British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 11

Testimony of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, cont.

12704. Before the "Titanic" went down?
- No, no, no.

12705. After the "Titanic" went down?
- Yes, I really do not know, it seemed to be most of the time. He called "Boat ahoy," and so on.

12706. The question I put to you is this: When you first heard this observation made with reference to the direction in which this emergency boat should go, was it then, 20 minutes after the "Titanic" sank, that you suggested that you would give them a fiver each?
- No, I see what you mean now. No, it was not; not in any connection with it. The man calling out to go this way and that had no effect, I think on anybody, nor on this subject at all. It had nothing to do with it.

The Commissioner:
If you will put your question plainly it would perhaps be understood better. Your question, as I understand it, really is this: "Did you promise a £5 note in order to induce the men in the boat to row away from the drowning people?" That is what you want to ask.

Mr. Harbinson:
That is the effect of it.

The Commissioner:
Well, why do you not put it in plain words.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

12707. As I understand, your version of what took place on the boat deck as this; that you and Lady Duff-Gordon were standing there for some time; that there was an attempt made to induce Lady Duff-Gordon to get into one of the three lifeboats; that she refused, and that you saw those three lifeboats lowered. Will you explain why Symons, the captain of your boat, states that just before the boat was lowered the two ladies rushed from the saloon deck by themselves and asked if they could get into the boat, and that then you and the two other men passengers rushed and also asked if you could get in?
- No, it is quite incorrect, the whole thing.

12708. It is incorrect?
- Yes.

12709. Symons has made a mistake if you are right?
- I did not know he had said that, but I daresay.

12710. This is what Symons said at question 11454, on the 10th day, at page 256: "As he gave orders I" - that is Symons - "saw two ladies come running out of the foremost end of the top saloon deck, running towards the boat, and from there they asked Mr. Murdoch if they could get into that boat, and Mr. Murdoch said 'Yes, jump in,' and then, after that, I saw three gentlemen come running up, and they asked if they could get into the boat, and he said, 'Yes, jump in.'" That is incorrect?
- Yes, that is quite a wrong story altogether.

12711. When you were in the boat, when the "Titanic" had gone down, you were so absorbed in paying attention to your wife that you could not think whether you ought to go back to the drowning people or not?
- Well, you may put it in that way.

12712. I do not want in the least bit to misrepresent you: I think that is the way in which you put it on Friday?
- No; I do not think I put it like that, but I was naturally absorbed as you say.

12713. You were asked, "Did it occur to you that with the room in your boat, if you could get to these people you could save some?
- (A.) It is difficult to say what occurred to me. Again, I was minding my wife, and we were rather in an abnormal condition, you know. There were many things to think about."?
- Yes.

12714. Does it occur to you that if it were perfectly natural, as you have said, to think of offering the sailors five pounds to replace their kit, it might have been equally natural, even though you were absorbed in your attentions to your wife, to think that there was some possibility of saving some of those poor people?
- As I say, the possibility of being able to help I do not think occurred to anybody.

12715. Why do you suggest that it was more natural to think of offering men five pounds to replace their kit than to think of those screaming people who were drowning?
- I do not suggest anything of the sort.

12716. Do you think it was natural then not to think of rescuing those people who were drowning?
- It is a difficult question to answer if you put it like that. At the time I saw no possibility - I thought there was no possibility of doing so.

12717. I will put it. Do you still think that it was natural not to think about going back and saving some of those people?
- I think it was still natural, but I concede that it would have been a very splendid thing if it could have been done.

12718. If it did not occur to you that you yourselves might go back with the few people in your boat, did it occur to you that you might have gone back to some of the other boats and put your passengers off so as to have had a free boat to do some rescuing?
- No, it did not occur to me.

12719. That did not occur to you?
- No.

12720. Did you come in sight of any of the other boats?
- Not at that time, I think; one could hear them.

12721. What do you mean by that - you could hear them?
- You could hear the oars moving all round us.

12722. Did you hail any other boat?
- No, with the exception of what I said, that somebody said "Boat ahoy!" on many occasions.

