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L.Beasley's Story

Thrilling Account by L. Beasley

Collison only a slight Jar - passengers could not believe the vessel doomed- narrow escape of lifeboats- picked up by the Carpathia.

Among the most connected and interesting stories related by the survivors of the Titanic was the one told by L.Beasley, of Cambridge, England. He said:

The voyage from Queenstown had been quite uneventful; very fine weather was experienced, and the sea was quite calm. The wind had been a westerly to southwesterly the whole way, but very cold, particularly the last day; in fact after dinner on Saturday evening it was almost too cold to be out on deck at all.

Only a Slight Jar

I had been in my berth for about ten minutes, when at about 11.15pm, I felt a slight jar and then soon after a second one, but not sufficiently violent to cause any anxiety to anyone, however nervous they may have been. However, the Titanic's engines stopped immediately afterward, and my first thought was, 'She has lost a propeller'. I went up on the top deck in a dressing gown and found only a few people there, who had come up similarly to inquire why we had stopped, but there was no sort of anxiety in the minds of anyone.

W saw through the smoking room window a game of cards going on, and went in to inquire if they knew anything; it seems they felt more of a jar, and looking through the window had seen a huge iceberg go by close to the side of the ship. They thought they had just grazed it with a glancing blow, and that the engines had stopped to see if any damamge had been done. No one, of course, had any conception that the vessel had been pierced below by part of the submerged iceberg.

The game went on without any thought of disaster and I retired to my cabin, to read until we went on again. I never saw any of the players or on lookers again.

Some Were Awakened

A little later, hearing people go upstairs, I went out again and found everyone wanting to know why the engines had stopped. No doubt many were awakened from sleep by the sudden stopping of the vibration to which everyone had become accustomed to during the four days we had been on board. Naturally, with such powerful engines as the Titanic carried, the vibration was very noticeable all the time, and the sudden stopping had the same effect as the stopping of a loud - ticking grandfather clock in a room.

On going on deck again I saw that there was an undoubted list downward from stern to bow, but knowing nothing of what happened, concluded some of the front compartments had filled and weighed her down. I went down again to put on some warmer clothing, and as I dressed heard an order for 'All passengers on deck with lifebelts on'.

We all walked slowly up, with the belts tied on over our clothing, but even then presumed this was only a wise precaution the captain was taking, and that we should all be returning in a short time to our cabin and going to bed. 

There was a total absence of any panic or any hint of alarm, and I suppose this can be accounted for by the exceedingly calm night and the absence of any signs of the accident.

The ship was absolutely still, except for a gentle downward tilt, which I don;t think one person in ten would have noticed at the time, no signs of the approaching disaster were visible. She lay just as if she were waiting for the order to go on again when some trifle matter had been attended to.

But in a few moments we saw the covers lifted from the boats and the crews assigned to them standing by and coiling up the ropes which were to lower them by pulley blocks into the water.

We then began to realize it was more serious than first thought, and my first impulse was to go down and get some clothing and money, but seeing people pouring up the stairs, decided it was better to cause any more confusion to the people coming up. Presently we heard the order 'All men stand back away from the boats and all ladies retire to the next deck below' (the smoking room deck, B deck).

Men Stood Back 

The men all stood away and remained in absolute silence leaning against the end railings of the deckor pacing slowly up and down. The baot were swung out and lowered from A deck. When they were to the level of B deck, where all the women had assembled, they got in quietly, with the exception of some who refused to leave their husbands.

In some cases they were torn from them and pushed into the boats, but in many instances they were allowed to remain because their was no one insisting they should go.

Looking over the side , one saw boats from the aft already in the water, slipping quietly away into the darkness, and presently the boats near me were lowered, and with much creaking as the new ropes slipped through the pulley blocks down the 90ft which separated them from the water. An officer in uniformcame up as one boat went down and shouted ' When you are afloat row around to the companion ladder and stand by with the other boats for orders'.

'Aye,aye, sir' came the reply; but I don't think any baot was able to obey the order. WHen they were afloat and had the oars at work, the condition of the rapidly settling boat was so much more a sight alarm for those in the boats than those on board, that in common prudence the sailors saw they could do nothing but row from the sinking ship to save lives. They no doubt anticipated suction from such an enormous vessel would be more dangerous than usual to a crowded boat mostly filled with women.

