Transcript of a recorded conversation between Leslie Harrison and Captain Stanley Lord, held at 13 Kirkway, Wallasey, [Lord’s Merseyside home] in February 1961 [6-8.30pm], and a further discussion recorded on 19 August 1961.
Part 1 : Q1-Q71
Q1: Now Captain Lord, you were in command of the Leyland liner Californian nearly fifty years ago, when she stopped because of ice in mid-Atlantic, apparently somewhere near where the Titanic sank.
There was a ship near you until about two-thirty in the morning, and at the subsequent inquiry, Lord Mersey said this in his findings, and this is from the report:
‘These circumstances convince me that the ship seen by the Californian was the Titanic, and if so, according to Captain Lord, the two vessels were about five miles apart at the time of the disaster. The evidence from the Titanic corroborates this estimate, but I am advised that the distance was probably greater, though not more than eight to ten miles. The ice by which the Californian was surrounded was loose ice extending for a distance of not more than two or three miles in the direction of the Titanic. The night was clear and the sea was smooth. When she first saw the rockets, the Californian could have pushed through the ice to the open water without any serious risk and so have come to the assistance of the Titanic. Had she done so, she might have saved many, if not all, of the lives that were lost.’
Now those were Lord Mersey’s findings. Have you ever accepted them as being correct?
Lord: Have I accepted them?
Lord: No, not by any means.
Q3: The key thing was this ship that was close to you. Could you, with your experience, have mistaken a ship like the Titanic, the largest ship in the world, wasn’t she, at that time, could you have confused her with a smaller one, at about five miles range?
Lord: Not [in] the slightest. I couldn’t possibly be mistaken. As she was approaching, I told the officer on the bridge, I said, ‘that’s not any Titanic.’ And later I saw the wireless operator, when he told me, as he was, that Titanic was the only ship in sight [sic], when that ship was approaching, I said ‘that is not any Titanic.’ He said. ‘No, that’s not a passenger ship.’
Q4: Yes. So your experience was quite extensive at that time. You had an Extra Master’s certificate, and you had been in command for six years?
Lord: 29, 30 – when was it?
Lord: 1912? I got command in nineteen hundred and six.
Q6: How old were you?
Q7: So you were 35 [in 1912] and you had had - ?
Lord: I had six years’ command.
Q8: And nearly 20 years’ sea experience?
Lord: Well I went to sea in ninety… eighteen-ninety… let me see. 1891...
Q9. What effect did Lord Mersey’s finding have on your career?
Lord: Well it meant that I lost my position in the Leyland line. But fortunately I have friends who got me quite as good a job as I had lost.
Q10. You were asked to resign?
Lord: I was asked to resign, strongly against the [Liverpool] managing director’s wish. Because he had already promised me that I should go back in the Californian as Master, but he said the matter had been taken clear out of his hands. And he had no say in it whatever.
Q11. That would be the directors?
Lord: That would be the managing… the Liverpool manager. I don’t think he was director, I suppose he would be…
Q12: No, the decision would be taken by the directors?
Lord: In London. Yes.
Q13: And he would have to do what he was told?
Lord: He had to do what he was told.
Q14: And the Liverpool management were in your favour?
Lord: Strongly. As shown by the reference they’d given me.
Q15: Did they give any other indications of their support for you?
Lord: Not.. only what I heard privately. It wasn’t public. It was in correspondence that I had, which I was given access to, told me what was in it [the reference], and the managing director said that if he were the sole shareholder in any steamer he would willingly have given me command of her.
Q16: And the next job that you took came your way how? the next appointment that you took?
Lord: It was with Lawther Latta & company.
Q17: And how did you get in touch?
Lord: Through a great friend of mine in Brunswick, Georgia, Mr Frank Strachan. A shipping man.
Q18. What was he?
Lord: Well you’d describe – his father was a shipmaster who settled in South Carolina, left the sea, the Captain of a tramp steamer, and settled there in Savannah [Georgia], and his son drifted back he had an office there, ship’s agent, and this Frank Strachan, the eldest son, settled in Brunswick, and that’s where I first met him.
Q19: What was his job?
Lord: Ship’s agent.
Q20: To the Leyland line?
Lord: And to any company that wanted an agent.
Q21: And he took a big interest in –
Lord: Oh a great interest. He wrote to Lawther Latta, to Mr Frank – to Mr, Sir John Latta as he was then, a private letter telling him – Latta told me this – that he thought I’d been pretty harshly treated. And if he [Latta] could do anything for me, he [Strachan] would much appreciate it.
Latta told me this. Well he just showed me this letter.
Q22: And Latta offered you an appointment?
Lord: He asked me to come down to see him, and I went down to see him. He told me that Frank Strachan had given me a very good character [reference] in every possible way as a shipmaster, and after hearing all this he would have a ship vacant for a Master in a week or two, and he would let me know. And I had a letter from his afterwards, appointing me to this ship. To the different salary that I would be getting and would I accept it? I promptly wrote back and did accept it.
And I joined the Anglo-Saxon in January. I think it was January. 1913.
Q23: And you got on well?
Lord: Splendidly. There was no shipmaster ever treated any better. Nowhere.
Q24. What other senior Masters were in the company at the time?
Lord: Oh, there was one old fellow, he was killed afterwards in his… shelled, and blown off the bridge [Frederick Parslow in the Anglo-Californian, February 1915]. Do you want me to give his name?
Q25: No, I was wondering – I think you got the offer of new ships very quickly, didn’t you?
Lord: Very quickly, and I had the – I was appointed, I was given this new ship then, the Anglo-Chilean and I was practically one of the junior Masters, but I was given the largest ship Latta had, and told that I was to come north and look after the building of her. The fitting out of her, and all that.
Q26: That was the middle of the first world war?
Lord: First world war, and I was ashore about three or four months.
Q27: That was good leave for those days?
Lord: Yes, and then I left in her bound for Alexandria, loaded in London with ship’s stores, army stores, and got their safely. After being chased [by a submarine]. I saw another ship sunk.
Q28. Your own wartime career was uneventful in terms that you didn’t lose any ships?
Lord: Didn’t lose any ships. Didn’t lose any lives.
Q29: And how long did you stay with Latta’s?
Lord: Fourteen years.
Q30: Until you retired?
Lord: Then I retired on medical advice . Fourteen of my happiest years at sea. I was shown every consideration and kindness by the senior member of the firm.
Q31. And it was, as firms go, notoriously tough?
Lord: He was considered a very hard employer. Didn’t treat me as such. And I never heard of anything whilst I was there, everybody seemed to be happy and contented.
Q32: It’s nearly 33 years ago, then, since –
Lord: I left there in ’27.
Q33. And for nearly fifty years, you have had this appalling burden of being publicly branded as the man who left over a thousand people drown before your eyes?
Q34: Now how have you managed to live with that really awful charge?
Lord: Well, I knew it wasn’t true. And a good many people didn’t – men like Sir John Latta wouldn’t have wanted me as the man in command of one of his ships if he’d thought for one moment that was true.
He didn’t think it was true, and the man who recommended me to him, Frank Strachan, he certainly didn’t think it was true. And the owners of the ship [Californian] in Liverpool, the management there, never thought for one moment it was true.
Q35: And that helped you to –
Lord: Helped me to carry on. I never was molested or bothered in any way at all when I was at sea. Never asked me anything about it.
Q36: What efforts were made to get the findings changed?
Lord: Well, the Mercantile Marine Services Association wrote down to London, pointing out all these defects in Mersey’s decision, and asked for a further inquiry.
And they wrote back, officially, to say that Captain Lord was never censured in any way, and therefore there was no necessity for an appeal.
Q37. And officially they kept on with that, did they? They [MMSA] plugged on with the approach on your behalf?
Lord: They would never have another inquiry.
Q38. And I think that you yourself also made approaches to the Board of Trade and to Members of Parliament?
Lord: Well, I saw two… yes, I saw the Member of Parliament down there, I forget his name now… [Alfred Henry Gill, Labour MP for Bolton]
Q39: Local man?
Lord: No, Bolton man. Where I hail from. Forget his name, but he couldn’t do anything. He said he’d approach them, but he couldn’t do anything. He could’t break Mersey’s decision.
Q40: And there was in the summing up, by counsel, wasn’t Rufus Isaacs at the time for the Board of Trade? [sic – forthcoming comment actually by Robert Finlay for the White Star Line] Well, he made a reference to you and said, I think these are his words, ‘Perhaps it would not be wise to speculate on the reasons which prevented the Captain of the Californian from coming out of the chart room at 1.15 in the morning when he was called by the second officer.’ Now -
Lord: What the insinuation there meant – liquor?
Q41: We can only take, I think, what the reasonable man would have viewed of it. What have you always thought of it?
Lord: I always thought it, well that naturally it leads you to think that I was under the influence of drink.
Q42: Did you resent it?
Lord: Never have been [drunk] in my life. Never had a drink of liquor aboard a ship in my life.
Q43: Did you do anything about that?
Lord: No, what could you do?
Q44: Or write to – Isaacs?
Lord: No. I never wrote to anyone, that man. I told them all about it. I never bothered to, any more. He wasn’t friendly, and neither was Mersey, to start with.
Q45: This was at the inquiry?
Lord: At the inquiry.
Q46: Were you represented there, officially?
Lord: By Mr [C. Roberston] Dunlop.
Q47: Was he your representative?
Lord: No, he was the owners’ representative. He told me that.
Q48: When did you, or how often, did you meet him?
Lord: Well, I only met him on the day of the inquiry. I came home that night, back to Liverpool that night.
Q49: You attended as a witness?
Lord: As a witness.
Q50: And you never had it pointed out to you that you could be a party?
Lord: No. Never. Not by anyone. Mr Dunlop told me he was representing the owners of the ship.
Q51: And how long were you at the inquiry?
Lord: Well, I got there in the morning, and the inquiry was held during the day, and then in the afternoon Dunlop asked Lord Mersey if the members of the crew could go. The ship was sailing the next day, so… and he said ‘Yes.’ And we left that night, all of us.
Q52: I think the inquiry lasted about a month?
Lord: Ah yes, but I don’t know what they do nowadays.
Q53: And the Californian’s crew occupied about two days?
Lord: Well no, I think it was only about one day. We all left that same day. There was myself, there was Stewart, Stone, Groves and the wireless operator [Evans]. And he got through with us that first day.
Q54: Now that, er, you only met Dunlop on that day, when you were going into court –
Lord: That’s all.
Q55: And you had no opportunity of discussing with him your –
Lord: No discussions with him whatever.
Q56: And after you had returned home, no-one ever said to you, ‘this inquiry is taking a bad turn from your point of view; come down to London and let’s discuss it’?
Lord: No, never asked to go to London and meet. Never asked to offer any further information.
Q57: You just attended as a witness.
Lord: As a witness. The officers of the ship did also. As witnesses.
Q58: And after that, everything was in the hands of a man whom you hadn’t instructed on the question at all?
Lord: True. Dunlop.
Q59: Did you know that Dunlop, when he opened his final address to the court, apologised for not having been in the court as often as he should have been?
Q60: That does appear in the findings [transcript].
Lord: He wasn’t in the court, evidently, during the whole of the case, which he ought to have been.
Q61: And had you known that, you might have done something about it?
Lord: What could we do? He was there for the owners, but he told me he was representing the Leyland line, and as far as I was concerned, he’d got nothing at all, and if you ask me, I don’t think he asked many questions whatever.
Q62: And the Mercantile Marine Services Association, during the course of the rest of the inquiry didn’t draw this point to your attention, or difficulty you were getting into?
Lord: No. I went to see them when I came back from London, told them what had happened and saw the secretary. Eventually they wrote one or two letters, pointing out the - how I had been treated very harshly, no opportunity of a further inquiry, which was refused.
Q63: Did you go to anyone else in Liverpool about it, before the findings came out?
Lord: Did I?
Q64: Approach anyone?
Lord: Yes, I approached [Capt. J.D.] MacNab.
Q65: Who’s he?
Lord: The former chief examiner – master - officer in Liverpool.
Q66: He would be a Board of Trade –
Q67: And what of he?
Lord: Well he wrote and told me, that as far as I was concerned, he didn’t think for one minute that I was in any way to blame. And he didn’t think the Californian was. I have his letter.
Q68: It’s fifty years ago now, isn’t it, that this happened, in fact it’s fifty years ago next April I think. You’ve got a very clear recollection of everything that happened?
Lord: I have.
Q69: Is it something you’ve thought over a lot, or have you re-read the papers very much?
Lord: No, I haven’t re-read the papers at all. I have what I wrote at the time, and the evidence that I gave is there still.
Q70: And so far as that night is concerned, in summary, your navigation was being done in what you would call the normal way?
Lord: In the normal way and in perfect conditions. The position was obtained at noon…
Q71: That would be a sun?
Lord: Sun observation by three officers and myself. And the second officer took a, a dead-reckoning latitude and worked out the longitude about four o’clock in the afternoon, and gave it to me. It agreed by dead reckoning [clock strikes].
The chief officer took the latitude by star about seven, between seven and eight that evening, and said that it agreed with dead reckoning. And we sent out our position at five, when we passed those three icebergs, giving our position. We sent our position out at noon, after observing, and broadcast it. And when we stopped that evening we sent out our position again, telling exactly where we stopped. [Clock has struck five]. Which all agreed with our preceding… I’ll wait ‘til the clock stops.
Part 2 : Q72-Q137
Q72: And you told the world by radio where you were in the afternoon when you passed the three icebergs that you mentioned?
Lord: Sent out our warning – our position at noon, on the fourteenth, we sent out our position at five o’clock, or something around five when we passed those icebergs, and we sent our position out at noon, and at – when we stopped in the ice. We were surrounded by ice, and giving our latitude and position. Carried forward from noon, which corresponded with our observations at four o’clock, and at seven o’clock.
Q73: You passed which side of the icebergs, north or –
Lord: We were north of them.
Q74: They would give a check on the latitude?
Lord: Of course they do.
Lord: As I say, we estimate we were about five or six miles north of them.
Q76. And did any other ships see these rather distinctive three?
Lord: I suppose… I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any. They were pretty sure to have been seen.
Q77: The Parisian –
Q78. Do you recall the Parisian radio message?
[‘(Latitude) 41.55 N. Passed three large icebergs.’] MMM D/LO 1/2/2/3
Lord: No, probably we didn’t get it.
Q79: She reported three in much the same position.
Q80: And if she did, that gives you a confirmed, in effect, signpost; which kept you to the north?
Q81: Now, you had properly qualified officers?
Lord: Oh yes, the Chief Officer had his Master’s ticket, the second officer his mate’s ticket, and the third officer, I think he had a Master’s ticket, I’m not sure.
Q82: Was it an early voyage of his [Groves] with the Leyland line? Was he new to the Leyland line?
Lord: I think this was his first voyage. I don’t know. I think it was. He didn’t stay long afterwards. He left.
Q83: He was qualified then? Keeping watch?
Lord: Oh yes, he was qualified. They all were.
Q84: To keep a watch?
Lord: Oh, of course, yes.
Q85: And he would go on at eight?
Lord: He was on from eight to twelve.
Q86: And what did you do when eight o’clock came?
Lord: Well, the Chief Officer came off the bridge. I met him coming down about a quarter past eight, and told him that I would go there and stay until daylight in the morning, or until you come on.
Q87: Not because you doubted the ability of the third officer -
Lord: Not in the slightest. All I was concerned about was keeping a lookout for ice. And it was my job to be on the bridge in any doubtful waters. That’s why I went up. There was nothing in sight when I went up, and I sighted this ice. I personally rang the telegraph ‘full speed astern’ at twenty minutes past ten. The second officer and the lookout men, the third officer, rather, and the lookout men, hadn’t reported it until I had rung the engines astern.
Q88. And she was stopped then in ice?
Lord: Oh she was stopped, and it takes a few minutes to stop a ship going full speed.
Q89: And the position was given to –
Lord: The position was given. Correct position. No cooking or anything at all about it. That was - Mersey seemed to think the positions were wrong. They were not. There was no fooling or falsifying of any position at all.
Q90: And this was at ten-twenty [pm], when you [stopped]?
Lord: Ten twenty.
Q91: Was there anything else in sight, other than ice, or..?
Then I suppose a little later on, we didn’t know the times back then, we weren’t suspecting any Titanic being sunk, but I went on the bridge, I went to the port wing of the bridge, the third officer was there, and we – I don’t know if either he or I, I think I did draw his attention to a small light approaching on the port quarter [sic]. And he saw it of course, and we looked for a while, and I said, ‘well there’s nothing in sight that I know of, only the Titanic.’ He said, ‘Well that looks like a passenger ship.’ I said, ‘to me it doesn’t look like any passenger ship. There’s not enough lights, and there’s not speed enough on her.’ So anyhow I said I would go down and ask wireless.
Went down, got hold of wireless, asked him what he had, he said, ‘I’ve only got the Titanic.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘There’s a ship out here, and he came out of the door of his room, with the ’phones on his head, and I said, ‘There’s the only ship going,’ and he said, ‘That’s not any Titanic ship, she’s not lights and not going fast enough.’ [inaudible. Probably: ‘Those were his very words.’]
And eventually, to take his job, the third officer came on deck and I had a yarn with him. I told him I would be around. The third officer was on deck. I met the second officer, came out. He er… I spoke to him. He went on the bridge to relieve the third officer.
I went up and had a yarn with him. Came down and had a talk with the engineers, some of them. And turned about, sat down in the chart room. And the third officer – second officer – whistled down to say this steamer that was in sight was, er, showing signals.
