British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 12

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

13923. Did you order him into the boat?
- I did.

13924. Very well. Now that is No. 6. I think that fairly gives us what you know about No. 6. There is nothing you want to add to it?
- No, I do not think there is anything further to add.

13925. What is the next one that you dealt with?
- Well, it was a boat further aft on the port side; its actual number I really could not say with accuracy. I am under the impression it was No. 8.

13926. Up to now, as I follow you, No. 4 has been lowered down to A deck?
- Yes.

13927. That is all that has happened to it?
- Yes.

13928. Just tell us in order what boat you dealt with next. It was No. 8 you think?
- I think it was No. 8.

13929. (The Solicitor-General.) This is a boat, My Lord, about which we have not really as yet called any evidence. We have one man coming, if need be. (To the witness.) Was the same course followed about No. 8?
- Yes. I think, if I remember rightly, at No. 8 I left the lowering to the chief. He came along and, of course, being Senior Officer, took charge, and so I went then, I think, to No. 4 to complete the launching of No. 4.

13930. And I think you have told us it was the Chief Officer who gave this order to the passengers to go over to the starboard side?
- Yes.

13931. As far as you recollect, was it you or was it he who determined how many people should go into this next boat, No. 8?
- If it was No. 8 that the Chief Officer came to, I left it to him. I am afraid I cannot say with any degree of accuracy. If I was there I would decide who was to go in, and if he was there superintending he would naturally. I think it was No. 8 the Chief came to.

13932. Were there still women on the boat deck?
- Yes.

13933. And was this general order that women and children should be dealt with first still observed?
- Yes.

13934. Was the discipline good?
- Excellent.

13935. The men passengers behaving themselves well?
- Splendidly.

13936. Will you just take us to the next point after this boat No. 8. It was No. 8?
- Yes. From there I went to No. 4.

13937. That is, returning?
- Returning forward, down on to A deck. The windows were down. I placed some chairs against the window and formed a step, and standing outside myself, the same order was proceeded with, except that the boat was triced right close into the wire.

13938. You were able to pull it in?
- Yes, and make it fast right into the wire.

13939. You were dealing with the boat hanging on the port side. Did you notice whether the list was serious?
- It could not have been serious.

13940. Not even then?
- No; because I was able to stand with one foot on the ship and one foot on the boat. Had the list been serious, the boat hanging on the davits from the boat deck down to A deck, it would have been too far away for me to stride the distance.

13941. (The Commissioner.) You could stride from the "Titanic" to the hanging boat?
- Yes.

13942. There could have been scarcely any list at all?
- Very little.

13943. No perceptible list?
- Very little. I think the ship righted. When the order was given to the passengers to go to the starboard side I am under the impression that a great many went over and the ship got a righting movement and maintained it, and then the passengers came back again in great numbers.

13944. You mean to say the shifting of the passengers on the deck would affect the list?
- Yes, My Lord. At that height, and with that number of passengers, I think it would. Mr. Wilding would be able to decide that.

13945. It would have a very small effect, would it not?
- I am under the impression the fact of her being low down in the water and the stern higher out of the water it would have more effect than if she were on an even keel under ordinary circumstances.

13946. Surely it would have more effect if she were high up out of the water?
- I may be wrong, My Lord, but I think it would have more effect with her head down in the water and her stern out - suspended amidships.

13947. It was so slight that you could stretch with your legs from the deck of the "Titanic" to the hanging out boat?
- Yes.

13948. (The Solicitor-General.) Were you able to do that before the boat was drawn in and triced to the wire?
- I was.

13949. Were women and children helped into No. 4?
- Yes, through the windows.

The Solicitor-General:
From A deck. Boat No. 4, My Lord, is the boat in which a man named Scott and a man named Ranger ultimately got. It is the boat, if your Lordship remembers, which came back and those two men at the last moment slipped down the falls from the davits on the afterend and got into this boat, and their evidence is that there were 40 people in the boat.

The Commissioner:
Yes, I have taken it down as 42, I think.

13950. (The Solicitor-General.) No, My Lord, I have finished with No. 6, which was 42, and I am now speaking of No. 4. It may be that there were 40 women and two seamen, but I am speaking of No. 4 now.

The Witness:
May I ask when these men say they got into the boat.

13951. Yes. You did not order them in. There are two Witnesses who say that at the last moment (they were two greasers.) they climbed down the falls from the davits at the afterend?
- The afterend of the boat deck?

