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United States Senate Inquiry

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United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Mon 16 Apr 2012 - 2:52




Day by day the proceedings at the United States Senate Inquiry into the wreck of the Titanic discloses an astounding conflict of testimony on most important, most vital, points.
These points concern the wireless communications which passed between the Titanic and other vessels on the Atlantic at the time of the crash, and the allegations that certain ships were close to the sinking liner and did not answer her distress signals.
The most mysterious puzzle in the whole sad story concerns the evidence given by Captain Lord, of the Californian, and a member of his crew.
The member of the crew declared that the Titanic's signals were plainly seen.
Captain Lord, of the Californian, declared that this was not so, and said that when he told the Titanic at 10:15 on Sunday night that the Californian was surrounded by ice the reply received was a message to "Shut up and keep out."
As to the Inquiry Committee itself, the members are divided on the subject of Senator Smith's line of action; and there has been on both sides of the Atlantic some caustic criticism of his questions.


Senator Smith, who is at the head of the United States Committee of Inquiry, has come prominently before the public on more than one occasion. Just at present the extraordinary questions which he is alleged to have asked witnesses at the inquiry are causing the public to ask whether he knows as much about ships, shipping, and the sea as the head of such an inquiry should know.
Among the strange questions attributed to him are the following: -

Why did not the passengers take refuge in the water-tight compartments?
Did the Titanic sink by the bows or by the head?
Don't icebergs expel rays of light, such as the stars and the moon?
Of what are icebergs composed?
Where do icebergs come from?
Don't icebergs expel rays of light, consists of rock, earth, and other substances?
Is 48 degrees above zero?

Senator Smith has had an extraordinary career, and has attained a position which, all honour to him, seems to have been founded on a somewhat slender educational basis. He has both the qualities and the defects of the "self-made man."
Even in the far-away days when he was a newsboy he had a knack of seeing customers before his rivals and getting in first, and his story is that even before he was in his teens he was keeping his father and mother.
This, at any rate, was told to the electors of Michigan, who had confidence enough in Mr. Smith to send him to their House of Representatives when he was only twenty years old - in 1879.
When Mr. Smith was young he was once, it is said, ejected from a train for having no ticket. It is his proud boast that he is now the general counsel to that same railroad.
Mr. Smith's mind turned to law because his ambition led him beyond the scope which the Western Union Telegraph office offered him as a messenger. He was admitted to the Bar in 1883. Three years later he married.
He is a man of untiring energy, even for the land of hustle. During an election campaign in Michigan he made over one hundred speeches, travelling day and night.
Elected to Congress in 1895, and again in 1909, he became a senator five years ago. At fifty-three the senator is as versatile and untiring as ever.

Startling Conflict of Testimony on Many Vital Points.

When the inquiry was resumed at Washington on Monday, Mr. P.A.S. Franklin, vice-president of the International Mercantile Marine Corporation, was the first witness called. He gave evidence as to the wireless telegrams sent off when the first news of disaster reached him.
He despatched the following message to Captain Haddock, of the Olympic: -

By all means learn whereabouts Ismay. Advise soon possible. Do utmost ascertain condition Titanic. Advise office fully disposition Titanic's passengers.

Regarding the reassuring statements given out to inquiries at the White Star offices, Mr. Franklin said:
"We based them on reports and rumours received from Cape Race by individuals and newspapers. We could not place our fingers on anything authentic."
Mr. Smith showed Mr. Franklin the telegram received by Congressman Hughes, of West Virginia, from the White Star, saying: "Titanic proceeding Halifax. Passengers probably land Wednesday. All safe."
I ask you whether you know anything about the sending of the telegram, by whom it was authorised, and from whom it was sent? - I do not, sir. We have had the entire passenger staff examined, and we cannot find out. We appreciate the fact that on the Monday there were many junior clerks in the office, and that the work was in great confusion.
Do you know anyone - any officer, man, or official - whom you deem could be held responsible for the accident and attendant loss of life? - Positively not. We did not think that such an accident could happen. It was not dreamed of. I think it would be absurd to try to hold some individual responsible.
Were there any searchlights on the Titanic? - Not that I know of. I have never heard of searchlights on a Transatlantic liner.
Then came the mysterious story of a ship, said to have been about five miles ahead of the Titanic. Signals were made to this ship, which, at one time, seemed to be coming to the help of the Titanic. Then she disappeared, and nothing has been heard of her.
The story was told by Mr. Boxall, the fourth officer of the Titanic.
Mr. Boxall said he was just approaching the bridge when the collision occurred, but he could not see what had happened. The senior officer said, "We've struck an iceberg." There was just a little ice on the lower deck. There was a sharp report when the crash came, but he could see no iceberg.


"We all walked to the end of the bridge," Mr. Boxall continued, "to look at the iceberg, which we could see only dimly. It was lying low in the water, and was about as high as the lower rail, or about 30ft. out of the water. I had great difficulty in seeing it, as it was dark grey in colour.
"Then I went down to the steerage quarters, and inspected all the decks near the spot where the ship had struck. I found no traces of any damage. I went directly to the bridge and reported accordingly. The captain ordered me to send the carpenter to sound the ship, but I found the carpenter coming up to announce that the ship was taking water.
Mr. Boxall went on to say that he sent up distress rockets until he left the ship.
"I was trying," he said, "to attract the attention of a ship which was directly ahead of us. I had seen her lights. She seemed to be meeting us. She was not far away. She got close enough, it seems to me, to read our electric Morse signals. I told the captain. He stood with me for a considerable time trying to signal her. He told me to tell her in Morse and rocket signals, "Come at once; we are sinking."
Did any answer come? - I didn't see them, but two men say that they saw signals from the ship.

Officer Warned by Colleague While Dressing.

