British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 2


Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

805. Were you a wireless telegraphist on board the "Lusitania”?
- Yes.

806. When were you appointed to the "Lusitania”?
- The day before she sailed from Liverpool on her last voyage.

807. That would be about the 16th of April?
- Yes.

808. And prior to that had you had experience in sending and receiving Marconi messages?
- Yes; full experience.

809. Now, can you tell me how many operators you had upon the "Lusitania”?
- There were two of us.

810. Yourself and who else?
- David McCormick.

811. And did you and he divide the work between you?
- Yes.

812. Did you take six hours each?
- Yes.

813. And was there a continuous service kept up the whole time?
- Absolutely.

814. Now, when you joined the ship at Liverpool, did you ask the Captain if he had any special instructions to give you?
- Yes, prior to the ship's departure from Liverpool.

1815. What did he say?
- Certain instructions issued from the Admiralty through the Captain were communicated to me at the time.

816. Did he also give you any instructions with reference to accepting messages?
- Yes.

817. What were they?
- That no passengers' messages must be sent from the ship whatever.

818. Now, you left New York on the 1st of May and from time to time you were in touch with various Land Wireless Stations?
- Yes.

819. I need not go through those. And you received certain communications from time to time?
- Yes.

820. Mostly for the passengers?
- Yes.

821. They were ordinary communications?
- Yes, ordinary.

822. Now, on the 6th of May, that is the day before the ship was torpedoed, you received, I believe, three messages?
- Yes.

823. One Government message sent to the commander?
- Yes.

824. And two private messages to passengers?
- Yes.

825. On Friday morning the 7th, did you receive two Government messages?
- Yes.

826. Which were from a wireless coast station?
- Yes.

827. The first was at about 11.30?
- Approximately.

828. And the other one shortly after 1 o'clock?
- Yes.

829. The Attorney-General: There is no dispute if your Lordship remembers the evidence. I only want just to confirm it. (To the witness.) Now, at the time the torpedo struck the ship who was on watch?
- McCormick, the assistant operator, was on watch.

830. Where were you?
- In the after dining saloon; that is situated on the D deck aft.

831. And on which deck was the Marconi house?
- On the hurricane deck.

832. Did you feel the shock?
- I felt some shock or other and I thought it was a boiler explosion. I could not conclude at the time what had taken place.

833. Did you feel more than one?
- No, only one.

834. And what did you do then; did you go up to the wireless cabin?
- Yes, immediately.

835. And did you find McCormick there?
- Yes, he was there.

836. Did you thereupon, when you went up to the cabin, in pursuance of the regulations send out a distress signal?
- I did.

837. What was it?
- S.O.S.

838. Was it followed by anything?
- Yes.

839. And did you state in your S.O.S. signal the situation of the ship?
- No; all I said after the S.O.S. was sent out was "Come at once - big list," followed by the position of the ship.

840. What did you put in about the position of the ship - where she was?
- Off South Head, Old Kinsale.

841. Was that signal at once acknowledged?
- Yes, immediately by a wireless coast station.

842. After that did you repeat the message?
- Practically continuously.

843. Then, subsequently, did you get instructions from an officer of the ship?
- Yes.

844. What did he direct you to do?
- He told us the true position of the ship was 10 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale, and that was immediately sent out and further acknowledgment was given by the wireless station.

845. Did you also hear other stations reply?
- Yes, but I was unable to read them owing to local noises.

846. Now how were these messages sent out - by what power?
- They were sent out both by the ship's power, that is power supplied from the ship's dynamo, and in addition to that after three or four minutes after the torpedo struck the ship, the power section gave out and we had to fall back upon the emergency section which is situated inside the wireless cabin.

847. And did you continue sending out the S.O.S.?
- Yes, I continued sending out the emergency signal.

848. How long did you remain in the cabin?
- Until just a few moments before the ship sank. I do not know definitely what time it was.

849. Did you stay there as long as it was possible?
- Yes, as long as it was possible.

850. And when you left you went down with the ship, I suppose?
- I jumped into a boat that was full of water. Where I jumped from, I have no recollection.

