United States Senate Inquiry

Day 11

Testimony of Archibald Gracie, cont.

Senator SMITH.
What occurred there?

Mr. GRACIE.
Mr. Smith jumped to try to reach the deck. I jumped also. We were unsuccessful. Then the wave came and struck us, the water came and struck us, and then I rose as I would rise in bathing in the surf, and I gave a jump with the water, which took me right on the hurricane deck, and around that was an iron railing, and I grabbed that iron railing and held tight to it; and I looked around, and the same wave which saved me engulfed everybody around me. I turned to the right and to the left and looked. Mr. Smith was not there, and I could not see any of this vast mass of humanity. They had all disappeared. Officer Lightoller tells me that at the same time he was on the bridge deck, where I have marked it "L", and that the first officer, Murdoch, was about 15 feet away, where you see that boat near the davits there. That boat, I understand, was thrown overboard.

Senator BURTON.
What do you say became of that boat?

Mr. GRACIE.
It was thrown overboard.

Senator FLETCHER.
It was never launched?

Mr. GRACIE.
It was never launched; no, sir.

Senator SMITH.
That is not the boat that was taken from the top of the officers' quarters, the collapsible?

Mr. GRACIE.
There were two; one on the port side and this one on the starboard side. This knife which was called for may have been wanted for the boat on the other side, on the bridge deck there. I heard that they called for two knives. There is where the officers' quarters were, possibly.

Senator SMITH.
So far as you know, was this boat to which you have referred put to any use that night?

Mr. GRACIE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Describe it.

Mr. GRACIE.
That is the boat that I came to when I came up from below. I was taken down with the ship, and hanging on to that railing, but I soon let go. I felt myself whirled around, swam under water, fearful that the hot water that came up from the boilers might boil me up - and the second officer told me that he had the same feeling - swam it seemed to me with unusual strength, and succeeded finally in reaching the surface and in getting a good distance away from the ship.

Senator SMITH.
How far away?

Mr. GRACIE.
I could not say, because I could not see the ship. When I came up to the surface there was no ship there. The ship would then have been behind me, and all around me was wreckage. I saw what seemed to be bodies all around. Do you want me to go through the harrowing details?

Senator SMITH.
No; I am not particular about that. I would like to know specifically whether, while this ship was sinking, and you were in close proximity to it, you noticed any special suction?

Mr. GRACIE.
No; I noticed no suction, and I did not go down so far as that it would affect my nose or my ears. My great concern was to keep my breath, which I was able to do, and being able to do that was what I think saved me.

Senator SMITH.
Was the water cold?

Mr. GRACIE.
I did not notice any coldness of the water at that time. I was too much preoccupied in getting away.

Senator SMITH.
Did it have any bad effect on you?

Mr. GRACIE.
No, not then, but afterwards, on the raft. I was on the raft, which I will speak of, all night; and I did not notice how cold the water was until I got on the raft. There was a sort of gulp, as if something had occurred, behind me, and I suppose that was where the water was closing up, where the ship had gone down; but the surface of the water was perfectly still, and there were, I say, this wreckage, and these bodies, and there were the horrible sounds of drowning people and people gasping for breath.

While collecting the wreckage together I got on a big wooden crate, some sort of wooden crate, or wood of that sort. I saw an upturned boat, and I struck out for that boat, and there I saw what I supposed were members of the crew on this upset boat. I grabbed the arm of one of them and pulled myself up on this boat.

Senator SMITH.
Did anybody resist you at all?

Mr. GRACIE.
What is that?

Senator SMITH.
Was there any resistance offered?

Mr. GRACIE.
Oh, no; none whatever. I was among the first. I suppose the boat was then about half full.

Senator SMITH.
How many were on it?

Mr. GRACIE.
I suppose there must have been between 15 and 20.

Senator SMITH.
Was Officer Lightoller on it?

Mr. GRACIE.
Yes; Officer Lightoller was on that same boat.

Senator SMITH.
At that time?

Mr. GRACIE.
At that same time. Then I came up to the surface and was told by Lightoller what had occurred. One of the funnels fell from the steamer, and was falling toward him, but when it was going to strike him, young Mr. Thayer, who was also on the same boat, said that it splashed near him, within 15 yards, he said, and it splashed him toward this raft. We climbed on this raft. There was one man who was in front, with an oar, and another man in the stern with what I think was a piece of a board, propelling the boat along. Then we loaded the raft, as we now call it, with as many as it would contain, until she became under water, until we could take no more, because the water was up to our waists.

Senator SMITH.
Just one moment. That was while you were on the bottom of the overturned boat?

Mr. GRACIE.
Of the overturned boat; yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was that a collapsible?

Mr. GRACIE.
That was a collapsible canvas boat.

Senator SMITH.
What was the bottom, oval or flat?

Mr. GRACIE.
The top was irregular, and about 3 1/2 feet wide, I should say. It was like a canoe - distinct, therefore, from the lifeboats - and it was about, I should say, between 25 and 30 feet long.

Senator SMITH.
Were you standing on top of this overturned boat?

Mr. GRACIE.
Not at first. We did not stand on it until just before sun up. Our concern now was to get out of the wreckage and to get away from the swimmers in the water before they tried to get on the boat, and all of us would be lost. You do not want the details of that, nor the horrors of it? That does not concern you.

Senator SMITH.
No; that does not concern us much. I will change that. That will not be helpful to us in our deliberations.