13952. Yes?
- Not on the falls from which the boat was hanging?

13953. No, and No. 4 had come round and picked them up. What I want to call your attention to is that there were 40 people, there or thereabouts in boat No. 4 which is a full size lifeboat. Did you decide when the boat was full enough to be lowered down?
- Yes.

13954. In your judgment had you filled it as full as you safely could?
- Yes.

13955. So that it was not lowered down until you gave directions that it should be?
- No.

13956. (The Solicitor-General.) If your Lordship cares to have the reference, Scott will be found at page 130, and Ranger deals with the number on page 104. (To the witness.) Now we have got rid of No. 6 and what you think was No. 8 and No. 4. What was the next one to which you directed your attention?
- The collapsible boat.

13957. (The Commissioner.) You had ordered the gangway to be lower, as I understand?
- What gangway, My Lord?

13958. The gangway in the forward part of the ship?
- I had ordered the doors to be opened.

13959. Well, that is what I mean. You had ordered the gangway doors to be opened?
- Yes.

13960. And the gangway to be lowered from that point?
- If there were sufficient time. We had a companion ladder.

13961. I do not see what is the use of the door if you do not lower the gangway?
- We should probably lower the rope ladder; that was our idea.

13962. That is the same thing as a gangway. You would provide some sort of communication between the opening of the door and the boat in the water below?
- Exactly.

13963. Whether it was a gangway or a rope ladder, it does not matter. You had ordered this door to be opened?
- Yes.

13964. There was no use having that open unless there was some sort of gangway?
- No.

13965. Now, was that for the purpose of putting more people into the boats as soon as they become water-borne?
- Yes.

13966. Was that the object?
- That was the object.

13967. Now I want to ask you this question. I think you have been asked it already. Did you give any directions (I think you said you did not remember.) to the boats to remain about the gangway door?
- No, My Lord.

13968. You did not?
- Not that I remember.

13969. You do not remember?
- Not that I remember.

13970. Would they then know that those gangway doors would be open - would the men in the boat know that those gangway doors would be open?
- Hanging about the ship they could not very well fail to see if the gangway doors were open - the light shining through, the blaze of lights; and they would very soon be hailed by people at the gangway doors. The boatswain was down there. He has to use a little common sense as well, and when he has opened the gangway door he would naturally hail a boat, and tell them "starboard gangway door open," "the port gangway door open," and so let them know. On a calm night like that your Lordship will know the voice will carry a long way.

13971. You put as many into No. 4 boat as you thought safe?
- Yes.

13972. That was about 40. We know some of the boats carried considerably more than 40?
- 65.

13973. Would the men in the boat to whom you had said, "That boat is full; lower her," know that she was capable of taking more when she became water borne?
- Yes, My Lord.

13974. They would know?
- They would know.

13975. (The Solicitor-General.) Had you given orders for these boats to remain within hail?
- Not that I remember. If a man asked me going away it is quite likely that I should, but I cannot say with distinctness that I did give the order.

13976. You were calling attention to this light on your port bow?
- Yes.

13977. At any rate you were calling the passengers' attention to it?
- Yes.

13978. Cannot you help us. Did you or did you not give any directions to these boats which might be taken to mean that they were to row to the light?
- No.

13979. Were they to go away or were they to stay by the ship?
- No, I cannot remember giving the boats any directions at all.

13980. You were saying that after No. 6 and No. 8 and No. 4 you then went to one of the collapsible boats?
- Yes.

13981. Which one was it?
- The port collapsible boat underneath the emergency davits.

13982. That is not the one which was on the deck of the Officers' house?
- No.

13983. But it is the one immediately behind the emergency boat, on the port side?
- Yes.

13984. Now tell us in order what you did about this collapsible boat?
- The tackles were already rounded up when I got on the boat deck; we lifted the gunwale of the boat, which opens it up, hooked on the tackles, put it over the side; Mr. Wilde was there too at this time.

13985. And you were helping as well?
- Yes.

13986. Did you use the rope falls that were on the davits?
- Yes.

13987. At this time was the emergency boat, which was swung out on the port side, No. 2, gone?
- That had gone.

13988. Had you had nothing to do with that No. 2 boat going?
- Nothing.

13989. And you know nothing about that boat?
- I know nothing about that boat.

13990. There would be the davits, and this collapsible boat a little way behind?
- Yes.

13991. And you used the same falls, did you?
- Yes.

13992. Did you get the collapsible boat swung out?
- Yes, swung out and loaded up.

13993. Was it a piece of work that was easily done?
- Nothing very difficult about it, except you just work your davits in. It is not difficult. It takes a little time to swing your davits in and hook on.

