British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 13

Testimony of Joseph G. Boxhall, cont.

15470. Were there other boats round about near yours?
- I could not see any boats, not when I had got so far away as that. Some of them had gone in a more northerly direction than I had gone.

15471. Did you go back at all towards the ship, when you heard those cries?
- No, I did not.

15472. Was any suggestion made of going back?
- There was a suggestion made. I spoke about going back to the sailor-man that was in the boat - that was whilst I was pulling round the stern - about going back to the ship, and then I decided that it was very unwise to have attempted it. So we pulled away, and then we did not pull back at all.

15473. (The Commissioner.) What did you intend to go back to the ship for?
- I intended to go back to try and obey orders that I heard given through the megaphone.

15474. Was that to stand by the gangway door or what?
- I do not know whether it was to stand by the gangway door; I do not remember any gangway doors being open.

15475. What were the orders?
- Just simply to come round to the starboard side.

15476. Why was it dangerous to try to do that; was it the suction?
- The suction and the chance of the boat, by not being properly manned, being rushed and losing everybody in the boat. I did not think it was possible to get any more than three people in the boat.

15477. Three more people?
- Yes, I thought I could get about three more in, and that is all. I gave the men orders I intended to put the boat bow-on to the ship, and I gave orders to back water as soon as I told them.

15478. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) So you did not go back?
- No.

15479. Did not you see anyone in the water at all?
- No, there was no one in the water at all.

15480. Did you see people in the water later?
- No, I did not see anyone in the water at all.

15481. You never picked anyone up?
- No, I did not.

15482. Did you meet with any of the other boats later on?
- I did not see any boat near us, although I was showing these green lights occasionally, with the intention of getting all the boats together. There was not a boat anywhere near us. I did not see any. I was the first boat picked up on board the "Carpathia."

15483. You were the first picked up?
- Yes; he saw our green lights and steamed down for them.

15484. Did you watch all the other boats being picked up after you got on board the "Carpathia"?
- I was down in the other boats. I suppose a good half-an-hour had elapsed before any of the other boats were there.

15485. Can you tell us how many boats were picked up by the "Carpathia"?
- No, I did not count them. They counted them, but all our boats were picked up with the exception of the one collapsible boat, where the crew were taken out of her in a sinking condition.

15486. One collapsible boat and two lifeboats, did you say?
- Yes.

15487. When I say picked up I do not mean taken on board. We know 13 were taken on board, but I mean how many were accounted for?
- I really forget now how many were accounted for. I remember we turned some of them adrift.

15488. Did you see any ice when the day broke?
- Yes, I saw quite a lot of ice at daybreak.

15489. Large bergs, did you see?
- The first ice I saw, I saw it probably about half a mile on the port bow of the "Carpathia" just as I was approaching it, when I got about two ships' lengths away from her. Day was breaking then.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

15490. I think after the disaster it was you who worked out the calculation as to the position of the "Titanic"?
- That is so.

15491. I understand that there is some dispute about the position, but had the position you worked out been checked in any way by any other Officer?
- Oh, no.

15492. You reckoned the position and you brought it to the notice of the captain?
- Yes.

15493. He asked you to go down to the wireless operators' room and give it to him?
- Yes.

15494. It was that statement of the position that went out from the wireless to give intimation of the collision?
- Yes.

15495. And you say the position was accurate?
- Yes, I am quite certain of that. I am quite confident the position was quite correct.

15496. After the collision I understand that you and some other Officers went on the bridge to look at the iceberg. Is that so?
- That is so. Yes.

15497. And you saw the iceberg?
- Well, I was not quite sure of seeing it.

15498. What length of time was this after the collision?
- Only a couple of minutes afterwards.

15499. What distance from you did the iceberg appear to be then?
- I do not think it would be a couple of minutes afterwards. It appeared to me, what I fancy I saw, about a ship's length away from the ship's bridge.