On Tuesday there was a long examination of Mr. H.J. Pittman, third officer of the Titanic. He thus described the moment of the collision with the iceberg and the subsequent scenes: - "I was in my bunk, and was awakened. I heard a sound which seemed to me at the time to be the sound of the ship coming to her anchor. I was not quite awake then, but the sound seemed to be of the ship suddenly halting and of chains whirling round the windlass, and of the anchor being paid out over the side into the water. I simply wondered where on earth we had anchored. I lay in bed after the collision for possibly three or four minutes.
"I got up, however, without dressing, and went on deck. I went to the boat-deck, looked round, and saw nothing remarkable. A few minutes later I started dressing. By that time I had suspected something was the matter, but I did not know any details.
"I started dressing for my watch, and while I was dressing Mr. Boxall came to me and said: "We have struck an iceberg, old man; hurry up." On reaching the deck a second time I found the lifeboats being loaded, but no confusion.
"I started to make an inspection, and ascertain what damage had been done. I found ice on the well deck. From there I went to the forecastle, and saw no damage. On my return I saw a lot of firemen coming up the gangway with their bags of clothing. I said, "What's the matter, you fellows?" They replied, "Water is coming into our place, sir."
"I returned to the boat-deck and assisted in lowering the boats. I saw a man in a dressing gown. I said, "What are you doing here in a dressing gown?" and he replied, "I wanted to help fill the boats and launch them." Mr. Ismay then said to me, "You'd better get the women and children first." I replied, "I'll just wait for the captain's orders."
"Then it dawned on me that I had been speaking to Mr. Ismay, and I reported the meeting and what he had said to the captain, and he replied, "All right, Pittman, carry on, lower the boats; women and children first."
Then witness returned and helped to fill the boats. Mr. Ismay, he said, helped in every way to get the women safely away. When there were no more women to be seen, witness allowed some men to enter the boat. He continued: - "I reported to Mr. Murdock that the boat was filled, and awaited orders. Mr. Murdock said, "You get away, Pittman, with the boat, and hang about aft of the gangway."
Senator Smith: Were the passengers actually reluctant to get into the boat? - Yes, sir.
Was your boat well filled? - My boat had about forty passengers, with six of the crew, and we should not have had so many men aboard but there were no women around at the time to take.
What did Mr. Murdock say to you on leaving? - He said, "Good-bye, old man," and shook hands heartily. "Good luck," he shouted, as we got away.
Did you see him again? - Never.
When did you hear the sounds of the explosions? - Not until the Titanic was completely submerged.
Are you quite sure the explosions you heard came from the Titanic's direction? - Oh, yes.
When you shook hands with Mr. Murdock, did you ever expect to see him again? - Certainly I did; but from Mr. Murdock's manner I do not think he expected to see me again.
Did you see anybody in the water after your boat got away? - No, not at the time; but when the ship disappeared we heard cries and moans indicating that the people were in the water. Absolutely no noise preceded the sinking of the Titanic, but immediately afterwards we were all horrified and appalled to hear all sorts of cries of distress.
Were you near to those in distress? - Three hundred or 400 yards away.
Did you attempt to get near them? - Yes, sir. I ordered my crew to row towards the scene. They pointed the boat in the right direction, but then the passengers began to protest. I think I may say there was a general demand that we should go no nearer to the site where the Titanic had sunk. There was danger of being swamped, it was thought, and they said to me, "What's the good of adding another forty lives to the total?" I yielded to the majority. We did not row away, but simply paused in rowing and drifted.
Didn't you know your lifeboat could hold twenty-five more? - I knew it could hold some more.
Tell us who demurred to rowing towards the wreck? - I cannot say.
Women or men? - I can't tell.
I ask whether it is not a fact that one of the women passengers in your boat begged you to return and try to rescue the others? - No woman passenger or anybody else pressed me to return.
How about those cries of distress? - Do you mean a chorus of cries or isolated cries?
Mr. Pittman looked down and paused. He seemed to be suffering from emotion. When he replied his eyes were filled with tears.
"Really, sir," he said, "I couldn't very well describe what we heard."


We all appreciate your feelings, but just give us some idea of what you heard. - Well, sir, I think we may say that there was a long-drawn-out moan, which lasted about an hour. There was this long-drawn-out moan or perpetual wail, and then a terrible shriek. It seemed to us as if people were in their death agony.
And this moan lasted an hour? - Yes, sir.
And you let these poor people moan there while you simply drifted? - Yes, sir, we drifted all the time, except when breezes sprang up.
Did this anguish gradually die away? - Yes.
During the telling of this distressing story there was hardly a woman present in the court room who was not in tears.
Mr. Pittman was then questioned on the subject of lights.
Did you see any lights of a steamer, as Mr. Boxall described yesterday? - At 1:30 I saw one right ahead of us on the Titanic's course. I saw a white light as we were pulling towards it. I do not say it was a steamer's light. It might have been one of our own boats with a light.
Frederick Fleet, a sailor, was next examined. He was on the look-out at the time of the collision. With him at that time was another man named Lee.
On the night of the collision Fleet and Lee took their places in the crow's-nest at ten p.m., relieving Simonds and Jewell. Both the latter said, as they came from the crow's-nest, "Keep a sharp look-out for small ice." Both men replied, "All right."
Did you keep a sharp look-out all the time? - Yes, and just about seven bells I reported that I saw a dark mass right ahead. I reported to the bridge by telephone from the crow's-nest, and also sounded a warning by striking the gong three times.
How long before the accident did you report the ice? - I don't know.
Was it an hour, half an hour, twenty minutes, ten minutes? - I can't say.
How far was this dark mass ahead when you first saw it? - I have no idea.
Can you tell us how high was this dark mass of ice? - No.
Come now; was it as high as a house, or as this table where you are seated? - Fleet reflected, and replied that when he first saw the ice it seemed about no higher than the table, but at close quarters it might have been just about 100ft. above the water.
When you reported ice ahead to the bridge, did you get a prompt reply? - Yes, sir.
The fact that you rang up by 'phone and struck the gong thrice indicated the presence of danger? - Yes.
Witness said that when the iceberg was alongside it was a little higher than the forecastle head.


