All Dark After Crash; Rushing Crowd Insane | Titanic Archive (2024)

Robert Williams DanielFirst-class passenger

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Robert W. Daniel, a Philadelphia Banker, Describes Scene on Great Liner After She Crashed Into the Iceberg

Among the first survivors to leave the Carpathia was Robert W. Daniel, a Philadelphia banker. The majority of the survivors were dazed. The gangway was thronged with ambulance surgeons.

Daniel said the Titanic collided with the iceberg at 10:30 o'clock on Sunday night and sank at 2:20. He was in bed at the time. He leaped into a collapsible boat and was picked up five hours later.

Mr. Daniel carried from the steamer Carpathia Mrs. Lucien P. Smith, daughter of Congressman Hughes, in a fainting condition. Mrs. Smith was rescued by the Carpathia. She was hurriedly taken from the pier by her father.

Two-thirds of the survivors were dazed when they were assisted on to the pier. Some of the women passengers screamed hysterically. The ambulance surgeons were unable to care for those who needed immediate medical attention.

Mr. Daniel also said:

"I had just left the music room and disrobed, and was in my bunk, when there was a terrific crash. The boat quivered and the lights went out. In the darkness I rushed on deck almost naked. There seemed to be thousands fighting and shouting in the dark, and then they got the storage batteries going, and that gave us a little light.

"Captain Smith was the biggest hero I ever saw. He stood on the bridge and shouted through a megaphone, trying to make himself heard. The crew obeyed his orders as well as could be expected.

Everybody Seemed Insane.

"Five minutes after the crash everybody seemed to have gone insane. Men and women fought, bit and scratched to be in line for the lifeboats. Look at my black eye and cut chin. I got those in the fight.

"Then Captain Smith seemed to get some order, and the passengers were sent to the fore and aft of the big boat."

Continuing, Mr. Daniel said there was a frightful grinding noise throughout.

"I saw men praying as I struggled to get to the rail. Curses and prayers filled the air. Women who had been in the music room, where a concert had been in progress, were still dressed in evening attire and wearing diamonds. Other women had just got to their bunks and were dressed in flimsy night attire. All rushed with one object –to get to the lifeboats.

"Captain Smith remained on the bridge, trying to make himself heard. He was still shouting when I last saw him. As the passengers got into the lifeboats – women were thrown in if they did not move fast enough –an officer jumped in to command, and the boats were swung from their davits and down into the water.

"Hundreds, it seemed, did not wait for the lifeboats. They could see there was no chance for them, and they jumped overboard."

Went Over Side of Boat.

"What happened to you?" Mr. Daniel was asked.

"Oh, I can't tell you what happened. I hardly know myself," he replied. "I was naked. I grabbed something and uttered one prayer. Then I went over the side of the boat – over the side of the boat."

At this point Mr. Daniel was so overcome that he had to be led to a rail, where he rested himself for a few moments.

"Let me smoke a cigarette before I go on," he said.

"After waiting for an interminable time with the collapsible boat in my hands, I felt the Titanic sinking under my feet. I could feel her going under at the bows. The storage batteries furnishing the light again gave out, and there was darkness. I tried to wait, but suddenly found myself leaping from the rail, away up in the air, and it felt like an eternity before I hit the water. When I came up I felt that I was being drawn in by the suction, and when I felt a cake of ice near I clung to it.

"I was naked. For five hours I battled with ice cakes, and when I saw other boats near I almost gave up."

Describing his trip in the Carpathia, Mr. Daniel said:

"I did not see Bruce Ismay on board the Carpathia. If my understanding of Captain Smith is correct understanding, I know Smith never would have permitted a man to enter one of those lifeboats.

Mrs. Astor in Surgeon's Care.

"I recall, when I got aboard the Carpathia, Mrs. John Jacob Astor was assigned to a cabin given her by one of the passengers in the Carpathia. I did not see Mrs. Astor since Monday morning, but I know she was in the care of the ship's surgeon."

Asked if he knew there had been any shooting on board the Titanic in the panic, Mr. Daniel said he heard of nothing of the sort, but added it might have been somebody was shot and he would not know it in the pandemonium.

Mr. Daniel continued his narrative, saying:

"I saw a Mrs. Smith on board the Carpathia. She is a daughter of Congressman Hughes. Her husband was lost."

From the description Daniel gave of the horrible pounding and knocking he heard in the last hours of the Titanic's struggle to keep afloat, he said he thought some part of the monster vessel's machinery had given out, and was pounding against the bottom or sides of the big craft. He said he did not think the boat remained close enough to the iceberg to have been pounding against the ice.

Mr. Daniel was asked what was the condition of the survivors when picked up from the lifeboats.

"Horrible! Horrible!" was his reply. "Every one of the persons rescued was on the open sea for hours. We had not a bite to eat. The wind, coming over the sea of ice and the great bergs, chilled us to the marrow of our bones. One or two of the persons in the boats were frozen to death, I think.

"The Titanic struck the berg at 10:20 o'clock. We could tell from the first that she was sinking. The whole front part of the steamer, it seemed, was torn away.

"We knew from the first there as no hope. We were doomed. We were confident of that. The vessel gradually went down. the bow entered the water first. When I got into the boat I saw a throng of insane, struggling persons at the rail of the doomed ship.

"I know two or three lifeboats were drawn under the wrecked steamer and were lost. Each was filled with passengers.

"A number of passengers, I am confident, were in the bow of the vessel when that part sank. Why they did not go –or were not allowed to go – to another part of the steamer I do not know.

"It was not possible for us to save personal property. I had a number of things in my stateroom that I would very much like to have saved. When the crash came –it seemed as if the whole thing was over in a minute –the passengers were apparently insane. Many of the women, fearing death in many forms, collapsed. Perhaps they died where they lay."

Mr. Daniel was among the first to appear on the gangway of the steamer. He was exhausted, and assisted Mrs. Smith. Reaching the bottom of the gangway, he surrendered the fainting woman to her father, Congressman Hughes.

Removing a tattered derby that had been given him by a passenger in the Carpathia, he said:

"I did the best I could."

He reeled and was caught by a crowd of men who had gathered about him.

Source Reference


All Dark After Crash; Rushing Crowd Insane


Robert Williams Daniel


April 19, 1912


New York Tribune

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Public DomainThis is item can be used freely as part of Titanic Archive’s Open Access policy.

All Dark After Crash; Rushing Crowd Insane | Titanic Archive (2024)
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