Faces of the Titanic: Daniel Buckley survived, hidden in a lifeboat

Woman hid Irishman, Daniel Buckley, as officers fired shots and threatened men who had rushed a boat.

What became of those other three boys?

I cannot say. I did not see them any more after leaving the room where I parted from them.

They were lost?

Yes, they were lost.

Was there any effort made on the part of the officers or crew to hold the steerage passengers in the steerage?

I do not think so.

Were you permitted to go up to the top deck without any interference?

Yes, sir. They tried to keep us down at first on our steerage deck. They did not want us to go up to the First-Class place at all.

Who tried to do that?

I cannot say who they were. I think they were sailors.

What happened then? Did the steerage passengers try to get out?

Yes, they did. There was one steerage passenger there, and he was getting up the steps, and just as he was going in a little gate a fellow came along and chucked him down; threw him down into the steerage place. This fellow got excited, and he ran after him, and he could not find him. He got up over the little gate. He could not find him.

What gate do you mean?

A little gate just at the top of the stairs going up into the First-Class deck.

There was a gate between the steerage and the First-Class deck?

Yes. The First-Class deck was higher up than the steerage deck, and there were some steps leading up to it, 9 or 10 steps, and a gate just at the top of the steps.

Was the gate locked?

It was not locked at the time we made the attempt to get up there, but the sailor, or
whoever he was, locked it. So that this fellow who went up after him broke the lock on it, and he went after the fellow that threw him down. He said if he could get hold of him he would throw him into the ocean.

Did these passengers in the steerage have any opportunity at all of getting out?

Yes, they had.

What opportunity did they have?

I think they had as much chance as the First- and Second-Class passengers.

After this gate was broken?

Yes, because they were all mixed. All the steerage passengers went up on the First-Class deck at this time, when the gate was broken. They all got up there. They could not keep them down.

How much water was there in the steerage when you got out of the steerage?

There was only just a little bit. Just like you would throw a bucket of water on the floor; just very little, like that.

But it was coming in, was it?

Yes, it was only just commencing to come in. Then I went down the second time, to get one of the life preservers, there was a terrible lot of water there, in a very short time.

How much?

It was just about three steps up the stairs, on the last flight of stairs that I got down.

Did you find any people down in the steerage when you went back the second time?

There were a number, but I cannot say how many. All the boys and girls were coming up against me. They were all going for the deck.

Were they excited?

Yes, they were. The girls were very excited, and they were crying; and all the boys were trying to console them and saying that it was nothing serious.

Were you crying at the time?

Not at this time. There was a girl from my place, and just when she got down into the lifeboat she thought that the boat was sinking into the water. Her name was Bridget Bradley. She climbed one of the ropes as far as she could and tried to get back into the Titanic again, as she thought she would be safer in it than in the lifeboat. She was just getting up when one of the sailors went out to her and pulled her down again.

How many people were there in the steerage when you got out of bed?

I cannot say.

Could you see many people around?

Yes, sir; there was a great crowd of people. They were all terribly excited. They were all going for the decks as quick as they could. The people had no difficulty in stepping into the lifeboat. It was close to the ship.

I want to ask you whether, from what you saw that night, you feel that the steerage passengers had an equal opportunity with other passengers and the crew in getting into the lifeboats?

Yes, I think they had as good a chance as the First- and Second-Class passengers.

You think they did have?

Yes. But at the start they tried to keep them down on their own deck.

But they broke down this gate to which you have referred?

Yes, sir.

And then they went on up, as others did, mingling all together?

Yes, they were all mixed up together.

Have you told all you know, of your own knowledge, about that?


Were you where you could see the ship when she went down?

Yes, I saw the lights just going out as she went down. It made a terrible noise, like thunder.

I wish you would tell the committee in what part of the ship this steerage was located.

Down, I think, in the lower part of the steamer, in the after part of the ship, at the back.

That is all. Thank you.

Buckley told the Daily Times on landfall: ‘The lights were kept burning until the ship sank from sight. Men fought with women down in the steerage, and time and again officers would drag men from the boats in order to let women have their places.’

Daniel Buckley is buried in his native Ballydesmond, County Cork. The inscription
on his grave reads: ‘Of your charity, pray for the soul of Dannie Buckley, Ballydesmond, who was killed in action in France, on Oct 15th 1918, aged 28 years. Survivor of Titanic.’