I said, ‘What are they? Company signals?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘Just Morse her and find out. And he did Morse her, because I heard him, the thing, just over my head. You could hear him tapping. And then, nothing happened then for a little while, and probably I dozed off, and the wire – er, Gibson came down to say that the ship had steamed away. And altered her bearings from South by West – wait ‘til I get that - South by West to Southwest by West. That is what? Four points, isn’t it?
Q92. Which would show she was underway?
Lord: Oh yes, she’d got underway. The second officer had told me that. He sent the boy down to tell me. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘Let me know if you want anything further.’ That’s all that was said about it.
Q93: And then morning broke?
Q94: Morning followed, and what time would you normally [have] turned out?
Lord: I should say the Chief Officer… I was fully dressed. Boots, hat, coat, collar and everything on. I was lying on a short settee. Wouldn’t take my full length, and it was Stewart came down and said ‘It’s breaking day now.’ I said, ‘Right, put her on stand-by.’
So he did, and I walked all around the boat deck and had a look at the ice – what it was like – and I went on the bridge. Then he drew my attention to these signals that had been going on in his [sic] watch – in the second officer’s watch.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘there’s nothing in sight now.’ He said ‘No.’ I said, ‘Did he [Stone] give you any idea of anything?’ He said, ‘No, just signals.’
I told the second officer at – it was shortly after, oh it must have been one o’clock, that I would, I said ‘everything’s very peaceful and quiet here,’ he said, ‘Yes sir, everything’s very quiet. Nothing to worry about.’ I said, ‘Well I think I’ll go and have a nap. We may have fog tomorrow.’ Cold water and warm water mixing. He said, ‘All right, Sir,’ and I went down. And then after that he, gave him the signal [Morse]. Sent the message down the voice tube.
Q95. The chart room was underneath the bridge? Directly underneath?
Lord: No. There was a navigating room underneath the bridge. And then came the chart room, below that. Flying bridge, then the bridge with the chart room on it [sic], and the wheelhouse – which was never used – and then came the chart room down below. And my room on the same floor.
Q96. But you lay down because the chart room had a settee?
Lord: On the settee. A short settee. Not a comfortable seat. I must have been dozing only.
Q97. So you were discussing the signals which Stone had seen, and Stewart, in the evidence to the inquiry, pointed out a ship somewhere to the southward of you?
Lord: A steamer well to the southward, a four-master.
Q98: Did you ever know what ship it was?
Lord: No. Well, I don’t know... I said to Stewart, when he told me about it, ‘See what the Sparks, if he’s got any ships.’ We were then moving slow, just starting going slow, dead slow in this ice. So he came back after waiting a while, came running back and said, ‘The Titanic’s sunk! Struck an iceberg and sunk!’
So I said, ‘Get the position.’ She’s sunk – he got it from some other ship, [our] wireless. And, er, I said, ‘Call all the hands. Swing out the boats, and get the position.’
We laid down the course to the position, which I think was 22 miles. So we pushed through the ice. We weren’t taking any notice of courses after we laid the course for the ship, and we altered our course southward on the clear edge of the ice, went down ‘til we picked up the Mount Temple.
Q99: Where was she?
Lord: She was ahead of us, and on the same side of the ice. Passed fairly close to her. And I could see her name.
Lord: Westward, and southwest of where we were [stopped for night]. And there was another, two-masted, ship which I think was the Almerian. We saw, on the the other side of the ice, we saw a four-master. So we pushed back through the ice. Well to the southward of where we had been stopped, and to the westward, and we pulled up alongside the Carpathia, at half past eight, I suppose, twenty past eight…
Q101: So you had been underway, roughly –
Lord: Two hours.
Q102: At what speed?
Lord: Well, the speed was various, coming through the ice you were slowing down. Once you get in the clear water, we were going twelve or thirteen knots, I should think. So we picked up the Mount Temple.
Q103. You must have covered at least twenty, twenty-five or thirty miles?
Lord: I should think so. Even with the delays, the altering of course, coming through the ice slow. When we got close to the Mount Temple I think we slowed a little. I forget, And then turned, and picked up the Carpathia. Went back through the ice to where she was heading southwest, southeast of where we were then.
Q104: Did you exchanges any messages with the Carpathia?
Lord: Oh yes.
Lord: I think it was by wireless.
Q106: Any visual?
Lord: No, no visual messages, I don’t think.
I think [Capt. A.H.] Rostron said he had all the passengers aboard, and couldn’t be of any further assistance. And he asked me if I would look around. He said he was getting underway, and would I see if I could see any other survivors? So I said I would.
So I steamed down, I suppose about ten miles, to the southward. You know we weren’t taking any notice of courses then, you know, we had the position there. So I went down to the clear-of-ice to see if I could see any of the boats – never saw a thing. Came back again where she was, and she was getting underway and going. So I told wireless I hadn’t seen any sign of any survivors, and that I was thinking of going back on my course to Boston, which I did.
Q107. Had you seen any wreckage?
Lord: No. No sign of wreckage where we were, only boats. Empty boats. Where her lifeboats – a lot of things had been taken off the boats, and cast adrift. We passed one boat with some luggage in, that had been… discharged, and they had disembarked aboard the ship and left their luggage behind. And I think there were four or five suitcases in that boat, which I mentioned in the evidence.
Q108: When you said that you got on your course again?
Lord: We got on our course to Boston, and heard nothing more about it.
Q109: Which would mean passing through that particular icefield for the third time?
Lord: No we passed – going back again?
Lord: Well, I think we steamed north with very little of it left, and went slowly though it ‘til we got clear, and then laid our course for Boston.
Q111: This icefield seems to have been running north and south?
Lord: North and south. And not particularly wide, where we were. I should think a few miles only. We went through it, to get into the clear water, and then we saw the Mount Temple, steamed down it, clear ice – clear water – until we got abreast of her and saw it was Mount Temple. Then we altered our course to port, which was back east and south again, and went back through this narrow ice, until we got alongside the Carpathia, where Rostron said he first saw us at twenty past eight.
Q112: This was in an affidavit?
Lord: Yes. On the – ‘There were two other ships in sight at daybreak. Neither of them was the Californian.’ [Quoting Rostron.] Which would prove, I should think…
Q113: According to Lord Mersey, you should have been within five to eight miles of the Carpathia?
Lord: Perfectly ridiculous.
Q114: In the area where the Carpathia was lying, was it field ice or icebergs?
Lord: No, there was no great amount of ice there. We didn’t see any big ice after we passed those three large ones in the early evening. Nothing big at all. It was only field ice.
Q115: On your way to Boston I expect your radio was busy? Did you get messages about this Titanic…
Lord: No – oh yes, we got a message from one ship asking what passengers, had we got any survivors on board, and I wired back that we hadn’t got any.
Q116. I think your radio messages, which you kept, showed one from a man called Wick on the Olympic, asking about passengers, and newspapers, I think, were interested too, weren’t they?
Lord: Ah. Well, we didn’t see anything. We ran into fog the next day, as I expected we would do, with the cold water and the warm [clock strikes] water south of us. That lasted a few hours, and then we got to Boston safely.
Q117: And at Boston you got the call to the American inquiry?
Lord: After the donkeyman [Ernest Gill] had given evidence [sic] to a newspaper, for which he was bribed heavily, I believe.
Q118: According to the evidence of the New York - or rather the American - inquiry, the evidence of your radio officer said that he got –
Lord: Five hundred dollars.
Q119: And Senator Smith, or someone, repeated that several times.
Lord: Five hundred dollars in those days, to a man drawing seven pound a month, was a lot of money. Carry a great temptation. That’s all he was getting then, seven pounds a month.
Q120: You didn’t see him at the American inquiry?
Lord: I didn’t see him. He left the ship. Deserted.
Q121: What was the American inquiry like? Not like the British one?
Lord: No, no. They all sat around. And Senator Smith was there, asking to call one at a time and asking questions. As soon as I’d given my evidence I left, of course. He gave me permission to leave, and I went and got a train back to Boston.
Q122. Were there any technical people there?
Lord: No. No [such] questions to my recollection at all. He asked me what we’d seen. Something like that. I rather forget. He [Smith] wasn’t a nautical man; he didn’t know much about nautical affairs.
Q123. Where was it held?
Lord: In Washington.
Q124: In one of the Senate –
Lord: Yes. One of the Senate chambers. I travelled down overnight and came back during the day. And I think I sailed the next morning. I forget, really.
Q125. What sort of a reception?
Q127. Hostile, or friendly?
Lord: None whatever. Not the slightest hostility shown to me, anyway.
Q128: Just attending there as a witness and answering questions?
Q129. Did you ever buy a report of the inquiry?
Lord: No, I never read it.
Q130: You never heard what they had to say about you?
Lord: No, and I never read my own evidence either afterwards. And I have never read the wireless man’s evidence. I don’t know what he said.
Q131: So you went back to your ship?
Lord: And brought her to Liverpool, safely.
Q132: And at Liverpool, there would be official action to take there, wouldn’t there?
Lord: Yes, that’s where – we went down to London to give evidence to Mersey’s inquiry.
Q133: I’m thinking before that, wouldn’t your Marine Superintendent want you to amplify your report?
Lord: He [Fry] asked us a few questions. We were four of us there. Three officers and myself.
Q134: In his room?
Lord: In his office. And he asked me, he asked the chief, and he asked the second officer, did they think that was a passenger ship, and they said ‘No’ to him. And he asked Groves, and he said he thought it was.
Q135: Did that surprise you?
Lord: It did. I think I told the Superintendent. I said, ‘That’s the first time I’ve heard him say that.’
Q136. And the Board of Trade, or Wreck Commissioner, the customs man, would they want a statement from you?
Lord: In Liverpool?
Lord: No, I think we went to the Board of Trade office and they questioned us. And as we were going up the steps, Gill was coming down. He’d been giving his – but I forget really what. He didn’t question us very much there, a very nice man, but I forget his name.
Part 3 : Q138-Q205
Q138: What’s your attitude towards Gill and Groves, both of whom gave evidence which really –
Lord: I don’t have… I think Groves, Groves a very nice young fellow. Nothing wrong with his abilities. I think he was inclined to exaggerate a little in public…
Q139. Gill went to the newspaper?
Lord: Gill I never spoke to again. He’d been with me on two or three voyages, I found nothing against him. Gill’s temptation was five hundred dollars for a seven pound a month man. It gives them a great stretch of the imagination. A great stretch of imagination.
He is supposed to have come off watch at twelve o’clock, and he saw this big ship coming along and showing, firing, rockets, and all kinds of things, which I thought was a lot of imagination. I may be wrong.
Q140: Whereas in fact she had stopped alongside of you a considerable time before that, and was lying quite quietly?
Lord: Yes, yes.
Q141. But you don’t bear any grudge against them?
Q142. You seem to have a very philosophical attitude towards this pair?
Lord: Well, I don’t know. They thought they were – of course Groves wasn’t getting anything out of it. But poor old Gill was. And a great temptation, when you think seven pound a month and a man getting five hundred dollars.
I think the dollars were then roughly about three to the pound [sic – actually five]. That’s a year’s salary, more than a year’s salary.
Q143: You were in court I think when Groves gave his opinion?
Lord: Well now, I forget. I think I must have been. I don’t think he [Lord Mersey] let us all go until we’d given evidence, and Dunlop asked could we go. I must have heard Groves’ evidence.
Q144: According to the inquiry report, he was asked whether, on reflection, he thought this ship was the Californian [sic – Titanic], and he qualified his answer by saying he was a man of limited experience, and Lord Mersey is recorded as having said… anyhow, in retrospect, do you think it was the Titanic, and Groves’ evidence is recorded as saying ‘I do, my lord.’
Lord: Yes, I remember he said that.
Q145: Any comment from the President?
Lord: Yes, in fact, he said, ‘Yes, and so do I.’ And leaned back in his chair. I’m nearly sure he said that.
Q146: Was he in full robes at this inquiry?
Lord: No. Oh no. None of them were. He had four assessors.
Q147: Were they, any, in uniform?
Lord: No. They were in ordinary lounge suits. So was he. So was [Attorney General Sir Rufus] Isaacs. And so was Sir John Simon.
Q148: What impression did Mersey create?
Lord: Hostile, at once. He had made up his mind before he started the Inquiry. That’s my opinion. Whether that’s the right thing to say or not, I don’t know…
Q149. But that is your feeling from the atmosphere of the court?
Lord: Atmosphere from the beginning to the end. Sir Rufus Isaacs had the same idea. Sir John Simon – he didn’t. A very nice gentleman, spoke very nicely to us. I don’t think he asked us any questions, he may have done. There was nothing hostile, he spoke quietly, just getting his evidence.
But I don’t think Sir Rufus Isaacs or Lord Mersey were inclined to be – or listen to any further evidence. They’d had it all, and they had made up their minds. That was my opinion. I may be wrong.
Q150: Yet, from your point of view, there was more evidence to be brought forward?
Lord: Of course.
Q151: Particularly the engine room movement.
Lord: They never asked anything about the engine room. No [Californian] engineers were down there, to my knowledge.
Q152: If you’d only had to cover five to eight miles, in the morning through loose ice, how quickly could you have done it?
Lord: In about half an hour. Even in the conditions that there were there then. We were two hours and a half. I forget the time we kicked off at, whether it was five, but we didn’t get down there ‘til twenty minutes past eight.
Rostron gave sufficient evidence to prove the morning of disaster, at twenty minutes – at daybreak, which would be around five, he said there were two steamers in sight. Neither of these steamers was the Californian. ‘I first saw the Californian approaching through the ice at about twenty minutes past eight.’
Q153: Now from the Titanic, a ship was seen, about half past twelve, which approached them. And that was the first ship which the Titanic had seen. And that was the ship which Lord Mersey was convinced was you?
Q154: Forgetting for the moment that she was moving, which of course you weren’t, have you ever thought or puzzled out what ship this could have been?
Lord: No. Haven’t the foggiest idea. She was a ship that didn’t reply to wireless, to Morsing, she was underway, which the Californian was not; from twenty minutes past ten to somewhere around five o’clock the next morning… although Lord Mersey said this steamer that was steaming towards the Titanic was the Californian. How he made that out, I don’t know.
Q155. You got a letter, some time afterwards, didn’t you, from a man called [William Henry] Baker?
Lord: Oh yes, I got a letter from Baker, who was in the Mount Temple.
Q156: And he was drawing your attention, I think, to certain rumours and things which were sweeping through the Mount Temple. I’ve got a newspaper cutting here, from er – I forget the – here we are: the Buffalo Courier. Where is Buffalo? Is that near –
Lord: [Laughs] It’s somewhere in America. Not very well –
Q157. It has the headline: ‘Turned away from the sinking ship. Crew of the Mount Temple say they saw Titanic signals. Might have saved all.’
And, er, there are two affidavits from members of the crew. And there is an oiler named [Charles] Pickard who says that the third officer, called [Arthur Howard] Notley, was heard to tell the Captain [James Henry Moore] of the distress message, and that instead of the steamer heading to the wreck, she steamed away on her own course so that the lights were soon lost.
Lord: I met Notley.
Q158. How old was he?
Lord: How old?
Lord: Oh a fellow of about twenty-five. Is he alive now?
Q160: No. He died about 1948, I think. [d. 1955]
Lord: Oh. Quite a nice young fellow.
Q161: He became a Superintendent for the Canadian Pacific steamships.
Lord: Baker introduced me to him [Notley] and we went and had lunch together. And he told me all about it. Which, he quite agreed with the statement made – [may be gesturing to newspaper]
Q162: By this newspaper? And if – I know that, er, you were criticised by the Board of Trade for seeing signals and for not doing something about it?
Q163: And they maintain that, trying to muddle the issue by bringing in another ship, doesn’t alter what they thought about you?
Q164: But nonetheless, there is a possibility of the Mount Temple being the ship which did approach the Titanic. It’s quite an important one, and Notley, to your mind, seemed quite honest in what he had to say?
Lord: He was.
Q165: And wasn’t he prepared to do something? He was another Master mariner [sic] and knew what it meant for you to be wrongly accused?
Lord: Yes, he knew that. But I think he said he wasn’t asked, or something. How did he get to be Marine Superintendent from Fourth Officer of the…
Q166: Oh this was thirty years later.
Lord: Good going, though. You usually get a man who has been in command for quite some time, before he gets that job.
Q167: But the modern tendency is to promote promising young people so that they can get into the office –
Lord: He [Notley] was a very nice young fellow. What he told me was quite – He meant every word. He wasn’t imagining anything.
Q168: He was quite straightforward about it?
Lord: Oh yes. He thought we weren’t the ship at all. Has nothing ever been said by him to any other people? You never got anything from him, I suppose?
Q169. What did he think about his position with the company if he were to pick up another fight?
Lord: Well, he – I think – it’s so damn long since, you know, all these difficult questions over a lunch…
Q170. But he was sympathetic, anyhow?
Lord: Most sympathetic. Most. And only too willing to come and tell me all he knew. Baker left us then. He introduced me to Notley by some arrangement he’d made, and we went and had lunch together, Notley and I, and talked about two hours, and he told me everything he knew. And his opinion was, we were not the ship.
Q171. What did he know?
Q172: What did he know?
Lord: What did he know? Well he could see the ship there, and what the Mount Temple was doing.
Q173: And he was on the far side of the ice from the position where the Titanic –
Lord: Yes. We went through the ice to get to her [transmitted] position. Then came back to where the Titanic survivors were.
Q174: So that’s – the part of the Mount Temple then, is quite a puzzle.
Q175: The next day there were lots of ships about, weren’t there?
Lord: Well, we didn’t see any. We saw the two that were – we saw the Mount Temple and the Almerian, I think it was, and they didn’t move. Two-masted Leyland ship that Rostron had seen, but I’m not sure we saw anything after.
