A New Theory in Topeka


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Cal Haines

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Cap'n Erik wrote:
>... In writing my paper for September I quoted several sections of testimony from both Barrett and Beachamp and came to the conclusion that Barrett is either lying or seems to be mistaken ...

Interesting. I came to exactly the opposite conclusion. I have been trough both men's testimony many times and Barrett impresses me as very truthful and consistent. Beauchamp, on the other hand, just does not make sense.

I would appreciate it if you would elaborate on why you think Barrett may have been lying. Personally, I can't think of any motive for him to lie about the things that he recounts. Beauchamp, however, seems to have been brought in to help ease over the embarrassing fact that Barrett had testified that he and one of the sainted engineers had abandoned their posts when the water came pouring in.

> ... I think Barrett didn't say 8 feet above the stoker plates he said 8 feet from the bottom. Bottom of what?? Bottom of the ship, wouldn't that be roughly 8 feet or so??

No, he's clear that it is above the stokehold plates that he is talking about. The BOT inquiry added two feet to his estimate to account for the space under the stokehold plates, above the tank top, and came up with their estimate 10 feet after 10 minutes. Here's some of his US testimony:

quote:


... She was torn through No. 6 and also through 2 feet abaft the bulkhead in the bunker at the forward head of No.5 section. We got through before the doors broke, the doors dropped instantly automatically from the bridge. I went back to No. 6 fireroom and there was 8 feet of water in there. I went to No. 5 fireroom when the lights went out. I was sent to find lamps, as the lights were out, and when we got the lamps we looked at the boilers and there was no water in them. I ran to the engineer and he told me to get some firemen down to draw the fires.

http://www.titanicinquiry.org/USInq/AmInq18Barrett01.html

Recall that Barrett's US Inquiry testimony was taken in one of Olympic's firerooms. That had to be very helpful to him in estimating the depth of water that he saw that night.

Here is some of Barrett's BOT testimony:
quote:

1926. Then what did you do when you got into No. 5? - Mr. Hesketh shouted out "all hands stand by your stations." That is for the men to stand by the fires. My station was in the next boiler room, and Mr. Shepherd and I went up an escape and down to the boiler room, but we could not get in. There were 8 feet of water in it.
1927. (The Solicitor-General.) I do not know whether your Lordship caught that. I will ask it again. It is more satisfactory than my telling you. (To the Witness.) I was asking you, and I will get you to repeat it slowly and clearly, what happened when you got through this doorway and into No. 5? You told me that Mr. Hesketh gave an order? - Yes.

1928. What was the order he gave? - "Every man to his station."

1929. Your station was No. 6? - Yes.

1930. The one you had just come from? - Yes.

1931. Then what did you do? - Me and Mr. Shepherd, that is the engineer who is in my section, go up the escape of No. 5 and down No. 6 escape.

1932. You tried to go back into the place you had come from? - Yes, we did go back, but we could not go in there because there were about eight feet of water when we got there.

1933. You could not get back to No. 6 through the doorway because it was shut? - Yes.

1934. So you had to go up one escape and down another? - Yes.

1935. When you came into No. 6 what water did you find in it then? - Eight feet above the plates.

1936. That is a rise of six feet since you left it? - Yes.

1937. (The Commissioner.) How long? - It was not a quarter of an hour, just on ten minutes.

1938. (The Solicitor-General.) You told us you got as quickly as you could into No. 5? - Yes.

1939. And when this order was given did you obey it as quickly as you could? - Yes, we obeyed it as quickly as we could.

1940. Now just think. Was there much length of time after you got into No. 5 and before Mr. Hesketh gave that order? - I should say about ten minutes.

1941. You had been in the bunker? - Yes.

http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTInq03Barrett01.html

>...Why would Barrett not be raking fires with his crew. He mentions raking fires but I don't that he was very specific in where he was raking fires.

Why? Because by the time he could return to boiler room #6 the furnaces were already under water and his men were gone. Yes, he helped draw fires, but that was in BR#5. He is very clear about that.

Hendrickson also tells us that BR#6 was flooded:

quote:


4855. Did you look down the staircase? - Yes.

4856. Did you see the water? - I saw the water rushing in.

...

4896. Did you go and report that? - Yes.

4897. To whom? - The second engineer.

4898. Do you know what his name was? - I met Mr. Hesketh first, the second engineer, and reported to him.

4899. Did he give you any instructions? - He told me to get some lamps after that and get some men with me, and get some lamps as we come along and take them down below.

