United States Senate Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of Arthur G. Peuchen

5534. The captain said that?
- Yes. That was his suggestion; and I said I did not think it was feasible, and I said I could get in the boat if I could get hold of a rope. However, we got hold of a loose rope in some way that was hanging from the davit, near the block anyway, and by getting hold of it I swung myself off the ship, and lowered myself into the boat.

5535. How far did you have to swing yourself?
- The danger was jumping off from the boat. It was not after I got a straight line; it was very easy lowering. But I imagine it was opposite the C deck at the time. On getting into the boat I went aft in the lifeboat, and said to the quartermaster, [Hichens] "What do you want me to do?" He said, "Get down and put that plug in," and I made a dive down for the plug, and the ladies pretty well aft, and I could not see at all. It was dark down there. I felt with my hands, and I said it would be better for him to do it and me do his work, and I said, "Now, you get down and put in the plug, and I will undo the shackles," that is, take the blocks off. So he dropped the blocks, and he got down, and he came rushing back to assist me, and he said, "Hurry up." He said "This boat is going to founder." I thought he meant our lifeboat was going to founder. I thought he had had some difficulty in finding the plug, or he had not gotten it in properly. But he meant the large boat was going to founder, and that we were to hurry up and get away from it. So we got the rudder in, and he told me to go forward and take an oar. I went forward and got an oar on the port side of the lifeboat; the sailor was on my left, on the starboard side. But we were just opposite each other in rowing.

5536. Who was the sailor?
- He was the man who gave evidence just before me.

5537. Mr. Fleet, from the lookout.
- From the lookout, yes; sitting next to me on my left. He told us to row as hard as possible away from the suction. Just as we got rowing out part of the way, this stowaway, an Italian -

5538. Pardon me. Did the officer say to row away, so as to get away from the suction?
- The quartermaster who was in charge of our boat told us to row as hard as we could to get away from this suction, and just as we got a short distance away this stowaway made his appearance. He was an Italian by birth, I should think, who had a broken wrist or arm, and he was of no use to us to row. He got an oar out, but he could not do much, so we got him to take the oar in.

5539. Where did he make his appearance from, Major?
- Underneath; I think he was stowed away underneath. I should imagine if there was any room for him to get underneath the bow of the boat he would be there. I imagine that was where he came from. He was not visible when looking at the boat. There were only two men when she was lowered.

5540. Would you know him if you should see him?
- No, it was dark. At daylight I was rowing very hard - in the morning - and I did not notice. As we rowed, pulled away from the Titanic, there was an officer's call of some kind. We stopped rowing.

5541. A whistle?
- A sort of a whistle. Anyway, the quartermaster told us to stop rowing so he could hear it, and this was a call to come back to the boat. So we all thought we ought to go back to the boat. It was a call. But the quartermaster said, "No, we are not going back to the boat." He said, "It is our lives now, not theirs," and he insisted upon our rowing farther away.

5542. Who made the rebellion against it?
- I think the rebellion was made by some of the married women that were leaving their husbands.

5543. And did you join in that?
- I did not say anything. I knew I was perfectly powerless. He was at the rudder. He was a very talkative man. He had been swearing a great deal, and was very disagreeable. I had had one row with him. I asked him to come and row, to assist us in rowing, and let some woman steer the boat, as it was a perfectly calm night. It did not require any skill for steering. The stars were out. He refused to do it, and he told me he was in command of that boat, and I was to row.

5544. Did he remain at the tiller?
- He remained at the tiller, and if we wanted to go back while he was in possession of the tiller, I do not think we could have done so. The women were in between the quartermaster and myself and the other seaman. The night was cold and we kept rowing on. Then he imagined he saw a light. I have done a good deal of yachting in my life, I have owned a yacht for six years and have been out on the Lakes, and I could not see these lights. I saw a reflection. He thought it was a boat of some kind. He thought probably it might be a buoy out there of some kind, and he called out to the next boat, which was within hearing, asking if he knew if there was any buoy around there. This struck me as being perfectly absurd, and showed me the man did not know anything about navigating, expecting to see a buoy in the middle of the Atlantic. However, he insisted upon us rowing. We kept on rowing toward this imaginary light and, after a while, after we had gone a on distance - I am ahead of my story. We commenced to hear signs of the breaking up of the boat.

