British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 2


Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

1101. You were on board the "Lusitania" on the passage back from America to Liverpool?
- Yes.

1102. Now before you left New York did you go to the Cunard Office?
- Yes.

1103. Did you make any enquiry about a threat to sink the "Lusitania" by submarines?
- No, I only asked the man who gave me my ticket whether there was any extraordinary danger in travelling by the "Lusitania" and he told me, no, there was none as far as he knew, and that the Cunard Company were not likely to risk a ship of such enormous value if there was any extra danger.

1104. Now during the voyage did you get to know Captain Anderson?
- Yes, I knew him very well.

1105. He has been drowned I am sorry to say?
- Yes.

1106. Did he make any statement to you about the use of the boilers?
- No. He told me almost at the beginning of the voyage that six of the boilers had been cut off and that the result of that was that 1000 tons of coal would be saved on the voyage and I asked him a question or two with regard to that which I have put down in my statement. I asked him if that was altogether giving us the best chance, and his answer was that as the Germans had not succeeded in torpedoing any vessel that was going more than 12 knots an hour, and as the "Lusitania" with the boilers which were in commission could comfortably go 21 or 22 knots, it was considered that there was an ample margin of safety.

The Commissioner:
With whom was this conversation?

The Attorney-General:
With Captain Anderson, my Lord.

He was the staff captain.

The Commissioner:
He was the next under Captain Turner.

1107. The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord. (To the Witness): Now, will you just tell me, was there any boat drill during the voyage?
- As far as I am able to answer that question fully, at 11 o'clock there was a bell rung and there was a boat which was kept swung out all the time during the voyage as far as I know, and a number of men came and got into the boat, put on lifebelts for a few seconds and took them off again, the boat not being moved all this time; then they jumped out of the boat and ran back. That is all that I could see in the way of boat drill.

1108. Was there any boat drill before you left New York that you saw?
- No, I did not see any.

1109. Now, I want to know this. On the morning of Thursday, that is the 6th, when you were coming nearer to the British Isles, did you notice whether all the boats were swung out?
- I believe that Captain Anderson - I am not quite sure, but I think that Captain Anderson told me the night before they would be swung out in the early morning, before the passengers were up, and I think then that all the boats on that day before the torpedoing were swung out to the same extent that that first boat was all through the voyage.

1110. Now, will you just tell us where you were when the ship was torpedoed?
- I had come up from lunch in the lift and had gone up to the smoking room, and then, walking through the smoke room, got on to what is called the verandah.

1111. Outside the smoking room?
- Outside the smoking room in the open air, and looking straight aft, and I was talking to an American there when the explosion took place.

1112. What did you see, or what happened?
- I did not see the torpedo, but I saw the impact, and the immediate result of the impact saw that it shook the vessel, as far as I could make out, from stem to stern, and I saw a quantity of water at once pouring down. I suppose it had been thrown up by the force of the explosion, and was coming back again, and almost immediately it seemed to me that the list to starboard started.

1113. Did you see anything in the nature of an explosion or anything of that kind?
- There was a violent explosion along with the impact.

1114. I mean did you see anything yourself which indicated au explosion, or are you merely telling us of the impact?
- I should find it very difficult to describe, because it was only momentary. I do not think I can say that I saw any smoke or anything of that sort.

1115. You merely felt the impact?
- Yes. I felt the impact. I thought at first that it was a mine that we had struck, as I did not see the torpedo.

1116. Did you feel more than one shock?
- No.

1117. Now when that happened did you go to your cabin?
- I waited for a minute, and then I went down to my cabin on the D deck.

1118. And you got I think a lifebelt?
- Well there was no lifebelt properly so-called, it was a sort of jacket. I believe it was called Boddy's Patent Jacket.

1119. Was that on top of one of the wardrobes in your cabin?
- Yes.

1120. Your cabin was supplied with that?
- Yes.

1121. And then I suppose you went back again on to the deck?
- I went first to the port side. My cabin was on the starboard side but I groped my way back with very great difficulty as one of the witnesses has said, and I got first on to the port side for a moment, and I saw a man from a great height throw himself into the water and come down what seemed to me to be a fearful smash, and I saw another boat which was half lowered and the falls then seemed to get jammed.