13994. And so you got her swung out?
- Yes.

13995. And ready, I suppose, to take people into her?
- Yes.

13996. Was she filled? What happened?
- We had very great difficulty in filling her with women. As far as I remember she was eventually filled, but we experienced considerable difficulty. Two or three times we had to wait, and call out for women - in fact, I think on one - perhaps two - occasions, someone standing close to the boat said, "Oh, there are no more women," and with that several men commenced to climb in. Just then, or a moment afterwards, whilst they were still climbing in, someone sang out on the deck, "Here are a couple more." Naturally, I judged they were women.

13997. That meant a couple more women?
- Yes, and the men got out of the boat again and put the women in. If I am quite right, I think this happened on two occasions?

13998. You say the men got out of the boat. Do you mean men passengers?
- I really could not say.

13999. They gave up their places?
- Yes.

14000. When that boat was filled she contained some men and some women, of course?
- No men that I know of.

14001. Ultimately she was filled with women, the collapsible boat?
- Yes, I believe it was a new boat, where a couple of Phillipinos or Chinese got in; they stowed away under the thwarts or something. But for that there were no men except crew - except the men I ordered in.

14002. Do you know how many people got into that collapsible boat?
- I could not say.

14003. Did you fill her?
- Yes, I filled her as full as I could.

14004. When that boat was filled ready to go away, as far as you could ascertain were there any other women thereabouts?
- None whatever. I am under the impression that I could have put more in that boat and could have put some men in, but I did not feel justified in giving an order for men to get into the boat, as it was the last boat as far as I knew leaving the ship, and I thought it better to get her into the water safely with the number she had in; or, in other words, I did not want the boat to be rushed.

14005. Were there men passengers about?
- There were plenty of people about, no doubt men passengers.

14006. Was good order being maintained then?
- Splendid.

14007. And was there any attempt to rush that boat at all?
- None whatever, but the men commenced to climb in when they heard there were no more women.

14008. You have described that, and you say they got out again?
- Yes; without that there was nothing.

14009. You used an expression just now that as far as you knew it was the last boat to leave the ship. Can you tell us, had you been able to observe during all this time what was happening to the boats on the starboard side?
- No, no sign of the starboard side. You cannot see across.

14010. That means you cannot tell?
- No, I know nothing about the starboard side.

14011. (The Commissioner.) Do you mean she was the last boat to leave the ship from the port side?
- The last boat launched from the port side. There was still one on the top of the quarters, but she was not launched, as a matter of fact.

14012. That was another collapsible boat on the top of the Officers' quarters?
- Yes.

14013. That is what you mean, that she was the last boat to leave from the port side?
- Yes.

14014. (The Solicitor-General.) Let us exhaust that to be sure. You have spoken of four lifeboats that were in the forward part of the port side. What about the four other lifeboats which were on the afterpart of the port side - Nos. 10, 12, 14 and 16?
- When I went forward to No. 4 boat all the lifeboats were away on the port side with the exception of that one. Whether the last boat that I went to was No. 8 or No. 10 I cannot say. But it is sufficient there was no further need for me on the afterend of that deck; I went forward to No. 4 and that was the last lifeboat.

14015. That means that Nos. 10, 12, 14 and 16 had gone?
- Yes.

14016. Can you give us any help as to the order that the boats on the afterpart of the starboard side had gone in?
- No, I know nothing whatever about it.

14017. Then your evidence as to the order of the boats is limited to the port side?
- Only to the port side.

14018. You did order this collapsible boat on the port side to be lowered down from the davits?
- Yes.

14019. Did you notice how far she had to drop to get to the water?
- Yes.

14020. Now how far had she to drop?
- Ten feet.

14021. Is that ten feet from the rail of the boat deck?
- Ten feet from where that emergency boat is hanging now. (Pointing on the model.)

14022. And there she met the water?
- Yes.

14023. (The Commissioner.) The fore part of the ship must have been under water?
- A deck was under water.

14024. And the bridge must have been under water?
- Almost immediately afterwards the water came from the stairway. There is a little stairway goes down here just abaft the bridge, which goes right down here and comes out on this deck for the use of the crew only and it was almost immediately after that the water came up that stairway on to the boat deck.

