British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Testimony of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, recalled
Further examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
12592. (The Attorney-General.) There are two questions I want to put to Sir Cosmo. (To the witness.) I notice from what you said in your evidence (I am referring to question 12586, My Lord.), that there was this conversation between you and the men, or one of the men, that you would give them a present of £5 each, and that was made, as I follow from what you have told us, quite early in the history of this boat. I want to ask you just a little about the time; I want to follow quite clearly when it was. Was it before or after the boat had gone back to try to pick up people?
- I did not know about the boat going back.
What is the going back you are referring to?
12593. (The Attorney-General.) Your Lordship remembers Symons' evidence, I will refer you to it. I will put a question to him which I think will bring it to your Lordship's mind. (To the witness.) According to you then the boat never went back?
- No, I do not know where we were rowing about to.
12594. When I say went back - it never went to try to pick up some of the people who might be drowning from the "Titanic"?
- No, I did not know of it.
Where is Symons' evidence?
I will tell your Lordship the effect of his evidence. What he said was they did not go back when they heard the cries, but they rowed away, but that some time after they did go back. And then your Lordship put a question to him "But then the cries had ceased," and he said "Yes."
I remember that. That did not seem to me to be a going back that was of the least importance.
12595. (The Attorney-General.) No, but that is what he did. Your Lordship will remember I cross-examined him upon his statements in America where he was asked whether he did go back when he heard the cries and when he said yes. I pointed out then that that was very different from the evidence he had given here and he admitted that it was. It is question 11561, page 258, where I put to him the question, "Did you ever go back to try to pick up any of these people." He said, "Yes, after we rowed a little way, as we were going for this self-same light of my first story, we stopped; we laid on our oars. Then I gave the order to pull back, and told the men in the boat we would pull back to the other boats." Did you hear that?
- To pull back to the other boats? Do you mean that he said so?
- I did not hear him.
12597. An order given by him to the men that were rowing?
- I did not hear the order, no.
12598. "I was going my way back then as near as I possibly could to the scene of the disaster after we met the other boat. I strained my ears to hear whether I could hear anybody, any person whatever making a cry. (The Commissioner.) And you heard no one?
- (A.) I heard no one. (Q.) They were all drowned by that time; is not that so?
- (A.) I could not say that, sir, because there were some picked up in a boat out of the water before daylight, according to the other story. Of course, I cannot say about other people." Then your Lordship will remember at the end, I put to him very definitely what he had said in America. That is at page 262. The particular passage bearing upon this is at page 263, Question 11749 - "Then you were asked whether you made any effort to get there, that is the people from whom you heard the cries?
- (A.) Yes. (Q.) It is pointed out to you that you had said your boat could take more?
- (A.) Yes, I did say so." I am putting to him that what his answer was in America. "Your answer to that is, "Yes, we came back, but when we came back we did not see anybody nor hear anybody.' - (A.) That is quite right." Then I put to him: "Why did not you tell him what you have told us today, that you heard the cries, but in the exercise of your discretion and as Master of the situation you had determined not to go back because you thought you might be swamped? Why did not you tell them that?
- (A.) My idea of the whole concern was that they had us in three at a time in America - that you have not got there, I expect - to get us through as quick as possible." He says he agrees that is not the same account as is given here; he left that out. That is the point I was on. (To the witness.) What I want to know is whether you can assist us upon that at all. Did you know any effort was made to pick up people who might be drowning?
- No, I did not.
12599. So far as you were concerned there was no attempt of any kind to pick up drowning people?
- No; I did not know that the idea had arisen to go back at all.
12600. Of course if Symons is giving a correct account it would appear that orders were given there which you do not recollect?
12601. Because he told the men to pull -
He says he did not hear it, not that he does not recollect it.
We will hear what he says about it. If my friend is drawing a distinction between what he did not hear and what he did not recollect, it is a little fine for me. (To the witness.) I suggest to you if a man is speaking and you are there and he is giving orders to the men who are rowing in the boat there was no difficulty in your hearing; but it made no impression on your mind and you do not recollect it?
- Yes, I do not; I did not hear it.
Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.
12602. Did you hear the order given when other boats on the starboard side were being lowered that women and children were to be first?
- I do not know whether I heard the order, but I knew it was the orders.
12603. And that only women and children were getting in in any large numbers?
- In much greater numbers, yes - few men.
12604. I suppose from the conversation amongst the passengers and the conversation you had had with Officers you had become aware that the lifeboats did not offer accommodation for more than half the passengers and crew?
