British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of James Johnson

Examined by Mr. ROWLATT.

3340. James Johnson, is that your name?
- Yes.

3341. You live, I think, in Liverpool?
- Yes.

3342. Were you on the "Titanic" as saloon steward?
- In the saloon, not the saloon steward.

3343. Which saloon was it?
- The first saloon. I was night watchman; I had charge of the night watch. There were five of us went on every night.

3344. I want to get the part of the ship first - which was it?
- The first saloon.

3345. Where is that situated in the ship?
- By the exit doors from A, B, and C down to E deck to the engine room; the saloon is in front of that, through the pantry.

3346. Do you understand that plan; can you see it?
- Yes, I have an idea.

3347. Can you see where the engine room is?
- Yes, it was in front of that. It ran through that blue mark, I should think. The first big blue one.

3348. Can you see the funnels?
- Yes.

3349. Do you know where your saloon was with reference to the funnels? Do you know where the engineers' room was?
- Yes.

3350. There it is?
- I say the first large blue mark would be the entrance door.

3351. "Third class galley and stewards," I see there?
- Yes, the working stairs.

3352. Were you further along here (Pointing)?
- Yes.

3353. The first class dining saloon?
- Yes.

3354. Was it your job to go on every night?
- Yes.

3355. Did you go on the night of the accident?
- I went on at 11 o'clock.

3356. You simply had to go into the saloon and wait?
- Well, no. Everyone gets a watch and at 12 o'clock when the bedroom stewards turn over we take their watch. There is a bedroom steward and a night watchman on each deck, and all the third class and all the second class reported to me each night when they came on watch.

3357. Now what you had to do was simply to stay in that saloon as I understand?
- No, I took E - what they call the saloon - the reception room and the pantry, on.

3358. Where were you when the accident happened?
- About the amidships saloon, I should think. We were all talking a few chairs up. It would be about the third or fourth table up.

3359. In that big saloon?
- Yes.

3360. Did you feel the shock?
- I did not feel much because we thought she had lost her wheel or something, and somebody passed the remark, "Another Belfast trip."

3361. Another what?
- To go back to Belfast it meant.

3362. Do you belong to Belfast?
- I belong to Scotland.

3363. Did you do anything in consequence of feeling a shock?
- I had a look round first and then I asked a man when he came up for some hot water, "Do you mind going down to the engine room and have a look." He went down and came back and said, "I think it is
a bit hot" - that is a racing phrase. He meant it was a bit serious.

3364. Do you know who that was?
- I have found out afterwards, but I did not know then. I only knew our own division. I never knew anyone but those in our own stewards' department.

3365. He was a greaser, was he not?
- I think he was.

3366. You do not know his name?
- I think he might have been a man they called White. I have found out, but I do not know whether it is right or not.

3367. Did you do anything after that?
- Yes; I went down and walked along the saloon and saw Mr. Andrews come down and go down to the engine room, and then I saw the Captain directly following him, and then I followed Mr. Andrews after he came up from the engine room.

3368. Now tell me who is Mr. Andrews?
- Well, one of the best known among our division, because he did anything for us we asked him.

3369. But who is he?
- He is one of the builders.

3370. He is the representative of the builders?
- Yes.

3371. And he and the Captain came through?
- No, he came three or four minutes before the Captain.

3372. Through the saloon you were in?
- He had to come down through the stairs to get down to the engine room to get on to E deck; he had to go down through those stairs.

3373. And then he gets into the alleyway and got to the engine room?
- Just turn to the left and he is in it.

3374. Did he go in that direction?
- I do not know. I know he went down.

3375. Did the Captain go down after him?
- Directly after.

3376. Did you stay where you were?
- No; I put four oranges into my pocket. I might have done it after, but I think I did it then.

3377. Did you follow the captain or stay where you were?
- No; I waited a minute and followed Mr. Andrews.

3378. What happened next?
- Mr. Andrews went through the saloon after this man came and told me it was a bit thick. I followed Mr. Andrews and went down to E deck to see if Duscheck was there. He was down there on watch in that deck. I went down to E deck and saw Mr. Andrews go down by the baggage room or mail room. One door goes down and the other does not.

3379. It is lower down still?
- Yes.

3380. Is that the same part of the ship? Are you still speaking of the same part of the ship?
- It is a little bit farther forward, past the reception room.