Q176. Smoke from ships?
Lord: I really forget. I don’t think we saw anything else. Those things weren’t noticed. If it was a question of - If we’d known all this was going to crop up, we’d probably have taken more notice of matters.
Q177: Notley was one who took an interest in things and got in touch with you later? He must have met, or got in touch with others. Was there anyone else who took a big interest in this affair?
Lord: Not that I know of… I didn’t have anyone…
Q178: There were articles written in the Nautical magazine, and in the Reporter, of the Mercantile Marine Services Association?
Lord: Wasn’t it denied in the Nautical magazine? Didn’t they make some apology?
Q179: No, they published four articles, by someone called [clock strikes] ‘Sea Lawyer.’
Q180: I think MacNab had one article in the MMSA’s Reporter, but then there was this other man, ‘Sea Lawyer.’ Was this your friend from Carbis Bay?
Lord: Oh yes. Who I never met. [Albert Moulton] Foweraker.
Q181: The one who took a tremendous interest in your case?
Lord: Oh, he did.
Q182. Analysed it very fully. And left his papers of it… two tin boxes of
[inaudible: correspondence?] to the British Museum.
Lord: And they wouldn’t take it.
Q183: So they were not, according to the British Museum, of national interest.
Lord: What became of them?
Q184: It’s difficult to know. Our solicitor says they went, or got into the hands of a housekeeper. And she was leaving, or left for America, and she destroyed everything that was within sight, including the deeds of the house…
Lord: Oh good heavens.
Q185: So it’s unlikely that they survived that particular pillage. But you never met Foweraker?
Lord: No. You see when this thing – my job was to earn a living. After Mersey’s decision. And I don’t think I heard from Foweraker until I got back from the first voyage, or the second. I don’t think – I forget, though.
Then, as I came – I got several letters from him then. And, er, it gradually died away. He was very interested, and I lost interest in it, everything was quiet, nothing further being mentioned about it, and I was away at sea and earning my living, and getting along very quietly and nicely… although Foweraker did write to me repeatedly, and I wrote to him, replying, giving all the information he asked for. But we have some of his statements, haven’t we?
Q186: Yes, some of the original documents, which are very useful indeed. You say that you’d lost interest in this. Did you read any of the many books that have been published about it?
Lord: Not one. Not one book, nor any evidence, did I read.
Q187: If you picked one up and you found it was about the Titanic - ?
Lord: I would put it down. Because they couldn’t tell me anything about what the Californian did and what she saw. I knew it all. And I knew we didn’t see any Titanic.
Q188: Yes. And the films that were made. Have you ever been a filmgoer?
Lord: No. Never seen them. Never seen anything.
Q189: Never even saw a film of Walter Lord’s -
Lord: No. A Night to Remember. No, I never saw – it’s on now somewhere, isn’t it? My son read it out of the paper last night, I think. A Night to Remember. Some cinema in Liverpool.
Q190: No, I don’t think it’s worth your going to see it.
Lord: Oh, I’m not going to see it. No.
Q191: You read a bit about it in the Echo, did you?
Lord: I read a little bit about the book, but nothing of any interest in it. I wasn’t interested in it. I knew he was writing for money. And I knew what the case was, really and truly. We’d nothing at all to do with it, and all these articles were imagination.
He may have been a very nice fellow, Walter Lord, but he put a lot of stuff in it he knew nothing about.
Q192: He made a lot of money out of you? But the crux of the book really hung on the irony of this position of two officers lolling over the bridge of the Californian watching Titanic slowly sinking, while you snored away in your bunk?
Lord: It’s very funny, isn’t it? It was the height of every shipmaster’s ambition in those days, and officers and crew too, to pick up a ship in distress. That means losing a propeller, losing a rudder, and getting a tow… the wages were so small in those days that a man getting a few hundred pounds salvage money, it was a godsend. And if we’d had any sign of anything like that, we’d have been after it like a shot. Everyone on the ship would have been.
Q193: You spoke of Gill’s wages. How much was Gill getting in those days?
Lord: Gill? Seven pounds a month, I think it was, as assistant donkeyman, and greaser when the ship wasn’t in port.
Q194: And your chief officer wouldn’t really be getting very much more?
Q195: And you?
Lord: I think I was getting twenty pound a month. Fifty pounds a year bonus. Great salary, isn’t it?
Q196: Well, the temptation of a salvage -
Lord: Was everything. There was one of our Captains towed in the Etruria, White Star ship [sic – Cunard owned Etruria] that lost her propeller. He was in the William Cliff. He towed her into [inaudible: Falmouth?] and got a thousand pounds. Salvage.
[Ship towed by the William Cliff was the Cambrian, not Etruria, taken into Crookhaven, Co Cork, Ireland.]
Q197: A thousand sovereigns?
Lord: A thousand pounds was a lot of money in those days.
Q198: I think that’s it’s important to try to clear in our minds, if we can, the key points which the non-navigator, the layman, ought to remember if he’s trying to decide for himself whether or not it could have been the Californian which was seen from Titanic.
Lord: But there is no question about it, in my opinion. Or in Foweraker’s, or in any navigator’s opinion, if he’d thought…
The Californian stopped at twenty minutes past ten. This other ship hit the berg at what? Twenty past eleven?
Lord: Eleven-forty. We’d been stopped an hour and thirty - twenty minutes. And we hadn’t seen anything, only this ship steam up and stop. And then at 1.20 [sic] steam away. And she couldn’t have been… she must have been underway to alter her bearing four points.
Q200: And you had sighted her originally about half past ten?
Lord: Yes. Shortly after we’d stopped.
Q201: The Titanic had two lookouts in her crow’s nest, which is -
Lord: And two officers on the bridge.
Q202: Her crow’s nest would, of course, be much higher than the one on the Californian?
Lord: Oh yes.
Q203: So that, by the natural order of things, you would not have seen her…
Lord: No, she would have seen us.
Q204: The Titanic must have seen you. But she didn’t. She saw nothing.
Lord: Nothing was in sight when they hit the berg. That’s clearly and distinctly from the two officers and the two lookout men.
Q205: So, summing that up again, and the Titanic lookout range extended to a greater range than yours did?
Lord: Oh yes.
Part 4 : Q206-Q261
Q206: You saw this ship at a time which was before the Titanic saw anything at all?
Q207: And obviously, on that night, if you saw a ship, the other ship would see you?
Lord: Of course. But the fact that the Californian stopped, and the Titanic never saw anything when she stopped, proves it could not have been the Californian. The Californian’s engines never moved, from twenty past ten until just around five o’clock next morning. That proves it conclusively, in any sensible man’s opinion, that it could not have been the Californian.
Q208: Lord Mersey disregarded all those -
Lord: All that evidence. He didn’t want it. He’d made up his mind, in my opinion. Not much [wanted], as far as Lord Mersey and Isaacs and those people are concerned. In my opinion, they’d made up their opinion, up their minds, when they started.
Q209: They referred several times to the American inquiry. It may be that their mind was coloured by that. The second thing, or third rather, we’ve spoken first of all about the lookout – Titanic having a better, longer lookout range than yours, yet not seeing anything until nearly two hours after the time at which you saw something, which would make it evident that you weren’t the two ships concerned.
Lord: What time did she see this steamer coming along?
Q210: Twelve-thirty, when she [Titanic] first fired rockets.
Lord: Oh, two hours and twenty minutes. Ten minutes. [After Californian stop at 10.20pm AST.]
Q211: And [Titanic fourth officer] Boxhall’s evidence – and I have seen a letter from him specifically saying that he saw this ship first as a masthead light, then approaching closer until he could see her sidelights through binoculars, then close enough to see all of her [lights] with the naked eye. And then she turned round, and steamed away again.
Lord: [Splutters] How could anybody? There is an officer on the ship’s bridge, of the Titanic, saying distinctly and clearly that the ship they saw was underway – and we never moved. How can they look and mix them up?
Q212: Well, you fitted in better with theory. Those then are the first two points. The third one, I think as a navigator, is probably one of the key ones. You reported an iceberg in a latitude five miles to the southward of [you] – three icebergs. You reported three icebergs which were also reported by the Parisian in approximately the same position. So you must have been up to the Norrard of those icebergs.
Lord: We were.
Q213: Now, if you plot the position of the icebergs, and the reported position of the Titanic sinking, which was accepted by the inquiry, but which you dispute; but if you take the reported [SOS] position, that is where the Mount Temple eventually found herself, and you take another position five miles to the north, which is where Lord Mersey says you where, or ten miles to the north, which is where his assessors say you were, to get to either of those positions, the five miles or the ten miles, your ship from passing the icebergs at half past five must have steered a course either ten degrees to port, or twenty degrees to port.
Lord: Yes. I didn’t, did I?
Q214: Did you ever -
Lord: No. Never.
Q215: The head of the ship was – those alterations of course were -
Lord: Oh, it’s ridiculous. There’s no question about [it]. Everything was going along, spick and span. The logbook was filled out correctly. And we – I laid the course, and she made the course.
Q216: North 61 West, magnetic?
Lord: Was that it?
Q217: Now, Stewart left the bridge at eight and he would hand over the course?
Lord: To the third officer.
Q218: Who would normally check it, both on the slate, and with the quartermaster?
Lord: Yes. We had, in my recollection, we had a blackboard there, with the chart course written on it for the man to [inaudible: keep?] right, so he couldn’t make any mistakes
Q219: You were on the bridge from eight until the ship stopped?
Lord: From twenty past eight.
Q220: So Groves would be keeping a somewhat keener interest in things?
Lord: You would think so. He was on watch. The left wing, port wing of the bridge, and I was on the starboard wing, and [a] little inside [inaudible: the extreme lee?] standing by the telegraph.
Q221: So the ship must have steered either North 51 West, sorry North 71 West, or North 81 West, to have made these, either of these positions, which Lord Mersey..?
Lord: Oh, it’s perfectly ridiculous. No such thing ever happened in any ship. A course is laid, and the officer on the bridge sees that it’s steered, and the man at the wheel gets it from the man before him, and the two courses are checked by the two officers, and no question of that.
The officer even gives the course to the man who is relieving [him]. And he [newcomer] checks it at once, by looking at the compass.
Q222: So to get to these two positions then, you must somehow or other have been pushed to the southward, and as you say, it is in the highest degree unlikely that the chief officer, the third officer, and you yourself, could have failed to detect a deviation of course of ten or twenty degrees to port?
Lord: Oh, you couldn’t make any mistake.
Q223: The only other alternative is a set [current], or leeway -
Lord: There couldn’t possibly have been. There wasn’t the wind to give us leeway. We were making a good course, steady course, everything was going along smooth and satisfactory. All I was afraid of was ice, and that’s why I was on the bridge. Told the chief officer I would stay there until he came back at - or until daylight.
Q224: And the third possibility, or rather the third check on your navigation, is the fact that you stopped in a position which by dead reckoning you estimated to be a certain one, which you sent out by radio. In the morning, again by radio, you received the Titanic’s estimated position where she sank?
Q225: You set off from your dead reckoning position to navigate to the southward position, which we know was in effect marked by the Mount Temple, and you reached it. So, as a navigator, it seems to me that if you set off from one place to get to another, and you reach it, your first place must have been where you thought it was?
Lord: Yes. We couldn’t make a straight course to her position [SOS spot] because of the ice. We went through this ice, narrow ice field there, until the Mount Temple, thinking she might be the Carpathia; found she wasn’t, we saw this other ship on the port – on the, back on the side that we had been on. And we steamed back through the ice. That’s when Rostron was coming along. Although he’d seen these other two ships at daybreak. [Mount Temple & Almerian] Didn’t see the Californian until twenty past eight in the morning.
[Clock strikes. ‘Pipe down!’ says Lord. Harrison: ‘No, I’m thinking we get a very good recording of your clock.’ Laughs. ‘I’d forgotten this was working, actually,’ referring to tape recorder.]
Q226: Let’s sum up again, then. First of all the Titanic’s higher crow’s nest meant she should have seen you before you saw her. According to the Times, she never did. So you couldn’t have been the ship which came within her visual range.
Lord: No. Couldn’t have been.
Q227: Secondly, the ship which caused her [to] fire rockets at half past twelve was moving; She came in from over the horizon and moved away again. And you were stopped, and could have proved you were stopped all night.
Q228: Thirdly, your navigation from where the icebergs, the three icebergs, were sighted, whose positions you sent out by wireless, and the Parisian sent out by wireless, long before there was any thought of your having to have an alibi, would mean that you would have to make an unprecedented [change of] course, ten or twenty degrees to port?
Q229: And it wasn’t your practice to make a landfall ten or twenty degrees -
Lord: [Laughs] Well it’s ridiculous. We were making our course that I’d laid down at noon. No alterations made. Maybe a degree [compass], for the alteration [sic: compass deviation] and variation, or something, but the course laid down at noon by compass was steered.
Q230: In all your experience as a shipmaster, your landfalls were normally good?
Lord: Always. Always.
Q231: And you got to Boston all right?
Lord: No bother. Picked up the Boston pilot and went in.
Q232: So, on that voyage, you had every reason to believe your navigation was impeccable?
Lord: Correct, quite correct. Coming home, we arrived in Liverpool without any bother, without any zig-zagging, or anything.
Q233: Lord Mersey would have us believe that in the middle of this voyage something went very wrong with the Californian’s navigation.
Lord: No it did not. He went very wrong.
Q234: The fifth [sic] thing, is that the ship you saw close to, so close that you were a bit worried about her, was a relatively small ship and not the biggest ship in the world, which is what the Titanic was.
Lord: What I said to Groves was, ‘Let me know if she gets any closer.’ And I said the same thing to Stone. I went on the bridge after Groves left, and I said, ‘If you’ve any bother with her, getting any closer, let me know.’ He said, ‘Yes, I will.’
Q235: Your second anxiety then, apart from ice, was ships in the rest of the ocean which might -
Lord: Drift towards one another. Although it wasn’t - it was quite impossible. If we’d drifted, she’d drift. It was just as something to say, I suppose, to the third officer, to the second officer, to remind him things were… [inaudible] keep his eyes around.
Q236: There were two thoughts then in your mind when you lay down. One, the ice, but you’d catered for that. You had stopped your ship, and for the time being she was safe. Secondly, a ship close by. Now, what would your reaction be if you were told that the second danger was moving away?
Lord: Well, I just asked him… well, she did move away.
Q237: Would that cause you happiness or despondency?
Lord: Well, I didn’t bother with her. She was going clear away. Didn’t bother us at all.
Q238: If you were lying down, as you were, and dozing, there would be the natural concern for your ship in your mind, and the thought that the second danger, this other ship, was removing itself, would -
Lord: Give me a better chance to have a nap.
Q239: It would remove one -
Lord: One anxiety. And the ice wasn’t bothering us. We weren’t bumping. There were no bergs.
Q240: Just this other ship?
Lord: We were perfect. Everything was quite satisfactory, The second officer said, when I said I’d go have - ‘Well this is a good chance for me to have a nap,’ - he said, ‘Yes, sir, everything is very quiet.’
Q241: Now the sixth thing [sic]. You began to Morse to her immediately she stopped. I believe Groves had been trying to call her.
Lord: Yes, Groves had been trying to call her.
Q242: You went on the bridge?
Q243: He had been signalling?
Lord: He had been signalling, yes.
Q244: And you mentioned, I think, that there hadn’t been any reply?
Lord: No reply at all.
Q245: That would about eleven o’clock?
Lord: Around about eleven, yes.
Q246: But she didn’t – you were Morsing almost from the time she came near to?
Q247: The Titanic didn’t see any Morse signals at all [reply: ‘No’], but she Morsed somewhere about half past twelve when this other ship came. [‘Mmm’]. And it was about that time that you told Stone to call up this ship by Morse, so that, if the timing is correct and the Titanic –
[Unexplained break and resumption]
Q248. We were looking at the points in your favour, that is, those considerations which prove that the Californian wasn’t the ship seen from the Titanic. And the first one was that the Titanic lookout was much higher than yours, and she should have seen you first. But she saw nothing until half past twelve. And you’d seen a ship as early as half past ten.
The second thing was that the ship seen from the Titanic was moving and the Californian wasn’t, and it could have been proved that the Californian was stopped all night.
The third thing was that your navigation on that voyage, like other voyages, was such that you couldn’t have deviated by the ten or twenty degrees from your course, which would have been essential to bring you to the positions where Lord Mersey said you were.
The fourth thing was that the ship which you saw wasn’t a big one, and couldn’t have been the Titanic.
There’s a fifth, and that is that the ship which Stone was watching altered her bearings. He was being, incidentally, an efficient second officer. He was in a ship stopped in mid-Atlantic, but he was using the rule of the road, the collision regulation, and taking the bearing of this ship close by. So that he knew whether she was stopped or moving, and in fact he was reporting bearings to you. And those showed that in fact she was [interruption]
Lord: Being stopped, bearing South by – I thought it was South by East, must have been South by West. Anyhow, she’d been stopped and she was – saw she was eight miles off, and she’d been stopped bearing South by West, and she moved to Southwest by West, that’s four points, that would put her eight miles she’d steamed. That’s proof enough.
Q249: You calculated that. And then we touched on the fact that both of you, if she was Titanic, were Morsing to each other at half past twelve at a range of five miles, neither of you seeing the other’s signals, or replying to them, which again isn’t possible, and last of all the lights which were seen by Stone, he said, went only to mast height. Now then, if they had been proper distress rockets of the type carried by the Titanic, what height would those have gone to? Pretty high?
Lord: Oh, they’d go to – they were powerful things those. I’ve fired lots of them.
Q250: What sort of a bang do they make?
Lord: Terrific bang. When it left the rail and when it was up in the air, at its altitude, before it started to descend, it went bang again.
