An individual call for help, from here, from there; gradually swelling into a composite volume of one long continuous wailing chant, from the fifteen hundred in the water all around us. It sounded like locusts on a midsummer night, in the woods in Pennsylvania.
This terrible continuing cry lasted for twenty or thirty minutes, gradually dying away, as one after another could no longer withstand the cold and exposure. Practically no one was drowned, as no water was found in the lungs of those later recovered. Everyone had on a life preserver.
The partially filled lifeboats standing by only a few hundred yards away never came back. Why on earth they didn’t is a mystery. How could any human being fail to heed those cries? They were afraid the boats would be swamped by people in the water.
John B. Thayer, who was seventeen when the Titanic went down, and was one of the few people to go down with the ship who survived. (His story was the basis of that little movie you might have heard of.)