4900. Where did you find Mr. Hesketh? - In the working alleyway on the port side of the ship.

4901. And where did you go and get the lamps? - In the engine room.

4902. You went right along the alleyway to the engine room? - I went right through.

4903. When you got the lamps did you go back with them? - I got all the lamps I could get that were ready. I got five, and left four or five men there to get more if they could. Then I came back by the engine room, went along and down the escape to go to No. 6 section. When I got down there I found I could not get any further, the water was up too high; so I came back by the escape again and went to No. 5 section.

4904. Did you go down No. 5? - Yes.

4905. Did you find Mr. Hesketh there? - No. When I got down there I met Mr. Shepherd; he said to me, "You have got the lamps, have not you?" and I said, "Yes, Sir." He said. "That is right, light them, and put them up by the water-gauges of the boilers." So I lit them up and took them up and came down below again, and Mr. Shepherd said to me, "Start drawing fires," and I said, "Yes." I went to pull the fires out when Mr. Harvey came and asked me if I would get some men down.

http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTInq05Hendrickson01.html

Cal​
 

Erik Wood

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So are you saying that the 10 feet is above the stoker plates or from the tank tops?? If it is the tank tops then wouldn't the 8 feet mean up to the stoker plates. If I recall rightly Beachamp said he went and drew the fires in 6. If it was 8 feet above how would that be possible.

My main concern with Barretts testimony now, isn't so much his location and when. But his estimates of water (which of course can be subject to your memory which isn't always reliable, just ask my wife about mine).

Beachamp seems to say just as much as Barrett but about the things that Barrett doesn't discuss. Like where the fires where drawn and how long it took. What the water was doing in that compartment. To me, the most interesting.

So perhaps I shouldn't have said Lying, but Barrett seems to leave out the good stuff after the accident. Agreed that his account of what happened during the accident is probably the best from below decks. But what happens after I don't know.

I can't find a solid reason as to why either man would need to or want to lie. That was part of the stuff I didn't understand when writing my paper.

I sure wish you could come up to Topeka. It would be fun to debate this face to face. Most of the testimony that you quoted above I used in my paper.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Help! I am in the position of having started an argument among my friends. Let's pause in this discussion for a moment.

Cal has carefully delineated the traditional viewpoint. He has the high ground in this argument simply because it is the conventional opinion. And, until proven differently, Cal's description has to stand as the accepted version of what took place.

Erik and I think there may be an alternative explanation, although we have not yet put forth a full and cogent argument. The proper thing for us to do is to research our scenario and write a paper listing our arguments and the proof behind them. Then, we should have Cal do what is called "peer review" of what we have written.

Finally, everything should be put in front of the ET Forum so that the various contributors can make up their own minds.

--David G. Brown
 

Erik Wood

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No argument here Dave, just friendly debating.

If you are suggesting that you and I write a paper...well I need to get my paper for September off the ground. If you think we can do both then I am more then up for it.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I've been reading the rough that you've sent me Erik. Interesting stuff, and I understand your ideas a lot better. Any idea when the finished version with diagrams and such will be ready?

I'm taking my copy of the Shipbuilder Special reprint to work with me today so I can do some extra homework on my breaks.
 

Erik Wood

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The finished product with picture will most likely be done sometime in early September. The editor is currenlty editing and once he tells me what to do what where to put stuff I will. Then I will be sure to send you an advanced copy.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Cal -- Glad to have you on board for this idea. The results should be interesting. At the moment, nothing is "fixed up" because I still have not done the research. This could become a foot-in-the-mouth-changing-exercise.

-- David G. Brown
 

Erik Wood

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When I first met Dave I thought he was one legged. Then I realized that his other foot was firmly in his mouth.

But that's ok. When Dave first met me he thought I was a yoga expert, then he realized that my head was permantly up rumpuss.
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Hey folks,

Sorry it has taken soooo loooong to get back to the conversation. I've had my plate very full lately, but now things have worked out so I can again participate. And am I glad to be back! It looks like I've already missed alot. I certainly have some catching up to do.

Erik, I am now a confirmed attendee for your Topeka event. I've already made my resv. and I'll be arriving late Friday night in Kansas City International. If you or Michael could contact me I could use some additional information. I've emailed Michael already, so Mike if you get a chance call me or email me back. Thanks so much.

Now about the above discussion. I have to say my opinion is that Barrett was in BR6 when the crash came on the starboard side. He then 'followed' 2nd engineer Hesketh and engineer Shepard, into BR5 as the WT door was closing. Why did he follow the engineer? Well he was the lead stoker, so maybe that was his duty, to be an assistant to the engineer either Shepard or Hesketh. Maybe he didn't have a fire or boiler of his own to manage. At least in my mind I never assumed Barrett as shoveling coal into the boiler. I always saw him as walking around the boiler room supervising the other stokers and assisting the engineers as needed. Afterall that is what he did after the collision, assist the engineers. Why would he do that if it wasn't already part of his duty. So when the crash came, Barrett goes to BR 5 because the engineers he is assisting goes to BR 5.

