My Grandfather was an oiler on the Titanic

Grandfather age 21, most likely signed on at South Hampton, England along with many of the other Titanic crew members. Grandfather was an engine oiler also called a greaser by the British. Grandpa’s duty was to lubricate the lower moving parts of the Titanic’s two reciprocating engines. On Sunday April 14th 1912 three days out of South Hampton, Grandfather recalled the Titanic, was making good time, and the trip was uneventful.

That evening Grandfather and his buddy Murdock had just gotten off shift, stepped out of the Funnel Structure to get a breath of fresh air on the lower deck instead of going to bed, when they heard a crash that sounded like thunder it was then when the ship crashed into the fateful iceberg. The huge ship quivered and engine boilers hissed. The 2 men became frightened and headed for the #2 lifeboat.

It was about five minutes past midnight when they reached the boat deck. They saw the iceberg looming ahead, but they didn’t think anything of it. From their vantage point they could only see six life boats so they climbed in being No. 2 which was the closest lifeboat.

Not being worried about the unsinkable liner going down — they were afraid the commotion would bring ship’s officers on the deck and they’d get caught off limits!

They had no idea that the ship was going down, until the lifeboat was being lowered. A steward put them in command of the craft. The two had to push men off the lifeboat on to the Titanic deck so the women and children could get in. The two helped 20 women and children get on board their little boat, while crewmen on the ship fought with men to keep them off the lifeboats, which were lowered to the sea and left the ship. Among the passengers was young Mrs. John Jacob Aster, and Mrs. Bush whose famous husbands remained on the Titanic. They became hysterical. Grandfather said he never wanted to go though an experience like that again.

As the lifeboat left the “Titanic” the women sat in the lifeboat in a state of relative composure. They were safe, and after all, wasn’t the “Titanic” unsinkable? After about 30 minutes in the water, that mighty liner’s lights went off. The women were inconsolable, and their screams heightened when they heard the “Titanic” shudder and dive to its death with a roar.

Dawn brought little cheer to the lifeboat’s occupants. So deep was their shock that the craft’s food and water supplies went untouched throughout the day. Manning the lifeboat Grandpa and Murdock circled around and around for 20 hours waiting for rescue. Dusk’s onset brought the sight of a ship’s mast, and spirits rose as the survivors realized that the “Carpathia” had sighted them.

At 3:30 AM the rescue ship, the Carpathia’s rockets are sighted by the survivors in the lifeboats. By 4:10AM morning their lifeboat was picked up by the Carpathia. The 20 women along with Grandpa and Murdock are helped aboard the ship. By 8:30AM the last lifeboat had been rescued and 30 minutes later the last survivors was helped safely aboard. They passengers and crew were given blankets and food helping those with medical needs.

Until the day Grandfather passed away 50 years later, he could still hear the women screaming and still feel the roll of the sea. Always picturing in his mind, were frantic men jumping overboard without lifebelts into the sea. 1527 souls perished and only 705 survived during this tragic event.

by Tom Baker

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