Do you know whether the ship was stopped after you gave the telephone warning? - She didn't stop, sir, until we had passed the berg. We struck the berg on the starboard bow, just before the foremast. There was scarcely any jar, and I thought, and said, we had had a narrow shave. In the crow's-nest the collision didn't disturb our balance in the least. A little ice fell on deck.
Later on, Fleet, replying to questions, said: "We were not supplied with glasses aboard the Titanic, and we relied upon our own eyesight."
On the White Star's Oceanic did you have glasses? - Yes.
What sort? - Rather poor.
Did you ask for glasses for the Titanic? - We asked at Southampton for a glass, and they said there were none for us.
Whom did you ask? - Lightoller.
Now, supposing you had been supplied with glasses such as you had aboard the Oceanic, and such as you had from Belfast to Southampton, could you have seen this black object ahead at a greater distance than you did? - We could have seen it a bit sooner.
Major Arthur Peuchen, of Toronto, was next called. He said that a few minutes after the ship struck he went to his friends and said that it was not a serious collision. He continued: "Fifteen minutes later I met Mr. Charles M. Hays, of the Grand Trunk Railway. I asked him, "Have you seen the ice?" and I took him up and showed him it. Then I noticed that the boat was listing, and I said to Mr. Hays, "She's listing. She should not do that." He said, "Oh, I don't know. This boat can't sink. It does not matter what we've struck, she is good for eight or ten hours." I went back to the cabin deck, where I met men and women coming up.
"The boats were being prepared for lowering on the port side. Women came forward one by one accompanied by their husbands. They would only allow women to pass, and the men had to stand back. The second officer stood there, and that was the order enforced. No men passengers got into the boat.
"I was surprised that the sailors were not at their posts as they should have been. I've seen fire drills, and the action of the sailors did not impress me. They seemed to be short of sailors round the lifeboats where I was.
"When I came on deck first it seemed to me that about one hundred stokers came up and crowded the deck. One of the officers, a splendid man, drove these men right off the deck like sheep. When we got to the next boat a quartermaster and a sailor were put in, and the boat was then filled with women.
"We called out for more women. Some would not leave their husbands. The second boat was lowered, and, as it was going down, the second officer said, "I can't manage this boat with only one seaman." I was standing by and said, "Can I be of any assistance? I'm a yachtsman." He replied, "Yes, I would rather have you than a sailor." I got hold of a rope and lowered myself into the boat.
"We got the rudder in and I took an oar with a sailor. We were told to row away as fast as we could to get clear of the suction. We heard a whistle. It was the signal to us to come back to the ship. We didn't want to go, because the quartermaster said that it was our lives against theirs. There was an instantaneous protest from the married women, who wanted to return."
What did you do? - I said nothing. The quartermaster ordered us to resume rowing from the Titanic, which we did. The quartermaster imagined that he saw a light away from the vessel, and insisted on rowing towards it. The women, witness continued, rowed and were most plucky. Miss E.A. Norton, of Acton-lane, London, was one of them. He wondered why more men were not taken. No one could live in the icy water more than an hour.
Witness was of opinion that if the look-outs had had glasses the ship might have been saved.
In many respects Wednesday's sitting of the committee brought out the most dramatic incidents and surprises, and was remarkable also for some curious questions asked by Senator Smith.
One of the questions put by Senator Smith to Fifth Officer Lowe was:
"Of what are icebergs composed?"
"Ice," replied the witness.
With regard to an incident in which it was said a witness had fired a revolver, Senator Smith is said to have asked: "Did you fire horizontally upward?"


Much comment is being made on the slowness of the committee and its lack of nautical knowledge. It has been suggested that it should be assisted by a naval expert.
Senator Smith, for instance, to the amazement of the audience, had already asked if the ship had sunk by the bows or by the head.
Frederick Fleet, the look-out in the crow's nest, was again called. He said his eyes were frequently examined when he was on the Titanic. He could distinguish colours.
Did you, when you were in the Titanic's crow's nest, see a light? - I saw no light until I got into the lifeboat. Then I saw a bright light on our bow. I don't know what it was. Mr. Lightoller saw it before. Before we got off the Titanic he told us to pull towards it. It finally disappeared, and we never made out what it was.
Were there any women left on the decks who did not get into the boat? - I saw none.
Did you call for them? - Yes, sir. There were a number of men on the decks, but none of them tried, or even asked, to be taken on. There was a stowaway in boat No. 6, an Italian, who had hidden beneath the seat. He was no help, because he had injured his arm.
Did you hear any cries for help? - Yes, but they were very faint.
Did you go back to help? - No, sir. Some of the passengers wanted to, but the quartermaster, who was in command, ordered us to keep on rowing.
At this point Mr. Smith, the chairman, interrupted the proceedings in order to make a statement. He intimated that all the British subjects summoned to appear before the committee would be detained in Washington as long as their presence was required. So far all the witnesses had given their evidence voluntarily and there had been no hitch; but attempts had been made outside to dictate to the committee the procedure to be followed. "The committee will not tolerate any further attempt on the part of anyone to shape its course. We shall proceed in our own way. Judgment on our efforts may well be withheld until those who criticise our course have an opportunity to examine our official record."
Senator Smith delivered this statement with emphasis, punctuating his remarks by pounding his fist on the table. He would give no detailed explanation of what actuated his remarks.

But Indignantly Denies Serious Allegation.

