British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of Reginald R. Lee, cont.

2486. (The Commissioner.) Do you know anything about the lettering of these decks?
- Well, there is a boat deck.

2487. Do you know anything about the lettering of them? - They are lettered C, D, E, F, and G. Do you know anything about that?
- Those are different compartments, I think. There is the boat deck, A deck, B deck, C deck, but I think the other letterings come in for different quarters for the passengers' benefit.

2488. (The Attorney-General.) After you saw that at 12 o'clock what did you do?
- I went on the boat deck.

2488a. Did you get any orders to go on the boat deck?
- No, but I heard the boatswain call the other watch.

2489. Did you hear what orders he gave?
- Yes, he told everybody to get the boats ready for turning out.

2490. He told everybody?
- That was the watch below; they were turned out, and we all went on deck.

2491. That really meant all hands on deck to help uncover the boats?
- To get the boats ready for lowering.

2492. Not only those that were on deck and on duty, but those below off duty?
- Yes, the watch that had just gone below.

2493. That would be at 12 o'clock; they had just gone below?
- Yes.

2494. Did you notice any list of the vessel at all by the time you came down at 12 o'clock from the crow's-nest?
- Not enough to take notice of; I did not notice any.

2495. Did you go to work to help prepare the boats for lowering?
- Yes.

2496. To which side did you go, to starboard or port?
- The starboard side.

2497. Had you a station?
- No. 11 boat.

2498. That would be the third from the last, would it not?
- Yes, that is right.

2499. Did you know that that was your boat?
- Yes, it was put up on the printed order on the ship, outside our quarters.

2500. That is a list?
- Yes.

2501. As I understand from that there was a printed list outside your quarters?
- Yes.

2502. Then your names would be filled in?
- Our names would be filled in.

2503. To what boats you were to go?
- Yes.

2504. You had looked at yours?
- Yes.

2505. Was that list up when you first left?
- It was up the day after we left Southampton.

2506. So that it would be up the day you left Queenstown, at any rate?
- Yes, certainly.

The Commissioner:
How long does it take from Southampton to Queenstown, 20 hours?

The Attorney-General:
Something like that, because she left, I think, on the 10th from Southampton, and she left Queenstown on the 11th. That is as far as I understand the dates.

2507. (The Commissioner.) I was told she went to Cherbourg first. (To the Witness.) Did you go to Cherbourg first?
- Yes.

2508. (The Attorney-General.) She went to Cherbourg, and, as I understand, it is about 13 or 14 hours from there to Queenstown, is that right?
- Yes.

2509. And we know she left Queenstown on the 11th. When you went to your boat were there people waiting to be passed into the boat?
- The first thing that I did, and that most of us did that were there, was that we cleared the falls away from the boats on the starboard side, and then we lowered the boats from forward to aft; and when I came to No. 11 I was told that the boat was full, and that I was to get on with the next boat. So I went into No. 13, and left in No. 13 after we had got a full load.

2510. So that you were in the same boat eventually when the boat left as Barrett?
- Yes.

2511. And Beauchamp - do you know Beauchamp?
- No, I cannot say that I do.

2512. He was a fireman. If you do not know him, never mind. We have seen him, and we know him. But you know Barrett?
- Yes.

2513. And you were with him?
- Yes, I saw him just now.

2514. I think I understand what you have said about what happened before you left, but just let us get it quite clearly. Were your orders to uncover all the boats along that side?
- I had no orders whatever.

2515. Why did you go then to help uncover all the boats on the starboard side?
- I went there because it was my duty.

2516. You knew that you had to do it?
- I knew it was my duty, and that is why I went there. I did not have any orders myself.

2517. But why did you go to uncover the boats on that side?
- Because I knew what had happened.

2518. You knew there had been serious damage done to the vessel?
- Certainly.

2519. I suppose you knew the order that had been given by the bos'un, or somebody, that all hands were to go on deck?
- I heard the bos'un say that as he went on deck, and I went up then just after the other fellows.

2520. You did not wait for anything more; you knew what your duty was - to go and help uncover the boats. That is right, is it not?
- Certainly.

2521. And then you helped uncover all the boats?
- I helped to uncover all the boats on the starboard side.

2522. Uncover them and get the falls ready?
- Yes.

2523. Get them ready for lowering?
- Yes. They were lowered on to A deck; that is where the passengers were put in, and from there they were lowered into the water.

