Thursday, 5 April 2012

Titanic hero 'traumatised' by those he left behind

THOMAS William Jones was 32 when the Titanic set sail to the sound of cheers around midday, an experienced Able Seaman, he was taking up his post as part of the deck crew on the ship.

When the disaster unfolded he couldn't believe the “unsinkable” ship was sinking until received orders direct from the captain to man the lifeboat and steer it to safety.

On April 15, 1912, some 1,517 lives were lost after the Titanic struck an iceberg on its journey from Southampton to New York.

Because of the women and children first policy his lifeboat was full with 35 ladies, including The Countess of Rothes who thanked him for helping save their lives afterwards.

Thomas' niece Esther Jones, 74, from Bootle, told how as a child she remembered Thomas being on the Titanic but knew he hated talking about it.

“I was just told that my uncle was on the Titanic and he survived it. We were told not to ask too many questions.

”He was a seaman he was always away for a few years first on the Majestic and later the Oceanic. He didn't have any worries about it going down.

“I don't think at the time he liked talking about it, it was something he wanted to forget about. The whole ordeal must have been horrendous for him.”

Esther has kept copies of the original inquiry and his wage slip from the Titanic at her home in Netherton Way.

During the Titanic inquiry, he said of the journey: “I was sitting in the forecastle. I heard something like a ship going through loose ice and everybody ran on deck right away.

”I looked down below and I heard a rush of water, I went down below and I could see firemen coming up from there then we were given orders to get the boats ready.

“There was one old lady there and an old gentleman, her husband. She wanted him to enter the boat with her but he backed away.

“She never said anything; if she did, we could not hear it, because the steam was blowing so and making such a noise.

”The captain's orders was to aim for the light in the distance and then come back so I rowed for two hours.

“I wanted to return to the ship, but the ladies were frightened.

”It started to get daybreak and we lost the light and all of a sudden we saw the Carpathia coming and made for that.“

Around a year after the disaster but still traumatised, Thomas received a letter from survivor Gladys Cherry who was on his lifeboat, she described him as being a ‘hero'.

In the letter Gladys said: ”I shall always remember your words ‘ladies, if any of us are saved, remember, I wanted to go back. I would rather drown with them than leave them.'

“You did all you could, and being my own countryman, I wanted to tell you this.”

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