5545. Of the Titanic?
- Of the Titanic. At first I kept my eyes watching the lights, as long as possible.

5546. From your position in the boat, did you face it?
- I was facing it at this time. I was rowing this way ( indicating), and afterwards I changed to the other way. We heard a sort of a call for help after this whistle I described a few minutes ago. This was the officer calling us back. We heard a sort of a rumbling sound and the lights were still on at the rumbling sound, as far as my memory serves me; then a sort of an explosion, then another. It seemed to be one, two, or three rumbling sounds, then the lights went out. Then the dreadful calls and cries.

5547. For help?
- We could not distinguish the exact cry for assistance; moaning and crying; frightful. It affected all the women in our boat whose husbands were among these; and this went on for some time, gradually getting fainter, fainter. At first it was horrible to listen to.

5548. How far was it away?
- I think we must have been five-eighths of a mile, I should imagine, when this took place. It was very hard to guess the distance. There were only two of us rowing a very heavy boat with a good many people in it, and I do not think we covered very much ground.

5549. While these cries of distress were going on, did anyone in the boat urge the quartermaster to return?
- Yes; some of the women did. But, as I said before, I had had a row with him, and I said to the women, "It is no use you arguing with that man, at all. It is best not to discuss matters with him." He said it was no use going back there, there was only a lot of stiffs there, later on, which was very unkind, and the women resented it very much. I do not think he was qualified to be a quartermaster.

5550. As a matter of fact, you did not return to the boat?
- We did not return to the boat.

5551. After you left its side?
- No.

5552. And when the boat went down, were you looking toward it?
- I was looking toward the boat; yes.

5553. Did you see it?
- I saw it when the lights went out. You could not tell very much after the lights went out.

5554. You were not close enough to recognize anyone aboard?
- Oh, no.

5555. Could you see the outlines of the people on the deck?
- No; you could not. I could only see the outline of the boat, you might say.

5556. Do you know how she went down?
- While the lights were burning, I saw her bow pointing down and the stern up; not in a perpendicular position, but considerable.

5557. About what angle?
- I should think an angle of not as much as 45°.

5558. From what you saw, do you think the boat was intact, or had it broken in two?
- It was intact at that time. I feel sure that an explosion had taken place in the boat, because in passing the wreck the next morning - we steamed past it - I just happened to think of this, which may be of some assistance to this inquiry - I was standing forward, looking to see if I could see any dead bodies, or any of my friends, and to my surprise I saw the barber's pole floating. The barber's pole was on the C deck, my recollection is - the barber shop - and that must have been a tremendous explosion to allow this pole to have broken from its fastenings and drift with the wood.

5559. Did you hear the explosions?
- Yes, sir; I heard the explosions.

5560. How loud were they?
- Oh, a sort of a rumbling sound. It was not a sharp sound - more of a rumbling kind of a sound, but still sharp at the same time. It would not be as loud as a clap of thunder, or anything that way, or like a boiler explosion, I should not think.

5561. Were these explosions evidently from under the water?
- I should think they were from above. I imagined that the decks had blown up with the pressure, pulling the boat down, bow on, this heavyweight, and the air between the decks; that is my theory of the explosion. I do not know whether it is correct or not, but I do not think it was the boilers. I think it was the pressure, that heavy weight shoving that down, the water rushing up, and the air coming between the decks; something had to go.

5562. How many explosions did you hear?
- I am not absolutely certain of this, because there was a good deal of excitement at the time, but I imagine there were three, one following the other very quickly.

5563. Did you see the captain after he told you to go below and get through the window into the lifeboat?
- No; I never saw him after that.

5564. From what you saw of the captain, was he alert and watchful?
- He was doing everything in his power to get women in these boats, and to see that they were lowered properly. I thought he was doing his duty in regard to the lowering of the boats, sir.

5565. Did you see the officer of the watch that night?
- Whom do you mean? I hardly know what you mean?

5566. Who was the officer with you on your side of the boat?
- The second officer.

5567. Mr. Lightoller?
- Yes, sir.

5568. Had you seen the captain before that night?
- I passed him in one of the companionways some place, just about dinner time.

5569. What time?
- I can not be very certain as to the hour; around 7 o'clock, I imagine. I generally come out to dress about 7 o'clock.

5570. What time did you dine that night?
- I dined a little after 7; I think it was a quarter after.

5571. In the main dining room?
- In the main dining room; yes.

5572. Did the captain dine in that room?
- I do not think so. I think he dined in the other - in the restaurant.

5573. But you did not see him?
- I did not see him dining.

5574. I wish you would say whether or not these lifeboats were equipped with food and water and lights.
- As far as I could tell, our boat was equipped with everything in that respect. I heard some talk that there was not proper food in some of the boats, and when I was on the Carpathia I made it my business to go down and look at one or two, and I found hard-tack in this sealed box.

