New and powerful survivor’s account of the sinking of the Titanic
Frightening “Survivor’s Tale” by John “Jack” Thayer III published for the first time for centenary
He wrote of walking the decks on 14th April after dinner and how peaceful the night was. He said “It was a brilliant, starry night. There was no moon and I have never seen the stars shine brighter; they appeared to stand right out of the sky, sparkling like cut diamonds.
"I have spent much time on the ocean, yet I have never seen the sea smoother than it was that night; it was like a mill-pond, and just as innocent looking, as the great ship quietly rippled through it."
As he said goodnight to his parents at 11.45pm he said he felt the ship jolt “as though she had been gently pushed”. Then the engines suddenly stopped.
He and his father went to explore. They remained calm believing the ship to be “unsinkable”. Then they met on of the ship’s designers who they had spent several evenings with. He told them he believed the ship would not survive an hour.
They fetched Marian and all returned on deck wearing their life preservers made of thick cork. The ship’s band played and the ship’s officers remained at their posts.
The Titanic fired distress rockets and illuminated the sky. They were ignored by at least on passing vessel, the SS California. The passengers on the Titanic saw the lights of the ship at 12.30am.
At 12. 45am the stewards called for the women on board to go to the port side as lifeboats were lowered. The Thayers were separated from one another as people began to scramble.
By 2.15am the ship was tilting out of the water.
He wrote “We were a mass of hopeless, dazed humanity, attempting, as the Almighty and Nature made us, to keep our final breath until the last possible moment."
As the vessel reared up, rumblings and explosions started to sound Thayer decided to jump.
He wrote “I was pushed out and then sucked down. The cold was terrific. The shock of the water took the breath out of my lungs.
"Down and down, I went, spinning in all directions. Swimming as hard as I could in the direction which I thought to be away from the ship, I finally came up with my lungs bursting, but not having taken any water."
After some struggle he came up next to an upturned lifeboat. The men already clinging to it pulled him up.
Young Thayer was shocked that many lifeboats had plenty of space but none returned to rescue those calling for help in the water for fear their boats would be swamped.
"The most heartrending part of the whole tragedy was the failure, right after the Titanic sank, of those boats which were only partially loaded, to pick up the poor souls in the water. There they were, only four or five hundred yards away, listening to the cries, and still they did not come back. If they had turned back several hundred more would have been saved."
Thayer was on the last lifeboat to be rescued by the Carpathia, a Cunard liner, at about 7.30am. He found his mother on board but not his father.
He describes the next three days trip to New York full of sorrow.
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