15500. Now, you were examined in America in regard to the appearance which the iceberg presented at that distance?
- Yes.

15501. Would you give your impression of it to my Lord?
- Yes, I said I fancied I saw a black mass, a low-lying black mass on the quarter.

15502. Was it difficult to discern what the object was even at that short distance, a ship's length?
- That is only an approximate distance you understand; it might have been more.

15503. It might have been three ship's lengths?
- It might have been three ship's lengths.

15504. Would that be the outside - three ship's lengths?
- No, I am not sure. You must understand I had just come out of the light into the darkness and my eyes were not accustomed to it.

15505. I also recollect that we have been told in the evidence that after the collision you went astern?
- The engines were going full speed astern for quite a little time.

15506. Did you go forward after that?
- Not that I know of.

15507. So that from the place where the collision occurred you had not moved much up to the time you went on the bridge to look for this iceberg?
- No, I do not think the ship could have gone so very far.

15508. So that you were within a few ships' lengths of her probably?
- Yes.

15509. Is it your evidence that even at that distance it was very difficult to make out that this was an iceberg - to make out what it was?
- To make out what it was, yes.

15510. Was that on account of the weather conditions or the condition of the atmosphere?
- I think it was due to the conditions that were then prevailing at the time, a calm oily sea.

The Commissioner:
It appears to me to be more due to the fact that he had come out of the light room.

15511. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes, My Lord. (To the witness.) Besides you who else were on the bridge?
- Mr. Murdoch and Captain Smith.

15512. They had not been in the lighted chart room up to that time?
- Not that I know of. Mr. Murdoch and Captain Smith were on the bridge as far as I know when I went there.

15513. Was Mr. Murdoch standing with you while you were observing the iceberg?
- Yes, he pointed at it - like that.

15514. How long were you watching it?
- That I cannot say. It was not very long because I went down below into the passengers' accommodation.

15515. A couple of minutes?
- I am not going to stick to minutes; I do not know what it was.

From the impression you got as to the difficulty of seeing objects that night, did it occur to you -

The Commissioner:
You must not put it in that way; the difficulty was a personal one, it was not due to the night; it was because his eyes were not accustomed to the darkness, coming from the light.

15516. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Before you took your eyes off this iceberg had you been there a sufficient length of time to accustom your eyes to the difference in light from the chart room to the bridge?
- No, I do not say so; I do not think so.

15517. You have had experience of ships with searchlights, I understand?
- Yes; I have been on board of ships with them, but, as a matter of fact, I have not seen them used.

15518. (The Commissioner.) Is that the only experience you have had with them, that you have been on board with them, but never seen them used?
- That is all, My Lord.

15519. That does not seem to me to be very valuable?
- It does not.

15520. (Mr. Scanlan.) You have been in the Navy for some time?
- Yes.

15521. Were you an Officer?
- Yes.

15522. Do all of those ships carry searchlights?
- Yes, to the best of my recollection most of them do, or all of them that I have noticed.

15523. Are they used at night for the purpose of discovering any object ahead of you?
- I do not know; I have never seen them used. I have never been on board when they have been used.

15524. Have you formed any opinion as to whether or not a searchlight, if you had had one, on this Sunday night of the disaster, would have helped to discover the iceberg sooner?
- No, I have not formed that opinion at all; I have not formed any opinion about it.

15525. Were you asked about this in America before the American Court, and did you say on that occasion that searchlight might have called attention sooner to the iceberg, I mean as an opinion. Did you express that as an opinion to Senator Smith?
- I do not know whether I did or not.

The Commissioner:
You need not go into that with this Witness.

Mr. Scanlan:
This was on the special question before your Lordship as to the use of searchlights.

The Commissioner:
I know. I do not mean to say it is not a proper subject for enquiry, but the evidence of a man who has so little experience of searchlights as this gentleman appears to have is to my mind of little value.

15526. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) I understood you to state to my friend that all the ice that was marked on the Captain's chart had been put down by you?
- That is so - yes.

