British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3


Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

1836. Were you a first class passenger on board the steamship "Lusitania”?
- Yes.

1837. Did you go out by her, or were you only on her during the return voyage?
- Only during the return voyage.

1838. At the time she was struck on the afternoon of the 7th May, were you at luncheon in the first class saloon?
- I was.

1839. And with you was there a Mrs. Crichton?
- Yes

1840. Who was unfortunately one of the drowned?
- Yes.

1841. After the vessel was struck did you take her upstairs to one of the boats?
- I did, and I assisted in taking another young lady up who was saved.

1842. On which side of the ship was the boat that you took them to?
- We came out on the port side.

1843. Did you help her into a boat in which there were some other persons?
- I did.

1844. Having got her into the boat what happened?
- She was partly in the boat, I was standing with one foot on the deck of the "Lusitania” and one foot on the lifeboat, when one of the ropes broke, or the sailors loosed their hold, and the thing collapsed and went into the water. I seemed to go down a long way, and when I came up I was under the boat. It was bottom upwards. Then I saw an open port hole about two feet above me, and I clutched it but could not hold on. Then I saw a rope hanging down, which I got hold of and some twenty others too [sic] hold of it. We seemed to be sinking and some could not swim. I let go and then I saw a champagne case which I swam to but let go, and then swam for an oar. Then I saw a long piece of wood some distance ahead of me, which I swam for and in an exhausted condition reached it.

1845. And ultimately I believe you were picked up?
- Yes, I think I was picked up about 4 o'clock. I must have been unconscious some two hours. I was picked up by one of the lifeboats, in which were some 80 other passengers.

1846. With reference to the boat in which you placed Mrs. Crichton, was that a large boat or an ordinary sized boat?
- It was one of the large lifeboats.

1847. With what capacity?
- With some 50 or 60 I should think. As a matter of fact when I was handing her in there were seven women in it and two men getting the oars loose, and two sailors attempting to lower it.

1848. How many sailors did you observe lowering the boat?
- One at each rope.

1849. No more?
- No more.

1850. With reference to lifebelts, did you search about the deck for lifebelts?
- Not on that particular day, but I had previously observed that no lifebelts were on the deck at all. I had spoken about it to several friends on board.

1851. Where were the lifebelts kept, as far as you saw?
- In the cabins. There was one in my cabin, on the top of the wardrobe. It particularly struck my attention that no lifebelts were on the deck, under such critical conditions.

1852. The Commissioner: What do you think had become of them since the vessel left Liverpool?
- I am not aware. I saw none on the deck. I saw lifebuoys.

1853. But do you mean to swear they were not there?
- I cannot swear unless they were covered up. I saw none.

1854. Mr. Rose-Innes: Up to the time of the ship being struck by the torpedo you had been struck by their absence?
- I had been.

1855. And mentioned it?
- It struck me -

The Commissioner:
What he says is that he did not see them. That I can quite believe; but that they were not there I do not believe. The Surveyor says they were there. They did not fly away.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
Your Lordship has had evidence that they were on board before starting.

The Commissioner:
What do you suggest became of them?

Mr. Rose-Innes:
I can make no suggestion whatever, except to call the evidence and ask your Lordship to draw your own inference.

The Commissioner:
Do you mean they were stolen. They could not have been eaten. What became of them? They were there when the ship left Liverpool and the carpenter says they were not taken off when the ship was at New York.

1856. Mr. Rose-Innes: I can offer no theory, my Lord. But there is the fact that this witness did not observe them. (To the Witness): Had you remarked on their absence to other people?
- I had.

1857. The Commissioner: Did you speak to anybody in authority about them?
- I did not do so.

1858. When you say you remarked it, you mean to say you talked to some other passengers?
- I did.

1859. Mr. Rose-Innes: Had you, as far as you were concerned, seen any of the boat drill?
- I had not. As a matter of fact, I think the lifeboat drill took place before I was up in the morning. I did not get up very early.

1860. Was there any lifebelt drill amongst the passengers?
- None at all.

1861. Had you seen any instructions anywhere as to what should be done in case of emergency?
- I had not.

1862. The Commissioner: Did you look to see whether there were any?
- I looked in my cabin, because I was under the impression that in one boat I travelled in instructions were placed there as to where I should go in case of emergency; so I particularly looked in my cabin for them, and there were not any.

1863. Did you ask for any instructions?
- Ask who, my Lord?

1864. Anybody.
- No, I did not.

1865. Mr. Rose-Innes: But in fact there were none in your cabin?
- There were no instructions in my cabin.

1866. Now did you notice anything with regard to the condition of some one or more of the lifeboats?
- I did.

1867. I understand you to say you did observe something with regard to the condition of one or more of the lifeboats?
- I noticed there was a hole in the bottom of the boat where apparently a bung should have been placed, but was not there.

1868. Was this before the boats were swung out?
- Yes.

1869. Did you see anything wrong with any of the lifeboats after they were launched as far as you could observe?
- No, I did not.

1870. The Attorney-General: The day before the ship was torpedoed when you say that there was a hole in one of the lifeboats did you draw the attention of the captain or of anyone else to that?
- Not the day before the ship was torpedoed, it was the day previously to the boats being swung out.

1871. Did you draw the attention of the captain or anyone else to that?
- No, it was not my duty and I did not do so. The boats had not been swung out by that time.

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

1872. Do you know whether the plugs are kept in those holes or not?
- I do not know.

Examined by Mr. SCOTT.

1873. Did you know Mr. Alfred Vanderbilt?
- Very well by sight.

1874. Did you see him at all after the vessel was struck?
- No, I was under the impression he was in the ladies' saloon, but I do not remember seeing him there.

(The Witness withdrew.)