British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 10

Testimony of James Taylor

Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

12008. Is your name James Taylor?
- Yes.

12009. Were you a fireman on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

12010. Were you one of the people who were in this boat No. 1?
- Well, I think that was the number.

12011. The starboard emergency boat?
- Yes.

12012. (The Solicitor-General.) I propose to go straight to that, My Lord. (To the witness.) Was Symons, the man who has just been giving evidence, in charge of that boat?
- Yes.

12013. Who was it ordered you into the boat?
- An Officer.

12014. Could you tell me who he was?
- No, I do not know.

12015. You do not know which one, but one of the Officers?
- Yes.

12016. And when he ordered you in, did you get in?
- Yes.

12017. When you got into the boat, were there any passengers in it?
- Yes.

12018. Already?
- Yes.

12019. What passengers were in it?
- I do not know.

12020. Were they ladies or gentlemen?
- Well, I did not know when I got into it, but I saw who were in it after we got away.

12021. We know the boat was lowered to the water, and we know there were two ladies in it and three gentlemen passengers?
- Yes.

12022. Is that right?
- Yes.

12023. Where were you sitting in the boat when it was got down to the water?
- Amidships.

12024. Do you know a leading fireman named Hendrickson?
- Yes.

12025. He was in this boat, was he not?
- Yes.

12026. Where was he sitting?
- Behind me.

12027. Do you mean the next thwart behind you?
- Yes, forward of the boat.

12028. Near the bows of the boat?
- Yes.

12029. Were you pulling an oar?
- Yes.

12030. Was there anybody else on the same thwart as you?
- Yes, a gentleman passenger.

12031. You would not know at the time, but do you know now who it was?
- No.

12032. Do you know now it was Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon?
- I understand it is that gentleman now, but I did not know it at the time.

12033. You understand now it was that gentleman who was sitting beside you?
- I understand now.

I think Sir Cosmo is here now.

Mr. Duke:
Yes, he is here. (Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon stood up in Court.)

The Witness:
That is the gentleman who sat alongside of me.

12034. You and he were sitting on the same thwart?
- Yes.

12035. And, as I understand, Hendrickson was on the thwarts immediately behind your back, on the thwarts next nearest to the bow?
- Yes.

12036. Lady Duff-Gordon was in the boat; where was she sitting?
- I could not tell you. There were two lady passengers, and I did not know which was Lady Duff-Gordon out of the two, and I do not know now.

12037. Was one of the lady passengers near you?
- There was one next to me on the next seat, aft of me.

12038. Nearer the stern of the boat?
- Yes.

12039. Where was the other lady sitting?
- She was sitting right aft from what I can understand.

12040. But you say you do not know which was which?
- No.

12041. Did you hear any order given to this boat No. 1 and to the man in charge as to what he was to do?
- He was told by the Officer, when we left the ship, to go a distance away from the vessel and stand by for readiness. That was by an Officer, I do not know who he was. I do not know what his rating was or who he was. "And mind that the crew of the boat do as you tell them"; they were the Officer's words when we left the ship.

12042. The Officer gave the order that the boat was to go to a distance. Did he say about how far? Did he mention the distance?
- I think it was 100 yards, if I am not mistaken; I think so.

12043. I will just put to you what we have been told already about it. Is this right, that Symons was told to stand off a little way and come back when called?
- Yes.

12044. Hendrickson said that. Then what was done in the boat; where did the boat go - how far off?
- Well, about that distance.

12045. About 100 yards?
- Yes. Then we pulled a little further to save suction.

12046. We will come to that. But first of all you pulled off about 100 yards and then you lay on your oars?
- Yes.

12047. How far away were you from the ship, do you think, when the ship went down?
- About 150 yards to 200 yards.

12048. Then you had pulled a little further away by that time?
- Yes.

12049. Would it be right to say that you were quite a quarter of a mile away?
- Well, I do not know.

12050. What do you think?
- The same as I say, 150 to 200 yards.

12051. Did you, or did you not, hear any suggestion made that the boat should return to the place where the "Titanic" had sunk?
- There was a suggestion of going back.

12052. There was?
- But who made it, I do not know.

12053. First of all, there was a suggestion. Do you know whether it was a man or woman who suggested it?
- No.

12054. You do not know who suggested it?
- No.

12055. Did you hear it suggested?
- It was suggested.

12056. Now, when that suggestion was made, just tell us yourself, in your own way, what happened and who said anything?
- I do not know who said it.

12057. Just tell us what you do remember. What did you hear?
- The suggestion was made, there was a talk in the boat of going back, and there was a lady passenger who talked of the boat being swamped if we went back.