Mr. Harold J. Lowe, fifth officer of the Titanic, was then called. He sketched his experiences from the time he ran away to sea at the age of fourteen, when he shipped on a schooner. He knocked about the world in sailing ships and finally in steamers. He joined the White Star about fifteen months ago. Until he shipped on the Titanic he had never been on the North Atlantic.
Did you ever hear of ice in the vicinity of Newfoundland? - No, sir.
Never hear of any iceberg? - asked the Senator, surprised. - Yes, off Cape Horn. It was the only one I have ever seen until I saw a number at dawn on the day after the collision.
Were they in the course of the Titanic? - Yes, sir. They must have been, for they were all around on the horizon. The biggest was at least 100ft. high. It was four or five miles away. They were all within a radius of six miles.
Was the Titanic on the north track or the south track? - I think the north track, sir.
What makes you think so? - The general run of things. I was not on duty on the night of the accident after 8:30. From six to eight I was working on the dead reckoning for the ship at eight o'clock. I reported to the captain.
Personally? - No. I put it on his table with a weight on it.
Wasn't it important? - Well, in the general run of things, not so important.
Do you mean that the position of the ship wasn't important? Would it not be part of the ship's log? - Oh, yes. I don't say that it was not important. In the event of an accident, it would be important.
Can you give the position of the ship at eight o'clock that night? - No, sir.
Are you a temperate man, Mr. Lowe? - I am, sir. I say it without fear of contradiction.
I am glad to hear that, because I have just had passed up a note which says that it was reported by a reputable man that you were drinking on the night of the accident.
Mr. Lowe: Drinking! It's impossible. That's rubbish. I am a total abstainer. He repeated that he did not know when he was awakened. He dressed hurriedly, and went on deck.
Witness said he found people with lifebelts on. The vessel was tipping fifteen degrees by the head. Boat No. 6 was the first one lowered.
Who got into that boat? - I don't know; but there's one man here, and had he not been here I would not have known that I ordered Mr. Ismay away from the boat. A steward met me on the Carpathia, and said to me, "What did you say to Mr. Ismay that night on deck?" I said that I did not know Mr. Ismay well. The steward on the Carpathia said that I had used the strongest language to Mr. Ismay. Shall I repeat it? If you want me to, I will; if not, I won't. I happened to talk to Mr. Ismay because he appeared to be getting excited. He was saying, excitedly, "Lower away! Lower away! Lower away!"
At this juncture the chairman asked Mr. Ismay about the words used. Mr. Ismay suggested that the objectionable language might be written down.
This was done, and after the chairman had read what Mr. Lowe had written he said, "Then you said this to Mr. Ismay?" showing witness the writing. Why did you say it? - Because he was in anxiety to get the boat lowered, and was interfering with our work. He was interfering with me. I wanted him to get back, so that we could work. He was not trying to get into the boat. Finally I turned to him and said, "If you'll get to hell out of here we can get this boat away!"
Did he step back? - Yes.
Did Mr. Ismay make any reply? - No, he did not.

To be continued.........

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
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Marconi's Threats and Bribes

Post by Karen on Mon 16 Apr 2012 - 15:37


Committeemen Out of Sympathy with Senator Smith.

The internal dissension which has been brewing in the Senate's committee became evident on Thursday. Several members of the committee have felt that Senator Smith had been engineering the business of the committee without consultation with the other members.
Some of the members resented his plan of holding all the forty principal witnesses at Washington until the cross-examination of all had been completed.
Trouble has been particularly aroused by the holding of the Titanic's crew. Mr. Ismay has repeatedly requested to be allowed to conclude his evidence and to depart for England. Mr. Franklin has also asked for permission to return to New York, if only for a few days.
Senator Smith stood out against these requests. Senators Burton and Bourne have indicated their disapproval of the chairman's methods frequently by breaking into his cross-examination.
These members now intend that the hearing of the Titanic's officers and crew shall be taken at the earliest possible moment so as to permit of their return to England. All the Titanic crew's evidence will be taken before that of the passengers.
This concession followed Senator Smith's defeat on a vote on the question of keeping Quartermaster Hichens. The committee overruled Senator Smith and released the quartermaster.
Part of Thursday's sitting of the committee was taken up with the hearing of evidence given by Mr. Marconi.
He was questioned regarding a message sent from New York to the wireless operators on the Carpathia, asking them to hold the news when they reached port for "four figures."
"Yes," said Mr. Marconi, "that message was sent by Mr. Sammis (chief engineer of the Marconi system). I knew nothing about it until afterwards. The message was not sent until the Carpathia had passed Sandy Hook and was nearing port."
He said his company had a contract with the British Government for the extension of wireless in the British Empire. The work would take at least eighteen years.
Senator Smith: How far can the station at Cape Race maintain communication with a vessel? - Between 400 and 500 miles in the day, and considerably over 1,000 miles at night. We could maintain this connection easily with the Titanic.
Is there any arrangement which gives the alarm on board a ship when she is called by wireless? - On the old equipment there was a bell arrangement, which did not work well, because it alarmed the operators of all ships as well as the one called. There is no alarm signal now, but I may possibly devise one.
Then unless the operator sits constantly with the receiver on his head, he would not get a signal? - That's correct.
Then the ships should have operators continuously on duty? - I think yes, if the wireless is to be of service in distress.
What about the operator's pay? - In England the pay ranges from 1 pound to 3 pounds a week with board and lodging. It is easy to get operators for those wages, because the sea is attractive to young men. In America pay is slightly higher.
He denied that he suppressed or prevented the despatch of messages from the Carpathia about the Titanic.
"On boarding the Carpathia, after she docked at New York, I went directly to the wireless room and congratulated Mr. Bride on what he had done. Mr. Cottam, the Carpathia's operator, was not there. He called me up later on the telephone and asked me whether he might give out a report of the wreck. I told him he might under the circumstances. There is an iron-clad rule of the company's regulations prohibiting operators from acting as reporters. Under British law it is a penal offence for operators to send out information on their own initiative."
Senator Smith read messages picked up by the U.S. battleship Florida and forwarded to the Secretary for the Navy. The messages were: -

8:12 p.m. Operator Carpathia. Say old man, Marconi Company taking good care you keep mouth shut. It's fixed you get good money. Do best clear.

8:30 p.m. Operators Carpathia, Titanic. Arranged your exclusive story, dollars four figures, Marconi agreeing; say nothing until you see me. Where are you now? J.M. Sammis.

9:00 p.m. From Sea Gate to Carpathia. Go Strand Hotel, West 14th street, see Marconi "C."

9:30 p.m. Sea Gate to Carpathia. Personal to operator Carpathia. Meet Marconi and Sammis, 502 West 14th street. Keep mouth shut. Signed Marconi.

Mr. Marconi: I never authorised those messages, but I consented to the operators receiving money.
Did you know of the attempt of the Chester to get into communication with the Carpathia for the President of the United States? - I asked the operator about it. He told me that the Chester asked for a list of survivors. He told the Chester it had been sent, and then gave them some additional names. I also asked him if any message had been received from the President. He said that no such message was ever received.
What I meant (Mr. Marconi continued) when I told the operator to take something for the story was that the newspaper reporters would be so interested in what he had to say that, without holding back any general information, they would be willing to pay him for his personal experiences.


