3 Women and Collapsible D


Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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As I understand, Collapsible D, the last lifeboat to be properly launched from the sinking Titanic, was lowered at 02:05 am. When it was picked-up later by the Carpathia, there were over 20 empty places in it.

Since it was a Port side boat with Lightoller enforcing his "women and children only" rule right to the end, I can understand that many men were probably not allowed to board. But at least 3 women were - or believed to have been - in the vicinity of the lifeboat and yet did not manage to find places on it.

Sara Chapman: Accounts say that she refused to leave her husband and so remained. Was this really the case?
Edith Evans: She was being hustled into the boat by Col. Gracie along with Mrs Brown but only the latter got in. Reportedly, Ms Evans simply stood back; why would she have done that if there were many empty spaces?
Martta Hiltunen: Having literally missed the boat on Lifeboat #4 in the last moment, one would assume that the young Finn would have remained in the same area to assess her chances. Yet there is no mention of her at all when Collapsible D was lowered about 10 minutes after #4. I wonder what happened?

Can anyone throw any further light on these women victims' last moments?
 

Dave Gittins

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Always remember that the capacities of the lifeboat were very nominal, especially the emergency boats and the collapsibles. They were worked out by a crude formula that allowed 8 cubic feet per person (10 for the big boats). This had precious little connection with reality. There wasn't that much vacant space in the two collapsibles launched, or the two emergency boats. Boats appeared full well before they contained their theoretical numbers.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I understand that part but I was trying to picture in my mind what the scene must have been like on the boat decks at that late stage. There must have been a lot of noise and confusion and it might have been difficult for women of those times to force their way to a lifeboat through groups of men even if the boat was only a few feet away. In some cases, like Martta Hiltunen for example, language barrier would have been an additional and perhaps frightening issue.

I wonder how much the suitcase that Martta Hiltunen was holding was responsible for her missing the boats? Anna Hamalainen handed the case to Martta while she (Anna) and baby son Wiljo got on board Lifeboat #4. Martta was right behind them but did not follow for some reason. I wonder if Lightoller or some other crew member shouted at her (over the noise they would had to) that she could not take the suitcase with her and the Finn misunderstood and thought that she was herself being prevented from getting into the boat. If the boats appeared to be full long before they reached their official capacity, such confusion could easily have arisen. Even more so with Collapsible D 10 minutes later as you have pointed out.
 

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