14025. (The Solicitor-General.) When you were filling that collapsible boat and preparing it to go, had you noticed that the water was over the bows of the ship?
- I could not say the bows of the ship but I could see it coming up the stairway.

14026. You noticed that?
- Yes.

14027. And the other people on the boat deck could see that too?
- If they looked down the stairway, yes.

14028. There was good order you say up to the last?
- Splendid.

14029. (The Solicitor-General.) My Lord, there is a little evidence about this boat. It is a man named Lucas. Your Lordship will find Lucas begins on page 49, and the facts about it are given on page 51. Lucas says that No. 16, which was the aftermost boat on the port side, had gone, and was, of the lifeboats on that side, the last to go. Then he says at Question 1518: "(Q.) What did you do then? - (A.) I went over to the starboard side to see if there was any more boats there. There were no more boats there, so I came back, and the boat was riding off the deck then. The water was up under the bridge then. The ladies sung out there was no sailor in the boat and no plugs, so I was a sailor, and I jumped into the boat." He points to the place where it is, and says it is "a surf boat; they call them collapsible boats." Your Lordship will see in the next column, at Question 1538: "(Q.) Who got into her? - (A.) About 40 women;" and then he says: "I found three men in the boat afterwards." Apparently they were the two.
- Hardy was one I ordered in, I remember - a steward.

14030. He says two foreign passengers?
- Those were the ones I heard about afterwards.

14031. You did not know they had got in?
- No, I did not.

14032. They apparently were hiding. Then as far as you knew was there no man except the sailors in any of the boats which you saw lowered?
- None, with the one exception of the passenger I ordered in, Major Peuchen.

14033. You ordered him in?
- Yes.

14034. That applies to Nos. 4, 6 and 8?
- Whatever boats I worked at.

14035. Had you time to do anything more after you got that collapsible boat afloat?
- I called for men to go up on the deck of the quarters for the collapsible boat up there. The afterend of the boat was underneath the funnel guy. I told them to swing the afterend up. There was no time to open her up and cut the lashings adrift. Hemming was the man with me there, and they then swung her round over the edge of the coamings to the upper deck, and then let her down on to the boat deck. That is the last I saw of her for a little while.

14036. There was no time to open her up at all?
- No, the water was then on the boat deck.

14037. Can you tell us, this last one you speak of, whether there was time to open her; was she ever really cast clear of the ship? She would be lashed, of course, to something or other. Were her lashings cut away?
- Her lashings would be cut away before we could get her off the side of the house and put her on the deck.

14039. That shows she was free of the ship?
- Free of the ship.

14039a. We have to piece it out. We have some evidence about one collapsible boat, that the after-fall was cut, and it was doubtful whether the other one was cut. This boat, I understand, was never put on the falls at all?
- The one I am speaking of?

14040. Yes?
- No, it was not put on the falls at all.

14041. Then there would be no occasion to cut that away?
- None whatever.

14042. Could you see which of the two this was, because there are two on the deck house, are not there?
- One on each side, yes.

14043. Which of the two was it - which side?
- The port side.

14044. That is the one you are speaking of?
- Yes.

14045. You say it was pushed on to the boat deck, and the boat deck was awash?
- Yes.

14046. Could you see by that time whether there was any time to get her to the falls or not?
- Oh, no, no time.

14047. Then tell us your last minute or two on the ship. What did you do?
- I went across to the starboard side of the Officers' quarters, on the top of the Officers' quarters, to see if I could do anything on the starboard side. Well, I could not.

14048. And coming over to the starboard side on the roof of the Officers' quarters, could you see any other Officers?
- I saw the first Officer working at the falls of the starboard emergency boat, obviously with the intention of overhauling them and hooking on to the collapsible boat on their side.

14049. The other collapsible boat?
- Yes.

14050. That would be Mr. Murdoch?
- Yes.

14051. Were there others with him helping?
- There were a number round there helping.

14052. Then what happened?
- Well, she seemed to take a bit of a dive, and I just walked into the water.

14053. Had you got a lifebelt?
- I had.

14054. You had better just tell us what your own experiences were. What happened to you?
- Well, I was swimming out towards the head of the ship, the crow's-nest. I could see the crow's-nest. The water was intensely cold, and one's natural instinct was to try to get out of the water. I do not know whether I swam to the foremast with that idea, but of course I soon realised it was rather foolish, so I turned to swim across clear of the ship to starboard. The next thing I knew I was up against that blower on the fore part of the funnel. There is a grating.

14055. Just show us what it is?
- (The witness pointed on the model.) The fore part of the funnel, the same as the one on the afterpart here.

