British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Sir Robert Finlay:
My Lord, I was dealing with what happened after the disaster in the way of preparing for launching and filling the boats. I do not propose to go through the evidence in detail with regard to the various steps taken by the boatswain in getting the deckhands ready and getting them on deck. All that is really a matter not in dispute.
Then with regard to the uncovering of the boats, having the falls made ready and having them swung out under the superintendence of the Officers, there is a great body of evidence; but that again speaks for itself and I do not think it is necessary to go through it again. If desired I can give the references, but I really think it is almost common ground. I hope that I am not putting forward any contentious proposition when I say that that part of the work was excellently done. While this was going on, the stewards had orders to attend to the passengers and to get them on deck. The stewards did that work, then went to the passengers and warned them to come on deck, got them up on deck, and any delay that there was was due to the reluctance of some passengers, particularly of the women, to come up and afterwards to get into the boats. That is a point of some importance and I propose to offer to the Court some references to the evidence on that point because it really is the great cause of the boats going off in the first instance not filled up to their full complement. The discipline, so far as the Officers and crew were concerned, was perfect. Any difficulty was in getting the women to realise that they must come up, that they must leave the ship and trust themselves to the boats under the circumstances.
Now before giving a few references - I have picked out with great care, with the assistance of my learned friend, the most important only - may I read what was said by Captain Rostron of the result of his conversation with the survivors which summarises the situation very fairly. It is on page 716, Question 25563, and the three following questions. Your Lordship says: - "It is said by, at all events, one of the Witnesses that one reason why the lifeboats did not carry more than they in fact carried, was that all the people in the lifeboats were wearing lifebelts, and you cannot stow them so closely as you could stow people without lifebelts. I suppose there is some truth in it? - (A.) There is some truth in that. (Q.) You saw the passengers that you landed at New York, and must have conversed a good deal with them? - (A.) No. (Q.) Did you not? - (A.) No, I did not speak to half-a-dozen passengers the whole time. (Q.) Did you hear no explanation at all as to why these boats were not better filled? - (A.) No. The only explanation I got was when the boats first left the 'Titanic' the people really would not be put in the boats; they did not want to go in, and I understand that some of the boats that left first had fewer people in. That is all I know about it. (Q.) That is what I wanted to know. You heard that explanation given yourself? - (A.) Yes."
Although Captain Rostron speaks of that as not being very much, it really summarises the whole situation. They would not go in, they did not want to go, and the result was that the boats that left first had fewer than their full complement. And then, of course, there was also the intention of having them filled up from the gangway doors, an intention which afterwards had to be abandoned.
Now, by way of merely illustrating a little that general proposition which results from Captain Rostron's conversation with the passengers, may I invite your Lordship's attention to what was said by Lucas at page 50 and the following pages? I will pick out a few questions and answers there. Question 1478 is: "Was any order given about filling up? - (A.) Yes, but there was not anybody there handy, no women. I was singing out for women myself. (Q.) Had you received the order that women were to be put in the boats? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Whom did you receive that from? - (A.) Moody, the Sixth Officer." That, I think, relates to boat No. 16, which, as a matter of fact, was somewhat later. Then Question 1501: "How many boats did you see filled? How many boats did you take notice of as they were being filled? - (A.) About nine. (Q.) Could you see whether they were all filled to the full capacity? - (A.) They were not all filled. (Q.) Why was that? - (A.) Because there were no women knocking about."
Then on page 51, Question 1730: "But of the eight which you saw leaving, is it true that they were incompletely filled? - (A.) Some had more passengers in than others. (Q.) How many more do you think could have been accommodated in these? - (A.) In some of them they could have taken another 15 or 20. (The Commissioner.) Now, what I want to know is this: Why were they not filled up? - (A.) There were not any females on the deck to put in the boats? - (Q.) Or if they were they would not go? - (A.) Some would go in and some would not; they wanted to stay behind with their husbands."
My Lord, the deficiency was not in drill on the part of the Officers and crew. All their work was admirably done with regard to the boats. If any drill were wanted, it was drill of the passengers, but it is clear you cannot have a rehearsal of a shipwreck from day to day while a liner is going across the Atlantic. Nervous people would find it very trying, and it is one of those things -
I never heard it suggested yet that there was to be a shipwreck rehearsal on board a steamer.