Mr. GRACIE.
We were taken through the wreckage and away from the screams of the drowning people, and we were on the lookout then in every direction for lights and ships to come to our rescue, hallooing all the time "Boat ahoy," or "Ship ahoy," our spirits kept up all the time by what we thought were steamship lights and boat lights, but I think most of those lights we saw were the lights of the lifeboats of the Titanic, particularly one that was steering ahead of us, with green lights, and throwing up rockets, I think, or making lights every little while - not rockets, but making a light. I do not know what kind of light they had, but it was a green light that was every little while conspicuous from some lifeboats directly ahead of us.

Senator SMITH.
There were no explosions of any kind from that lifeboat?

Mr. GRACIE.
Which lifeboat, the lifeboat we saw ahead?

Senator SMITH.
The one with the green light. Was the green light the only light you saw?

Mr. GRACIE.
No; the only light that was right straight ahead of us; and then right to the port side we finally did see the lights of a ship, and that was finally the Carpathia, and the Marconi man who was on the raft said he thought this was the Carpathia, because he had conversed with the operator on the Carpathia. That was the nearest ship, he thought, to us at the time. We had to keep the equilibrium of the boat all night long, from half-past 2. I say half-past 2; I might say from 2.22, because my watch, that I spoke of before, when I looked at it afterwards on the Carpathia, had stopped, and the time indicated was 2.22. So that would indicate the time between the collision and the time that I went down with the ship. We stood upon this collapsible boat in the early morn, just before dawn, so that we might be seen the better, and also, it was not quite so cold, although our feet were in the water. Then, as the sun came up, a welcome sight was the four lifeboats of the Titanic on our starboard side. Lightoller blew his whistle and ordered them to come over and take us off of our upset boat. "Aye, aye, sir," they replied, and immediately turned toward us, and two boats came right up close and then began the difficult task of a transfer, and some were loaded. We got on the nearest lifeboat, the bow of this, and some went on this one and some went on the one adjoining. The complement of the lifeboat I was on was filled up to 65.

Senator SMITH.
How many women were there?

Mr. GRACIE.
There were a considerable number of women; possibly half the number were women.

Senator SMITH.
What was the number of that boat, do you know?

Mr. GRACIE.
I do not. I tried to find out what the number of that boat was, but I did not find out what number it was.

Senator SMITH.
On your way to the Carpathia did you see any ice or icebergs?

Mr. GRACIE.
Away off in the distance we saw these icebergs, in the direction from which we had come during the night, and toward the port side. We were transferred successfully from the raft. The second officer stayed until the last, lifting up the body of one of the crew and putting it right down by me, where I chafed his temples and his wrists to see whether there was any life in him. Then rigor mortis set in and I thought the man was dead, and there was no more use trying to resuscitate him. Then it seemed an interminable time before we got to the Carpathia, the boat I was in towing another boat behind, and after two hours, possibly, we finally reached the Carpathia, and the women were put in these seats and lifted up to the deck. I got hold of one of the ladders that was hanging down the side and I ran up that ladder.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know any of the women in your lifeboat by name?

Mr. GRACIE.
No; I do not. There was a splendid Frenchwoman, who was very kind to us, who loaned us one of her blankets to put over our heads - that is, four of us. One poor Englishman, who was the only other passenger besides Mr. Thayer and myself who was saved on this raft - he was bald, and for that reason he needed this protection, which was very grateful to him. It was very grateful to me, too. The people on the Carpathia received us with open arms, and provided us with hot comforts, and acted as ministering angels.

Senator SMITH.
Is that all?

Mr. GRACIE.
I have here some pictures that were taken by a cousin of mine on the Carpathia, who had a very good camera, which will show you the lifeboats, or some of them, as they arrived on the Carpathia. I hand these to you, with the distinct understanding that they are to be returned to me immediately, if that is agreeable to you.

Senator SMITH.
We are greatly obliged to you for your courtesy in responding to the committee's wish.

Senator FLETCHER.
You did not state where your stateroom was?

Mr. GRACIE.
My stateroom was on C deck; No. 51.

Senator FLETCHER.
Did you yourself notice any air ports open?

Mr. GRACIE.
No.

Senator FLETCHER.
Do you know they were closed?

Mr. GRACIE.
I could not give you any information on that point, because I did not go down to any lower deck than C deck.

Senator FLETCHER.
You say there were two collapsible boats that were never launched?

Mr. GRACIE.
They were thrown overboard from the hurricane deck, at the bow.

Senator FLETCHER.
Was nobody in them?

Mr. GRACIE.
There was nobody in them.

Senator FLETCHER.
One on each side?

Mr. GRACIE.
One on each side. If you want those pictures explained, I can explain them for you. On the back of them you can see what they represent.

Senator SMITH.
How many men were on top of this overturned collapsible boat when the relief lifeboat came alongside?

Mr. GRACIE.
About 30; I know that, because the second officer called out, How many are there aboard here?" The reply came back, "Thirty." Of my own knowledge I know there were 8 in front of me, and my own 2 made 10. We were in column of twos.

Senator SMITH.
Were there any women on it?

Mr. GRACIE.
There were no women on this boat, and we had to keep the equilibrium while standing up all the time. If one of us had fallen, we would have fallen to our knees, and then to the water, and that would have been the end of us.

Senator BURTON.
You say you were awakened about 12 o'clock?

Mr. GRACIE.
Yes, sir.

Senator BURTON.
By whom?

Mr. GRACIE.
I was awakened by the noise.

Senator BURTON.
You were not awakened by any steward or any employee on board the boat?

Mr. GRACIE.
No, sir.

Senator BURTON.
I believe Senator Smith has asked the other question I intended to ask, as to how many people there were on the collapsible, and you said about 30?

Mr. GRACIE.
About 30; 27 of the crew and 3 passengers.

Senator SMITH.
We are very much obliged to you. That is all. Your pictures are here with Senator Fletcher.

(Witness Excused.)