12723. In your boat?
- Yes.

12724. Is it not the fact that a man in charge of another boat hailed your boat?
- No, not that I know of.

12725. Well, you know we have it here in evidence that the captain of one of the boats, No. 13, hailed your boat because he saw that there were very few people in it. You did not hear that hailing?
- No, that is the first I have heard of it.

12726. Now, you have said that the first mention of this money was some 20 minutes or half-an-hour after the ship went down. Was it made to one or to two members of your boat's crew?
- I made it to the lot of them, of course.

Can you explain why the man sitting alongside of you should come here and say that nothing was said about money until you got aboard the "Carpathia"?

The Commissioner:
I do not think you can ask this gentleman to account for the motives which induced other Witnesses to make statements; you cannot inquire into that.

12727. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Do you think there can be any doubt that the man who sat immediately alongside you heard your offer of £5? Do you think there can be any doubt?
- No, none, of course.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

12728. You have had some of the evidence of the witness Symons read out to you, in which reference was made to Mr. Murdoch. Did you see Mr. Murdoch on the deck that night?
- I did not know any one of the Officers by sight at all. I know none.

12729. Did you see the captain anywhere about when your boat was lowered?
- No.

12730. After your boat had left the ship did you hear any orders given by megaphone?
- No.

12731. Did you hear anything said about gangways as your boat was being lowered?
- No, I heard nothing.

12732. Had you seen the people being put into boats No. 5 and No. 3?
- I had not seen them, because I was leaning at the back of the crowd. I was leaning against the deckhouse, but I knew they were being put in.

12733. Was there some difficulty in getting them to go into the boat?
- I could not see that.

12734. Could you see whether anyone had to be forced to go into the boat?
- No, I could see none of them. I was standing right back.

12735. But so far as you could see there were no people left on that deck, in fact, at the time when you got into the boat?
- No, except a few of the crew.

12736. The crew who were lowering the boat?
- Yes.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

12737. Have you seen the evidence of the witness Hendrickson?
- Yes.

12738. When Hendrickson states that he suggested you should go back, did you hear that?
- No.

12739. You did not hear him make that suggestion?
- No.

12740. And he states that Lady Duff-Gordon objected to go back; is that true or untrue?
- It is untrue. What do you mean? Will you say it again?

12741. He said he suggested that they should go back and try to save somebody?
- Yes.

12742. And he also said that Lady Duff-Gordon objected and said the boat would be swamped, and he also stated that you upheld Lady Duff-Gordon's objection. Is that true or untrue?
- It is not true.

12743. Do you know the man Taylor?
- Yes.

12744. He sat next to you in the boat?
- Apparently; I do not know that yet.

12745. He states he sat next to you in the boat?
- Yes.

12746. And you had a conversation with him in the boat?
- Did I?

12747. He said so?
- I think I had a conversation with the man next to me. Taylor said he did not have a conversation of the sort with me.

12748. Taylor admits he had a conversation with you?
- Here?

12749. Yes, here?
- Oh, I was referring rather to this conversation about the £5 note.

12750. What I am trying to point out is this: Taylor was the man who sat next to you?
- Was he?

12751. Yes?
- I daresay I cannot say; it was pitch dark; I cannot say at all.

12752. He knew you, if you did not know him?
- He said he did not, I remember.

12753. Yes, he said he knew you at the time. He did not know Lady Duff-Gordon until afterwards. She was pointed out to him, and now he knows her?
- Oh!

He states he heard her say that the boat would be swamped if it went back.

The Commissioner:
He said he did not know who it was.

Mr. Cotter:
But later he did, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Then he gave two inconsistent answers, because I read here "was there anybody else on the same thwart as you? - (A.) Yes, a gentleman passenger. (Q.) You would not know at the time, but do you know now who it was? - (A.) No. (Q.) Do you know now it was Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon? - (A.) I understand it is that gentleman now, but I did not think at the time." You should be careful not to assume that people said things when in fact they did not say them.