Sir Robert Finlay:
But it is what it really comes to, my Lord. I was dealing with the suggestion that there was a want of proper training. In the result, I say, the work could not have been done better than it was done by the Officers and crew, and any training of the passengers for an emergency of this kind is, of course, out of the question.
There was not in my present view of the matter proper drill of these men at any time. Whether that contributed to the loss of life I do not know, but I do not think the drill at Southampton was a drill which was of any real use.
Sir Robert Finlay:
That is the drill when the Board of Trade inspection takes place?
Yes, when they lowered the boats. There were six men employed about it.
Sir Robert Finlay:
I appreciate entirely what your Lordship says in regard to that.
I draw a distinction between a drill and a muster.
Sir Robert Finlay:
Of course a great deal more might be done if the service were more continuous from voyage to voyage with vessels of this kind, and certainly the White Star Company, and I believe other companies as well, are most anxious to encourage as far as possible the permanence of employment.
I think there is a great deal of force in that. It would be a very desirable thing to continue the employment of these men. Whether it is under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act or whether it is merely practice I do not know, but it appears to be the case that when these ships arrive in port, the men are all paid off, and they do not sign on again until the eve of another voyage.
Sir Robert Finlay:
The White Star Company, as your Lordship has heard, have been very anxious indeed to secure continuity of employment more than it has existed. It has existed to a very great extent because I think some 60 or 70 percent of the men on board the "Titanic" had been in one of the White Star Company's vessels before. I certainly feel very strongly that the increase of such continuity of employment is evidently desirable and the more you can have the same men serving under the same Officers in the same boat the better it is for all concerned. But the men do not always look at it in that way. It is very difficult to get them to stop, and it is a result that can be achieved really, as I hope it will be achieved to a great extent by the cooperation of the companies and of the unions of the men. It is a most desirable object. One can see in how many ways it would conduce to the greater excellence of the navigation of such liners; and the White Star Company have spared no effort so far as they are concerned to achieve it. I think that all the A.B.'s with regard to whom we have any evidence had been in the service of the White Star Company before and stopped on. I think I am right in saying some 60 or 70 percent of the crew. I think it was Mr. Sanderson who said that and gave the figure. With regard to the absence of the drill, of course, if there were this greater continuity that as well as other good results would follow. But so far as the actual doing of the work is concerned, no bad results ensued after this collision from any defect or any insufficiency in the amount of drill given. The lowering of the boats could not have been better done, and the fact that not more passengers were put in them was due, not to any fault, not to any want of drill on the part of the Officers and crew; it was due to the reluctance of the passengers, particularly the women, first to come on deck, and secondly, to get into the boats.
I think that the evidence justifies that observation, and I would ask your Lordship to look further on this point at what was said by Johnson at page 90, Question 3429: "Were there plenty of people on the boat deck? - (A.) Yes, plenty, but they would not go into our boat." Then on the next page, Question 3458, "Was there any call for women and children at that boat? - (A.) All the women and children that were there could have got in. We could have put more in; in fact, we had not a full complement. (Q.) Can you tell us at all what classes were represented? - (A.) I could not. (Q.) When all the women that wanted to go in were in was the boat lowered? - (A.) No, it was put down perhaps 3 or 4 feet. They were told to go down to A deck to see if anybody else wanted to come in. There was nobody came down to A deck. It stopped opposite A deck." Then Question 3470 on the same page, "Was she full, in your judgment? - (A.) She would not be full, but she would have been full in a heavy sea. She was not full according to how we were." That is, in the state of the sea. "(Q.) Was anybody that wanted to get on that boat kept back? - (A.) Not at all, certainly not."
