TRUE. In an attempt to avoid a panic, passengers and crew had not been told of the full gravity of the situation, only that they must put on lifejackets and that the women and children must go away in the lifeboats, as a precaution. Most people believed that Titanic would either not sink, or that she would only sink after several hours, by which time they believed a fleet of rescue ships would have come to their aid, having received Titanic’s wireless distress signals. Certainly, the bright decks of the largest liner in the world seemed more secure than a rowing boat on a dark night in the middle of the North Atlantic.
When the first boat was being loaded, lifeboat number 7, on the starboard side of the ship, outside Titanic’s First Class entrance, First Officer Murdoch requested: ‘Any passengers who would like to do so may get into this lifeboat,’ but only a trickle of passengers came forward. This lifeboat had a capacity of 65 persons, but was eventually lowered at 12.40 a.m., an hour after Titanic’s collision, with only 28 people in it.
As well as being frightened of being lowered 70 feet down the side of Titanic on a freezing night, many women understandably did not want to leave their husbands or the perceived safety of Titanic.
It is telling that, climbing Titanic’s grand staircase to the Boat Deck, First Class passenger Mrs Helen Churchill Candee, travelling alone, entrusted the care of her most cherished possession—an ivory and gold miniature of her mother—to a shipboard friend, Mr Edward A. Kent, presumably thinking it would be safer with him, than with her in an open boat. When Kent’s body was recovered, the miniature was still in his jacket pocket and was returned safely to Mrs Candee.
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