British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Alfred Shiers

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

4502. Were you a fireman on the "Titanic" at the time of this casualty?
- Yes.

4503. Did you join the ship on the day she left Southampton?
- Yes.

4504. Did you see any boat's list?
- Not at Southampton.

4505. After you left Southampton did you see any boat's crew list?
- Yes, the Sunday afternoon.

4506. On the Sunday?
- Yes, after we left Southampton.

4507. Not till Sunday, the day of the accident?
- No.

4508. Where did you see it?
- Posted outside the forecastle door.

4509. I suppose if you had looked there before you might have seen it before?
- No, I saw them put it up.

4510. You saw it being put up on the Sunday?
- Yes.

4511. What time on Sunday did you see it being put up?
- It was after dinner, but I could not say what time.

4512. At what time do you dine?
- At 12 o'clock, as a Rule.

4513. Who was putting it up?
- One of the engineers.

4514. After it was put up did you look at it and see what your boat was?
- Yes.

4515. What was the number of your boat?
- No. 3.

4516. At the time of the striking of the iceberg were you off watch?
- Yes.

4517. It was the 8 to 12 watch, was it not? You were off watch?
- Yes.

4518. Where were you?
- In my bunk.

4519. Did you feel the shock?
- Yes.

4520. On which side are your quarters, on the port side or the starboard side?
- On the starboard side.

4521. What did you hear or feel? Did you hear anything?
- The rumble - the shock. It was not much.

4522. What did you do?
- I got out of my bunk and went up on the deck.

4523. When you got on deck, did you see anything?
- I went on to the forecastle head first, and underneath.

4524. On the forecastle head did you see anything?
- No.

4525. Did you see any ice?
- I did on the deck - when I got out on the deck.

4526. Did you leave the forecastle?
- Yes.

4527. And go where?
- I left the forecastle and went underneath the forecastle head.

4528. Did you see ice?
- Not there.

4529. Where did you see ice?
- On the forewell deck.

4530. Did you have a look round?
- Yes.

4531. Did you see anything?
- I saw the berg that was going away.

4532. Where was the berg away from you - on the port side or the starboard side, or ahead, or where?
- On the starboard quarter, off the stern.

4533. It was off your quarter, was it?
- Yes.

4534. How soon after you felt the striking of the iceberg did you see it away on your quarter?
- About four or five minutes.

4535. Tell me what you did - that will give me an idea - did you get up at once?
- Yes, I was reading in my bunk at the time.

4536. You got up at once?
- I went up on the forecastle.

4537. Did you run up?
- I walked up; our forecastle is only outside the companion ladder.

4538. Did you see the berg then?
- No, not then.

4539. What did you do before you saw it?
- Looked towards the window underneath the forecastle head to see if there was anything there.

4540. That took a short time, I suppose?
- It is only just a walk round from our room.

4541. What did you do next?
- Came out on the deck; on the starboard side of the deck.

4542. Was it then you saw the berg?
- I saw the ice then, and then the berg when I looked over the side.

4543. And then the berg was away on the starboard quarter?
- Yes.

4544. About how far off?
- I could not say; it was very dim then; I could just see it.

4545. It was a dark night?
- Yes, a starry night.

4546. Starry, but dark. When you saw the berg could you judge whether your ship was stopped or going ahead?
- When I looked over the side there was a slight way on her; she was moving, but not much.

4547. You were moving through the water?
- Yes, but not much.

4548. What did you do after you saw the berg?
- I went down to the forecastle again.

4549. Why did you go back to the forecastle?
- It was no good stopping on deck. There was nothing there only to see it going away.

4550. You thought there was nothing the matter, is that so?
- Yes.

4551. When you got back to the forecastle did you see anything which told you there was something the matter?
- Not then.