Q251: Do you think it could be heard at five miles?
Lord: Oh, easily. At five. You’d hear it at ten miles, I should think.
Q252: As a matter of interest, the passengers in the Titanic’s lifeboats heard the Carpathia distress signals – same type – when she was still out of sight?
Lord: Mmm. Well, there you are. I should think you would hear that noise ten miles on a quiet night. I know something about these. In the West Indian Pacific Steamship Company we hadn’t any [company recognition] signals in those days, night signals, but we always when we passed one of our own steamers, we would salute them by firing a distress rocket. And that was the second officer’s job, to fire this distress rocket. And I’ve fired lots of them. So I know something about them. The last one I saw fired was in the Mississippi, where we were quarantined.  And I was chief officer of the Darien. And the pilot told us, who took us in, he said ‘The Atlantian is coming down tonight, outward bound to the Cape with horses,’ and the isthmus being very narrow there, you know, and you pass close to. So the old skipper said to me, ‘Tell the second officer to get some, to get a rocket out.’ The second officer had gone below, so I got the rocket out and fitted it. He said, ‘When she’s passing we’ll fire a salute.’ So as she came down, we could tell, a big ship, four-master, I fired this gun. Up she went. And then she fired a gun in reply. And then the old skipper of the Atlantian, a man called Wallace, he got his megaphone and hailed our skipper, ‘Is that you, Myles?’ – Captain Myles it was – and he yelled back, ‘Yes, sir’ – he’d been chief officer with Wallace – well, ‘How are you?’ and all that, and Myles yelled back ‘Happy voyage!’ and that was the end of it, the last of it. That was the last rocket I fired, or saw fired.
Q253: So it wasn’t unusual to use these?
Lord: Oh Lord, no.
Q254: And the noise of them would be?
Lord: Terrific. We always saluted one of our own ships. That was the day before night signals came, or were bothered with. When I was chief officer, when was that? Eighteen ninety-one at the earliest. 1890, I should think, I was chief officer then.
Q255: So there we were. If you had been within five to ten miles and she [Titanic] fired eight of these distress rockets - what sort of a night was it again?
Lord: A lovely night. Clear as a bell.
Lord: No, very little, a breeze. Fresh and moderate breeze. Nothing to do any damage, blow any noise away or anything.
Q257: And yet, on your ship, not a single sound was heard?
Q258: And last of all, the Titanic’s lifeboats were burning green flares. They were the company signals, which were taken into the boats. And they were the first things seen by the Carpathia when she came.
Q259: Now there was no report from the second officer [Stone], Gibson, or Gill for that matter, of any green flares?
Lord: No. But there was from the - Notley. He saw the green – they saw the green flares from their ship, he said. Didn’t he?
Q260: Yes. So then, on those eight counts, which, if they had been looked at by a practical seaman, and not by Lord Mersey -
Lord: No. Or Isaacs.
Q261: You couldn’t have been -
Lord: Oh, it’s impossible. My view is – there’s two things. Californian was stopped. Titanic came up, her crew - lookout men - never saw a thing. That’s two things that prove there was nothing in sight when they stopped. We were stopped. And this other steamer, according to the Titanic, was supposed to approach them.
[Clock strikes. ‘It’ll be a long one. This goes on for –’ Lord: ‘Eh?’ – ‘This is a long one, like New Year, very nearly.’ Lord: ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do about my eyes. If that fellow doesn’t get back very soon. I don’t know what to do about them, who to go to. I’d be glad to be operated on. Have you been away since I saw you last? ‘No, I’m having a lovely time.’ Lord: ‘You went down to London, though, didn’t you, that next –’ Recording breaks.]
Part 5 : Q262-Q310
Q262: So Captain Lord, the part that the Californian is supposed to have played in the Titanic disaster has become something of a legend in the past fifty years, that is, that you were supposed to be lying five or ten miles away the whole time. So what are your own views on that?
Lord: Well, my views are that she was where we gave at the inquiry. She was at least twenty miles. From the position, from the Titanic. And the signals seen, the second officer was of the opinion that there was a ship between us and the Titanic, and this was a steamer that moved away, and the Titanic was hull down and always – we couldn’t hear any explosions from the distress rockets, and couldn’t see anything of the ship.
This ship was between. The one that steamed away, he [Stone] was in the opinion, was between us and the Titanic, which was hull down.
Q263: And the fact that she was on the direct bearing between you and the Titanic, hull down, confused the issue from that point of view?
Lord: It did.
Q264: But the British inquiry disregarded any navigational evidence and tended to rely on the opinion expressed by one of your officers that in fact this ship, which you yourself saw only five miles away, and which steamed away, was the Titanic?
Lord: Well, there’s this question of the alteration of bearings. They say she was only five miles away. She was bearing South Southeast, and altered here bearings to Southwest by - Southwest half West. That was four and – five and a half points. If she’s been five miles away, she must have steamed…. At least ten miles, I should think. In that time. Well, that proves it wasn’t the Californian that was spotted anywhere near the Titanic.
Q265: And the bearing taken of a ship as far away as the Titanic would not alter at all, unless she’d gone over a considerable distance?
Lord: Oh, no. She was hardly being noticeable. But the bearing of that ship down in - that steamed away, was quite correct. Stone had that down pat. When she altered her bearing, and when she disappeared, and when she started to steam away, and when she last steamed. He took a bearing of her before she started, and he took a bearing of her when she disappeared.
Q266: You had seen this ship for quite a long time… from somewhere shortly after half past ten, until when you went to lie down in the chart room?
Lord: That’s right. Yes.
Q267: And in your opinion, what sort of a ship was she?
Lord: She was a moderately big, passenger steamer probably. But nothing like the Titanic or any large White Star or Cunard liner. She might have had a few passengers aboard, but she wasn’t steaming like a big ship.
Q268: And when you got home, and had to face the inquiry, which you attended as a witness, what were your impressions there of the attitude of the Board of Trade?
Lord: The attitude of the Board of Trade there, well they had made up their minds already. The Californian was the guilty ship. Before they had heard any of our evidence.
Q269: And they found that you were supposed to be close to the Titanic –
Lord: Disregarding any evidence we gave. All the evidence that can be produced now would certainly clear up the Californian case. And prove that she was nowhere near. She couldn’t possibly have been the ship seen from the Titanic.
Q270: At that very time, efforts to get the case re-opened were –
Lord: Refused. Captain Lord was never censured, therefore he had no appeal, was the reply given. To your office.
Q271: And the effect of this was that you were asked to resign?
Lord: I was asked to resign. Not on, because the firm, not the managing director, wanted it. It was settled in London. And I was told by Mr Roper [Harry Balls Roper] that he had nothing at all to do with it. It was strongly against his wishes.
Q272: How was the news broken to you?
Q273. How was the news broken to you?
Lord: Well, by [Marine Syuperintendent] Captain [W. C.] Fry… Came over and told me that Mr Roper was very sorry, but he couldn’t give me another ship. Well, I said, I thought that was rather strange, he told me only a few weeks ago, when I transferred the Californian, that I would gladly get my own ship back again.
I said I would like to see him. He said, ‘Yes, of course you can.’ He went in and made a - and I went in and saw Mr Roper, and told him I was very grieved to hear this, and that he once told me that I should get the ship Californian back again.
He said, ‘Yes, I told you that. It has been taken altogether out of my hands. I’ve had no say in the matter whatever. That was - It’s all been settled without any opinion from me.’
Q274: And your position then was out of a job?
Lord: Out of a job.
Q275: How did they settle up your accounts, were they accommodating? Did they keep you on pay until –
Lord: Oh, I was on full pay and bonus until the day I resigned.
Q276: Is that usual?
Lord: No, most unusual. Usually when a ship comes into port, after about a week, the Captain goes on half-pay. And his bonus is certainly not running while she (ship) is there.
Q277. Did Roper give you any other tokens of his regard for you?
Lord: Well, I don’t see how, anything else he did. He told me had nothing at all to do with the, this report, and having to ask me to resign.
Q278: So you were out of work then, for the - ?
Lord: I was out of work until the following January. And my wages were paid up to the day, up to this particular day when I asked to resign. And my bonus.
Q279: And your next appointment?
Lord: Next appointment was with Lawther Latta. I received a letter from them one morning, telling me they had heard from a friend of mine, Mr Frank Strachan, of Brunswick, Georgia, who spoke very highly of me, and was under the impression I had been very harshly treated. And if they had a ship, he could highly recommend me for the appointment as Master.
So Mr Latta said – he was Mr Latta in those days – he said, if you feel like calling in here at the next opportunity, I shall be pleased to see you. I wrote back and told him that there was nothing to bring me down to London that I could see, unless I came specially to see him– so he wrote back and told me to come down, and that they would stand all expenses, which they did.
I had a long conversation with him. I told him that I knew Strachan, and that I had been all these years with Lawther Latta [sic - Leyland] and my record up to that point, and he said, ‘From what Mr Strachan tells us, if we have a vacancy - which we probably will have, very shortly – and we’ll let you have command of her.’
And about, oh a couple of weeks after, I think it would be, I forget exactly, he wrote and told me they’d appointed me the Master of the steamer Anglo-Saxon.
Q280. Did they ever apply to the Leyland Line for a reference?
Lord: Yes. And I am under the impression that they were told that the case was taken out of the manging director’s hands at Liverpool and that if it had been left to him, I would still have had command of the ship.
He had nothing at all to say in the result of the... ‘Strongly against his wishes,’ those were the words. That’s what he (Roper) told Latta.
Q281. Did he say anything about he being the owner of a ship?
Lord: Any other ship? No, that was never brought in at all, he was quite satisfied it wasn’t the Californian.
Q282. I think you mentioned, one time, that he’d – Roper said that if he were the sole owner of a ship?
Lord: If he were the sole owner of any ship, he would have willingly and gladly given me command of her.
Q283: Which was a fair enough reference?
Lord: It was. That was in the letter he wrote to Sir John Latta.
Q284: And your service with Latta’s?
Lord: I was fourteen years with Latta. Fourteen of the happiest years of my sea career as Master. I was treated most considerately by the senior member, senior director of the firm, in every respect. Couldn’t have been treated better. From the time I joined, until the day I left. Every consideration was shown to me. In the end I was promoted and got the largest new steamer they had, that was during the war, 1914-18 war, and I was in her until I left the company. On the advice of my medical adviser.
Q285: How long had you been with Latta’s before they offered you their new ship?
Lord: Well, it was in the beginning of the war. 1914, and I joined there in 1913, I must have been about two years with them.
Q286: You weren’t the senior officer?
Lord: Oh lord, no. I was the junior I should think. I had the Saxon, then I was appointed to the Patagonian [Anglo-Patagonian]. A rush job. Captain was taken ill, and I came from Bremerhaven with the Saxon to Blyth. Paid the crew off the night I arrived, and sailed the next morning in the Anglo-Patagonian. Latta appreciated that very much, he told me.
[Letter of appreciation from Latta to Lord, April 7, 1916. MMM D/LO 1/1/5/4]
Q287: Now although it is 50 years ago, your recollections of the night that the Californian was stopped in the icefield, still are very clear?
Lord: Very clear.
Q288: Can you remember the events from your noon position of that Sunday afternoon?
Lord: From the position we were in, the course she steered?
Q289. No, not the course you steered, but how the events –
Lord: Well, we got our position. We steamed along to where – the second officer gave me an observation at four o’clock which agreed with our dead reckoning, which – we’d already had an observation at noon – with the rest of it, and it all agreed. Then we passed this ice. Three icebergs. I should think about five o’clock, I haven’t got the exact figure, but we sent this word out, that we passed three large bergs, five miles south of us, and where they were exactly. Sent it out to all ships. I think - was it then the Titanic said they were too busy and to shut up?
Q290: I think that was when you were stopped in the ice.
Lord: Oh. Well, that helps. Then we went on until ten-twenty. When I rang the ‘full astern’ as we were running into this loose ice.
Q291: You were on the bridge?
Lord: I was on the bridge from a quarter past eight, when the Chief Officer came down. And I told him I was going to stay there until daybreak.
Q292: You were on watch with the third officer?
Lord: With the third officer. He was on one wing of the bridge and I was on the other. Two men on the lookout.
Q293: You saw the ice?
Lord: I saw the ice. And I had the engines rung astern before the lookout man or Stone [sic], Groves saw it. And I told Groves to skip aft to the Quartermaster and take in the log. Which he went to do, but it had gone – wrapped around the ice.
Well, then we sent out our position. ‘Surrounded by ice. Latitude so-and-so; Longitude so much. Stopped.’ Californian stopped in the ice, in such a position. Surrounded by ice.
Q294. And the Titanic received it, but –
Lord: Told us to shut up.
Q295. Commercial traffic, but that didn’t upset your radio officer or anything, it was just a - ?
Lord: Oh, he didn’t know anything about ice, any harm, any berg, or collision, or loss of life in the Titanic. Knew nothing about it then. We knew nothing about it when we called him [wireless operator Evans] about four o’clock the next morning. Quarter past four, or something. Got him out.
Q296: Now, after you’d stopped in the ice, you left the bridge?
Lord: Yes, I wandered around, had a look all around the ship, had a look all round to see what it [ice] was like, and I had the Chief Engineer [W.S.A. Mahan] up, and had a talk with him.
And we sounded what the density of the ice was. It didn’t seem very thick, very solid. And I thought we would stay there ’til daylight. And he thought it a good plan too. Nobody very keen on pushing through that, I don’t think.
Then I went on the bridge again, to the third officer. And this ship was coming along. I said, ‘Wireless said he’d only got the Titanic.’ I said, ‘that’s not the Titanic,’ and he said, ‘Oh that looks like a passenger ship to me.’ But I said, ‘She doesn’t to me. I shall go along and see Sparks.’ I went along. He came to the door. The open door, with the things on his head, and I pointed out the ship. I said, ‘There’s a steamer coming along, what (ships) have you got?’
He said, ‘I’ve only got the Titanic.’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘that’s not her.’ ‘No, I’m sure it’s not. Not big enough or fast enough for the Titanic.’
Q297: And she stopped there. Somewhere about half past eleven. How close would she be?
Lord: She stopped. Well, I suppose, I said she was about five miles, didn’t I?.
Q298: And you couldn’t, or could you, have been mistaken about the largest ship in the world?
Lord: I’m positive it wasn’t the largest ship in the world, or a large passenger steamer at all.
Q299: And if she stopped close to you then, you remained on deck?
Lord: Oh yes, I was there until a quarter to one… until the second officer came on.
Lord: Stone took charge, from Groves… and then later on, in the morning, I saw Stewart, when he came up.
Q301: And when the second mate came on, you were still on deck?
Lord: Yes, I was standing outside my chart room door as he came past me. After a while, after Groves came down, I went on the bridge and had a yarn with Stone. This would be around a quarter to one, I should think. I said, ‘Well everything seems very peaceful,’ he said, ‘It is, Sir, everything’s quiet, no harm.’ I said, ‘Well, I think I’ll have a nap.’ He said, ‘I think that will be a good idea too.’ I said, ‘We may have fog tomorrow,’ which we did get later. And I said, ‘If that steamer comes in, starts moving around, or coming anywhere closer to us, then let me know.’
Well he carried out those orders. He sent or signalled later, and, er, this ship must have been between the Titanic and us. And I said, ‘Well, Morse her; see if they are company signals,’ which were very common in those days. And I heard him Morsing, just over my head. And he got no reply. And then I dozed off, I suppose, And at some time or other he sent Gibson down to tell me this ship had disappeared. That they had had no reply to the… to the Morsing, and that this steamer altered her bearing from South-Southeast to Southwest by West. And we hadn’t moved at all.
Q302: Where were you lying down?
Lord: In the chart room. Little poky hole. The worst accommodation I had ever seen in a ship. I couldn’t stretch my legs. Bridge coat, hat, collar, tie and everything on. Just snoring away and dozing off then. Light was on in the chart room. [Apprentice officer] Gibson came, just opened the door and told me this, I must have said ‘all right.’ There was nothing startling about it.
Q303. Your mind was relieved that, learning of this –
Lord: Steamer had steamed away.
Q304: And you were still on the chart room settee when Stewart called you in the morning?
Lord: Oh yes. When Stewart told me, about half past four, I should think. Between four and half past. I forget the exact time. But he remarked about the – he was told to call me at daylight. He remarked about these signals. I said, ‘What where they, what did you see?’ I said he [Stone] told me, but I thought they were company signals. He didn’t seem to know anything about them. He Morsed, and didn’t get any reply. And I said [to Stewart] ‘Go along and see what the wireless has got.’ The wireless had gone to bed, oh, about half past twelve.
So he came running back along the saloon deck and he shouted, ‘Titanic’s sunk!’
And I said, ‘Well, go back and get her position.’ And he got it from, I forget the name of the ship, some other ship anyhow, and he [ship] said, ‘Where have you been all night? Have you been asleep?’ This was sent from their wireless man to our wireless man, so wireless told me. And he gave him the position that he’d had, and where the ship sunk.
So, after that, we called all hands on deck. Swung the boats out, got the engines moving, and steamed down towards this position, which took us through this belt of ice.
We steamed along until we got to two steamers ahead, principally the four-master, which turned out to be the Mount Temple. As we were approaching her on the western side of the ice, we saw a large steamer on the eastern side of the ice.
As we passed the Mount Temple and saw her name, we saw what turned out to be the Carpathia, we turned back through the ice, which wasn’t very far, to the Carpathia. We pulled up alongside her. I think Rostron said about half past eight. Twenty past eight.
We got all the news from him, and stayed there until he steamed away. And he asked me if I would go down and look and see if I could see any more, er, survivors.
