Mr. Thomas Home

Thomas Home, 50, was Department Manager of G. Goulding & Sons in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He and his wife and three children, Margaret, Ruth, and a baby boy, lived at their family homestead in Welland, Ontario. While in Toronto, Home lived with his sister, and brother-in-law Fred. W. Beebe, at 238 College Street.

From the Toronto Star, Saturday 8 May 1915:

“Thomas Home, buyer for G. Goulding & Sons, wholesale milliners Wellington St. has been crossing the ocean back and forth for 25 yrs, and this is the first time he was in an ocean disaster although he narrowly escaped sailing on the Titanic. Mr. Home had passage booked to sail with his brother-in-law Col. Arthur G. Peuchen who came through the disaster. A business deal kept Mr. Home late for his train and the connections to Liverpool and was unable to catch Titanic sailing. Mrs. Home and 3 children, Margaret, Ruth and baby boy are at presently in Welland with Mrs. Home’s parents.”

Home’s luck held out again and he survived. Home’s brother-in-law, Colonel Arthur Peuchen, escaped the Titanic in the same lifeboat as Margaret “The Unsinkable Molly” Brown.

Thomas Home’s ticket for Lusitania was 6927 and his cabin was B-23.  Home was on deck at the time of the disaster and stood by the rail until the ship was struck. The following is from his account, which has been edited into separate paragraphs for easier reading:

I saw the torpedo coming, watched it, and did not turn to run away until it hit. The explosion threw up water and splinters in showers. I was struck twice on the heel and on my left leg. My foot is still swollen, so that I have not been able to get away from here. However I am one of the very fortunate. After the explosion, the ship listed and I limped around to the port and high side. There were a few excited ones, but they were easily controlled. The worst was when relatives parted – mothers and their babies. You can see how natural that would be. One the whole that would be quite natural.

It was remarkable how cool the passengers were. I went down to my cabin [B-32] but could not find a lifebelt. The steward met me and told me she [the Lusitania] would be alright. He got me a lifebelt from another stateroom and I went on deck again with it in my hand. I did not feel any fear while I was standing. A woman told me she could not find her baby and asked if we would be saved and where the lifebelts were. I told her we would be alright and gave her my belt and tied it on to her. I said, ‘You are alright, go and look for your baby.’ Poor woman, few found them again on this earth. Such a strange calmness with it all. No hope.

She was sinking, yet no fear. A young lady came and spoke to me about the terrible deed as calmly as if we were in the saloon and yet in a few minutes we were to go down. At the last moment when she was disappearing I slid down to the side near the water. There was a scream and I plunged with others to find ourselves in a seething mass drawn down by suction, but not too deep to rise, and down and down, again and again, to seize anything. Sometimes a foot, but everyone trying to rise but not knowing by what ladder they climbed. Strange as it may seem, I thought how cosy it was under the water and was surprised I did not feel the shock, yet without hope of coming to the surface. But I came up and struck out to get away from the mass of floating debris and grasping hands.

I found a box, a man climbed on and about six clung to it a long time. I do not know how long I hung on, but I felt I could not last and a woman told me she could not hang on longer. I determinded to get away so I asked a man to shove me a floating lifebelt. He did so and I told one of the men on the box to reach with an oar and put it on himself. I struck out on two spars and presently found the Cuban counsel [Julian de Ayala] in two lifebelts, one in front of him. I asked him if he could spare it, but the poor fellow could not swim and was acting frantically. I suppose at that moment if the ship had come up under him again, he would still think he had to struggle. I did not think he would last long but he is still alive and without a bruise.

I came to a floating corpse with a belt that could help him no further, so unfastened the front, cut the lower straps near the knots at the back and managed to get it on with a struggle, for by this time I was feeling it a good deal, and then held on as long as I could, realizing that I had gone my limit and that it was only a matter of moments. I knew no more till I found myself in a bunk with strange surroundings. They had picked me up for dead in a small boat and transferred me to a tug.

News of his survival was cabled to his wife in Welland and sister in Toronto. The cable read “Safe at Queenstown” and brought a “feeling of intense relief” to his family.

Contributors:
Shelley Dziedzic, USA
Marika Pirie, Canada
Michael Poirier, USA
Paul Latimer
Hildo Thiel, The Netherlands

References:
The Toronto Star. Saturday, 8 May 1915.

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