Then on page 95 the same Witness, at Question 3583 is asked: "Just one question. Have you any notion as to which class the majority of passengers in your boat belonged? - (A.) I think they belonged mostly to the third or second. I could not recognise them when I saw them in the first class, and I should have known them if there were any prominent people. (Q.) Most of them were in the boat when you came along? - (A.) No. (Q.) You put them in? - (A.) No. Mr. Ismay tried to walk round and get a lot of women to come to our boat. He took them across to the starboard side then - our boat was standing - I stood by my boat a good ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. (Q.) At that time did the women display a disinclination to enter the boat? - (A.) Yes." Then the same Witness, at Question 3634, on page 96, is asked by Mr. Cotter: "Did any bugle go that night? - (A.) No. (Q.) If a bugle had gone, the men would have gone to their boat stations. I take it? - (A.) Some of them would have gone, and some would not, because they never thought about looking to their boat stations. (Q.) Not the stewards' department? - (A.) Some of them did not. (Q.) I am asking for your opinion. Supposing they had done so, was not there time to turn the spare men out of the boat, and say, 'Go down and show the women, second and third class, and also the first class, up here'? - (A.) If you had got them up - but you could not drive the women. (Q.) How do you know that? - (A.) Because I tried it. (Q.) Where did you try? - (A.) For our boat. (Q.) I mean down in the third class, in the rooms; that is what we want to get at - if the stewards had been told to go down and bring them up? - (A.) They were told, but they did not think she would go down, and they were laughing when the passengers were carrying their baggage about. (Q.) Your contention is that they were told, and that the women would not come up on deck? - (A.) I am certain of it. (Q.) How are you certain of it. It is a very serious answer you are giving now? - (A.) Well, I am certain by our boys" - that means the stewards, I think - "because some of our boys would have been saved if they had come to the boat stations. (Q.) You have had conversations since? - (A.) I have never spoken to the boys. (Q.) How do you know? - (A.) Because I know all the old ones were lost. (Q.) That is not the point. You make a statement that a man was there and that the women would not come up, and then you said, 'some of our boys have been saved'? - (A.) I did not say they were saved; I said all the best of the boys went down. (Q.) How do you know the women and children would not come up? - (A.) Well, I could tell by the bedroom stewards. I saw them, driving, and I saw Mr. Ismay try to drive a few, and he had a pair of slippers on and his dust coat, and he was trying to get the women, and they would not go in for him into our boat. (Q.) That was on the boat deck. I am talking about down below - the third class quarters? - (A.) I was not down there, and I could not tell you. (The Commissioner.) This Witness was not down below in the third class quarters. (Mr. Cotter.) He states there was a steward sent down there, and he also states that the women would not come up. (The Commissioner.) I suppose he only says that because he only saw some women come up. Some certainly did come up and got into his boat. (Mr. Cotter.) You are not sure what was going on down below? - (A.) No."
Then, on page 100, Dillon gives two answers bearing on this question, at Question 3838, "Can you point out what was the situation on the ship of the boat that you saw leave, the last boat? - (A.) No. (The Commissioner.) It was on the port side, I understand. The boat that you saw leave, the last boat, was on the port side? - (A.) They sung out it was the last boat. (Q.) Whichever it was, was it on the port side of the "Titanic"? - (A.) Yes, my Lord. (Q.) And was it in the forward part or aft? - (A.) I do not know, my Lord. (Q.) Were you on the after well deck when you saw it? - (A.) Yes, my Lord, I heard an order - the last boat was leaving the ship - 'Any more women there?' and we chased them up the ladder. (Q.) After that boat left did you see a number of passengers standing about still? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Any women? - (A.) No (Q.) I did not quite hear the answer you gave just now. You said something about chasing women up the ladder? - (A.) There were two women on the well deck when we got up from below, and we heard the order - the last boat was leaving the ship - 'Are there any more women there?' and we chased them up the ladder. (Q.) Up to the boat deck? - (A.) Yes, I suppose they went up there. (Q.) And those were the women you saw there on the well deck? - (A.) Two women." Then he went up himself on the boat deck and describes what took place.
