First-hand account of Titanic`s sinking to be published

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2012, 20:44 PM IST

London: A rare first-hand account of the mayhem during the sinking of the Titanic will be published next month to mark the centennial of the catastrophe. The dramatic first-hand account of Jack Thayer, a 17-year-old survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, is to be published next month after lying almost forgotten for decades.

It was the desperate cries for help that haunted John "Jack" Thayer after he witnessed the death throes of the Titanic as it reared, roared and plunged into the North Atlantic, a leading daily has reported. The shouts from those thrown into the icy water swelled into "one long continuous wailing chant", noted the teenage son of an American railway baron in his account of the tragedy.

"It sounded like locusts on a midsummer night in the woods. This terrible cry lasted for twenty or thirty minutes, gradually dying away, as one after another could no longer withstand the cold and exposure," his account says.

Lost for several decades, his searing first-hand account will be published next month to mark the centennial of the tragedy that struck on April 14, 1912. Amid the slew of books, documentaries, films, auctions, exhibitions and cruises commemorating the 100th anniversary of the disaster, `A Survivor`s Tale` stands out for its power, intensity and indisputable authenticity. From his vantage point, clinging to an upturned lifeboat, Jack watched the unthinkable befall what was supposed to be the unsinkable. All the more poignant was that his father, also called John Thayer, was among the 1,514 who perished in the seas in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

In 1940, those recollections still vivid, he put them into print in a privately-printed edition of just 500 copies for family and friends, which sat largely forgotten on relatives` bookshelves for the next seven decades. Jack, a 17-year-old boy when the ship went down, lived to tell the tale as he defied the odds. 710 people, mainly female passengers, of the 2,224 aboard survived, almost all of them had escaped in lifeboats launched before the ship went down. Only about 40 who were thrown or jumped into the sea were rescued, and Jack was among them.

"About one in every 36 who went down with the ship was saved, and I happened to be one," he noted in the account.

Jack committed suicide, aged 50, the same age his father when he went down with the RMS Titanic.

PTI