4552. Did you go down into the forecastle?
- Yes.

4553. Did you see anything or hear anything there?
- No.

4554. Did you see any water?
- Not then.

4555. Did you remain in the forecastle?
- Yes.

4556. Did you go back to bed?
- No. I sat on my bunk.

4557. How long did you sit on your bunk before you noticed or heard or saw anything?
- Not long. There was a fireman there with his toe cut.

4558. Did you do anything with this fireman?
- Yes.

4559. Did you take him somewhere?
- Yes.

4560. Where did you take him?
- To the doctor.

4561. Did that take just a short time?
- Yes.

4562. After that what did you do?
- There was no doctor there then.

4563. After you had taken him to the doctor's shop, where did you go to?
- I came back again to the forecastle.

4564. On this occasion when you got back again to the forecastle, did you see anything?
- Yes, the wind coming up through No. 1 hatch; air was forcing the hatch.

4565. You could see that, could you?
- Well, you could hear it there.

4566. Did you see anything?
- No, not then.

4567. Did you remain there?
- No, I took this man down to the other part of the ship. There was no doctor there at our place, and I took him under the alleyway towards the ship aft.

4568. After that did you go back again to the forecastle?
- Yes.

4569. Now on this return to the forecastle, did you see anything?
- Yes.

4570. What did you see?
- Water coming up through the hatch.

4571. There are two hatchways, I see on the plan. Would it be No. 1 you are speaking of?
- Yes.

4572. Where was the water? On what floor or deck was it when you saw it?
- I do not know the No. of the deck.

4573. Where your quarters are? Was it on that deck?
- No.

4574. Below that?
- Below that.

4575. Was it coming up slowly or fast?
- Slowly.

4576. Now, seeing that water, did you do anything?
- No, we stood about watching it.

4577. How long did you stand about looking at it?
- I could not tell you.

4578. Was it a short time?
- That I do not know.

4579. What did you do? You stood about, you say?
- Yes.

4580. What did you do next?
- Went up on the deck again, the forewell deck.

4581. When you got there, did you see any passengers there?
- Not on our deck; not on the well deck; only the crew.

4582. What did you do when you got on the forewell deck?
- I stood about talking with the crew.

4583. And what happened next?
- I went down to the forecastle again.

4584. You returned to the forecastle?
- Yes.

4585. When you got back to the forecastle on this occasion, did you again see the water?
- No. I went down to put my coat on then, when I went down the next time.

4586. Was there water to be seen when you looked?
- Yes.

4587. Had it got higher?
- Yes.

4588. A good deal higher?
- Yes.

4589. Did you clear out or remain there?
- I remained there, and went up on deck again after that.

4590. When you got to the deck on this occasion did you see any people there - any passengers?
- No, only the crew, with their lifebelts.