So I went down, and saw a lot of empty boats, with the exception of one that had luggage in, and after about ten miles down, ten miles back, I wirelessed that I hadn’t seen anything and was proceeding on the voyage.
So we steamed away and that was the end of it. ’Til we got to Boston.
Q305: And after your Boston arrival, there was the United States inquiry?
Lord: Yes. There was that in the paper, Gill’s story, that he had seen all these lights and what-not, which I don’t think for a moment he did.
Q306: Who was Gill?
Lord: Gill was the Assistant Donkeyman. In fact he was a greaser. He said he had seen them (lights), and he got from the Press five hundred dollars we were told, for saying this, which as I said before is a great inducement for a man getting seven pound a month. It helps your imagination considerably.
I never thought he saw anything. He might have seen a light or two when he came [on deck] – the usual thing for these fellows was, when they come off watch, they go down below, have a cup of coffee or something, come on deck, sit on the hatch and have a smoke of a cigarette to cool off before they went to bed. And that’s when he saw it, whatever it was.
Q307: He would be on deck from about, oh, ten past twelve, to…?
Lord: He would. Probably from around a quarter past to half past twelve. I didn’t see him there any more.
Q308: And he, you and the radio officer, those were the three who went to the United States inquiry?
Lord: We went to the USA inquiry.
Q309: What was that like?
Lord: Oh it was very nice. Nothing very formal about it. Senator [W. A.] Smith was very polite, and he took me into his private room, to start with, when I arrived. And one of the Titanic officers came in. The Fourth Officer, I forget what his name was, the man who said, when they asked him, ‘What does an iceberg consist of?’ and he said ‘ice.’ [Fifth Officer Lowe] What was his name?
Lord: No, it wasn’t Boxhall. The man who lived in Wales. He came in and went out. I think he was asking for some money or something. But then the inquiry came. I left the room, sat around, got called, and sat in a chair close to Smith. Next to him was a lady, sketching me. Which I was very interested in, I couldn’t get a very good view of it.
But I was answering… I first sat down next to Mr… who was it? The managing… the White Star manager. [Phillip Franklin]
Anyway, they told me I should be in this room and to sit down over there. I sat down at this White Star manager, and next to him was Mr [J. Bruce] Ismay. What was this fellow’s name?
He said to me, ‘Hello, are you Lord?,’ I said ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I am so-and-so.’ Manager of the White Star in New York. We shook hands. We were very happy. We were quite jovial over the whole thing. He was a nice fellow. Mr Ismay never spoke. He wasn’t much of a talker, I don’t think. Kept very much to himself.
I wonder what was that fellow’s name? Henland, was it? It came out in my evidence. [Franklin contributed during Lord’s US evidence]
But anyhow, I was called up and Smith asked a lot of questions. I think he asked all he could he could ask me, and I said ‘Well, can I go?’ and he said, ‘Why yes, go.’ So he sent to the… a clerk came with me, asking me questions, all the way down to the station. What they were, I forget, I don’t know.
What the devil was the name of that manager? A nice man. A very nice man indeed. We had quite a confab. And Ismay never spoke. Well, of course, naturally he was very hurt and upset.
Part 6 : Q311-Q362
Q311: Wasn’t that manager the one who spoke about you being made a scapegoat?
Lord: Made what?
Q312. A scapegoat?
Lord: No, I don’t remember anyone saying that. No, I don’t think he made any comment about it. He might have done. I forget. I know he was a very nice man. I sat with him for ten or fifteen minutes before Smith came in and took the stand. All very nice. They accepted my evidence as satisfactory, without any comment or criticism. Not like the London one.
Q313: You never read the [US inquiry] report?
Lord: No, I never read it. Never bothered reading any of them. I didn’t read my own evidence. I have it in… I have it somewhere. Did I give it to you?
Q314: The British inquiry?
Lord: Yes. The day of my evidence. Did I give it to you?
Lord: I never read it.
Q316: Your impression of the British inquiry was rather different?
Lord: Oh yes. No, my opinion was that the British inquiry had decided, Lord Mersey, who presided, had decided, before I arrived there that the Californian was the steamer.
[Clock strikes. Lord says: ‘Quarter to. It’ll be a longer one.’]
Q317: When you were being cross-examined at the British inquiry, there was a hostile attitude towards you?
Lord: It didn’t give me that idea, but Mersey’s wasn’t sympathetic at all. He had quite made up his mind. As he told Groves. Didn’t he? ‘That was my opinion.’ [Quoting Mersey]
Q318: And Groves gave the opinion that the ship seen, which he’d seen for something like half an hour, and which stopped close to him, was the Titanic?
Lord: As Mersey said, ‘Get it out of my mind if you can.’ Then of course there was the remark about it [being] probably not wise not to consider why the Captain of the Californian didn’t come on deck. There was no question raised about that [remark], which there ought to have been. Dunlop was in the court then.
Q319: Dunlop was the representative of the - ?
Lord: Leyland line. He was also representing the officers.
Q320: But not specially under instructions from you?
Lord: Under none whatever. He told me that he represented the Leyland line.
Q321: When was that? When did he speak to you?
Lord: Oh, when we went in. I was with the manager, Mr Roberts [William Richard Roberts, general manager of the Leyland line]. He joined me there, and he was in the hall, and Dunlop came up, and we were all talking.
Q322. But not wholly about the case?
Lord: Oh no. He was telling me that he represented the Leyland line. There was some representative from the Guild. Holmes, his name was. [Of Messrs Miller, Taylor and Holmes, of Liverpool - appeared on behalf of the Imperial Merchant Service Guild.] He came up and spoke to me. I’d met him before. He said he was representing the engineers, I understood him to say. But I don’t think he had any connection with the officers. But he was there. He’s dead now, isn’t he?
Q323: Leonard Holmes?
Lord: I don’t know what his name was. There were three names in the firm. And they were quite substantial in those days. He was quite a nice fellow. ‘If I can do anything to help you, let me know.’
Q324: But nobody came to you after that, did they, to say things were taking a bad turn from your point of view? That you had better do something about it?
Lord: No. I was in Liverpool. Visited the office every day. Took my kit out of the Californian and left it on the dock, in the superintendent’s office.
Q325: Did you read the proceedings of the inquiry as they went along?
Lord: No. Just glanced at it probably, in the [Liverpool] Echo. I got a copy of my own evidence. Walked round somewhere and got it. But that’s the only thing I bothered with. My evidence was in, Stewart, Stone and Groves, were all in that one day. So I got that.
Q326: And then the findings came out?
Lord: Well, of course, most people believed it, didn’t they? Over men like Lord Mersey, who decided, and then Groves saying that he thought it was the ship. But it wasn’t decided what this ship was that moved away. Or how she could move away. And Titanic sees a steamer approach, and steam away. The Californian never moved. That was never raised or mooted at all. That would have cleared up the whole business if they had only gone into that more closely.
Do any of these fellows now have changed their minds, do you think? Has Groves at all? You can’t get under his skin, can you?
Q327: Well, his opinion is that it was just an opinion he was asked for; he gave his opinion, and that is that.
Lord: He won’t change his opinion?
Q328: He won’t say so.
Lord: No. Then you’ve got Boxhall.
Q329: Boxhall has been given food for thought.
Lord: Yes. [Wilton J.] Oldham talked to him, didn’t he?
Q330: Yes. And [former Carpathia officer] James Bisset too. But they are reputedly… they are as elderly as you are, but they seem to lack the recollection of events or the ability to look at it again, particularly with the seamen.
Lord: Who else was there in connection with that ship? Did you see anyone? Any other officer? There was another officer, wasn’t there? There was Boxhall…
Q331. [Charles Herbert] Lightoller…
Lord: Lightoller. He’s dead now, isn’t he?
Q332: Did you ever meet him? Lightoller?
Lord: No. I had a letter from him.
Q333: Did many correspond with you?
Lord: Oh, no.
Q334: Did you write to many of them?
Lord: I wrote to Lightoller. And I wrote to the skipper – Carpathia man.
Lord: He was an Astley Bridge man, as a matter of fact. He came from Bolton. He was at school with my brother. He wrote asking if I was any relation to this Lord that he was at school with. ’Course he was older than me. And what was the man, second officer of that ship?
Q336. The Carpathia?
Lord: No, the Titanic.
Lord: No, the man who - second officer who gave evidence. When the Captain [Smith] came up, he said ‘I’ve put the helm to starboard.’ What was his name? I knew him as a boy, he was an apprentice in a ship called the Iquique, a sailing ship, when I met him at Rotterdam in the Naiad. He came aboard to see us. I remember him quite well. [First officer William McMaster Murdoch, met on August 23, 1893.]
And the Chief Officer [Henry T. Wilde] I knew very well. Wilde… but I didn’t know any of the others. Wilde and, what the devil was this other fellow’s name..?
Q338: Since 1912, have you met any, or many, of the people concerned with the - ?
Lord: No, I haven’t met anyone. I never approached anyone, and nobody ever approached me.
Q339: Did you see any of them?
Lord: I don’t think I ever did.
Lord: Groves, oh, of course I saw him. Saw him in Sydney. It’s quite funny, someone like that. Well, of course, he was the last person I was thinking of meeting there, coming down the Captain of an old tramp. I heard he went back into the P. & O., and we never talked. We just chatted away, sure…
Q341: What was that incident?
Lord: It was when the ships were at anchor, waiting for a berth.
Q342: Was it in Sydney?
Lord: In Sydney. And there was a small motor-boat, picking up the skippers to take them ashore, to see the agents. And we went alongside this ship, and I tell you his letters all dropped down. He was coming down, and he had a packet of letters, which all fell, and I picked them up for him, out of the water, and he came and sat down with me, and we talked. ‘Nice weather,’ ‘Where are you going,’ ‘How long have you been here,’ or something, but it never struck me that it was Groves.
Strange, isn’t it? We might have gone further into it, had I noticed. Although I was rather sore about it, I must admit. Why should a junior officer’s evidence be taken in preference to two senior officers, three senior officers – myself, the chief officer and the second officer? And they take the third officer’s evidence. The junior man of all, as being the infallible man. To make their statements about us legitimate.
No reason why Groves shouldn’t have an opinion of his own, I am not saying anything about that.
Q343: But certainly some proper representation at the inquiry would have been of value?
Lord: Of course it would have. If Dunlop had been representing the officers. If Holmes had been representing the officers, he could have had some say in it. But he wasn’t. There was no-one representing the officers.
Q344: You didn’t ask for help?
Lord: No, didn’t ask anyone. Didn’t ask. Our man came up and spoke to me. I didn’t know who he was. We weren’t being represented by anybody. I thought no more about it.
Q345: The ship that you saw close by wasn’t Titanic. You’re quite sure about that?
Lord: Oh, I am absolutely positive it wasn’t. It couldn’t have been. That steamer we saw steamed away. Titanic never moved.
Q346: Nor did you?
Lord: The Titanic saw her steam and move away. But they said it was the Californian. It’s all bunk. She (Californian) never moved. How Mersey could ignore that bit of evidence, I don’t know. Or Isaacs.
But they didn’t believe our evidence. Mersey certainly didn’t believe any positions we gave.
Q347: And yet, working from those positions, you got to the position reported by the Titanic as to where she sank, and you later got to Boston without incident?
Q348: So your navigation was - ?
Lord: Quite correct. Nothing wrong with our navigation. We never had any bother. Didn’t have to ask anybody where we were, or anything.
Q349: In all your career, this would be the only occasion, if Lord Mersey was correct, where your navigation went wildly wrong?
Lord: [Laughs] The only time – I would never have been the Master of a ship very long if it had gone wrong. My navigation always turned out correct. That’s how I got my Extra Master’s ticket, I suppose. I don’t suppose there’s a man amongst that crowd who had an Extra Master’s ticket. None of my officers had. And I’m sure the Old Man in the – whatever his name was, I forget names – in the Titanic hadn’t. Wilde had, I know that. He was the senior officer there. Staff command, I think he was. I’m not sure if some of the other officers had, but none of our fellows had.
Q350: During the course of the inquiry, a lot of the Masters of these transatlantic ships were asked what their practice was when navigating at night with ice reported.
Lord: They were asked, were they? And what was their opinion?
Q351: It varied. But what were your own views on the method of navigation adopted by the Captain of the Titanic?
Lord: Well it’s rather a difficult thing to answer. I think if he was making his course like I was, I should say I’m surprised he wasn’t on the bridge. For a steamer going twenty knots an hour, and having had ice reported, surrounded by ice, all around him, and having had our report sent in that we’d seen these bergs, I should have thought that he’d have been on the bridge.
On the other hand, certain people seem to think that, knowing ice was around, he altered his course a couple of points to the south to get clear of it. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. But he was certainly not on the bridge. Which is very particular in the White Star Line. If there is any – any risky water that they are in, doubtful conditions, they knew that they were supposed to be on the bridge. He may have had some reason, I don’t know, but he wasn’t on the bridge. The Master of an old tramp was on the bridge. He was on deck from six o’clock that morning. Fooling around and looking around, and getting a bit anxious. And when it came dark he went on the bridge, and stopped her. We had no instructions about staying on the bridge in ice.
Q352: You did everything that they - ?
Lord: I did everything I was supposed to do. There wasn’t a thing they could point a finger at me to say I did a thing wrong. My navigation was correct. I reached Boston without the slightest difficulty. We found the position of this ice, and broadcast it to everybody.
No, I always thought they wanted to shut up the Titanic inquiry as quickly as possible. They’d had enough of it.
Q353. There was also a point that I mentioned to you, that provided that they could excuse themselves for the loss of life, the rest of the inquiry became a technical one.
If they could say that the loss of life wasn’t the fault of anyone in the Titanic or the Board of Trade, but the fault of somebody else, that made the inquiry so much easier to push through.
Lord: It did. When you have the nautical adviser to the Board of Trade, a man – they gave him a big salary I would suppose, an ex-ship master I take it, I knew him [Alfred Chalmers] – I met him up here once, in Liverpool, New Brighton. And it was his job to point out to the authorities in the Board of Trade that no ship should go to sea unless she had sufficient boat accommodation to take all her crew and passengers. He was never – he was called I believe, but he wasn’t censured in any way at all for not giving this advice.
Mersey’s opinion was, well, this [practice] had been carried on so long that he didn’t think it was worth bothering about it. He should have looked again [Unclear: looked ahead?]. If I had been that fellow, I would have insisted upon it, or resigned. Mersey would say: ‘Well, we know all about it now, we’ve had a ship lost.’ But that was the advice I should have had. Whether I would have expressed it, in those days, before any big disaster had happened, I don’t know, but for anybody to think –
[Clock strikes the hour. Six o’clock]
The nautical advisers of the Board of Trade never mention that now, that they were asked to put on more boats. After the accident they put them on.
[‘Time passes very quickly,’ comments Harrison. ‘Very quickly indeed when you are discussing these matters,’ says Lord. ]
Lord: Have you ever heard, in your own travels among seafaring people – any opinions offered in regard to this Titanic inquiry?
Q354. The majority of people seem to think that the inquiry findings were correct.
Q355: And people like Boxhall, who are in a position to be quoted as experts, have had to twist the facts to make the story fit.
Q356: But among the rest of them, if I might take my [MMSA] council as a cross-section of them, well, first of all, ‘If the thing was rigged at all’ they think: well, it was proved at the inquiry that the Californian was the ship, we don’t know why, we can’t imagine the reasons why she didn’t do something about it, and they leave it at that. But every practical man with whom I’ve been able to discuss this at all, has been [inaudible], but only one or two of the eight... they’ve seen that the Californian couldn’t have been the ship seen from the Titanic… they, every one of those, has been convinced. So it’s a question of education.
Lord: They’ve been convinced that it was not the Californian?
Q357: Not the Californian. But you’ve got to bring the facts to them first. And it’s such a complicated case that it’s very difficult indeed to find the time. And also to be able to talk to them about it without putting them to sleep, or…
Lord: There are two things I’ve always stressed. The Californian stopped in the ice at ten-twenty and her engines never moved. The Titanic came up, stopped. There was nothing in sight when she hit the berg. Nothing, by two lookout men, and two expert officers on the bridge. They saw nothing.
How could it possibly have been the Californian that they saw? Californian never moved. This steamer approached them. You don’t want any technical adviser to point out that it’s all bunk. Those two things would prove to me, and prove to any nautical examiner, that the Californian couldn’t have been the ship. They proved that she never moved after ten-twenty, and they proved that the Titanic never saw anything after she hit the berg, and the steamer they saw steamed towards them. Well, dammit, that clears everything, doesn’t it?
Q358: One would think so.
Lord: Clears everything. And if Mersey and his advisers – I don’t think he wanted any advisers anyhow; he advised himself – if they had only just looked at those three questions:
Titanic stopped, nothing in sight. No, Californian stopped, nothing in sight. Titanic stopped, nothing in sight. When there were two lookout men, expert men, specially picked for the job. A steamer approached them. Which they say was the Californian. The Californian never moved. Now, where - doesn’t that, those three things –
Q359: I gather.
Lord: They wanted a goat. That’s my opinion. That’s what Strachan said. ‘They wanted a bloody goat, Lord, and they got you.’
I went back there in the Saxon about… I suppose about, it was 1913, probably about, and that’s when, you’ve got that article, from the newspaper –
Q360: New Brunswick, et cetera.
Lord: And he said, ‘You’ve got to bloody write something, Lord.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to write a damned thing, I’m sick of it.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘that reporter will be down here soon, and enquire.’ So he [reporter] came down, and – came into Strachan’s office, and he [Strachan] said, ‘Well here’s Lord, he’ll tell you all about it.’ I said, ‘I can’t tell you anything more.’ Well Strachan said to this reporter – he knew him of course – a small American fellow, he said, ‘I’ll write an article tonight and I’ll let you have it tomorrow, if Lord will agree to it.’