On page 140, Joughin, at Question 5951, is asked, "Now tell us about No. 10, in order. What happened? - (A.) It was swung out; the stewards, firemen, and sailors all got in a line. We passed the ladies and children through. (Q.) Into No. 10? - (A.) Into No. 10. Then we got it about half-full, and then we had difficulty in finding ladies for it. They ran away from the boat, and said they were safer where they were. (Q.) You heard ladies saying that? - (A.) I am sure of that. (The Commissioner.) When the boat was half-full we had difficulty in finding more ladies? - (A.) Right, Sir. (Q.) 'They ran away, saying they were safer where they were'? - (A.) Yes. (The Solicitor-General.) Up to this time, could you tell me, had you seen any third class passengers - women from the third class? - (A.) Yes, Sir, plenty. (Q.) So far as you saw, was any distinction made between the different classes - first class ladies or second class ladies or third class ladies? - (A.) None at all. (Q.) Of course, at ordinary times this boat deck is a first class deck, a promenade, is it not? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) And the third class people would not get on to it? - (A.) It is railed off just from the boats, and the saloon passengers use it as a sunning deck. (Q.) But at this time were there any barriers up? - (A.) No." The barriers were all taken down. Then the same Witness, at Question 5981: "(Q.) Now, just let us go back to boat No. 10 and finish it. You said that when it was about half-full with women you could not find more women to pass along the line and put into the boat? - (A.) We had difficulty in finding them. (Q.) What was done; what happened? - (A.) I myself and three or four other chaps went on the next deck and forcibly brought up women and children. (Q.) You went down to the A deck? - (A.) Yes, to the A deck. (Q.) And you mean you brought them up to the boat deck? - (A.) Brought them up to the boat deck - there are only about ten stairs to go up. (Q.) Did not they want to go? - (A.) No, sir. They were all sitting - squatting down on the deck. (Q.) And you and three or four others brought them up? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Did you put them into the boat? - (A.) We threw them in. The boat was standing off about a yard and a half from the ship's side, with a slight list. We could not put them in; we could either hand them in or just drop them in."
Then Hart is a Witness who gives some evidence of some importance beginning at page 222, Question 9882: "Can you tell us so far as your third class passengers are concerned, did you go to each third class compartment and rouse up your people? - (A.) I went to each third class room and roused them. (The Commissioner.) Were most of them up, or were they asleep? - (A.) The majority were up. They had been aroused before I got there. (The Solicitor-General.) They are not single cabins, these third class compartments, are they; not single berths? - (A.) They consisted of four-berthrooms and two-berthrooms, and two six-berthrooms. (Q.) And what did you do about the lifebelts? - (A.) I saw the lifebelts placed on them that were willing to have them put on them. (The Commissioner.) Some would not put them on? - (A.) Some refused to put them on. (The Solicitor-General.) Did they say why? - (A.) Yes, they said they saw no occasion for putting them on; they did not believe the ship was hurt in any way."
Then at page 223, Question 9915, and onwards: "(Q.) You would have colleagues, other third class stewards, of course; do you know whether they were doing what you were doing - that is, getting the people up? - (A.) All the men that had rooms were. (Q.) All the third class stewards who had got rooms? - (A.) The third class stewards do not all have rooms. The third class stewards that had rooms went round to their respective sections and were doing the same as I was doing. (The Commissioner.) You mean those who had charge of rooms? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) You mean to say they roused the passengers and tried to get them to put on lifebelts? - (A.) Yes. (The Solicitor-General.) How many third class stewards would there be who would have charge of rooms in the afterend of the ship? - (A.) Eight. (Q.) As far as you know, they were each engaged in doing this? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Now, just tell us about the next thing? - (A.) I was standing by waiting for further instructions. After some little while the word came down, 'Pass your women up on the boat deck.' This was done. (Q.) That means the third class? - (A.) Yes, the third class. (Q.) Anything about children? - (A.) Yes. 'Pass the women and children.' (Q.) 'Pass the women and children up to the boat deck'? - (A.) Yes, those that were willing to go to the boat deck were shown the way. Some were not willing to go to the boat deck, and stayed behind. Some of them went to the boat deck, and found it rather cold, and saw the boats being lowered away, and thought themselves more secure on the ship, and consequently returned to their cabin. Q.) You say they thought themselves more secure on the ship. Did you hear any of them say so? - (A.) Yes, I heard two or three say they preferred to remain on the ship than be tossed about on the water like a cockle-shell."
