11 Burlington Rd
Dear Mr.Wood [sic]
Re your inquiry in the local paper about the "Titanic", [I] will relate my story if any help to you, my ship the S/S New York of the old American Line was laid up, and with about 40 of the crew we joined the Titanic, a strange incident that happened as we were on our way out of the docks, which possibly may have altered the course of things, as we passed our old ship S/S New York she broke away with the suction caused by the Titanic and swung dangerously close.
I was a 3rd class steward and our quarters were close to a door leading to the engine room, and we were awakened by the screeching of the engines coming to a stop, went most of us went on deck and found pieces of ice on the forward well deck - I noticed that the canvas covering one of the cargo hatches were billowing out with the air pressure from the water entering the holds.
We returned to our quarters thinking it would be simply a repair job and that the ship would return home, but after a short while we were ordered out on deck, to lifeboat stations.
On the boat deck the darkness of the night was intense, the noise of the escaping steam from the funnels was deafening, my lifeboat was No.11, Mr Wheat asst. 2nd steward was also in the boat, which consisted or about 76 souls, I think my intention was to assist some of the passengers to settle themselves orderly in the boat, at the time. I thought it was a brave thing to get in the boat and be lowered about 80 feet in the pitch dark.
In lowering the boat we narrowly missed a large water ejector from the engine room, the cold was intense, the lifebelt over our thin white jackets, probably saved many of us freezing to death.
Whilst in the lifeboat I noticed rows of lights from the port holes going out as the water reached the fuse boxes, as the ship sank lower and lower, at the very end there was a terrific noise of thuds from inside the ship of bulkheads bursting, or engines going through the sides, and then at the final the screams of the people, during the whole of these operations at periods rockets were being sent up.
After about 8 hours we were picked up by the S/S Carpathia, and were well cared for, at New York we were especially cared for, and given every thing we could think of.
With hardly an exception we were all sent home on the S/S Lapland of the Red Star Line and landed at Plymouth, every survivor was presented with two gold sovereigns, I think from one of the Astors, that night we slept on the floor of the Millbay docks Plymouth.
Well I think we arrived home at Southampton about the second day and were greeted by our relatives at Southampton docks station. Have enclosed a sketch of the ship rather crude, my eyes are not so good, have a real photo of the ship if any good to you, having sailed to New York for near 30 years would much like to have one of the books of views of the "scrapers," any help I can give you ask me.
All the best to you
Leo James Hyland
1. The sketch of the sinking Titanic is not in Walter Lord's Leo Hyland File; however, it is reproduced in "The Ship That Stood Still" and the Illustrated "A Night To Remember." It is reproduced on another page on this website.
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