"This was done," he replied, "after silence had been enjoined on all coast stations not actually in communication with the Titanic or Carpathia."
Then your company had laid plans and made preparations to get a monopoly of news of the horror? - We undoubtedly would have got the first in any case, for the operators, both of the Titanic and the Carpathia, were Marconi men, with Marconi methods of sending.
He added that he was utterly opposed to the suppression of any news or the sale of any exclusive news.
Mr. Cottam, wireless operator on the Carpathia, recalled and questioned with regard to the distress messages sent from the Titanic, and the first message was: "Come at once. Have struck berg. This "C.Q.D." He assisted the Titanic to communicate with other ships, the Titanic operator saying that escaping steam on board was interfering with his instruments. He told how he got into touch with the Olympic, Californian, and Baltic.
Did you get in touch with the Mount Temple? - Yes, sir; about 10:30 on that night she gave me "Good-night," but I did not get her position. I was in touch with six or seven ships that night, including the Hellig Olav.
Senator Smith read the "keep your mouth shut" telegram, but the witness said he did not know of it. He did remember the receipt of a message from Mr. Sammis promising operators money in four figures for their stories.
Did you keep your mouth shut as directed? - Certainly.
He added that on landing he sold his story, but had not yet received anything for it. He had only talked to a reporter. He had been told that it would be all right for him to tell his story. He did not talk about money, relying on the message from Mr. Sammis.

Captain and Seaman Give Some Contradictory Evidence.

Friday's developments at the inquiry were, if possible, more sensational than anything that has hitherto been given during the hearing of evidence.
The criticism passed in England on the conduct of the inquiry has received a good deal of attention in the United States. Senator Smith, on reading it, said: "The British people want the truth, and we are endeavouring to get it without fear or favour to anyone."
Senator Smith announced that he had examined F.O. Evans, one of the Titanic's crew, who declared that it was necessary for the women and children on the sinking vessel to jump three feet from the deck to the lifeboats. Babies were tossed into the boats. The jump had to be made seventy feet above the sea, and the height was so terrifying that some of the women refused to attempt it, and several were thrown bodily across the gap.
Mr. Franklin, the vice-president of the International Maritime Company, flouted the suggestion that ships should cross the Atlantic in pairs. Such a system would be commercially impracticable, and would be dangerous to the ships themselves.
Earnest Gill, donkey-engineman on the Californian, was next called, and the chairman read a sworn statement made by the witness that the captain of the Californian refused to go to the assistance of the Titanic, although she was only a few miles away, and that the distress rockets were plainly visible from the deck of the Californian, and must have been visible both on the bridge and in the look-out. He tried to organise a deputation of the crew to go to the captain to protest against his action. Witness declared that he saw the Titanic and her signals plainly. He did not inform the bridge what he had seen because that was not his work, but heard one of the officials telling another of the rockets, and mentioned that the captain had been notified.
Captain Lord, of the Californian said that he was prepared to rebut the last witness's statements. The only communication he had with the Titanic was about 10:15 on Sunday night, when he told her that he was surrounded by ice and had stopped. The reply, he said, was a message telling him to "Shut up and keep out." He heard nothing more until six o'clock the following morning, when he got the C.Q.D. message through the Virginian.
Senator Smith: How far were the Californian and Titanic apart when you sent the message to the Titanic that you were blocked in the ice? - From the position we had of the Titanic we were about 19-1/2 miles apart.
Did you see any of her signals or anything of the ship herself? - No.
When he went on the bridge at 10:30 on Sunday night, he said, the officer said he thought he saw a light. It was a peculiar night. They had been having trouble with the stars, mistaking them for lights.


Then a ship came up. He asked the operator if he had heard anything. He replied that he had the Titanic, to which he had given the ice message. Then this ship came up and lay within four or five miles. "She lay there all night," said witness, "but we couldn't hear from her. It was not the Titanic. I am sure of that. About one o'clock I told the operator to call this ship again. She sent up several rockets, but would not answer. I told him to ask her who she was. I heard him calling her when I went to bed, but she did not answer.
"I have a faint recollection of hearing the cabin-boy about four o'clock saying something about the ship still standing by. Soon after she steamed away. This boat sent up several white rockets, but they were not distress signals."
Cyril Evans, the wireless operator on the Californian, said he turned in at 11:25. He never heard any distress signals from the Titanic. In the evening the Titanic called him and exchanged signals. Witness said, "Here's a message for you about ice." He said he had heard it sent to other ships. He then gave the wireless signal for "enough."
Replying to questions, he said that when he called the Titanic, and said, "Say, old man, we are surrounded with ice," he received the reply, "Shut up, I'm working with Cape Race." He went to bed at 11:30, and was awakened at 3:40 by the chief officer, who said he had seen rockets, and wanted to get some information. Witness called, and the Frankfurt answered with news of the sinking of the Titanic.
Did anyone tell you about Captain Lord being informed three times that night about a ship sending up rockets? - I think Gibson, the apprentice, told me that the captain was called and told about the rockets. The rockets were talked about in the ship generally by the crew. While the Californian was on the way to the scene I heard the men say that five rockets had been sent up and the captain had been roused.
Frank Osman, seaman, who was in the lifeboat of the fourth officer, Mr. Boxhall, which was first picked up by the Carpathia, said that as a box of rockets had been mistaken for a box of biscuits and had been put into the boat, the officer fired some of these rockets.
Edward J. Buley, able seaman, of Southampton, testified that another steamer with two lights at her mast-head was visible when the Titanic struck. "She passed right by us," he said, "and we thought that she was coming to us. If she had, everyone could have boarded her. The lifeboats started for those very lights, and it was these lights which kept the boats together. For about three hours the steamer was stationary.
Mr. Fletcher: Why could she not see your rockets? - She could not help seeing them. She was close enough to see our lights, and we could see the ship itself. I saw this steamer before I left the Titanic, and told the passengers that it was coming to our assistance. That was what kept the passengers quiet. The steamer gave no signal whatever, but they must have known the Titanic was in distress, for they must have seen our rockets.

Belief in Big Ships Not Materially Affected by Titanic Tragedy.