2524. Your Lordship, we need not go in detail through this story again; we have had it already. Then you got to No. 13 boat. No. 11 boat ought to have been your boat; that was your station?
- Yes.

2525. Why did not you get into that?
- Because she was full up, and I went on to the next one.

2526. Did you get any order about that?
- No, but I did not want to make a jump for it, and I went on to the next boat because there was scarcely anybody in that boat.

2527. You mean there was scarcely anybody in No. 13 boat?
- Yes. Mr. ---- , I cannot tell you what his name is - a tall Officer, about 6 feet in height, fresh complexion - I forget his name; I could not remember his name - he was there attending to passing the passengers into the boats.

2528. Was it Mr. Wilde, the Chief Officer?
- No, He is about the Sixth Officer, or the Fifth Officer.

2529. At any rate, he was a very tall man, according to you?
- Yes, tall and spare. I think he was drowned.

2530. Then what did you do?
- We put some women and children into the boat, and then there were some passengers got in, and I was ordered by him to get in the boat and we lowered away; and then No. 15 very nearly came on top of us.

2531. That is No. 13 you are speaking of?
- Yes.

2532. And No. 15 very nearly came on top of you?
- Yes.

2533. I do not think it will be useful to go all through that again; we have heard what happened from Barrett, and I shall leave that. Then what did you do when you got into the boat? Were there any seamen on board?
- Three of us; three able seamen.

2534. Besides yourself?
- There were three able seamen in the boat.

2535. In No. 13?
- Yes, three able seamen.

2536. Who were they? Do you know who the other two were?
- Hopkins was the name of one, but I do not know the name of the other fellow.

2537. But you knew he was an able seaman?
- Yes.

2538. That is the important point; it made three?
- Yes.

2539. Do you know how many men there were in the boat altogether?
- Hopkins told me when I asked him the next day if he happened to know how many people there were in the boat that there were 64.

2540. Hopkins told you there were 64?
- Yes. He said, "I counted them as nearly as possible 64."

2541. When you got into the boat and your boat got away from the side, did you see the vessel settling down?
- She was going down; she was settling down by the bows, but the bows was not underneath the water when we left. What I mean to say when I say the bows - the deck was not underneath the water; the foc'sle deck was not under the water.

2542. (The Commissioner.) You mean the foc'sle deck?
- Yes, the foc'sle deck was not under the water when we left the ship.

2543. (The Attorney-General.) Was it pretty low down?
- About half way down I should say.

2544. What do you mean when you say "about half way down"?
- I do not know; it is rather hard to say what the number of feet is. I do not know how many feet there are from the waterline up.

2545. I want to understand what you mean. Do you mean she had got a good deal down?
- Yes; she was a good deal down.

2546. But not up to her foc'sle deck?
- Not up to her foc'sle deck.

2547. I want to know what you mean by saying she was about half-way down. Do you mean about half-way down from the height of the decks to the water?
- From the waterline to the foc'sle deck.

2548. Was she settling down quickly; could you see?
- Not so very quickly.

2549. Can you give us any idea of the time? I want you to help us as far as you can, although I know it is very difficult for you. Had you any idea of what time it was when you left in the boat - how long it was after you had come down from the crow's-nest?
- I could not say how long it was after. There were no clocks to look at, and I did not ask anybody the time until we got away in the boat. There was a lady there had a watch, and after the ship went down she told me that her watch said half-past two. That is all I know about the time. That was after the ship went down. But as regards other time, I am afraid I could not tell you.

2550. We will get the best help we can from you as to what was done. You pulled away from the "Titanic." Did you keep near to the other boats?
- Yes.

2551. A number of other boats?
- Yes; we kept in touch with each other.

2552. And did you keep in touch with the other boats until you were picked up by the
"Carpathia"?
- Yes, in the morning.

2553. Did you lay off for some time in the boats. I mean, lay off the "Titanic"?
- We were about a quarter to half a mile away from the ship, laying off until she disappeared.

