The Lusitania Resource > People > Second Cabin (Second Class) Passenger List > Mrs. Aaron Taylor Whyatt (Martha Ann Bussey)

Mrs. Aaron Taylor Whyatt (Martha Ann Bussey)

Martha Ann Whyatt, 60, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States, was recently widowed and was traveling aboard Lusitania to start a new life in England.  She survived the sinking. Martha Whyatt was a native of England and moved to New Bedford with her husband Aaron Whyatt in 1911.  After Aaron died, she decided to return to England and booked passage aboard Lusitania.  She was traveling alone.  “I never heard any warnings about going on the boat,” she later recalled, “We left New York with bands playing and a lot of singing.” While on board Lusitania, Martha Whyatt was roommates with Phoebe Amory and Mary Higginbottom.
“I was on deck when the first explosion took place.  Everyone below ran on deck, and there was a great deal of rushing about and confusion.  A young man who was quite unknown to me put a lifebuoy around me, with a collar fit to the neck, and with fastenings which came under the arms.” “While the ship was sinking I found it impossible to get into any of the lifeboats.  There seemed no help about,” she recalled, “I did not see any boats launched.  There was a lot of shouting and screaming.” “I simply stood still, clinging to the rail and went down [with the ship].  I seemed to go to the bottom [before] I came to the surface again . . .” “It was a dreadful sight I the water.  Women were holding up babies.  Children were floating around.  Many people had their faces and heads bleeding, and I saw one old man die.  The sea was covered with grime and black dust.  I heard singing. “I floated on my back and folded my arms on my breast.  I tried all I could to keep conscious, and I believe I owe my life to this fact.  It was not cold.  When I was picked up by a boat four miles from land I had been in the water for 4 ½ hours and had floated over 20 miles.”
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, she was on the collapsible boat for four hours.
“The boat took me to a ship, whose name I do not know, and my clothes were cut away and I was wrapped in hot blankets.  At Queenstown I had to be carried to the hotel.  Everyone was most kind, and I was given sufficient clothes to take me home to Hurst.  I managed to save my watch, and you see it stopped at twenty minutes to two, when I reached the water.”
Martha made her way to her sister’s house at 138 Curzon Road, Hurst, Ashton-under-Lyne, arriving in Manchester from Holyhead at 4:45 a.m. on Sunday, 9 May 1915.  “[A]lthough bearing signs of the hardships she had undergone[, she] had recovered sufficiently to relate some of her experiences." References: Cleveland Plain Dealer, Monday, 10 May 1915, page 2. “An Ashton Lady’s Strength of Mind.”  Manchester Guardian, Monday, 10 May 1915, page 9.

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