5575. In both of them?
- On the boat. I did not go all around the fleet.

5576. You say you looked at one or two?
- One or two.

5577. Did you find provisions and water in both?
- I did not examine the kegs, but I was assured by the sailors there was water in them.

5578. Did you see lights in them?
- We had lights in our boat, but some of the other boats did not. I know there was a boat that hung near us that had not lights. Whether it was on account of not being able to light their lights I do not know.

5579. You say there were 36 or 37 people in your boat?
- No, sir.

5580. In the first boat that was lowered?
- No; I said I thought about 26 or 27.

5581. In the first one?
- Yes; I think so.

5582. And 23 in the second boat before you got in?
- Including the stowaway there would be 23. I made the twenty-fourth.

5583. Twenty women?
- Twenty women, yes; the quartermaster, one seaman, the stowaway, and then when I got in there were 24.

5584. Any children?
- No; I do not think we had any children. Later on we tied up to another boat, toward morning, for a very short time - I think for about 15 minutes.

5585. What boat was that?
- I do not know. Our quartermaster did not know the number of our boat. I do not know the other. I know they called out and asked the number of our boat and our quartermaster did not know which it was. [Boats 6 and 16 tied up together during the night]

5586. Did you hear the testimony given this morning by the third officer? [Pitman]
- I heard part of it, sir. I was out in the hall while he was giving some of it.

5587. Did you hear him say that a lifeboat was attached to his lifeboat for a while?
- Yes; but, then, let me see; did he not say he took some people off of that boat?

5588. I was going to come to that.
- No; that was not our boat.

5589. He said he took three people out of his lifeboat.
- And put them into the one attached.

Senator Fletcher:
On the starboard side of No. 7.

5590. (Senator Smith.) That was not done in your boat?
- No. The only thing that occurred with the boat we were tied up with was, we asked how many men they had in their boat, and this quartermaster said he had about seven sailors, or some-thing like that - six or seven. Then we said, "Surely you can spare us one man, if you have so many," and we got a fireman.

5591. You got a fireman?
- One more man out of that boat.

5592. They transferred one more man to you?
- Yes; one more man.

5593. What did he do?
- He assisted in rowing on the starboard side of the lifeboat, and I rowed on the port side.

5594. Did any of the women help with the oars?
- Yes; they did, very pluckily, too. We got the oars. Before this occurred we got a couple of women rowing aft, on the starboard side of our boat, and I got two women to assist on our side; but of course the woman with me got sick with the heavy work, and she had to give it up. But I believe the others kept on rowing quite pluckily for a considerable time.

5595. Do you know who these women were at the oars?
- I know one of them.

5596. Give the name.
- If you will excuse me, I will have to look it up. (Referring to memorandum.) Miss M. E. A. Norton, Apsley Villa, Horn Lane, Acton, London.

5597. Is that the only one of the women who handled the oars that you know by name?
- No; I think there is another.

5598. The other two women who handled the oars you do not know?
- I do not know their names.

5599. Do you know any other passengers on your lifeboat?
- There are several who put their names on the back of that card (indicating).

5600. Can you read them?
- Mrs. Walter Clark, 2155 West Adams Street, Los Angeles, Cal.; Miss E. Bowerman, Thorncliff, St. Leonards-on-Sea, England; Mrs. Lucien P. Smith, Huntington, W. Va.; Mrs. Martin Rothschild, 753 West End Avenue, New York; Mrs. Tyrell Cavendish, Driftwood, Monmouth; Mrs. Edgar J. Mayer [Meyer], 158 West Eighty-sixth Street, New York; Mrs. Walter Douglas, Deepshaven, Mass.; Mrs. J. J. Brown, Denver.

5601. Major, at any time between leaving the side of the Titanic and reaching the Carpathia, did Mrs. Douglas hold the tiller?
- In our lifeboat?

5602. Yes.
- I think the quartermaster was at the tiller all the time, with the exception probably of a couple of minutes. I know he asked one of the ladies for some brandy, and he also asked for one of her wraps, which he got.

5603. The officer did?
- The quartermaster, not the officer.

5604. Do you know Mrs. Douglas?
- Mrs. Walter Douglas?

5605. Yes.
- Yes.

5606. Was her husband lost? [Walter Douglas]
- Yes, sir.

5607. On what deck were you when you had this conversation with Mr. Charles M. Hays?
- I was on C deck, on the deck which is one deck above the dining saloon. I walked out and took him out to A deck.

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