Quartermaster: George Thomas Rowe
George Thomas Rowe, 32, of 63, Henry St, Gosport, Hants served in the Royal Navy before joining the merchant marine.
On the evening of April 14th Rowe was stationed on the aft docking bridge, a raised structure on the stern of the ship. He passed the time by talking to passengers and paced up and down to keep warm.
Around 11.40 p.m. Rowe saw an iceberg glide past the docking bridge where he stood, he likened it to a 'windjammer' (a large sailing ship) with sails the colour of wet canvas. He thought little more about it as it did not appear to have made contact with the ship. However, he did notice that the engines had stopped. About 45 minutes later Rowe telephoned the bridge, Fourth Officer Boxhall replied. Rowe told him he had just seen a lifeboat (No.7) in the water. Boxhall was surprised as he had heard no order to lower boats. He instructed Rowe to bring some rockets to the bridge. Boxhall had seen the lights of a vessel in the distance and Captain Smith had given permission for rockets to be sent up as a signal of distress. Boxhall and Rowe sent up the first rocket at about 12.45 a.m., and then fired them at five or six minute intervals according to Captain Smith's instructions. Between firing rockets Rowe and Boxhall attempted to signal the vessel using a morse lamp.
Rowe later stated that he was convinced that it was a sailing vessel that he observed, two points off the port bow at a distance of about five miles. Gradually the light diminished and finally disappeared. As the Titanic was stationary the mystery vessel was clearly moving away.
According to his reckoning Rowe continued to fire rockets until 1.25 a.m. by which time Boxhall had left to take command of lifeboat 14.
A few minutes later Captain Smith instructed Rowe to take charge of Collapsible C. With no response to his repeated calls for women and children, Chief Officer Wilde gave the order to lower away. It was the last boat to be lowered from the starboard side at around 1.40 a.m. And as it began it's descent two male first class passengers quietly stepped in.
Rowe told Senator Burton of the US Senate enquiry that there were thirty-nine people in the boat. Two male first class passengers, five crew (including himself), three firemen, a steward, and, near daybreak, they found four Chinese or Philipino stowaways who had come up between the seats. All the rest were women and children. One of the first class passengers was William Ernest Carter, the other was J. Bruce Ismay.
Senator Burton: Now, tell us the circumstances under which Mr. Ismay and that other gentleman got into the boat.
Mr. Rowe When Chief Officer Wilde asked if there were any more women and children, there was no reply, so Mr. Ismay came into the boat.
Senator Burton: Mr. Wilde asked if there were any more women and children? Can you say that there were none?
Mr. Rowe I could not see. but there were none forthcoming.
Senator Burton: You could see around there on the deck, could you not?
Mr. Rowe I could see the fireman and steward that completed the boat's crew, but as regards any families I could not see any.
Senator Burton: Were there any men passengers besides Mr. Ismay and the other man?
Mr. Rowe I did not see any sir.
Senator Burton: Was it light enough so that you could see anyone near by?
Mr. Rowe: Yes, sir.
Senator Burton: Did you hear anyone ask Mr. Ismay and Mr. Carter to get in the boat?
Mr. Rowe: No, sir.
Senator Burton: if Chief Officcr Wilde had spoken to them would you have known it?
Mr. Rowe: I think so, because they got in the after part of the boat where I was.
(U.S. Senate Inquiry., p. 519)
Rowe told the British enquiry that the boat was very difficult to lower on account of a six degree list to port which the Titanic had developed.:
'The rub strake kept on catching on the rivets down the ship's side, and it was as much as we could do to keep off. It took a good five minutes, on account of this rubbing, to get down.'
When they reached the water they steered for the light but they could make no progress and altered their course to a boat that was carrying a green light. When day broke, the Carpathia was in sight.
When the enquiries were over Mr Rowe continued his Merchant Service, serving on the hospital ship Plassey with the Great Fleet during the first world war. He then worked for Thorneycroft ship repairs in Southampton until he was over 80. During that time he was in charge of the fitting of Denny Brown Stabilisers to the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, amongst other things.
He recieved the British Empire Medal (BEM) in 1960 for his services to Thornycrofts.
He died in 1974 at the age of 91.
