British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5


2295. The Commissioner: Were there any Canadian troops on board?
- None whatever.

2296. Were there any troops on board?
- None whatever.

Mr. Branson:
Then there is one thing more, and that is the position in which the cargo was stowed. The manifest has been put in, and I have here the cargo plan.

The Commissioner:
I have been looking at this manifest, and I confess it is rather unintelligible to me. Is there anything in it which indicates where the particular goods described in it are stowed?

Mr. Branson:
No, but there is a cargo plan which I can put in which will tell your Lordship exactly.

The Commissioner:
Will you bring it here and show me.

(The learned Counsel explained the plan to The Commissioner.)

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Might I say in connection with what I think Mr. Branson has been telling your Lordship, this. He has been using a plan supplied by us. Your Lordship will notice there are two bulkheads between the place where the cargo was stowed and the section of the ship which was pierced by the torpedoes - a substantial distance fore and aft, and in that distance two bulkheads.

The Commissioner:
Assuming the torpedo struck the ship as I think they say between the third and fourth funnels, if that is accurate, how far would the torpedo be away from the cargo spaces where the cartridges were? I am told the evidence was that the torpedo struck the ship between the second and third funnels.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Some people said the second and third and some between the third and fourth.

The Commissioner:
At all events it was in the after part of the ship.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:

The Commissioner:
About how far do you suppose the torpedo would be from the cargo space in which the cartridges were.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Someone is getting it out according to scale. I am told by the representative of the Board of Trade it is about 50 yards and there are two bulkheads in that 50 yards.

The Commissioner:
Thank you. Is there anything else?

2297. Mr. Macmaster: I should like to ask the captain a question. (To the Witness.) How far from the point where the disaster occurred is Fishguard?
- I could not exactly say that without the chart.

2298. Cannot you tell me how many hours' sail?
- It would be about 6 hours.

2299. Granting that the accident took place at 2 o'clock in the afternoon or thereabouts, in about 6 hours by fair sailing you would have arrived at Fishguard, providing it was your destination?
- Yes, that is right.

2300. Was it not usual for the "Lusitania" and the "Mauretania" to go to Fishguard first and land passengers there?
- It had been previous to the war.

2301. But had it been discontinued?
- It was discontinued on account of the war, and we closed port also.

2302. You were on the previous journey the "Lusitania" made homeward?
- I was.

2303. And you did not on that occasion go to Fishguard?
- We did not.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
May I call your Lordship's attention to what took place on the first day, on page 7, as I want to give your Lordship assistance as far as I can. You will see immediately after Question 123 on the top of the left-hand column, I said this to the Court: "The other questions I desire to put" -

The Commissioner:
I remember it quite well.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
I was not present, of course, at what took place in camera, and I cannot tell whether the questions I desired to put have been put by the Attorney-General. I had framed two or three questions to put to the captain. I do not want to do any injustice to the captain himself, but I want to know whether he had a conversation with a lady passenger with regard to taking on board a pilot before he reached the Irish coast, and his answer to that question,

The Commissioner:
You see I do not know what the question was, and I do not know what the answer was and you do.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
No, I do not, my Lord; I was not present.

The Commissioner:
I know you were not, but I suppose you have been told about the question.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
Not a word, my Lord. I am in a state of perfect innocence, for once.

The Commissioner:
Well, you know what a desire for knowledge once led to: It led to an awful disaster from which we have never recovered. I think you had better leave it alone.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
There are two things. There is the interests of my clients, and if your Lordship says I had better leave it alone -

The Commissioner:
I think so. I do not know what it is, and not knowing what it is I am in a position to say I think that you had better leave it alone.

Mr. Rose-Innes:
One appreciates your Lordship's advice on all occasions.

Examined by Mr. CLEM EDWARDS.

2304. Going at 18 knots an hour, how long would it take the ship to describe a quarter circle?
- I could not exactly say, but going 25 knots she would go the circle in about eight minutes.

2305. A complete circle?
- Yes.

2306. Supposing at 25 knots an hour she was pointing due north, how long would it take her to get her pointing half-way between east and north?
- That is an eighth of a circle?

2307. Yes?
- If she takes eight minutes to go the circle what would she do the eighth of a circle in?

2308. She would not do the circle in less than eight minutes at 25 knots?
- No. I do not think so.

2309. And you do not know what she would take to do the quarter circle at 18 knots?
- I do not.

2310. The Commissioner: Does she do the first quarter circle as quickly as the second?
- No.

2311. Does she do the second as quickly as she does the third?
- I do not think so.

2312. Then of course the speed is varying?
- Of course the speed reduces all the time.

(The Witness withdrew.)