British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 9

Testimony of John E. Hart, cont.

10165. You did not look whether the gates were locked or the barrier closed from the time you went on to the "Titanic" until the time of the accident. Is that so?
- I do not see how they could be locked. I do not think so at all.

10166. Did you look to see whether the gates were locked or the barriers permanently fixed down?
- Prior to the accident?

10167. Yes?
- No.

10168. Therefore you do not know whether they were or were not?
- Previous to the accident I cannot answer.

10169. Therefore at the time of the collision you do not know?
- No. I say previous to the accident.

Mr. Harbinson:
I quite follow you.

10170. (The Commissioner.) They were all down, as I understand, when you were bringing the passengers away?
- Yes, My Lord.

10171. All three were opened?
- Yes, My Lord.

10172. (Mr. Harbinson.) Did you see anybody open these gates or raise these barriers?
- No, I did not see anybody open them; but I had to pass through them, and I saw them open.

The Solicitor-General:
Not "opened" but "open."

10173. (Mr. Harbinson.) You saw them open?
- Yes.

10174. You do not know who opened them?
- No.

10175. You saw them open?
- Yes.

10176. That was when you were taking up the first batch of third class passengers?
- Yes.

10177. Do I gather rightly from you that it was a considerable time after the third class steward had told you to rouse up your people that you went about reassuring these people and telling them that the vessel was not hurt?
- No; right from the very first we were trying to convince the people that she was not hurt.

10178. Did I understand you rightly when you said that "A large number of men were coming from forrard, from the front part of the ship; I went about among my people trying to show them that the vessel was not hurt"?
- Trying to "assure" them - not to "show" them.

10179. I accept your correction - "trying to assure them that the vessel was not hurt" - is that what you said?
- That is so.

10180. Why did you on your own authority, after you had been told by the first class steward -?
- By who?

10181. By your chief third class steward to go down and rouse these people - Why did you upon your own authority go round and tell them that the vessel was not hurt?
- It was not on my own authority at all.

10182. Who told you to do that?
- The third class steward told me to get my people about as quietly as possible.

10183. Why did he tell you to get them up?
- I cannot answer why he did. I take it, on account of the collision. He must have had word that there had been an accident.

10184. And, knowing from him that there must have been an accident, and that he considered the accident was of such a character that these people should be roused, you went round among them, and tried to assure them that the vessel was not hurt?
- In the first place.

10185. Why did you do that?
- Because it was my instructions to.

The Commissioner:
- To keep them quiet; it is quite obvious.

10186. (Mr. Harbinson.) I put it to you that it was as a result of these assurances of yours that the people refused to go up on deck?
- You put it to me as such?

10187. I put it to you that as a result of these assurances given to the people they refused to leave their berths?
- I do not take it as such.

10188. Was it so?
- It was not so. If you will pay a little attention you will find that some people were taken to the boat deck.

10189. Please do not be impertinent?
- I do not wish to be impertinent.

10190. I suggest to you that it was as a result of these assurances given by you that they were declining to leave their berths?
- You take it as such.

10191. I ask you, is that so?
- I do not know.

10192. You do not know?
- I do not think so.

10193. How many women refused to leave their berths?
- Several.

10194. Could you give us any estimate?
- I might if I think.

The Commissioner:
His estimate in such circumstances is, to my mind, of no value at all.

10195. (Mr. Harbinson.) Were there half-a-dozen out of the 58?
- I take it there was.

10196. You do not know?
- I could not vouch for the number.

10197. Was it a small number compared with the number who came up with you?
- Oh, yes.

10198. A very small number?
- Yes.

10199. So that I am right in assuming that all except a small number responded to your warnings?
- That I can account for myself in my own part of the ship.

10200. That it was only a small number who refused to leave?
- It was only a small number who refused to leave.

10201. You have told us, I think, that there were sixty third class stewards?
- Yes.

10202. How many of those sixty were in the afterpart of the ship?
- None.

10203. Can you tell us how many were in the after, and how many were in the forward part?
- No.

10204. You have no means of telling?
- I could not tell you.

10205. Could you give us any estimate of the number of women and children who were in the afterpart of the ship - third class men, women and children?
- No.

10206. You cannot?
- No.

10207. Who will be able to tell me that?
- No doubt the White Star Line can tell you. The single men were all berthed in the fore part of the ship.