Mr. Cotter:
I have it here, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Then will you read it.

Mr. Cotter:
At page 272, question 12250, I asked, "Who was seasick" and the reply was "Lady Duff-Gordon."

The Commissioner:

Mr. Cotter:
And I asked him then, "How do you know it was Lady Duff-Gordon; you have told us you do not know her? - (A.) I told that gentleman there (Pointing.) that I was told afterwards that it was Lady Duff-Gordon. (Q.) You were told afterwards it was? - (A.) Yes, I told that gentleman there. (Q.) Was that the lady who objected to the boat going back? - (A.) The lady that spoke of its being swamped. (Q.) Was that the lady? - (A.) Yes."

The Commissioner:
Your statement to this Witness was that he knew Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon when he was in the boat, and he did not. He says he did not. I am talking about Taylor.

Mr. Cotter:
Taylor knows now it was.

The Commissioner:
Yes, but that is a very different thing from knowing it when he was in the boat.

12754. (Mr. Cotter.) When Taylor states that Lady Duff-Gordon made that statement it is untrue?
- Yes.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

12755. You said in your evidence you were watching the "Titanic" until she sank, is that so?
- Well, practically so, yes.

12756. And there was dead silence?
- I cannot hear you.

12757. And there was dead silence when she went down?
- There was silence when she went down, yes.

12758. Could you hear cries very distinctly?
- No, not very distinctly.

12759. Might cries have lasted for an hour?
- I do not think so at all.

12760. Were you close enough to hear anyone say there "My God, My God"?
- No; that you have taken no doubt out of that story.

12761. This I take from the "Evening Herald"?
- It is in the same story; I remember the words.

12762. I am not quite clear as to your answer to Mr. Cotter or Mr. Edwards as to the approach of the lifeboats. Did you see the other boats or merely hear them rowing after the "Titanic" had sunk?
- I said we heard boats round us.

12763. Could you hear them rowing?
- You could hear a boat rowing, yes.

12764. Supposing anyone had hailed that boat, could you have heard?
- That I cannot say.

The Commissioner:
Could he have done what?

12765. (Mr. Lewis.) Could he have heard if anyone had hailed the boat?
- I should think so.

12766. I understand you to say you did not hear anybody say, "We are full up" on your boat?
- I have not heard that remark at all yet - about being full up.

12767. Did you hear any other remark, such as "Do not go near that boat, they might jump on ours"?
- No, I do not think so. When was this? I do not know when you are talking about.

12768. I am talking about after the "Titanic" had gone down, and you were rowing about in your boat. I suggest you were approached by other boats?
- We approached one other boat just before we sighted the "Carpathia." It was early morning. Before it was light we came up close to it. We saw it, and very naturally rowed towards it to keep company, so as not to be left, and there was a conversation between a man in our boat and one of the crew in their boat. He called out "Who have you got there," and he answered and said whom had he got there.

12769. You do not remember being hailed and asked if you had room in that boat for more?
- No, no, no; we were not, certainly.

12770. And you do not remember anyone saying "Do not go near the boat they might jump on ours"?
- No, I do not think so.

The Commissioner:
Is this all out of some newspaper?

Mr. Lewis:
No, My Lord.

Examined by Mr. DUKE.

Mr. Duke:
I think there is no one else to cross-examine?

The Commissioner:

12771. (Mr. Duke - To the witness.) I shall not ask you many questions, Sir Cosmo. I will ask you first of all with regard to those reports which were set on foot in America. Were there great numbers of them?
- Yes, there were.

12772. And did you see many of them?
- Yes.

12773. So far as you saw were they true or were they inventions?
- They were all inventions.

12774. Did they report interviews with Lady Duff-Gordon?
- Yes.

12775. Did you know whether they had taken place or not?
- I knew they had not.

12776. You have been asked a great many questions today to which I think you have said that that was what was said in those papers?
- Yes.

