British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 14

Testimony of George E. Turnbull, cont.

16231. Now will you hand that up to my Lord?
- Yes (Handing up the same.)

The Commissioner:
Where did you get this in-formation. You had not it when the case was opened, I suppose?

The Solicitor-General:
I can show your Lordship exactly the moment when we got it.

The Commissioner:
It does not matter.

The Solicitor-General:
I have that exactly here.

The Commissioner:
This message was not referred to in the opening at all.

The Solicitor-General:
If your Lordship will look, this is a print of the letter we received from the marconi Company on the 7th May (Handing same.) If your Lordship will look at that letter the bottom paragraph but one -

The Commissioner:
I see it.

The Solicitor-General:
You will see it is referred to there.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship will remember I opened only two - the "Caronia" and the "Baltic" - and I said those were the only ones I was then going to refer to.

The Solicitor-General:
They were all we had. These gentlemen have been looking at their records since.

Sir Robert Finlay:
This is the 7th of May. I think my friend opened on the 2nd or the 3rd.

The Solicitor-General:
That is right.

The Attorney-General:
I got the information afterwards.

Sir Robert Finlay:
The letter is dated in London the 7th of May.

The Solicitor-General:
I am anxious your Lordship should have before you the observation that it seems might fairly be made on that document. Your Lordship sees unlike the others, the record of the reply is on the same piece of paper as the record of the message sent. It is all in one handwriting, and I understand that to be the handwriting of the operator on the "Mesaba."

The Commissioner:
Yes.

16232. (The Solicitor-General.) And it has the air of having been written all at one time - that is so, is it not, Mr. Turnbull?

The Witness:
Yes.

16233. (The Commissioner.) Have you got there the procès-verbal?

The Witness:
I have. (Handing up the same.)

Sir Robert Finlay:
May I see the document containing the message?

The Commissioner:
Yes (The same was handed to the learned Counsel.)

16234. Does the operator record the answers that he gets in his procès-verbal?
- Not always.

16235. He has not done it in this case?
- No, he has not done it in many cases. It is very seldom it is recorded unless it is not regarded as sent - unless it is received.

16236. Unless it is acknowledged?
- Unless it is acknowledged, yes.

The Attorney-General:
Of course, we will take steps to get Mr. Adams.

The Commissioner:
I am very anxious to know exactly what knowledge can be traced to Captain Smith.

The Attorney-General:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
That is my anxiety.

The Attorney-General:
Although at one time it did not look necessary, it is now, and so far as Mr. Adams can throw any light upon it we will take care to have him here. That is the operator "S. H. A."

The Solicitor-General:
I was anxious to point out - it is fair to do so - what is odd about this, because there is something odd about it. The thing that is odd about it is that it speaks of being sent to the "Titanic" and to all east-bound ships. Of course, the "Titanic" is west-bound.

The Commissioner:
Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
And the reply which is noted at the bottom is not in terms noted as received from the "Titanic," as distinguished from being received from any other of the ships. That is what your Lordship ought to have before you.

The Commissioner:
Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
You see what I mean.

The Commissioner:
Oh, quite. There is nothing to identify the reply with the "Titanic."

The Solicitor-General:
There is something, but there is not anything on the face of that entry. I just wanted to call attention to what it is. On the other hand, your Lordship will see on this piece of paper, "Office sent to," and the space at the time is entered "M.G.Y."

The Commissioner:
That is the "Titanic."

16237. (The Solicitor-General.) That is the "Titanic," and the time sent is 7.50. The procès-verbal shows it was the "Titanic" he was in communication with at 7.50, and that he had exchanged what he calls trs. with the "Titanic." (To the witness.) Now have you also got another document which shows a record of the "Mesaba" sending messages to the east-bound ships?
- Yes, I have here.

16238. (The Solicitor-General.) That can be contrasted with it, your Lordship sees. Just hand it up to my Lord and he will see the difference. (The document was handed to the Commissioner.) Is it in the same form as far as paper goes?
- Yes, but it is not in red ink.

No, it is not in red ink; and if your Lordship will contrast the entry of "time by the clock" and the entry of "office sent to," you will see that the red ink one which contains the record, "Reply received thanks," is the "Titanic," and the other one is for different times and different addresses. That is how the document stands.

The Commissioner:
The person who wrote these intended this "Reply received, thanks" to apply to the "Titanic."

The Solicitor-General:
I submit that that is the fair inference from the document.

The Commissioner:
Oh, yes.

The Solicitor-General:
Now would your Lordship be kind enough to let me see that.

