British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 13

Testimony of Harold G. Lowe

Examined by Mr. ROWLATT.

15767. Harold Godfrey Lowe, is that your name?
- Yes.

15768. Were you the fifth Officer on the "Titanic"?
- I had that honour.

15769. You have a Master's certificate of competency?
- I have.

15770. I think you joined at Belfast, did you not?
- I did.

15771. Was it your duty to look at the boats at Belfast and see that they were all there, and so on?
- I was instructed by Mr. Murdoch, the then Chief Officer of the ship, to do so.

15772. Did you do it?
- I did.

15773. You went through the boats and their equipment at Belfast?
- Yes, I , in company with Mr. Moody went.

15774. He was lost?
- We went through the starboard boats.

15775. Not the port side boats?
- Not the port side boats.

15776. Did anybody go through the port side boats?
- Mr. Boxhall and Mr. Pitman went through the port boats.

15777. I will not ask you in detail about that, but you sailed on the voyage. What was your watch on the Sunday of the accident?
- My watch was the afternoon watch from 12 to 4 and from 6 to 8 in the evening.

15778. When did you go on again after that?
- At midnight.

15779. You were on duty from 6 to 8?
- I was.

15780. Did you hear anything about any messages about ice?
- There was a chit on the chart room table with the word "ice" on.

15781. You mean a little piece of paper with "ice" written on it?
- A square chit of paper about 3 x 3.

15782. On the chart room table?
- On our chart room table.

15783. What is that - "Our chart room table"?
- The Officers chart room table, and the word "ice" was written on top and then a position underneath.

15784. Can you remember what the position was?
- I cannot.

15785. Is that all that was brought to your attention about ice that day?
- That is all.

15786. Did you hear of Marconigrams coming about ice?
- That was the only information I saw regarding ice.

15787. That is all you have to say about your knowledge of ice on board the ship on that day?
- Yes, that is all I know about it.

15788. You went off watch at 8 o'clock?
- Yes.

15789. Did you turn in?
- I went to bed.

15790. Were you asleep at the time of the collision?
- I was.

15791. Just tell us what woke you up?
- I was half awakened by hearing voices in our quarters, because it is an unusual thing, and it woke me up. I suppose I lay down there for a little while until I fully realised, and then I jumped out of bed and opened my door a bit and looked out, and I saw ladies in our quarters with lifebelts on.

15792. When you first looked out people had got their lifebelts on?
- They had.

15793. Do you know the time?
- I do not. I have not the remotest idea of the time right throughout.

15794. Were the boats being attended to?
- As soon as I looked out through the door I jumped back and got dressed and went out on deck, and the boats were being cleared.

15795. (The Commissioner.) The boats had been cleared did you say?
- The boats were being cleared.

15796. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you go to the starboard side first?
- I had to go round the port side first, that is on my way to the starboard.

15797. As you were round the port side, the boats there were being cleared, were they?
- Yes.

15798. Did you take any part in clearing the boats there or have anything to do in connection with them on the port side?
- No.

15799. You got to the starboard side?
- I got to the starboard side.

15800. What boat did you get to?
- The first boat I went to was No. 7.

15801. That would be the aftermost one upon the starboard side?
- No; that would be the after boat of the forward section.

15802. You came round behind the deck-house?
- No, I came round abaft the second funnel.

15803. Was that the boat to which you belonged?
- No.

15804. What was the boat to which you belonged?
- I do not know.

15805. (The Commissioner.) Why do not you know?
- I do not know why, but I do not.

15806. Was it your business to find out?
- I suppose it was.

15807. And you did not do it?
- No, Sir.

15808. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Why did you go round to No. 7?
- Because the people were there.

15809. What was being done at No. 7?
- Loading it with women and children.

15810. Did you assist there?
- I did.

15811. Did you see that boat lowered?
- I did; I assisted in lowering it.

15812. Then did you go to No. 5?
- I went to No. 5.

15813. Did you see that lowered?
- I did.

15814. Did you assist?
- I did.

15815. When you say you assisted, did you take charge of the operations?
- I assisted; that is to say, Mr. Murdoch was superintending.

15816. Mr. Murdoch was there?
- Yes.

15817. Then was No. 5 lowered after No. 7?
- No. 5 was lowered after No. 7.

15818. Did you then go to No. 3?
- I then went to No. 3.

15819. Was that lowered?
- That was lowered.

15820. And did you then go to the emergency boat?
- I went to No. 1, the emergency boat.

15821. Was that lowered?
- Yes.

15822. When your boat was lowered that lot of boats were finished with. Did you notice any list?
- No.

15823. Was the vessel down by the head?
- Yes.

15824. You noticed that?
- Yes, of course I did. I noticed that as soon as I got up.

15825. Did you look for any lights at this time at all?
- As I was getting the emergency boat ready, No. 1, Mr. Boxhall was firing the detonators, the distress signals, and somebody mentioned something about a ship on the port bow, and I glanced over in that direction casually and I saw a steamer there.

