Page 11

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Alfred Fernand Omont

Mr Alfred Fernand Omont, a cotton dealer from Havre, France boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a first class passenger.

On the evening of April 14th Omont was playing auction bridge (a card game), in the Café Parisien, with Pierre Maréchal, Paul Chevré and Lucien P. Smith when the collision took place:

Chevré, Marechal and Omont were all rescued in lifeboat 7, they described their rescue in an article that appeared in Le Matin and The Times (see Paul Chevre) Omont swore the following oath to the British Inquiry:

I am a cotton agent at Harvre. I joined the "Titanic" at Cherbourg on the 10th april as a 1st class passenger. We had good weather all the way till the disaster, and at the time of the disaster.

On Sunday the 14th april so far as I know there was no boat drill - I am practically sure.

The Captain was in the Saloon at Dinner on Sunday night the 14th april. afterwards, after dinner there was the orchestra in the companion-way and the Captain was there. This was on the "D" Deck. The "A" deck was on the 1st deck down from the top deck. Monsieur Marechal remarked to me that the Captain was with a party and seemed very happy and confident in his boat. Then we went and played bridge in the "Cafe Parisien." We played on until about 11.40p.m. and then there was a shock. I have crossed the atlantic thirteen times, and the shock was not a great one, and I thought it was caused by a wave. after about a few minutes I wasked the waiter to put down then port-hole, and he did so, and we saw nothing. When the shock had happened, we saw something white through the port-holes, and we saw water on the ports. When the waiter opened the port-hole we saw nothing except for a clear night.

About a minute after the waiter had opened the port-holes we all left the Cafe. Marechal put the cards in his jacket, and so did I - I went all around to find my friends to go on with the game. We waited a very long time, and everybody told us there was nothing at all. About 12.30 we saw the Captain and the 1st officer going up to the bridge. All around about 50 or 60 women and men were waiting anxiously to know what was happening. The Captain came down with the 1st officer. The captain was chewing a toothpick and he said "You had better put your life-preservers on, as a precaution." Then I went down to my cabin, a few floors down, and I put my lie-belt on. Then I went up to the boat deck, and it was deadly cold. I came back to my own cabin, took off my life-belt and put on my overcoat. The I came up, and put on again my life-belt. I was then on the boat deck - . I saw them get down some boats. While I was still on the boat deck, a boat was let down. The 1st officer saw me and asked me if I wanted to get in. Some of the passengers shouted to me not to get in as they had such confidence in the ship. I saw that the sea was very calm, and on calm reason I thought I thought it better to jump into the boat and see what would happen. I jumped two or three yards, and landed in the boat anyhow. We were twenty nine in the boat. The boat could not have held more than thirty in any case. I personally consider and state that the idea of putting sixty people in a boat or on a raft is ridiculous. I have a photograph in my possession which shows how ridiculous it is to attempt to put 50 or sixty persons in one of those boats or rafts. I consider it a monstrosity to state that one could put 60 persons in a boat in safety.

When we were being lowered, about 15 yards from the sea, a man put one rope much lower than the other one and we nearly went over. Then we went down and touched water. Then it was difficult to get free and we had to cut the rope to get free.

When we were in the water we started to row away from the ship. I was rowing. We had about 22 women on board. Marechal my friend was on board, and I did not recognise him till the morning. We rowed up to about 150 yards from the ship. We saw the ship sink gradually - she sank to starboard. We had no lights in our lifeboat, no compass, no chart, but we had a small cask of water, and I heard that we had a small box of biscuits.

After the ship had gone down and before, we saw a light far off, about eight or ten miles. Everyone thought it was another ship - a sailing or steam boat. We saw it plainly. We all cheered up, thinking we were going to be saved; we saw it gradually disappear. We thought it was either a sailing boat that could not move on account of the calm weather, or she was an optical illusion on our part.

Then we waited until dawn: then the "Carpathia" came up. We were royally treated on board the "Carpathia." Any man who was saved by the "Carpathia" will always have in his mind the faces of the captain and officers. I know personally how much the Captain of the "Carpathia" had at heart to save the "Titanic."

One of the lookout men was in our boat. He told us that he had seen the iceberg about three minutes before the shock. I am no sailor, but if he did so, we must take into consideration that the ship was going 20 miles an hour at least, i.e. he saw the iceberg 1760 yards (and advised it) before meeting it.

I consider as a passenger, that two people knew that the icebergs wee around us - these two are the head of the company and the Captain - I ask, how is it that neither of those two said a word for the safety of the passengers? We passengers always consider that we have to deliver our saftety to the Captain, and therefore have a right to know if our life is properly looked after, and if in case of records for speed we have to risk it for the benefit of companies.

After the disaster, the Captain and officers behaved like gentlemen.

Pierre Maréchal

Mr Pierre Maréchal, the son of a vice-admiral of the French navy, was an aviator. He came from Paris and boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a first class passenger.

On the evening of April 14th Maréchal was playing cards in the Café Parisien, with Afred Fernand Omont, Paul Chevré and Lucien P. Smith when the collision took place:

Chevré, Maréchal and Omont were all rescued in lifeboat 7, "When three-quarters of a mile away we stopped, the spectacle before our eyes was in its way magnificent. In a very calm sea, beneath a sky moonless but sown with millions of stars, the enormous Titanic lay on the water, illuminated from the water line to the boat deck. The bow was slowly sinking into the black water."

