British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 8

Testimony of Charles V. Groves, cont.

8247. Did you not take her bearing by the compass?
- Not that steamer's bearing, no.

8248. She would appear to be coming round more towards your stern?
- No, she would appear, as we were swinging, to be working towards our head.

8249. I thought you were swinging to port?
- No, we were swinging to starboard - that is, to the right hand.

8250. How long did you stay on the bridge?
- I stayed on the bridge till something between 12.10 and 12.15.

8251. And were you then relieved by Mr. Stone?
- I was.

8252. (The Commissioner.) 12.15?
- I could not be sure of the exact time.

8253. You were relieved by whom?
- Mr. Stone.

8254. (Mr. Rowlatt.) The last Witness we had yesterday, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Was he the first person that came on the bridge after the captain went down? - Was there anybody else there? I only want to know whether I have missed out anything?
- No, there was nobody up on the bridge from the time that the captain left until Mr. Stone came up.

8255. Very well. Did you point out the steamer to Mr. Stone?
- Yes.

8256. Did you tell him what you thought she was?
- Yes.

8257. What did you say?
- I pointed out the steamer to him and said, "She has been stopped since 11.40"; and I said, "She is a passenger steamer. At about the moment she stopped she put her lights out."

8258. (The Commissioner.) Wait a moment: "I pointed the steamer out to Stone and said, 'She is a passenger steamer. She put her light out.'" Do you mean by that she shut her light out?
- She shut her lights out, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
"About 11.40."

8259. (Mr. Rowlatt.) To get it quite clear, at that time was it your impression she had put her lights out or shut them out?
- At that time it was my impression she had shut them out, but I remember distinctly remarking to him that she had put them out.

8260. (The Commissioner.) That means that she had shut them out?
- Yes.

8261. That is what you intended to convey?
- Yes.

8262. That she had shut them out?
- Yes.

8263. By changing her position?
- By changing her position.

The Commissioner:
Is that right, Mr. Rowlatt; is that the answer you expected?

Mr. Rowlatt:
I was asking for information, my Lord, because I thought he had said before that he thought she had put her lights out because of the time of night.

The Commissioner:
I think he did say something of that sort.

Mr. Rowlatt:
I thought he did, and I asked for information to get it clear.

8264. (The Commissioner - To the Witness.) Did you say that you thought she had put her lights out because of the time of night?
- I did say that, I think, my Lord.

8265. Then which is it to be, that she shut them out because she was changing her position, or that she had put them out because, in your opinion it was bed-time on board the ship?
- Well, at the time the lights disappeared I thought in my own mind she had put them out because in the ships I was accustomed to before I joined this company it was the custom to put all the deck lights out, some at 11, some at 11.30, and some at midnight - all the deck lights except those absolutely necessary to show the way along the different decks. But when I saw the ice I came to the conclusion that she had starboarded to escape some ice.

8266. You came to the conclusion then, did you, while you were on the bridge?
- Yes, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
It comes to this, Mr. Rowlatt, at first he thought the lights had been put out, but when he reflected about it and observed she changed her position he thought she had shut her lights out, which is a different thing.

8267. (Mr. Rowlatt.) I do not know that he said he observed that she changed her position. (To the Witness.) This vessel was stopped at this time, was she not?
- Yes.

Mr. Rowlatt:
He accepted my suggestion, my Lord, that if the vessel did change her course it might shut her lights out; it would shut her lights out.

The Commissioner:
I think you are right. What he said was the change of two points to port might, or, as he said, would, obscure the lights.

Mr. Rowlatt:
We know she changed two points - the vessel we are talking about changed two points.

The Commissioner:
Would a change of two points such as we know took place on the "Titanic" cause the two white masthead lights to alter their relative positions?

8268. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Yes. (To the Witness.) Would that be so?
- Yes, it would, but I do not think at that distance the difference would be perceptible.