3381. Is that it? (Pointing on the plan.) - Give it another 50 yards.

3382. Was it as far as the squash racket?
- Opposite the squash racket.

3383. That is a good way forward, is it not?
- Yes.

3384. The baggage room is there, is it?
- Well, they were handling mails or something; when I looked there was water there then.

3385. In the baggage room?
- Yes, it is on F deck, underneath E.

3386. The squash racket is on two decks, is it not?
- I do not think so.

3387. Does not that go up through two decks?
- No.

3388. Surely it is higher?
- You are asking me a question and I am answering you. I say it is on F deck. You have to go down from E to it.

3389. It is on F deck, and is it not on G deck too?
- No.

3390. Now where is the first class baggage? It is on G deck - the baggage room?
- No, I do not think so. I never went further than that, and I think it was in that.

3391. Will you understand this if I show you the plan.

3392. (Sir Robert Finlay.) It is on G deck.

The Witness:
Well, it is a little bit further down. The baggage room was not on G deck.

3393. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Is it not?
- The mail room is on E, F.

3394. The baggage room and mail room are on this deck. Come and look at the plan and then we shall not quarrel. We had better understand it once for all.

(The Witness examined the plan with the learned Counsel.)

The Commissioner:
Which deck is it?

Mr. Rowlatt:
G.

The Commissioner:
Very well.

3395. (Mr. Rowlatt.) You looked into the baggage room?
- No, I looked down the stairs.

3396. You saw into it, and saw there was water there?
- Yes.

3397. How long should you say after the shock was it that you saw water in the baggage room?
- I went down to call the second steward, Mr. Dodd. I took plenty of time and it must have been a good twenty-five minutes after I met Mr. Wheat coming up, and he said "What is it?" I said "I think it is a bit serious."

3398. Who said that?
- I said I thought it was a bit serious.

3399. Whom to?
- To Mr. Wheat, the assistant second steward. He is living now, I think he was the only one I met there at the time.

3400. Had you seen Mr. Andrews in the reception room?
- I saw him speaking to some ladies, and they were all in a bunch and he said he thought it would be all right. He said, "Be easy, it will be all right." I asked him, and he said; "All right."

3401. Were those first class passengers?
- Yes, all first class passengers just at the corner of the reception room, down the companion stairs.

3402. After you found there was water in the baggage room, what did you do next?
- After I had called Mr. Wheat I went away down and changed my clothes in the glory hole, and put this suit of clothes on.

3403. Which is the glory hole?
- No. 3 glory hole on E deck.

3404. Where is that?
- It is situated half between the two exit doors. There is one from the first class companion on to the working alleyway, and then there is one for the boys to go down to the engine room.

3405. On E deck?
- On to E deck. There is an exit right from the saloon companion to the working deck.

3406. You went down there?
- Yes.

3407. And whom did you find there?
- All the boys were in bed when I went down there.

3408. Who are the "boys"?
- All the stewards. They are called "boys."

3409. After you had gone there, did you go up again?
- I went up again, and I walked up through the companion, and I saw Mr. Latimer, the Chief Steward. You could not make any mistake about him, he was too big. There was Mr. McElroy and the purser standing by the Officers, and two or three Officers on C deck.

3410. Had you a lifebelt then?
- I had no lifebelt then. I went down for it after.

3411. You had gone down and fetched your clothes, but you did not bring your lifebelt?
- I went down for that after, again.

3412. You had a lifebelt?
- Yes.

3413. In your bunk - in your quarters?
- Yes, everybody had a lifebelt.

3414. You saw all these people you have mentioned?
- Yes.

3415. What happened next?
- I went out on the top. I thought I might have made a mistake in the boat station list, and I went to look at it again. I said "I will have a sky again."

3416. You went to look at the list?
- Yes.

3417. Had you seen it before?
- Yes, I had seen it on Thursday afternoon.

3418. Where was your list?
- In the pantry on the port side, right opposite the chief steward's office.

3419. Had that been there from the beginning?
- It was there from Thursday afternoon.

3420. Do you mean you saw it put up?
- I did see it because I went and looked for my name, and I knew where my boat was.

3421. You went and looked at it again?
- Yes, I went to make sure I had not made a mistake.

3422. Had you heard any order to go to the boats?
- Nothing at all then. I did it on a principle of my own, being Scotch, I suppose.

