British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of John Poingdestre, cont.

2976. Did you go and stand off?
- Yes.

2977. After you had got her into the water, did you speak any other boat?
- Yes.

2978. What were they?
- Three lifeboats and a collapsible boat.

s2979. And did you get any men to help you in looking after your boat from any of those other boats?
- Yes, from the collapsible boat.

2980. What did you get from the collapsible boat?
- A sailor and two firemen.

2981. How came it that the collapsible boat could spare a sailor?
- I could not say.

2982. Was the collapsible boat full?
- The collapsible boat was full, but it had more men than what I had.

2983. You only had how many?
- Two.

2984. So they lent you these hands?
- Three.

2985. We have heard this before. Did you make your boat fast to some three other lifeboats?
- No.

2986. What did you do?
- Had the boats made fast to me.

2987. Do you know if there was a man called Lucas in the collapsible boat?
- Yes, Lucas was the sailor I took from the collapsible boat.

The Attorney-General:
That would show, my Lord, that when Lucas said No. 8, he really must have meant No. 12.

2988. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Whilst your boat was in the water did you see the "Titanic" sink?
- Yes.

2989. How long do you think it was after she struck the iceberg that she sank?
- About two and a half hours when she was last seen.

2990. After she sank did you see any people struggling in the water?
- No.

2991. How far away from the "Titanic" were you?
- About 150 yards.

2992. After she sank did your boat pull in towards the place where she sank?
- Yes.

2993. For what purpose?
- To pick up anybody who was there.

2994. Was there anybody there?
- I never saw anybody.

2995. Did you see any corpses?
- No.

2996. You saw nothing?
- I saw some by daylight.

2997. Did you hear any cries?
- Yes.

2998. Did not the cries guide you so as to enable you to go to them?
- Certainly.

2999. Did you go in that direction?
- I pulled in the direction the cries came from.

3000. Did not you find anybody there?
- No.

3001. Did you see nobody?
- Nobody whatever.

3002. Are you sure?
- Yes.

3003. When you pulled in that direction, did the passengers on board your boat approve of your doing so?
- Yes.

3004. And you went and searched and found nobody?
- Yes.

3005. You are sure of that?
- Yes.

3006. Because you had a good deal of room in your boat?
- Well, it did not look much room to my idea.

3007. According to your numbers your boat had 42?
- Yes.

3008. And you and Clinch?
- Yes, 40; and Clinch and me is 42.

The Commissioner:
And it is constructed to carry 65.

3009. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Yes. (To the Witness.) You say you did go and look and found nobody?
- Yes.

3010. I am directing your attention to the point of time after the "Titanic" went down and you pulled in the direction of the cries; was that before you had got them in from the collapsible boat?
- Yes.

3011. It was?
- Yes.

3012. So that at that time there was a great deal of spare room in your boat. You think not you say?
- No.

3013. We know what the capacity of the boat is. How long did you remain looking, do you suggest, for the people?
- About a quarter of an hour.

3014. And you saw nothing?
- Nothing at all.

3015. Did you see wreckage?
- Only about a couple of hundred deck chairs.

3016. But you saw no bodies?
- No bodies whatever.

3017. During that quarter of an hour, while you were looking, how long did the cries continue?
- All the time that we were looking we heard the cries.

3018. And yet you found nothing?
- We found nothing at all.

3019. These cries were going on for the whole of the time you were searching?
- Yes.

3020. What was the nearest do you think that you got to any of these cries?
- I reckoned about 100 yards.

3021. And then did they cease?
- Yes.

3022. Can you account for that?
- I can account for not going to the position where I ought to have been.

3023. Well, will you tell us?
- There were not enough sailors in my boat, only me and my mate, and we could not get there.

3024. (The Commissioner.) Get where?
- To where the halloes were coming from - the cries.

3025. I thought you could not find that?

3026. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) What is the name of the other man who was in the boat with you?
- Clinch.