12777. Now I come back to the real matter. First of all, will you bring your mind as closely as you can to the time before the emergency boat was launched?
- Yes.

12778. How many lifeboats were launched in your presence?
- Three.

12779. Had Lady Duff-Gordon an offer and pressure put upon her to go in each of those boats?
- In each or in two of them - I am not sure.

12780. Two you know of?
- Two I remember perfectly.

12781. And did she refuse to go?
- She absolutely refused.

12782. Had Miss FrancatellI the offer to go in each of those boats?
- Yes, on each occasion.

12783. Did she refuse?
- Yes, I asked her to go.

12784. And did you press your wife to go?
- No, I did not press her to go.

12785. A conversation took place between you and her?
- Yes.

12786. Now it is suggested, you know - perhaps you do not know - that there was some arrangement between the captain and Mr. Ismay and you by which a boat was to be put at your service. Is there a scrap of foundation for that?
- No.

12787. Had you ever had any conversation with Mr. Ismay?
- No.

12788. Down to the time this ship sank?
- Never at all in my life, I have not.

12789. Had you any conversation with the captain?
- Never.

12790. Was there any suggestion from you to anybody that either you or your wife or Miss Francatelli should be provided for in any boat up to the time you asked the Officer of the boat if you might go in?
- Never.

12791. Then it was suggested that Mrs. Astor was on board this boat. Is there any foundation for that at all in any way?
- None.

12792. Did you know anything as to the boat in which Mrs. Astor had gone?
- No, I did not.

12793. Just one question more with regard to all these matters. Was there anything in the nature of arrangement previous to your suggestion to the Officer - might you go in that boat?
- No, nothing.

12794. Now, with regard to the boat. At the time you got into it were you aware what amount of accommodation there was or was not in it?
- No; I only knew that it was not a lifeboat, and we were bundled in over the side, and every available or visible seat was occupied, and I was unable to sit next my wife, which I wished to do. I could see nothing. It was quite dark on the deck, and it was quite dark in the boat, but I remember those oars alongside, which I could clearly see would have made the boat -

12795. Which occupied part of the thwarts?
- I suppose the whole of the side seats. I did not know even that there were side seats.

12796. You do not suggest other than that there were additional places in that boat?
- Oh, yes, there were.

12797. I daresay when the daylight came you were able to see what the boat could have done?
- Yes.

12798. Now, with regard to an order given by the Officer, will you tell me again as nearly as you can recall it what it was you heard the Officer say to Symons with regard to the boat?
- It was my impression - I am not very sure of it - I understood it was, "Follow the other boats and row fast for the first 200 yards."

12799. That was your impression?
- That was my impression.

12800. Have you a distinct memory or not about that?
- No, that is what I thought it was.

12801. When the boat had started from the ship's side it rowed sharply for some distance?
- Yes.

12802. Then she rested?
- Yes.

How many starts and rowings and restings were there as far as you can recall, or can you recall, before the "Titanic" went down?

12803. (The Commissioner.) Can you recall anything about it in this connection?
- Yes, My Lord, I can recall that they stopped rowing several times and went on again, I daresay, five or six times, or four or five times.

12804. Did you count them?
- Oh, no.

12805. (Mr. Duke.) If I were to ask you if you had a vivid recollection of any of the events during the period after the boat had been launched and you were floated, what would your answer be?
- I should say, "No - nothing vivid." I do not think it is possible to have a vivid recollection under those circumstances.

12806. You told the Attorney-General what your impression was as to the distance you had reached from the ship?
- Yes.

12807. Do you profess to be certain about it or not?
- No, but I have been telling friends we were about a thousand yards off; it was my impression then, and it is still, I suppose.

12808. I want to ask you a question about the period after the "Titanic" had sunk. From what quarter of the sea, as far as you could judge, were cries coming? Was there a distinct locality from which you could judge the cries were coming or not?
- I think not.