12058. A lady passenger talked of the boat being swamped if you went back?
- Yes, and two other gentlemen in the boat replied to the same question, "We shall be swamped if we go back. It would be dangerous to go."

12059. (The Commissioner.) When you say two other gentlemen, you mean two passengers?
- Two gentlemen in the boat.

12060. Two of the passengers?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Who was the other lady, Sir John?

12061. (The Solicitor-General.) That lady was Lady Duff-Gordon's companion or secretary, My Lord. I think her name was Miss Francatelli. (To the witness.) You did not know the names of either of those two ladies, but can you tell me this? You say one of the ladies said if you went back you would be swamped. Was that the lady who was sitting on the next thwart to you, or was it the lady who was in the stern of the boat that said it?
- I do not know which it was now. I heard the remark.

12062. Now the gentleman you now know as Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon was sitting on the same thwart with you?
- Yes.

12063. Did he take any part in this conversation?
- No.

12064. When the lady, whichever the lady was, said you would be swamped if you went back, was there anything more said by anybody?
- No one said anything else.

12065. But you say two of the gentlemen passengers agreed with the lady?
- They said it would be very dangerous.

12066. What did you think yourself?
- It would be dangerous.

12067. You thought it would be. Now, what order was given or what was done at this time, or just after?
- An order was given to row away.

12068. Who gave that order?
- The coxswain - to row away on our oars.

12069. "Row away on your oars." That would be Symons said that?
- Yes.

12070. How long was that after the suggestion had been made about going back?
- Well, I could not say.

12071. Well, did anything happen in the interval?
- No.

12072. And did you row away?
- On my oar, Sir.

12073. That means row away from where the ship had sunk?
- No, it means row away with your oar.

12074. You mean "go on rowing"?
- Yes.

12075. In what direction did you row?
- I could not tell you.

12076. Of course it would be the coxswain who was steering, but did you or did you not follow the suggestion to return to the place where the ship had sunk?
- I was willing with anyone else.

12077. Yes, but what happened to the boat?
- Which boat?

12078. The boat you were in?
- Nothing.

12079. An order was given to go on rowing?
- Yes.

12080. So you moved your boat?
- Yes.

12081. And this was after the suggestion that the boat should return?
- Yes.

12082. Now, did it return, or did it go further away?
- I cannot tell you. It was after the ship had gone.

12083. I think we can probably find it out in this way. When the "Titanic" sank, did you hear the cries of people in the water?
- Yes.

12084. Did you hear them clearly?
- No.

12085. Loudly?
- No.

12086. Could not you hear them clearly?
- No.

12087. What do you mean?
- Well, it was not a clear sound.

12088. There was no doubt about the cries, was there?
- No, no doubt about the cries.

12089. Could everybody in your boat hear them?
- Yes.

12090. Were those cries going on when there was the talk in the boat as to whether you should go back? Just think. Were those cries going on when there was talk in the boat as to whether you should go back?
- I could not say.

12091. Just think a minute?
- No, I cannot remember.

12092. You have told me that the suggestion about going back was just after the "Titanic" sank?
- Yes.

12093. Did not you hear the cries directly after the "Titanic" sank?
- Yes.

12094. Now try again. Were those cries going on at the time of the talk as to whether you should go back?
- I could not say.

12095. Well, what do you think?
- Well, I cannot remember.

12096. Where did the cries come from?
- From some direction, Sir. They seemed to come from everywhere, in my version, from the state I was in when I was in that boat.

12097. I think we understand that. But when the suggestion was made to row back, did not you understand that to mean to row back to where the cries were?
- No, we had orders to row away on our oars - not to row back.

12098. No; just listen a moment. I am not asking you about your orders. You have told us there was a suggestion made in your hearing that your boat should row back?
- There was a suggestion by someone to go back.

12099. To go back where?
- Ah!

12100. What?
- Well, what I understand from my own estimation, it was back there, where the wreckage was.

12101. (The Commissioner.) To save life?
- Well, I should understand that, Sir.

12102. (The Solicitor-General.) What were you to go back for?
- That was all, to save life.

12103. Was that to go back to where the cries were?
- I suppose so.

The Commissioner:
It is quite clear.

12104. (The Solicitor-General - To the witness.) When that happened I want to know did the boat go back to where the cries were, or did the boat go further away?
- No, it stopped where it was for a long time.

12105. You said that the order given to you and the others was to go on rowing?
- We did go on rowing.

12106. Now did you go on rowing towards the cries or away from the cries?
- I could not tell you. I did not know in which direction we were going. I did not know where we were going, north, south, east or west.

12107. I am not asking you about the points of the compass. Just think a minute. You say you could hear the cries?
- From everywhere, from my own version.

