British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Charles Hendrickson

Examined by Mr. ROWLATT.

The Attorney-General:
We have a considerable number of these Witnesses, and what we propose to do is to take those who can throw any further light on the matter, but not necessarily through the whole story. We can take them more shortly now to the particular incidents which are of importance in the Inquiry, without going through the whole narrative. Also, my Lord, what we propose to do, as far as we can, is to call at least one Witness from every boat, so that your Lordship will be able to exhaust the story with regard to the boats.

4831. (Mr. Rowlatt.) This man happens to have been in No. 1 boat. (To the Witness.) Were you a leading fireman on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

4832. You joined at Southampton?
- Yes.

4833. You do not know anything about the voyage till the accident happened, I suppose?
- No.

4834. Do you know how fast the ship was travelling?
- 21 knots.

4835. How do you know that?
- The revolutions she was turning.

4836. You know what the revolutions were?
- Yes.

4837. How do you know that?
- The second engineer told me. I made it my business to find out, in the watch previous.

4838. 76 revolutions?
- Yes.

4839. You say that is 21 knots. If it is not so, we shall hear. You were off watch from 8 to 12 on this Sunday night?
- My watch was the 4 to 8 watch.

4840. Was it then you heard about the revolutions?
- That watch.

4841. You were in your bunk?
- I was asleep when it occurred, and got pulled out.

4842. Were you awakened by the shock?
- No.

4843. Who woke you?
- One of my mates in the room pulled me out. I was dead to the wide - dead asleep.

4844. Which side of the ship was your bunk on?
- The port side.

4845. When your mate woke you up - who was it woke you up?
- T. Ford.

4846. He was drowned, was he not?
- Yes.

4847. When he woke you up, did you go on deck?
- Yes.

4848. Did you see the iceberg?
- Yes.

4849. Where was it?
- Just abaft the engine room when I got on deck. When I got on deck first I saw a lot of ice on the deck, and I looked out and saw an iceberg astern just abaft the engine room.

4850. You came up very quick?
- No, I walked up behind the others who were walking up.

4851. Had the ship nearly stopped then?
- She was stopped.

4852. At that time I think you did not think it was very serious?
- No.

4853. And you returned below?
- Yes.

4854. You were going to turn in?
- I was going to turn in and the same man, Ford, came back and said there was water coming in down below, that is down the spiral staircase.

4855. Did you look down the staircase?
- Yes.

4856. Did you see the water?
- I saw the water rushing in.

4857. Just let us have it clear where that is. Do you see this plan?
- Yes.

4858. Is that it (Pointing on the plan.)?
- The lowest of all.

4859. You looked down here and saw it?
- Yes, I saw the water rushing in here. (Pointing on the plan.) I saw it running out of the fore part of the pipe tunnel right down at the bottom of the stairs.

Mr. Rowlatt:
That is what it is marked upon the map, my Lord - "pipe tunnel."

The Witness:
That is the tunnel we go through from our quarters to go into the stokehold.

The Attorney-General:
"Firemens Passage and Pipe Tunnel." You will find it on the same plan as the tank top we were looking at before.

The Commissioner:
He got into the firemen's passage I understand?

Mr. Rowlatt:
No, he did not, my Lord.

4860. (To the Witness.) You looked down the staircase?
- Yes, the staircase leading to the stokehold.

Mr. Rowlatt:
Your Lordship sees the spiral there.

4861. (The Commissioner.) Where were you looking?
- Down the spiral stairway.

4862. And where did it lead from and to?
- From our quarter to the stokehold, No. 11 stokehold, No. 6 section.

4863. (Mr. Rowlatt.) The spiral staircase led down to the bottom of the ship, and from there the fireman's passage and pipe tunnel led along to No. 6 section?
- No. 6 section, No. 11 stokehold.

4864. Now where you saw the water coming - you saw it coming from aft, forward into the bottom of the spiral staircase?
- From the starboard side.

4865. Are there two staircases?
- Only one. There are two staircases, one up and one down, but there is only one our side. I was looking down the one on the port side - not down the staircase, but at the side of the staircase.

4866. You were looking down on the port side of the staircase?
- Yes, and saw the water rushing in from the starboard side at the bottom.

4867. Are there two spiral staircases in that part of the ship or one?
- Two. They are marked distinctly, one for going down and one for coming up.

4868. Which of the two were you looking down?
- I was looking down the port one.

4869. Now is there a communication between the bottom of that spiral staircase and the bottom of the other one?
- It is all open, just a handrail to go along.

4870. The water which you saw rushing down there could not have come from forward, could it, because there is a bulkhead across?
- It came from the ship's side I am telling you, the starboard side.

4871. You could not see where it was coming in, but you saw it coming from the starboard side?
- I saw it coming from the ship's side.

4872. When you want to go aft along the passage, how long is it before you come to a watertight door?
- At the bottom of the tunnel.