- No, I did not know anything about it. I had not spoken to any Officer or to passengers on that subject.
12605. That Rule with regard to women and children was observed with regard to all the boats launched from the starboard side that you saw launched?
- Yes, the three forward ones.
12606. With the exception of the one boat in which you left yourself?
- No, the boat before that had, I think, a few women in, and they filled up with men passengers.
12607. But the boat in which you left was clearly an exception to that Rule?
- No, no exception at all. The woman who had been present had all gone in the three lifeboats.
12608. Could you see from your position on the starboard side how many women were on the port side?
- No, I could see nothing at all of the port side.
12609. So that as far as your knowledge went at the time there might have been a large number of women on the port side waiting for boat accommodation in the lifeboats?
- It is possible, of course.
12610. I think you asked the Officer on the boat deck if he would allow you to go away in this No. 1 boat?
- I said to him, "Can we go there," I think.
12611. Of course, the ladies were invited to go?
- The ladies were not invited to go. The ladies had been invited to go to two or three previous boats and they refused to go absolutely. Then all the ladies had embarked, every one that was visible, and I found myself suddenly in front, this boat being manned by some stokers.
12612. That request of yours applied, of course, only to yourself?
- I did not consider it a request at all; I merely saw an empty boat, and I had two ladies with me, and I said, "May we go in that boat?"
12613. Could you see from your position on the boat deck at No. 1 whether the after boats on the starboard side had all been lowered?
- No, I could not see; I could only see that section. (Pointing to the model.)
12614. Could you see from that position close to No. 1 whether there were passengers along the boat deck at the afterend of it?
- No; my impression was that there were no passengers as far as I could see.
12615. You said, in giving your evidence on Friday, that all the women in your part of the ship had gone?
12616. Did you mean the women who were first class passengers?
- I did not know what class passengers they were. There were a certain number of women outside the gymnasium door, and they had all been taken off. I do not know what class they were in the least.
12617. You did not even know whether there were other women on the boat deck on the opposite side or further aft who were waiting for accommodation in the boats?
- No, I knew nothing of that sort.
12618. Under those circumstances, you asked permission for yourself to go in?
That is not quite accurate. He asked if he might go. Perhaps that is only a distinction without a difference.
I see that, My Lord. (To the witness.) Do you recollect who was the Officer in charge at the launching of lifeboat No. 1?
- I did not know till, I think, two days ago.
It was not a lifeboat, Mr. Scanlan; it was the emergency boat.
We have known it since this Enquiry commenced as a lifeboat.
If my friend insists for his own purposes in calling this boat by a wrong name, I can only protest against it.
I think Mr. Scanlan has been very fair so far, and I do not think he is unfair at the present.
[TIP NOTE: Number 12618 was repeated in the original transcript.]
12618. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) With regard to this emergency boat, if Mr. Duke prefers you know now, do you, the name of the Officer who was in charge when it was being manned?
- Yes, I believe so.
12619. Who is he?
- I think it is the fifth Officer.
12620. Is that Mr. Lowe?
- Yes, I think it is.
If Mr. Lowe is in Court perhaps he will be willing to be identified?
Is Mr. Lowe here?
He will be here; I do not know whether he is here at the moment.
(Mr. Lowe stood up in the Court.)
12621. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Is that the Officer?
- I could not say; it was dark. I did not know it was he. I said I was told so two days ago.
12622. Of your own knowledge you do not know?
- Of my own knowledge I can say nothing.
12623. Just as your party was about to embark on that boat did you hear the Officer say, "Are you ready, Lady Gordon?"?
12624. Did you have any conversation with the Officer?
- Nothing, except what I told you.
12625. Did he know who you were?
- Not the least - at least, I do not know whether he knew me; I did not know him.
12626. I suppose most of the Officers would know you?
- No, not one of them.
12627. You are a frequent traveler?
- I have never been across the Atlantic in that way before in my life.
12628. Did you see Mr. Ismay on the boat deck?
- No, I did not.
12629. Did you know him?
12630. So that you would not be able to recognise him?
- Yes, I should have been then, because I had seen him at dinner that night.
12631. Did you see the captain that night?
- Yes; it was the only time I did see him, I think.
12632. (The Commissioner.) Was the captain dining with Mr. Ismay?
- No, My Lord; Mr. Ismay was dining alone with Dr. O'Loughlin.
12633. Is that right Mr. Ismay was dining alone?
- Alone with Dr. O'Loughlin.