15826. What did you see of her?
- I saw her two masthead and her red sidelights.

15827. That accounts for all these four boats?
- Yes, the forward section.

15828. Where did you go then?
- I then went to No. 14.

15829. That is right aft on the other side, is it not?
- That would be the second forward boat of the after section, and the second boat from aft of the after section.

15830. Why did you go to her in particular?
- Because they seemed to be busy there.

15831. Did you go to assist there?
- I did.

15832. Who was in charge there?
- I do not know who was in charge there. I finished up loading No. 14, and Mr. Moody was finishing up loading No. 16?
- Yes.

15833. You were loading No. 14 and he was loading No. 16?
- Yes.

15834. Did you see anything about No. 12?
- No. 12 would be the forward boat - the boat next to me forward? -Yes.

15835. Yes?
- Numbers 12, 14 and 16 went down pretty much at the same time.

15836. You went in No. 14, did not you?
- Yes.

15837. Did you go by anybody's orders?
- I did not. I saw five boats go away without an Officer, and I told Mr. Moody on my own that I had seen five boats go away, and an Officer ought to go in one of these boats. I asked him who it was to be - him or I - and he told me, "You go; I will get in another boat."

15838. I forget where he comes in order of seniority; is he senior to you or junior to you?
- No, he was junior.

15839. Were you lowered in that boat?
- I was lowered in No. 14.

15840. I want to ask you a little about that. Was there any difficulty in lowering when you got near the water?
- Yes, I slipped her.

15841. Did the falls go wrong?
- Something got wrong and I slipped her.

15842. That means to say, you threw off the lever when you were some way from the water?
- I should say I dropped her about 5 feet.

15843. Your Lordship remembers that Scarrott told us about that. Was that because the falls -?
- That was because I was not going to wait and chance being dipped down by the stern by anybody on top, so I thought it was best for me to drop, and know what I was doing.

15844. No doubt you dealt with the situation quite rightly, but I want to know what caused the situation. Was it because the rope would not run any further?
- I do not know, because, you must understand that the lowering away was being carried out on deck, and I must have been about 64 feet below that deck, and I could not see it.

15845. Did you look up?
- Yes.

15846. Could you tell me why you were not being lowered further?
- No.

15847. You could not?
- No.

15848. One of the men in your boat has given evidence, and he says he looked up and saw the rope of the falls twisted?
- No; I looked up and I could not see anything.

15849. Just let me ask you this, because it is fair to ask you it. Could they twist?
- I suppose they could.

15850. Can the blocks revolve at the top?
- Oh, yes, the blocks are movable in the davits; they are swivelled; both are swivelled, the top and bottom blocks.

15851. Then you got to the water and you slipped her, as you say?
- Yes.

15852. Did you take command of the boat?
- Yes.

15853. What did you do with her?
- I took, I think it was, No. 12 to a distance of about 150 yards from the ship, and told him to stay there until I gave him orders to go away or any other orders. I then came back to the ship and escorted another boat, and so on, until I had five boats there.

15854. You gathered five boats together?
- Yes.

15855. There is just another thing I want to ask you. Did you use a revolver at all?
- I did.

15856. How was that?
- It was because while I was on the boat deck just as they had started to lower, two men jumped into my boat. I chased one out and to avoid another occurrence of that sort I fired my revolver as I was going down each deck, because the boat would not stand a sudden jerk. She was loaded already I suppose with about 64 people on her, and she would not stand any more.

15857. You were afraid of the effect of any person jumping in the boat through the air?
- Certainly, I was.

15858. In your judgment had she enough in her to lower safely?
- She had too many in her as far as that goes. I was taking risks.

15859. You say you collected these four boats together at a distance of about 150 yards?
- Yes.

15860. Can you judge how long that was before the ship went down?
- I have not the remotest idea of time from the time she went down until we boarded the "Carpathia." All I know is that when we boarded the "Carpathia" in the morning it was six o'clock, and that is the only time I know of.

15861. You could not give me any idea?
- I could not; it is no good my trying.

15862. What did you do after you got the four boats out there?
- I tied them together in a string, and made them step their masts.

