally got home, Liza was weary, bereaved, and bedridden for “many weeks.” According to her American Red Cross file, she was caused to lose her singing voice entirely from the illness and trauma that she’d suffered, and was fearful that she’d never regain it.

I lost my husband and everything I owned, I was wounded when I was brought from Titanic, that together with sorrow and worries has completely broke me down. My health have not recovered, I have tried to done some work to earn my living... 

Liza sued the White Star Line for the loss of her husband, as well as her luggage.

It would seem that Liza’s voice eventually recovered, as she reportedly returned to music lessons. She remarried some years later, and died in New Jersey in 1971.

Fred Dyker’s corpse, if found, was never identified. As was the case for the remains of virtually all Third-Class passengers, if it had been recovered, it would have been buried at sea.

As Fred Dyker was born on a ship, so he died on the same.

He was 23 years old.

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