15527. On the Sunday, was that the state of the chart on the Sunday night?
- Yes, as far as I know.

15528. Your watches were in the morning from 8 till noon and again from 4 till 6 and then from 8 o'clock until the time of the disaster?
- Yes.

15529. When you were asked if you had marked down ice on the Sunday, I understood you to say - I may be wrong - that you were not speaking from your own recollection, but from what other people had told you since the accident. Is that so?
- Yes, that is so. I distinctly remember putting down some positions from the "La Touraine," but that must have been a couple of days previously, to the best of my recollection.

15530. You do not recollect having put down any positions for ice on the Captain's chart on the Sunday?
- I do not remember that.

You were asked at the American Enquiry [April 22nd, page 223] with regard to this: - "(Senator Smith.) Did you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs that night? - (Mr. Boxhall.) I did not know we were in the vicinity of icebergs. (Senator Smith.) Did not the second or First Officer apprise you of the fact that they had information that they were in the vicinity of icebergs? (Mr. Boxhall.) I knew we had had information. They did not apprise me that evening of it. (Senator Smith.) When did they apprise you? (Mr. Boxhall.) As a matter of fact they did not mention it to me. (Senator Smith.) Has it never been mentioned to you? - (Mr. Boxhall.) Oh, yes, the Captain mentioned it. (Senator Smith.) The Captain mentioned it to you? (Mr. Boxhall.) Yes. (Senator Smith.) When? - (Mr. Boxhall.) I do not know whether it was the day before or two days before. He gave me some positions of icebergs, which I put on the chart. (Senator Smith.) Which you put on the chart? (Mr. Boxhall.) On his chart. (Senator Smith.) Did the Captain tell you that the 'Californian' had wired the "Titanic" that they were in the vicinity of icebergs? (Mr. Boxhall.) No. The Captain gave me some wireless messages from Southampton, I think that we had had before we had sailed, and asked me to put these positions on the chart. (Senator Smith.) Did you know whether a wireless had been received from the 'Amerika' that the 'Titanic' was in the vicinity of icebergs?"

The Commissioner:
From the "Amerika"?

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, My Lord. I think the information is that it was sent from the "Amerika."

The Solicitor-General:
I am putting it together; I am going into that question.

15531. (Mr. Scanlan.) "(Mr. Boxhall.) No, I could not say. (Senator Smith.) Do you want us to understand that you had no knowledge of the proximity of this ship to icebergs immediately preceding the - (Mr. Boxhall.) I had no knowledge. (Senator Smith.) One moment (Continuing.) Immediately preceding the collision, or during the hours of your watch from eight o'clock until the collision occurred. (Mr. Boxhall.) I did not realise the ship was so near the ice-field." When you refer to the ice-field, you just mean the general ice-field marked down on all charts?
- No, the region covering these wireless messages.

15532. Now about the region; you were examined twice before the American Commission. I have been quoting your evidence from the evidence you gave on the 22nd of April. Then you were examined a week later on this same point. I suppose this is a correct note of your evidence?
- I suppose so. It should be.

