Limitation of Liability Hearings

Testimony of

Margherita de Cippico

passenger - ss Lusitania.


MARGHERITA de CIPPICO, being duly sworn and examined as a witness for the claimants, testifies:



Q. Where do you reside?

- I resided when I wrote that testimony at 43 Fifth Avenue. Now I reside at 18 East 60th Street.

Q. You were born of French parents?

- Yes.

Q. And you have been engaged on the stage under the name of Rita Jolivet?

- Yes, I have played in England and in New York at different times.

Q. You are now married to an Italian subject, are you?

- Yes, I am.

Q. Who is he?

- The Count de Cippico.

Q. Did you sail on the Lusitania from New York for Liverpool on May 1, 1915?

- I did.

Q. When did you make up your mind to sail; when did you go on the ship?

- At 8 o'clock in the morning I made up my mind to sail, and I arrived at the dock at five minutes to ten. She was due to sail at 10 o'clock. The reason for my doing so was because the Lusitania was supposed to go quickly, and I wanted to see my brother before he went off to the front.

Q. He was going to the front in what army?

- In the English Army.          

Q. Had you expected or thought of going on the St. Paul that same day?

- Miss Ellen Terry had suggested my going,  and I said no, that I was in a hurry and was on schedule
time and was afraid of not seeing my brother.

Q. When you arrived at the dock you went on the steamer, just before 10 o'clock?

- Just before 10 o'clock.

Q. When did the steamer finally sail, so far as you recollect?

- She finally sailed about 1 o'clock.

Q. Your stateroom was on what deck?

- On deck D; it was a very bad room, because it was the last moment, and I had to take an inside cabin.

Q. Were you alone?

- Yes, but to my great surprise I found my brother-in-law was going back too. I met him on the boat. He had also decided to hurry back to his wife, and she was in England.

Q. There was no special circumstance on the voyage up to the day of the torpedoing?

- Not at all, except rumors.

Q. At that time was there any conversation on the ship as to being in any great danger, or near the danger zone?

Objected to.

Objection sustained.


Q. On that day, on the 7th of May, Friday, did you notice anything about the speed of the vessel, as compared with her former speed?

- Yes, I noticed that she had slowed down.

Q. Had you been on her on previous voyages?

- No, I had been on the Mauretania.

Q. How did the speed compare with the speed of the Mauretania?

- That I cannot tell you.

Q. I mean on the Friday morning.

- I noticed that she had slowed down; she seemed to me to be slowed down.

Q. Had you crossed the ocean frequently on steamers?

- Very many times.

Q. On Friday do you recollect seeing the shore at all, and if so, about what time?

- I saw the shore when I was in the water.

Q. Did you see it while you were on the steamer at all?

- No, sir, because I had not slept very well the night before and I had just got up for luncheon, and as I had an inside cabin I could not see the shore from my cabin.

Q. When you were in the water after the accident what could you see on the shore? How distinctly could you see it?

- I saw it pretty distinctly.

Q. Where were you at the time the torpedo struck the ship?

- I was down in my cabin, on deck D.

Q. Did you feel one shock or two shocks?

- I felt a great big shook, and I was thrown about a great deal, and she listed tremendously.

Q. How soon did she begin to list after the shock?

- It seemed almost immediately; I didn't think we were torpedoed, I thought we had struck a loose mine.

Q. What did you do after you felt the shock?

- I looked out and saw a woman putting on a life belt, so with great difficulty I climbed up and got hold of my life belt, which I carried in my hand.

Q. Where did you get it?

- From the top of the wardrobe; I climbed on to my bunk and got hold of the life belt. I believe there was a second one there, but I couldn't reach it very well. Then I climbed up on deck; I wanted to meet my brother-in-law, who was waiting for me on deck A.

Q. You have spoken of the list that came immediately. Was that before you left your cabin?

- Before I left my cabin; with great difficulty I walked through the corridor and walks up the four flights of stairs to deck A.

Q. You found whom there?

- I found my brother-in-law and Mr. Charles Frohman, and a Mr. Scott. I believe there was another gentleman behind, that they said was Mr. Vanderbilt, but I don't know; I am not sure about that.

Q. Did you put on your life belt then?

- No; my brother-in-law said, "Did you bring any others," and I said, "No, because I couldn't reach the other." In fact, I didn't know that were were other life belts in my room, there were, but didn't know at the time; in the hurry I just grabbed hold of the first one. Then Mr. Scott went downstairs to deck B and he got up four life belts, and gave one to my brother-in-law and one to Mr. Frohman, and one he kept for himself.  And while he was helping Mr. Frohman on with his, and my brother-in-law was helping me with mine, someone stole his life belt, and Mr. Scott went down a second time and brought up other life belts from deck B, and he gave his away to a little old woman; we all offered him ours, and he said, no, he could swim better than any of us, and if we had to die we had to die; why worry?

Q. Did you see any of the lifeboats lowered while you were up on deck A?

- Yes. We agreed to stick together and I looked out on the deck and I saw a lifeboat being lowered, but the guard slipped; it was not lowered evenly, and the women and children were thrown out.

Q. Do you remember which side of the ship that lifeboat was on?

- I am not quite positive; I am not quite positive, but I think it was on the side that was nearer the port, nearer the shore.

Q. That would be the port side?

- Yes, that would be the port side.

Q. Did you notice anything about the list of the vessel as you stood up on deck A, whether it listed the same or whether it increased or not?

- No, it did not remain the same. She righted herself. She seemed to right herself. It was only very noticeable at the beginning.

Q. What happened after that with reference to the list?

- I can't quite remember noticing anything very special, except that the list was not so marked.