It is believed that another boat of the Olympic class will shortly be laid down by the White Star Line, and that certain changes in the construction of big vessels will be made in view of the lessons of the Titanic disaster.
In this connection it is said that the Gigantic, of 54,000 tons, work on which has already begun at Queen's Island, will have the double cellular bottoms and sides of the latest Cunard liners.
The Holland America Line has just ordered a boat of 32,000 tons for the New York route, and the Nord-deutschen-Lloyd has also placed a contract at Danzig for a 35,600 ton vessel, which will be some 7,000 tons bigger than the largest steamer at present flying the German flag.
There is also the 50,000 ton Aquitania, building on the Clyde for the Cunard Company; while next month the Imperator, of almost similar dimensions, will be launched on the Elbe for the Hamburg-America Line, and she will soon be followed by two sister ships.
There is, however, no evidence that the tragedy of the Titanic has affected the belief of steamship managers in the big-liner policy, though, of course, several of the vessels mentioned were in an advanced stage of construction before the disaster occurred.


Mr. Buxton, President of the Board of Trade, issued on Thursday the following table as to the lifeboat accommodation of the Dover-Calais steamers: -


"As regards the two French passenger steamers engaged in the Dover and Calais service," said Mr. Buxton, "I am informed that each is provided with six boats, with a carrying capacity of about 160 to 170 persons."

Strong Body to Assist Wreck Commissioner.


No time is to be lost by the Government in making what Mr. Buxton in the House of Commons called a "searching investigation" into all the questions raised by the Titanic disaster.
The following official announcement as to the composition of the Commission was made on Friday night:

The Lord Chancellor has appointed the Right Hon. Lord Mersey to be a wreck commissioner of the United Kingdom.
The Home Secretary has appointed the following gentlemen to act as assessors:
Rear-Admiral the Hon. S.A. Cough-Calthorpe.
Captain A.W. Clarke
Commander F.C. Lyon
Professor J.H. Biles
The name of a fifth commissioner will be announced later
The secretary to the Commission is Captain the Hon. C. Bigham, to whom all communications on the business of the court should be addressed at St. Ermin's Hotel, S.W.
The first sitting of the court will be held on Thursday next, May 2, at the Scottish Hall, Buckingham Gate, S.W.

In announcing that the commission should be appointed and begin its work without delay, Mr. Buxton said: Steps are being taken at once to constitute the strongest possible court of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of the loss of the Titanic; and in consequence of the exceptional gravity of the case I am in communication with the Lord Chancellor with a view, if possible, to the special appointment of a person recognised as of high judicial authority as a Wreck Commissioner under section 477 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.
I hope (he continued) the court will be one which will give public confidence. Undoubtedly they will have power to go into all points and take such evidence, not only with regard to the Titanic, but other ships as they think advisable. When a disaster of this sort took place the Board of Trade had four courses open to them. They could hold a preliminary inquiry by an officer appointed by them; they could hold an inquiry by an inspector; they could appoint a stipendiary; or, in certain cases, the President of the Board of Trade could request the Lord Chancellor to appoint a Wreck Commissioner.
That had not been done for many years, but it appeared to him that in the existing circumstances, and with a great calamity upon us, it would be advisable to constitute the strongest possible court that they could under statute. (Cheers.) He thought also it would have this additional advantage, that the appointment of a Wreck Commissioner was in the discretion and under the authority of the Lord Chancellor, and that he would naturally appoint a high judicial authority who would form an absolutely independent court.
He was glad to be able to announce that Lord Mersey - (loud cheers) - ex-President of the Admiralty Division of the High Court, had been good enough to undertake the responsible and arduous duty.


A batch of lifeboats from Messrs. Harland and Wolff arrived at Liverpool on Thursday by the steamers Graphic and Patriotic for Combine liners.
The White Star liner Baltic left Liverpool for New York in the evening with a full crew and a full equipment of lifeboats and collapsible boats.


A tale of the escape of two men from the Titanic by a bribe to seamen to give them their clothes came from Vienna on Thursday.
It was stated that Mme. Cardeza, whose husband and mother-in-law were among the survivors, was setting out that day for New York to accompany her husband on the homeward voyage.
She had received a message from him, in which he stated that he bribed the sailors to give him sailor's clothing. He and his secretary dressed in these clothes, and, with his mother and her companion, succeeded in gaining the lifeboat, as they were supposed to be sailors.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, April 28. 1912, Page 7

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Mon 30 Apr 2012 - 6:32

Senator Smith's Criticisms in Presenting Report.


To the United States Senate on Tuesday Senator Smith, who presided over the American inquiry into the loss of the Titanic, presented the report of the commission.
In doing so he made an extraordinary speech, in the course of which he said: -

We shall leave to the honest judgment of England its painstaking chastisement of the British Board of Trade, to whose laxity the world is largely indebted for this awful fatality.
Of contributing causes there were very many. In the face of warning signals speed was increased and messages of danger seemed to stimulate her to action rather than to persuade her to fear.
Captain Smith knew the sea, and his clear eye and steady hand had often guided his ship through dangerous paths; for forty years the Storm King sought in vain to vex him and menace his craft; but once before in all his honourable career was his pride humbled or his vessel maimed. Strong in limb, intent of purpose, pure in character, dauntless as a sailor should be, he walked the deck of this majestic pile as master of his keel, titanic though she was; his indifference to danger was one of the direct and contributing causes of this unnecessary tragedy, while his own willingness to die was the expiating evidence of his fitness to live.
The mystery of his indifference to danger, when other and less pretentious vessels doubled their lookout or stopped their engines, finds no reasonable hypothesis in conjecture or speculation. With the atmosphere literally charged with warning signals and wireless messages registering their last appeal, the stokers in the engine-room fed their fires with fresh fuel, registering in that dangerous place the vessel's fastest speed. At that moment the ice stole upon her as hard as steel, and struck her in a vital spot.
There is evidence tending to show that the watertight compartments were not successfully closed either above or below. No general alarm was given, no ship's officers formally assembled, no orderly routine was attempted, or organised system of safety begun. Haphazard, they rushed by one another, on staircase and in hallway, while men of self-control gathered here and there about the decks, helplessly staring at one another, or giving encouragement to those less courageous than themselves.