10208. You can give us no estimate of the numbers of the third class passengers who were in the after portion?
- No.

10209. And therefore you cannot tell me how many stewards were allotted to look after the third class passengers?
- In the afterpart of the ship, I can.

10210. That is what I am asking you?
- Eight.

10211. Eight stewards to look after all the third class passengers in that portion?
- That is for the sleeping accommodation.

10212. It is a considerable distance, is it not, from the aft part of the ship to the boat deck?
- Yes.

10213. You have told us that you saw a number of stewards placed at various portions to direct the third class passengers how they were to go?
- Yes.

10214. About how many stewards were so placed?
- I passed about five or six on the starboard side.

10215. Who else besides you, then, were bringing the people from their berths - rousing them and bringing them up to the boat deck? How many others?
- Almost eight. A portion of the third class stewards were room stewards, of whom I am the only survivor.

10216. I understood that there were only eight third class stewards in the aft portion altogether?
- To look after them.

10217. Who were stationed at various places to direct the third class passengers the way they were to go?
- Not of that eight.

10218. There were five?
- Five others.

10219. What class stewards were they?
- I could not tell you. Stewards were placed all round the ship.

10220. Do you know who placed them there?
- I cannot tell you.

10221. Do you know the stewards by sight who were placed to direct the third class passengers?
- No.

10222. But you say they were not third class stewards?
- They were not third class stewards.

10223. Did you see the emergency door open?
- I saw it open - The swing door to the second class you mean?

10224. Yes?
- Yes.

10225. Do you know at what time it was opened?
- Yes, I can tell you. It was open at half-past 12.

10226. Would it be right if anyone said that a number of sailors were keeping back the third class passengers from reaching the boat deck?
- Would it be right to do so?

10227. Would it be right if anyone said so?
- I do not say that it would be right.

10228. I asked you would it be right if anyone said so?
- I would not like to say it would be right.

10229. (The Commissioner.) Would it be true?
- I should not think so.

Mr. Harbinson:
It is not what you think. Did you see any sailors keeping back the third class passengers from reaching the boat deck?

10230. (The Commissioner.) Did you see anyone keeping the third class passengers back, so as to prevent them getting to the boat deck?
- No, My Lord.

10231. (Mr. Harbinson.) You told us about a rush of men from the front part of the ship coming aft?
- Yes.

10232. They were coming towards the third class quarters?
- Yes.

10233. They were third class passengers?
- They were.

10234. Why do you think they were coming aft?
- Because I saw them coming aft.

10235. I quite realise that you saw them. But what was it caused them, do you think, to do that? Was it because they could not escape to the boat deck by the companion ladder leading to the front part of the ship?
- I do not believe so.

The Commissioner:
How can he know that? Do let us have some sort of order in these questions. How can he know why they did come aft?

Mr. Harbinson:
Did you form any opinion at the time?

10236. (The Commissioner.) Did you ask them why they were coming aft?
- No, Sir, there was no occasion to ask.

10237. (Mr. Harbinson.) Did you form any opinion at the time?
- I knew why they were coming aft.

10238. That is what I want to know. Why did they come aft?
- Because the forward section had already taken water.

10239. And that was the only way they could escape?
- Not necessarily, no. They could escape from the fore part of the ship.

10240. Up the companion ladder would have been the nearest way for them, would not it?
- Yes.

10241. But they did not do that; they chose the other way?
- They chose the other way?

10242. That is rather curious, is it not?
- No, it is not curious at all.

10243. Is it not?
- No.

10244. That is to say, they go the whole length of the ship and come up from the well deck at the back, rather than go up the companion ladder leading from the fore deck to the boat deck?
- Perhaps the people did not stop to think where they were going to.

10245. If there had been anybody to show them, they would not have had occasion to think?
- That may be so.

10246. According to you - and, of course, I am not disputing the accuracy of your figures at all - you took practically the whole of your section, the greater number of them, up; you took two batches?
- Yes, but they were not all men.

The Commissioner:
Oh, no, no. Do not make that mistake. They were not all from his section. A great many of them were from other sections.

10247. (Mr. Harbinson.) All your own went up except the few who refused to go?
- All of mine went up except a few.

The Commissioner:
Some of them went up and went back again.

10248. (Mr. Harbinson.) I will deal with that, your Lordship. (To the witness.) Except the few who you say refused to go?
- Yes; all went to the boat deck.