15533. I mean you have heard what I have read?
- Yes; to the best of my recollection it is quite correct.

15534. A week later, on the 29th April, you were examined by Senator Burton. He said [29th April, p. 930]: "I understand you have testified before the full Committee about the radiograms relating to ice? (Mr. Boxhall.) Yes, Sir. I have stated upstairs, or in Senator Smith's presence, this afternoon that I did not hear of any ice reports the day of the accident. (Senator Burton.) None were reported to you? (Mr. Boxhall.) I did not hear any. There were none reported to me. I do not think any were reported during my watch on deck, or I should have heard it. (Senator Burton.) When was your watch on deck? (Mr. Boxhall.) I was on deck on Sunday morning from eight o'clock until noon, and I was on again from four o'clock until six, and then I was on again from eight until the time of the accident. (Senator Burton.) You made an entry on the chart as to ice of which you had received information, did you not? (Mr. Boxhall.) Yes. (Senator Burton.) When was that? (Mr. Boxhall.) I cannot get the day, but it was probably a couple of days before, when we had a radiogram from the Captain of 'La Touraine,' giving his position at 7 o'clock Greenwich time, and I worked out our position at 7 o'clock Greenwich time, and wrote out the time for Captain Smith." So you made it quite clear to the American Commission that no ice had been reported to you on the Sunday, and that you had marked no ice positions on the chart that day?
- Yes, but now I wish to add this that since that American Inquiry I have had some one read to me the wireless message sent. I remember we had one from the "Caronia," and since then that message has been read over to me which I recognise and I know now that the message was sent on Sunday morning.

15535. You are satisfied you received a message on Sunday morning. Did you receive any message on Sunday later?
- No. Not that I know of.

15536. I daresay you would remember if you had?
- Well, the messages do not come to me first, but I think if there had been any wireless messages come during my watch on deck I should have seen or heard something of them.

15537. If any message had come from 8 to 12 you would have heard of it?
- Yes, I think so; that is the usual thing.

15538. Would it be in the ordinary course of the working of the "Titanic" that if a message were received, say, at 7.30 giving the latitude and longitude in which ice was - of a ship reporting ice, its position would be marked down in the chart?
- Yes, I think so; that is the usual thing.

15539. At all events, from 8 to 12 you were engaged practically constantly all the time in the chart room?
- Yes.

15540. And you were the Officer who would have to work out the position?
- Well, the sixth Officer might have worked out that position, but the Captain generally gave the messages to me to put in the positions he had to put on the charts. He seemed to give them to me when I was on deck.

15541. Can you tell me if the sixth Officer or any other Officer put any ice position on the Captain's chart from 8 to 12?
- Not that I know of.

15542. And you certainly did not yourself?
- No, I did do them from 8 to 12.

15543. Was there any indication to you on the chart that any ice positions had been marked in the intermediate watch, that is from 6 to 8?
- I do not remember.

15544. It is a thing that would have struck you, is it not, if it had been marked there?
- I do not remember even looking at the chart at 8 o'clock.

15545. Did you have occasion to look at the chart at all from 8 o'clock to 12?
- Well, as near as I can remember I went to the chart room with the Captain, but the Captain put down the star position when I gave it him, somewhere about 10 o'clock. He put the position on, and I was standing close to him, but I did not take that much notice whether any other positions were put on or not.

15546. Was that for the course?
- That was our star position, putting down the ship's position at 7.30. But this was about 10 o'clock.

15547. (The Solicitor-General.) I cannot hear what you say happened at 10 o'clock?
- The Captain plotted the star position of the ship at 7.30; he put that down on his chart at about 10 o'clock.

15548. (Mr. Scanlan.) Do you know what that position was?
- No, I do not, but the position you have in the Court is worked from that position.

15549. The position in which the collision occurred was worked by you?
- Yes.

15550. From the position indicated by the Captain at 10, I mean the Captain worked out his position at 10. At 10 o'clock he worked out the position he had been in at 7.30. Is that so?
- No, he put down the ship's position at 7.30.

15551. (The Commissioner.) I understood that the Captain at 10 o'clock marked the chart with the position which the witness ascertained at 7.30. Is that right?
- He put down the ships 7.30 position on his chart.

15552. At 10 o'clock?
- Approximately 10 o'clock.

15553. I understand at 10 o'clock the Captain put down on the chart the position of the ship as you had ascertained it at 7.30?
- Yes.

15554. Had you both latitude and longitude?
- Yes, we had three stars for latitude, and I think three or four for longitude.

15555. (Mr. Scanlan.) Who was on watch from 8 to 12, till the collision happened. There was Mr. Murdoch, I know?
- The Junior Officers were the fourth and Sixth. Mr. Lightoller was on till 10 o'clock.