8269. It would bring them a little nearer together?
- Yes, a little nearer together.

8270. Did you notice anything of that sort?
- No, I did not.

8271. You went off the bridge?
- Yes.

8272. Where did you go?
- The Marconi house.

8273. Is the Marconi operator, Mr. Evans?
- Yes.

8274. Did you find him there?
- I did.

8275. Was he asleep?
- He was asleep.

8276. He had gone to bed?
- He had gone to bed, yes.

8277. Did you wake him up?
- Yes.

8278. And have some conversation with him?
- Yes.

8279. What passed?
- The only thing I remember asking him was "What ships have you got, Sparks?"

8280. "Sparks"?
- Yes.

8281. Is that his name?
- No, it is the name he gets on the ship.

The Commissioner:
Seeing he is the operator, you know why he is called "Sparks."

8282. (Mr. Rowlatt.) You asked him what ships he had got. What did he say?
- Only the "Titanic."

8283. Did you take his instruments and put them to your ears?
- Yes.

8284. Could you read a message if you heard one?
- If it is sent slowly - yes.

8285. Did you hear anything?
- Nothing at all.

8286. How long did you listen?
- I do not suppose it would be more than 15 seconds at the outside - well, 15 to 30 seconds. I did it almost mechanically.

8287. Did you do anything more before you turned in?
- I may have said a few more words to him, but I have no recollection, but when I left his house I went straight to my cabin.

8288. And went to bed?
- And went to bed.

8289. (The Commissioner.) What time was it you were talking to this man whom you call Sparks?
- As near as I can judge it would be between 12.15 and 12.20.

8290. (Mr. Rowlatt.) What time did you turn out again in the morning?
- About 6.40; I did not notice the time particularly.

8291. Were you woke up by the Chief Officer?
- Yes.

8292. Who is that?
- Mr. Stewart.

8293. Did he come to your room?
- Yes.

8294. Did he tell you, you were wanted on the bridge?
- He did.

8295. (The Commissioner.) 6.40, was it?
- About it.

8296. "Stewart, the Chief Officer, told me to come on the bridge"?
- Yes.

8297. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did he say why?
- Yes. He said, "The 'Titanic' has sunk, and the passengers are all in the lifeboats in the water ahead of us," or words to that effect.

8298. (The Commissioner.) The passengers were in the lifeboats ahead of you?
- Yes.

8299. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you see Mr. Stone?
- I saw Mr. Stone almost immediately after the Chief Officer left my room.

8300. Where was he?
- He was in his room.

8301. Is that close to yours?
- Yes, two or three yards away, that is all; diagonally opposite.

8302. Do you mean you went out of your room before you dressed and saw him?
- Yes, I jumped straight out of my bunk and I went to his room.

8303. Had he been on the watch from 12 to 4?
- From 12 to 4.

8304. Now, did he tell you anything had happened in his watch?
- Yes, he told me he had seen rockets.

8305. Did he say where the rockets were, or what sort of rockets, or anything of that sort?
- As far as my recollection goes all he said was he had seen rockets in his watch, but at that time I did not pay particular attention to what he said, except that he had mentioned rockets.

8306. You do not remember more than that he mentioned rockets?
- No, nothing more.

8307. You do not remember anything more passing with him at that time?
- Well, I went to his room for the purpose of asking him if he was right about the "Titanic," and he said, "Yes, old chap, I saw rockets in my watch," and I went straight back to my cabin.

8308. (The Commissioner.) This conversation is important. (To the Witness.) When you went from your own cabin, before you dressed, to his cabin you naturally went to ask more about the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

8309. You had just heard that she had gone down?
- Yes.

8310. Now try to recollect what the conversation you had with Stone was?
- I went only to his door; he was just getting dressed himself then, and I said, "Is this right, Mr. Stone, about the 'Titanic'?" I told him what the Chief Officer had said. He said, "Yes, that is right; hurry up and get dressed; we shall be wanted in the boats." He said, "I saw rockets in my watch."

8311. That conveys to me the notion that when he said he saw rockets in his watch he was referring to the rockets which he believed had come from the "Titanic." Did he give you that impression?
- Well, it is rather difficult for me to say what impression I got then because I was rather excited, but I have told you what he said to me and what I said to him.

