There can't be many of us who have not asked themselves what they would have done had they been on board on the 14th-15th April 1912.
It is an event that I have found particularly poignant since I have become a father. Would I have been able to let women and children go first. Could I have stood on the deck and watched my wife and family being led away from me to safety, knowing that I would never see them again? Could I have been a hero?
Hopefully that is not a question that I will ever have to answer - but it is one that two fathers, Arthur West and the Reverend John Harper were faced with.
This is Arthur West's story. Come back on Friday to read the story of John Harper.
|Arthur West. Picture from www.encore-editions.com|
He enjoyed being on board the "unsinkable ship" writing a letter to family on 11th April telling them about what an enjoyable trip it had been so far with 'scarcely a movement felt' adding: 'I hope we have a calm trip....till we reach our journeys end.'
On the night on the 14th April the West family were awakened from their second class cabin by the noise of passengers hurrying outside. His wife Ada takes up the story:
"We were all asleep when the collision took place, but we were only jolted in our berths - my husband and children not even being awakened, and it was only the hurrying of passengers outside the cabin that caused alarm. The steward bade us all get up and dress thoroughly with plenty of warm things. Arthur placed lifebelts upon the children and then carried them to the boat deck. I followed carrying my handbag."
They were among the first passengers to board the lifeboats. It was then that Arthur made the heroic decision that would save another's life. Ada continues:
"After seeing us safely into the lifeboat Arthur returned to the cabin for a thermos of hot milk and finding the lifeboat let down he reached it by means of a rope, gave the flask to me, and, with a farewell returned to the deck of the ship."
Ada, who died in 1953, continued to believe that she would see her husband again until she saw the ship sink and "heard the awful groans and cries from the poor drowning creatures" It was then that she started to fear for his safety.
The grieving family were rescued by The Carpathia before returning to Britain. Barbara died in 2007 -she rarely discussed the events of the night she lost her father.
|Truro Cathedral. Picture from The Daily Mail.|
You can find out more about Arthur West's story by visiting Encyclopaedia Titanica or the Daily Mail archive.
On Friday - the story of the Reverend John Harper (pictured below with daughter Nan who survived the sinking of the Titanic)