British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Charles Hendrickson, cont.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

5130. That is to say there were 7 of you of the crew to row 5?
- Yes, 5 passengers.

5131. It is the duty of the crew to exhaust every resource in order to rescue passengers, is it not?
- Yes.

5132. What I do not quite understand is, that there being 7 of the crew, why you did not, despite the protests of these first class passengers, go back to some of the drowning people?
- Well, that is right enough, but the coxswain was in charge of the boat.

The Commissioner:
Speak a little louder so that I can hear?
- There was a man in charge of the boat; he should know what to do best. It would not do for everybody to be in charge of a boat that is in her. When a man gets in a boat the coxswain takes charge and does everything.

5133. And the coxswain of your boat showed no inclination to pull back?
- No, none whatever.

5134. You say that that attitude of his was due to the protests of the Duff-Gordon's?
- Yes.

5135. You say you heard cries?
- Yes.

5136. Agonising cries?
- Yes, terrible cries.

5137. At what distance?
- About 200 yards away.

5138. And yet, despite that fact, no effort was made to go in the direction whence those cries proceeded?
- No, none at all.

5139. I think you said you saw a number of people on the boat deck at some distance from you?
- Yes.

5140. Who was the Officer in charge who ordered the seven members of the crew to get into this boat No. 1?
- I do not know him.

5141. (The Commissioner.) I cannot understand this. Was there any discussion on board this boat as to whether you should go to these drowning people - any talk?
- No, only when I proposed going back, that is all.

5142. Do you mean to tell me that you were the only person that proposed to go back?
- I never heard any others.

5143. And to whom did you speak?
- Anyone who was there who was listening.

5144. Did you speak to everybody?
- I spoke to everyone there; I shouted out in the boat.

5145. Now tell me what each person said.
- Those people I have mentioned before, I have told you what they said.

5146. Well, tell me again?
- They said it would be too dangerous to go back, we might get swamped.

5147. Who said that?
- Sir Duff-Gordon.

5148. Did anyone else say it?
- No; his wife as well, that was all.

5149. Those two - two of the five passengers. Did anyone else say it?
- I never heard anyone else.

5150. Was it Simmons [Symons] who was in charge of this boat?
- Yes.

5151. What did Simmons say?
- He never said anything.

5152. And after these two people said it would be dangerous what did you say?
- I never said any more.

5153. Then am I to understand that because two of the passengers said it would be dangerous you all kept your mouths shut and made no attempt to rescue anybody?
- That is right, Sir.

5154. (Mr. Harbinson.) Now, before this boat was launched you say there was a number of people on the boat deck some distance from you?
- Yes.

5155. Did you hear of anyone going down to those people, telling them there was room in this boat?
- I did not.

5156. You did not suggest to anybody before the boat was launched that its full complement should be taken?
- No.

5157. Was the boat lowered straight down?
- Yes, to the water.

5158. It did not stop at the third class deck?
- No, it came straight down.

5159. Did you see people on other decks as it was lowered?
- I did not notice any.

5160. You knew there must have been hundreds of people on the ship?
- There must have been, I know.

5161. Yet this boat was put off under those conditions?
- Yes.

5162. And no effort was made when it reached the water to get it filled with passengers?
- No, we were told to stand off, that was all.

5163. You told us you saw, some time after the collision, after the impact - a number of third class passengers as you went down. I think you said you had some trouble with the steerage passengers in the alleyway?
- I had no trouble; I had to go through them with those lamps.

5164. You saw them there with their luggage?
- Yes.

5165. How long would this have been after the collision?
- About three-quarters of an hour.

5166. Which way were they going?
- They were going along aft.

5167. Was anybody giving them instructions where to go?
- No one at all.

5168. No one at all?
- I never saw anyone there, and heard no one.

5169. And you heard no one tell them where to go?
- No.

5170. Those people were left to their own resources?
- They were going along on their own.

5171. Did the passages seem to be choked?
- They were pretty thick; they were not choked.

5172. You did not see anything of these people?
- No, nothing at all.

5173. You did not hear any of the stewards reassure them in any way?
- I did not see any stewards.

5174. And so far as you could see there was no organisation amongst the members of the crew?
- No.

5175. And no directions given to the passengers as to what to do?
- No.

The Commissioner:
A question of that kind conveys nothing to my mind. What do you mean by saying there was no organisation. How many of the crew did he see?

Mr. Harbinson:
He says he saw none.

The Commissioner:
Then he could not tell whether there was any organisation. A general question of that kind is of no use.

Mr. Harbinson:
With great respect, my Lord, I put it to him as far as he knows.