851. I suppose I need hardly ask, but did all the records at the wireless station go down with the ship?
- Everything.

Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

852. I understand you received one Government message on the 6th of May and two on the 7th?
- Yes, that is quite correct.

853. Is it the practice, upon the receipt of messages, to make any record of them in writing?
- We must make a record before we can take the message.

854. How do you receive the message; do you receive it upon a tape?
- No, we receive it by sound reading, and we translate it on the Morse system.

855. Having received the message, do you enter it in a book or upon any document?
- No. On an ordinary telegraph form.

856. Upon this occasion did you do that?
- Yes.

857. And it was those documents that have been lost?
- Yes.

858. There is no record now of the messages?
- None whatever.

859. Did you communicate the messages you received - I am not asking you what they were - but did you communicate those to the Captain of the ship?
- Immediately.

860. Can you give me approximately the times when you received those from the 7th of May?
- About 11 and 1 o'clock ; or 11.30 and 1 o'clock ; I am not sure of the times.

861. And when you received the wireless messages, were the messages from the Admiralty?
- I presume they were.

Examined by Mr. JOSEPH COTTER.

862. Can you tell us where the Marconi room was situated on the "Lusitania”?
- Between the 2nd and 3rd funnel on the hurricane deck.

863. Did you go up on the boat deck after the ship was struck?
- Yes, I came along the boat deck from the after dining saloon to get to the wireless cabin.

864. You were in the after dining saloon when she was struck?
- Yes.

865. That was in the second cabin?
- Yes.

866. You came from the second cabin up the companion way?
- Yes.

867. And you would have to cross the bridge on to the boat deck?
- Yes.

868. Were there any passengers on the boat deck when you got there?
- I saw nobody on the boat deck.

869. How long was it after the ship was struck that you went on to the boat deck?
- Approximately I think it took about a minute and a half to get up to the wireless cabin from the dining saloon.

870. How long did you remain in your cabin?
- Until the last moment:

871. Did you get into a boat?
- Yes, I did.

872. What was the number of the boat?
- I have no idea.

873. Can you tell us where it was situated?
- That I could not tell you.

874. Did you go forward or aft when you came out of your cabin?
- Immediately from the cabin into a boat.

875. On the starboard side?
- Yes.

876. That would be No. 11 boat I take it?
- I could not say.

877. Did you ever see the number of the boats?
- Often. The boat deck was under water at the time.

878. Did you get a boat badge - had you a boat number?
- Yes.

879. What was the number of your boat on your badge?
- No. 1.

880. That was right forward on the starboard side?
- Right forward.

881. And outside your cabin, which was No. 11 on the starboard side and No. 12 on the port side?
- It does not follow that I went in that boat.

882. But you said the boat directly opposite your cabin?
- It might have drifted down with the weigh [way] of the ship.

883. Where did you get into the boat?
- From outside the wireless cabin.

884. What do you mean when you say it drifted down with the weigh [way] of the ship?
- There was a certain amount of weigh [way] on the ship, and the ship was going ahead, and this boat was not dropped from one of the falls, but I do not know what the number of the boat was; it was full of water at the time.

885. And you say there was some weigh [way] on the ship at the time when the boat deck was awash?
- I presume so, yes, a little.

886. She was well down by the head then?
- Yes.

887. How many people were there in this boat that you went into?
- Three or four.

888. Three or four people?
- Yes.

889. Were any members of the crew in it?
- I cannot recollect. I do not know who they were.

890. Could you identify anybody who was in that boat?
- No.

891. How long were you in the boat after you left the ship?
- I transferred from one boat into another.

892. How long were you in that boat?
- Just a matter of moments.

893. What did you leave the boat for?
- The ship's funnel appeared to be coming down on top of me at the time, or it appeared to be so, so I sprung from that boat to another one.

894. Do you know the number of the other boat that you got into?
- No, I do not.

(The witness withdrew.)