Q. How did you finally get off the ship?

- My brother-in-law took hold of my hand and took hold of Mr. Frohman, and we went out through the door on to the deck, and the water swept me away from my brother-in-law and from Mr. Frohman, swept me with such force that my buttoned boots were swept off my feet. I was struck under the water. I sank down twice. When I got up again there was an up-turned boat on which I put my hand and clung to. We remained out there clinging to the boat for three hours and a half, and were picked up by a Welsh collier.

Q. You were taken into Queenstown?

- At one o'clock in the morning we were taken into Queenstown, because she was loaded and they were afraid of torpedoes.

Q. What did you do after arriving there?

- I went to the Admiral's house.

Q. Did you stay there?

- No, I did not; I took Mrs. Pearl, the wife of Major Pearl, and a Mrs. Thompson, an elderly lady who lost her husband, and I went down to the Queen Hotel, because Lady Allen was ill and there was nobody to take care of the people there. So I took care of Lady Allen.

Q. Did you have any conversation with the admiralty at Queenstown with reference to this disaster?

Objected to.

Mr. Betts:
The reason I want that is along the line that I spoke of in my opening, to show that there was information given to people by the admiralty, and people connected with the admiralty, as to what instructions were given.

The Court:
She can say yes to that question.

Q. Then I will ask you whether the admiralty said anything to you about whether the captain of the Lusitania followed the instructions given him by the admiralty?

Objected to as immaterial.

Objection sustained.

Mr. Betts excepts.

Q. You had lunch the day of the disaster in the main saloon deck D?

- Yes.

Q. Will you tell me what you saw with reference to the portholes in the dining saloon at that time?

- They were open; I know nothing about the cabins, because I had an inside room

Q. When you went from the dining room or the saloon to your cabin, about how long an interval of time passed from the time that you left the dining saloon until the shock was felt?

- The time to just walk along a corridor about one and a half lengths of this room, to my cabin; and as soon as I arrived in my cabin the shock came.




Q. Were all the portholes open, or only some?

- Some; I didn't notice all; some were open.

Q. Was this in the regular dining room?

- This was in the regular dining saloon. The boat I clung to had canvas on it, and as a great many other people were clinging on to it, we were sinking, and then came from under it a collapsible boat that carried away the extra people.




Q. Was this boat that you clung to a regular lifeboat, or a collapsible boat?

- It was a regular lifeboat.

Q. When you spoke of the cover did you mean the ordinary canvas cover?

- The ordinary canvas cover, and it was upturned.

Q. How could you see the canvas cover?

- Because we wondered whether we could right it.

Q. Was it turned over or not?

- It was turned over.

Q. Was this cover made fast by a rope around the edge, as it usually is on lifeboats on a steamer in davits?

- Yes; a collapsible boat came from underneath and carried away the extra people.

Q. Came from under the lifeboat?

- Yes.




Q. As I understand it, your room was on the same deck as the dining saloon, on deck D?

- Yes, it was down a passage; it was down the corridor.

Q. Will you look at the passenger plan now shown you, and see if you can identify your room?

- I am under the impression that it was D-15, or in that neighborhood, but I am not quite certain.

Q. But it was forward, was it?

- D-33, perhaps; I am not quite certain.

Q. In what part of the dining saloon did you have your luncheon?

- At one of these tables (indicating.)

Q. The third or fourth aide table from the bow, on the port side?

- Yes.

The plan is offered in evidence and is marked Petitioner's Exhibit No. 3.

Q. You had gone to your room before you felt the shock?

- I was in my room when I felt the shock.

Q. Did you have any sense or impression of the part of the ship that had been struck, with reference to where you were?

- No.

Q. Whether forward of you or aft of you?

- No; it seemed to come more from the middle of the ship.

Q. You mean further back toward the dining room than where you were?

- Yes.

Q. And you got your life belt and went up on to A deck?

- Yes.

Q. Did you have any trouble going up the stairway?

- Yes; I had trouble on account of the list; people were coming and going; it was very noticeable.

Q. When you got on deck had the vessel listed so as to enable you to stand on the deck?

- Yes, and then she righted herself, because the list was not so noticeable afterwards.

Q. You got there before she righted herself?

- Yes.

Q. Did you have to hold on, to stand up?

- No, not then.

Q. You were able to stand without holding on to anything?

- Yes.

Q. Could you give us an idea by this piece of paper, about what the inclination of the deck was when you got up on deck?

- When I got up on deck -- I noticed it especially when I was walking along the corridor; then she seemed to be at a very great angle, like this almost (indicating about 35 degrees.) It was very difficult to walk.

Q. Did you think the vessel came up so that the deck again got level, or did she still remain listed?

- I don't remember exactly, but I know that it was not so noticeable afterward. I think she still kept a slight list.

Q. Did that condition last long or did it soon become heavily listed again?

- No, I don't think it became heavily listed; I don't remember.

Q. When you went over the side was the water up to the deck?

- It was the water that swept me away.

Q. Water came on the boat deck?

- Yes.

Q. That was on the A deck?

- Yes, that was on the A deck.

Q. That part of the ship was down practically at the water's edge?

- Oh, it had already sunk; it was the water coming up, you see.

Q. The lee side was under water then?

- Yes.

Q. On what part of the deck were you?

- I was in the middle of the deck.

Q. In the center from side to side?

- In the center, near the elevator; near the lift.

Q. From side to side?

- Yes; then we went out on to the promenade deck and saw the ship was sinking right away, and waited till the last moment, you see, and then she sank she was going this way (illustrating) and she sank this way (illustrating), because the water came up.

Q. You indicated that the ship was sinking by the head well as by the side?

- No; I think she sank by the head.  I don't remember that she sank by the side. She gave me the impression of sinking by the head.


Adjourned till tomorrow, April 18, 1918, at 11 A. M.