15556. From 10 till 11.40 who were on?
- The fourth and Sixth Officers and Mr. Murdoch.

15557. Mr. Lowe is one of those Officers?
- No; Mr. Moody, who is the sixth Officer.

15558. Who is the fourth?
- I am the fourth.

15559. Then you had some duty for watching from 8 till 11.40. It was part of your duty as well as making out calculations in the chart room to take the watch on the bridge. Is that so?
- My duty was to do what I was told by the senior Officer on the watch.

15560. Is it part of the duty you were told to do?
- No, I was not told to do it.

15561. Were you told to watch at all that night?
- No, I was not.

15562. In point of fact, you were not on watch that night?
- I was on watch. I was on duty, but I was not on the bridge. I was not on the look out, if that is what you mean.

15563. That is exactly what I want to know. At no time that night were you keeping the look-out on the bridge?
- No.

15564. Who besides Mr. Murdoch was keeping the look-out on the bridge?
- Nobody. Mr. Murdoch was keeping the look-out himself.

15565. And there were no extra look-outs?
- Not that I know of. I did not hear of any.

Examined by Mr. ROCHE.

15566. Just tell me about a few matters, if you can. When you came from where you had been making those observations, you heard the order "Hard-a-starboard," and you felt the shock of the collision?
- Yes; there was not much of a shock to feel.

15567. But you felt the collision?
- Yes.

15568. And you knew the engines were reversed, full speed astern?
- I heard the bells ring, but I did not know what the movement was until I got to the bridge.

15569. And then you knew that the collision bulkheads were closed because you heard the bell ring?
- No, I did not hear the bell ring; I saw Mr. Murdoch pulling the lever.

15570. I thought you told my Lord that you heard the warning bell ring?
- No.

15571. You heard the Captain ask?
- I heard the Captain ask.

15572. Whether the warning bell had been rung?
- Yes.

15573. You had already got that knowledge. Now you left the bridge to go down below to see what damage was done?
- To see if I could find any damage.

15574. When you left do you know if the engines were still reversing or had they stopped?
- I cannot say.

15575. Perhaps you can tell us in this way. Was steam blowing off then?
- No, I cannot tell you that either.

15576. When you came back was steam blowing off?
- Yes, it was when I came back.

15577. How long were you away, do you think?
- I could not say.

15578. A quarter of an hour or 20 minutes?
- Oh, no.

15579. Less? You can give us an idea - ten minutes?
- I do not think I should be ten minutes.

15580. Something less than ten minutes; five minutes?
- Somewhere between five and ten minutes.

15581. Now, having come back, then you were on the bridge obeying orders and letting off rockets?
- I went down to the mail room after that.

15582. Yes, you went down again?
- Yes.

15583. How long before you went down to the mail room again, 5 or 10 minutes?
- Almost immediately.

15584. And then you came up again on to the bridge?
- Yes.

15585. Not having been away very long, I suppose?
- No, I had not been down in the mail room very long. I spent a little more time there than when I went down the first time.

15586. And then you came up and reported to the Commander?
- Yes.

15587. What did he say?
- He walked away and left me. He went off the bridge, as far as I remember.

15588. He did not say anything to you that was fixed in your memory?
- No.

15589. Now do you know if anything was done in regard to the collision bulkheads after that?
- No, the last movement that I saw was the first Officer closing them.

15590. And you know nothing more about them after that?
- Nothing further.

15591. Now I want to ask you one or two other matters. Certain orders were given with regard to getting up women and children, and so forth, between that time and the sinking of the vessel?
- Yes.

15592. Did you know those orders were being given?
- I cannot say that I heard them. I never heard an order for any boat to be lowered, or even for women to be put in. The only order I heard was clearing the boats, and then I was employed the greater part of my time with these rockets on the bridge. I know very little about it.

15593. Except the order for clearing the boats, which came very early in the proceedings?
- Yes. I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the wheel-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship, and I was rather surprised.