The Commissioner:
He may know nothing, you know. He does not appear to know much.

5176. (Mr. Harbinson - To the Witness.) You did not hear?
- No.

5177. Have you heard that over 60 percent of these third class passengers were drowned?
- I do not understand this percentage.

Examined by Mr. EDWARDS.

5178. Did you see the second lady get into the boat?
- No, I did not.

5179. What age lady was she?
- I could not tell you.

5180. Was it in fact Mrs. Astor?
- I could not tell you.

5181. Have you heard that it was Mrs. Astor?
- No, I do not know her.

5182. Have you seen what purports to be an article by Lady Duff-Gordon making accusations against the crew of this particular boat?
- Say that again, will you?

5183. When you were in New York, did you see an article written by Lady Duff-Gordon concerning this boat?
- What do you mean, an article?

5184. Well, some writing in a newspaper?
- No.

5185. Have you heard that there was such an article?
- I heard there was something printed about Lady Duff-Gordon calling everyone down, or something of that.

5186. And calling down the members of your particular crew?
- No, I do not think so; I never heard anything about that.

5187. Was any money given to you by any passengers when you got on the "Carpathia"?
- Yes.

5188. What did you receive?
- An order for £5.

5189. Who was that from?
- Duff-Gordon.

5190. What did the other members of the crew get?
- The same.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

5191. I take it as far as you are concerned you were prepared to go back?
- Yes.

5192. The fact that you afterwards received £5 did not weigh with you. You did not know at the time you were to receive £5, I take it?
- No.

5193. (The Commissioner.) Are you sure?
- Yes.

5194. (Mr. Lewis.) You swear that no offer was made at the time?
- No.

5195. (The Commissioner.) Then the present of the £5 came as an agreeable surprise when you got on board the "Carpathia"?
- Oh yes, of course. I think it was the day before we docked in New York we got that.

5196. It was on board the "Carpathia"?
- Yes.

5197. (Mr. Lewis.) I take it that if there was an arrangement with any of the other members of the crew to do a certain thing for a certain price, they would of necessity give the same sum all round?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
You seem to understand all about it. I do not know why they should.

Mr. Lewis:
I am putting the question, my Lord.

5198. (The Commissioner.) You do not put a question; you make a statement. If you would put questions it would be far better. (To the Witness.) Did you see this money given to the others?
- Yes.

5199. Were you all together when the money was given?
- Yes.

5200. Where were you?
- On the promenade deck of the "Carpathia."

5201. And who gave it to you?
- Duff-Gordon.

5202. Mr. Duff-Gordon?
- Yes.

5203. Did he call you all together?
- Yes, we all went up together.

5204. Did he call you up?
- He sent for us, I believe.

5205. And you all went up?
- We all went up.

5206. Did you know what you were going for?
- No.

5207. What did you suppose you were going for?
- He promised us this present previous to this.

5208. Then when did he promise the present?
- After we got on board the "Carpathia," but we did not know what it was.

5209. What did he say when he promised the present?
- He said "See me later on, I am too busy now."

5210. No; what did he say when he promised the present?
- He said; "I am going to make a little present to the members of the boat's crew."

5211. You are quite sure there was no hint of any present before you got on board the "Carpathia"?
- In the early hours of the morning before we were picked up he said he would do something for us.

5212. When was this?
- Just before we were picked up, after we sighted the "Carpathia."

5213. Had nothing been said before that?
- Not to my knowledge.

5214. (Mr. Lewis.) Was not there any discussion at all regarding the advisability of turning back?
- No.

5215. Nothing whatever?
- Nothing at all.

5216. You merely said you thought you ought to go back, and there it stopped?
- Yes.

5217. I take it you are used as a seaman to obeying orders?
- Yes.

5218. You got into the boat with no idea of going off yourself in place of someone else, but you obeyed instructions?
- Yes.

5219. You considered that, having made this suggestion to the person in charge, and being used to discipline and orders, so far as you were concerned, the matter was ended?
- Yes.

5220. You are used to obeying instructions?
- Yes, I have always done.

5221. Does this boat list contain the names of all the members of the crew. I understand you saw a list of your stations?
- No, the list we had up was only our own men, our own quarters, firemen and trimmers and greasers.

5222. Just your section?
- Yes.

5223. I take it similar lists were placed in other departments, so far as you are aware?
- Yes.

5224. They practically embrace the whole of the members of the crew?
- Yes.

5225. The crew amounts to something like 900 approximately?
- Somewhere about that.

5226. And if it were in the nighttime there would be a large number off duty?
- Yes, there would be more off duty at nighttime.

