A Survivor Account from the RMS Titanic
Sitting staring at the beautiful scenery that I can see from my small home where I came to retire in Chester, the memories of the disaster that happened seventy years before in the very early hours of April 15th 1912. At the time of tragedy I was only engaged to Charles but now he is my husband and the man I share this house with. To this day in spite of everything I still hear the screams and dream the terrifying event continuously night after night, the coldness and pain still rushes through my blood and sends a shiver down my spine.
Two months before I boarded the ship with my parents and siblings, I was sitting, trying to relax, on the veranda of Sheaphead’s hotel, Cairo accompanied by my dearest friend William Sloper. A rather odd looking little man approached me with meaningful words he cautioned my subsequent journey’s traveled by boat as he explained that in a dream he had seen me afloat on an open boat. He tried to assure me that I was to lose everything except my life. I was bemused and seemed to doubt the little mans words, I handed him a small amount of change and sat and gaze and examine him as he proceeded and disappeared into the teeming crowd.
Till the 10th April I thought nothing more of the peculiar man until I realized that today I was embarking on a journey across the water to New York, 4 days before the ship began its’ decent to the depths below, we were all so unaware. Looking at the sheer beauty of the vast body we were boarding, the man’s words passed through my head, I only thought to myself, ” Don’t be stupid Alice, the Titanic is made so it is unsinkable” and ensue to join my parents on the ship.
We had been given 3 cabins, C – 23 – 25 – 27 which were occupied by my parents, my to sisters Ethel Flora and Mabel, my brother Charles Alexander and I. Many beautiful decorations covered the room giving it it’s glory; so perfect and precise with great space and luxury. As the ship set sail on her maiden voyage, at noon to New York, you could hear the cheers from the crowd below. We stood waiving, leaning over the banisters lining the ship, calling to anyone we saw. Smiles lined our faces and our eyes gleamed, we were all so happy.
Impressive gold banisters lined the marble stairs leading into the enormous ballroom; chandeliers hung covering the ceiling with their light and sparkle. We were jolly and pleased to be where we were. We loved the relaxation everyday and the fun we had all night, even that night we were spinning around the dance floor until the ship suddenly shuddered greatly and slowed to a stop. Nobody was worried, the ship cannot sink, but the aged mans’ words continued to flow through my head, worried thoughts began in my mind and showed on my face, ” I will lose everything but my life”.
I stood still thinking just before my brother grabbed e and spun me round the dance floor, a fake smile showed on my face but it was only to please. My father left to ask what had happened and overheard Captain Smith ordering the watertight doors to be shut to prevent any more damage and determine the destruction already through. Mr. Andrews had left with fear on his face as soon as it had happened and turned up by my fathers’ side with what looked like plans to my father and him and the Captain disappeared into a small room.
My father returned to reveal all and made us wait until he had found more news, he told us to gather ourselves together. He was not a stern man but he was now, he was also a very sensible man we were to stay where we were as he needed us to be ready quickly, my elder sister Flora was asked to get our warm coats and scarves and we were to put them on. I was now become to be petrified, the others were still calm, and everyone else on the ship was continuing as if nothing had happened.
My father returned again his face was rather pale, following him were many of the ships crewmembers who proceeded to hand out life jackets and tell everyone to put them on and also warm clothes, I took mine and helped my mother correctly place over her head and tie the long straps around her waist as well as doing mine. One of the crew spoke, “there is nothing to worry about just Captains precautions” a massive bang went off, which I later found out was a distress signal he continued, “Make sure warm clothing is worn and that people begin to make their way outside”.
Others made many complaints around us but we did as we were told, no arguments or conversation. It was cold outside, and ice was scattered over the deck. I rubbed my hands together, my father grabbed them and rubbed them for warmth, “stay calm child, everything will be fine”, I smiled shyly as a tear left my eye, was this what the man meant, I was going to lose my family. I was now very scared but all the bellow and holler of voices, the bang of the distress signals, and the screeching of boats as they were prepared for lowering.
Even the crew thought that this was pointless, nothing was going to happen everything would be fine but children and female members of the passengers aboard were being asked to climb into the boats and were lowered out to sea. Crying began as families were split up, I held onto my father knowing that this would happen to us to and my little brother was old enough to be a man therefore would stay with my fathers. The feeling of movement began to creep over me as if the ship was leaning, I do not know if it was psychological or not yet it was to happen and soon.
Our family snuggled together for warmth as the noise continued around us, hardly uttering words to one another, just trying to keep warm. Time had past, I am not sure how long, but every spare minute was to be for our family now. Many lifeboats had now been lowered and were moving away from the ship, and now we were being ushered onto one, lifeboat 10. My father hugged my mother and kissed my sisters cheeks; we climbed on smiling our fake smiles. Our eyes were stinging trying to hold back the forceful tears; we must be brave for our father and brother.
As the boat was lowered I called, I love you to them both as they disappeared from view, my last memory was of them shaking hands and standing in their white life jackets being so brave. My head was aching, the smile flew from my face, I turned and hugged my mother, my sister joined us, and like many others on our boat were doing we cried, we let the tears flow from our sad eyes. My mother never cried, yet she never regained her ebullient face either. She loved my father and now he was gone.
The boat was rowed away from the ship, I gasped at the sight, the ship was already tilting many windows were disappearing from view. I thought for the first time of others, there were people, passengers, steerage passengers, and even though they were steerage, they were till people, how were they to be freed, there were obviously no where near enough lifeboats. More scared then ever I turned away staring into the dark sky lit by many tiny white stars.
More hours passed, I wouldn’t turn around; more boats were surrounding us as we moved further away, my eyes were red and sore yet the tears still flowed, yet I was no-longer sad but now angry. Why should I live and everyone else die? I longed to be by my father’s side and to see my younger brother but I knew that they were gone. The sound grew, crashes and explosions, the cries grew louder but I never turned, I would not see it go down. I was too scared, too pathetic. I should have seen the pain but I could not.
My mother held us all, I forced my self to turn just as the boat crashed down to the depths below I pushed away from my mother and watched, bodies everywhere, we had to go back, people could have survived my father, brother others we must return. We never returned, another ship, the Carpathia arrived at the scene taking the surviving people on board. I remember little, my mother turned franticly calling for my brother and father, my sisters wept heavily. I knew he was lost, I did not cry anymore I shivered not only from the cold, that man new this was to happen.
How? I was toot tired to sleep, to confused to think. As we arrived finally in New York I realized that I was to meet my fianci?? , the crowd all wept as many were greeting relatives asking helplessly if we had seen their love ones. Charles stood in the crowd searching, I saw him, my face lit instantly but only for a second. I ran towards him and just let him hold me for a while; he knew not to speak yet. We married on June 8th 1912 and moved to Canada where Charles was profusely wealthy and achieved much as he gained prominence in business and government affairs.
Practicing law federation, New Brunswick later helped him achieve Assistant to the Canadian Manager, Director of National Surety Company in Montreal. One daughter was given to us, Mary McDougald Norris. I never forget the event, I think about what I should have done, I should have made them go for survivors or stayed with my father. I regret many things but my daughter and husband always brought me hope through the hard times that there are many. Alice Elizabeth Fortune was 24 when she boarded the Titanic; she died an old age of 74, on The 7th April 1961 and is now buried in the cemetery in Chester.