3027. Do you know whether he is in this country?
- He is not; he is coming home.

3028. He is coming home?
- Yes.

3029. At the end of this quarter of an hour what did you do then?
- I hailed for other boats.

3030. Hailed for them?
- Yes.

3031. What do you mean by that?
- Called to see if there were any in the vicinity of where I was.

3032. Had you a light in your boat?
- No.

3033. Did you look for one?
- Yes.

3034. Is there a place for a light?
- Well, there is not a place made in the boats for a light, but it is a case of having a lamp tied up in the after-thwarts.

3035. Did you look there?
- Yes. I knew where to go and find it.

3036. Were there sufficient oars in the boat?
- Yes.

3037. Was there any water in the boat?
- Yes.

3038. Were there any provisions?
- Yes.

3039. At the end of this quarter of an hour you hailed the other boats; did you get any answer to your hail?
- Yes.

3040. What answer did you get?
- I heard somebody call out, and they came up to us - another lifeboat.

3041. Were they showing you a light from that other boat?
- No.

3042. Do you know the number of that lifeboat?
- No.

3043. Do you know who was in charge of it?
- No.

3044. Was it an Officer or a seaman?
- A seaman.

3045. Do you know the name of the man in charge?
- I think it was Foley, a storekeeper.

3046. Did anything pass between you and that boat with regard to changing passengers?
- No.

3047. (The Commissioner.) What did you hail it for?
- To tie up, to keep together.

3048. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Did you tie up and keep together?
- Yes.

3049. What happened next?
- We saw another boat in charge of Officer Lowe.

3050. Did that boat come to you, or did you go to it?
- He came to me.

3051. When he came to you, what happened?
- He discharged some of his passengers into my boat and some into the other boat that was tied up astern of me.

3052. How many passengers did he put into your boat?
- About a dozen.

3053. Did he remain with you then, or go away?
- A few minutes.

3054. And at the end of the few minutes what did he do?
- He took the men crew, what he had already had, and went and searched.

3055. He went off to search. Now were the cries still going on?
- No.

3056. Did you tell him anything which led him to go and search?
- No.

3057. Did he tell you anything?
- He told me he was going to search and to stop where I was.

3058. What were the people that were put into your boat? Were they women, or men and women?
- Women; I would not take any men.

3059. You would not take the men?
- No.

3060. Now, Mr. Lowe went away?
- Mr. Lowe went away.

3061. What happened next?
- We met another lifeboat.

3062. (The Commissioner.) This is a third, is it?
- Yes.

3063. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Do you know the number?
- I believe it was 14.

3064. When you say you believe it was 14, what is your reason for believing it?
- Well, I am not certain.

3065. It is a guess?
- Well, I do not know.

3066. Do you know who was in charge of that boat?
- No.

3067. Do you know the name of anybody who was in that boat?
- No.

3068. Was an Officer in the boat?
- No.

3069. Do you know a man named Scarrott?
- Yes.

3070. Was he in that boat?
- I could not say; I do not know.

3071. Did you have any conversation with them?
- No.

3072. Did they make fast?
- To the boat behind me.

3073. Was that boat full, as far as you could see?
- As far as I could see it was full.

3074. Did you take anybody from that boat?
- No.

3075. What happened next?
- We were all together.

3076-7. You three?
- We saw the lights of the "Carpathia" coming up. We had never seen the light before; I never. I saw an imaginary light which kept showing for about ten minutes.

3078. (The Commissioner.) How do you see an imaginary light?
- Well, what we thought was a light. There is such a thing at sea as seeing imaginary lights.

3079. Oh, is there?
- Yes.

3080. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) When did you see this imaginary light? I do not mean was it twelve or half-past, but was it while you were on the "Titanic" or after you had left the "Titanic"?
- When I had left the "Titanic."

3081. (The Commissioner.) I do not understand it. Did you imagine that you saw a light?
- Yes.

3082. Or did you see a light that you imagined, which?
- Well, one way or the other.

3083. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Where was it that you saw what you call this imaginary light?
- Off my port bow.

