Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Gripping first-class account of Titanic’s sinking

Undated handout picture of some of the survivors from the Titantic picked up by the Carpathia, including Laura Francatelli (back, second right) whose eyewitness account of the disaster has been published
Undated handout picture of some of the survivors from the Titantic picked up by the Carpathia, including Laura Francatelli (back, second right) whose eyewitness account of the disaster has been published
Headed for disaster: the Titanic leaving the dock at Southampton in 1912

A first-class passenger's account of the sinking of the Titanic has been published for the first time nearly 100 years after the disaster.

Laura Francatelli wrote of hearing an “awful rumbling” as the famous liner, which was built in Belfast, went down and “then came screams and cries” from 1,500 drowning passengers.

Miss Francatelli worked as a secretary for baronet Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lady Lucy Christiana and travelled with them on the Titanic.

The employee told of how the three of them boarded one of the last lifeboats containing just five passengers and seven crew — and admitted they did not consider going back for survivors.

Wealthy Sir Cosmo later paid the crew members £5 each — worth about £300 today — and some say this was blood money for saving their lives.

>Click here to view the document written by Laura Francatelli

She wrote her account in a signed affidavit which was presented to the official British inquiry into the 1912 disaster.

Miss Francatelli, who was aged 31 at the time, stated how she woke her employers when water seeped into her cabin after the liner struck an iceberg on the night of April 14 1912. She wrote: “A man came to me and put a life preserver on me, assuring me it was only taking precautions and not to be alarmed.

“When we got on the top deck, the lifeboats were being lowered on the starboard side.

“I then noticed that the sea was nearer to us than during the day, and I said to Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon ‘we are sinking', and he said ‘nonsense, come away'.”

Miss Francatelli, from London, died in 1967. Her document is expected to fetch £15,000 when it goes for auction in Wiltshire on October 16.

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