4873. How far on - how far had you to go before you got to the first stokehold that you come to?
- I could not give you the distance. There are two watertight doors there, I know.

4874. There are two bulkheads?
- Yes, about 6 feet apart. There is one here, and the other is about 6 feet away from it.

4875. It is marked there "coffer-dam watertight" - do you know what that means?
- No.

4876. When you get down to the bottom of this staircase this tunnel runs amidships straight aft?
- Yes, straight aft.

4877. Amidships?
- Yes.

4878. Then do you go some little way before you come to the first watertight door?
- Yes.

4879. Then you go through that and you go about the same distance before you come to the next one?
- No, they are about 6 feet apart, those two watertight doors.

4880. Are those two watertight doors both close up against the stokehold?
- Yes.

4881. Till you get there you do not have a watertight door before?
- No, we get down through the tunnel leading to the stokehold.

Mr. Rowlatt:
It is very obscure upon the plan, my Lord.

(The Solicitor-General explains the plan to the Commissioner.)

4882. (The Commissioner.) Now, Mr. Rowlatt, in order that we may have it on the Note, I want you to state the effect of this Witness's evidence; let him listen to you and say whether it is right. (To the Witness.) Have you heard what I said?
- Yes, Sir.

The Commissioner:
Now, listen to this gentleman and see whether he tells us what you have been saying, and tells it properly.

4883. (Mr. Rowlatt.) There are two spiral staircases which go down to the bottom of the ship, one for going down and the other for coming up?
- Yes.

4884. And they go down in the same space?
- Yes.

4885. And when they get to the bottom they both reach a fireman's passage, which is like a tunnel running amidships fore and aft?
- Yes.

4886. And you go along that from the bottom of the spiral staircase aft until you come just before where you get into the foremost stokehold, No. 6 boiler section, and at that point you go through two watertight doors in a space of about 6 feet. Is that right?
- Yes, before you reach the stokehold.

4887. And as you are going down that tunnel on your right hand and on your left there will be iron bulkheads?
- Yes.

4888. Whether those are watertight or not, I suppose you do not know?
- They are iron bulkheads, one on each side.

4889. (The Commissioner.) Are they watertight or not?
- I could not tell you that; I do not know.

Mr. Laing:
Yes, they are.

The Commissioner:
But this Witness does not know it.

4890. (Mr. Rowlatt.) No, my Lord. (To the Witness.) But what I want to get from you is this. You said you saw the water coming from the ship's side; do you mean that. You saw it coming through the ship's side?
- No, coming from the ship's side.

4891. That was merely the direction from which you saw it travelling?
- Yes.

4892. That is, into the space into which the spiral staircase is descending?
- Yes.

4893. You could not tell whether the water was coming through the fore and aft bulkhead at the bottom of the staircase, could you?
- No, I could only see the direction it came from.

4894. Was it coming hard?
- Yes, it was more than rushing in; it was falling in.

4895. Did it strike you it was coming in at a point which was not at the bottom of the bulkhead?
- Well, you could not exactly tell that. There was a lot of water there and from the way it was rushing in you could not exactly tell how it was coming.

4896. Did you go and report that?
- Yes.

4897. To whom?
- The second engineer.

4898. Do you know what his name was?
- I met Mr. Hesketh first, the second engineer, and reported to him.

4899. Did he give you any instructions?
- He told me to get some lamps after that and get some men with me, and get some lamps as we come along and take them down below.

4900. Where did you find Mr. Hesketh?
- In the working alleyway on the port side of the ship.

4901. And where did you go and get the lamps?
- In the engine room.

4902. You went right along the alleyway to the engine room?
- I went right through.

4903. When you got the lamps did you go back with them?
- I got all the lamps I could get that were ready. I got five, and left four or five men there to get more if they could. Then I came back by the engine room, went along and down the escape to go to No. 6 section. When I got down there I found I could not get any further, the water was up too high; so I came back by the escape again and went to No. 5 section.

4904. Did you go down No. 5?
- Yes.

4905. Did you find Mr. Hesketh there?
- No. When I got down there I met Mr. Shepherd; he said to me, "You have got the lamps, have not you?" and I said, "Yes, Sir." He said. "That is right, light them, and put them up by the water-gauges of the boilers." So I lit them up and took them up and came down below again, and Mr. Shepherd said to me, "Start drawing fires," and I said, "Yes." I went to pull the fires out when Mr. Harvey came and asked me if I would get some men down.

4906. Mr. Shepherd was an engineer?
- Yes.

4907. He told you to draw the fires, and you went to get somebody to help you?
- I was going to get the rake to start pulling some of the fires out when Mr. Harvey came to me.

4908. He is an engineer?
- He is another Second Assistant; they were both Second Assistants. He asked me to get some men down to get the fires out. I went up top and saw a few and asked them if they would come down, and some went down.

