Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TITANIC LETTER

TITANIC LETTER RECOUNTS HORROR



Hey Hounders,
Here's a bit of history provided in a letter written by a survivor of the sinking.  The letter provides some insight into how the victims of the disaster handled their adversity.
ABBY (TBH+K)

CREW ON WATCH ON THE POOP DECK
April 5, 2007 — The darkness and terror on the night the Titanic sank are described in a letter, released yesterday, written by survivor Laura Mabel Francatelli shortly after the disaster.
The letter, along with her official affidavit during a subsequent legal inquiry and her life preserver, will be sold at a Christie's auction on May 16. The life preserver was signed by men and women aboard the lifeboat.
Francatelli's nephew inherited the objects in 1967 upon her death. They have been with the family ever since.
Francatelli, born in London in 1882, was a secretary who sailed on the Titanic with her employer, Lady Duff-Gordon, the owner of a well-known dress salon called Madame Lucille. The designer's husband, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, traveled with them.
The letter recounts how, close to midnight on April 15, 1912, Francatelli opened the door to her E-36 cabin and saw passengers leaving their rooms in their night attire.
Officers repeatedly assured her "everything was alright." She and the Duff-Gordons went to the top deck where she noted that the "sea was nearer to us...we are sinking."
The two women refused to enter the last lifeboat on their side of the ship, preferring to stay with Sir Cosmo. At this point, most of the other passengers had run to the opposite part of the ship, which remained higher above water.
According to Francatelli, officers then let all three enter an emergency boat. They were joined by two American men and seven crewmembers.
She wrote, "...we went down into the blackness of the water. Which never shall I forget. There wasn't a light, or a lamp in the boat...We rowed away from the ship, which was sinking fast so to get away from the swell or suction. Then all the rest is too terrible for me to write. The screams of the hundreds of dear women, children and the bravest of men fighting in the icy cold waves, I still hear."
The letter continued, "Oh, you cannot imagine anything more terrible, than a ship wreck at the dead of night that most beautiful and wonderful boat like a floating town sinking so quickly. I watched the whole of it from our little boat and saw all the lights go out, and the very last of her, then the terrible explosion of rumbling, followed by the cries and screams of the hundreds all in the water..."
Scandal followed her and the Duff-Gordon's rescue, since Sir Cosmo asked her to pay the rowers while they were in the boat. Some construed this to be a "pay off."
Christie's spokesperson Zoe Schoon told Discovery News that the letter and affidavit, "which are of great historical interest," may clear up two mysteries.
First, the letter suggests that the rescue boat did not return to the sinking ship because suction may have toppled even the small vessel. At one point while it was still near the Titanic, Francatelli mentioned that the rescue boat "got caught up on one side and nearly hurled us all into the water."
Second, Francatelli states that Sir Cosmo asked her to pay the rowers in an act of kindness to ensure that they received their normal wages.
Steve Rigby is chairman of The British Titanic Society and the author of "The Ultimate Experience — Our Dive to the Titanic."
Rigby told Discovery News that he trusts Francatelli's account.
"I don't think (the monetary gift) was a pay off," he said.
"And as far as returning back to the ship, it would have been extremely dangerous for them to have gone back," Francatelli explained. "The boat could have easily turned over. The survival time in the water was less than 15 minutes. It was so cold that, if it were fresh water, the water would have fully frozen."
Rigby extended an invitation to the public to attend the 95th Memorial Weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from April 13-15. Many experts will be on hand with memorabilia, artifacts, photographs and other reminders of that fateful spring night.


1 comment:

Sheila and Bob said...

You guys need to start a History TV show, we would certainly watch.


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