||Lifeboat from Titanic
||Lifeboat to Carpathia
|Johnson, Mrs Elisabeth Vilhelmina (Alice)||Collapsible D||Collapsible D||3.22|
|Johnson, Master Harold Theodor||Collapsible D||Collapsible D||3.22|
|Johnson, Miss Eleanor Ileen||Collapsible D||Collapsible D||3.22|
In a letter written by Eleanor to a friend, on April 17 (unknown year), she said:
“Our life boat was the last one that was successfully launched. I am told that it was launched at 2:05 AM.”
In another (undated) account she described experiences her mother had told her about:
“Harold was still on deck with Elin Braf, one of the two Swedish girls (Helmina Nilsson) traveling with us, who was afraid to get into the life boat. They started lowering the life boat, then mom started screaming. A man grabbed Harold from Elin and dropped him into the lifeboat. That was the last time we saw Elin. …. In the lifeboat it was very cold. There was water in the bottom of the boat and mom’s feet were wet. ….. Somebody gave us a blanket to wrap around us. We were in lifeboat Collapsible ‘D’, which was the last lifeboat launched at 2:05 am just before the Titanic sank at 2:20 am.”
Letter to Don Lynch from Eleanor, dated March 21, 1975:
"From what my mother said, I believe we were in boat #4. A steward came below and told us to follow him immediately as the boat was sinking. Up on the boat deck our group kept getting separated, the two girls were cold and kept going inside to get warm. My mother was passed through a ring of men and a steward in the lifeboat ordered her to toss me down. He caught me and then mother was told to jump and he also caught her. Just after that mother heard them call out to lower away and she looked up to see Ellen still on deck holding Harold. She screamed to Ellen to throw down Harold but she appeared frozen and did not move. A man took Harold from her and dropped him into the lifeboat and he was passed back to mother.
We were sitting near a lady all bundled up in a fur coat with a shawl over her knees. She gave mother the shawl and told her to wrap the baby up. (See page 123 in A Night to Remember, about Mrs. John Jacob Astor doing this service) It was also the last lifeboat to be lowered and we were among the last to board the Carpathia."
It seems the shawl story is what made Mrs. Johnson decide they were in boat 4. However, it must be said that other women claimed to have gotten a shawl from Mrs. Astor. Leah Aks got a shawl she said was from Mrs. Astor, that shawl is now on display at the Mariner's Museum in Norfolk, VA, USA.
Letter to George Behe, Dec. 16, 1977:
“We were in a group escorted to the boat deck as the last lifeboats were being lowered. It was impossible to stay together and as our lifeboat No. 15 was being lowered my mother looked up and saw Elin Braf with [my brother] Harold in her arms. Mother screamed for her to drop him, but Elin just stood frozen and a man nearby snatched him from her arms and dropped him into the lifeboat. The sight of Elin being left behind haunted my mother the rest of her life. ….. The other girl Helminia Nilsson was saved and continued to Joliet where she lived several years and then returned to Sweden.”
April 14, 1962 issue of the Elgin (Illinois) Courier News which has an interview with Eleanor and her mother. It is so faded it can be barely read, but apparently there was indeed water in the boat. She gives no other information to help identify it. She does not say it was the last one, or that they tied up to any others, or anything.
The only account we can find of a man perhaps seeing the scenario Eleanor described is Gunnar Tenglin who said he saw a woman drop a baby over the side, by accident apparently, as she then jumped overboard after it. He doesn't say where he saw this, but was forward on the starboard at the end.
Over time, the family's perception of the lifeboat changed. From Collapsible D, to #4, and even #15. All of which can be called "the last boat", depending on how you look at it. Based on the ring of men, and the belief that it was the last boat (particularly since Elin Braf didn't get in a later one), we feel the family may very well have been in Collapsible D.