Dave Bryceson (1997) The Titanic Disaster: As Reported in the British Natonal Press April-July 1912
John Eaton & Charles Haas (1992) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy
John Eaton & Charles Haas (1992) Titanic: Destination Disaster
Colonel Archibald Gracie (1913) The Truth about the Titanic
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1994) Titanic: An Illustrated History
Terry Cunningham (Grandson of George Thomas Rowe)
Mrs Sam Aks
Mrs Sam Aks (Leah Rosen), 18, originally from Russia, boarded the Titanic at Southampton with her baby son Philip Frank Aks (ticket #392091, £9 7s). Leah and "Filly" had left their home in London for Norfolk, Virginia where Leah's Husband Sam, a tailor, was waiting for them.
On the night of the sinking Leah Aks was forced up to the boat deck she found herself next to Madeleine Astor. Upon seeing the baby Mrs Astor removed her shawl and wrapped it around him. Not long after as Leah stood on the deck clutching her baby son he was suddenly torn away from her and tossed into lifeboat 11 which was being prepared for lowering, as she struggled to retrieve him she was restrained by crewmen who thought she was trying to rush the boat. Filly was caught by Elizabeth Nye who sat him on her lap, later she wrapped him in a steamer blanket to keep him warm 1. Meanwhile Leah, still in a state of shock, was pushed into lifeboat 13 next to Selena Rogers Cook.
After their rescue Leah and Selena were walking together on the deck of the Carpathia when an Italian woman passed them holding a baby, Leah recognised Filly at once. She went to Captain Rostron and appealed to him to help her get her baby back, he took the two women to his room and asked each to provide proof of identity. Leah was able to describe a birthmark on Filly's chest and he was returned to her2.
She was so grateful to Captain Rostron of the Carparthia for her rescue that the following yearly giving birth to her only daughter she named her Sarah Carpathia Aks. But the nuns at the hospital when filling out her birth certificate put down Sarah Titanic Aks.
The bitter cold she had endured in the lifeboat while awaiting her rescue had permanently damaged her eardrums and she suffered from a partial loss of hearing for the rest of her life. Mrs. Aks died in 1967 and Frank died in 1991.
1 The shawl and blanket are now on display at the Mariners' Museum, Newport, VA
2 An alternatve version of the story describes how it was the fact that Filly was Jewish was the critical factor in his identification. He had been circumcised!
Colonel John Jacob Astor IV
Colonel John Jacob Astor IV was born in Rhinebeck, New York on July 13th, 1864 the son of William Astor and great-grandson of John Jacob Astor the fur trader. Astor was educated at St Paul's School, Concord and later went to Harvard. After a period of travelling abroad (1888-91) he returned to the United States to manage the family fortune. He had homes at 840 Fifth Avenue, New York and at Ferncliff, Rhinebeck, New York.
In 1894 Astor wrote a semi-scientific novel A Journey to Other Worlds. During his life he also developed several mechanical devices including a bicycle brake (1898), helped to develop the turbine engine, and invented a pneumatic road-improver.
In 1897 Astor built the Astoria Hotel, New York adjoining the Waldorf Hotel which had been built by William Waldorf Astor, his cousin. The new complex became known as the Waldorf-Astoria. Astor's real-estate interest included two other hotels, the Hotel St Regis (1905) and the Knickerbocker (1906).
He became Colonel-staff to General Levi P. Morton and in 1898, at the time of the Spanish-American War, was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the US volunteers. He placed his yacht Nourmahal at the disposal of the U.S. government and equipped a mountain battery of artillery for use against the Spanish.
On May 1st, 1891 Astor was married to Ava, daughter of Edward Shippen Willing of Philadelphia. Together they had a son and one daughter. However, in 1909 Astor divorced Ava and, two years later, married eighteen-year-old Madeleine Force (who was a year younger than his son Vincent). Public opinion was divided concerning the respectability of Astor's actions, and the newlyweds decided to winter abroad in order to let the gossip die down at home. Mr. and Mrs. Astor travelled to Egypt and Paris and, in the spring of 1912, decided to return to America as First Class passengers on board the brand new Titanic.
They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with Colonel Astor's manservant Mr Victor Robbins, Mrs Astor's maid Miss Rosalie Bidois, Miss Caroline Louise Endres Mrs Astor's private nurse and their pet Airedale Kitty. Their ticket was #17754 which cost £224 10s 6d.
