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Echoes From the Titanic

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Echoes From the Titanic

Post by Karen on Wed 25 Apr 2012 - 16:09



One of the most emphasised points of the evidence at the Titanic Wreck Inquiry at the London Scottish Hall has been the reported sighting of the lights of a vessel within five miles of the spot where the liner sank. Several of the crew agreed that they saw the lights, which gradually disappeared, though distress rockets had been sent up soon after the collision.
Complaints have been made by two survivors that they were driven away by the crew from two boats with blows. One leading fireman alleged that a boat with plenty of room would have gone back to the rescue of those struggling in the icy water if it had not been for the protests of Lady Duff-Gordon (the well-known Society dressmaker Lucile) and her husband (Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, Bart.). Both, said the witness, were afraid of being swamped in any attempt to save drowning people.
When the inquiry was resumed on Tuesday George Beauchamp, one of the stokers on the Titanic, confirmed the testimony of other witnesses to the effect that a number of ladies refused to take to the small boats. When the ship struck there was a slight shock and a sound as of a roll of thunder.
Witness said he thought that it was half an hour after they left the ship's side before she sank. Answering the President, witness said the ship struck at about twenty or twenty-five minutes to twelve, and, according to a gentleman in his boat, who had a watch, she sank two hours and ten minutes later.
Mr. Asquith: Had you any room for more people? - No, sir. If we had had more room, we should have gone back. We were full up.
Proceeding, witness said that there was no lantern or lamp in the boat, and no water or biscuits. He could not say whose business it was to see that the boat contained water and provisions. It was ten minutes to ten by a clock on board the Carpathia when they were picked up. They were rowing all night, six oars being used, and whenever they saw a light they pulled towards it.
The President: What were you doing rowing before you saw the light? - We rowed and had a blow, and then we rowed on again.
The President: You had a what? - A blow, my lord; a rest. (Laughter.)


Robert Hitchens, a quartermaster of the Titanic, said that on the day of the collision it became intensely cold towards evening.
Mr. Lightoller, the second officer, told Mr. Moody to telephone to the crow's nest and tell the man there to keep a sharp look-out for small ice and growlers till daybreak, and to pass the word along to his relief man.
Had you any instructions before she struck? - Just as she struck I heard the order, "Hard a-starboard." The ship was swinging to starboard, and had just swung two points when she struck.
The President: Who gave the order, "Hard a-starboard?" - The first officer. He relieved Mr. Lightoller at ten o'clock.
Was Captain Smith on the bridge? - No; he was in his room.
What was the first notice to you that there was something ahead? - Three gongs from the crow's nest.
How long was that before the order came, "Hard a-starboard?" - As near as I could tell, about half a minute.
How long did you remain at the wheel? - Until twenty-three minutes past twelve.
Who relieved you? - Quartermaster Perkis.
You remained at your post? - Yes, sir.
What did you hear? - Just about a minute after the collision Captain Smith rushed out of his room and asked Mr. Murdoch, "What was that?" He said, "An iceberg, sir." The captain said, "Close the water-tight doors." Mr. Murdoch said, "They are already closed."
Then what happened? - He then gave orders for the ship's carpenter to sound the ship.
Did you hear any other order? - That was the last order I heard with the exception of the boats. I heard the captain say, "Get all the boats out and serve out the belts." That was after twelve.
Witness went on to say that when he entered the lifeboat he was ordered to row to a light which was on the port bow.
When did you first see that light? - While in the boat taking the passengers on board. We surmised it to be a steamboat.
How many of you rowed? - The sailor and Major Peuchen and two or three of the ladies put out oars.
How far did you go? - About a mile in the direction of the light.
Was the light moving or still? - Moving and gradually disappearing. It seemed to get further away.
You saw the lights of the Titanic. Did you see any signals sent up by her? - Yes, and before I left.
William Lucas, an able seaman of the Titanic, the next witness, said that he joined the ship at Southampton a few minutes before she sailed. On the Saturday morning he noticed that the cold began to increase.
Mr. Rowlatt (for the Board of Trade): Did you look at the thermometer? - No. I only put on an extra jersey. (Laughter.)
Did you hear of any ice? - I knew there was some knocking about. He added that the shock of the collision nearly knocked him off his feet. It occurred while he was playing "Nap." His boat was about 150 yards away when the Titanic sank.
Did you see any lights? - I saw the side light of another ship, a red light broad on the starboard side and about eight or nine miles away.
They went, continued witness, to another collapsible boat which was overturned: thirty-six people were clinging on top of that, and they took them on board.
Sir Robert Finlay: Did many passengers refuse to leave? - Yes. Mr. Lightoller and I helped one elderly lady into the collapsible boat and then had to help her out again, as she would not go without her husband. There were several cases like that.
Were the boats inspected by a Board of Trade officer before leaving Southampton? - Yes.
The Attorney-General pointed out that it was not correct to say that it was boat drill at Southampton; it was really a boat muster.
Before evidence was taken on Wednesday Mr. W.D. Harbinson asked permission to represent the third-class passengers, and especially two survivors named Thomas McCormack and Bernard McCoy, who made serious allegations against the crew. They were now in America, and he intended to ask for their evidence to be taken on commission.
Mr. Farrell, M.P., who said he had received instructions from these passengers, who alleged that after the Titanic sank, and before being taken on board a boat, they were prevented from entering other boats by being struck on the head and hands and pushed back into the sea.
Lord Mersey pointed out that this involved a charge of attempted manslaughter - a crime that it was not within his province to try.
He agreed to let Mr. Harbinson represent the third-class passengers.