12809. After the "Titanic" had sunk was there any object which would give you a mark or which would have given Symons a mark for rowing?
- No, everything was dark. We had been watching that.

12810. The sea was dark?
- The sea was dark.

12811. And it was dark in the boat?
- Quite dark in the boat.

12812. Are you able to say if there was any definite direction of rowing during the first hour after the "Titanic" had gone down?
- I do not think there was any definite order of rowing given at all. I did not hear.

12813. I did not mean by "direction" an order, but any definite direction?
- No.

12814. That is an apparent destination?
- No, I did not know of it.

12815. Up to the time when you had the conversation with the man who was beside you about his kit, had there been any suggestion from anybody as to what should be done with the boat?
- No.

12816. Or whether she should row?
- No, there was no suggestion at all.

12817. With regard to the sum of money you promised, have you told the Court the whole of the truth about that matter?
- I told the whole incident on Friday.

The Commissioner:
I should like you to ask him in what circumstances on board the "Carpathia" the money was given.

Mr. Duke:
I am obliged to your Lordship, and I will deal with it. May I just complete this matter?

The Commissioner:

12818. (Mr. Duke.) First of all with regard to the time you were in the boat, was anything going on at the time of the conversation with one of the men about his kit which had anything at all to do with the disposition of the boat?
- No, all was silence.

12819. You have told the Court that you do not know and you do not say it was Taylor. Were you sitting on the same seat during the whole time?
- I was, but the man next to me changed once in the middle of the row to the "Carpathia." It was a stiff row, and the man got up and changed. The man next to me got tired.

12820. And there was a change of men rowing?
- Yes.

12821. Was it before or after that change, as far as you are able to tell us, that the conversation took place about kits?
- Before.

12822. Now bring your mind to the time when the boat came to the side of the "Carpathia." At that time was there any one man in the boat whom you could have distinguished from any of the others?
- No.

12823. How did it come about that you distinguished Hendrickson from any other man in the boat?
- There was a hitch with one of the men getting up the ladder, and they had to send down a rope to pull him up, and the only man that was left in the boat with me was Hendrickson. I spoke to him then, and I said, "Are you the man who was sitting next to me?" I understood him to say, "Yes." I said, "All right," and he said "Yes," or something of that sort.

12824-5. And had you then a conversation in regard to getting the names, or was it subsequently?
- I think it was as soon as we got on board.

12826. Did Hendrickson give you some assistance in getting on board the "Carpathia"?
- Yes, he did.

12827. When you and he were both on board the "Carpathia" what next took place with regard to money?
- I said to him, "If you will get the men's names I will see that they get some money in a few days or give them a cheque shortly," or something of that sort.

12828. Did you say any more to him at that time?
- No. Oh, do you mean later?

12829. No, I mean on that occasion about money. At the time when you and he were both on the deck together?
- No.

12830. When was the next time you saw Hendrickson about the matter?
- I saw him, I think, the next day. He came up and drew my attention to himself. I told him to. He had given me a list the same day.

12831. Did he give you a list the same day?
- Yes, the same day.

12832. Some time on the same day as you went on board the "Carpathia" in the morning he brought you that list which I have handed in to my Lord?
- Yes.

12833. Did he tell you which he was in the list?
- Yes, I understood him to be Hendrickson.

12834. You told my Lord that he called attention to himself the next day, as you had bidden him do?
- Yes.

12835. He touched his cap to you?
- Yes.

12836. And did you have a conversation with him then about the matter?
- No, I do not think so. I think I said, "I have not got this; I will see you tomorrow or the next day."

12837. Now, on your way to New York did you cause miss FrancatellI to write out a form of cheque for each of those persons whose name was in the list?
- Yes.