The same Witness, on page 225, Question 10045, is asked, "Then it comes to this, that as far as you can tell us, it was either first or second class people who were in that boat before you got there. Then your people got in and some more people got in from A deck, and those people, you think, were third class people? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) When you left the third class part of the ship the second time, the last time, were there still some third class passengers down there? - (A.) Yes, there were some that would not come to the deck. (Q.) They would not come? - (A.) They would not leave their apartments. (Q.) Of course, by that time you at any rate had realised that this was a very serious accident? - (A.) Yes, but they would not be convinced. (Q.) Did you do your best to convince them? - (A.) Everybody did their best. (Q.) Did you hear other people trying to persuade them? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) On this second journey of yours, the last journey, did you see other stewards, or not, engaged in getting people? - (A.) Yes, I met several on the deck, directing them the way to the boat deck. There was one man at the foot of the companion leading from the sleeping accommodation to the after well deck; there was one man at the end of the companion leading from the well deck to the E deck, and there were others along the saloon and second cabin deck, showing them the way to the boat deck. So that there was no difficulty for anybody who wanted to get to the boats to find their way there. (Q.) There is a third class interpreter is there not? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Did you see him about? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Some of your third class passengers are foreigners? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) What was he doing? - (A.) He was trying to keep some of the foreigners quiet."
At Question 10076, at the bottom of the same page, the Solicitor-General says this: "Lord Mersey has just pointed out that you told us, on the boat deck where the boat left there were some women and their husbands. How was it they did not get into the boats? - (A.) Because the cry was for the women and children, and the boat at that time was practically full of women and children, and these women would not leave their husbands. (Q.) That is what I wanted, that was the impression you got, was it? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Did you hear any of them say so on the boat deck? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) You did? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) You have told us that you were one of a number of some 60 third class stewards? - (A.) Yes." Then he is asked how many were saved.
Hart's evidence ranges over the greater part of the boats because his first lot of passengers was taken to No. 8, the second on the port side to leave. This second lot was taken to No. 15, which was the last lifeboat to leave on the starboard side. So that his evidence covers a very wide range.
The last Witness I am going to cite on this point, by way of supplementing Captain Rostron's general statement and the effect of what he heard, is Mr. Lowe, one of the Officers at page 369. Mr. Harbinson is examining (Question 15931.): "Did it take half-an-hour to launch these boats? - (A.) I do not know. It was not the launching of the boats that took the time. We got the whole boat out and in the water in less than 10 minutes. It was getting the people together that took the time. (Q.) Did you hear any orders given to the people brought up to the boat deck? - (A.) Yes, I forget now who I heard, but I heard the order given, anyhow: 'Everybody on the boat deck.' (Q.) Do you think there were sufficient seamen on board the "Titanic" adequately to carry out the operation of launching the boats? - (A.) Certainly, they did so. (Q.) Did they do it? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Did they take what you consider a normal time or an abnormal time to do it? - (A.) It depends upon what you mean by an 'abnormal time,' less time or more time? (Q.) Do you think it would have been done quicker if there had been more men? - (A.) No. The thing was done as I do not suppose any other ship could do it. (Q.) In the same time? - (A.) No ship could have done it in better time, and better in all respects - in every respect." All the evidence is the same way, and, therefore, I do not propose further to elaborate this point.
I therefore submit that all the work that the Officers and crew had to do was excellently done, and could not have been done better. I quite agree that more frequent boat drills than have been usual on any vessel of this type may be desirable, but the absence of such boat drill had nothing to do with any of the loss of life that took place on this occasion. The boat drills might have come in as being of importance if the sea had been rough, and you wanted to have a full complement of A.B.'s on board the boat in order to keep her in safety in a rough sea. But that was not the condition, and my submission is that, however desirable it may be that in the future there should be more frequent boat drills, which, of course, is closely connected with that continuity of service of which your Lordship was speaking just now, however desirable that may be, the absence of such drill had nothing to do with the loss of life which took place on this occasion.
