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Waiting for Rescue

To Charles Lauriat, the sound of over a thousand people pitched into the water over the past 18 minutes sounded like a “long, lingering moan.”  He climbed into a collapsible boat with Leslie Morton and Fred Gauntlett and raised the boat’s sides.  They continued to pick up more people in the water until the boat had “sunk flush with the water.”  The boatload of survivors rowed for the lighthouse on the Old Head of Kinsale, continuing to pull people in.

Elizabeth Duckworth, from her safety in lifeboat 21, saw a man in the water not far from them and persuaded the officer of the boat to pull the man in.  Lifeboat 21 was the first boat to come upon the fishing smack, Wanderer of Peel, also known as Peel 12.  Even though she had been rescued, when she heard that another boat needed help to save more of the drowning, she volunteered herself and jumped back into a lifeboat.  When Duckworth returned to Peel 12 from her mission, she was greeted with cheers.

Peel 12 picked up the thirty-three on Lauriat’s raft and also the complement of lifeboat 11.  The small fishing boat was becoming overloaded with about 60 survivors.  Many of them were soon transferred to the larger Flying Fish when it arrived on the scene.

Junior Third Officer Bestic found his own collapsible in the water and helped pull in another young man.  They then came across a woman in a lifejacket, seemingly in shock.  They pulled her into the boat, and she asked them, “Where is my baby?”

“I’m sorry,” Bestic answered, “we haven’t seen any babies.”

The woman threw herself overboard.  Horrified, the young man grabbed the woman and lied, “Your baby is safe.  I saw it taken into another boat.”

The woman allowed herself to be helped into the boat again.  Bestic chided himself for not thinking of the lie.  The small, waterlogged boat picked up a dozen or more survivors.  Bestic found a watertight tin of biscuits and told everyone to chew to keep warm.

Four hours after Lusitania sank, their collapsible was picked up by the Bluebell.  If help had come any later, the skies would have been dark.

Margaret Mackworth awoke aboard Bluebell, where she found herself covered in blankets, but without clothes.  Three sailors, seeing that she had revived, promptly helped her inside to the captain’s cabin where she fell asleep.  Awaking, she heard a woman, perhaps Beatrice Witherbee, emotionally scolding Captain Turner, also on board the Bluebell, at the lack of organization and discipline on board during the sinking, which had lead to her baby’s death.  A sailor bringing Margaret a cup of tea apologized for the woman’s outburst, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m afraid that lady is hysterical.”

Margaret’s answer was, “On the contrary, that woman is the only one aboard the Bluebell who is not hysterical.”

Second cabin passenger Julia Sullivan lost consciousness in the water and regained consciousness aboard the ship Heron, where she was rescued with a handful other survivors.  Unlike the other rescue vessels, they made their way towards Kinsale instead of Queenstown.

The small vessels Elizabeth and Daniel O’Connell arrived on the scene to pick up people from the lifeboats.  Soon after came the Stormcock, captained by Commander O’Shee, who demanded that the survivors be transferred to his ship.  The captains of the smaller boats protested, saying that the survivors had been through enough, but O’Shee threatened to blow the smaller vessels out of the water if the smaller boats did not comply.  The survivors, who had already been taken from the lifeboats, transferred once again to the larger ship.  Stormcock also took lifeboat 13 in tow and brought it back to Queenstown.

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