The men later described their rescue in an article that appeared in Le Matin and The Times (see Paul Chevre)

Trimmer: James Dawson

Mr James Dawson, 23, from Dublin, Ireland came to Southampton to look for work. He joined the Titanic as a Trimmer and perished in the sinking. His body was recovered (#227) and he was buried on May 8th 1912 in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, NS.


CLOTHING - Dungaree coat and pants; grey shirt.


EFFECTS - N. S. & S. Union 35638.

Leading Fireman: Frederick Barrett

Mr. Frederick Barrett of King St, Southampton was leading fireman in Boiler Room 6. Barrett was in the boiler room at the time of the collision, he felt the impact of the iceberg and then heard a sound like thunder rolling towards him as it tore along the ship's side:


A graphic story was told by Frederick Barrett a leading stoker. He was in No. 6 section, and Mr. Shepherd was the engineer on duty.

"There is a clock face in the stokehole and a red light goes up for 'Stop.' I was talking to Mr Hesketh when the red light came up, and I shouted, 'Shut all the dampers.' That order was obeyed, but the crash came before we had them all shut.

There was a rush of water into my stokehole. We were standing on plates about six feet above the tank tops, and the water came in about two feet above the plates.

Together with Mr Hesketh I jumped through the doorway into No. 5 section. The watertight door between the section was then open, but it shut just as we jumped through. This door is worked from the bridge.

I do not know whether any more men in my stokehole were saved. The water was coming in fast enough through the side of the ship to flood the place.


Shortly afterwards the order came from the engine room to send all the stokers up. "Most of them went up, but I was told to remain with the engineers to do any errands. Mr Harvey, Mr Wilson, Mr Shephard and I waited in No. 5 section.

Mr Harvey told me to send some firemen for some lamps. Just as we got the lamps the electric light came on again. They must have been changing the dynamos over.

Mr Harvey told me to fetch some firemen to draw the furnaces. I fetched about 15 firemen and they drew the 30 furnaces in the section. That occupied about 20 minutes. I looked at the gauge and found there was no water in the boilers. The ship, in blowing off steam, had blown it out.

Mr Harvey told me to lift the man-hole plate, which I did, and then Mr Shephard, hurrying across to do something and not noticing the plate had been removed, fell down and broke his leg. We lifted him up and laid him in the pump-room. About a quarter of an hour after the fires were drawn there was a rush of water."

[Lord Mersey:] Did you see whether this water was coming through the bulkhead or over it'? - ["]I did not stop to look. Mr. Shephard ordered me up the ladder.["] Barrett added that he thought something had given way when the rush of water came.

Daily Sketch, Wednesday, May 8, 1912

According to the account given in A Night to Remember when water suddenly began to gush through the forward bulkhead Shepherd urged Harvey and Barrett to get out but Harvey rushed to save his colleague, the last thing Barrett noticed as he clambered up the escape ladder was the two engineers disappearing under a torrent of ice cold water.

Barrett's testimony to the British enquiry does not mention this scenario and actually indicates that Shepherd had already been carried to another compartment before that in which he was injured became flooded and therefore Barrett could not have seen him as he made his escape. The truth remains a mystery.

Barrett's later testimony hinted that the bulkhead that gave way may have been weakened by a fire that smouldered in the bunkers throughout the voyage:


Had it Anything to Do With The Disaster?

Lord Mersey yesterday put a striking question to Frederick Barrett, a leading stoker on the Titanic.

After Barrett had described the outbreak of fire in one of the coal bunkers Lord Mersey asked if he thought the Fire had anything to do with the disaster. Barrett replied that it would be hard to say.

On the previous day Barrett was asked whether the rush of water that drove him on deck was due to a bulkhead giving way, but he said he could not say. Yesterday he said that after the bunker where the fire occurred had been cleared the bulkhead that ran by that bunker was damaged, and he attributed that to the fire.

Barrett said that when he ran up to the promenade deck there were only two boats left.

Did you see any women? - The women were coming up from aft. I don't know where they were coming from.

His boat was not lowered until all the women had been taken off the deck.

Daily Sketch, Wednesday, May 9, 1912

Barrett was put in command of lifeboat 13. At around 1.40 a.m. the boat was successfully lowered although the occupants narrowly avoided a torrent of water from an outfall in the ship's side and when it had reached the water Barrett and able seaman Robert Hopkins had to work quickly to cut the boat free from the falls as it drifted under lifeboat 15 which had begun its descent. At 4.45 a.m. Barrett brought his boat and its occupants safely to the side of the rescue ship Carpathia.

A few weeks later, on May 25, Frederick Barrett was working on the Olympic. When Senator Smith was given a tour of the Titanic's sister by Captain Haddock as part of his investigation, Haddock mentioned that one of his stokers had been aboard Titanic, and Smith then went down to the engine room to talk with Barrett and get a better impression of how conditions had been aboard Titanic in the boiler rooms at the time of the collision.


Dave Bryceson (1997) The Titanic Disaster: As Reported in the British National Press April-July 1912

John Eaton & Charles Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy

John Eaton & Charles Haas (1996) Titanic: Destination Disaster

Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember

Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History

Daily Sketch, Wednesday, May 8-9, 1912


Eric Paddon

George Behe

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