4591. They had their lifebelts on?
- Yes, they had had orders to get them then.

4592. Did you remain there?
- I went down to the forecastle head to get my lifebelt.

4593. Did you get it?
- No.

4594. Why was that?
- There was none there for me.

4595. Where did you go to look for a lifebelt?
- On the rack.

4596. They had all gone?
- Yes.

4597. Had there been lifebelts there before?
- Yes.

4598. You had seen them?
- Yes.

4599. The other members of the crew had taken those that were there?
- Yes.

4600. Then did you come up again?
- I came up on the deck.

4601. Where did you go to then?
- I stood round.

4602. Did you hear any orders being given?
- Yes, one order came down to go up to the boats.

4603. Did you go up to the boats?
- Yes.

4604. Which boat was yours?
- No. 3.

4605. Did you go to No. 3?
- Yes.

4606. When you got to No. 3 was there anything being done with No. 3?
- No.

4607. Was there anybody at No. 3?
- No.

4608. Any of the crew?
- No, there was only me there.

4609. Were there any passengers there?
- Passengers were getting into No. 7 boat.

4610. Was No. 7 boat being looked to?
- Yes.

4611. You had got to No. 3. Did you remain at No. 3?
- No, I walked down the deck just to look at this boat.

4612. No. 7?
- No. 7.

4613. Did you help to get No. 7 away?
- I helped to clear the falls.

4614. Were the falls in good working order?
- They were new.

4615. Did they work properly?
- Yes.

4616. Did you see that boat lowered down?
- Yes.

4617. Where did you go to after that?
- I came along the deck towards my own boat.

4618. No. 3?
- Yes.

4619. When you got to No. 3 boat, your own boat, was there any Officer at it?
- No.

4620. Any other members of the crew?
- Three or four firemen about.

4621. Where was No. 3? Was it in the chocks then, or was it outboard?
- Outboard.

4622. Somebody had put it outboard?
- Yes.

4623. You got back to it. What happened about it, did you remain at it?
- Yes.

4624. What was done with regard to that boat?
- Nothing then.

4625. Did you remain there till something was done?
- Yes, I was in between the chocks of the two boats.

4626. What was done?
- Nothing to that boat.

4627. Yes, I know, but later something was done?
- No. 5 boat was filled up.

4628. After No. 5 was filled, did an Officer come to No. 3?
- No.

4629. Did somebody come to No. 3?
- He sung round for any of the crew.

4630. Who sung round for any of the crew?
- An Officer.

4631. Did some of the crew come and attend to No. 3?
- There were only two firemen.

4632. Was No. 3 attended to?
- Not then.

The Commissioner:
When will you get this man to say something which is material?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
It is very difficult, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
He seems to have spent his time running about from one place to another.

4633. (Mr. Butler Aspinall - To the Witness.) Very shortly afterwards did somebody come and attend to No. 3?
- I could not say.

4634. Was No. 3 swung out?
- It was swung out off the chocks.

4635. It was?
- Yes.

4636. Did you see it swung out?
- Yes.

4637. Who swung it out?
- I could not tell you.

4638. Some of the crew?
- I do not know. I was not there then. I was not there when it was swung out.

4639. (The Commissioner.) Did you ever get to No. 3?
- Did I get to No. 3? No. 5, Sir.

4640. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) No. 3 was your boat?
- No. 3 was my boat.

4641. (The Commissioner.) Did you ever get to it?
- Yes.

4642. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Did you see it swung out, or was it swung out when you got there?
- It was swung out. All the boats were swung out when we got up there.

4643. Were women and children put into No. 3?
- No.

4644. (The Commissioner.) Was anybody put into No. 3?
- No.

4645. Did it remain empty from the beginning to the end?
- No, it came away after. He asked for any of the crew; he turned and asked me what I was. I said, "A fireman," and he said, "Get into the boat."

4646. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Did you get into it?
- I got into No. 5 boat.

4647. You did?
- Yes, the boat he ordered me to.

4648. You left No. 3 and got into No. 5?
- No, I was in between the chocks between No. 3 and No. 5.

4649. (The Commissioner.) Did you ever get into No. 3 at all?
- No, there was nobody in that boat then.

4650. You never got into No. 3?
- No. We had to stand by the boats.

4651. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Were there any passengers about No. 3 boat?
- No, only where they were filling the other boats.

4652. No passengers about No. 3, and no Officer or seaman about No. 3?
- There might have been seamen; I did not see them there though.

4653. Then you got into No. 5? Was No. 5 lowered?
- Yes.

4654. Who were in No. 5? You were, who else?
- One other fireman, a steward, and a quartermaster.

4655. And were there some women and children in No. 5?
- Women, no children.

4656. Do you know how many women?
- No.

4657. Was the boat full or not?
- It was not full - as many as it would take off the davits was what the Officer said - as many as he thought the boat would take off the davits.

4658. As many as the davits would support, I suppose he means, my Lord - as many as they would safely carry. (To the Witness.) When the boats were lowered were there other women left on the ship?
- I never noticed any.

4659. When the boat was lowered what became of the boat? Did it remain close alongside the ship or row off a bit?
- We had orders to row off a bit from one of the Officers on top.