‘All right.’ He held his hand out. I said, ‘I’m not going to shake hands with you, a fellow who would believe I would do a thing like that.’ So Strachan said, ‘Don’t be a damned fool, Lord, he’s only doing it to earn a living like you are doing.’ So I shook hands with this reporter, and he left.
And Strachan wrote that article. I never wrote it. And it was in that paper. We were leaving that night for Savannah, and he sent it on to Savannah. He said, ‘They’ll talk to you in Savannah, you know, there’s more of a paper there than here, it’s a bigger port.’ He said, ‘You have something ready.’ So he had this posted to me.
Q361. What was the headline?
Lord: Oh, on that paper it was, ‘Why Captain Lord wasn’t a hero.’ That wasn’t Strachan’s headline. It was the editor’s headline, actually. I went to New York a dozen times, oh a dozen times during the war. Never mentioned. Never mentioned. I was in New Orleans, a place I’d been trading to for years and years with Leyland’s – [and was] treated very well by everybody. ‘Hello Cap, nice to see you back again,’ the boys on the wharf were always yelling to me.
That was what Strachan said. ‘They wanted a goat. You were the bloody goat.’ [Laughs] There was no doubt about it.
Have you met with any of these people in London who offered you a description about it?
Q362. Well I never met with, because, as you know, we were working on this as confidential, we didn’t want to attract any publicity to you. And I have to - except when I discuss it with publishers or papers, and I have never had any difficulty in convincing publishers and solicitors, that they are touching something pretty dangerous if they kept keeping this version [of events] alive.
They know they are on a very poor wicket, when you begin to look into the facts.
Part 7 : Q363-Q417
Q363: Bisset’s book is a tissue of nonsense – he talks about the Titanic turning to port, that’s presenting her stern to the Californian – which is the only way they can account for the fact that she didn’t have her passenger accommodation lights showing. And then, three paragraphs later, he speaks of her showing both steaming lights, and ‘bow lights,’ whatever they may be –
Lord: [Laughs] Sidelights.
Q364. What he means are sidelights, yes. So… as I have said before with Boxhall, to make a story out of it, they have got to twist the facts.
Here we have an opportunity of talking to a mass audience, all of whom are convinced that you’re the sort of Lord that was the Lord of A Night to Remember. Measuring your words, what would you tell them?
Lord: I would tell them what I have told you now. I would mention those three occasions when they said ‘How can you prove the Californian was not the ship?’
You don’t need any more. You can’t need any more. Californian stopped. Never moved her engines until four o’clock [sic], after four o’clock the next morning. Titanic stopped, an hour later, and never saw a thing. Not a thing in sight when she came – when she stopped. Two lookout men and two officers. And later she saw a steamer approach her. The Californian never moved. Never saw any ship there, when she stopped. And Titanic never saw a ship when she stopped. So how could it have been the Californian? She never moved. Those three things – they don’t want any more evidence. They didn’t want to think of it.
Q365: If they did want any more evidence, there was plenty of it. For one thing, if you were in the position which Mersey said you were in, navigationally speaking you would have been five or ten miles north of the Mount Temple..?
Lord: Yes. She was in the [SOS] position.
Q366: The actual position (where the Titanic had sunk) was being marked by the Carpathia.
Q367: I think she was actually a mile to the southward of the wreckage, because the boats had pulled towards her. So you would have been somewhere, five to ten miles north of the Carpathia, and in the middle of the icebergs, which the Carpathia had been threading her way through, since about half past three that morning.
Lord: We never saw any [wreckage]. And we never saw any when we came down the ten miles and went back again. [After being told by Rostron to search further south].
Q368: You saw no wreckage?
Lord: None whatever. All we saw were empty lifeboats. They weren’t wreckage. Passengers had disembarked from them.
Q369: Would you like to meet Bisset, or Boxhall, or any of them?
Lord: I wouldn’t mind meeting them and telling them what I told you. But would it do any good?
Lord: I’m sure it wouldn’t. Bisset, I don’t know. I might convince him. What sort of bloke is he? I don’t want to meet him. I don’t want to meet any of them.
Q371: No, I don’t know.
Lord: Did he appeal to you at all?
Q372: I haven’t met him. His book doesn’t.
Lord: Oh. I haven’t seen his book.
Q373: I’ve got the job of trying to point out the errors in it, but there are so many that I haven’t had time to do it yet.
Lord: Very strongly anti-Californian?
Q374: Oh, yes.
Q375: I must come and read you some of the bits, some time. And Boxhall, he’s changed his mind quite a bit, I think.
Lord: Of course Lightoller never did change his mind, did he?
Q376: He wrote to you, I believe? You had a letter from him?
Lord: I had a letter from him, but the letter was only – that was the time that I was ashore, before I went to sea again. I asked him and I asked Rostron.
Rostron wrote a very nice letter back. Gave me all this information, but Lightoller – I have Lightoller’s letter somewhere, in that bundle. I must sort them out some day.
Q377: Well, the affidavit letters are all sorted out. And indexed. And there you’ve got all the original ones, the Rostron… They are all in that package. They are all stapled together, and they are all indexed. So you can put your finger on any one, at any time.
Lord: I do not understand why men like Mersey and Isaacs, they are not nautical men, but these nautical advisers – there were four men on that bench with them, they were all naval men I think, unfortunately… Californian stopped, all you’ve got to do is repeat this: Californian stopped at ten twenty. Never moved her engines until after four o’clock next morning.
Titanic stopped at eleven twenty, whatever she was, not a thing in sight. Two lookout men and two officers on the bridge say there was nothing in sight. One o’clock they had a steamer steaming towards them. Came close to the boats and then turned around and steamed away. How the devil could that be the Californian? All the evidence proved she never moved. Those three questions answer anybody’s criticism.
All the trouble is, why did the Captain of the Californian not come on deck and look at those lights? For the simple reason that a responsible officer was on the bridge, who told him that they were not distress rockets. And he was asked were they company signals, which would lead him to know what I was thinking, and if he’d been in any doubt he would have called me. But he was not in any doubt. He was quite satisfied they were not distress signals, he heard no signals, which he would have done if he had been seven to ten miles off, as Mersey said. The explosion leaving the deck, and explosion up in the air, he would have heard them [both]. Never a mention of them.
And he was – he was quiet. Young fellow. And he wouldn’t tell me lies, I’m quite sure of that. And he wouldn’t exaggerate. The other fellow might, but he wouldn’t.
Groves wanted publicity. He went to that, I told you, he went to the Boston Herald on the next voyage, when I wasn’t there, but apparently they refused to see him. Matter of fact, I knew… a man came down and asked to see me. His name was Endicott. [Henry Wendell Endicott, aged 32.] Wholesale boot manufacturers of Boston. And he said ‘I’ve come down to enquire’ – I took him into the chart room, and gave him a drink, and I saw his papers, prohibition days, and he loved it – and he started to enquire if I saw anything of Mr and Mrs So-and-so from San Francisco or Los Angeles. He said, ‘I’ve got a wire from their son, wanting to know if I would go aboard and find out if I knew anything of them.’ Well, I told them I hadn’t. Well, we had a nice chat together, then a few days after he came down and told me that he would like me to come to dinner to their place, and meet his family. Which I did. And the family took me, and they acted very… I [later] saw a fellow coming along the wharf with a big armful of flowers and a big box of chocolates, and I thought ‘What the hell is going on here,’ and he came aboard. ‘Say Cap, I’ve got something for ya.’ I said, ‘All right, bring it aboard.’ The quartermaster went down… it was from this chap’s mother, this Endicott’s mother, chocolates and flowers, all for me. (Laughs) I took them home to my wife, of course. But I had a letter from them afterwards in which they said ‘We’ve never believed it to be true that it was you, or anything connected with you, in that Titanic disaster.’ I wrote and told them I was going in this other company.
No, I think I’ve had a dirty deal. It all turned out, as it happened, very well. But there was always this stigma: Was Lord to blame, or was he not to blame?
A responsible officer was on the bridge. If he thought there was any danger or risk, or any other ship in trouble, he could quite easily have come down, or else, as he said himself, ‘I would have pulled you out if there had been any trouble.’
That was his word. ‘Do you think there was any distress rockets about?’ He said, ‘If there had been, I would have pulled you out.’ The very words he used.
Gibson was never heard of since. I don’t know what became of him. Nice boy. He called me all right; I’m not denying that. He called me and I told him ‘Alright, tell the Second Officer to let me know if he wants anything,’ or something like that, and dozed off again.
It was a damned cold night and I was sleeping in a heated room fully dressed, no wonder I would go to sleep.
Q378: But if there had been any emergency, you would have been right back up [to the bridge] like a shot?
Lord: Of course I would. In any question of salvage, it was what we were looking for all our lives. Get a tow, or… when he (Stewart) said he might not have a rudder, I said ‘Go and call wireless, and find out.’
I met Stewart about 1917 when I was waiting for this new ship. I was home for two or three months, on pay all the time, and met him outside the Kardomah [a café in Whitechapel, Liverpool]. I said ‘Good lord, fancy meeting you. Come on, let’s go and have a coffee.’ We went down and had a coffee, and we talked and talked for about two hours. I said to Stewart: ‘What do you think of this [Mystery] Ship?’
He [Stewart] said ‘I don’t know; I don’t think there’s any question it wasn’t us. But what the devil did Stone see? I’ve never been able to gather together what he did see yet.’
But then I saw him later, his ship had been sunk and the third officer was down the hold or something at sea, but his ship [ss Barn Hill] was torpedoed and they gave his name. They said he was an ex-shipmaster, out of a job, [sic – in fact Stewart had retired, but returned to service on the outbreak of war] who came with his mate as third officer. That was Stewart. I never heard any more of that.
But I’ve never seen any of the other fellows since. Groves, I never discussed it [with], Stone, I never saw, and the engineers I never saw, and the purser I never saw, and the wireless man I never saw. Not the purser, the wireless man.
This concludes the conversation in February, 1961, between Leslie Harrison and Captain Lord.
TRANSCRIPT of a conversation between Captain Stanley Lord and Leslie Harrison, 19 August 1961.
Q379: This is August 19th, 1961, which is 49 years and six months, which is a long time to ask you to cast your mind back… I should imagine that mentally you have been backwards and forwards in the Californian quite a lot. When you were on the flying bridge, that was perfectly open, wasn’t it?
Lord: Oh, yes.
Q380: With the standard compass in the middle and the wheel behind?
Lord: And the wheel in front of the standard compass.
Q381: The wheel in front of -
Lord: The man was steering by it.
Q382: He wasn’t standing by, that night… you didn’t have a man standing by the wheel that night?
Lord: There was a man there. Whether he stayed on the bridge or not, I don’t know.
Q383: He was never called to give evidence, so there probably wasn’t.
Lord: Well, he couldn’t tell them anything.
Q384: So that you had the completely open bridge with the wheel in front of the standard compass, and the two telegraphs.
Lord: And a compass in front of him to steer with.
Q385: Steering compass in front, standard compass astern.
Lord: Which the officer would go and look at, and check his – his compass had got nothing to do with the officer on the bridge. He was studying everything by the standard compass – Sir William Thompson’s standard compass. One of the best in those days.
Q386: And you had a telegraph in the starboard wing?
Lord: Starboard wing of the bridge. I think we had one on the port side, too.
Q387: And one amidships?
Lord: In the wing – I’m not sure. But I was leaning on the starboard wing telegraph. When I went on the bridge, I told Stewart, the chief officer, I said: ‘Well, is everything all right?’ He said, ‘Yes, everything’s all right.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll go up there – I’ll stay up there until you get up in the morning.’ And he went to the log book in the chart room, and went below, and I saw no more of him until four o’clock next morning, when he called me.
Q388: From the flying bridge. Or did you call it the bridge?
Lord: The bridge, the flying bridge. Below that was a bridge with wireless on it. Was it the wireless? It was a chart room, built for a chart room, but they turned it into a wireless room, and my recollection is that the two [sic] wireless operators slept up there.
Q389: A combined radio officers’ room and chart room?
Lord: Yes, I’m sure that the wireless was in what was supposed to be our chart room.
Q390: Then you came down to the next deck, from your own -
Lord: That was my own room, down below that… flying bridge, lower bridge, promenade deck – that was where my room…
Q391: You were on the promenade deck?
Lord: Yes. And the chart room was there.
Q392: And the chart room was there, on the port side? And your room linked with it?
Lord: It was part of the same house.
Q393: On the starboard side?
Lord: On the front side of my room was this chart room.
Q394: Forrard of your room?
Lord: Forrard of my room.
Q395: So the two – the width of the house -
Lord: Here we are: there’s the promenade deck. There’s the -
Q396: The house.
Lord: Stokehold casing was round there.
Lord: And I think there was a smoking room in front of the stokehold. And then the entrance came right across there. My room – the chart room was here, where – with a door to it, and a porthole to it. Next to it was my room, with no port to it. It was a hell of a hole, really and truly.
Q398: Completely closed in?
Lord: Oh, a terrible place. And I was in this one all the time, with the port on this side, and the port in front.
Q399: Where did the speaking tube from the bridge come?
Lord: It came right alongside… into my room, not the chart room.
Q400: By the head of your bunk?
Lord: By the head of the bunk.
Q401: Was the bunk on the -
Lord: Against the dead wall.
Q402: That would be the port side really.
Lord: Port ‘midships. I was on the starboard. My accommodation was on the starboard side of the house.
Q403: So to get a message from the bridge, if you were lying on the chart room settee, you’d have to get up and -
Lord: I’d have to get up and walk, to my own room again, and listen to it. To the best of my recollection, I don’t think there was any… I’m nearly sure there wasn’t any speaking tube into the chart room. There’d be no need for it. They would whistle down from the bridge to waken the Captain. And the chart room would be right over his bunk.
Q404: Tell me, when they were working nights, did they have a little covered table on the flying bridge, or did they come down?
Lord: Oh, they never came down to work out a sight. They never left the bridge and they couldn’t go into the chart room because that was turned into a wireless room. Any charts they did, there was a table on the bridge, underneath the covered wing… each side, and they would work their sights out there. They never left the bridge to work a sight out.
Q405: So you were really marooned, with no chance of looking yourself, if you were in your own room?
Lord: No, I was in a dead end. I had to go to the chart room to look through a port. That’s my recollection, and I don’t think I’m wrong.
Q406: When the second mate, for instance, in the afternoon, came to you to report the results of his sight, how did he do it? By chit?
Lord: Well, he’d be coming down after being relieved.
Q407: Yes. Would he say, ‘We’re so much ahead or astern of DR,’ or -
Lord: I don’t quite follow that. If he’d left the bridge in the afternoon, say about ten minutes past four, after Stewart had relieved him, he wouldn’t come down to report to me, he would come down to fill up his log book, which was on the chart room table, what had passed in the afternoon. Ten to one I’d be dozing on the chart room settee, so I would get all the news from him.
Q408: That day you’d had an afternoon siesta?
Lord: Yes. I always had. Everybody – every shipmaster had, I think.
Q409: Yes, it’s standard practice. The Sunday was a normal day, wasn’t it, from your point of view?
Q410: Yes, apart from the fact that you were awaiting the possibility of meeting ice?
Lord: Oh yes, there was that possibility. It was a Monday – was it a Monday, this -
Q411: Sunday night.
Lord: Well, Sunday we had reports of ice.
Q412: I’ve got all the details of those. It’s the sort of day-to-day life in the ship?
Lord: I’d got up early that morning, six o’clock, went on deck to look for ice. There was no ice then in sight, of course. But I was up early. I was up
from six o’clock that morning, until – until all this business was over. I might have had a nap in the afternoon, I wouldn’t know. Stone was on the bridge, and we saw these icebergs – it was in the evening, wasn’t it? Five o’clock or something?
Lord: We passed five bergs…
Q414: Three, there were.
Lord: Round about five o’clock, they were. Well, I saw those and sent word out to everybody we’d seen them. Gave our position, and the bergs five miles south of us. Our position was sent out and there was no question of any cooking. Couldn’t possibly have been.
Q415: I’m very interested in life in the ship. Did you feed well?
Lord: Oh we fed well. There was nothing the matter with the food.
Q416: What time? Ordinary ship’s routine?
Lord: Breakfast at nine o’clock. Lunch would be half past twelve to one. And then we would have dinner in the evening, six o’clock.
Q417: And after that?
Lord: There was no public feeding after that. The officer would have his cup of tea at eight o’clock and then he would have a cup of tea at ten o’clock. I presume that he would get the quartermaster to make up his evening meal – his cup of tea, and bread and butter, or something. But there was no question or query there about anything that was said or done, that didn’t really happen…
You’ve got the proof of passing the icebergs, the position – that proves our position. We passed them five miles south of us, and our position was so-and-so. Then we went on until we stopped, when I was on the bridge. I rang her full astern, she brought up steady, and I sent Groves off, and the quartermaster, to pull the log in, but we’d lost her.
Part 8 : Q418-Q495
Q418: That was what Gibson was kept busy with in the early part of his watch; rigging a new one?
Lord: Yes. He was getting another one ready. Then we sent out the position – ‘Stopped, surrounded by loose ice,’ and I based my position on the same course we had made when I sent out the position of the icebergs. By the clock, whatever it was – that was what actually happened. There was no cooking, in any shape or form.
Q419: Can you describe the personal appearance of, say, Groves, in those days?
Lord: I’ve nothing against Groves, only his - fond of publicity after everything happened. He was dying to get into -
Q420: But at the time he was an ordinary -
Lord: An ordinary, common-or-garden officer.