14056. Was it the platform?
- The platform goes right down the stokehold; the one coming along shoots right down into the stokehold.

14057. You found yourself against that?
- Yes, the water rushing down held me there a little while. The water was rushing down this blower.

14058. Did it drag you against it?
- It held me against the blower.

14059. Against the mouth of it?
- Yes. After a while there seemed to be a rush of air from down below, and I was blown away from it.

14060. Air coming out of the ship, as it were?
- Yes.

14061. Had you been dragged below the surface?
- Yes.

14062. Have you any idea, were you dragged a long way down?
- It seemed a good long while; I do not suppose it was many moments, though.

14063. Then you came up to the surface?
- Yes.

14064. (The Commissioner.) Can you swim with these lifebelts on?
- There is no necessity to swim; you can paddle, they hold you high in the water.

14065. You cannot sink, I understand; but can you swim?
- You can paddle along; you cannot swim because you cannot get your breast deep down in the water.

14066. You cannot swim as well with a lifebelt on as you can without?
- Not nearly. I may say that I have heard since that the gymnasium instructor refused to put one on for that reason. He could swim far better and get clear of people and things without it.

14067. The man who can swim well is far better off without the lifebelt?
- As far as the swimming goes, except that if you are taken below the surface it brings you up much quicker.

14068. (The Solicitor-General.) When you came up where did you find yourself?
- I found myself alongside of the collapsible boat, which I had previously launched on the port side, the one I had thrown on to the boat deck.

14069. The one still shut up?
- Yes, still shut up, bottom up.

14070. Were you able to make use of it to clamber on to it?
- Not at that time. I just held on to something, a piece of rope or something, and was there for a little while, and then the forward funnel fell down. It fell within 3 or 4 inches of the boat. It lifted the boat bodily and threw her about 20 feet clear of the ship as near as I could judge.

14071. Did you notice when you came up to the surface and found this collapsible boat near you whether the whole of the ship had disappeared?
- Oh, no.

14072. She had not?
- No. The forward funnel was still there - all the funnels were above water.

14073. (The Commissioner.) When you first came up?
- When I first came up.

14074. (The Solicitor-General.) I do not know whether you can help us at all in describing what happened to the ship. You were engaged and had other things to think about; but what did happen to the ship? Can you tell us at all?
- Are you referring to the reports of the ship breaking in two?

14075. Yes?
- It is utterly untrue. The ship did not and could not have broken in two.

14076. (The Commissioner.) If you saw it - if you saw what happened, tell us what it was?
- After the funnel fell there was some little time elapsed. I do not know exactly what came or went, but the next thing I remember I was alongside this collapsible boat again, and there were about half a dozen standing on it. I climbed on it, and then turned my attention to the ship. The third if not the second funnel was still visible, certainly the third funnel was still visible. The stern was then clear of the water.

14077. Which do you call the second and third?
- Numbering them from forward, My Lord.

14078. The second was visible?
- The third was visible - I am not sure if the second was visible, but I am certain the third was visible, and she was gradually raising her stern out of the water. Even at that time I think the propellers were clear of the water. That I will not be certain of.

14079. Had the funnel broken away?
- Only the forward one.

14080. But you are not sure about the second one?
- I am not sure whether that was below water or not, that I cannot say.

14081. That is what I mean. I want to know from you. Was it below water in the sense that the ship had sunk so as to immerse it in the water, or had it broken adrift?
- No, the second funnel was immersed.

14082. It appears to me, looking at that model, that if that was so the stern must have been very well up in the air?
- Well, I daresay it was, My Lord; it would be.

14083. And the propellers all visible?
- Yes, clear of the water. That is my impression.

14084. (The Solicitor-General.) When you say the third funnel was visible I understand you to mean part of it?
- Yes, some part of the funnel. As a matter of fact, I am rather under the impression that the whole of the third funnel was visible.

The Commissioner:
Is it possible to turn that model so that we could see what the position of the ship would be?

The Solicitor-General:
I understand it cannot be tipped in that way.

14084a. (The Commissioner.) It seems to me the ship would be almost perpendicular?
- She did eventually attain the absolutely perpendicular.

The Solicitor-General:
Perhaps this profile will help you. (Handing the same to the witness.)

14085. (The Commissioner.) Just take that, and turn that little wooden model into the position. Now the book you have here represents the waterline?
- Yes. (The witness indicated the position with the small profile model.)

Continued >