19634. I mean with one other man?
12635. He was not giving a dinner party?
- No, he was dining quite alone with Dr. O'Loughlin. I was three or four tables off.
The reason why I ask that question is that I have had sent to me by some lady, who says that her husband was drowned in this calamity, what is called a "menu" of a dinner given, as it is alleged, by Mr. Bruce Ismay. What it has to do with this Inquiry I am quite at a loss to know, but I do not believe myself that it is a menu of any dinner he gave at all.
At a later stage we shall call Mr. Bruce Ismay before your Lordship.
12636. (The Commissioner.) It is quite possible, I believe that this thing which was published in some french paper was a list of the dishes that could be had. It is a very common thing on board a ship to publish each day a list of dishes from which you can select?
12637. However, you say Mr. Bruce Ismay was not giving any dinner?
12638. Certainly not to the captain?
- No, he was alone.
12639. (Mr. Scanlan.) Now, did you see the captain at dinner that night?
- I do not know, I saw him just after dinner just outside.
12640. (Mr. Scanlan.) May I ask this question, My Lord. (To the witness.) Was the captain in uniform when you saw him?
12641. Or in evening dress? Was he in uniform or evening dress?
- I think he was in evening uniform.
12642. Has your attention been called to what purports to be an article written and signed by Lady Duff-Gordon in the "Daily News" for April 20th?
- I have seen it, I think; yes - at least, I have not seen that in the English papers; I saw one in the American papers.
12643. Have you seen an article by her in the "New York American"?
- Yes, it was not by her, but I have seen what you mean.
12644. Do you know whether or not this is authentic?
- If you tell me what it is about I could answer better.
12645. I will hand it to you. It is in the second column. (Handing a paper to the witness.) It appears to be signed at the bottom you will observe. It is a single column article by Lady Duff-Gordon.
What is the purport of it, Mr. Scanlan?
There are a good many things in it.
Have they any bearing on this Enquiry?
Because you know the whole of this incident to my mind has only a small bearing on this Enquiry and I do not want too much time spent over it.
I quite see that, My Lord.
Can you tell me what this article is?
There are statements in it as to icebergs having been pointed out before the collision occurred to Lady Duff-Gordon by Officers on board the "Titanic."
I think that is quite relevant.
I may tell Mr. Scanlan I am going to ask your Lordship's leave to call Lady Duff-Gordon whether anybody else calls her or not.
I think it is not necessary. Of course, if you want it done, Mr. Duke.
Most urgently, both Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon think it is essential it should be done.
Very well, then it shall be done.
I had already communicated with my friend Mr. Duke about it and I told him what my view of it was; but of course my friend said he desired Lady Duff-Gordon called and there is an end of it. We shall call her. My friend is quite entitled to ask that.
If she wants to go into the witness -box, she must go.
The position in which she is put by some of the insinuations is intolerable to a woman who believes that she has done all she should have done under the circumstances.
I have not heard that she did anything that was at all different from what any other lady would do.
I respectfully disclaim any intention of making any insinuation.
We shall see.
(To the witness.) Is it your evidence that while the cries of the drowning -
No; do not let us depart from this point which I said might be relevant. (To the witness.) Is it the fact that Lady Duff-Gordon had icebergs pointed out to her by Officers of the ship before the calamity as far as you know?
- No; it was not the case, My Lord.
12646. Did she ever write anything to that effect?
- So far as I know Lady Duff-Gordon wrote nothing whatever in America.
I do not wish to press this any further.
I think your Lordship ought to know about this. I have looked at it. This is a column of matter in large type purporting to be signed by Lady Duff-Gordon, and said to be a series of statements by Lady Duff-Gordon.
Tell me Mr. Duke does the lady repudiate having written it.
Absolutely, My Lord.
12647. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Is it your evidence that while the cries of the drowning people were heard after the "Titanic" sank there was no conversation whatever between you and your fellow passengers or between you and the members of the crew?
- I said that after the "Titanic" sank there was a dead silence.
12648. When the people were crying out for help were you all mute in the boat?
- I think as soon as that occurred the men began to row at once.
12649. (The Commissioner.) And, as I understand, to row away from the cries?
- I presume so, My Lord; I did not know which way.
12650. (Mr. Scanlan.) You made a suggestion in your evidence as a reason for not taking more people in the boat that there would have been more room if the oars and sails had been put away?
12651. As a practical man you knew that it would be very easy to put the oars and sails away and take in people?
- As a practical man, I must say I did not think anything about it.