3423. Then did you see what your boat was?
- I went and had a look at it.

3424. What was it?
- One of the small boats - the emergency boat No. 2.

3425. That is on the port side?
- Yes, abaft the bridge.

3426. Was it slung?
- It was slung out outside the rails. It was all right when I saw it.

3427. Do I understand you went up there then?
- Yes, I had a look round, and I spoke to one man. I should know him if I saw him again. I looked in the boat to see if the plug and everything was right. I came out again and stood by for a bit, and the second steward said to me, "Hold this." It was his lifebelt and his dustcoat. I never saw him after that. I suppose he went West.

3428. When you got up to the boat this first time were there many people up there?
- There were not many people wanted to go in at all, because they all wanted to travel. They seemed to travel in heaps.

3429. Were there plenty of people on the boat deck?
- Yes, plenty, but they would not go into our boat.

3430. Were the crew mustering there at the boats?
- I think Mr. Wilde asked, "What boat do you belong to" I said, "No. 2." I am sure he had the list because he said, "That is right." He said, "Can you pull" I said, "Certainly." He said, "Stand by the falls."

3431. Did you stand there by the falls?
- I stood a little bit longer.

3432. You said you went to get your lifebelt. When did you do that?
- I went for my overcoat down below again. The Chief Steward told me to get upon deck, and go to my boat again. By that time the water was coming to the foot of the companion -

3433. One moment; was it after that that Mr. Wilde spoke to you?
- Yes, after that I went down for my coat.

3434. And you came up again?
- Yes.

3435. Did you go to your boat again?
- Certainly.

3436. Was there anybody in it?
- No, there was nobody in it - not a soul.

3437. What was happening at your boat?
- There were about eight or ten firemen, and I asked if they belonged to it, and some of them seemed to hesitate - they did not know.

3438. Were there women there?
- There might have been about four or five.

3439. Did they go in?
- No. We did not lower for a good ten minutes after that.

3440. Was any Officer there?
- An Officer got into the boat afterwards. This man handed me a lamp out of the boat. I saw a lamp standing on the deck. It was ready-lit. I said, "It will be all right for us," so I stowed it in there.

3441. Had you seen whether the plug was in the boat?
- Yes.

3442. And had it oars?
- Yes, four oars.

3443. Had it any provisions?
- I saw a loaf lying on the deck and a box of biscuits lying on the deck, but nobody seemed to care whether he put it in or not.

3444. When you came up again I think you said nobody was in the boat?
- No.

3445. Could you explain how the boat came to be filled with people?
- I got to the forward fall. I had asked one of the firemen (I do not know whether fireman or trimmer) "Have you a knife? There is no knife in the boat." I had looked at the fall because anybody lowering the fall with a jerk might shove it off the blocks. I thought I must have a knife if nobody else had one. I asked the man and he handed me a razor. He told me his name was McCuliffe. He said "Remember me at Southampton and give it me back."

3446. You took it?
- Yes.

3447. And you stood by the fall?
- Yes.

3448. Was anybody else in the boat then?
- There was no one else then. Then the women and children got into it.

3449. Who put them in?
- The Chief Officer.

3450. Were they women and children?
- Yes; they could walk right into it because there were either gratings or something, you had only to step half-a-foot on to the ledge and into the boat.

3451. That was on the boat deck?
- Yes.

3452. How long did that boat stay in that position on the boat deck?
- She must have stayed a good quarter of an hour.

3453. Were there any other people standing by waiting to go in?
- No, I saw 30 or 40 ladies going down the deck again. - No 2 boat is here, here is the companion right down there - right down to A deck.

3454. (The Commissioner.) Going back to their berths do you mean?
- No, I do not think they were; they did not seem to realise that there was anything wrong.

3455. (Mr. Rowlatt.) So far as you saw they were going off the boat deck?
- Yes.

3456. Down to the deck below?
- Yes.

3457. And how much further you could not, of course, tell?
- No.

3458. Was there any call for women and children at that boat?
- All the women and children that were there could have got in. We could have put more in; in fact, we had not a full complement.

3459. Can you tell us at all what classes were represented?
- I could not.

3460. When all the women that wanted to go in were in was the boat lowered?
- No, it was put down perhaps 3 or 4 feet. They were told to go down to A deck to see if anybody else wanted to come in. There was nobody came down to A deck. It stopped opposite A deck.

3461. It looks from here as if there was a window there?
- There is A deck (Pointing on the model.)

3462. If it is lowered to A deck it looks as if it is outside a window?
- There was no window, it was a free passage.

3463. Did anybody get in at A deck?
- No, there was nobody to get in.

3464. Then what happened?
- We got lowered, and then we cut her adrift. The razor came in handy.

3465. You did use it?
- Yes, we had to because nobody else had a knife. The ropes were a little bit jerky, but they came down properly.