2554. So that you could see what was happening?
- Yes.

2555. Then did you see her settling by the head?
- She went down by the head.

2556. Did you see the lights on the ship?
- You mean the electric lights?

2557. Yes?
- Oh, yes.

2558. Were the lights burning on the ship until -?
- They burnt practically until she disappeared.

2559. That is what I wanted to know?
- I suppose until the dynamos were put out of order.

2560. Did you see her stern?
- No. I cannot say that I did from where I was in the boat. I was standing in the bottom of the boat, and I did not actually see the last part of her go. I saw her just before that, but when people said, "She's gone; that's the last of her," I did not actually see it. I cannot say.

2561. Did you see her stern in the air at all during any of the time?
- Well, I did not see her just before her final disappearance. I did not see that, I cannot say that I did.

2562. Did you hear any explosions?
- After she had gone down, yes.

2563. After she had gone down?
- As she went down, you might say, you heard under-water explosions, like a gun-cotton explosion under water at a distance off. I suppose it was the boilers.

2564. When the steamer struck, was there any light of any other vessel to be seen?
- No.

2565. And after leaving the steamer, did you see the lights of any other steamer before the "Carpathia"?
- There was a ship apparently ahead of the "Titanic," as she was then, but, that ship was supposed to have disappeared. Anyway, we did not see her in the morning.

2566. But did you see her lights after you left the steamer?
- We saw a light, yes, but we did not know what it was. It might have been one of our own boats that was showing a light. I could not say that it was a steamer.

2567. You saw a light?
- I saw a light, apparently it was on the port bow of the "Titanic" as she was, it seemed to me. That was the one that we were going to pull for, but she disappeared.

2568. The light disappeared?
- The light disappeared. Whether it was a fishing vessel or a steamer, or what she was, I do not know.

2569. (The Commissioner.) Or one of your own boats, I thought you said?
- It might have been one of our own boats at a shorter distance. You could not tell; it was a dark night.

2570. (The Attorney-General.) I gather from what you said that it would only be a white light that you would see?
- A white light was all that I saw.

2571. It might have been a masthead light?
- It might have been a masthead light in the distance. I could not say for certain.

2572. And I understand you to say it might even have been the light of one of your own boats?
- It might have been the light of one of our own boats.

2573. Did you see that light before the "Titanic" sank?
- No.

2574. Does that mean that you only saw that light after the "Titanic" sank?
- After I was in the boat, after leaving the ship.

2575. Those are two different things, you see. You got into the boat, and left the "Titanic" some time before she sank?
- Yes.

2576. Before she sank had you seen that light?
- No. It was only after being in the boat and away from the ship that we saw that light.

2577. (The Commissioner.) Yes, but did you see that light before the "Titanic" went down?
- Yes, Sir, certainly.

2578. Then I have got it down wrong; you saw it. How long after you had got into No. 13 boat was it that you saw the light. Do not guess? If you do not remember tell me you do not remember.
- I could not say how long it was.

2579. That is quite a proper answer. But are you sure that you saw this light, whatever it was, before the "Titanic" plunged to the bottom?
- Yes, Sir.

2580. You did?
- Yes, from the boat. I cannot say how long it was.

2581. You cannot say how long; all you can say is that you saw it before the "Titanic" went down?
- Yes, before the ship disappeared.

2582. (The Attorney-General.) Did you see any rockets sent up from the "Titanic"?
- Yes, Sir.

2583. Before you left the vessel?
- Before and after.

2584. Were they coloured rockets, or only white ones?
- No, coloured rockets.

2585. Did you see any reply?
- No, none whatever.

2586. Now, will you tell us, so far as you can, about the passengers in your boat. Had you third class passengers in your boat?
- Second and third. A few second, principally third.

2587. Did they behave well?
- Very well indeed.

2588. They were mostly women?
- They were most women.

2589. Some children?
- Four children.

2590. Was it very cold?
- Very cold indeed.

2591. But you had no difficulty on board?
- None whatever.

2592. Everybody bore it without complaint?
- Yes, Sir.

2593. Before you left with your boat, did you see any other third class passengers, women or children, waiting to go into the boats?
- There were no women left there when our boat was lowered into the water, not as far as I could see.

2594. You can only tell us what you remember. You saw the other boat lowered, that is, the boat astern of you, No. 15?
- I did not notice what they had there. We had our work cut out to get away with the crowd that we had in our own boat.