3084. Is that the port bow of your lifeboat?
- Yes.

3085. (The Commissioner.) Have you ever seen imaginary lights at sea before?
- Yes.

3086. Are they frequent things?
- Yes, I have been on the look-out on ships on the forecastle head, and reported a light, and it has been an imaginary light; as soon as you see it it has gone again.

3087. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) How high above the horizon or above the sea do you think this imaginary light was? Was it low down, or rather high up?
- It seemed low.

3088. Low down, near the horizon?
- Yes.

3089. What distance did you judge it to be?
- A matter of four or five miles.

3090. (The Commissioner.) And what do you think it was?
- I could not say.

3091. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) What colour was it?
- White.

3092. Might it have been a star, do you think?
- Well, it might have been.

3093. You saw no sidelight, did you?
- No.

3094. No red or green light?
- None whatever.

3095. Was there any general talk in your boat about this imaginary light?
- Well, I spoke to the women about this light and said, "We are all right, we shall be picked up in a minute; there is a ship coming."

3096. Did you hear any explosions?
- A slight one.

3097. From the "Titanic" when she sank?
- A slight one.

3098. One?
- One.

3099. Did you see any rockets sent up from the "Titanic"?
- Yes; there were rockets sent up before I left the ship.

3100. And after?
- Yes.

3101. I have asked you about any general talk on your boat about the light. Was there any conversation between you and the other boats about this light?
- No.

3102. There were three of you all tied together?
- Yes.

3103. Nothing was said about this light?
- Nothing.

3104. (The Commissioner.) I thought you said to the women in your boat that you could see the light?
- Yes, so I did, my Lord.

3105. And told them they would be picked up in a few minutes?
- Yes, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
What is it you are asking him about Mr. Aspinall?

3106. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) I was asking him when the three boats were tied together whether there was any talk between boat and boat about the light, and he says no. (To the Witness.) You said you saw the "Titanic" sink?
- Yes.

3107. How far away were you when she sank?
- About 150 yards.

3108. Now will you describe to us what you saw happen when she sank?
- Well, I thought when I looked that the ship broke at the foremost funnel.

3109. What led you to that conclusion?
- Because I had seen that part disappear.

3110. If she sank by the head you would see that part disappear, would you not?
- Yes.

3111. What was there about the disappearance that led you to think she broke?
- Because she was short; the afterpart righted itself after the foremost part had disappeared.

3112. (The Commissioner.) Do you mean to say that the fore part of the vessel went down to the bottom, and that then the remainder came on an even keel?
- Yes.

3113. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Before the ship sank just tell me this, what was the position of the vessel? I have a pen in my hand?
- Well, the water was up to the Officers' house.

3114. Assume, for a moment, that is the Officers' house. Now could you see under the keel of the ship abaft the Officers' house?
- Yes, the propeller and everything was quite clear.

3115. Underneath?
- Yes.

3116. Then the water comes up to the Officers' house. Was it then that the forward part disappeared?
- Yes.

3117. And then what happened to the afterpart?
- It uprighted itself, as if nothing had happened.

3118. You mean it came back like that, so to speak?
- Yes, straight on the water again.

3119. Did it float on the water for any appreciable time?
- Not above a couple of minutes.

The Commissioner:
Has there been evidence of breaking before?

The Attorney-General:
Not of righting itself and again floating - not that part.

The Commissioner:
She was already down by the head a great deal, and then at the last she took a sudden plunge, her afterpart went up, so to speak, in the air, and then she went down.

The Attorney-General:
There is evidence of her breaking.

The Commissioner:
There is evidence of noise. Will you tell me what is the evidence of breaking? You mean to say evidence that we have not had yet?

The Attorney-General:
No; evidence I think that your Lordship has had.

The Commissioner:
Well, will you tell me who it is that speaks to it?

The Attorney-General:
I think Jewell did.

The Commissioner:
Do you know which Witness it was?

The Attorney-General:
That is what we are trying to find, my Lord.

It is not in my recollection that it has been proved.