15863. What was that for?
- In case it came on to blow, and then they would be ready.

15864. Did you transfer any of your passengers?
- Yes, I transferred all of them.

15865. Among the other boats?
- Into the other four boats.

15866. Why did you do that?
- So as to have an empty boat to go back.

15867. (The Commissioner.) To do what?
- To go back to the wreck.

15868. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Was that before the "Titanic" foundered or after?
- No, that was after she went down.

15869. Having got an empty boat, did you go back to the wreckage?
- I did.

15870. Was there much wreckage?
- No, very little.

15871. (The Commissioner.) Am I to understand that you were alone in the boat?
- No.

15872. (Mr. Rowlatt.) You were there with your crew?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
How many men had you an the boat?
- I do not know; I should say seven.

15873. Including yourself?
- Yes, I should say six and myself.

15874. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you row six oars back to the wreck?
- No, five oars, I think, and I had a man on the look-out.

15875. I understand what you say is that you got rid of the passengers. You got rid of the people who could not do anything, and went back with a working crew to look for people who were drowning; that is what you mean?
- Yes; it would be no good me going back with a load of people.

15876. Certainly; I am not complaining; I am only trying to bring it out in your favour, if I may say so. You rescued some people, did not you?
- I picked up four.

15877. I think one died in the boat, did he not?
- One died, a Mr. Hoyt, of New York. [Mr. William F. Hoyt.]

15878. Were they men?
- Four men.

15879. Did you see any other people alive?
- Not one, or else I should have picked them up.

15880. Did you see bodies?
- Yes.

15881. After that did you come across the submerged collapsible of which we have heard?
- Yes.

15882. It was you who took the people off that, was it?
- I did.

15883. Was it the one with Mr. Lightoller on board?
- No, it was not.

15884. Another one?
- Another one.

15885. Were there two submerged collapsibles?
- I do not know - I did not know at the time, but, of course, I know now. The one that I picked up, I reckon, had been pierced, but I do not know. She was right side up and all that.

15886. Was she extended, or whatever you call it, opened out; were the collapsible sides pulled up?
- No, the sides had dropped somehow or other.

15887. She was flat?
- She was right side up.

15888. Can you give us any idea of who were on board of her - you do not know?
- No. I can only give you one, and that was the lady that was on board there.

15889. The lady?
- Yes.

15890. Can you tell me how many collapsibles got to the "Carpathia," because we cannot account for the collapsibles?
- I abandoned one, and then I towed [Original shows "told."] another one while I was under sail to the "Carpathia"; that is two; then the one that Mr. Lightoller was on, that is three. I do not know where the fourth is.

15891. So far as you know there were only three ever got away from the wreck in any shape?
- As far as I know.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

15892. You stated in giving evidence in America that a crowd went down to the gangway doors to get them open, and that you were going to load the boats and take passengers in from these gangway doors?
- I did.

15893. It has come out in the evidence that a number of women and children perished on the "Titanic." I believe that is a fact. May it be that in the expectation of this method being carried out, a number of the women and children were directed down to these gangways?
- No, it is not.

15894. Were you giving directions as to the filling of boat No. 1?
- I was.

15895. And the lowering of her?
- And the lowering of her.

15896. She was loaded with a very small number of passengers - five?
- I do not know how many there were. I took everybody that was there; that is all I know.

15897. (The Commissioner.) You took what?
- I cleared the deck, My Lord.

15898. You mean to say that when you took the people into No. 1 there were no people left on the deck?
- There were no people left on the starboard deck.

15899. (Mr. Scanlan.) At that time what search did you have made for people - for passengers?
- I did not make any search.

15900. You did not, for instance, send over to the port side to find if there were any women or children?
- No, because I wanted to get the boats away. I did not have any time to waste.

15901. And you did not send down to any of the lower decks?
- There was nobody on the next deck. I stopped the boat there and asked them to look.

15902. Or on any of the lower decks?
- I do not know about that. I stopped the lowering of the boat at A deck, and told the men to have a look there, and they saw nobody.

15903. There was no particular reason why that boat should have been lowered with only five passengers?
- No particular reason why the boat should be lowered with only five people.

The Commissioner:
You are following a bad example, Mr. Scanlan. Instead of asking questions, you are making a statement, and I do not think your statement is in accordance with his evidence.

15904. (Mr. Scanlan.) I appreciate the mistake, My Lord. (To the witness.) At the time that boat No. 1 was lowered there were still other boats on the starboard side?
- That I am not prepared to answer; I do not know.

15905. I mean boats were lowered after No. 1?
- I say I do not know.

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