All this time there was not trace of any disorder; no panic or rush to the boats and no scenes of women sobbing hysterically, such as one generally pictures as happening ar such times (everyone seemed to slowly realize that there was imminent danger). When it was realized that we might all be soon in the sea with nothing but our lifebelts to support us until we were picked up by passing steamers, it was extraordinary how calm everyone was and how completely self-controlled. 

Women and Children

One by one the boats were filled with women and children, lowered and rowed away into the night. Presently the word went around among the men 'men are to be put into boats on the starboard side.'

I was on the port side and most of the men walked across the deck to see if this was the case. I remained where I was and soon heard the call 'Any more ladies?'

Looking over the side of the ship I saw the boat No13 swinging level with B deck, half full of women. Again the call was repeated, 'Any more ladies?'

I saw none come on and then one of the crew looking up said 'Any more women on deck sir ?'

'No', I replied.

'Then you had better jump.'

I dropped in and fell to the bottom and they cried 'lower away'. As the boat began to descend two ladies were pushed through the crowd on B deck and then heaved over into the lifeboat, and then a baby of 10 months was passed down after them. Down we went, the crew calling to those lowering each end to 'keep her level', until we were 10 ft from the water, and here occurred the only anxious moment we had during the whole experience from leaving the deck to reaching the Carpathia.

Hot Steam

Immediately below our boat was the exhaust of the condensers, a huge steam of water pouring all the time from the ship's sidejust below the water line. It was plain we ought to be quickly away from this and not to be swamped by it when we touched the water.

Lifeboats Falling

We had no officer on board , nor a petty officer or member of the crew to take charge. So one of the stokers shouted 'Someone find the pin which releases the boat from the ropes and pull it up!' No one knew where it was. We felt on the floor and sides but nothing was found and it was hard to move among so many people (we had 60-70 people on board). Down we went and we were soon floating, with our ropes still holding us, the exhaust washing us away from the side of the vessel and the swell of the sea urging us back against the side again. The result of all these forces was an impetus which carried us parallel to the ship's side and directly under boat 14, which had filled rapidly with men and was coming down on us in a way that threatened to submerge our boat.  

'Stop lowering 14' our crew shouted and the crew of No.14 , now only 20ft above, shouted the same. But the distance to the top was some 70ft and the creaking pulleys must have deadened all sounds to those above, for down she came, 15ft,10ft,5ft, and a stoker and I reached up and touched her swinging above our heads. The next drop would have brought her down on our heads, but just before she dropped anothe stoker jumped to the ropes with his knife.

Anywhere But Here

'One' I heard him say,'two', as his knife cut through the pulley ropes and the next moment the exhaust stream had carried us clear, while boat No.14 dropped into the water, into the space we had a moment before occupied, our gunwales almost touching.

We drifted away easily, as the oars were taken out and we headed directly away from the ship. The crew seemed to me to be mosty stewards and cooks in white jackets, two to an oar, with a stoker at the tiller. There was a certain amount of shouting from one end of the boat to the other and discussion as to which way we should go, but finally it was decided to elect the stoker, who was steering , as captain and for all to obey his orders. He set to work at once to get in touch with the other boats, calling to them and getting as close as seemed wise, so that when the search boats came in the morning to look for us, there would be more chance for all to be rescued by keeping together.

It was now about 1am; a beautiful starlight night, with no moon and not very much light. The sea was as calm as a pond, just a gentle heave as the boat dipped up and down in the swell ; an ideal night, except for the bitter cold, for anyone who had to be out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean in anopen boat. And if ever there was a time when such a night was needed, surely it was now, with hundreds of people, mostly women and children, afloat hundreds of miles from land.

Watching The Titanic Go Down

The captain-stoker told us that he had been at sea for 26 years and had never yet seen such a calm night on the Atlantic. As we rowed away from the Titanic we looked back from time to time to watch her and a more striking spectacle it was not possible for anyone to see.

In the distance it looked an enormous length, its great bulk outlined in black against a starry sky, every porthole and saloon blazing with light. It was impossible to think anything could be wrong with such a leviathan, were it not for that ominous tilt downward at the bow, where the water was by now to the lowest row of portholes.

About 2am, as near as I can remember, we observed it settling very rapidly, with the bows and the bridge completely under water and concluded it was now only a question of minutes it went; and so it proved.