2595. You were carrying a very large number, you mean, for the boat?
- Yes, and we were right under that exhaust there (Pointing), and if the boiling water had got on to the people in the boat they would have made a start on the starboard side and capsized.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

2596. When you are at sea in a fog is it a usual practice to station a watchman at the bows in addition to the lookout in the crow's-nest?
- The captain of the ship has to be responsible for that kind of thing.

2597. Just tell me whether in your experience it is usual to do that?
- If the captain of the ship thinks it is necessary.

2598. Have you seen it done?
- I have.

2599. Have you seen it done frequently?
- Frequently.

2600. Is not a haze a kind of a fog?
- It is a kind of a fog, but you could not describe it as a fog.

2601. How long were you on your last watch before you observed the haze?
- I think I answered that question before. Didn't you hear me answer that question before?

Mr. Scanlan:
I did not.

The Commissioner:
You must not whisper your answers. Speak up so that we can hear you.

2602. (Mr. Scanlan.) How long had you been in the crow's-nest on your last watch?
- It was not so hazy to begin with as it was when the accident occurred.

Mr. Scanlan:
When you found the haze thickening -

The Commissioner:
Did he ever find it thick?

Mr. Scanlan:
I said "thickening," my Lord.

2603. (The Commissioner.) I thought you said "thick." (To the Witness.) Were you in a fog when this accident happened?
- No.

2604. (Mr. Scanlan.) Did you communicate with the bridge, that you found it hazy?
- No.

Mr. Scanlan:
I think you mentioned that you said to your mate, or your mate said to you, that you would be very lucky if you could see through the haze.

The Commissioner:
"If we can get through this."

2605. (Mr. Scanlan.) Were you not then of opinion that the pressure of that haze made the passage dangerous?
- I am not the Officer of the watch.

Mr. Scanlan:
I am not accusing you of that.

The Commissioner:
These questions are proceeding upon the assumption that that observation was made.

Mr. Scanlan:
That this observation was made to him, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
Yes.

Mr. Scanlan:
Was that observation made to you?

The Commissioner:
He says it was.

2606. (Mr. Scanlan.) When this observation was made to you did you not think it a proper thing to communicate with the Officer on the bridge?
- Certainly not. The Officer of the watch would ask you what you meant by it. He would ask you whether you were interfering with his duty or not.

2607. When you are going through a haze at night, is it usual to slow up - slacken speed?
- That has nothing to do with me. I am not on the bridge. I am a look-out man, as I said before.

2608. You have often been in a fog, I daresay, in Atlantic passages?
- I am in a fog now.

2609. You have been at sea for a number of years. Have you been sailing through an ice-field?
- Yes.

2610. When your ship is sailing through an ice-field, is it usual to go slow - to slacken speed?
- Certainly.

2611. Is it not also usual when you are in a fog or in a haze to slacken speed?
- Certainly.

2612. And speed on this occasion was not slackened?
- I could not tell you.

2613. You could not tell?
- No.

2614. What is the height of the crow's-nest above the foc'sle deck?
- I do not know. I suppose it is a matter of between 40 and 50 feet above the foc'sle deck.

2615. (The Commissioner.) It is a little higher than the bridge, is it not?
- Some distance higher, my Lord.

Mr. Scanlan:
About 40 feet.

The Commissioner:
He said that the crow's-nest is about 40 feet higher than the bridge.

The Attorney-General:
I do not think he meant that, my Lord; I think he meant the foc'sle deck.

The Witness:
Yes, I meant the foc'sle deck

The Attorney-General:
Forty feet higher than the foc'sle deck.

2616. (The Commissioner.) That is a very different thing. How much higher than the bridge is it?
- I suppose 20 feet something.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship can see it there on the model.

The Commissioner:
Yes, and I have seen the thing itself on the "Olympic."

2617. (Mr. Scanlan.) Would it have been easier to have observed the iceberg from the bow than from the crow's-nest?
- I cannot answer you that.

2618. When you have been on other ships have you ever been at watch on the bows?
- Yes.

2619. (The Commissioner.) Was there a crow's-nest on that ship?
- Yes.

2620. And was there somebody in the crow's-nest as well?
- Yes.

2621. And somebody on the bridge as well?
- That was off the banks of Newfoundland.

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