Maid's Letter Gives New Look at Titanic's Final Moments

Emotional account describes bravery of those who died

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 25, 2014 12:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – An as-yet-unverified letter unveiled by a Reddit user could shed new light on the dark tale of the Titanic. The letter was apparently written by Rose Amelie Icard, the longest-living French survivor of the disaster, in 1955, the Telegraph reports. It offers her personal and harrowing account of the ship's sinking. Icard, thought to have been a maid to the wealthy American Martha Stone, rode first class on the ship; she and Stone were rescued from a lifeboat by the Carpathia, the Telegraph notes. The letter was purchased roughly two years ago at auction, and the Reddit user posted it alongside a request for translation help. Highlights:

  • The owners of Macy's stayed together onboard after helping their maid escape. "Mrs. Straus … put her arms around the neck of her husband, telling him: 'We have been married 50 years, we have never left each other, I want to die with you.'"
  • "A stranger undid his safety belt to give it to an old woman who couldn’t find a spot in any boat, and told her 'You’ll pray for me.'"
  • "The billionaire Benjamin Guggenheim, after having helped the rescue of women and children, got dressed, a rose at his buttonhole, to die."
  • Frantically rowing away from the ship, "I noticed that someone was hidden underneath me. I didn’t have the strength to reveal his presence. I’ve never known who the man who saved his own life this way was."
  • "At first light, before the arrival of the Carpathia ... our boat and some others went back to the scene of the tragedy. The waters were calm and bare, and nothing could suggest that the sea giant was engulfed there. Alone, in front of us, two cathedrals of ice which were pinkening under the first sunlight offered a spectacle of rare beauty."
A full translation at Reddit is here, via People; a photo of the letter, in French, is here. Or click to read about Titanic's "last mystery."

The Titanic, as recreated for James Cameron's film.   (PRNewsFoto/Paramount Home Media Distribution)
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