15594. At their doing it so quickly?
- No; I was rather surprised. I did not know the order had been given even to fill the boats. I reported it to the Commander.

15595. You had only heard the order, "Clear away," and the next thing was a telephone message that the starboard boat had left the ship?
- Yes; the starboard after boat.

15596. Do you know anything about any other general order that was given except the order, "Clear away"?
- No.

The Commissioner:
What is this?

Mr. Roche:
It is to find out what information we can, or whether any orders were given to the engine room. Some evidence has been given by one witness - I think it was the baker - that at some stage an order was given that all hands were to look after themselves.

15597. (The Commissioner.) Did you ever hear that order?
- No, I did not.

15598. (Mr. Roche.) I do not think you heard any general order after the one you heard for clearing the boats?
- No.

15599. It was directed to finding out whether the engineers were doing their duty at the time of the sinking or not. Did you see any of the engineers on deck at all when you were attending to your boat?
- No.

15600. Not one?
- No.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

15601. Did you see Mr. Ismay about that night?
- Yes.

15602. Where was he?
- Quite close to the bridge.

15603. At what time?
- I did not look at my watch.

15604. About what time?
- I do not know what time it was at all. Time was flying.

15605. Was it after the collision?
- Certainly it was after the collision. It was before I left the ship.

15606. Did you see him earlier that day on the bridge?
- No; that is the first time I saw Mr. Ismay since we left Southampton.

15607. Did you see Mr. Andrews that night at all?
- I did.

15608. That was after the collision?
- Yes.

15609. Did you hear him say anything to the Captain?
- No, I did not hear him say anything.

15610. Did you hear the Captain say anything to anybody about the ship being doomed?
- The Captain did remark something to me in the earlier part of the evening after the order had been given to clear the boats. I encountered him when reporting something to him, or something, and he was inquiring about the men going on with the work, and I said, "Yes, they are carrying on all right." I said, "Is it really serious?" He said, "Mr. Andrews tells me he gives her from an hour to an hour and a half." That must have been some little time afterwards. Evidently Mr. Andrews had been down.

15611. Can you tell us how long it was after the collision that the Captain said that?
- No, I have not the slightest idea.

15612. Did you say as a matter of fact in America that it was about 20 minutes after the collision?
- No, I do not think so.

15613. You could not fix the time?
- I cannot fix the time; I have tried, but I cannot.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

15614. In addition to the difficulties you had to contend with which you have spoken of, the lack of proper crew and the suction, had you also a number of foreigners in your boat?
- Yes, there was a foreign family.

The Commissioner:
Do you regard them necessarily as difficulties?

Mr. Holmes:
The foreigners, My Lord?

The Commissioner:
Do you?

Mr. Holmes:
I have not completed my question.

The Commissioner:
I thought you said in addition to the difficulties had he that further difficulty?

15615. (Mr. Holmes.) I said as to foreigners, and I am going to put a further question. (To the witness.) Had you a number of foreigners in your boat?
- Yes, there was a foreign family I knew of, that were close to the afterpart of the boat, where I was standing.

15616. (The Commissioner.) Were they a foreign family that could understand English?
- No, they did not seem to be able to speak English or understand English.

15617. (Mr. Holmes.) Did you find they were people totally incapable of understanding any orders you might give to them?
- They were.

15618. And if you had had to manoeuvre the boat to get more people in, it would have added to your difficulties?
- Yes, I think so.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

15619. You stated that lamps were put into the emergency boat and lit at 6 o'clock every night?
- Yes.

15620. Do you remember if they were lit that night and put into the emergency boat?
- Yes, they were.

15621. So that there would be a light in the emergency boat No. 1?
- I am not going to be driven to say that. I do not think they were exactly in the boat. They were hanging in the wheelhouse or in the bridge, covered over with a canvas cover - not exactly in the boat.

15622. You do not know whether they were in the boat that night?
- No, I do not remember.

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