The Commissioner:
Yes (The same was handed to the Solicitor-General.)

16239. (The Solicitor-General.) This second document, the last one, in the space for "Office sent to," gives a series of initials in pencil?
- Yes.

16240. Are those the ships that were then east-bound?
- Yes.

16241. I think you have checked some of them to see?
- Yes; we have not found 10; he mentions 10. He says about 10 in the footnote.

16242. I think if you listen you will see that I am not asking about the document which says about 10, I am talking about the last document you handed up, which contains in the space "Office sent to" some initials. Are those the initials of east-bound ships?
- Those are.

16243. (The Commissioner.) Five of them?
- Yes.

16244. (The Solicitor-General.) And opposite each is there in the next column an entry of the time?
- Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
Ranging from something like 2 o'clock to later in the afternoon, I think, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
2.32 to 9.35.

16245. (The Solicitor-General - To the witness.) Now the 7.50, which is the time he has entered for the "Titanic," is in between those times, you see?
- Yes.

16246. I think you have checked by the procès-verbal of the "Mesaba," and found in different places in the procès-verbal messages sent to east-bound ships recorded?
- Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
That is as it stands on the documents, My Lord.

Sir Robert Finlay:
May I see that?

16247. (The Commissioner.) Yes (The same is handed.) I am not sure how this operation takes place. When you send a message to a ship, by what process do you secure the delivery of the message to the ship you are delivering the message to? You do not know where the ship is?
- You exchange time rushes. Each station knows what the other has for it, and you cannot practically exchange a time rush until you are within speaking-range of each other.

16248. I see opposite to each one of those five ships that were eastward bound the time recorded?
- Yes.

16249. Is that the time when the time rushes were exchanged between the "Mesaba' and that particular ship?
- The time rushes are always the first, so that the ice report must have been subsequent.

16250. But it would be very soon?
- Very soon almost immediately after.

16251. Now I understand it. You get into communication or you find that you are in communication by these time rushes?
- Yes.

16252. And then having found that out you can send any message you desire to send?
- Yes, provided, of course, that the range does not increase; there is a certain amount of time in which you can exchange messages.

16253. If it does not increase, but the two ships remain in range, then you can send a message?
- Yes.

16254. If time rushes have been exchanged with a ship, say with the "Titanic," does that show that communication is established?
- Yes.

16255. I understand following on the exchange of time rushes messages may be sent from one to the other?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Sir Robert, this appears to me to be a very important telegram, the "Mesaba," because it seems to me to justify the allegations made by the Solicitor-General yesterday that the "Titanic" must have known the presence of the ice in what was called the parallelogram. Is not that so?

The Solicitor-General:
Yes, I call it the oblong.

Sir Robert Finlay:
It goes to this, of course, that the operator on board the "Titanic" who received this message would know of that?

The Commissioner:
Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
One or other of them.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think it must have been Phillips, and Phillips is unfortunately lost.

The Solicitor-General:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
Phillips is not here.

Sir Robert Finlay:
No, he was lost, but of course it does not carry it a step further towards showing that the Captain or any of the Officers knew.

The Commissioner:
It would be a very extraordinary thing, although of course it is possible, if the man in the marconi room did not communicate a telegram of this kind to the Captain.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Your Lordship will recollect the answer that man in the marconi room sent to the marconi operator on board the "Californian" at that very time. When the message was sent by the "Californian" about ice, he sent back a message saying that he was busy with Cape Race and did not want to be bothered, in effect.

The Solicitor-General:
I do not think quite so. The message he sent back was that he had already heard about the ice.

Sir Robert Finlay:
No, no; that is another message altogether.

The Solicitor-General:
Let us see.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I am going to show that to you presently.

The Attorney-General:
There is nothing like doing it at once.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I will read the passage. Your Lordship will find it on page 202, the second column.

The Solicitor-General:
The question I am referring to is question 8972 - "What did the 'Titanic' say to you when you offered your ice report? - (A.) He said "It is all right, I heard you sending it to the 'Antillian,' and I have got it." I think I am quite accurate.

Sir Robert Finlay:
That is one answer.

The Solicitor-General:
That is the important answer.

