Titanic sinking: Letter from survivor reveals terrifying final moments


One of the children who survived the doomed RMS Titanic sinking wrote a letter detailing what he remembers from the disaster, according to a new documentary.

Titanic: Stories From The Deep, a four-part special available to stream on Foxtel Now, tracked down the granddaughter of one of the survivors of the sinking ship, one of the worst peacetime marine incidents in history after hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912.

French brothers Edmond and Michel Navratil were aged two and four when their father, also named Michel, kidnapped them from their mother, Marcelle, and boarded the Titanic, which was leaving England en route to New York on her maiden voyage.

An undated image of Edmond Navratil with brother Michel.
media_cameraAn undated image of Edmond Navratil with brother Michel.

After the collision, four days into the journey at 11.40pm, Mr Navratil, who was a second-class passenger, took his boys out of bed and put them in a lifeboat, which was the last boat to successfully leave the sinking ship.

It was the last time Edmond and Michel saw their father.

The brothers were dubbed the “Titanic Orphans” after the event, having been the only children rescued without a parent or carer.

The fascinating documentary shows Michel’s granddaughter Elisabeth as she reads out a letter he wrote detailing his innocent account of what happened. Michel died in 2001 aged 92.

Michel's granddaughter, Elisabeth, shares her grandfather's letter that reveals how he escaped the sinking ship.
media_cameraMichel’s granddaughter, Elisabeth, shares her grandfather’s letter that reveals how he escaped the sinking ship.

“I was woken up by my father. He carried me in his arms to the deck of the Titanic,” the letter reads.

“My brother and I were put in a boat. That was already almost full of passengers.

“My father charged me to give my mother his affection and he left us.

“I did not know I would not see him again.

“I remember the moment the lifeboat was lowered from the Titanic. The noise when it fell in the water. And the moment when it started to move away from the ship.

“I remember waking up in the boat after I fell asleep.

“The sea was whitish, almost livid, and there was a ship in the distance.”

One of the lifeboats from the Titanic.
media_cameraOne of the lifeboats from the Titanic.

When the rescue ship Carpathia arrived an hour-and-a-half after the ship sank, Michel and Edmond were hoisted to its deck in burlap sacks.

First-class passenger Margaret Hays, who spoke French, took them in until their mother was found. Marcelle saw her sons’ photos in a newspaper and sailed to New York to reunite with her boys on May 16, 1912, taking them back to France aboard the Oceanic.

In an interview later in life, Michel said he didn’t feel afraid at the time of the tragedy.

“I remember the pleasure, really, of going plop into the lifeboat,” he said, according to Encyclopedia Titanica, a non-profit website with information and archived articles about the RMS Titanic.

The events were profiled in the blockbuster 1997 film Titanic.
media_cameraThe events were profiled in the blockbuster 1997 film Titanic.

“We ended up next to the daughter of an American banker who managed to save her dog, no one objected. There were vast differences of people’s wealth on the ship, and I realised later that if we hadn’t been in second class, we’d have died.

“The people who came out alive often cheated and were aggressive. The honest didn’t stand a chance.”

He also revealed what his father said when he lowered him and his brother into the lifeboat: “My child, when your mother comes for you, as she surely will, tell her that I loved her dearly and still do. Tell her I expected her to follow us so that we might all live happily together in the peace and freedom of the New World.”

Titanic: Stories From The Deep is streaming on Foxtel Now

Originally published as Letter reveals eerie final moments on Titanic


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