4660. And were the orders obeyed?
- Yes.

4661. Did you see the vessel sink?
- Yes.

4662. Did you look to see if there was any light in the boat?
- No, there was no light.

4663. Did you look?
- No, I did not; it was not my place.

4664. As far as you know, did anybody look for a light?
- I could not say who looked before we got up there.

4665. Were there oars in the boat?
- Yes.

4666. How many oars were being pulled?
- Four.

4667. You did not count the number of the people in the boat?
- No.

4668. You do not know?
- No.

Then you were picked up by the "Carpathia."

4669. (The Commissioner.) Can you give us any idea of the number of the people in the boat?
- I could not.

4670. Were there 100 people in it?
- No, my Lord.

4671. Then, you see, you can tell us something. Were there 60?
- About 40.

4672. You see you can tell us if you try. Were they women or mixed?
- Women.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

4673. You have told the Court that an Officer was giving orders on the boat deck shortly before you got into No. 5. Is that so?
- Yes.

4674. Do you know who that Officer was?
- The Officer who got into our boat mentioned his name when he gave him orders.

4675. Is this what you are trying to convey, that the Officer who sang out for a crew for No. 3 was the quartermaster who got into your boat, No. 5?
- No.

4676. Try and recollect. You have spoken of an Officer on the boat deck singing out for a crew?
- Yes.

4677. What Officer was that?
- I do not know.

4678. Was it because no crew came for lifeboat No. 3 that you were sent to the lifeboat No. 5?
- No, the crew were there.

4679. Was there a crew for No. 3?
- No, there was only me there for that boat, and I went for this other boat.

4680. Did the Officer sing out for a crew?
- He said, "Are there any of the crew here?"

4681. And was there any of the crew there except you?
- Me and another fireman and a quartermaster.

4682. How long was it from the collision until that order was given by the Officer?
- I could not say.

4683. You have no idea at all?
- No.

4684. An hour?
- It may have been.

4685. Was there confusion amongst the Officers and amongst the crew?
- No.

4686. If there was no confusion amongst the Officers and amongst the crew, how can you account for this, that so long after the collision as the time you speak of when the Officers gave the order the crew had not come to their boats?
- They were all standing about; they did not think it was serious. So many had come up, those who heard the order.

4687. You spoke of an order having been given down in your quarters to go up to the boat deck?
- Not in my quarters - off this deck. It came from the top deck; I do not know who gave the order.

4688. I suppose there must have been confusion among the Officers and the men if they could not get proper crews for the boats?
- No; there was one boat filled with women when I got up there.

4689. You found on the rack where your lifebelt should have been that there was no lifebelt?
- Yes.

4690. Are we to understand from you that there were not provided in your quarters sufficient lifebelts for all the men there?
- There was none there for me when I got there.

4691. And you did not see any of your fellow members of the crew having more than one lifebelt?
- Yes.

4692. What?
- Yes.

4693. Had some of them more than one?
- Only the one lifebelt on them and holding one for another man to put on. That is all I saw.

The Attorney-General:
We do not want unnecessarily to go into evidence about that, and we have not asked; but is it suggested that there were not enough lifebelts on the boat?

Mr. Scanlan:
I only make the suggestion because this Witness in his evidence in chief said that there was no lifebelt for him when he came down to find it.

The Commissioner:
What he said, Mr. Scanlan, was, as I understand, that there was a lifebelt for him in his bunk, but when he came, after he had been wandering about over the ship for some time (what he was doing I do not quite know), he found his belt had gone.

The Attorney-General:
I only asked my friend because we do not want to go into this evidence with all the Witnesses. I do not think there is any question of there not being sufficient lifebelts on board.

Mr. Scanlan:
There has not been any question. The only thing that suggested it was the evidence of this man himself.

The Commissioner:
When he went back, after he had been wandering about, he found his belt had gone.

4694. (Mr. Scanlan - To the Witness.) What distance from the ship was the iceberg when you saw it?
- I could not say.

4695. After you got on to the forecastle deck?
- I could not say; I do not know the distance.

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