Sir Robert Finlay:
That is another part altogether. What I am referring to is in the second column of page 202, Question 8986. If your Lordship will allow me, I will read a few questions and answers to make it clear: "(The Commissioner.) What time was this - about what time? - (A.) Five minutes to eleven. (The Solicitor-General.) Ship's time? - (A.) Yes (Q.) What did the Captain say when you said that? - (A.) He said, 'You had better advise the 'Titanic' we are stopped, and surrounded by ice.' (Q.) Did you call up the 'Titanic'? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Can you give me the time? - (A.) It was 9.5 p.m. (Q.) New York time? - (A.) Yes, 11 o'clock ship's time. (Q.) What did you say? - (A.) I said, 'We are stopped, and surrounded by ice.' (Q.) Did you get an answer from the 'Titanic'? - (A.) They said, 'Keep out.' (Q.) Just explain to us, will you, what that means? - (A.) Well, Sir, he was working to Cape Race at the time. Cape Race was sending messages to him, and when I started to send he could not hear what Cape Race was sending. (Q.) Does that mean that you would send louder than Cape Race to him? - (A.) Yes; and he did not want me to interfere. (Q.) That would interrupt his conversation with Cape Race? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) So that he asked you to 'Keep out'? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) In ordinary Marconi practice is that a common thing to be asked? - (A.) Yes. And you do not take it as an insult or anything like that. (The Commissioner.) What did you say? (The Solicitor-General.) 'You do not take it as an insult or anything like that.' (To the witness.) Do I understand rightly then that a Marconi operator, like other people, can only clearly hear one thing at a time? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Have you any means of knowing - do you judge that he had heard your message about ice? When you say you sent this message and he said 'Keep out,' did he say that after he had got your message? - (A.) The very minute I stopped sending. (The Commissioner.) You cannot tell, I suppose, whether he heard what you said? - (A.) He must have heard it, My Lord, but I do not know whether he took it down."

The Commissioner:
That is, whether the marconi man took it down?

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes. "9003 (Q.) Would he hear what you said, or would he merely hear that you were speaking? You see, as I understand, he was getting messages from two points - from Cape Race and from you. He could not hear both, I suppose, at the same time? - (A.) No, My Lord. (Q.) And he may not have heard what you said, though he may have known that you were trying to speak to him. I do not know, you know; I am only asking? - (A.) Well, My Lord, My signal would be much stronger than Cape Race's." Then there are a few questions and answers which I will read if desired. I was going on to question 9014: "(Q.) And then you gave him this message, spelt it out, that you were stopped in ice; and then he replies to you, 'Keep out.' How do you know he was talking to Cape Race? - (A.) I heard him beforehand. (Q.) You could hear him? - (A.) Beforehand, and directly after that. (The Commissioner.) What was it you heard? - (A.) Before that, My Lord? (Q.) No. What was it that you heard which conveyed to you that he was in communication with Cape Race? - (A.) Directly afterwards he called upon Cape Race - a few seconds after. (Q.) After he had said to you, 'Keep out'? - (A.) Yes, My Lord. (The Solicitor-General.) Could you overhear what he was saying to Cape Race? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) What was it he said? - (A.) He said, 'Sorry, please repeat, jammed.' (Q.) That means that somebody else had interrupted? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) After that did you hear him continuing to send messages? - (A.) Right up till I turned in" - that was 11.30 "(Q.) It was not your business, and I have no doubt you did not listen in detail to what they were, but could you tell, as a matter of fact, whether they were private messages? - (A.) Yes, all private messages. You can tell by the prefix. (The Commissioner.) That means messages for the passengers. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes, business and private messages for the passengers. (To the witness.) You can tell that by what you call the prefix, the sound that is sent first of all? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) And that continued, you say, till you turned in? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) When was it that you turned in? - (A.) Eleven-thirty p.m., ship's time. (Q.) You had been at work since 7 o'clock in the morning, except intervals for meals? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Was it your regular course to turn in about that time? - (A.) As a Rule. It all depends where we are." I do not think I need read further.

16256. (The Solicitor-General.) That is quite right. Just that we may see the bearing of that, that message that Sir Robert Finlay has been referring to is a message sent at 9.5 p.m., New York time. That is what we have been told?
- Yes.

16257. What is the time of the "Mesaba's" message, New York time, on the "Titanic," 7.50?
- Yes.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I am told it is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

The Solicitor-General:
I have taken the corresponding times. I want to compare like with like - 9.5 p.m., New York time, I am comparing with 7.50 p.m., New York time.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Oh, yes, I beg your pardon. I thought you were giving the equivalent of ship's time.

The Solicitor-General:
The "Mesaba" message is sent at 7.50, New York time. The message you were referring to, which was interrupted, is 9.5.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I beg your pardon.

