Updated 31 March 2014

New letter describes tragic scenes on sinking Titanic

A newly discovered letter from one of the survivors of the tragic sinking of the Titanic describes her experiences on that fateful night.


Miss Rose Amélie Icard was, at her death in 1964, the longest living French survivor of the tragedy. Although she travelled first class, Icard was not actually wealthy – she was the maid of a wealthy American, Mrs Martha Stone.

Last week, Reddit user frenchlitgeek, posted a translation of a letter written by Miss Icard in 1955. Despite it being several decades after the tragedy, Icard begins the letter with "It is a moment of my life that I will never forget".

The user who originally posted the message, seeking a translation, believes he has the only copy of the letter, and is working to establish its authenticity.

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Icard was, like most passengers, asleep when the ship struck an iceberg but upon hurrying outside was informed that there was no danger. In the end, her life was saved by the daughter of a guest in the neighbouring suite who urged them to head above decks where they "witnessed unforgettable scenes where horror mixed with the most sublime heroism".

Once they realised that they were abandoning ship, Mrs. Stone sent Icard back to her cabin to fetch her jewels. Fortunately, Icard took the wrong stairwell and, finding herself unable to reach the cabin, returned to her mistress empty-handed. Had she gone the right way, she believes she "would never have come back up again".

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Forced aboard the lifeboat by Mrs. Stone, Icard then recalls the harrowing scenes of married couples being forced apart, never to meet again. The sailor in charge of the boat reportedly said “Row strongly, you only have twenty five minutes to save your life” otherwise they would have been caught in the suction created when the Titanic finally went under. Icard took an oar and “rowed with so much energy that my hands were bleeding and my wrists were paralyzed".

You can read the full translation on Reddit here

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