British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 26

Testimony of Dr. Riversdale French

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

25152. On the 13th of May of this year were you surgeon on the steamship "Oceanic"?
- Yes.

25153. And on that date was she on her voyage from England to the United States?
- Yes.

25154. And somewhere in the course of that day was a boat sighted and did the "Oceanic" go to it, and did you go off in one of the "Oceanic" boats to that boat?
- Yes on the second visit to the boat.

25155. Very well. I do not want it in great detail. Did it prove to be an Engelhardt boat?
- Yes.

25155a. Did you identify it as being one of the "Titanic's" boats?
- Yes.

25155b. What was in that boat?
- Three bodies, a fur rug, a ring, and a lady's comb.

25156. They were dead bodies?
- Yes.

25157. I think you examined them?
- Yes.

25158. And you finally read the burial Service and committed them to the deep?
- Yes.

25159. Were you as a medical man able to inform yourself whether they had died from exposure or from hunger, or both?
- Do you mean in the light of what I know now or of what I knew then?

25160. In the light of what you know now?
- By the light of what I know now, I know those bodies had died of exposure.

25161. (The Commissioner.) What were they, Men or women?
- Three men. One evidently was a passenger, and two probably members of the crew. The passenger's body was in evening clothes, and we found his name.

25162. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) There was a suggestion in consequence of something which appeared in the daily Press that you had said they had died of hunger. That is incorrect?
- That is incorrect.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

25163. I daresay you have seen the paragraphs that have appeared?
- Yes.

25164. Stating you had come to the conclusion on examining them that they had died of starvation?
- Yes, that is incorrect.

25165. It is all pure invention?
- I would not say pure invention, because before we knew the circumstances of the abandonment of this boat there was that idea in my mind that they possibly had done so. Having the evidence of five people in the boat and only finding three I had it in my mind that there might have been privation.

25166. (The Commissioner.) There is a statement in the newspapers that there was a cork on this boat which had apparently been partly eaten. Did you see the cork?
- No, it was not in the condition you think. There was powdered cork all over a good deal of the bottom of the boat attached to some of their clothing but this powdered cork had been collected - I am speaking of things which I am not absolutely cognisant of because the cork had been removed - but the cork must have been on the part which was covered by the lifebelts before they were taken off. The lifebelts were on the bodies. They were taken off before I saw the bodies.

25167. (Sir Robert Finlay.) My Lord has referred to powdered cork. It was said you had found these poor people had eaten cork?
- No, I never found that. There was a report but I never expressed that.

(The witness withdrew.)