8312. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you dress?
- Yes.

8313. And go up on the bridge?
- Yes, I went straight up on the bridge as soon as I was dressed.

8314. What did you find when you got there?
- Ice all round us and icebergs.

8315. Was your ship under way?
- The ship was under way then, and I could feel her bumping the ice, and I knew she had got a good speed on by that.

8316. She had not started when you went off your watch?
- No.

8317. You did not know when she did start, because you were asleep?
- I was asleep.

8318. She had started when you were called, had she?
- She was under way then.

8319. Were your lifeboats being swung out?
- Yes, the lifeboats were being swung out then.

8320. This was about half-past six, I suppose?
- Well, about half-past six; I said 6.40 when I was first called.

8321. Now it is getting on for 7?
- I suppose by the time I got on the bridge it would be 6.50; but you understand the time is only approximate.

8322. I quite understand that. Were there any other vessels in sight?
- Yes.

8323. What were they?
- There was a four-masted steamer abeam on our port side.

8324. What steamer was that?
- I did not know at the time, but I knew afterwards she was the "Carpathia."

8325. Abeam on your port side?
- Abeam on our port side.

8326. In what direction were you going?
- That I could not say.

8327. You did not notice?
- No.

8328. How far off was she?
- I should think she would be about 5 miles - possibly more, possibly less, but about five.

8329. Did you look at her with the glass?
- I did.

8330. Who asked you to do that, anybody?
- The captain.

8331. Did you make out anything about her?
- After I had been looking at her I made out she had her house flag half-mast. She had a red funnel with a black top.

8332. (The Commissioner.) She had what half-mast?
- Her house flag.

8333. What is that?
- Her company's flag.

8334. Is there any significance in its being half-mast?
- It is half-masted for death, my Lord.

8335. (Mr. Rowlatt.) That is how you understood it at the time?
- That is what I understood it to mean.

8336. It was because of the disaster to the "Titanic" that this vessel was flying her house flag half-mast?
- Yes.

8337. What did your vessel do then?
- We continued on our course for a little time after I had told the captain she had a red funnel with a black top and the house flag half-masted, and the next thing that was done we starboarded.

8338. You made straight for her?
- We made practically straight for her.

8339. Did you see any other vessel?
- Yes, I saw two other vessels.

8340. At this time?
- Yes. I fancy one of them was in sight at the same time as I noticed this four-Master.

8341. (The Commissioner.) Do you know what they were?
- I know what one of them was.

8342. What was it?
- The "Mount Temple."

8343. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Where was she?
- She was ahead, a little on our starboard side when I saw her first.

8344. Before you changed your course?
- Before we headed for the "Carpathia."

8345. How far off was she, do you think?
- Well, when I noticed her first - I had been paying particular attention to this other steamer - I should think she would be perhaps a mile and a half away from us.

8346. Nearer than the "Carpathia." - Much nearer than the "Carpathia."

8347. Was she stopped?
- Stopped.

8348. In the ice?
- In the ice.

8349. Did you see any other vessel?
- I saw another vessel a little on our port bow; she was coming down almost end on.

8350. (The Commissioner.) You do not know her name?
- I do not, but as far as I remember she had a black funnel. She was a small steamer.

8351. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you reach the "Carpathia"?
- We did.

8352. What time did you reach the "Carpathia"?
- I think it would be about 7.45.

8353. Did she signal to you first?
- Yes.

8354. That the "Titanic" had struck an iceberg?
- Not at first. The first signal shown was fixed on the jumper stay. That is a signal that she wanted to semaphore.

8355. Did she signal to you by semaphore?
- Yes.

8356. What did she tell you?
- I think the first question she asked was had we any survivors on board, survivors or people, I do not know which she said.

8357. Did you answer by semaphore?
- We did.

8358. You said, No?
- We said, No.

8359. Did she say anything more?
- Yes; I think the next thing which happened was, I fancy, we asked him if we could be of any assistance, and he said, No.