3466. When you got to the bottom you cut adrift with the razor?
- They slipped all right enough. It was in other boats the same. All companies have been the same I have been in. They would fall off with a little bit of a jerk.

3467. You got free?
- Yes.

3468. How many people were there in your boat?
- I think 23 to 25.

3469. Is she as big a boat as the others?
- Certainly not.

3470. Was she full, in your judgment?
- She would not be full, but she would have been full in a heavy sea. She was not full according to how we were.

3471. Was anybody that wanted to get on that boat kept back?
- Not at all, certainly not.

3472. Were there any seamen in that boat?
- There was one. He said he was a seaman. We saw a light and we pulled for that light. I do not know whether he was a seaman or not.

3473. Was there an Officer in the boat?
- Yes.

3474. Who was he?
- I do not know his name; I should know him if I saw him.

3475. The Fourth Officer, was it not?
- I think it would be him.

3476. And somebody who said he was a seaman?
- Yes.

3477. Was there any other man beside yourself?
- There was a foreigner, and I think the other one was a cook or something. He told me afterwards he was a cook.

3478. And any passenger men?
- No, that was all the men.

3479. All the rest were women and children?
- Yes.

The Attorney-General:
The cubic capacity of an emergency boat is 40 persons, my Lord.

3480. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Mr. Boxhall is the 4th Officer, is he not?
- I did not know them by their names.

3481. You said something about seeing a light?
- Yes.

3482. Did you see that light from the deck of the "Titanic"?
- I should think we saw it for about twenty minutes on the port bow.

3483. How broad from the port bow?
- I should think from where I was standing we pulled a mile and a half or two miles after it.

3484. Was it nearly right ahead?
- No, something like an angle.

3485. A right angle?
- A left angle from the port bow rather.

3486. Now face the same way as the ship in that model?
- Yes, it was there about and the boat was there, and it was lying like that. (Demonstrating.) I should consider it would be about eight or ten miles off.

3487. But that is not the angle you know. A little clear of the bow on the left hand side as you looked towards the bow?
- A little more aft.

3488. One of the Witnesses said two points?
- I do not know a point unless it is in billiards.

3489. Did you row for that light?
- Certainly.

3490. How many oars did the boat row?
- We had four?
- I think there were two rowing and the other two dipping. I think two could row and the other two were dipping.

3491. They were simply dipping their oars?
- Well, they were doing their best.

3492. Which were you doing, rowing or dipping?
- I think I was rowing.

3493. Was somebody steering?
- Sometimes there was a girl steering and sometimes an Officer steering. He was telling her what to do and he was helping the foreigner at the other oar to pull. He was pulling a stroke oar.

3494. Did the Officer direct you to steer to the light?
- We took a star and got this star underneath us and kept it in front of us, and tried not to get away from it.

3495. Did you see the light all the time?
- No, we lost it, it disappeared.

3496. How long do you think you were rowing towards the light?
- By the time we came back again and pulled round the stern of the "Titanic" we must have pulled a mile and a half, I should think a good half-hour.

3497. You came back to the "Titanic"?
- Yes, round the stern of the "Titanic."

3498. How far off from the stern did you come round?
- I should think about 800 yards.

3499. How long was that before she sank? Did you see her sink?
- Yes.

3500. How long before you saw her sink did you get back to her?
- We went back and rowed round, and the Officer said to the ladies, "Do you think we should go back or not?"

3501. How long before she sank did you get back to the region of the "Titanic" after you had been looking for the light?
- I suppose a good half-hour before she sank.

3502. Then you had not gone very far towards the light?
- A mile and a half. I am certain we pulled that.

3503. Did this light seem to get fainter or did it disappear suddenly?
- When we got away it disappeared altogether.

3504. What coloured light was it?
- I think it was red. I think there were two lights, in fact, a red and a white light.

3505. (The Commissioner.) Are you sure?
- I can discern any sort of colour, racing, a mile and a quarter off, and I think I could see a red light.

3506. Are you sure?
- I am certain.

3507. What are you certain about?
- I am certain there was a light. The Captain told the Officer to pull for that light.

3508. Are you sure there were two lights?
- I am certain there were two lights. The Captain told the Officer to pull for that light and come back again.

(The Witness withdrew.)