10249. Except the few who refused to go?
- Yes.

10250. With regard to the ones who went up and went back again when they found, I think you said, it was rather cold on the boat deck, did they belong to the first or second lot that you took up?
- How do you mean? Please say that again.

10251. You said a number went to the boat deck and returned to their berths?
- They belonged to the first lot, because the second lot I saw placed in boat No. 15.

10252. The whole of them?
- Yes.

10253. How many of the first lot returned to their berths?
- I cannot tell you that.

10254. You cannot give any estimate?
- No. I know I saw them to the boat deck.

10255. According to you, all the women and children, from the aft part of the boat who were taken up and who wanted to escape could have done so?
- I do not doubt that for a moment.

10256. Can you explain how it was, that being so, that 55 percent of the women of the third class were drowned?
- I cannot account for it - No, sir.

10257. I would like you to try and give us your opinion. That is a very high percentage, is it not?
- I simply referred to those that I took up.

10258. (The Commissioner.) Were you ever in an accident of this kind before?
- Something similar, My Lord.

10259. When was that? Were a great many people drowned?
- There was nobody drowned.

10260. Then it was not an accident. Can you form any opinion as to what percentage of third class passengers might be expected to be drowned in an accident like this?
- No, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Do not ask him such questions - they do not help me at all.

Mr. Harbinson:
If I may respectfully explain to your Lordship, after what he has said it raises a curious condition of affairs - That all the women could have escaped who wanted to escape, and yet the fact remains, as stated by the learned Attorney-General, that the percentage of the third class female passengers who were drowned was 55.

The Commissioner:
I know, but you are wasting our time by asking a steward questions about percentages. He does not know anything about such things. Ask him about things that happened and that he saw, and that he can tell us of, and then we will form our own opinion as to what deductions are to be drawn from the facts.

Mr. Harbinson:
I do not think I shall ask him anything more, My Lord.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

10261. At the time your boat was lowered, was the ship badly down by the head?
- Yes.

10262. Had she a list?
- Not that I noticed. I noticed she was badly down by the head.

10263. You did not notice any list either way?
- No.

10264. Did you see any lights of ships out at sea?
- When?

10265. At any time?
- Yes.

10266. Before or after you were lowered into the water?
- Before and after.

10267. In which direction?
- On the starboard side of the ship.

10268. Bearing how from the ship?
- I should take it bearing North.

10269. That would be on the starboard bow?
- Yes, on the starboard bow.

10270. What were the lights like?
- I saw two lights. I took them to be plain, ordinary white lights - two masthead lights.

10271. Masthead lights?
- Yes.

10272. It looked like a two-masted ship?
- Yes.

10273. Could you judge at what distance?
- No. Distance on water is very hard to judge.

10274. Could they have been lamp lights in any of your small boats?
- No. They would not be that high.

10275. Did you find a lamp in your boat when it was lowered?
- No, there was no place to look for any lamp.

10276. Were there lamps in any of the other boats you saw in the water?
- Yes.

10277. How many?
- I saw three.

10278. Three other boats with lamps in them?
- Yes, three other boats with lamps in them, and there may have been more.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

10279. Is it not a fact that a bugle goes at nine o'clock every night at sea ordering third class women below?
- Not to my knowledge.

10280. What time are they ordered below, off the decks?
- It is the usual custom for the master-at-Arms to go round and tell them when it is the proper time to go down - I believe somewhere about nine and ten.

10281. Between nine and ten they are ordered off the decks?
- Yes.

10282. When you went below, or when you received the order from the third class Steward, did not you, as a sensible man, think it was the only sensible order you could receive to go down and tell the women quietly to get out and get their lifebelts on?
- Yes. But whether I had been told that by the third class Steward or not, I would have done it.

10283. You knew that if you went down below and did not do it in that way you might cause a panic - they might be hysterical?
- That was the idea in informing the people quietly.

10284. There were no orders given to tell the third class men - the single men living in the bow of her - to come up on the boat deck, were there?
- Not to my knowledge.

10285. So that there was no necessity for a Steward to go there and show them the way to the boat deck at the top?
- I believe that somebody went forward after the collision to try to see what damage was done after the collision had happened, and there met the passengers coming along. He came along with them. I believe that was the interpreter Mellor.

10286. He was bringing them along E deck?
- The main alleyway, E deck.

10287. He would not take them up to the boat deck and mix them with the women?
- I do not think he would, because he brought them along that way.

