British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 2


Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

1052. I think you with your husband, the late Mr. Charles Alfred Leigh Royd, were on your way from Australia via Canada to this country and were passengers upon the "Lusitania"?
- That is so.

1053. Do you remember the day, Friday the 7th of May, when the ship was struck?
- Yes.

1054. I think, in fact, that you were in your cabin lying down after lunch?
- Yes.

1055. Now will you tell my Lord and the Court what observations you made after that - what happened next?
- Do you mean what happened to me personally, or what I heard or saw?

1056. What happened to you personally.
- Not being fully dressed I gathered a few things together, which took two or three minutes, and then went up with my husband on deck, and when we reached the top deck (our cabin was on D deck) we realised that we had come without our lifebelts and returned for them, and on our return to the deck, the staircase was very difficult to ascend as the list was becoming more marked. I do not know whether this is the sort of thing you want.

1057. I want you just to tell us just what happened to you then. What did you hear that first showed you that something unusual was happening?
- I was lying down and I heard a crash, and there was no doubt in my mind, or my husband's mind, what had happened.

1058. You had heard talk of submarines, and you were sure that this was a submarine?
- Yes.

1059. Then you described how you went up the staircase on to the deck. Had you any assistance from anyone?
- Yes. On the second occasion when we went up on deck it was so difficult to mount the staircase, that we thought as we took three steps we might fall four back, and a steward certainly helped us by pushing us up on to the top deck, and I should like to say that I think their behaviour was most excellent and self-sacrificing.

1060. That applies to the stewards and stewardesses both?
- Yes.

1061. You reached the top deck, and after you had returned to your cabin and provided yourself with your lifebelts you went back?
- Yes.

1062. After you went back will you tell me all that you saw then. First of all, did you notice anything about the portholes?
- Yes. Our cabin being on the same deck as the dining-room, on passing out on the second occasion, I saw water streaming into the dining-room. I thought to myself that it was through the portholes, as it was in a sort of jet of water coming down, not in any large quantity, but as if it was pouring through a hole.

1063. You did not see any other means by which it could come in?
- No, because I did not think the torpedo had entered that part of the ship - I concluded it was coming through the porthole.

1064. Were you told by anybody to go to any particular boat?
- No.

1065. Then what did you do next?
- We then went on deck, and the list was so marked by that time that we had to hold on by a brass ring and decide what we should do, what boat we should go to, whether we should rush for where we saw a great many go, or whether we should wait, and we then decided to wait for a few minutes. We felt quite calm about it.

1066. Did you see any boat lowered while you were waiting?
- Yes, two boats or more.

1067. Were they successfully lowered?
- Well, I do not think I know enough about those

1168. Did the boats get safely into the water I mean?
- Did they touch the water?

1069. Yes.
- Yes, I think I saw them lowered into the water.

1070. As far as you could see without casualty?
- Yes.

1071. Could you see, in fact, whether there was any casualty?
- No, but I have been told that the first lifeboat had gone down.

1072. While you were there you did not see any casualty?
- No.

1073. Then I want you to come to your own boat, which, I think, was the third. Can you describe whereabouts it was. It was on the starboard side, was it not?
- Yes; it was on the starboard side, somewhere about amidships; more than that I cannot say.

1074. What happened to you. You got into the boat?
- Yes; but the list was so strong that we could not walk down. We had to sort of rush down, clinging to the railing, which at that time was nearly under water, I should say, and sort of tumble into the boat, assisted by passengers and seamen. We no sooner got into the boat than it was lowered with another boat on top of us, and a funnel fell on to us.

1075. Do you mean it really actually fell on to you?
- Well, directly we got into the boat, we were aware of another ship's boat being lowered on to us, and a broken funnel may have fallen on to that boat or was falling at the same time,

1076. You did get away, at any rate?
- No, we did not get clear; we had just got into the boat as this happened.

1077. The boat that was being lowered on the top of you was not lowered so far as to actually fall upon your boat?
- Yes, it was the cause of our boat going down.

1078. It actually struck your boat?
- Yes, it actually struck our boat, and turned our boat over and we went down under the water.

1079. And do you remember what happened to you after that?
- Well I was in the water. I had a lifebelt on and I was underneath for a few seconds, and then I came to the surface again and I thought I was in the water about a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes, but when I was picked up by some stewards who were on an upturned boat, I asked them to look round to see if they could possibly see my husband in the water. I said I had only been a few minutes in the water. One of them said "Oh, I think you have been longer than that as it is now by my watch after 3 o'clock, and the ship went down about a quarter past two."

1080. And I think you never saw your husband again?
- I never saw him again.

1081. Was there any panic at all?
- No, none at all. I was very much struck with that - except for a few women calling and asking for lifebelts, there was no panic in any way. They were rather screaming out a few of them for lifebelts, one or two that is all.

1082. And there is no observation you wish to make to the Court as a passenger, is there?
- No.

Examined by Mr. JOSEPH COTTER.

1083. When you were lying in your room did anybody tell you there had been an accident?
- Nobody told me; my husband was in there and we just realised what had happened. No one told me anything.

1084. Did you see a stewardess?
- No.

1085. Did you get a lifebelt from any of the stewards, or did you take it down from the rack yourself?
- We took them down from the rack ourselves.

1086. And put them on yourselves?
- Yes.

1087. Did you see any stewards on your way up to the boat-deck?
- No.

1088. Did you see any stewards on the boat-deck when you got there, or any members of the crew?
- Well, I might have seen an odd seaman or two about, but I saw no officer.

1089. You see you made a statement, and I just want you to verify it again, that the stewards and stewardesses were doing good work?
- Yes, I saw the stewardesses helping people, but they did not help me personally.

1090. You had already got your lifebelt?
- Yes, I did not want any help.

1091. Had you any difficulty in getting up to the boat deck?
- Yes, I have just said it was very difficult to get up the stairs the second time we went up to the boat deck. We were helped by a steward then.

1092. Did your boat that you got into get into the water safely?
- Yes, I think so. It was lowered safely.

1093. Did it collapse or was it upturned or what happened to it?
- Another boat fell on it and turned it over.

1094. How many people would there be in that boat?
- I do not think a great many. I had not really time to realise. I should think there might have been a dozen or less. I am not quite clear. I had not time to think.

1095. You were all thrown into the water?
- Yes. I never saw any of those people again.

Examined by Mr. SCOTT.

1096. Did you know Mr. Alfred Vanderbilt?
- Not personally, only by sight.

1097. Did you see him after the torpedo struck the boat?
- Yes.

1098. Could you tell me where you saw him?
- I saw him come out of the entrance to the staircase, the main entrance on to the boat deck with a lifebelt on.

1099. Did you see him for long?
- I saw him walk across the deck towards the boat and that is all.

1100. And you do not know what happened after that?
- I do not know.

(The witness withdrew.)