British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3

Testimony of George W. Beauchamp, cont.

769. Did you know where to look for it? Where did you look?
- We looked everywhere; everyone tried and looked the best they could, and there was no light in the boat, none whatever.

770. Were there any provisions?
- No, Sir.

771. Any water?
- No, Sir.

772. Did you look for those?
- Yes, Sir.

772a. (The Commissioner.) Can you tell me whose business it would be to put the water and the biscuits on the boat?
- I could not say.

772b. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) You have said already that it was about 10 minutes to 10 when you were picked up by the "Carpathia." Is that right?
- Yes, it was 10 minutes to 10 by the clock when I looked.

773. By what clock was it 10 minutes to 10?
- By the clock in the saloon of the "Carpathia."

774. Were you rowing all through that night?
- Yes.

775. How many other men were rowing?
- There was a steward there.

776. And did Barrett, the stoker, row?
- He was taking charge of the boat aft.

776a. (The Commissioner.) Where were you rowing to; were you simply keeping the boat steady?
- Well, we kept pulling till we saw a light, and we would row a little way and then stop, lay on our oars until we saw a light.

776b. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Who else were rowing in the boat besides you and the steward?
- I could not say who else. The steward and I were on the oar I was on.

777. Can you say how many oars were being used?
- Six.

778. Were they all men who were rowing of some sort, or did some women row?
- They were all men, so far as I know.

778a. (The Commissioner.) How many oars were there?
- We only had three oars each side.

779. That is six oars?
- Yes.

780. Were six men handling those six oars?
- There was me and the steward on the oar I was on.

781. You and a steward on one oar?
- Yes.

781a. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) You said there was a sailor on the boat as well, an ordinary seaman. Was he rowing?
- I do not know; I could not say.

782. Do you know whether there was a man called Major, a fireman, in the boat?
- Yes.

783. Was he rowing?
- I believe he was, yes.

784. And a man called Foley, a steward?
- I do not know the steward's name.

785. Had you ever had any boat drill while you were on the "Titanic"?
- No.

786. Or seen anybody else having boat drill?
- No.

787. Where did you join the ship?
- Southampton.

788. You saw no boat drill and had none yourself?
- No.

789. When you were picked up by the "Carpathia" were you among the first of the boats or the last of the boats to be picked up or in what order were you picked up?
- There were several there before us. I could not say how many for certain.

790. Do you know how many were picked up altogether by the "Carpathia"; how many boats, not how many people?
- Thirteen.

791. Were those all lifeboats or do you include some collapsible boats?
- They were all lifeboats.

792. Had you a lifebelt on during all this night?
- No.

793. How was that?
- I was on watch and of course I came up and I never had time to go and get a lifebelt, the ship was too flooded.

794. (The Commissioner.) Had any of the passengers lifebelts on in this boat?
- Yes.

795. How many of them?
- I could not say how many for certain; all those round me had lifebelts on.

796. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Had you a lifebelt of your own if you had been able to go and fetch it?
- Yes; I believe there is one in our quarters for every man.

797. (The Commissioner.) Did you ever look at it?
- No.

The Commissioner:
Are you going to ask any questions, Sir Robert?

Sir Robert Finlay:
I may have some, but I think it would be convenient if I waited.

The Commissioner:
Do you want to come next, Mr. Scanlan?

Mr. Scanlan:
I am not particular about the order, my Lord; but I should like to ask a question or two.

The Commissioner:
Well, I want to get the thing in order if I can.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

798. How long have you been going to sea, Beauchamp?
- Ten years.

799. Have you been employed as a stoker on many liners?
- Yes.

800. Is it the usual practice on liners to give the stokers boat stations?
- Yes.

801. Do you, as a Rule, get your boat station before the ship leaves the port of departure?
- On some ships you do, Sir, and on some ships you do not.

802. Is it the usual practice on liners to have boat drill?
- Yes.

803. How often is the boat drill held?
- Some companies every Saturday.

804. Once a week?
- Once a week. Not round the coast as a Rule.

805. I am speaking now about liners; is it not the case that on liners you have boat practice or boat drill before the ship leaves for a voyage?
- Yes.

806. And then do you have a boat drill or practice in the course of the outward voyage?
- Yes, once a week.

807. When you were taking on the passengers on the boat deck, was there any Officer of the ship bringing the passengers up to the boat deck?
- There was one on the deck giving orders.

808. Do you know if any Officer went down to the steerage quarters to let the steerage passengers know the lifeboats were ready?
- No, Sir; I do not know.

809. Can you tell me how many of you were rowing?
- [No Answer.]

The Commissioner:
Will you ask him what he was rowing for.

810. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes, my Lord. (To the Witness.) I think you said, Beauchamp, that you saw a light?
- Yes.

811. And that you were rowing for that light?
- Yes.

812. (The Commissioner.) Now, what was that light?
- We did not know what it was then. We thought it was a boat.

813. How long did you see that light?
- We could not see at all till we got handy to it, and then we could see it was a ship.

814. What sort of a ship was it?
- Well, it was the "Carpathia's" lights.

815. When did you first see the "Carpathia's" light?
- I could not say what time it was.

816. How long before the "Carpathia" picked you up?
- A long time.

817. What do you mean by a long time - three hours?
- I could not say the time; I have no idea of it.

818. What I want to know is this: What were you doing rowing in the boat before you saw the light? Where were you rowing to?
- We rowed and then had a blow, and then rowed on again when we saw the light, Sir. We rested on our oars.

819. Were not you resting on your oars most of the time?
- I do not know what you would row for?
- Well, we rowed to the light when we saw one.

820. When you saw one, I can understand, but before you saw the light you were resting on your oars, were you not?
- Yes.

821. (Mr. Scanlan.) Did you first of all row away from the sinking ship?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Yes, he has told us that.

822. (Mr. Scanlan.) And then you commenced rowing to the light you saw. Can you tell me how many men were rowing with you in that boat?
- There were two on the oar I was on; there were only six oars. I do not know how many men there were on each oar.

823. Were there six oars being in use at the time?
- Yes.

824. Actually in use?
- Yes.

825. If you had a light in the boat at the time the boat was lowered from the ship's side, could you have seen better to disengage the boat from the falls? If you had had a lantern or any light in the boat, could you have seen better how to disengage the boat from the falls?
- No. That was all right; everything went all right.

The Commissioner:
This light is quite a small thing, and it would not, in my opinion, be of any assistance for that purpose.

Mr. Scanlan:
What I thought was that it might light them through the lifeboat itself.

The Commissioner:
Oh, no, it would not do anything of the kind.

826. (Mr. Scanlan - To the Witness.) Is it usual on liners for each fireman to get a badge something like this, letting him know his boat station (Exhibiting badge.)?
- In some companies it is.

827. And some companies do not do it?
- No.

The Attorney-General:
Let me look at it. (The Badge was handed to the learned Counsel.)

828. (The Commissioner.) What companies have you had it at? Have you ever had a badge like that?
- Yes.

829. What company?
- The Union Castle Company.

830. Have you had a badge from any other company?
- No, Sir.

831. How many companies have you served under?
- Under the Union Castle Company, the Royal Mail, the White Star.

832. Any others?
- No, Sir.

833. No other liners?
- No, Sir.

834. (Mr. Scanlan.) You have told his Lordship that a stoker was in charge of this lifeboat?
- Yes.

835. Have you ever heard of a stoker being in charge of a lifeboat in the arrangements of any company you have travelled with before?
- No.

The Commissioner:
I do not quite know what you are driving at, Mr. Scanlan. Nothing went wrong in this boat, and it seems to have been launched in a very reasonable time.

Mr. Scanlan:
What I am trying to get at, my Lord, is that in ordinary circumstances the proper thing is to have an experienced sailor in charge of a lifeboat, and not a stoker.

The Commissioner:
I daresay, but these were not ordinary circumstances; they had to do their best.

836. (Mr. Scanlan - To the Witness.) When a list of a lifeboat's crew is put up in a ship, in what part of the ship is it placed?
- In the forward end where the crew's quarters are.

837. If this had been in its place would you have necessarily seen it in going to your quarters?
- I never looked.

The Commissioner:
That is not a pertinent question. Ask him if he would necessarily have read it.

838. (Mr. Scanlan.) You only heard of the list having been put up after the wreck took place?
- No; I heard that morning.

The Commissioner:
(To Mr. Holmes.) Whom do you represent?

Mr. Holmes:
The Officers.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

839. Have you any recollection of the name of the Officer who was in charge of the deck at the time?
- No, I do not know.

840. He did not sail in your boat?
- No; there was no Officer there.

841. Can you say how many boats he was in charge of on the deck?
- No.

842. Was he superintending people getting into more than your boat?
- I never got up there in time to see that, only this boat.

843. And what order was given to you when your boat was lowered?
- When we lowered there were enough in it.

844. You are satisfied there were enough people?
- Yes, it was crowded.

The Commissioner:
He has told us it was full; so full they could not get any more on board.

845. (Mr. Holmes.) What order was given when you got into the water?
- There was no order given. We could not get to the lever owing to so many people.

846. Were you told to stand by or to row away?
- There was no order given.

847. No order was given at all?
- No.

848. (The Commissioner.) But you knew what to do; you knew you had to get away from the side of the ship?
- Yes, we had to get away from the side.