4909. Did you get some more men?
- Yes.

4910. You went forward to your quarters again?
- Yes, they were the men belonging to the watch, the 8 to 12 watch.

4911. The men whose watch it was below?
- Yes.

4912. When you got forward into the firemen's quarters, did you see any more water?
- I saw the tarpaulin on No. 2 hatch like a big dome. I could not understand it at the time. I thought there must have been a hole or something in her.

4913. Blown up by the air from below?
- Yes.

4914. That was No. 2 hatch?
- Yes, I think it is No. 2 hatch - they say it is outside our quarters.

4915. We have heard this about No. 1, but I do not think we have heard it about No. 2. No. 1 hatch is the hatch which is in the open space, I think, outside the forecastle deck, in the well, is it not?
- No, not on the well deck; I do not think so.

4916. No. 1 hatch is the one which is right up against the firemen's quarters?
- That would be the only hatch. I was given to understand there was one forward of that.

4917. I see you are speaking of No. 1. You are speaking of the one which is up against the firemen's quarters on one deck and up against the trimmers' quarters on another?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Will you point it out on the map?

Mr. Rowlatt:
I do not think you will see it from there, my Lord. I think it is this one (Pointing).

The Commissioner:
Well, that is the hatch.

The Witness:
That is the one I mean, the one there.

4918. The one where the learned counsel is pointing now?
- Yes. I thought there was one forward of that.

4919. (Mr. Rowlatt.) You say the tarpaulin was blowing up?
- Yes, it was like a big dome.

4920. On which deck were you then?
- On the same deck where I was looking down the staircase. Our quarters are on the bottom deck of the lot.

The Commissioner:
What is the explanation of the tarpaulin being blown up in this way?

4921. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Can you tell us how it happened?
- I should say it was water and wind blowing in the hole.

4922. The water pressing the air up?
- Yes.

4923. Is that on deck E? Do you know which deck E is? Do you know which deck you were on?
- The same deck.

4924. The same as where the alleyway was?
- Yes, this hatch is alongside our quarters.

4925. Do you know the trimmers' quarters?
- Yes.

4926. Were they on the deck below you?
- No, they are above us; everybody is above us. There are only the leading hands and greasers on that one deck.

4927. You are a leading fireman?
- Yes.

4928. And you have quarters of your own, the leading fireman?
- Yes, and the greasers are on the other side of the ship, the starboard side.

4929. (Mr. Rowlatt.) That is deck G, my Lord; it is the deck just below the waterline. (To the Witness.) Did you see water then or only air?
- No water that time.

4930. Did you report that?
- I went down to the engine room to report that.

4931. You reported to Mr. Hesketh?
- No, Mr. Farquharson.

4932. (The Commissioner.) All these gentlemen are dead, are not they?
- Yes.

4933. (Mr. Rowlatt.) He was an engineer, too?
- He was the senior Second Engineer.

4934. Did you see any other engineers there?
- Yes.

4935. Who were there?
- I saw the Chief Engineer [Joseph Bell] and I saw Mr. Harrison, another Second Engineer, and some juniors; I do not know their names.

4936. Where were they going?
- They were all just standing around in an ordinary way, standing by their stations.

4937. Can you give us an idea how long this was after the first striking of the berg?
- It must have been something like three-quarters of an hour.

4938. Did you go into the engine room?
- Yes, to the bottom platform.

4939. Did you notice the watertight doors?
- Yes.

4940. Were they shut or open?
- They were both closed; the one leading to the stokehold and the other to the turbine room - they were both closed.

4941. You do not know whether they had been opened or not?
- I could see they were shut. That is all I know.

4942. What happened after that?
- As soon as I told Mr. Farquharson what had happened he spoke to those engineers, and three of them went one side of the engine room and three the other side. Where they went to I do not know.

4943. You do not know what that was for?
- No.

4944. What next?
- I came up after that and went on the middle and stood outside the store talking to the storekeeper.

4945. At that time did you think it a serious matter?
- No, I did not think it was so serious as it was. It was going down a little by the head then.

4946. You heard an order to go to the boats, did you not, ultimately?
- Yes.

4947. Did anything happen before that to speak of?
- No; I think I had a bit of trouble to get through the steerage passengers with those lamps. They were in the working alleyway, going along with trunks and bags and portmanteaux.

4948. That is when you went with the lamps?
- Yes.

4949. There was a crowd of them?
- Yes, a big bunch of them.

4950. When you came aft again were they still there?
- Yes, they were working their way aft; they were going towards aft.

4951. They were going aft with their luggage?
- Yes.

4952. Did you see where they went to?
- No, I did not trouble much about looking. I was on my own duty at the time.

4953. Did you ultimately come up from the engine room?
- Yes.

4954. Were the steerage passengers still in the alleyway then?
- Yes, they were walking about to and fro; some sitting on their luggage.

4955. There was no panic among them?
- No, they were just walking about in an ordinary way.

4956. Did you hear any order to go on deck?
- The only order I heard was when I went forward again, and the word came along, "We want a leading hand; all hands get lifebelts and get up on deck.

Continued >