16258. (The Solicitor-General - To the witness.) This request to "stand out" or "keep out," just explain that to us?
- That is given by an operator on a ship who is working with another ship, or another coast station, and is jammed by someone else, he is simply told to stop it, that is all, just in the same way as if anyone interrupts you when you telephone, you ask him to "ring off" or "keep off."

The Solicitor-General:
There might be some general matters at a later stage we should want from this gentleman, but it appeared to us that it would be well to ask Mr. Bride now to come and give evidence, that we may follow this matter up.

The Commissioner:
I think that is convenient, Sir Robert?

Sir Robert Finlay:
Certainly, My Lord. Then the cross-examination of this Witness will be postponed.

The Solicitor-General:
That is as you please. On this point I should have thought you would deal with him now.

The Attorney-General:
We ought to have it now.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Very well.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

16259. With regard to the "Amerika," I will take them in the order in which you have dealt with them - I understood you to tell us this yesterday. You see the letters which are printed M.G.V. on the message from the "Amerika"?
- Yes.

16260. I understood you to say that that was a coast station of yours?
- The "Amerika"?

16261. No, the m.G.V. I will refer you to your answer, if you like. It is 16078 on the very last page of the proceedings. This is the Solicitor-General speaking to you. "I will just read it, and then I am going to ask you why you say it is sent through the 'Titanic.' 'No. 110, 'Amerika' Office, 14th April, 1912. Prefix M.S.G.' That is Master Navigation Message. 'Service instructions: via Cape Race. Office sent to M.G.V.' What does that mean"?
- That should have been "M.G.Y."

16262. Now I am going to read your answer. "Those are the call letters for one of our ship stations"?
- Yes.

16263. You mean M.G.V. meant one of your ship stations?
- No; I do not understand how that mistake has arisen - M.G.Y..

16264. You said distinctly - it agrees with the recollection of those who heard you - "Office sent to, M.G.V." What does that mean? And you say, "Those are the call letters for one of our ship stations"?
- M.G.V. are the call letters of one of our ship stations, the "Monmouth"; but it should not have been "M.G.V.," it should have been "M.G.Y."

16265. "M.G.Y."?
- Yes, "Titanic." That is a mistake in the print.

16266. And "M.G.V." was the name of another ship altogether?
- Yes.

16267. Very good. You have shown us the original, and it is "M.G.Y."?
- "M.G.Y."

Sir Robert Finlay:
Very good.

16268. (The Solicitor-General.) That means the "Titanic"?
- That is the "Titanic."

16269. (Sir Robert Finlay.) "M.G.Y." is the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

16270. (The Commissioner.) When you were asked "What does that mean?" your answer ought to have been "The letters mean the 'Titanic.'" Is that so?
- That is so.

16271. (Sir Robert Finlay.) This message is sent out at 11.45 a.m.?
- Yes.

16272. What time would that be?
- That is New York time.

16273. To the "Titanic" there would be I am told two hours and ten minutes difference where she was?
- I am not certain about that.

16274. Two hours or something over?
- About that I should say.

16275. That would make it nearly 2 p.m.?
- Ship's time, yes.

16276. Roughly - I am not tying you to a minute or two, but it would be roughly 2 p.m. ship's time when this reached the "Titanic"?
- I should say so.

16277. This was sent to the "Titanic," I think your expression was - I will read what I took down at the time - "This message was a private message from the Commander of the 'Amerika' to the Hydrographic Office. It concerned no one else." That is right?
- That is right.

16278. And the "Titanic" was being used simply for transmission on to Cape Race?
- Yes.

16279. Being nearer to Cape Race than the "Amerika"?
- Yes.

16280. The "Amerika" not being as you infer within range of Cape Race?
- That is it.

16281. Whether that message was shown to any of the Officers of the "Titanic" depends entirely upon the action of the marconi operator?
- It does.

16282. The marconi operator, I think you have told us, is your servant?
- He is.

16283. Paid by you, I think?
- Yes.

16284. And under your orders?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Are there any means of ascertaining what Marconi operator was on duty at the time when this message would be received by the "Titanic."

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think Mr. Bride may be able to tell us that, My Lord. I am not at the moment able to say whether it was Bride or Phillips. There were only the two.

The Commissioner:
Is Bride here?

The Attorney-General:
Yes, he is going to be called.

The Commissioner:
I should like to know because I could follow it so much more easily. I should like to hear from him now if he can tell us which of the two would be on duty at that time.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Is Bride here?

Mr. Bride:
Yes.

(The Witness withdrew.)