1122. Was that on the port side?
- That was on the port side, and a great number of people in that boat were spilled into the water, and I walked back then to the starboard side.

1123. When you got to the starboard side did you yourself get into a boat?
- After 7 or 8 minutes.

1124. Eventually did you get into a boat?
- Yes. Eventually I got into a boat on the starboard side.

1125. How many were there in the boat with you?
- I could not say for certain, but I should think something over 40. I should think as it struck me there were between 40 and 50 people.

1126. Then you got away I suppose and eventually got picked up?
- Well, when we got into the boat two of the funnels were hanging over that side and threatening to smash the boats up. I attempted to get into a boat before, but there was a woman with a child in the boat, and she was afraid of me, perhaps, jumping near her, and she screamed to me not to jump, and so I went on to what I imagined to be the last boat there.

1127. Then you got away, I suppose, from the ship?
- Well, it was impossible really. We were so tightly packed that it was impossible to move the oars at first, and I thought the funnels would come down.

1128. Did you eventually get away from the ship?
- Yes, eventually.

1129. And were you picked up by a Manx fishing smack?
- Yes.

1130. How long after was that?
- I should think about an hour and three-quarters.

1131. Now I want to ask you, on your boat that you went away in, were there any officers?
- No, not so far as I know.

1132. Did you see any officers giving any orders to either of the boats that you were in?
- Personally I did not.

1133. Are you in a position to say that there were none or that there were any?
- In the boat in which I was?

1134. No, not in the boat, at the boats. - I did not see any, therefore I am not in a position to say there were any - I did not see any officers.

Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

1135. Are you in a position to say there were none there?
- I am afraid I could not say that.

1136. You said that one of the boats upon the port side spilled passengers into the sea?
- A number of passengers. I do not know that they were all spilled into the sea, but the boat seemed to me to tilt up.

1137. Can you give me any idea which of the port side boats it was?
- No.

1138. You cannot say how far forward it was or how far off?
- It was one of the forward boats, that I can say.

1139. Could you see what caused the boat to tilt?
- No, but I presume it was that the ropes would not work properly; in other words I think the technical term is that the falls jammed.

1140. Did you see who were working the ropes - was the boat being worked from the davits?
- No, I did not see it.

1141. Do you happen to know a Mrs. Crichton who was on board?
- No.

1142. You do not know whether she was one of the passengers in the boat?
- No.

Examined by Mr. JOSEPH COTTER.

1143. When you left the Verandah Café to go down on to the "D" deck, did you see any of the crew on your way down?
- No.

1144. Did you see any passengers coming up?
- There were people rushing about in all directions.

1145. Did you see any coming up the companion way?
- I saw a lady coming up as I was coming back and I saw a stewardess stop there very coolly and calmly help her to put on one of these jackets.

1145 a. A life jacket?
- Yes.

1146. Did you see any other members of the crew assisting the passengers?
- Personally, I did not.

1147. Did you see any members of the crew when you got back on to the deck?
- I do not think so as far as I know. I think I have tried to answer that question before, and, as far as I am able to judge, I did not see any of the crew.

1148. The question you were answering before was with regard to officers. Now I am speaking about the crew in general?
- I am not quite sure where the crew ends and where it begins. Are the firemen counted as members of the crew?

1149. Absolutely. - I presume there were a number of firemen in our boat, but I did not see them on the vessel itself before we got into the boat.

1150. Did you hear any orders being given?
- No, I did not hear any orders being given.

1151. Did you get your lifebelt out of your room yourself or was it given you by a steward?
- No, I got it from my cabin myself.

1152. Did you notice when you got to the starboard side of the ship how many boats were left on the starboard side?
- No, I could not say at all. The only two boats that I saw were the one which I thought of trying to get into at first and which I was prevented from getting into by this woman who screamed to me not to jump, and the one which I finally got into.

1153. You did not notice the other boats whether they had gone or were standing swinging on the davits?
- No, I did not notice them at all.

1154. Did you happen to know Mr. Alfred Vanderbilt?
- I did not see anything of him on the voyage, but I met him in New York, at the Knickerbocker Club.

1155. You did not see him on the boat?
- No, I did not speak to him on the boat, but I was told he was on the boat.

(The witness withdrew.)