With regard to the boat lists, your Lordship will recollect how it was proved by Mr. Sanderson that all the boat lists were stuck up - each department had them posted. I am speaking now of the information given to the men. On page 496, Question 19716, Mr. Sanderson was asked: "Now, with regard to another matter as to the boat drill. Are these the lists which you have - three of them, I think; one for the sailing department, one for the engine department, and one for the victualling department - the stewards, I suppose, with reference to the boats? - (A.) Those are what are put up in the different departments. (Q.) These are documents? - (A.) Yes, they are." Those documents were handed to the Witness and your Lordship has them. "(Q.) Perhaps you will keep them for one moment. In addition to those, is there the general boat list? - (A.) There is a general boat list subdivided into these. (Q.) Are these put up or framed, or stuck up anywhere? - (A.) They are put up in the different departments. I am not sure where the general one goes; I think it goes in the chart room. These go in the departments. (Q.) Are those emergency lists in addition (Handing same to Witness.)? - (A.) Yes, there are. That is an emergency boat list. (The Commissioner.) I see on this list that an Officer is assigned to each boat, and then there are spaces for the names of four other men. That is so, is it not? - (A.) I think in practice they would have to put more names in than that, my Lord. The term 'Officer,' I think, is used for the purpose of a man who would go in command of the boat. It does not necessarily mean that he would be a ship's Officer. He might be a petty Officer. (Q.) It begins 'Commander, Chief Officer, First Officer, Second Officer, Carpenters, Boatswains, Quartermaster,' and so on; and then a space is left for four additional names, and they are bracketed together and described as 'Seamen.' What does that mean? - (A.) I suppose, technically, that every man who goes to sea is a seaman. They would distinguish between the sailors and the firemen. (Q.) It does not necessarily mean a deckhand? - (A.) I do not think so. (Mr. Roche.) The next page talks about the firemen. (The Attorney-General.) There is a special one for the firemen. (Sir Robert Finlay.) There are three departments. The first is the sailing department; the second the engineers' department; and the third is the victualling department. (The Commissioner.) I beg pardon, Sir Robert. That is quite so. So that there are a great many more than five men allocated to each boat. (The Witness.) I should think in the case of the 'Titanic' that there must have been between 30 and 40 to each boat."
Then Question 19724: "With regard to the question of boat drill and getting firemen to take part in it, had you moved in that matter long before the loss of the 'Titanic'? - (A.) We have always attempted to do it. (Q.) Of how old standing are the difficulties about getting firemen to take part in the boat drill? - (A.) I think our real difficulties have only been of recent years - in the last two years. I do not recall that we had any real difficulty before that. (Q.) Since this disaster you have been continuing your efforts to ensure proper drill? - (A.) We have increased them. (Q.) Can you tell us what is being done now? - (A.) Yes, we have asked the Board of Trade to make their inspection a more thorough one in so far as, instead of turning out two boats, to turn out a good many. We have turned out as many as 13 or 14, and we have had a large number of those boats manned and sent out, rowing some distance and back again. As I say, the stewards and deckhands have done that work. They do not seem to have had much success with the firemen." And then he reads a longish telegram which shows what they were doing and endeavouring to do.
Now, my Lord, it is very unfortunate that there should be this feeling amongst the firemen against taking part in a boat drill. It is a feeling which I hope will be overcome, and I trust the leaders of the men will co-operate with the Company in removing the feeling against taking part in the boat drill. One can quite understand a fireman saying, "My work is down below; what have I to do with the boats?" At the same time, in case of emergency, it may be very important that they should have had an adequate training as to boat drill, and they used to get it. It is only within the last two or three years, as Mr. Sanderson says, that the difficulty has emerged; and I trust that those who have influence with the men will assist in getting it removed, and that in the future there will be that more complete drill which your Lordship said was to be desired.
I am not going through the evidence as to the crew's knowledge of their boat stations; every step had been taken to apprise them and the majority of the Witnesses called knew their boats perfectly well. Some had not looked, and if they did not know what their boat was, it certainly was not the fault of the Company, for every pain had been taken to post up the notices in every department. I think every A.B. and every steward who was called did know their boat - every one who was asked about it.
There was one point to which your Lordship called attention while the case was going on, and that is that the numbers given by the Witnesses of those who were in the boats do not agree with the actual numbers; they are too large. That is a thing that one would almost expect to occur. The estimate of the number is not very accurate. Witnesses, unconsciously and quite innocently, have a tendency rather to exaggerate the number, and the result is that when you come to sum them all up you find the total is an impossible total.