Frederick Barratt, a leading stoker, declared that there were about seventy people in his boat, five-sixths being women. He saw a number of people standing at attention on the promenade deck of the Titanic waiting to get into the boats. Having just come from the stokehold he was very thinly clad, and he became numbed with cold. A woman threw her cloak round him. He believed that on the morning of the disaster two or three extra boilers were lit.
Answering Mr. Lewis, representing the British Seafarers' Union, Barratt said that on the Saturday fire broke out in the bunkers. Lines of hose were got out, but the fire was soon extinguished, but the bottom of the bulkhead was damaged. It was not an uncommon occurrence. He did not know if the fire seriously damaged the bulkhead, or had anything to do with the disaster.
Reginald Robinson Lee, an able seaman, said he was a look-out man on the Titanic. He had fifteen or sixteen years' experience at sea. As far as he knew, no glasses were supplied to the look-out men on mail steamers.
He went on duty in the crow's-nest on the Titanic at ten o'clock on the night of the collision. The men whom he and his mate relieved passed on to them word to keep a careful look-out for ice and "growlers." It was a clear, starry night overhead, but at the time of the accident there was a haze right ahead. It was freezing.
He noticed no difference in the speed of the vessel at any time. At 11:40, Fleet, his mate, struck three bells to give warning; and then immediately telephoned to the bridge, "Iceberg right ahead." The ship sheered to port, but struck the berg with her starboard bow. A certain amount of ice fell on the fore-well deck of the ship. The vessel seemed to strike just forward of the foremast.
Johnson, resuming, on Thursday emphasised the fact that women refused to get into the boats, owing to their unbelief in the reality of the peril.
"We were trying to drive women into the boat," said Johnson, "but we could not drive them. I saw Mr. Ismay driving a few, but they would not get into our boat." Mr. Ismay wore a dressing-gown and slippers, the witness remarked, and was doing as much as any other individual.
A trimmer named Dillon said he went down with the ship. He was sucked down about two fathoms, and then seemed to be lifted up to the surface. For twenty minutes, he estimated, he was in the water, and "saw a thousand bodies." Finally he was picked up unconscious by one of the boats, and when he recovered found a passenger and a fireman lying on him, both dead.
Thomas Grainger, a greaser, who was taken off the sinking liner by a lifeboat which fortunately returned, explained how the lights were kept going when the Titanic went down. He stated that as he went up on deck he saw that the emergency light engine was running. As he left the ship he heard the band playing.


