One of the calmest of the passengers was young Jack Thayer, the seventeen-year-old son of Mr and Mrs John B. Thayer. When his mother was put into Collapsible Lifeboat B and he kissed her and told her to be brave, saying that he and his father would be all right. He and Mr Thayer stood on the deck as the small boat in which Mrs Thayer was a passenger made off from the side of the Titanic over the smooth sea. The boy’s own account of his experience as told to one of his rescuers is one of the most remarkable of all the wonderful ones that have come from the tremendous catastrophe.
Initial Collision With Iceberg
Father was in bed and mother and myself were about to go to bed. There was no great shock. I was on my feet at the time and I do not think it was enough to throw anyone down. I put on an overcoat and rushed upon A deck on the port side. I saw nothing there. I then went forward to the bow to see if I could see any signs of ice. The only ice I saw was on the well deck. I could not see very far ahead, having just come out of a brightly lit room.
I then went down to our room and my father and mother came on deck with me, to the starboard side of A deck. We could not see anything there. Father thought he saw small pieces of ice floating around, but I could not see any myself. There was no big berg. We walked around to the port side and the ship had then a fair list to port. We stayed there looking over the side for about five minutes. The list seemed to slowly increase.
We then went down to our rooms on C deck, all of us dressing quickly, putting on all of our clothes. We all put on life preservers and over these, we put our overcoats. Then we hurried up on deck and walked around, looking out at different places until the women were all ordered to gather on the port side.
Separated From Parents
Father and I said goodbye to mother at the top of the stairs on A deck. She and the maid went right out on A deck on the port side and we went to the starboard side. At this time we had no idea that the ship would sink so we walked around A deck and then went to B deck. Then we thought we would go back to see if mother had gotten off safely and went back to the port side of A deck. We met the chief steward of the main dining saloon and he told us that mother had not yet been placed in a boat and he took us to her.
Father and mother went ahead and I followed. They went down to B deck and a crowd got in front of me and I was not able to catch them and I lost sight of them. As soon as I could get through the crowd I tried to find them on B deck but without success. That is the last time I saw my father. This was about one and a half hours before she sank. I then went to the starboard side thinking that mother and father must have gotten off in a boat. All of this time I was with a fellow named Milton C. Long, of New York, whom I had just met that evening.
On the starboard side, the lifeboats were getting away quickly. Some boats were already off in a distance. we thought of getting into one of the lifeboats, the last boat to go on the forward part of the starboard side, but there seemed to be such a crowd around I thought it unwise to make any attempt to get into it. Milton and I stood by the davits of one of the boats that had left. I did not notice anybody that I knew except Mr Lindley, whom I had also met that evening. I soon lost sight of him. Milton and I then stood by the rail just a little bit aft of the Captain’s bridge.
Thought Titanic Would Float
The list to the port had been growing greater all the time. About this time the people began jumping from the stern. I thought of jumping myself but was afraid of being hurt as I hit the water. Three times I made up my mind to jump out and slide down the davit ropes and try to make it the boats that were lying off from the ship, but each time Milton got hold of me and told me to wait awhile. He then sat down and I stood up waiting to see what would happen next. Even then we thought she might possibly stay afloat.
I got sight on a rope between the davits and a star and noticed that she was gradually sinking. About this time she straightened up on an even keel and started to go down fairly fast at an angle of about 30 degrees. As she started to sink we left the davits and went back and stood by the rail about even with the second funnel.
Nothing Left But To Jump
Milton and myself said goodbye to each other and jumped up on the rail. He pulled his legs over and held on a minute and asked me if I was coming. I told him I would be with him in a minute. He did not jump clear but slid down the side of the ship. I never saw him again.
About five seconds after Milton jumped I jumped out, feet first. I was clear of the Titanic; went down and as I came up I was pushed away from the ship by some force. I came up facing the ship and one of the funnels seemed to be lifted off and fell towards me about 15 yards away, with a mass of steam and sparks coming out of it. I saw the ship in a sort of a red glare and it seemed to me that she broke in two just in front of the third funnel.
This time I was sucked down and as I came up I have pushed out again and twisted around by a large wave, coming up in the midst of a great deal of wreckage. As I pushed my hand from my head it touched the cork fender of an overturned lifeboat. I looked up and saw some men on the top and asked them to give me a hand. One of them, who was a stoker, helped me up. In a short time, the bottom was covered with about 25-30 men. When I got on, I was facing the ship.
The stern seemed to rise in the air and stopped at an angle of 60 degrees. It seemed to hold there for a time and then a hissing sound shot right down out of sight with people jumping from the stern. The stern either pivoted around towards our boat or we were sucked towards it, and as we only had one oar we could not keep away. There did not seem to be very much suction and most of us managed to stay on the bottom of our boat.
We were then right in the midst of fairly large wreckage, with people swimming all around us. The sea was very calm and we kept the boat pretty steady, but every now and then a wave would wash over it.
The assistant wireless operator was right next to me, holding onto me and kneeling in the water. We all sang a hymn and said the Lord’s Prayer and then waited for dawn to come. As often as we saw the other boats in a distance we would yell ‘ship ahoy!’. But they could not distinguish our cries from any of the others, so we all gave it up, thinking it useless. It was very cold and none of us were able to move around to keep warm, the water washing over us almost all the time.
Towards dawn the wind sprang up, roughening up the water and making it difficult to keep the boats balanced. The wireless man raised our hopes a great deal by telling us that the Carpathia would be arriving in about three hours. At about 3.30 – 4 o’clock some men on our boat on the bow sighted her mast lights. I could not see them, as I was sitting down with a man kneeling on my leg. He finally got up and I stood up. We had the second officer, Mr Lightoller, on board. We had an officer’s whistle and whistled for the boats in the distance to come up and take us off.
It took about an hour and a half for the boats to draw near. Two boats came up. The first took half and the other took the balance, including myself. We had great difficulty at this time in balancing the boat, as the men would lean too far, but we were all taken aboard the already crowded lifeboat and about 30 to 45 minutes later we were picked up by the Carpathia.
I have noticed Second Officer Lightoller’s statement that J.B. Thayer was on over overturned lifeboat, which would give the impression that it was my father when he really meant it was me, as he only learned my name in a subsequent conversation on the Carpathia, and didn’t know I was “junior”.