The Great War, I was there - Part 10

white facc and yellow moustache came and held onto the other end of my board. I did not quite like it, for I felt it was not large enough for two, but I did not leel justified in objecting. Every now and again he would try to move round towards my end of the board. This frightened me I scarcely knew why at the time (I was probably quite right to be frightened it is likely enough that he wanted to hold on tome). I summoned up my strength —to speak was an effort—and told him togo back to his own end, so that we might keep the board properly balanced. He said nothing and just meekly went back. After awhile I noticed that he had disappeared. I don’t know what had happened to him. He may have gone off to a hcn-coop which was floating nearby. I don’t know whether lie had a life-belt on or not. Somehow I think not. Many people were praying aloud in a curious, unemotional monotone others were shouting for help in much the same slow, impersonal chant:“ Bo-at—bo-at—bo-at---” 1 shouted for a minute or two, but it was obvious that there was no chance of any boat responding, so I soon desisted. One or two boats were visible, but they were along way from where I was, and clearly had all they could do to pickup the people close beside them. So far as I could see, they did not appear to be moving much. By and by my legs got bitterly cold, and 1 decided to try to swim to a boat so as to get them out of the cold water, but it was a big effort swimming (I could normally swim a hundred yards or so, but 1 am not an expert swimmer). I swam only a few strokes and almost immediately gave 380 up the attempt, because I did not see how I could get along without letting goof my piece of board, which nothing would have induced tome abandon. There was no acute feeling of fear whilst one was floating in tlie water. 1 can remember feeling thankful that I had not been drowned underneath, but had reached the surface safely, and thinking that even if the worst hap­pened there could be nothing unbearable togo through now that my head was above the water. The life-belt held one up m a comfortable sitting position, with one’s head lying rather back, as if one were in a hammock. One was a little dazed and rather stupid and vague. I doubt whether any of the people in the water were acutely frightened orin any consciously unbearable agony of mind. When Death is as close ashe was, then the sharp agony of fear is not there the thing is too overwhelming and stunning for that. One has the sense of something taking care of one. 1 don’t mean in the sense of protecting one from death—rather of death itself being a benignant power. At moments I wondered whether the whole thing was perhaps a night­mare from which I should wake, and once—hall-laughing, 1 think—I won­dered, looking round on the sun and pale blue sky and calm sea, whether I had reached heaven without knowing it—and devoutly hoped 1 hadn’t. f'XNK was acutely uncomfortable, moreno than that. A discomfort mainly due to the intense cold, but further—at least so far as I was con­ cerned—to the fact that, being avery bad sailor, when presently a little swell got up, 1 was sea-sick. 1 remember, as I satin the water, 1 thought out an improvement which 1 considered should be adopted for all life-belts. There should be, I thought, a little bottle of chloroform strapped into each belt, so that one could inhale it and lose con­sciousness when one wished Ito. must have been exceedingly uncomfortable before I thought of that. The swell of the sea had the effect of causing the close-packed island of wreckage and people to drift apart. Presently I was a hundred yards or more away from anyone else. I looked up at the sun, which was high in the sky, and wished that I might lose consciousness. I don’t know how long after that I did lose it, but that is the last thing I remember in the water. The next thing I remember is lying naked between blankets on a deck in the dark. (I was, I discovered later, on a tiny patrol steamer named the Bluebell.) Every now and again a Topical Press Land .N.A .THEY SURVIVED TO TELL THEIR DREADFUL STORY The upper photograph shows two of the Lusitania’s crew immediately after their rescue. In the lower one are six survivors who attended the inquiry to give evidence. They are, left to right, C. Gunn, F. Hennessey, E. J. Highway, W. Egan, N. Clyde and G. Quinn. The Lusitania was carrying 1.255 passengers and a crew of 651. Only about 718 lives were saved, despite the heroic efforts of the crew and the rescue ships.
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