Californian's Signal.

The lifeboats were filled so indifferently and lowered so quickly that, according to the uncontradicted evidence, nearly 500 people were needlessly sacrificed to want of orderly discipline in loading the few that were provided. And yet it is said by some well-meaning persons that the best of discipline prevailed. If this is discipline, what would have been disorder?
Most of the witnesses of the ill-fated vessel before the committee saw plainly the light which Captain Lord says was displayed for nearly two hours after the accident, while the captain and some of the officers of the Titanic directed the lifeboats to pull for that light and return with the empty boats to the side of the ship.
Why did the Californian display its morse signal lamp from the moment of the collision continuously for nearly two hours if they saw nothing? And the signals which were seen by the captain and officer of the watch should have excited more solicitude than was displayed by the officers of that vessel, and the failure of Captain Lord to arouse the wireless operator in his ship, who could have easily ascertained the name of the vessel in distress and reached her in time to avert loss of life, places a tremendous responsibility upon this officer, from which it will be very difficult for him to escape.
Had he been as vigilant in the movement of his vessel as he was active in displaying his own signal lamp, there is a very strong probability that every human life that was sacrificed through this disaster could have been saved. The dictates of humanity should have prompted vigilance under such conditions.
The lessons of this hour are, indeed, fruitless and its precepts ill-conceived if rules of action do not follow hard upon the day of reckoning. Obsolete and antiquated shipping laws should no longer encumber the Parliamentary records of any Government, and over-ripe administrative boards should be pruned of dead branches and less sterile precepts taught and applied.


In the report Mr. Bruce Ismay is barely mentioned. The Committee agreed that: -
The supposedly watertight compartments of the Titanic were not, in fact, watertight, because of the non-watertight condition of the decks where the transverse bulkheads ended.
The Californian, controlled by the same concern as the Titanic, was nearer the sinking steamer than the nineteen miles reported by her captain. Her officers and crew "saw the distress signals of the Titanic, and failed to respond to them in accordance with the dictates of humanity, international usage, and requirements of the law."
The Californian might have saved all the lost passengers and crew. The lights in an unknown ship seen by passengers of the Titanic were undoubtedly in the Californian.
The Committee deems the course followed by Captain Rostron, of the Carpathia, worthy of especial recognition. His detailed instructions, issued in anticipation of the rescue of the Titanic survivors, were a marvel of systematic preparation and completeness, evincing such solicitude as calls for the highest commendation.
A sum of 200 pounds is to be set aside for a gold medal for Captain Rostron. A vote of thanks was passed to the Carpathia's crew.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, June 2, 1912, Page 9

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sat 12 May 2012 - 16:32



United Press Association - By Electric Telegraph - Copyright.

NEW YORK, April 23.

Before the Committee of Enquiry, Mr. Franklin, vice-president of the International Mercantile Marine Company, deposed that the collision probably opened five or six of the water-tight compartments.
Mr. Boxhall, the Titanic's fourth officer, gave evidence that the berg which the vessel struck was of a dark grey colour and was thirty feet high.
After the collision they fired Morse signal lights to attract a ship which was five miles away, but she did not answer, although the Titanic signalled "Come at once; we are sinking."
He did not know the name of the ship.

LONDON, April 23.

The Queen of Norway has given a hundred guineas to the Lord Mayor's fund, which has now reached 103,000 pounds. Other funds in Britain and America total 70,000 pounds.


The White Star and Cunard Companies state that their captains' standing instructions are to ensure the safety of lives and ships before speed.


NEW YORK, April 23.

Thirty-two women in the first and second classes were amongst those drowned in the Titanic wreck.
No engineers were saved.
A hundred bodies have been recovered.
Among the first to be identified was the body of Mr. Widener, the millionaire.
Bills are being introduced into Congress to present gold medals to the captain and crew of the Carpathia, and to give 10,000 dollars apiece to the widows of the Titanic's American mail clerks.


LONDON, April 23.

The New York correspondent of the "Daily News" states that the Senate intends enquiring whether the Titanic's officers disregarded the repeated warnings of the nearness of icebergs, and whether it was unavoidable that a hundred women should perish. Enquiry will also be made as to why the White Star Company was ignorant of the disaster until the evening, though the Baltic and the Olympic knew the details at noon, and why a Marconi official instructed the operators on the Carpathia by wireless on Thursday to "say nothing, but hold your story for dollars in four figures."
The correspondent adds that there is some talk in the clubs of boycotting the men who left the ship while women were yet aboard, but it is difficult to criticise the action of the men when boat after boat was lowered only partly filled. Nine out of ten passengers for an hour and a half believed that the vessel could not sink, and deliberately refused to enter the earlier boats.


"The Times" calls attention to the ignorance of Senator Smith, chairman of the Enquiry Committee in asking Mr. Lightoller, the second officer, whether the water-tight compartments were intended as a refuge for passengers.

NEW YORK, April 23.

A steward named Nichols states that half the men went back to bed. Three-quarters of an hour after the collision, he saw one passenger using the punching-ball in the gymnasium. The women had to be coaxed to enter the boats.
Mr. Peter Daly, a first saloon passenger, states that the captain ran to the railing, calling, "Bring the boats back; they are only half filled."
The two Hoffmann children, whose parents could not be found, are, it now transpires, the sons of a Nice tailor. The mother asserts that the father kidnapped the children a month ago and disappeared with them, the assumption being that he perished in the wreck.


LONDON, April 23.

In the House of Commons Mr. Will Crooks moved the adjournment of the House to call attention to the necessity for the Board of Trade preventing the officers, crew, and passengers of the Titanic from dispersing before they had all given evidence at the British enquiry.
Mr. Buxton, in reply, promised to subpoena all necessary witnesses, and to subsidise the poorer witnesses.
Lord Mersey has been appointed special commissioner to enquire into the circumstances of the wreck, and he will be assisted by assessors. The commissioners will commence their investigation directly.
The Government is also convening a meeting of British shipping companies to consider precautions pending revision of the law.
Mr. Crooks withdrew his motion.
Lord Mersey and his colleagues and the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee will meet to discuss matters affecting the safety of passengers and crews at sea. After receiving their reports, Mr. Buxton will decide as to the expediency for a further national or international committee or commission. Meanwhile, he has ordered the affidavits from America of any of the officers, crew, or passengers who are not returning to England and are likely to afford any useful information relating to the disaster.


