Lusitania

Limitation of Liability Hearings

Testimony of Charles C. Hardwick

Passenger - ss Lusitania.


 


CHARLES C. HARDWICK, being duly sworn and examined as a witness for the claimants, testifies:

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. You reside in Orange, New Jersey?

- I do.

Q. What business are you engaged in in New York?

- I am an importer.

Q. How frequently have you traveled to Europe, on the Cunard Line especially?

- I should say over thirty crossings.

Q. On the Cunard Line?

- Yes, twenty- eight to thirty, or twenty- six to thirty.

Q. How often have you crossed on the Lusitania and Mauretania?

- I made the first and the last crossing on the Lusitania, and probably I must have crossed fourteen times on the Mauretania, I should say; I don't keep any record, but it must be at least that.

Q. When you obtained your ticket to sail on the Lusitania how long before the sailing was it?

- About four or five days, offhand.

Q. Who did you see in the office when you purchased the ticket?

- Mr. Fecke.

Q. Did you have any conversation with him when you purchased your ticket?

- Yes, sir.

Mr. Kirlin:
I object to the conversation.

Mr. Betts:
We have some authorities that I should like to refer you to on that point, your Honor.

Mr. Ballentine:
The claimant Grab has claimed a special agreement by which they were to furnish a convoy and certain speed. 143 United States is the authority for introducing any conversation had with the ticket seller at the tune of selling the ticket; there are other cases also which are equally good authority as applied to steamship tickets as distinguished from railroad tickets.

The Court:
In 143 United States there was some talk about a stop- over, which was not mentioned in the ticket, as I understand it. The Court seems to have allowed conversations as to that; but I do not see that that makes any difference in this case.

Mr. Ballentine:
In that and in all the other cases the theory of the decisions is that the ticket is not only evidence of the contract between the carrier and the passenger, but that that is made up of not only the ticket but of the conversation which took place between the agent and the passenger at the time of selling the ticket.

Mr. Kirlin:
There is a very great difference between a railroad ticket and a steamship ticket.

The Court:
This case of the Majestic, 166 U. S., is conversely authority for the rulings I have heretofore made, because in that case the Court held that the steamer was 1 not bound by a so- called notice to passengers; the Court held that that was not any part of the contract.

Mr. Betts:
The Court held that they had not agreed to anything that was on the ticket because the parties had not conversed on it, and that therefore it was not mentioned.

The Court:
The Minnetonka case brings up that provision of the Statute. I will adhere to the rulings heretofore made, and will sustain the objection. The answer "Yes" may stand.

Q. Did you have any conversation with Mr. Fecke, the person who sold you the ticket, as to what the speed of the vessel was? Objected to. A Yes.

Q. What was that conversation?

Objected to.

Objection sustained.

Q. Do you know who Mr. Fecke was? Had you known him before?

- Oh, yes, I had known him a good many years.

Q. What was he?

The Court:
It is in evidence who he was.

Q. Did you know anything about this warning that was published in the newspapers?

- No, I did not.

Q. Did you know what time you expected to get into Liverpool on the ship?

- Early Saturday morning•

Mr. Kirlin:
I object; this is another branch of the same question.

The Court:
Yes.

Q. You had traveled on the Mauretania before?

- Yes, air, and the Lusitania.

Q. And you knew the arriving time?

- Yes.

The Court:
I will take this only if it is preliminary to showing that he knew his general location, or anything of that sort.

 

BY THE COURT:

Q. You figured that you would get to Liverpool Saturday, from your previous experience on these vessels?

- I have always got the 8:30 train out of Liverpool Saturday morning.

Q. That is, sailing what day out of New York?

- Well, that is just a week; she sailed on Wednesday, or Tuesday night.

Q. Did you get to Liverpool on the 6th or the 7th morning usually?

- If we sailed Saturday we would get there Friday morning.

Q. Well, you said before Saturday morning.

- I meant Friday morning.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

Q. What room did you occupy on this voyage?

- B-104.

Q. What did you notice about the speed of the vessel on this voyage, as compared with any previous voyage that you had been on her?

- Why, she was very much slower, very much slower.

Q. Did you notice about what speed she was going on the Friday before the sinking?

- Well, that is rather difficult to tell; she was going slower than she had been the previous day.

Q. Could you form any estimate of her speed?

- I should say probably 16 to 18 knots at that time; she was not doing very much better than that at any other time, I guess.

Q. Did you see any lifeboat drill during the voyage over?

- Yes.

Q. Of what did it consist?

- Shall I tell my conversation? I told one of the officers that unless they changed their boat, they would wear the boat out.

Objected to.

The Court:
Describe what you saw.

- (Continued) Well, the whistle was blown and these chaps ran up the deck and jumped into the boat and put on their life belts, and that was about all.

Q. What did they do then?

- They got out; that was about all there was to it.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

Q. By "these chaps," you mean the sailors, I suppose?

- The sailors that were there at that time.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. Did you see them use any other boat for this drill during the voyage?

- I only saw then use the boat amidships on the starboard side.

Q. Did you see the drills on more than one day?

- They had them every day.

Q. Did they handle the falls at any time, or the equipment of the boat at this drill?

- No.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

Q. Was it at a different time every day?

- I should say yes.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. Were any instructions given to you or the other passengers as to what to do in case of an emergency?

- No.

Q. Did you ever see any of the passengers having any boat drill on D deck?

- No.

Q. On the morning of the sinking, when you came on deck did you notice that the boats were swung out?

- Yes.

Q. When did you first know of the fog on Friday?

- I was in my bath and I heard the fog whistle blowing, and I thought it was a pretty poor place to be under the circumstances.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

Q. What time was that?

- It is pretty hard to tell; it was half past nine or maybe half past eight; I always set my watch five hours ahead, because I like to keep tab on what they are doing at home.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. What did you do then?