10288. When you went down below, did you find any difficulty in getting the women to leave their baggage behind?
- Some were inclined to take their baggage, but they, of course, would not be Europeans. I take it they were foreigners.

10289. You found a difficulty in getting them to leave their baggage behind; they wanted to take it up with them?
- I did not find any difficulty at all, because I had no foreigners.

10290. But the foreigners did not want to part with their baggage?
- I have heard so.

10291. When you went back again the second time, did you go down to F deck?
- No.

10292. You did not go down to F deck?
- There was no occasion to go there.

10293. Where did you go to?
- The second time I went to my station on this deck.

10294. Did you see any water along E deck?
- I saw none.

10295. No water at all?
- I saw none.

10296. You saw no water at all along any deck from the time she struck?
- I saw no water to the time I quitted that ship, with the exception of outside the ship, of course.

10297. I said, "along the deck"?
- No, Sir; I saw none.

10298. What ship were you in when you met with your last accident?
- I was in the "St. Paul" when she collided with the "Gladiator."

10299. So that you would know what to do in the case of an accident?
- I imagine I would, yes.

10300. Were all the third class stewards trying to get the women out, and showing them up to the decks?
- Yes.

10301. My learned friend thinks there were only eight stewards in the third class. Will you tell us how many stewards there are in the third class?
- There are somewhere about fifty-nine or sixty.

10302. Part of them were bed-room stewards, and part of them were table waiters, is that so?
- Yes.

10303. And they would all be doing their little bit to get the passengers up?
- They all helped to get the passengers away. Those that were not told off to their own rooms were sent on the boat deck to help in the best way they could.

10304. Did you notice between the dining room and the after section on F deck whether there were any bulkhead doors?
- Yes, there were two.

10305. Did you ever see them closed on the voyage?
- Yes, I saw them closed at bulkhead door inspection on the day after we left Southampton.

10306. Was there a general bulkhead inspection the day after you left England?
- Yes; the Chief Officer came round with Mr. Andrews, the man representing Harland and Wolff's.

10307. Were the stewards told off to close those doors?
- Yes; I myself was told off.

10308. And you closed a bulkhead door?
- Yes.

10309. Do you know what you closed those bulkhead doors for - what that drill is for?
- Yes; I take it as such, that in case anything should go wrong with the machinery leading from the bridge in closing those doors.

10310. These doors are hand doors?
- No; they can be closed from the bridge as well.

10311. On E deck?
- Yes.

10312. I think you are mistaken, My Lord. I do not think that is a fact?
- I think so. Anyhow, I closed them by hand with a big spanner.

10313. You turn a spanner with a wheel?
- Yes; I turned it with a spanner.

10314. You are not sure about whether they can be closed from the bridge?
- I would not be sure that they can be closed from the bridge on E deck, but I take it as such, by the overhead gear, that they could be closed from the bridge.

10315. The real object of that drill is, is it not, that in case of collision a man should go there and close the door?
- Yes.

10316. Do you remember anybody doing it that night?
- No, I do not.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

10317. When you returned from your first visit to the boat deck you told us you had some trouble to get back owing to the men trying to get up. What prevented you?
- The stewards prevented these men getting up when the order was passed around for the women and children.

Examined by Mr. MAURICE HILL.

10318. When you passed from your "glory hole" to M and K sections, did you pass along F deck or did you go up at once on to E deck by the stairway?
- I went on to E deck by the stairway.

10319. Just outside your quarters?
- Yes.

10320. Were you at any time after that on F deck?
- No.

The Commissioner:
Do you want to ask this Witness any more questions?

The Solicitor-General:
Just one or two more, My Lord.

Further examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

10321. Some questions have been put to you by some of these gentlemen rather suggesting that you discouraged these third class people from doing what was best to save their lives. Did you do anything of the sort?
- No, Sir, I would not take it that way.

10322. I suppose you found they got a little excited when they were asked to put their lifebelts on?
- They were simply told to put their lifebelts on in a quiet manner to prevent any kind of a panic that might have ensued.

10323. And you did your best to discharge that duty?
- Yes.

10324. Was that before any order had been passed along that these people were to go up to the boat deck?
- Yes.

10325. And when the order was passed along that they were to be taken up to the boat deck, did you do your best to get them through?
- I did my duty, Sir, to get them through.

(The Witness withdrew.)