Lord: Oh, I don’t know. I would have a yarn with him… after taking the night order book onto the bridge. Just ordinary. Stone was a fat little chap, he wasn’t very brilliant, I shouldn’t have thought. And Stewart, of course, was an experienced man. He’d been in the American Line before he joined us as an officer.
Q422: What did he look like?
Lord: Oh, a common-or-garden type. Average height, slim and quite intelligent.
Q423: And all of them you got along with, as a good average crowd?
Lord: Oh, I got along with them very well. No bother at all. You see, when we got to Boston -
Q424: By the way, did the calm weather continue through to Boston?
Lord: We had fog.
Q425: Latter part?
Lord: After we passed the ice, we had fog.
Q426: What was your landfall like? Did you get a -
Lord: Oh, we got a good landfall all right, without any delay or bother.
Q427: I don’t know Boston very well. Is Chebucto Head near there, or something? What are the approaches like?
Lord: Oh, a seaway or something – I forget it now. We’d no bother getting there. Picked up the pilot outside and got in.
Q428: Did the newspaper men worry you on arrival?
Lord: I think they did come aboard.
Q429: You’d asked for permission to let them come on board – the Leyland Line. One of the radio messages was about that.
Lord: I’d – did I? – I forget that. But I don’t think -
Q430: And you’d berthed normally?
Q431: Do you remember roughly when it was, the time of the day or anything?
Q432: And then this summons from the Marshal [Guy Murchie], or someone, was served on you?
Lord: Summons to appear and give evidence. That was in Washington, wasn’t it?
Q433: Do you remember much about leaving the ship and travelling to Washington?
Lord: Somebody with me, wasn’t there?
Q434: The radio officer? No, I think you were alone.
Lord: Was I? I think there was someone went with me.
Q435: From the agents?
Lord: No, from the ship.
Q436: Not Gill?
Lord: Stone? Groves?
Q437: I wonder if Gill – he’d skinned out, hadn’t he? I never thought that there was someone with you.
Lord: There was someone with me. Whether it was Groves… it wouldn’t be Stewart.
Q438: I don’t think there was someone who gave evidence, but you think there was someone?
Lord: Someone came from the ship with me.
Q439: I heard a rather curious story from Sir Ivan Thompson that in the back of the court there were members of the crew from the Californian.
Lord: Utter impossibility.
Q440: Well, do you think there might have been one?
Lord: No. Not a soul got away from the ship. He’d have to pay his fare and they didn’t have any money to start with, one of the crew, would he?
Q441: Do you remember what time you got to Washington, or what you did?
Lord: No. I travelled during the night, if I remember rightly.
Q442: And you hadn’t been there before, I suppose?
Lord: Never. Not to Washington.
Q443: Did you see the city?
Lord: I don’t remember what happened where we got there. I think someone met me from the office. There was someone from the Marshal’s…
Q444: Can you remember at all what your state of mind was, when you -
Lord: Oh, I wasn’t worried about it at all.
Q445: It was just part of the job to do?
Lord: Part of the job. Stone had quite satisfied me that the steamer steamed away. There couldn’t have been any ship in distress… And he said that before he knew of any distress. He whistled down to tell me, ‘She’s steaming away. She’s altered her bearing from south-by-east to sou’west-by-west.’ Four, five, six points. And that would satisfy [me that there was] nothing wrong.
Q446: Reverting to the American inquiry, which in some respects is the most interesting of the lot, because the people at that time had very clear minds as to what was doing… it was a small room, wasn’t it, where Smith -
Lord: Oh, I don’t think – I think it was a court.
Q447: What was this incident about your feeling a bit distressed or somehting, and asking for a window?
Lord: Oh, I think I said that I was feeling a bit sick there.
Q448: I don’t know -
Lord: I’ve forgotten too. I think I told -
Q449: You were looking a bit flushed, and I think he said -
Lord: Oh, no. I think I told him I was a bit sick, travelling all night.
Q450: You had been on the journey all night?
Lord: I think I travelled all night.
Q451: Were you long in the committee room, waiting to be called?
Lord: Oh, I think – I wouldn’t be taken right on… I think that – so I could get back to the ship.
Q452: How far is it from Boston to Washington?
Lord: We travelled overnight, because I had a sleeper.
Q453: Sleep well?
Lord: I always sleep well.
Q454: I don’t sleep in railway sleepers. But you -
Lord: I sleep well, always.
Q455: You’ve spoken of sitting next to Franklin, was it? With Ismay the other side of him?
Lord: No, I sat next to Franklin, and I think Ismay sat the other side of Franklin.
Q456: You didn’t talk to each other?
Lord: Franklin spoke to me, and I think he said, ‘I’m Franklin, Lord, how are you?’ Shook hands with me. Ismay never said a word. Franklin did.
Q457: Were there a lot of people in the -
Lord: Oh, I think there were a lot of people in the court.
Q458: And there was someone who was sketching you, was there? Was this a man or a woman?
Lord: I think it was a man. I forget.
Q459: Was he far away, or -
Lord: Looking down at him. Well, I was in that state then – I’d nothing to fear, everything was satisfactory so far as I was concerned. I was asleep, and I wasn’t called on deck. I was told of these things that were happening, and then I was told that the steamer that was showing the signals had steamed away. Well, that was the… finished, so far as I was concerned.
Q460: No good coming out to look at the place where she was before she steamed away?
Lord: I didn’t come on deck… until Stewart called me.
Q461: And Smith asked you questions, which you answered. Your reception was -
Lord: I answered all questions satisfactorily.
Q462: It was a friendly -
Lord: Oh, he was quite friendly. Nothing hostile about him.
Q463: Did you see anything in the newspapers, or remember anything -
Lord: I didn’t think we saw any newspapers there. We sailed the next morning after we came back from Washington.
Q464: I haven’t checked the dates of when you were there at all.
Lord: I think we sailed the next day, because I think there was some question I was asked, and I answered, ‘We’re sailing tomorrow.’
Q465: I must look at that, because I have a verbatim report of what you were asked.
Lord: I think I said, ‘We’re sailing tomorrow.’ But Ismay did not speak ot me at all. I sat next to Franklin, a very nice man, and he turned round to me and said, ‘I’m Franklin, Lord, how are you?’ I sat next to him. I said, ‘I’m very well, Sir.’ I got up to give my evidence, and once I’d given my evidence I was released to get back to the ship.
Q466: Did you stand in a box?
Lord: I don’t think there was any box – or there would be.. I got up from the seat where I was sitting with Franklin and Ismay.
Q467: Were they individual seats round a table? Gallery?
Lord: A row of seas like you’d see in a courthouse here.
Q468: Was Smith sitting up above, on a sort of platform?
Lord: Raised up. Very full of himself. Very pleased with himself. He was all right, I’ve no complaints at all the make there. My treatment -
Q469: Now it’s that sort of background it’s so interesting to know, the atmosphere round this particular time.
Lord: But the time, there was nothng remarkable about the time. Perfectly ordinary.
Q470: When you got to Liverpool, any Press then?
Lord: Alexandra Dock… I thnk it was No. 3, Alexandra Dock. That’s where we usually docked.
Q471: And you came on the run, sort of straight in. Did your Marine Superintendent, Fry, did he meet you in, or did you -
Lord: No. I saw him, of course. We all saw him. And after Groves said he -
Q472: This was in Fry’s office?
Lord: In Fry’s office. And Groves said – I think he said he thought it was a ship in distress. Stewart didn’t, Stone didn’t, and I didn’t. And after they three left the office, I stayed behind and said to Fry, ‘Do you know, that’s the first time that man’s ever said he thought it was a ship in distress.’ I told that to Fry. And then… Fry never had much to say.
Q473: What was Fry’s build?
Lord: Thickset man with a beard.
Q474: And you remember I read you that article which described him as a loud-mouthed or roaring type of Marine Superintendent… was he?
Lord: No, not that. We never saw him. He had understrappers – [Capt M. A.] Bridgewater looked after our branch. We were bought by Leyland’s, from the West Indian and Pacific Steamships.
Q475: Incidentally, where was the office?
Lord: James Street. On the bottom of the left hand side [sic], going down from the town hall, from the city. Don’t know who’s there now. But Fry, I’d – Bridgewater looked after [us], he’d been with us in the West Indian and Pacific Steamship Company, and he came over and looked after our branch, and he was the man I saw as well as Fry. No-one else bothered me.
Q476: Did you see Roper at the same time?
Lord: I saw Roper. No bother about it. And Roberts, the Manager of the Leyland Line, and Roper was the Managing Director.
Q477: Roberts, the father of Sir Leslie, who’s very interested in your -
Lord: Is he still iu Manchester?
Q478: Yes. I spoke to him on the telephone. He phoned me. He was a schoolboy at the time, but -
Lord: Roberts was very nice about it. Roper, when he told me… Fry came out one day – I used to attend the office every day, at noon, we all had to. Fry came out one day and said, ‘Mr Roper says he can’t give you another ship.’ I said, ‘Why is that, Sir?’ I said, ‘Could I see him?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ So I was ushered in to see Roper, who got up from his chair and we talked. He said, ‘This is strongly against my wishes. It’s been taken out of my hands altogether – by one of the directors.’ And I was told that this director was – now, what’s his name? – Mathison [sic, actually Sir Miles Mattinson], KC. That was the fellow. He was the man who insisted that he would resign ‘if you didn’t, if you went back in the ship.’ Now that was the story I was told by Roper. He said, ‘It’s taken out of – My intention was to send you back in the ship, but it’s been taken out of my hands altogether. I’ve no say in the matter.’ And we had these directors – there’s only this man, Mathison.
Q479: And that was after the inquiry?
Lord: Yes, after the inquiry.
Q480: Did you miss a voyage for the inquiry? Or was the Californian still in dock?
[Clock strikes three-quarters of the hour]
Q481: (Resuming) And Mathison was the n_____ in the woodpile, wasn’t he?
Lord: Well, he was the man. Both Roberts and Roper told me there was no intention – ‘Our intention was to send you back in the ship.’ Roberts was always very friendly with me, and so was [W. H.] Harrison, his assistant. They were the two managers who sat in their private office – Roper sat in his private office – and that’s what Roper told me when I asked Fry if I could see Mr Roper.
Q482: Was Roper’s secretary a man called Caw?
Lord: I know the name Caw. Now, who was he? I’ve forgotten who he was.
Q483: Either that, or his daughter married a man called Caw. I’ve forgotten. But I did follow that up, for one man was left to wind up the Leyland affairs. He was secretary – the one who’d been out – who used to nip out with letters, or join you for a cup of tea sometimes.
Lord: I think Roper was dead when they wound up the company.
Q484: Still, that was a long time after?
Lord: Yes. And I think he was dead.
Q485: Do you remember where you stayed in London when you went down for the inquiry?
Lord: I don’t think I stayed anywhere. I think we travelled overnight. I went there, and I got a train and I came home.
Q486: Sleeper again, or just -
Lord: I would have had a sleeper.
Q487: I think they held you back for Groves’ day, in case they wanted to ask you some more questions?
Q488: I thought, from the inquiry, they held you back overnight?
Lord: No, no. I arrived in the morning, and did all the talking, and came home. That’s my recollection. Came back to Liverpool, because the ship was sailing.
Q489: And you sailed with her?
Lord: No, I didn’t – I was taken out of her then. Fellow took my job.
Q490: Was this before the decision was taken? You weren’t told that they couldn’t offer you another ship while the inquiry was on. But you were relieved from the ship and kept at home on pay?
Lord: Kept home on pay. I can’t think of that man whose – very nice fellow. [Captain William Masters]
Q491: He relieved you in the ship. So you were kicking your heels at home, waiting for the inquiry to finish. Did you take a lot of interest in it, reading in the papers? It must have been fully reported?
Lord: Oh, it was fully reported. What I did – I knew all about it. Didn’t bother a great deal.
Q492: And then the findings were published. When did you first hear about those? When did you first read or hear about the criticism of the Californian?
Lord: Well, of course, from the beginning… the papers…
Q493: You read it in the papers? Do you remember which paper?
Q494: Did you take many at the time?
Lord: The [Liverpool] Echo – the evening paper. I should think so.
Q495: Do you remember where you were at the time, or -
Lord: Yes, I was at home.
Part 9 : Q496-Q560
Q496: Sitting -
Lord: Sitting back, waiting for a job.
Q497: What is – what were your emotions at - ?
Lord: Well, I don’t know… I suppose – what a damn shame. And then I waited… until Fry told me this story of his, Mr Roper couldn’t give me [another ship] inaudible
Fry went back into the private office and came out and ushered me in, and I told Mr Roper, and said I was given to understand that I would be given my ship back again. He said, ‘It’s been taken out of my hands altogether – my intention was to send you back in the ship.’ And he said, ‘I’ve had no say – It’s been taken out of my hands altogether.’
Q498: Do you remember the time of day that was?
Lord: Well, that was towards noon, because we always attended the office at noon in the Leyland Line. All the Captains in port attended at noon.
Q499: Did you have a sort of Captains’ room?
Lord: No, we had – we just hung around. There wasn’t any Captains’ room then. And Fry would come out, if he had anything to ask any of them – all standing around, yarning. He’d ask – he’d ask any questions, tell them what he’d been told. But that’s what he told me, anyhow.
I’m getting that old, you know.
Q500: Well, it’s not surprising, in some ways.
Lord: I can’t walk properly, and my eyes – are hanging on. I’m that stiff, and I get very depressed.
Q501: Well, I hope that these sessions with me don’t depress.
Lord: Oh, it’s not that…
[Entry of Stanley T. Lord (Captain Lord’s son); ‘May I interrupt the conference for a moment?’
Discussion about taking of dog for walk, and enquiries about Leslie Harrison;s family and forthcoming holiday in Cornwall.]
Q502: Was Roper an ordinary business type – bearded, or – I was very interested in -
Lord: He strikes me as a man, who was in that job – expect some smart looking man in a tail coat and tall hat.
Q503: That’s why I was thinking.
Lord: He didn’t strike me as being that way. Of course, I often met him. More -
Q504: Roberts you saw much more frequently?
Lord: Oh, yes. I saw him every time we came into port. And Harrison – they were both in the same office.
Q505: What was Roberts -
Lord: Roberts was a little common-or-garden fellow, nothing out of the way. Always very kind to me.
Q506: Was he another one with a beard?
Lord: No, he had a little moustache – I think he was clean shaven. A little chap, got a long way in the Leyland Line. But there was nothing about anything… Roberts was pretty friendly to me. He told me, ‘It’s none of our doing,’ He told me that.
Q507: After you’d read this news in the Echo, did you go along to the Leyland Line -
Lord: No, I wouldn’t go ‘til the next morning at noon. Noon I went there, saw them, and Fry called me on one side, and told me this – Mr Roper – I don’t know if it was the next day. I suppose it would be, if this man Mathison wanted it. But he said that ‘Mr Roper says that he can’t give you another ship.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘that’s not right. Could I see him?’ So I went in and saw Mr Roper, who was very nice and very kind, ‘But it’s taken out of my hands altogether. Our intention was to put you back in the ship.’ And that was the same words Mr Roper used.
Q508: Was this very long after the findings, or almost immediately?
Lord: I’m not sure. I can’t say. They had their meeting in London once a week, I dare say. Well then, when he came back, he would tell or discuss it with his juniors, and I was told.
Q509: Did you go to the MMSA?
Lord: All the time. They wrote to London.
Q510: To the Board of Trade. What were they like? I can’t visualise. What were the people in the MMSA like? [Charles] Grylls was the -
Lord: Oh, Grylls was a harmless individual. His father – I’d met him, when I first joined. Grylls was a very nice fellow, but he’d no fight in him. And then there was that man, Scott – he lived down the road here. He was the cashier in those days. There were no fighters amongst them. Who was it wrote to London?
Lord: He had someone backing him.
Q512: The President? Or one of the Committee?
Lord: I can’t remember who it was, who started that. But Grylls, he got a reply like – from, well, he said we couldn’t do anything. This director, Mathison KC – I’m sure he was the man who put the lid on. Well, then I resigned. By the way, have you got Latta’s reference? Original one?
Q513: Yes, I think it’s with -
Lord: And have you got Leyland’s reference?
Q514: Yes. I’ve promised to give you a list of these, but all the papers which you’ve given me are in my safe. But I haven’t got them with me, the inquiry papers.
Lord: But Latta’s reference above all – it’s – to me, it’s a very valuable reference, from a man like Latta. If you knew Latta - he was strictly up to scratch. Everyone there had to be on their toes when with him.
Q515: What was he like in appearance?
Lord: Oh, tall, smart, gentlemanly-looking fellow.
Q516: Another beard?
Lord: No, oh no – Sir John Latta, Bart. Oh, he treated me like a prince. He told me – ‘taken out of my hands.’ He did everything he possibly could. Why, that reference he gave me, it would give anybody a job, wouldn’t it?
Q517: It’s a wonderful one.
Lord: I haven’t got the letter – I can’t fid it, that Latta wrote to me first. He said, ‘We’ve had –’
Q518: Word from Strachan.
Lord: He said, ‘We’ve had a letter from Strachan, our good friend, Frank Strachan of Brunswick, Georgia, who seems to think you’ve been very harshly treated, and he hopes that we will be able to give you a position as Master of one of our ships. He said, ‘Of course, before we say that, promise that, we would like to see you, so anytime you feel like coming down to see us, let us know.’ So I wrote down and told him I was at liberty any time. So he said, ‘Well come down when it’s most convenient and let us know.’ So I went down. Why, I had about an hour’s talk with Latta. Latta treated me like a prince.
Q519: Where was their office in those days? Leadenhall Street?
Lord: Leadenhall Street.
