Titanic survivor remembers tragedy: 'I will likely have nightmares about it this evening'


,- Only 23 years old, Frank Prentice witnessed the tragic Titanic sinking. During a moving interview with the BBC years later, the recollections of that terrible evening remained eerie. Almost 1,500 people lost their lives when the Titanic slammed into an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean on April 14, 1912.
Working as a second purser on the ship's maiden voyage, Prentice recounted the disquieting circumstances that preceded the catastrophe in the 1979 BBC series The Great Liners. He recalled rather well how little of an impact there was when the ship abruptly stopped, as when you slam on the brakes on a car. Unaware of the impending catastrophe below, Prentice gazed out a porthole to a serene scene of starry skies and quiet waters.

Prentice went onto the deck to examine and discovered that, although appearing tranquil, there was actually minimal damage above the waterline. However, the Titanic was irreparably damaged below the surface, as the disastrous collision with the iceberg sealed its doom, unknown to most passengers.

Prentice saw during the tumultuous event that passengers were reluctant to join the lifeboats because they were frightened of the 70-foot plunge into the frigid ocean and could not believe that the ostensibly unsinkable ship could sink. Logistically challenging rescue procedures resulted in a large number of fatalities even though there were more lifeboats for more passengers.

When the ship tipped dangerously and Prentice and a few other men could not reach the lifeboats, they had to stop hurrying to grab vital supplies. Unexpectedly splitting in two during the mayhem and terror, the Titanic quickly came apart.

A light of hope was brought in the midst of misery when the RMS Carpathia responded quickly, alerted by the Titanic's distress signal, and carried many survivors to New York for safety. The Titanic tragedy stayed with Prentice until his death in 1982 at the age of 93. A priceless keepsake, a watch that stopped at 02:20, the same moment the Titanic sank, served as a potent representation of the aftermath of that terrible tragedy.

Years passed and Prentice continued to have dreams about the Titanic disaster that persisted long into his senior years. To him, the sounds of that terrible evening never stopped, a potent reminder of the Titanic's disastrous voyage's enduring effects.
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