British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3

TESTIMONY OF JOHN FREDERICK VALENTINE JONES

Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

1303. Were you chief steward on board the "Lusitania” on the voyage from New York to Liverpool?
- Yes.

1304. Have you had more than one voyage on board the "Lusitania”?
- Four.

1305. Do you remember the 7th May last, when the ship was struck?
- Yes.

1306. Where were you?
- Crossing the main companion way.

1307. When she was struck what did you do?
- I was told by the second steward, whilst I was coming across, that a torpedo was approaching the ship on the starboard side. I walked outside and saw it coming.

1308. You saw the torpedo?
- Yes.

1309. In what direction?
- Coming right direct for the ship on the starboard side.

1310. How far away was it when you saw it?
- About 60 or 70 yards, I should say.

1311. Did you see any trace of a submarine?
- No.

1312. Or a periscope?
- Neither.

1313. Can you tell us how far away from where you were standing the torpedo struck the ship?
- I should say about 12 yards abaft from where I was standing.

1314. When it struck the ship did you do anything on Deck B about the lifebelts?
- The lifebelts were all in the rooms.

1315. Did you give any orders, or call out anything?
- I called out to the passengers as far as I could see directly as I went about the ship from deck to deck and to the crew also to get their lifebelts.

1316. Did you give any directions to the stewards and stewardesses?
- All I met I told to assist the passengers as much as they possibly could with their lifebelts.

1317. Did you go yourself to the smoking room and lounge?
- Yes.

1318. Did you proceed to give the same directions there?
- Yes.

1319. Everywhere you went along?
- Everywhere I went.

1320. Do you remember when you got on A deck seeing boat No. 17?
- Yes.

1321. What condition was she in?
- Down by the head.

1322. What had happened?
- The line had evidently run through the block.

1323. Was that on the port side or on the star board side?
- The starboard side.

1324. What did you do after that?
- We hoisted it up immediately.

1325. What happened to that boat afterwards?
- I could not say.

1326. Did you see whether she was filled?
- It was full of people. I was then engaged at the after-end of 15 boat, which came near the forward end of 17 boat. I think the rope of 17 boat ran through my legs whilst I was at 15, and I think I went down again.

1327. What happened to 15?
- 15 got safely away from the ship.

1328. Was she filled with passengers?
- She was filled with passengers.

1329. Then you yourself, I think, jumped into the water?
- I jumped into the water when the ship was sinking.

1330. And you were picked up, eventually?
- Yes.

1331. Were there ample lifebelts?
- Ample for everyone.

1332. In all the rooms?
- Everywhere.

1333. And in all the rooms were there notices with regard to the belts?
- Yes.

1334. Do you know whether on the top deck there was a reserve of lifebelts?
- I did not see them this voyage, but I believe there was. On previous voyages there had been.

1335. On the Thursday, the 6th May, was anything done as regards the lifeboats-that was the day before?
- There was the usual lifeboat drill.

1336. Was anything done to the boats; were they swung out?
- All swung out.

1337. Do you remember on the 7th May any orders being given as to closing the bulkhead doors?
- Yes. On the morning of the 7th May the staff captain met me on the main companion way, C deck, and said they wished the bulkhead doors to be closed and also the ports, and he said he would go down and see it done himself.

1338. Was that Captain Anderson?
- Yes, Staff Captain Anderson.

1339. As far as you know were they all closed at the time of the ship being struck?
- I believe they were.

Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

1340. With regard to the lifebelts, whereabouts had you seen any lifebelts on the deck prior to the ship being struck?
- On this voyage I had not seen any.

1341. Were there any lifebelts available, after the ship was struck, from the decks that you saw?
- No.

The Commissioner:
At present I believe they were there.

Mr. Rose Innes:
I am only putting the question.

The Commissioner:
I do not want you to put questions unless you have an object. Have you evidence that they were not there?

Mr. Rose Innes:
Yes, my Lord, I have.

The Commissioner:
Then it is quite right you should put the question.

1342. Mr. Rose Innes: (To the Witness.) With regard to the boats, you saw one of these boats, No. 17, I think, slip into a vertical position?
- No, I did not see it slip.

1343. Did you see it just after it slipped?
- I saw it in that position.

1344. Was it the bow or the stern which slipped?
-It was hanging bow down.

1345. Were any persons thrown from that boat into the water?
- I could not say.

1346. Did any similar accident happen that you saw to any other lifeboat?
- I did not see any.

1347. That was the only one you saw?
- Yes.

1348. And that too was No. 17 boat?
- No. 17.

1349. Mr. Scott: Did you know Mr. Vanderbilt?
- Yes.

1350. Did you happen to see him after the torpedo struck the ship?
- No.

Examined by Mr. CLEM EDWARDS.

1351. Did I understand you to say that the watertight doors were closed before the torpedo struck the ship?
- I said Captain Anderson gave orders and went down himself, and I understand he expressed himself afterwards as being perfectly satisfied that every thing was tight on the "E" deck.

1352. That w as in the morning of the day the torpedo struck the ship and before it struck the ship?
- That would be in the morning.

1353. What watertight doors would those be?
- Those on "E" deck forward.

1354. Were those the only watertight doors that were closed before the torpedo struck her?
- There are watertight doors in other parts of the ship, in the engine room and the store room on "E" deck which I do not know anything at all about.

1355. Is it your understanding that those watertight doors were closed up to the time the torpedo struck the ship?
- I do not know positively.

1356. You do not know positively but is that your understanding of it?
- I did not go down just before the ship was struck but they were closed previously according to Captain Anderson.

1357. From the observations made by Captain Anderson you understood the watertight doors were shut on the morning the torpedo struck the ship?
-Yes.

1358. Was it your understanding, without being positive about it, that the watertight doors had remained closed up to and including the time when the torpedo struck the ship?
- Yes, I understood that.

1359. Whereabouts were you in relation to the position where the torpedo struck the ship?
- I was just outside the main companion way on the starboard side.

1360. Where would that be precisely in relation to where you understand the torpedo struck the ship?
- I should suppose it would just be forward of amidships-slightly forward of amidships.

1361. Which deck were you on?
- "B" deck.

1362. Did you go any lower than "B" deck after the torpedo had struck?
- Yes, I went to "C" deck.

1363. Did you see any water there?
- No, not on "C" deck.

1364. Did you see anyone immediately after the torpedo struck her who had come up out of any of the watertight compartments forward of where the torpedo had struck and from a deck as low as "F" deck?
- I did not quite catch your question.

1365. Immediately after the torpedo struck did you see anybody who you would have known had come up from a part of the ship forward of where you were and from as low as "F" deck?
- No, I could not remember.

1366. Do you know whether any steps were taken to ascertain what damage had been done in particular watertight compartments?
- I do not know.

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

1367. You have been asked some questions about the lifebelts. We were told by a gentleman called Mr. Albert Laslett, the Board of Trade Engineer, and ship surveyor at Liverpool, and also by Captain Barrend who was the Board of Trade Emigration Officer at Liverpool, that they surveyed amongst other things, and inspected, the lifebelts. Do you remember them doing that?
- Yes, they did that very fully.

1368. And they told us that they were satisfied, and that they were adequate in numbers and quality. I notice there was no cross-examination directed to either of those points.

1369. The Commissioner: I am not going to listen to the evidence of people who say they did not see them. I did not see them, and no doubt many people did not see them. (To the witness.) Were you on the ship when she was lying in New York?
- Yes.

1370. Is there any reason, so far as you know, for saying that the lifebelts were taken off the ship in New York?
- No.

(The witness withdrew.)