Q520: I have -
Lord: He was right. He was a man, a farmer’s son, Latta. He came from a little cot in Ayrshire, and he got along remarkably. He was clever – Good Lord, look what that man did with that Lawther Latta company. Look at what he worked it up to, and what they sold it for at the finish. Oh, he was a marvel, that fellow. He didn’t want advice from anybody.
Q521: How often did you meet him personally?
Lord: Well, every time I went there. Every voyage we came in, we saw him. We had to go down to see him. If we docked in Glasgow, I’d have to go down and see Latta. But that reference, that reference to me, I’d like it framed to keep it. Hand it down to my descendants – I haven’t got any, but I don’t know. But it’s - you’ve read it of course?
Q522: A wonderful one.
Lord: A wonderful reference. And Leyland’s gave me a good reference too. And all the skippers I ever sailed with gave me a good reference. But Latta’s is the king-pin of them all.
Q523: Only Lord Mersey is one you can’t add to that!
Lord: No, he – I can’t follow Mersey. I think he had to blame someone.
Q524: Reading the questions and answers at the inquiry, he was a petulant man, or impatient? He gives the impression – What’s your recollection?
Lord: Well, on one occasion he was asking – Isaacs was aksing – I could see him laugh – and Isaacs, of course, no sympathy in a man like him. John Simon was better – he was quite a nice fellow. Both asked me questions. But I think Latta – oh, he was a king-pin. And there’s two Scotchmen, Frank Strachan of Brunswick, Georgia – he’s dead now, and Sir John Latta – he’s dead.
[Clock strikes quarter-hour.]
Q525: They put themselves out, to get you something?
Lord: Oh, they did. Two Scotsmen, for the rest of my career at sea. And I never had an accident afterwards. Never cost them a penny. Latta – and when I left he gave me that reference, too. And I took over – I’d only been there about two years, and he gave me the biggest ship they every built, and I was home nearly a year with him.
Q526: What sort of pay did you get? If you were standing by ashore?
Lord: We were on half-pay. But I was ashore for about nine months, and I wrote to a fellow called Hudson, who was the outside man, and I told him, I said I was losing a lot of – I know him very well – I was losing a hell of a lot of money on this job. I said, ‘I’m on half-pay,’ and I said, ‘I can’t live on half-pay.’ So they put me on full pay the whole time I was home. I was getting £40 a month, which was a lot of money in those days, when you think the Lusitania man was getting £500 a year only, when she came out new, so I’ve been told.
Q527: You were within twenty of that, and possibly a few opportunities for perks to augment – were there many perks, or - ?
Lord: Or what?
Q528: Perquisites with the job?
Lord: Were there any - ?
Q529. Any extras came your way as Master?
Lord: £50 a year – a voyage, as bonus; but there was no comparison with these days, of course. Why, a fireman gets £40 now, and I was only getting £40 a month and £50 a year bonus. So compare that.
Q530: There’s a tremendous difference in -
Lord: I was just about ten years too soon. My salary would have been – I’d be several thousand pounds better off, if I’d saved. But Latta, of course, he treated me like a prince. As soon as I arrived in port, I could go home, that was understood with him. But that reference – there’s nobody in the world, the wide world, could get a better reference from an employer.
Q531: Most employers in those days were very chary of giving them.
Lord: I know – very chary. I think he said, ‘If it’s not satisfactory, let me know.’
Q532: After the inquiry findings came out, it must have been a bit worrying, walking about Liverpool?
Lord: It was.
Q533: Did it bother you very much?
Lord: No, it didn’t bother me very much – I’m not someone who knocks around very much, frequenting hotels and pubs. I never – I’ve lived here for fifty-five years, and I’ve been in one pub – two. One, The Victoria. Is it The Victoria in New Brighton?
Q534: I’ve never been there.
Lord: And one, The Wellington, down here. And the one, The Victoria. I went with my brother-in-law, to hear that great gasbag that used to lecture, and we couldn’t get in, so he said, ‘Come and sit in here,’ and we sat in The Victoria. And I met another fellow… oh, Baker. Baker -
Q535: Of the Canadian Pacific?
Lord: He came in – he was in the Mount Temple. He wrote a letter to me. Well, I met Baker one day, and he said, ‘Come and have a drink.’ I said, ‘I don’t drink,’ ‘Well, come in and have a lemonade.’ So we went to The Wellington. The only two pubs I’ve been in – once in each one in fifty years. So I never met people in those days. When I would go to town, I’d always go to the MMSA every time I went to town. I’d go there – probably have to, with the shopping, and come home.
Q536: The MMSA was a great club…
Lord: Oh yes.
Q537: Masters used to go there to talk and meet.
Lord: Oh, yes – a great meeting place. But I never went there for that purpose. I used to, if Grylls was busy – he always was – I used to see him, and have a yarn with Scott, I knew him very well. I joined there in Eighteen-ninety… six , I think.
Q538: When you talked about this inquiry problem, was it always with Grylls, or did he ever have anyone with him who could talk sailor language?
Lord: No, they had there – Foster, is it Foster? Chairman?
Q539: Could be, in those days. I could look it up.
Lord: Yes, I think it was Foster I used to see, Foster.
Q540: What impression did he give you? Was he retired?
Lord: He was – he gave me the impression he was favourable towards me, and offered a further inquiry. He’s the man, I think, who wrote to London.
Q541: Yes. But there wasn’t generally a lot of putting themselves out…
Lord: Oh, no. Foster was the only one. Grylls – Grylls did nothing.
Q542: Did the MMSA –
Lord: [Not] Anything like what you do.
Q543: Well, different times, perhaps. But in those days, what was the reputation of the MMSA?
Lord: Well, the Guild was just coming in, and they were fighting them. I joined the Guild also, but I never went into their office. I joined it, but I always came to the MMSA.
Q544: Did you ever feel very let down by them for those days, or are you philosophical about it?
Lord: Well, I think they did all they could. Grylls hadn’t got the knowledge – he wasn’t a seafaring man. He knew nothing about ships. And he was very kind and very helpful to me, all he could be. But there were one or two skippers there – I forget who they were – on the Committee –
Q545: Did anyone ever criticise you?
Q546: You never got into an argument about your own case with anybody?
Lord: Never had an argument about it.
Q547: Because you know that feelings are quite strong about it, in the Cunard White Star group – there is, like Bisset, quite a number of them who think that you were slumbering away happily there, watching these people drown – it’s a funny approach.
Lord: They still think it, do they?
Q548: I’m winning them over, one at a time, but it’s hard going, and Boxhall and Bisset are still unconvinced. But what I wanted to say to you – it’s rather an interesting thing – only last week, when I was in London, I was talking to [Douglas] Tennant. You’ve never met him, have you? He’s –
Q549: He’s the General Secretary of what [Capt W. H.] Coombs started, the Navigators & Engineer Officers’ Union, and he was telling me that when he was in Vancouver a long time ago, there was a story that in Vancouver there was the ex-Captain of the Californian who had changed his name, or changed the spelling of it. He was Captain Laud – L A U D – and he was reputed to be the ex-Master of the Californian. Were you ever in Vancouver?
Lord: Oh, I was in Vancouver.
Lord: Several times. A nice place – I was always received very well there.
Q551: Never resided there, though?
Lord: Oh, never. Never resided ashore anywhere in America.
Q552: I was quite sure of that.
Lord: Oh, positive.
Q553: And said I was quite sure that this was another of those legends about the Californian which have grown up all over the place.
Lord: Oh, no, I was never there. Never lived there. I was always there in a ship. I was there with Latta – always lived aboard the ships, and always had good friends there, wanted to take me out, and come to their homes. I never had any enemies that I know of, except Mersey – and Isaacs. John Simon wasn’t, I know – I could see that by the way he was.
Q554: I wonder if his son – I’ve met him on several occasions, Lord Simon as he is now, I wonder if he’s got any notes or things that his father –
Lord: Well, I don’t think his father would have kept notes.
Q555: It would be very interesting to find out.
Lord: He spoke very nicely to me, Simon.
Q556: When did you meet him – Oh, you mean when he was cross-examining you? But his attitude –
Lord: Very kind indeed. Far more so than that other bird, hostile Isaacs.
Q557: He was a prosecutor, wasn’t he?
Lord: He was a bully. He asked me something that didn’t please him and he said, ‘Now, Captain, just compose yourself and think. Do yourself justice.’ He was wanting me to give answers favourable to what he was wanting to know, and I didn’t of course.
But I went with Latta and never had a question raised. Nobody said, ‘Are you Lord of the Californian?’ or anything like that. I went back to Brunswick and saw Strachan. He said, ‘Latta’s very pleased with you.’
Q558: Agents for them as well?
Lord: Yes, he was Latta’s agent in Brunswick, and Savannah. I went to Savannah from Brunswick.
Q559: Was that the last time you saw Strachan?
Lord: The last time I saw him was 1927 – I think it must have been the early part of 1927, I saw Strachan.
Q560: That was when his condition wasn’t –
Lord: No, he’d been drinking. He was drinking. I met him in – oh, I last saw him in New York. I was walking along Broadway one day by myself – I never knocked about much with these lively skippers, and who should I bump into but Strachan, with another gentleman. So he stopped, and introduced me to the other fellow. I said, ‘What are you doing up here?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I’ve got an office over the way. Come in and see me, now.’ So he gave me the name of his office and I went to see him next day, and had a long yarn with him. He’d a bottle of whisky on the table. I think he killed himself with booze. That’s my opinion. When a man has a bottle of whisky on his office table, he’s –
Part 10 : Q561-Q587
Q561: That’s in the morning?
Lord: He’s on the way down. A clever man. Fine, six-footer. I had a great regard for Strachan, always will have. I always say – two Scotsmen saved my life, Strachan and Latta.
Q562: How long have you known Strachan?
Lord: Strachan? I don’t remember. I went to Brunswick in the Californian.
Q563: Brunswick, where?
Lord: Brunswick, Georgia. That was his office. Then he had a big office in Savannah, a few miles up the coast, where his brother had charge of that. I met him – I went, when I was with Latta, I went to Georgia, to Brunswick, and went on up to Savannah. I went up to his home, a Savannah man, and met his wife and family, and had a meal with them.
Q564: After you got the job with Latta’s, did you write to Strachan at all to thank him?
Lord: Oh, rather – I saw him after, of course. When I was with Latta, I went there several times in the ship. Where would I have been, but for a man like Strachan, with the guts to stand up for me.
Q565: It was a rather interesting meeting – or rather, ‘Ships that pass in the night,’ in a way – Groves in Sydney?
Lord: Oh, that was very funny in Sydney. We were at anchor, waiting for orders – a berth, rather.
Q566: Do you remember roughly when that was? It would be after the war, because Groves was RNR.
Lord: I was in the – I joined Latta after – 1913. In ’13, probably 1913. I wouldn’t like to say. I was several times there. How it happened – we were all being collected by the boat that took us ashore, from the agents. We pulled alongside this fellow [ss Sheaf Mount] in ballast, and the skipper coming down the ladder – the Jacob’s ladder – he dropped all his letters, and I picked – fished them up out of the water. And he came down, and I said. ‘Here are your letters.’ Oh, he thanked me very much, and I recognised him then as Groves… I didn’t say anything to him then and he didn’t say anything to me, talking as we went ashore. And then he came up with another fellow one day, and spoke to me. That was all.
Q567: What did he say to you on the second – what did he say to you when he came up?
Lord: The second time?
Lord: Oh, he came up with this other fellow, who did all the talking. He said, ‘Are you Lord of the Californian?’ I said, ‘Yes – What about it?’ As I was getting out of the boat they came on the quay. ‘Oh, nothing.,’ he said, and I said, ‘What do you want?’ ‘Oh, nothing,’ and the two of them walked away. Groves never spoke.
Q569: You don’t remember what ship it was, do you, that Groves had?
Lord: No – It was a London ship. No, I don’t remember the ship. I never saw it again, never saw him again.
Q570: You told me that when you were coming down the side of the ice, Groves was – joined you on the bridge, all hands had been turned out – and he had a comment to make on the disaster. I wonder if you remember anything he said to you at the time?
Lord: I don’t remember.
Q571: Something about Lloyd’s, was it?
Lord: About what? Oh – ‘Lloyd’s will get a shock over this, won’t they, Sir?’
Q572: That was his only comment you remember?
Lord: That’s the only – all he said. ‘Lloyd’s will get a shock, won’t they?’
Q573: When you were driving around after the Carpathia had left, looking for wreckage, he was on the bridge with you too?
Lord: Groves was on the bridge with me, yes.
Q574: Do you remember any word or comment he said then?
[Clock strikes half-hour.]
Q575: Did he draw your attention to any bits –
Lord: No, nothing at all. We didn’t see anything. We went down, about twenty miles down, past where we’d seen this ship stop, and came back again, and then I said to – to Stewart, I said, ‘Well, it’s no use stopping here any longer. We’ll go on. There’s nothing here now.’ So we went on, and ran into fog that night.
Q576: And otherwise that’s really all you’ve seen of Groves. Just the voyage –
Lord: I’ve never seen Groves since that day I met him in Sydney.
Q577: Which would be after the war, wouldn’t it?
Lord: After the –
Q578: First World War?
Lord: Oh, yes – oh Lord, yes. Where was I? In the First World War I was with Latta.
Q579: Yes, from 1913, weren’t you?
Lord: It must have been 1914, or round about then [I met Groves]. It can’t have been after the First World War, I don’t think.
Q580: In Sydney? He would have been youngish – still relatively young, Groves?
Lord: I think I was in the [Anglo-] Chilean. She was a new ship, and I joined her in – the war was on when I joined the Chilean.
Q581: She was building, wasn’t she?
Lord: She was building and was delayed… something went wrong on the trial trip. I was there on the trial trip and the old Superintendent said, ‘You’d better get home, Lord.’ I went home for another three months. Then I came back and joined her. Latta wrote and told me what he wanted me to do. He said, ‘Go on out in ballast.’ To New Orleans, or somewhere. He said, ‘Which way out will you go?’ I said, ‘I’ll have to go through, to the north of Scotland.’ He said, ‘It’s not very nice out there.’ I forget – the Pentland Firth, which is narrow. And then they changed it, and sent me down to London to load, and we loaded for Alexandria. That was in the Chilean, I think.
Q582: You told me he was very good, in any ideas, if you were out of pocket. One Continental visit by Mrs Lord?
Lord: No, he never mentioned her. Always asked if she was very well. He never met her. But on that occasion I wrote to Hudson, the outside man, and told him I was out of pocket, he spoke to the Boss, and the Boss said, ‘Well, put him on full pay.’ I was on half-pay, you see. He made no bones about it. ‘You can’t be out of pocket.’ It was the ship that was being held up, not me. He treated me like one prince. I can never say a wrong word. I never had a wrong word with him. The only occasion that I ever had a letter that I didn’t think was necessary – I was homeward bound, and had to go to Dover for orders. Well, I wasn’t in there, and going slowly to an anchor, and saw a pilot boat coming off, so I waited. And he climbed on board and I said, ‘I’m here for orders.’ And he said, ‘I know. We’ll anchor here and wait for the agents.’ Well I got orders and went from there to Hamburg, I think. Anyhow, it was one of those German ports. I got a letter from Latta there, and he said that ‘we note you’d been taking a pilot, the cost of £5 or £10 or something, going into Dover.’ He said, ‘That is not customary in our ships, who do their own piloting going into Dover.’ So I wrote back and told him that I was going to an anchor and on the point of dropping anchor, when this pilot boat came off and told me it was now compulsory. It was. So I said I anchored there. Before my letter reached London, I had a letter from Latta apologising, saying ‘It was my mistake – I understand now that in Dover pilotage is compulsory.’
Q583: He treated you like a gentleman all along?
Lord: All the time – I never had a wrong word with him. And his two brothers were with him there, and they were just as kind. I’ve got nothing but the greatest regard and admiration for John Latta and Frank Strachan – I always say that Frank Strachan and John Latta saved my life. God knows where I would have been if it hadn’t been for Frank Strachan. Strachan to start with, hadn’t I?
Fortunately I kept up a good reputation with Latta, which Strachan gave me. I corresponded with Strachan for a long time, then I heard he was dead [d. 1931] and I was very sorry, for I’m sure if it hadn’t been for booze – well, a bottle of whisky on a man’s table at eleven o’clock in the morning… He said, ‘You don’t drink?’ I said, ‘No.’
Q584: Groves has always – he said that for you. He said. ‘You don’t have to be long with a Captain to know whether he drinks or not.’ And so far as you were concerned, it was very obvious that you didn’t.
Lord: That I didn’t drink? He said that?
Lord: Nobody ever saw me take a drink. I never had a drink aboard a ship. If I happened to be at sea on Christmas Day, we would open a bottle of port wine in the saloon. I would have one glass. Well, you know what Christmas – one bottle of port wine wouldn’t go very far among half a dozen. I would only have one glass. That’s the only drink I ever took at sea – Christmas. ‘What’s yours?’ I would say, ‘I don’t drink.’ ‘Oh well, I wouldn’t have had a drink.’ Then I’d say, ‘That’s all nonsense – if you like a drink, have it.’ But I went through it, didn’t I?
Q586: My goodness, you did. This is late in the day, but there is any way in which the facts can be put right – I think to a large extent Oldham has succeeded with his Ismay book, and in a letter which I got from him today, he says that he feels that if a similar book could be written on your case, it would please you and your family. Is it a thing that on the technical side you haven’t discussed very much with your family?
Lord: Well, I did at the time. When was it – 1912, forty [sic] years ago.
Q587: I was born – I wasn’t born when all this happened.
Lord: Well, you’ve got a lot of worry with me now.