This does not help you much. It is admitted there was plenty of room in the boat for more people.
I did not know it at the time, My Lord. I admitted that I know now that there was.
If that is the effect of Sir Cosmo's evidence up to now, it is news to me; it is news to me to hear sir Cosmo say he did not think there was any room. I thought his evidence showed that there was some.
I certainly understood so.
Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.
12653. Had you, during the course of that voyage after you left Queenstown, been in conversation at all with Mr. Ismay?
- No, I had never spoken to him in my life.
12654. Do you know, after the impact, if any general alarm was sounded to give the passengers warning?
- I believe not; I did not hear it.
12655. You did not hear it?
- No; I heard nothing.
12656. Did you know that a message had been received from the "Carpathia"?
12657. You did not hear so?
12658. Saying she was coming to the aid of the "Titanic"?
12659. Do I rightly understand you to say that 20 minutes after you got into the boat, that is after the boat had been launched -
Have we heard of any message from the "Carpathia" received by the "Titanic" to the effect that the "Carpathia" was coming to the "Titanic's" aid?
I think you will hear something; but I do not think you have. We have had some messages. Yes, My Lord, there is one. I remember one of those read out by my friend the Solicitor-General when we were taking the marconi operator. It is page 213. There is nothing definite. I think the particular passage you want is this question, 9459, page 211: "I have got down here 'Titanic' still calling C.Q.D., is answered by the 'Carpathia,' and says: Struck iceberg; come to our assistance,' sends the position." That is the first. Then later on you get "The 'Carpathia' sends to the 'Titanic.'" We have got the whole series of messages, your Lordship will remember, but I do not think there is a definite message saying the 'Carpathia' is coming to the assistance of the "Titanic."
I do not remember it.
I think your Lordship will hear about it.
Sir Robert Finlay:
It is later, but I think it is after the "Titanic" sunk.
That is so.
I am not sure that you have that at all.
Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes, on page 214, but it is quite immaterial, because it was after the ship had gone down.
12660. (Mr. Harbinson - To the witness.) Did I rightly understand you on Friday to say that about 20 minutes after the "Titanic" sank, while you were in the boat, was the time when the conversation with reference to the presents took place?
- Something of that sort; 20 minutes or half-an-hour, I should fancy.
12661. That was while those scenes, which we have heard described so often to us, took place and harrowing cries could be distinctly heard by you?
- Oh, no.
Why do you assume that?
I will put it in the form of a question, Was it?
There is no evidence to that effect. It is very irregular to assume facts that are not proved.
At question 12586 Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon says: "I suppose it would be some time when they rested on their oars, 20 minutes or half-an-hour after the 'Titanic' had sunk, a man said to me, 'I suppose you have lost everything.'"
Yes, but consider the gloss you put upon the thing. You say that this conversation was taking place while the cries were still being heard. Now where is the statement to that effect?
It is in evidence that they heard the cries 20 minutes after the "Titanic" sank. There is evidence that the cries lasted for an hour and a half, and if they did they were audible 20 minutes afterwards.
Where is that?
One of the witnesses on Friday.
I am talking about this Witness. Your duty is to assist me.
Yes, I am anxious to do so.
Not to try to make out a case for this class or that class or another class, but to assist me in arriving at the truth; and you do not do it by trying to make out a case against one person or another; it does not help me a bit.
12662. (Mr. Harbinson.) I understand, My Lord. (To the witness.) Did you hear the cries 20 minutes after the "Titanic" sank? -No, I cannot tell you at all about that.
12663. You cannot remember?
- I do not think anything like that.
12664. You do not?
- I do not think so; I cannot say. The men were rowing a great deal.
12665. Did you tell them to row to drown the cries?
I appeal to your Lordship with regard to that question, and that class of question. The learned gentleman asks Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, "Did you appeal to them to row to drown the cries?" The ordinary Rule of practice, as I understand, is that unless you have evidence which will warrant a gross imputation you do not make it by a question.
Yes, but the ordinary Rules of practice do not always apply. Perhaps they ought to, but they do not.
I am aware your Lordship has not the same control here which a judge in Court would have. At any rate, among members of the bar it is usual to observe that Rule.
I will do my best to see the thing is fairly put.
I am obliged to your Lordship.
12666. (Mr. Harbinson - To the witness.) Was not this rather an exceptional time, 20 minutes after the "Titanic" sank, to make suggestions in the boat about giving away £5 notes?