12838. And did you sign those?
- Yes.

12839. I think you had not a book of cheques?
- No.

12840. And I think it is your common practice to draw cheques upon your bankers - Coutts, are they?
- Yes.

12841. Upon notepaper?
- Yes.

12842. Did Miss Francatelli write them?
- Yes.

12843. Did she give them to you?
- Yes.

12844. How did you get the men together?
- I went on to the deck just by the smoking-room and saw Hendrickson down below, and beckoned him up and told him to get all the men together, and when they were up there I just gave them each their cheque, asking each fellow what his name was.

12845. Whereabouts on board the "Carpathia" was that?
- That was on the deck just by the side of the smoking-room door.

12846. And was anything said as between you and those men when you were giving them each successively the cheque?
- Yes. I said, "I am sorry I cannot give you money; but if you had it, you would probably spend it all in New York, so it is just as well it should be in a cheque which will enable you to start your kit again." That is all I said to them.

12847. Did anything more take place with regard to the giving of these cheques?
- Well, when they were given, a friend of ours, a man we had met on board, came up and photographed the whole lot of us there, and I think one or two of the passengers snapshotted us.

12848. There were passengers with cameras?
- Yes.

12849. And there was some snapshotting going on?
- Yes. I think one was subsequently reproduced in a London paper in which Hendrickson happened to appear.

12850. Had he put on a lifebelt for the purpose of being photographed?
- Yes, he had.

12851. It is suggested that Mrs. Astor was in that boat. There is the reproduction of the photograph, and does it show at the bottom that the group includes Mrs. J. J. Astor. Just look at it and see (Handing photograph to Witness.)?
- Yes.

12852. (Mr. Duke.) It is in the sphere, Mr. Attorney. (To the witness.) It is quite a mistake, is it not. Who is the lady?
- That is Miss Francatelli.

12853. That is the lady who is identified as Mrs. Astor. Now I want to go back to the time you were in the boat. You have told me of a man who was in the boat. I think you said a passenger who was constantly calling out while you were on the sea, "Boat ahoy, we ought to go this way, we ought to go that way." Do you know who he was?
- Yes.

12854. Was he one of the other two men who had been passengers of the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

12855. Did anybody take any notice of those exclamations of his?
- No.

12856. Did they lead to any discussion either with Symons or Horswell or anybody else in the boat as far as you are aware?
- No.

12857. Did they have any effect at all on the course the boat took?
- Not the least.

12858. And from first to last from the time you and the other passengers were on board that boat, as far as you are aware, had anything that was said by any of you any effect on the direction taken by the boat?
- No, nothing.

The Commissioner:
Is there anything more, Mr. Duke?

12859. (Mr. Duke.) I think there is only one general question, My Lord. (To the witness.) So far as you were concerned, Sir Cosmo, when did the first suggestion reach you that you had failed to do in that boat anything you could have done?
- When I arrived at Fishguard last Monday night.

12860. And found that Hendrickson had made his statement?
- Yes. I was met there.

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

12861. One matter I want to ask you about. You heard a passenger talking, giving directions in the boat?
- Well, he was not giving directions, but he was saying, "Let us go here," and "Boat ahoy."

12862. Was there any conversation between him and you as to which way you should go?
- No, there was only one remark I made to him.

12863. What was that?
- To ask him to be quiet.

12864. Was that Mr. Stengel?
- Is it necessary to say who?

12865. Well, it is necessary, if you can. I do not know why you should not, if you can tell us. Can you tell us?
- I can, perfectly.

12866. Well, who was it?
- Yes, it was he.

12867. I asked you because I see he has been examined in America, and I want to call your attention to this statement of his. I am reading from the 30th April, My Lord, at page 14 of the Enquiry before the senate Commission. "Do you know who gave directions?
- (A.) I think between Sir duff-Gordon and myself we decided which way to go." That is what Mr. Stengel said?
- I think it is wrong.

12868. What?
- It is not the case. There was no question at all. I never spoke to the coxswain in any way to give him any directions.

The Attorney-General:
That is all I want to ask you.

The Commissioner:
Do you want to ask anything, Sir Robert?

Sir Robert Finlay:
No, My Lord.

(The Witness withdrew.)