849. (Mr. Holmes.) Were you alone the whole time in your boat till you got to the "Carpathia," or were you one of the four boats that were tied up together under the charge of Mr. Lowe?
- No; our boat was alone.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

850. How long have you been employed by the White Star Company?
- I have come out of the Union Castle Company into the White Star Company.

851. Have you ever served on any other ship?
- Yes.

852. Have you ever had a boat station given to you on any other ships of the White Star Company?
- Yes.

853. Have you taken part in boat drill?
- I have always had boat drill in New York.

854. On the Sunday?
- Yes, on the Sunday morning.

855. (The Commissioner.) Is that the practice of the White Star Line?
- I believe so.

856. Then is it the practice to have a boat drill before you start from Southampton?
- Your names are called out; the fire stations and boat stations are given when you go on the ship. Your name is called out and you are generally told.

857. Told what?
- Where to go. As you go along there; your name is called out; there are many of you there and you do not take much notice like.

858. You say that it was usual to have boat drill on Sunday at New York?
- Yes.

859. Sunday comes after Saturday. I suppose in those circumstances you would not have a boat drill on Saturday. You would not have one on Saturday and one on Sunday?
- No.

860. Therefore, on this line the lifeboat drill is on Sunday, is it?
- Yes.

861. Is it usual to have a boat drill before the vessel leaves Southampton?
- Yes.

862. Had you one on this occasion?
- I cannot remember now.

863. I thought you told me a little time ago that you had not had one. Which am I to understand, either that you had not one or that you cannot remember?
- I do not remember now, Sir; I cannot say.

864. (Mr. Lewis.) Were you on joining the ship told the number of your boat? Were you informed at any time of it?
- I could not say.

865. Now, with regard to this list, have you ever noticed the boat list posted anywhere when leaving Southampton?
- I have never looked - not the day of leaving Southampton.

866. Have you ever noticed it?
- I never looked, not to see for certain the first day away.

867. You cannot say?
- No.

868. Did you meet any other boat after you left the ship?
- So many boats were all round; we could see the other boats round.

869. Do you remember any one in particular and anyone on the boat hailing it?
- Someone hailed leading stoker Barrett on our boat, but I could not say who it was.

870. What boat was it?
- I do not know the number.

871. Did you observe the boat?
- Yes, we were close to it. They sung out, "Barrett, have you got any more room in that boat?" and he said, "No, full up."

872. Did you observe how high it was out of the water?
- No, I did not take much notice of that.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

873. How long was it before the ship sailed that you joined at Southampton?
- I joined her some time between 8 and 9 o'clock in the morning.

874. And when did she sail?
- Twelve.

875. You do not remember any boat drill?
- No.

876. Whether there had been one before you joined or not you do not know?
- I do not remember.

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

877. I want you to help us if you can on this one point. You were in this boat for some hours after you left the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

878. And you have told us, at any rate, that they were mostly women and children in the boat?
- Yes.

879. I want you to try if you can to give us some idea of how many men there were in the boat?
- I could not say the number of men.

880. You could not give us any idea?
- No.

881. You have told us who were there, seamen and firemen like yourself?
- What I know.

882. Yes, quite right. There were some men passengers there?
- Yes, I think there were some.

883. But cannot you give us some idea whether there was a dozen, or six, or anything like that?
- No, Sir, I do not know. I have no idea of the number at all.

884. (The Commissioner.) Were there more women than men in the boat?
- Yes, there were more women and children in the boat.

885. (The Attorney-General.) Have you any idea how many there were in the boat altogether?
- They were full up - someone said between 60 and 70 - I know it was crowded. I did not count the number.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Perhaps your Lordship will allow the Witness to point out on the plan where he was.

The Commissioner:
Yes.

The Attorney-General:
He did so.

Sir Robert Finlay:
It was not pointed out on the plan.

886. (The Commissioner - To the Witness.) Do you understand that plan?
- Yes.

887. Could you point out to us what stokehold you were in?
- Yes.

887a. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Take that pointer and go over and point it out.

(The Witness indicated the position on the plan.)

888. (The Commissioner.) That is No. 10, is it?
- Yes; No. 6 boiler, No. 10 stokehold.

889. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Was the stokehold fore or aft of the boiler?
- Aft.

890. (The Commissioner.) I thought you said you were in the second stokehold from the bow?
- Yes, Sir.

891. Now show me there which is the first stokehold from the bow.

(The Witness indicated the position.)

892. I thought that was the stokehold you pointed to as the one in which you were?
- No, that is the first one. This is the second one.

The Attorney-General:
And that is the one he pointed to, my Lord.

(The Witness withdrew.)