5227. Most of these men would be expected to go to their boat stations if they saw the list and knew their number?
- Yes.

5228. Do you know whether the boat accommodation is for just over 1,000?
- No.

5229. At any rate you know there is not sufficient boat accommodation to take the whole of the 1000 and the crew?
- Yes.

5230. Would you be surprised to know that there is not much more accommodation than sufficient to take the crew if they are all mustered together?
- I do not suppose there would be enough to take the crew.

5231. As a matter of fact there was a little more. You do not know who it was gave the order for six firemen to go into this boat?
- No, it was an Officer. Who he was I do not know.

5232. Do you remember a fire in a coal bunker on board this boat?
- Yes.

5233. Is it a common occurrence for fires to take place on boats?
- No.

5234. It is not common?
- No.

5235. How long have you been on a White Star boat?
- About five years.

5236. When did you last see a fire in a coal bunker?
- I never saw one before.

5237. It has been suggested that fires in coal bunkers are quite a common occurrence, but you have been five years in the White Star line and have not seen a fire in a coal bunker?
- No.

5238. Did you help to get the coal out?
- Yes.

5239. Did you hear when the fire commenced?
- Yes, I heard it commenced at Belfast.

5240. When did you start getting the coal out?
- The first watch we did from Southampton we started to get it out.

5241. How many days would that be after you left Belfast?
- I do not know when she left Belfast to the day.

5242. It would be two or three days, I suppose?
- I should say so.

5243. Did it take much time to get the fire down?
- It took us right up to the Saturday to get it out.

5244. How long did it take to put the fire itself out?
- The fire was not out much before all the coal was out.

5245. The fire was not extinguished until you got the whole of the coal out?
- No. I finished the bunker out myself, me and three or four men that were there. We worked everything out.

5246. The bulkhead forms part of the bunker - the side?
- Yes, you could see where the bulkhead had been red hot.

5247. You looked at the side after the coal had been taken out?
- Yes.

5248. What condition was it in?
- You could see where it had been red hot; all the paint and everything was off. It was dented a bit.

5249. It was damaged, at any rate?
- Yes, warped.

5250. Was much notice taken of it. Was any attempt made to do anything with it?
- I just brushed it off and got some black oil and rubbed over it.

5251. To give it its ordinary appearance?
- Yes.

5252. You are not a professional expert and would not be able to express an opinion as to whether that had any effect on the collision?
- I could not say that.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

5253. Can you tell us what are the dimensions of that bunker?
- I could not tell you.

5254. Was there any scene at the boat before you got into it or after you had got into it, affecting scenes, I mean, between husbands and wives?
- I saw some on the port side.

5255. I mean in your boat?
- No.

5256. Did any gentleman come to the side of the boat before you lowered away?
- I never noticed anyone. As soon as I got in the boat they started lowering.

5257. Who gave the order to lower? Do you know?
- The Officer.

5258. You do not know the Officer?
- No.

5259. Who lowered the boat?
- I do not know.

5260. You did not see anybody at the falls?
- No; the only man I saw was the boatswain. He said, "Jump into the boat."

5261. Was he standing by?
- He was standing by the fall.

5262. Being a petty Officer, he has the right to give an order?
- Yes, but whether the order came from him or not I do not know; but I do not think it was from him.

5263. You did not know any of these passengers?
- No.

5264. Have you seen the papers in New York where it states Mrs. Astor was in that boat, calling it the captain's boat?
- No, I never saw that.

5265. When you got on the "Carpathia" did anybody besides Duff-Gordon speak to you out of that list of passengers that were on your boat?
- There was one fellow, an American, was talking to us, but nothing in particular, not with regard to the wreck.

5266. No one suggested about giving any money, or anything like that?
- No.

5267. As a matter of fact, while you were rowing about during the night there was no suggestion made? You heard none?
- No, not then, not till just before we were picked up - after we sighted the "Carpathia."

5268. After you sighted her there was a suggestion?
- Yes.

5269. Who made the suggestion?
- This Duff-Gordon.

5270. What did he say?
- He said he would make us a little present for this and send a wire privately to our homes to let them know we were all right.

5271. And also himself I suppose?
- I suppose so.

5272. Did the other lady that was in the boat give you any promise?
- No.

5273. She said nothing at all?
- No.

5274. Did the American give you any promise?
- No.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I have communicated with my friend Mr. Aspinall that we desire that this Witness should be detained.

The Commissioner:

Sir Robert Finlay:
Perhaps your Lordship will allow my friend Mr. Laing to examine tomorrow morning.

The Commissioner:

(The Witness withdrew.)