The more significant fact, if I may interpose for a moment, with regard to that, is that the proportions of the men and crew and women saved differ so materially. It is difficult to get at the exact figure, of course. The point that strikes me with regard to it is that whereas we know 711 was the total number saved, of which it is said 642, perhaps 645, were women and children, 71 were male passengers and 123 were male crew; in fact, it turns out that there were 189 male crew, 126 male passengers, and only 388 women saved instead of 642. That is the striking feature of it. According to the evidence, I agree with my friend there would naturally be some exaggeration or possibly some exaggeration of numbers, but it is certainly rather remarkable that in every case, so far as I can see from the evidence, the number of women and children given as saved in the boats is in excess of the fact; the number of the crew given is less than that saved, and the number of male passengers given is less than were in fact saved. That is the point.
Sir Robert Finlay:
Of course, there were a good many picked up from the water. They would be, of course, men.
Not very many, about 35.
Sir Robert Finlay:
I do not know exactly how many, but still all that were picked up from the water I think were men, I am told, except one, but I did not know there was even one exception.
I think I have now concluded my review of the evidence. On the whole, I respectfully submit to the Court that the true conclusion is this: The White Star Company is a company which until this disaster happened had a splendid record. They carried millions of passengers, and there had been only a loss of two lives during 11 years. Then comes this crushing disaster, which, of course, strikes the imagination of everyone. It is due to the emergence of new conditions in the North Atlantic and to very special circumstances to which I have called the attention of the Court in detail.
I submit that the result of the examination of the evidence as a whole is that that disaster was not due to any want of care or diligence on the part of those in control of the ship; that it was an accident which was not occasioned by any negligence or any want of due care on the part of the Captain or his Officers, or anyone else on board. It was not due to any want of care with regard to the equipment of the ship. The ship was a splendid vessel and had been built regardless of expense, the commission given being to have the ship made in the best possible way, charging cost plus a percentage for the work of the builders. So that no pains and no money had been spared to make the ship as perfect as, humanly, a ship could be. And that result was achieved.
But, of course, owing to an extraordinary concatenation of circumstances it has proved, when some exceptional natural conditions arise, how vain are the efforts of human skill and science against the forces of nature. But for what happened, I submit, there is no fault whatever on the part of the Company, or those for whom they are responsible.
With regard to what happened after the collision I submit that not a life was lost owing to any fault on the part of the Company, or those for whom they are responsible. A good deal was said about the boats not putting back when the poor people who remained on the ship were in the water. I think your Lordship will realise, and I am sure that the Assessors will be able to inform your Lordship on that point, that for a boat to put into a crowd of drowning people is absolutely fatal, the only result would be that the boat would be swamped, and those in it would be added to the number of victims. The only way in which some work of saving life could be done on such an occasion was that which was taken by Mr. Lowe, the Officer who was called before your Lordship. He waited, an operation of the most painful character, requiring great nerve and great coolness, he waited until the sea had done its work with the great majority of people, and then put back and picked up a few of the survivors. But to suggest, as some questions which were put suggested, that there was inhumanity in not pushing into that crowd of drowning people in the hope of saving them, is, I submit, a course based upon ignorance of the fundamental conditions that attend on the endeavour to save people who are struggling in the water when, if you push your boat among them, the only result will be that those in the boat are added to the roll of victims.
On the whole, my Lord, I submit that the discipline on board the ship was perfect. The Company, of course, are not concerned with the passengers' behaviour. But the passengers behaved, taking them, as a whole, most admirably, and this tremendous catastrophe is one of those things that must happen every now and then, and do happen without any fault on the part of those concerned.
I respectfully ask the Court that the White Star Company and their Officers should be acquitted of all blame in connection with this appalling calamity.
I was calling the attention of my friend to another wireless message, to which I shall direct attention when I come to address you, which has not yet formed the subject of discussion. It has been mentioned. In virtue of what your Lordship said at an earlier stage, it has not been thought necessary to go into it in detail. I think, in consequence of my friend's observations yesterday, it is of some importance now - the one I am referring to - I have called my friend's attention to it, so that, if he desires to say anything, it may be said. It is the message from the "Norddam."