British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3


Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

1875. Were you also a first class passenger on the "Lusitania”?
- I was.

1876. You recollect the day she was struck by the torpedo?
- Yes.

1877. Did you get into one of the lifeboats on the port side of the vessel?
- I did.

1878. About how many other persons were there in that lifeboat?
- I should imagine between forty and fifty.

1879. Was that boat successfully launched?
- It was in a way, but when I got up on deck, as a matter of fact, there were very few of the crew about, there seemed to be only one at the bow and one at the stern of the boat, and they could not get the boat off. The boat was swung right on to the deck, and, of course, I went five or six paces back, and I told all the others on each side to push the boat right over, and we eventually got it over. I got all the women and children into the boat, and then a few gentlemen followed, and when we were lowered we got into the water but it tilted just a little up just before we got in, and two of the passengers fell out, but after the boat really reached the water she commenced to leak immediately.

1880. Were there any sailors in charge of the boat - any of the crew?
- No sailors at all, none whatever.

1881. You tell us that as soon as she was launched, she began to leak. Did you yourself see the water coming in?
- I did.

1882. And what did you and some of the other passengers do or attempt to do?
- I had no hat on as a matter of fact, but the other gentlemen in the boat took their hats and baled the water out.

1883. How long did they continue to do that?
- For about four or five minutes.

1884. And then what happened?
- When I saw the boat was level with the sea, and everyone, of course, was expecting the boat to go down every minute; I am a very good swimmer, and I jumped out immediately, and I was followed by another passenger. I had been swimming for about a minute and a half, and I had turned round to look at the boat, and the boat had gone down, capsized, with the keel upwards. All had gone down with it with the exception of two or three who were hanging on to the keel.

1885. When you let down the lifeboat, how far up was the water with reference to the gunwale of the boat?
- It was taking us right up to the knees, the sea was level with the water in the boat. We were all sitting right up to the knees in the boat, expecting the boat to go down every minute.

1886. Before you got into the lifeboat, had you made a search about the decks for lifebelts?
- I had.

1887. Did you find any?
- Not a single one.

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

1888. Did you see Mr. Jenkins at work whilst you were seeking to get into the boat, the last witness?
- No.

1889. Apparently, what happened with regard to your boat was, that you and certain of the passengers were successful in getting her into the water?
- Yes.

1890. No doubt it was a very difficult task?
- As a matter of fact had it not been for the passengers that boat would never have been in the water at all; it was entirely owing to the passengers. I am pretty strong and I got right into the centre, and I went back five or six paces, and I said to the others, "The moment I rush the boat to the centre, push like wild" and we were just able to get the boat over, and then I got all the women and children into the boat. I said "women and children must go into the boat first and men afterwards."

1891. And you carried out your object?
- Yes, all the women and children got in first.

1892. And I daresay it is highly probable that owing to what I may call this fight which had to be fought in order to get the boat outboard, as the boat went down there must have been a good deal of damage done to her?
- No, I do not see how she could possibly have got any damage at all because she was leaking from the bottom. Immediately she touched the water she commenced to leak, and it was impossible. There were five or six gentlemen trying to bale her out with their hats.

1893. The Commissioner: What is your profession?
- An American director of an American brewery.

1894. Of what?
- An Anglo-American brewery director. I am a director of six companies.

1895. When the boat got over the side, the boat that you were engaged in launching, did she touch the side of the "Lusitania” while she was being launched?
- It appeared to me that the boat kept fairly clear of the side of the "Lusitania." I could not swear whether she actually touched the side or not.

1896. It is difficult to understand bow she could have been lowered into the water on the port side without touching the side of the ship?
- I am not certain, but I could not answer that question.

1897. Mr. Butler Aspinall: That is what I had in my mind. I mean to say what was happening was this. Assume this to be the ship, the ship had got a list to starboard, had she not?
- Yes, a little at that time.

1898. And you and the gentlemen who were dealing with that boat found that the boat had swung inboard by reason of the list?
- Yes.

1899. That is so?
- Yes, that was the difficulty we had in getting her out.

1900. Then you, exercising all the strength you could, succeeded with force in pushing her over and outboard?
- That is so.

1901. Then having got her as far as that, I think I am right in saying, am I not, that from the position where she then was to the water, was what - somewhere about fifty to sixty feet, I am told, down, and while she is going down, unless you keep her free of the side of the ship, she would be seeking to get back to a vertical position, would she not, and touching and bumping against the side of the ship as she gets lower and lower and at last reaches the water?
- I do not remember her bumping against the ship; she got fairly well to the water, but the trouble was when she got into the water. She commenced to leak immediately, and there were five or six gentlemen with their hats doing their very utmost to bale her out, and just in a few moments she was right full of water level to the sea.

1902. I am not complaining for a moment, I only want to get, if I can, what probably did happen to this boat. I have no doubt that at the moment your hands were full doing what you were doing - you were taking an active, part in saving these women and children as you have told us, very properly, but as to what was happening to the boat as between the boat and the side of the ship, it is really impossible for you to speak with any certainty is it not?
- Yes, it is in a way, but I can only say this, that there was no kind of knocking about the boat while it was being lowered into the water. I should have remembered that; there was nothing of that sort.

1903. Of course, if it was bumping against the side of' the ship in view of the fact that before it gets to the, water, it is not water-borne, and she had how many people in her?
- I should say just over 40 people in her.

1904. A fairly heavy load?
- A fairly heavy load; I have been informed that the boats hold about 60 people altogether, so that in a way of course it was not a heavy load.

1905. In view of the load it was carrying if it was bumping against the side of the ship it is highly probable that it might sustain damage, is it not?
- I am quite sure that it did not bump against the ship; I will not admit that she did bump against the ship. The trouble of that boat was that when she reached the water she leaked immediately until she filled full of water.

1906. The Commissioner: Mr. Aspinall wants to know what happened to her before she reached the water?
- There was no undue bumping, that was perfectly impossible. I would have remembered that - no undue bumping whatever; in fact, she went down very smoothly indeed.

Re-examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

1907. Were you in the boat while she was being lowered?
- I was.

1908. Was there as far as you know any bumping against the side of the ship sufficient to account for the straining of the timbers?
- No, there was not.

1909. Nothing of the sort?
- No, nothing that I can remember; I would have remembered that.

1910. She reached the water in safety?
- Yes, she reached the water in safety.

1911. And then began to fill?
- Yes, she then began to fill immediately and in a few minutes was level with the sea, and all the passengers on board.

(The Witness withdrew.)