After the accident Astor left his suite to investigate, he quickly returned and reported to his wife that the ship had struck ice. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious.
Later, when the first class passengers had begun to congregate on the boat deck, the Astors sat in the gymnasium on the mechanical horses. They wore their lifebelts but Colonel Astor had found another and cut the lining with a pen knife to show his wife what it was made of.
Even as the boats were loaded Astor appeared unperturbed, he ridiculed the idea of trading the solid decks of the Titanic for a small lifeboat 'we are safer here than in that little boat'. He had changed his mind by 1:45 when Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4. Astor helped his wife to climb through the windows of the enclosed promenade and then asked if he might join her, being as she was in 'a delicate condition'. Lightoller told him that no men could enter until all the women had been loaded. Astor stood back and just asked Lightoller which boat it was. After boat 4 was lowered at 1:55 Astor stood alone while others tried to free the remaining collapsible boats.
Astor's badly crushed body was recovered on Monday April 22 by the cable ship McKay-Bennett (#124):
NO. 124 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE 50 - LIGHT HAIR & MOUSTACHE
CLOTHING - Blue serge suit; blue hankerchief with "A.V."; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; "J.J.A." on back of collar.
EFFECTS - Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.
FIRST CLASS NAME-J.J.ASTOR
The body was delivered to Mr. N. Biddle and forwarded to New York City on May 1, 1912.
John Eaton & Charles Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy.
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember.
Don Lynch and Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History
Who was Who 1897-1916
Francis Davis Millet
Mr. Francis Davis Millet, 65, from East Bridgewater, MA boarded the Titanic at Southampton. He travelled with Major Archibald Butt.
Accompanying his surgeon father to the Civil War, Millet served as a drummer boy to a Massachusetts regiment and later served as a surgical assistant. A brilliant student at Harvard, he became a reporter, then city editor, of the Boston Courier. From a pastime of lithography and portraiture of friends, he decided to devote himself to art. Entering the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp, Belgium, he won an unprecedented silver medal in his first year and a gold medal in the second. A constant traveller, Millet kept his newspaper contacts open, and during the Russian-Turkish War he represented with distinction several American and English newspapers. He was decorated by Russia and Rumania for bravery under fire and services to the wounded. Millet's literary talents led him to publish accounts of his travels and, besides writing short stories and essays, he translated Tolstoy's Sebastopol.
Millet's work as a decorative artist includes the murals of the Baltimore Customs House, Trinity Church of Boston, and the Capitol Buildings of Wisconsin and Minnesota. His paintings are found in the Metropolitan Museum, New York City, and the Tate Gallery, London. In addition, his administrative skills, won him acclaim as superintendent of decoration at the World's Colombian Exhibition in Chicago (1893), and as organizer of the American Federation of the Arts for the National Academy. At a memorial for Millet in 1913, Senator Elihu Root said: "He must have been born with a sense of the beautiful and a love for it, for he devoted his life to it....He was one of the most unassuming and unselfish of men....He was a man of great strength and force, decision and executive capacity....He always pressed on to the accomplishment of his purposes, purposes in which self was always subordinate...."
While on board the Titanic Millet wrote to a friend, the letter, which was posted in Queenstown still exists. In the letter he complains about his fellow passengers: "Queer lot of people on the ship. There are a number of obnoxious, ostentatious American women, the scourge of any place they infest and worse on shipboard than anywhere". He also observed a number of passengers that had brought their pets with them: "Many of them carry tiny dogs, and lead husbands around like pet lambs."Millet died in the sinking, his body was recovered from the sea by the crew of the MacKay Bennett (#249):
NO. 249 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE, 65 - HAIR, GREY
CLOTHING - Light overcoat; black pants; grey jacket; evening dress
EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; "F.D.M." on watch; glasses; two gold studs; silver tablet bottle; £2 10s in gold; 8s in silver; pocketbook
NAME - FRANK D. MILLET (?)
The body was forwarded to Boston. Mr Millet's story was told in a limited edition biography published privately by Joyce Sharpey-Schafer: "Soldier of Fortune: F.D. Millet," (The volume is now out-of-print.) And in Washington DC a memorial was erected to his memory and that of his friend Major Butt.
Frederica Romeo Burgess