8360. Were you personally signaling?
- No, I was not, but I was reading it.

8361. Anything more - any more messages?
- That passed between us?
- Yes.

8362. (The Commissioner.) Tell us shortly?
- He told us the "Titanic" had struck an iceberg at 12 o'clock and had sunk at 3, and they had 800 or 700 - I am not sure which - people on board, including Mr. Bruce Ismay. When we asked him if we could be of any assistance they said, no. And then Captain Lord suggested that we should search down to leeward.

8363. Your captain?
- Yes.

8364. Did you search to leeward?
- Yes.

8365. Did you find anything?
- Only boats and wreckage.

8366. Empty boats?
- Boats with no people in.

8367. At about 9 a.m. did the "Carpathia" steam off?
- Yes, almost exactly at 9 a.m., because I heard her bell strike.

8368. Did you search longer?
- Yes, we searched longer.

8369. Till about 10.40?
- Ten-forty exactly. That is when we resumed our course.

8370. After that did you see much more ice?
- After 10.40?

8371. Yes?
- Yes, we saw a lot of ice; we passed a big field; we passed through a particularly long field about half a mile wide, and we had to absolutely force our way through it.

8372. Was that further south than the wreckage you had seen from the "Titanic"?
- I think it was about the same latitude, roughly, within a mile or so. But I never said we saw the "Titanic"; I said we saw the wreckage.

8373. Yes, and we assume the wreckage which you saw was the "Titanic" wreckage - that is what I meant?
- Yes.

8374. Do you know whether you carry rockets on your ship?
- Yes.

8375. What rockets do you carry?
- Distress rockets.

8376. What are they?
- Well, I have never seen one fired, so I could not say definitely.

8377. You have never seen one fired?
- No.

8378. Is there any inscription on them?
- I have not seen a rocket itself, either.

8379. You only know they are there?
- I only know they are there.

8380. If you were in distress you would simply send up one of these rockets?
- Yes.

8381. And then you would find out for the first time what it looked like?
- In my own particular case I should.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

8382. At the time you left the bridge was it a clear night?
- Quite clear.

8383. Was it so clear that your captain could have picked his way, even through that ice-field to the ship which you saw?
- He could have picked his way through there, but it certainly would not have been a particularly safe proceeding. There is no doubt he could have done it.

8384. You said when you first saw the ship she appeared to be about 10 miles from you?
- Ten to twelve, I said.

8385. When she came to a stop what was the distance?
- Well, I should think about five to seven miles.

8386. In the relative positions of your ship and this ship which you saw, would any person from her see your starboard light and one masthead light?
- When she first stopped he could not have seen it before I left the bridge.

8387. In the position to which you had swung round, just at the time you were leaving the bridge, if any person from that ship or from a boat lower down saw you, would they have seen the light you were showing then, your red starboard light?
- It is a green light.

8388. I beg your pardon - your green light?
- Yes.

8389. And the white masthead light?
- They would have been able to have seen it from the ship undoubtedly, but as to a boat I am rather doubtful.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

8390. Your captain stopped because of the ice-field?
- Yes.

8391. That is because he considered it exceedingly dangerous?
- That is so; at least, I suppose that is what he concluded.

8392. When you saw this steamer, at any time had you any doubt about its being a passenger steamer?
- No doubt whatsoever.

8393. And you for your part never considered it was a tramp steamer?
- No, I did not.

8394. And you told the captain, you have told us, that you believed it was a passenger steamer?
- Yes, I told the captain that.

8395. And that you could see the two masthead lights?
- I do not think I told him that I could see two masthead lights.

Mr. Harbinson:
I think you told the Court here today -

The Commissioner:
Do not take him all through the whole thing again. I have heard the whole of this. It does not help us to have it all over again.

8396. (Mr. Harbinson.) I do not intend to take him through it all, my Lord. (To the Witness.) You did see two masthead lights?
- Yes, I did see two masthead lights.

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