12108. Is what you tell me that you really do not know whether your boat did go back to the cries and where the boat had sunk or whether it did not?
- I know the boat had sunk.

12109. Do you tell me you do not know whether your boat went back to where the "Titanic" had sunk?
- No.

12110. You do not know?
- No.

12111. Then what was the decision arrived at in your boat. You know you have told us you heard there was talk, a discussion, as to whether you should go back?
- Yes.

12112. And you have said that one of the ladies said it was too dangerous and that you would be swamped, and you have said that two of the men passengers -?
- I did not say it was dangerous to the ladies; I did not say the lady said it was dangerous; I said the lady was frightened of being swamped.

12113. That is right, and you said two of the men passengers agreed with her and said so?
- Well, they said it was dangerous; they thought we would be swamped.

12114. Did you go back into the danger, or not?
- No, Sir.

12115. As far as you know did your boat ever get within reach of any one of the drowning people?
- No.

12116. How much room was there in this boat, do you think; how many people could you have taken in?
- About 25 to 30.

12117. Do you mean 25 to 30 in addition to those who were in it already?
- Yes.

12118. I think it is right to ask you: Since you landed in this country have you been interviewed by somebody who said he came on behalf of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon?
- Yes.

12119. Did you give him a statement, or not?
- Yes.

12120. Did he write down what you said?
- Yes.

12121. Did you sign it?
- Yes. I thought I was signing a receipt for the money I received.

12122. You thought you were signing a receipt for the money you received?
- Yes.

12123. Is that money which you received when the gentleman saw you on behalf of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon -?
- Sir?

12124. Was that receipt for money which you got when the gentleman saw you?
- I got no receipt whatever.

12125. Was the receipt you thought you were signing a receipt for money which you got when the gentleman saw you? Is that right?
- Well, that is what I understood.

12126. Did he give you any money?
- Yes.

12127. What was it?
- Seven shillings.

12128. Was that supposed to be for the time you had lost?
- For my day's expenses.

12129. Did he come down to see you, or had you gone to see him?
- I went up to see him.

12130. (The Commissioner.) Where were you, and where was he?
- "The White Star," Trafalgar Chambers.

12131. In London?
- No, in Southampton.

12132. You were there, and did he come to you?
- He was there before I got there.

12133. (The Solicitor-General.) We do not want there to be any mistake. I may have suggested it to you. Did you know on whose behalf he came?
- I asked him.

12134. And what did he tell you?
- He told me he was there from London on behalf of Sir duff-Gordon.

12135. And did you tell him what you have told us here in this Court today?
- The same, Sir.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

12136. Was there any mention made, while you were in the small boat, of a present that you and the other members of the crew were to get?
- No.

12137. Are you sure?
- Quite sure.

12138. When someone said something about going back, was that a member of the crew?
- I do not know.

12139. Well, you say that those who objected were passengers. Is that so?
- It was a lady.

12140. And two gentlemen?
- There were two gentlemen, yes.

12141. They objected. I take it no member of the crew objected to go back?
- No.

12142. No member of the crew objected?
- No.

12143. And you say that for yourself you were willing to go back?
- Yes.

12144. Did you say to anyone that you were willing to go back?
- Yes, not in the boat.

12145. When?
- Not in the boat, I never said I was willing to go back to anyone in the boat.

12146. When did you say it?
- Say what?

12147. That you were willing to go back?
- To a gentleman in the White Star office, or in the "White Star," Trafalgar Chambers, Southampton.

12148. Did you have any conversation with the gentleman who was sitting on the same seat with you, about those poor people who were drowning about a couple of hundred yards from you?
- No.

12149. Did he express any opinion as to whether or not you should go back?
- No.

12150. Not a word?
- No.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

12151. Was it immediately the "Titanic" disappeared that the suggestion was made that you should go back?
- I do not know.

12152. You do not know whether or not she had gone at the time?
- No.

12153. Beyond this suggestion, was there any further discussion in the boat about going back?
- No.

12154. Did any person beyond the lady make any observation?
- There were a couple of gentlemen said it would be very dangerous, and they were afraid it would swamp us.

12155. Is that all the conversation?
- Yes.

12156. Although during the whole of this time you could hear these cries?
- Yes.

12157. And was it after the lady spoke and the gentleman said it would be dangerous, that you proceeded to row away on your oars?
- Yes, that is right.

12158. How long did these cries last?
- Well, I could not say.

12159. And during the whole time that you heard them were you rowing on your oars?
- No, not all the time.

12160. Who told you to cease rowing?
- Our coxswain.

12161. How long did you continue to row on your oars?
- Well, from my own estimation - well, I cannot say the time properly.

12162. But there was no further conversation about going back to where the "Titanic" had been?
- No.

Continued >