The Facts - What did the Survivors See of the Break-up of the Titanic?

What did the survivors see of the break-up of the Titanic
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The Facts - What did the Survivors See of the Break-up of the Titanic?

Titanic Research

What did the survivors see of the break-up of the Titanic

Final Totals and Conclusions

Final Totals and Conclusions

Combined Inquiry Totals

Those who said the ship broke apart Those who did not state or know whether the ship broke apart or not Those who said the ship sank intact
Total 13 Total 65 Total 4
Poingdestre
Ranger
Scott
Brown
Symons (no comment in Amer.)
Olliver
Osman
Moore
Buley (no comment on British) Crowe
Evans
Bright
White
Jewell
Scarrott
Beauchamp
Hichens
Lucas
Barrett
Lee
Johnson
Cavell
Shiers
Hendrickson
Morris
Joughin
Rule
Hart
Pearcey
MacKay
Wheat
Taylor
Horswill
Sir Duff-Gordon
Lady Duff-Gordon
Collins
Sheath
Pusey
Leather
Robinson
Wynn
Boxhall
Fleet
Hogg
Rowe
Hemming
Seward
Crawford
Buley (removed)
Archer
Ismay
Mauge
Bride
Peuchen
Wheelton
Jones
Symons (removed)
Perkis
Hardy
Ward
Widgery
Andrews
Collins
Clench
Brice
Haines
Cunningham
Ray
Etches
Burke
Stengel
Gracie
Bishop
Mrs.
Bishop
Buckley
Harder
Abelseth
Chambers
Pickard
Lowe
Dillon
Lightoller
Pitman
Woolner

The combined table above merges the American and British data. In the few cases indicated, witnesses moved from one category to another, based on more detailed testimony at the other Inquiry.

I very much think that the Assessors in both Inquiries, whether intentional or not, did not really try that hard to find out whether the Titanic sank intact or not. So very many witnesses were just not asked about it. And as mentioned above, the British Assessors almost appeared to be avoiding the question, by asking if the witness saw the ship sink, and then changed the subject to something else. Still, 3 times the number of people who said it sank intact, described the ship breaking apart - and many of them, described the same break up area - between or at the third and fourth funnels.

Of the four witnesses who claimed the ship sank intact, two of them were officers in the White Star Line. It must be asked, how would the White Star Line itself view their testimony, if they said the ship had broken apart? Could/would White Star have ended their career, both at White Star and the other shipping lines? There is really no way of knowing, but I am sure that the surviving officers of the Titanic were well aware of the issue of their continued employment by White Star, and elsewhere.

It is known that the above numbers can be altered a bit by other first person resources. Lawrence Beesley, in his book "The Loss of the SS Titanic" states in Chapter 4 he did not think the ship broke in two.

Colonel Gracie, in "The Truth About the Titanic" says in Chapter 3 that he did not think Titanic broke apart, in fact he devotes a number of paragraphs to it. However, it must be admitted that during the supposed time of the break-up, Gracie was either under water, fighting for his life from the suction, or trying to climb onto Collapsible B with many other people in the water.

Newspaper accounts of the sinking would raise considerably the number of witnesses who said it broke apart, I suspect. However, since an account of this type could have been altered by a newspaperman himself, and we have no way of ascertaining whether the survivor actually said what the paper printed, most of these accounts are of unknown reliability. A newspaperman, looking to dramatize a hot story, could easily print a more sensationalized story - and saying the Titanic broke in half fits that scenario perfectly!

It is obvious now, that even though the general public, and most of us too, believed that the Titanic sank in one piece; until Ballard discovered the wreck in 1985 it was a skewed belief, based on the American and British Inquiry Assessors choosing to believe the statements from a very small number of people, which include two officers of the White Star Line, the company that stood to lose the most if it was believed their ships weren't soundly built. Those witnesses who described a break-up, a situation we now know to be a fact, were ignored.

All extracted accounts courtesy of The Titanic Inquiry Project, at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/

Thanks to George Behe for proofing and suggestions.

Contributor
Bill Wormstedt
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    Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Thursday 28th August 2003, last updated .