In many ways the class divide may still exist but at the time of Titanic the division was huge and for some Titanic passengers proved fatal. Those from the upper echelons of society, and the ship, had a better chance of survival. With too few lifeboats on offer it was inevitable that such an accident would lead too a huge loss of life.
Lessons were learned from the arrogance of limiting lifeboats on the premise that the Titanic was unsinkable. The event continues to have a positive effect on Western cruise liner companies.
It is hard to imagine the horror of the Titanic sinking. It was a long drawn out affair. This gave passengers more chance to escape where possible but of course led to a terrible nightmare for those trapped on board.
One Titanic survivor was 17-year-old John Thayer. He and his parents were first class passengers on Titanic.John and his mother survived the tragedy possibly as in 1912 it was a case of "women and children first". He was heir to a huge railroad fortune.
In 1940 John wrote a moving, detailed and terrible account of events on the Titanic and its ultimate demise. As the 100 year anniversary of the tragedy approached his book, A Survivor's tale, is back in print. It will no doubt be snapped up by Titanic enthusiast's and relatives of Titanic passengers.
John's account of the tragedy were originally created for family use and as a memorial to his father. Sadly John committed suicide in 1945. His tale began, "TO my mind the world of today awoke on April 15, 1912. It seems to me that the disaster about to occur was the event which not only made the world rub its eyes and awake, but woke it with a start" Isn't that reminiscent of what we now say about 9/11?
"Father, Mother, and the maid, went ahead of Long (a friend) and myself. The lounge on “B” deck was filled with a milling crowd, and as we went through the doorway out on to the deck, people pushed between my father and mother, and Long and me. Long and I could not catch up, and were entirely separated from them. I never saw my Father again. So many thoughts passed so quickly through my mind! I thought of all the good times I had had, and of all the future pleasures I would never enjoy.
It was now about 2:15am. We could see the water creeping up the deck, as the ship was going down by the head at a pretty fast rate. As the water gained headway along the deck, the crowd gradually moved with it, always pushing toward the floating stern and keeping in from the rail of the ship as far as they could.
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. The stars were brilliant and the water oily. Occasionally there had been a muffled thud or deadened explosion within the ship. It was like standing under a steel railway bridge while an express train passes overhead, mingled with the noise of a pressed steel factory and wholesale breakage of china. Ten seconds later, I sat on the rail. I faced out, and with a push of my arms and hands, jumped into the water as far out from the ship as I could.
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 in any water. The ship was in front of me, forty yards away. How long I had been swimming under water, I don’t know. Perhaps a minute or less. Incidentally, my watch stopped at 2.22am. The ship appeared to be surrounded with a glare, and stood out in the night as though she were on fire. I watched her."
There are other survivor takes available which all make for a heart wrenching read.
A Survivor’s Tale, by John B. Thayer is published by Thornwillow priced at £25.
Tags: Titanic, John Thayer, railroad heir, Titanic survivor, Titanic survior's tale, Titanic death toll