Thomas Ranger, a greaser, described how after the collision he went up the dummy funnel to the boat deck. It was explained that the fourth funnel of the ship was used simply for ventilation, and contained a stairway.
Charles Hendricksen, a fireman, said he got away in an emergency boat with only twelve on board. It would accommodate twenty-five people.
The President: Of the twelve on board how many belonged to the crew? - Seven. There were five passengers, two of whom were women.
He proposed that they should go back to rescue some of the drowning, who were crying for help; but Lady Duff-Gordon was afraid they would be swamped, and her husband upheld her objection. The latter made no effort to instil courage into his wife and get the crew to go back to the drowning people, whose terrible cries they heard 200 yards away. On the Carpathia, later, he and the other members of the crew received 5 pounds each from "Mr." Duff-Gordon.
Mr. Harbenson (for third-class passengers): Why didn't you, despite the protests of these first-class passengers, go back to the assistance of the drowning people? - The coxswain was in charge of the boat, and he should know best what to do.
The President: Tell me what each person said when you proposed going to the rescue? - Mr. Duff-Gordon said it was too dangerous to go back; the boat would get swamped. His wife said so as well.
Mr. Clement Edwards (for the Dockers' Union): Have you seen what purports to be an article by Lady Duff-Gordon making allegations against the crew of this particular boat? - No, sir. I heard there was something in print by Lady Duff-Gordon, "calling everyone down."
Mr. Lewis (Seafarers' Union): Was any offer of money made at the time you wanted to go back? - No.
The President: The present of 5 pounds was a real surprise to you? - Yes.
Did Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon call you all together? - Yes, we all went up together in the Carpathia. He had promised us this present when we sighted the Carpathia. He said he would make us a small present and would send a private telegram for each member of the crew telling his family he was safe.
Hendricksen was to have been cross-examined on Friday, but Sir R. Finlay (for the White Star Line) obtained leave to postpone his questions until Tuesday, when the testimony of the Titanic's officers will be available.
Frank Scott, a greaser, said that an hour after the collision the water-tight doors aft of the engine-room were opened to let a big suction pipe through, and he believed they were not closed again.
Lord Mersey: If this evidence is right, none of these water-tight bulkheads were serving after a quarter to one. (The Titanic sank at 2:20 a.m.)
When the boats were loaded one of the officers fired a revolver shot between a boat and the ship's side, saying, "If any man attempts to get into the boat I will shoot him like a dog."
A vivid account of a three hours' struggle in the icy water was given by John Joughin, the chief baker of the Titanic.
He spoke of the splendid order maintained, and denied that in getting the women into the boats preference was given to first-class passengers. He and some companions went below, brought up some of the third-class women passengers, and threw them into the boats.
Describing how the Titanic sank, the witness said: "I heard a noise as if the ship had buckled. I saw a crowd of some hundreds of people clambering to get on to the poop. The ship gave a great list to port and threw everybody in a bunch. I ran to the starboard side by the poop and got hold of a rail. I was wondering what next to do when she went.
"I was not sucked down. I don't believe my head went under the water. I am a good swimmer. I did not get hold of anything until daylight. I was in the water over two and a half hours, just paddling. Then I found a collapsible boat overturned with an officer (Mr. Lightoller) and about twenty-five men standing on it, holding to each others' shoulders. Bride, the wireless operator, was among them."
The Solicitor-General: Did you swim towards them? - "Yes."
Was there any room for you? - "No."
You agree that there was no room for you? - "Yes. I tried to get on, but was pushed off, and I "hung around" it. On the opposite side a cook who recognised me held out his hand and helped to support me for half an hour."
The inquiry was adjourned till Tuesday.


At the reopening of the Washington Titanic inquiry on Thursday, Mrs. Mahala Douglas, a passenger, put in a sworn statement quoting Mrs. Ryerson, of Philadelphia, as saying that Mr. Ismay showed her a Marconigram which announced that they were in the icebergs. "Of course you'll slow down," Mrs. Ryerson is alleged to have asked Mr. Ismay. "Oh, no," is the reply given in the affidavit; "we will put on more boilers to get out of it."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, May 12, 1912, Page 8

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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