(Received April 24th, 9:45 p.m.)
NEW YORK, April 24.

If the freight steamer Lena had been equipped with wireless she could have reached the Titanic in time to save those aboard. She passed within twenty miles of the sinking steamer.


(Received April 24th, 9:45 p.m.)

At the enquiry, Frederick Fleet stated that he was in the crow's-nest at the time of the collision. He had been instructed to look out sharply for ice. He saw an iceberg, sounded three bells, and telephoned to the bridge. The vessel immediately went to port. The iceberg got larger as she went along, and when she struck it appeared about fifty feet high. He was not alarmed at the collision, but thought it a narrow shave.
Fleet went on to say that the look-outs had asked Mr. Lightoller for glasses, which should have been provided at Belfast, or Southampton. Mr. Lightoller said, "There are none." He (Fleet) was of opinion that if the look-outs had had glasses they would have been able to give sufficient warning of the vicinity of the ice.
Fleet took charge of a lifeboat containing three men and twenty-five women. He had orders to pull towards a light off the Titanic's bow, but failed to find the vessel. At one time it was abreast of the boat, but it slipped by.


Major Peuchen, of Toronto, said that he had inspected the iceberg, and thought the accident was not serious. Later, in showing Mr. Hays the iceberg, he noticed the ship's list. Mr. Hay's replied: "The Titanic can't sink, whatever we have struck. She's good for eight or ten hours." Major Peuchen then went to the lifeboats, and was surprised that the sailors were not at their posts. There was a shortage of competent seamen. Thirty-six women were in the first lifeboat. A crowd of stokers came on deck, but the officers pluckily drove them off the deck like sheep, and called for women to fill the second boat.
Major Peuchen went on to say that some of the women refused to leave their husbands. He thought that the failure to sound a general alarm accounted for many women not coming on deck in time to get to the boats. He wondered why more men were not taken when the boats were lowered. Mr. Lightoller said he could not manage the boat with one seaman, and asked Mr. Peuchen, who is a yachtsman, to slip down the rope and take an oar. Those in the lifeboat rowed as fast as possible to escape the suction. Shortly afterwards they heard the Titanic signal to return. Those in the lifeboat did not wish to do so, because, as the quarter-master said, "It is our lives against those on the ship." The married women's protests were ignored. Two explosions followed.


Mr. Pitman, the third officer, said that a special look-out was kept for ice on Sunday. At first he did not think the collision serious. He met Mr. Ismay, who was in his dressing gown, and he said, "Hurry, there's no time for fooling." He told witness to get the women and children into the boats. Mr. Ismay helped to launch one, and remained on the Titanic. When witness's boat left he expected to be able to bring passengers aboard again in a few hours. The boat was not filled, because there were no more women about when it was lowered. The Titanic settled by the head, then suddenly stood on end and dived straight down. Four explosions, like big guns, followed. He believed they were the bulkheads smashing. Many cries of distress were then heard, and he ordered the men to get out their oars and pull towards the wreck and save a few more lives, as there were only forty aboard the boat, which would hold sixty. The passengers demurred, saying it was a mad idea. Even the women did not urge him to return. He yielded to the passengers' importunities.


Press by Senator Smith, Mr. Pitman gave harrowing details. He said he had heard screams - one long continuous moan - as if of men in death agony. The cries continued for an hour. He had no personal knowledge of the ship mentioned by Boxhall.
Senator Smith suggested that it might have been the Helligoland which docked at New York on the seventeenth, and reported that she had encountered an iceberg near where the Titanic sunk.
The public were excluded from the enquiry in consequence of interruptions.


(Received April 24th, 11:23 p.m.)
LONDON, April 24.

The opinion is expressed by Lloyd's that it was possible that the officers of the Titanic mistook the reflection of her own lights from a distant iceberg for those of an approaching vessel.
A conference of leading shipping companies, including those in the Australian trade, has informed Mr. Buxton that it has been decided to provide boats and rafts for all aboard the vessels owned by them at the earliest possible date.


(Received April 24th, 11:25 p.m.)
NEW YORK, April 24.

There were 710 third-class passengers aboard the Titanic, of whom 277 were women. Of these 138 were saved, 106 being women. Twenty stewardesses were also saved.
Mrs. Thayer indignantly denies the newspaper statement that she said she would a thousand times rather be dead than be Mr. Ismay. She states that she telegraphed to Mr. Ismay regretting the horrible post-mortem to which he was being subjected, and advising him to have courage.

At the meeting of the Canterbury Caledonian Society last night the following resolution was passed on the motion of the President, Mr. John Connal, the members standing: -

"The members of the Canterbury Caledonian Society express their sorrow at the dire calamity which befell the Titanic, involving the death and injury to so large a number of the passengers and crew, and sympathise with the survivors in their terrible sufferings during the time of rescue." The Pipe-Major of the Society's band played "McIntosh's Lament."

Source: The Press, Thursday April 25, 1912, Page 7

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:12



Source: The Kingston Daily Freeman, Volume 42, April 25, 1912, Page 9

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:16



Source: The Kingston Daily Freeman, Volume 42, April 20, 1912, Page 10

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:20


J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, who escaped from the Titanic, is shown (smoking cigar) on his way to a session of the Senatorial Investigation Committee in Washington.

Source: The Kingston Daily Freeman, Volume 42, April 24, 1912, Page 1

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:24


Iceberg in the background is probably about the size of one which wrecked the Titanic.

Source: The Kingston Daily Freeman, Volume 42, April 17, 1912, Page 9

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Re: United States Senate Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:28


Senator William Alden Smith, of Michigan, who is conducting the senatorial investigation into the Titanic disaster, in Washington. The photograph was taken as Senator Smith was on his way to a hearing of his committee with a batch of papers bearing questions which he asked almost every survivor of the wreck that was summoned to the witness chair.

Source: The Kingston Daily Freeman, Volume 42, April 24, 1912, Page 7

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