Jensen v. White Star Lines (c) Anderson Kill & Olick 1998
Mauritz Hakan Bjornstrom-Steffansson's Letter to White Star Line Counsel

Lieutenant Mauritz Hakan Bjornstrom Steffansson
Military Attaché
Consulate General of His Majesty Gustaf V
Kingdom of Sweden
New York, New York
 

General Counsel
The White Star Line
New York, New York
 

Sir:
        It has come to my attention that Ms. Carla Jensen is suing your respected company and I believe that you would be interested in my recollection of the events of that night.  I am the Military Attaché to the Consulate of the Government of Sweden in New York City.  As such I am experienced in reporting events accurately and objectively.

        I have vivid recollections of the night the Titanic sank.  That evening I was drinking lemonade in the first class smoking room with several other gentlemen.  At 11:40 we all felt the boat slightly vibrate.  The vibration was so slight as interrupt only momentarily my vigorous debate with Hugh Woolner about the changing world order.  Our debate was interrupted by a White Star Line officer who told me that I needed to put my life jacket on immediately.  Since I'm a military man, I obeyed the officer, put on my lifejacket and went to see how I could help the other passengers.

        As I approached the Boat Deck I saw that it was busy with passengers from all classes, even passengers from the lower decks had ventured up.  I immediately stood to and assisted the women and children in preparing to board the lifeboats.  Hugh reassured the women as they were waiting to board.  He joined me as I helped passengers such as Mrs. Edward Candee, into the boats.

    I had been working on untangling the ropes of Lifeboat 12, which presented some difficulty due to their poor design, when this man, who I later learned was Hans Jensen, rudely pushed me out of the way.  He jumped up on the rail and rashly untangled the ropes while hanging over open water.  Officer Lightoller came over and told Jensen to get down from the railing.  When he jumped down next me to where I stood waiting to explain to him how a gentleman behave, I was not surprised to smell alcohol on his breath, which no doubt gave him the courage to do such a foolish thing.  Second Officer Lightoller must have smelled it too, because he asked Jensen who he was and if he had been drinking, before I had a chance to say anything.

    While Officer Lightoller was reprimanding Jensen, I went over to comfort the distraught ladies.  As I continued to comfort ladies, I saw over their shoulders Jensen kissing some woman who may have been this purported fiancé that has brought suit against you.
 
        As we were accompanying the ladies towards the remaining lifeboats I heard a shot and saw that Second Officer Lightoller had his men in a ring around Boat D and some of them had their guns at the ready.  Jensen was once again interfering with the officers duties by standing before them face toward the upset passenger, which resulting in his blocking the officers line of fire should the crowd become uncontrollable.  Seeing how unruly the crowd had become, I told the passenger, a few of whom were even first class passengers, to back away and let the sailors do their job. I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure the sailors were assembling the boat properly. Jensen continued to interfere with the officers doing their job properly, but did keep the crowd far away enough from the officers so that they could readily use their sidearms were there a need to do so.
 
        Once all the women in the immediate area had been loaded, Lightoller allowed certain men to board.  Jensen quickly got on board.  I hung back in case there were other women who needed to board, which as it turned out there were.  When Lightoller called for the passengers in the boat to make room, Jensen to my surprise, got out of the lifeboat rather than simply moving over like some other passengers.  Once these women were boarded, unfortunately, Lightoller appeared to have lost his nerve and ordered the boat lowered, when I could clearly see there were empty seats in the boat.  Jensen had gotten the men from the lower decks calmed down so there was nothing else for Hugh and I to do.  This was the last I saw of Jensen.

    I called to Hugh and we both went down the first class stairs to the A Deck where the boat was just passing in its descent to the water.  We both decided it was best if we accompanied the women, since there was plenty of room and the women might need our help. I let Hugh jump first.  With a short jump I dropped a surprising distance into that part of the boat where there were no ladies.  Our landing in the boat caused no serious disruption and we continued to assist in calming the ladies.

    Please feel free to call on me if I can be of any service to your excellent line.
 

Your faithful servant,
 
 
 Lieutenant Mauritz Hakan BjornstromSteffansson Military Attaché Consulate General of His Majesty Gustaf V Kingdom of Sweden New York, New York

 
 


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