The Attorney-General:
Well, we will see.

The Commissioner:
Nor is it in the recollection of any of my colleagues. It may be that you have read it.

3120. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) I think so, my Lord. In some of these documents there is a statement about it. (To the Witness.) With regard to the number of people that you took from the other boat into yours, did you count them, or is it a guess about the number?
- I counted them.

3121. And you counted them as being twelve?
- Yes.

3122. I tell you why I am asking you these questions, because another Witness, by the name of Lucas, has been called, and he told us of this transfer of passengers, and he spoke of 36 being put into your boat?
- I can explain that to you.

3123. Will you explain it?
- Because the 36 men, that Lucas said he had transferred from one boat to another, he is meaning the boat picked up by Mr. Lightoller, the upturned boat, the collapsible boat. That was at dawn on the Monday morning. That is where Lucas made the mistake - from one boat to another.

3124. You think that is how the confusion may have arisen. You say you counted 12 into your boat?
- 12 women from Mr. Lowe's boat. This was about three o'clock in the morning.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

3125. How many men do you think would be required to man one of these lifeboats?
- Five.

3126. Five sailors?
- Five sailors, four and a coxswain.

3127. Would that number be sufficient to enable you to row even in stormy weather?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Another man said 12, did he not?

Mr. Scanlan:
He said 12, my Lord.

The Witness:
12 is a full boat's crew, my Lord.

3128. If you had every oar in use you would require 12?
- You would require 13.

3129. When you speak of a crew of 13 do you mean a number of stokers and stewards as well as seamen?
- As well as seamen.

3130. How came it that your boat, No. 12, left the "Titanic" with only two seamen? Were there any others on the deck at the time?
- No, only the two men that were lowering the boat.

3131. Now you stated that Mr. Lightoller warned you that the falls might give way?
- Yes.

3132. If you took on any more passengers?
- Yes.

3133. Were not the falls for this boat No. 12 similar in every way to the falls of the other boats?
- Quite so, bar No. 1 and No. 2.

3134. What was the difference between the falls of No. 12 and the falls of Nos. 1 and 2?
- No. 1 and No. 2 are small boats; No. 12 is a large lifeboat.

3135. On all the large lifeboats like No. 12 were the falls similar?
- Exactly the same.

3136. Do not you know that a number of the other boats were lowered with a full complement of passengers, 65?
- That I could not say.

3137. You do not know that. Where did you expect to find a lantern?
- Tied up in the after thwarts.

3138. Is that the place where in ordinary practice the lantern is kept?
- Yes.

3139. At what stage of the voyage is it put there?
- Before the commencement of the voyage.

3140. Did you make a careful search for the lantern?
- Yes.

3141. Did you search for it before lowering the boat?
- No.

3142. Did you find in this boat, No. 12, a compass?
- No.

3143. Can you tell my Lord if there was a compass in the boat?
- There was not a compass in the boat.

3144. Had the boat a sea anchor?
- Yes.

3145. I understand your previous experience extends to Royal Mail liners, and that you have been sailing on them for about three years?
- Yes.

3146. Was it usual on all those to have a muster of the crew for boat drill?
- Yes.

3147. Does that take place every week?
- Every Saturday afternoon.

3148. Had there been such a muster on the "Titanic"?
- There had not been a muster, but there had been boat drill.

3149. Is that the boat drill which took place at Southampton?
- Yes.

3150. Which consisted merely of lowering two boats?
- And going away and coming back; a Board of Trade muster.

3151. It did not provide for bringing the stokers on deck and showing them their stations?
- No.

3152. I understand that you have been a look-out man at times?
- No.

3153. Well, you have done look-out duty, I think you said?
- I have.

3154. On the forecastle head?
- Yes.

3155. On what kind of ships?
- On the Royal Mail boats, and also on the "Oceanic" and the "Teutonic."

3156. And those are ships which have crow's-nests as well?
- Yes.

3157. On those boats has it been the practice to have as well as the look-out man in the crow's-nest, a look-out man at the forecastle head?
- Yes, and the White Star Liners always do have one.