- No, I think not. I think it was a most natural time. Everything was quiet; the men had stopped rowing the men were quite quiet lying on their oars doing nothing for some time, and then the ship having gone I think it was a natural enough remark for a man to make to me, "I suppose you have lost everything?"
12667. Would it not have been more in harmony with the traditions of seamanship that that should have been the time that you should have suggested to the sailors to have gone and tried if they could rescue any one?
- I have said that I did not consider the possibility - or rather I should put it the possibility of being able to help anybody never occurred to me at all.
12668. That is to say would I accurately state your position if I summed it up in this way, that you considered when you were safe yourselves that all the others might perish?
- No, that is not quite the way to put it.
Do you think a question of that kind is fair to this Witness. The witness's position is bad enough. Do you think it is fair to put a question of that kind to him? I do not.
12669. (Mr. Harbinson.) If your Lordship says so I will not pursue it any further. (To the witness.) Did you hear any lady in the boat make any protest against the boat going back?
12670. There were only two ladies in the boat, of course?
12671. Had you any conversation with Lady Duff-Gordon?
- I spoke to her several times.
12672. About the time had you any conversation with Lady Duff-Gordon with reference to an attempt to rescue any other people?
- I have said that the question did not arise in the boat.
12673. What was the nature of the conversation you had with Lady Duff-Gordon?
- Simply hoping she was a little better, and so on. I was merely talking to her in a quiet way like that, saying nothing that I could possibly remember or repeat.
12674. Did you see the lights in the ship that we have heard so much about?
- We followed what we thought to be a fishing boat or a sailing boat for a considerable time at starting.
12675. Were you following those lights at the time the "Titanic" sank?
- I think we were. We were going in that direction.
12676. Did you hear, on Friday, Horswell say that at the time the "Titanic" sank you were rowing towards those lights?
- I did not hear him say so, but -
12677. Would you think it would be true if he did?
- I should think quite likely.
12678. Had you heard the Officer who was in control at the time No. 1 emergency boat was lowered give instructions that the boat should remain within a certain distance of the sinking liner?
- No, I did not hear that. I said so, I think.
12679. Would it be right to say that from the moment you got into the emergency boat the boat proceeded away from the "Titanic" and in the direction of those lights?
- I cannot say that. You see, it was pitch dark; when I say pitch dark there were stars, but it was complete darkness, and I did not know which way we were rowing.
12680. Did you hear any instructions given in the boat as to the direction which this boat should take?
- In what boat?
12681. The emergency boat?
- Did I hear it in the emergency boat?
- No, I heard no instructions at all. By whom?
12683. By any person?
- In the boat?
12685. Did you hear any suggestions made?
- What about?
12686. By any members of the crew or any of the passengers in the emergency boat to the coxswain as to the direction the boat should take?
- No, I do not think I did. There was one man, one of the passengers called out two or three times, "Let us go that way," "let us go the other;" but I do not think any notice was taken of it.
12687. "Let us go that way and let us go the other"?
- I heard him through the night.
12688. Now we have it that a suggestion was actually made in the boat after the boat was lowered as to the direction in which the boat should go?
- No, I cannot say it was a suggestion. The man said "There is a light there; go after that." I think no attention was paid to him at all.
12689. Was this a suggestion made by the man in the bow of the boat?
- No, it was not; he was not in the bow of the boat.
12690. Where was the man sitting who made the suggestion?
- The man who kept calling out those things?
12691. Yes, as to the direction that the boat should go?
- Where was he sitting?
- He was sitting two seats in front of me, he was sitting in the seat nearest the stern with his back to the stern; he was sitting facing.
12693. With his back to the stern?
12694. Was that the man who was steering?
12695. With his back to the stern?
- He was sitting in the seat.
12696. With his back to the stern?
12697. Was any reply made to that man when it was suggested going in a particular direction?
- No, I think no notice was taken.
12698. Did you hear anything said?
12699. You said nothing?
- No. I said nothing. How do mean, I said nothing?
12700. Did you give no answer?
- It was going on all night; it was not once he said it.
12701. Was an instruction given or did you hear anything said shortly after the "Titanic" went down?
- No, I do not think anything was said then.
12702. Was it an answer to this suggestion of his as to the direction in which the boat should go that you said "I will give you a fiver"?
- I really do not understand your question. You must put it plainly.
12703. Yes, I will put it quite distinctly. An instruction, or rather an observation was made by someone, that the emergency boat should go in a particular direction. Is not that so?
- That was going on all the later part of the night by this man, yes, continually.