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Bertha Watt, 2nd Class Passenger

Due to me running out of time, I only had an opportunity to transcribe sections of Watt's letter to Walter Lord. I have made note of this where necessary. Most of the omitted sections refer to biographical details, and mention of her relatives.

April 10th, 1963

A queer little incident happened that afternoon [she boarded Titanic] I remember Mother and some ladies having tea and as sometimes happened in those days one of them read the tea cups. Can't remember the ladies name but in one cup she said "I can't see anything its like there was a black wall and nothing beyond." quite a good prediction for so many.
This Rev.Carter (who led the Sunday service) and his wife were the ones who got the people singing "Nearer my God to Thee" after all the boats were gone. ...
Following supper I was off to bed, mother had taken a little longer to come down and then was reading when the ship hit. I was asleep so mother partly dressed and went up on deck to see what happened. One officer she spoke to replied "Go back to bed we will soon be under way." But she wasn't satisfied with that so when she saw other people coming up on deck, they sort of stood around to see what was happening. After some little time Mr.Collier came along and advised her to go and get me up as he had seen the 1st class lfe boats going off. So they both came down the stairs, no elevator operating that night, the steward was just at my door to awaken me when mother arrived I pulled on stockings and tucked my nightie into my panties and put my coat on, it was fur lined thank goodness. By the time we got on deck the Colliers were there and a few other folk but no big crowd. We stood talking in a group. The Collyers Mariane Wright, who was coming out to be married and who was married in "The little church around the corner" in N.Y. my Uncle gave her away. She now lives in Oregon and me have been life long friends.
Then there were two young men who also sat at our table if I remember the one was John Ashby and the other Dr.Pain. While standing there Mr.Hoffman came up with his two little boys and finished dressing them on deck.
Discussion of the Navratil children here.
shortly a call was made "Women and children this way" so we all went over to the starboard side, one boat was on the way down, and she was hanging on its davits overboard and full of men, looked as if they were steerage passengers and we had that they had more or less charged this boat so they left them having there until after [my?] boat left. The Master at Arms was standing with a gun at that point. One boat went down ahead of us. Then he loaded in to the next, no order some people in first seemed to be sitting with feet up on seats while some of us stood all night. When we women folk got in we all said to the men, "come on there's plenty room" but the officer in charge of boarding said "women and children first." We waited a few minutes and more came so we were let down, all thought we stop at another deck and pick up some more women, but no we didn't and I'll never forget the sight of these 3 or 4 men standing looking over the side. One other boat was loading as we left and the one that was hanging that was the last. Our boat was in charge of a fine old Irish seaman who did his best to keep folk in line and he told us we were almost the last boat off. Shortly after leaving we heard shots, were told that these were fired to make the men come out of that boat. By the time we got out just a little way the Titanic was really going down by the nose, so Paddy, as we called him, said row for all your worth or we would be drawn down by the suction. Two stewards were rowing but didn't look too experienced. Paddy asked others to help. We heard crys for help but couldn't see too well were they were. We possibly were not 3/4 hour when the ship seemed to break in the middle and went in nose and stern and it what seemed minutes not a vestage of her could be seen. Then all was calm and dark, up until then the lights of the ship gave some help, but as she sank lower and lower, row after row of lights would go out. We were near the stern of our boat and Paddy talked to me a great deal, told me about the stars etc but said they had no compass and no rudder in this boat so all we could do was row a little and hope we would see something coming. We had been told before we left the ship that this was all precautionary measures and the Olympic would be along shortly to pick us all up. So after quite a while I saw a light away in the distance and called to Paddy. He answered that it wasn't a ship but one of our own boats who must be lucky to have a light. I wanted to know how he could tell and he said from the height above the water. How this has always been a point of anger for me over the years, its hard to explain. In one enquiry Ismay was picked up by the Carpathia a good 2-3 hours ahead of us. Mr.Ismay was all tucked away in bed in a cabin long before half of us were landed on the C------. Now they try to tell people how brave he was and how he helped women into boats and only went into the last boat under pressure, well we never saw him and we knew some of the people in the last boat off and he wasn't there either. So no one will ever white wash him from me. Out boat had either 46 or 47 in it. All boats had printed on them 75 min 100 max. We had 1 box of dry biscuits, no water, light or compass. Never had a boat drill or assigned a special boat to go to. We left the ship about 1 a.m. or close there and arrived aboard the Carpathia at about 9.30 a.m., how good that ship looked to all of us. I climbed up the rope ladder without [?] had always been good at athletics in school and I think that morning I could even have climbed a single rope. But the Capt [?] was very angry. We were all given hot toddy and a blanket and some slept wherever they found a spot. At our table on Titanic was a very fine couple Mr. and Mrs. Leopold Weisz. He was a sculptor and had been established in Montreal but went home to Belgium to bring his wife out. He was one who never came home. That first day on the C------ she was in a bad way and was [jumpy?] my good Mother must have walked miles with her up and down the decks while the ship stayed around all day Monday hoping to pick more up. Well mom finally got her calmed down and got her interested in helping a whole big table full of mothers and children who could not speak English. Madame Weisz could speak 7 languages so sat at this table every meal and ordered for these folk. A great tribute should be paid her for her patience and help when her own heart was breaking. The last we saw of her she was being taken away by some Catholic sisters. He had done a beautiful drawing in my autograph album, but alas that went with all other things. ... The part regarding the skinking, how the ship broke in the middle and then slid out of sight, is so plain to me that I could draw pictures of it. I remember sitting or standing with my eyes glued to the spot watching lights go out almost as it I was hypnotised. Things like that are so opposite to some parts of your book, it bothers me. ...


1. Spelling and punctuation have been preserved, where possible.
2. When discussing the break-up of the Titanic, Watt drew a sketch in the letter, like this:

My own interpretation is here:

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