3158. From your experience is the forecastle head a good place from which to keep a look-out?
- Well, it is.

3159. (The Commissioner.) Is it better than the crow's-nest?
- No, my Lord.

3160. (Mr. Scanlan.) Would it be better for icebergs than the crow's-nest?
- No.

3161. Were you provided with binocular glasses on those other liners?
- Well, you are.

3162. (The Commissioner.) Do you use them?
- Yes, my Lord.

3163. Is your sight bad?
- No.

3164. (Mr. Scanlan.) Are binocular glasses given to the look-out men in the crow's-nest, and also to the look-out man at the forecastle head?
- Yes.

3165. You have had them yourself?
- Yes, and used them.

3166. Did you find it of advantage to have them?
- It is in the day, but I cannot say anything about at night.

3167. Did you see collapsible boats being got off?
- No.

3168. In the lowering of the other boats when you were assisting on deck, were you in a position to see whether they had lanterns?
- Not in the boats.

3169. When you were clearing them?
- No, we only cut the covers off and threw them on one side.

3170. When you hailed the other boats in the course of the night before being rescued by the "Carpathia," did you observe whether or not they had lanterns?
- Nobody had a light; only Mr. Lowe had a flash electric light belonging to himself, I believe.

3171. Is it your evidence that all the boats you came across from leaving the "Titanic" until you were rescued were unprovided with lanterns?
- Yes, quite right.

3172. Did this make it specially dangerous for you in navigating your boats at night?
- Not necessarily.

3173. (The Commissioner.) No harm occurred as far I know from there being no lanterns on board?
- No, my Lord, none whatever.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

3174. Do you know how many third class passengers were in the fore part of this "Titanic"?
- No.

3175. You say you saw a great number about when you were going down on the well deck?
- When I was coming up from the well deck.

3176. That would be about three quarters of an hour after the collision?
- Yes.

3177. With regard to this bulkhead that you have spoken of, which broke, it separated your compartment from the third class compartment; it ran between them?
- Yes.

3178. Did the breaking of that bulkhead involve the flooding of the third class compartment?
- The third class compartment was flooded.

3179. Before the bulkhead broke at all?
- Yes.

3180. Did you see people come up?
- Yes.

3181. Were they up at the time?
- They were up when I came up from the forecastle.

3182. Had you heard previous to that any instructions given by the Officers to the passengers in the third class compartment?
- No.

3183. You heard none given?
- No, none whatever.

3184. (The Commissioner.) Were you anywhere where you could hear any orders?
- No. I was up clearing away the boats; if an order was given that is where I was.

The Commissioner:
It is no use asking that because he was not in a place where he could hear.

Mr. Harbinson:
He did not hear.

The Commissioner:
Of course, he did not if he was not in a place where he could.

3185. (Mr. Harbinson.) About how many men were left on the well deck when you put off in the boat?
- I could not exactly say.

3186. Was there a big crowd?
- There was a crowd.

3187. Mainly third class passengers?
- All third class passengers.

3188. And in this boat that was lowered there were only two seamen?
- In my boat.

3189. You pulled away, I understand, about 150 yards from the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

3190. I gather you to say that if there had been more seamen in your boat you could have gone to the assistance of the cries?
- I could.

3191. It was because of insufficient manning that you were unable to rescue?
- Quite so.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

3192. The number of 40 that you have given us of passengers that got into your boat was only a rough estimate on your part. You did not count them?
- That is correct.

3193. Do you know whether Mr. Lowe counted them?
- No.

3194. Did the boat appear to you to be sufficiently full when it was lowered?
- Yes, because people with lifebelts on take up room for two.

3195. You told us that the boat was being rushed by some of the third class passengers?
- Yes.

3196. Had that anything to do with the anxiety to get the boat lowered and out of the way?
- Yes, it was a great inconvenience.

3197. It was advisable to get it away at once?
- Yes.

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