- I dressed and went up on deck.

Q. What did you find as to weather?

- A Scotch mist.

Q. Had she slowed down any further then?

- I should say she had.

Q. Did you notice when the mist cleared away?

- Yes, but I don't know the hour.

Q. Was it before luncheon?

- It was before luncheon, yes.

Q. What did you see before luncheon of the Irish coast?

- I could see it very distinctly.

Q. What did you notice as to the distance that you saw it, as compared with your previous voyages along the coast?

- Much nearer.

Q. Did that apply to the previous voyages on the Lusitania and Mauretania?

- I hardly think that that is -- she didn't; as a rule, make the trip that way; it was nearer than I had ever been to the Irish coast before; but they have always gone to Fishguard. It is not their regular route.

Q. You had not made the voyage to Liverpool in the Cunard Line before?

- Oh, yes, but not that way; always by Fishguard; sometimes they omitted Fishguard and went to Liverpool, but the only way I could judge the distance is by coming out of Queenstown, and not going in.

Q. When you came out of Queenstown you went along this same Irish coast?

- Yes.

Q. And you are speaking of those previous voyages, when you compared the distance on this occasion?

- Yes.

Q. That time did you leave the boat deck and go to luncheon; about what time?

- A little after one, probably a quarter past one.

Q. Was the weather then clear?

- Delightful.

Q. It was clear?

- Yes.

Q. How long did you stay at luncheon on D deck?

- We left the dining saloon just as the ship was struck by the torpedo.

Q. That was about what time?

- 2:10, I should say.

Q. Did you feel the shock?

- Just as though we had struck a rock.

Q. Did you hear anything?

- An explosion?

Q. Yes.

- No, I didn't hear an explosion; just the breaking of glass and wood, and a smashing up of things generally.

Q. Did the shock appear to be ahead or astern of you?

- It was forward, on the starboard side.

Q. What did the ship do after the shock?

- She listed instantly and sunk by the head; she listed to starboard and I sunk by the head.

Q. Did you hear any other explosion or feel any other shock?

- No.

Q. Where did you go then?

- I went up to B deck as fast as I could.

Q. What did you do?

- Just up the stairway, and when I reached B deck -- that was about amidships and my room was aft -- going down the corridor I had to lean against the side to go at all, bemuse there was such a tremendous list.

 

BY MR. KIRLIN:

 

Q. Do you mean down the corridor?

- Yes.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. What did you do?

- I put on my life belt and took the rear stairway up to the smoking room, and through the smoking room to the boat deck.

Q. Did you find your life preserver at that time, or had you gotten it out before?

- It was under the brass bed and I was down by the ladder, and the first night out I took the ladder away, and it took me about ten minutes to do it, and I put my life belt on the end of my bed, and that was where I found it.

Q. When you got to the boat deck whet did you notice then?

- I noticed a great many people coming from the second cabin.

Q. Up on to your deck?

- Up on the A deck.

Q. Did you notice the Irish coast at all at that time?

- I don't know that I did; I was thinking about something else.

Q. Did you notice at any time the lighthouse on Kinsale?

- Well, I noticed it a great many times, but I can't say that I did at this time.

Q. When did you notice it?

- When I was in the boat; not in the ship.

Q. Did you see any boats launched from the port side?

- Yes, there were two and they were both swamped; one boat was launched and the people were all -- the boat was down but the people were in the water; then there was another one lowered and that was filled with water. I spoke to an office who had charge of the boat and said, "What should you think of my starting down that rope," and he said, "I wouldn't do it." I walked around the deck forward and aft and saw that the ship was going, and I was trying to make up my mind what to do.

 

BY MR. KIRLIN:

 

Q. Do you mean going ahead or sinking?

- She was sinking and she was also under headway.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. What did you do and what did you see?

- Then, after I reached amidships I turned back and saw -- oh, they had launched the two boats unsuccessfully; the third boat, there was nobody there to handle it, and people were getting into and I got in.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

Q. On the port side?

- On the port side; it was the next to the last boat or the last boat in the first class, and it didn't look very good to me, so I got back on the ship. Then was the time I walked up amidships trying to decide what to do. I turned around and I saw Mr. Meyers. He was standing there with his arms through his life belt this way (illustrating) and I said, "This will never save you. You have got it on wrong." So I put it on and tied it tightly, and said, "Good luck to you.”

Q. What happened to the boat that you got in and got out of?

- I don’t know.

Q. Did you see it lowered at all?

- No.

Q. Did you try to loosen the life raft on board the steamer?

- Yes.

Q. With what success?

- It was impossible to do it.

Q. Why?

- Because it was tied down so tight that I couldn't do it.

Q. Tied with what?

- With ropes.

Q. What happened after that? How did you get off the ship finally?

- As I was standing on the port side aft my steward, Joseph Archer, came along, and I said, "What will we do," and he said, "I don’t know; let's try for this raft." I said, "All right." So he went back to try to loosen this raft, and we found it was impossible to do so. So he said, "We are lowering the boats. Let us go over there." I said, "All right." I think that is the boat that Mr. Lehmann said was No. 18. This boat was ready to lower. She was swinging in and out. I said, "Would you take it, Archer?" And he said, "I certainly would. Go to it;" so when she swung I jumped in the boat.

 

BY MR. KIRLIN:

 

Q. What boat was that?

- That was the last boat, the next to the last lifeboat on the starboard side.

 

BY MR. BETTS:

 

Q. Well, what happened?

- When she swung in I jumped in the boat and stood up and yelled at the top of my lungs, "Don't you drop this boat;" just at that time they did, and we were all dumped into the water.

Q. Did they drop one end first?

- Oh, yes, one end first

Q. You were all thrown in the water?

- Yes, everybody.

 

Next >