Meanwhile Beauchamp and the majority of men in BR6 stayed at their posts. They draw the fires, (rapidly no doubt because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the sooner they draw the fires, the sooner they can get the he** out of there), then they all evacuate up the escape ladder. This drawing the fires takes about a quarter of an hour according to Beauchamp. So then if there is any amount of time spent waiting in line at the bottom of the ladder for his turn to climb up, add that to the time it takes to climb the ladder to E deck and we have some time more than 15 minutes. Perhaps 20 minutes.

Barrett goes to BR 5 and then in about 10 minutes, Hesketh orders Barrett and Shepard back to BR 6. The two go up the escape and looks down into BR 6 where they see no people and 8 feet of water above the stokehold plates.

But in my opinion, Barrett is wrong in his time estimate of how long it took from the closing of the WT door until he was looking down into BR 6. I tend to think that what Barrett is saying is that after the WT door closed behind him, he was in BR 5 for a few minutes, maybe up to 10, when Hesketh orders the men back to BR 6. Then they go up to E deck which takes a few minutes as well. So its more like 15 or 20 minutes from the closing of the WT door to the looking down into BR 6. This is why Barrett sees no one in BR 6. Because Beauchamp and the other men in BR 6 have already drawn the fires and evacuated. Which could have happened in 20 minutes. But not in 10 as stated by Barrett.

Yuri
 
Jul 14, 2000
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In addition to my above post I'd like to point out a couple of curious places in the testimony.

1: Barrett testifies to returning to BR 6 with Shepard by climbing the escape, but fails to mention how Shepard gets into BR 5. Shepard is the engineer assigned to BR 6. So either he was already in BR 5 after the collision, or else he dashed back in to BR 5 from BR 6 along with Barrett and Hesketh. But who knows?

2: Beauchamp testifies that after the WT doors closed, the orders were given to draw fires. Then the order to stop drawing fires is given.
But he never mentions who gave these orders. If Shepard and Barrett and Hesketh are in BR 5, then who gave the orders?

3: Beauchamp uses the phrase: "That will do." when referring to the order given to stop drawing fires in BR 6 by our anonymous leader. He also states that the officer who later ordered him to get onto a lifeboat as saying: "That will do." when referring to loading people onto the boat. Coincidence, or blurred memory?

Now for another theory.
What if the WT doors were open for a moment, like maybe a minute or two, after Barrett and Hesketh, and Shepard fled into BR 5; and it was their orders, given inside BR 5, that were passed along to BR 6 and obeyed by Beauchamp?

And maybe Barrett followed the engineers into BR 5 not to flee BR 6 but to see what damage was done to BR 5. After seeing that BR 5 was where the damaged stopped, Barrett realized he was cut off from returning to BR 6 by the now closed WT door and knowing that it had only been a minute or two since he entered BR 5, he presumed the WT doors must have closed immediately behind him.

Hmmmmmm. Makes you think.

Yuri
 

Erik Wood

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Yuri,

Go ahead and send me an email on what information you need. I will be more then happy to get it to you.
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Erik,

I don't think I'll be able to help with setting up on Friday night unless its after 10:30 pm. I arrive in Kansas City at 9:30, and I doubt I'll be in Topeka until around after 10:00. But if you need any assistance on Saturday I'd be more than happy to help out. Just let me know.

If the party is still going late on Friday night, I'd love to hook up with the group. If not, I'll just see you at Denny's Sat. morning.

Mike answered my earlier questions already. Thanks Michael. So I should be good to go now. (Famous last words right?)

Yuri
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Well, Yuri, one could always go for the one-liners that history chose to forget. Example;

John Paul Jones "I have not yet begun to fight!"

Crewman; "Well, don't you think it's about time you did?!?! This bloomin' ship's about had it!
wink.gif


Seriously, I do expect to be there early to help set things up. I'm looking forward to a great and educational weekend!
 

Erik Wood

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Me too. Yuri, do you have a new email address??? If so please drop me a note with the new one.

Glad that the XO was able to help out. Way to go Mike that is one beer on me.
 

Cal Haines

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Yuri,

I wish I had time to make a proper response to your two posts, but I'll have to just hit the high points:

Shepherd was a pretty senior guy. He was (as near as I have been able to figure out) in charge of all of the boiler rooms. They did not have enough engineers to put one in each boiler room; that was Barett's job. He probably just happened to be in BR#5 when the collision occurred. More than likely he went forward with Hesketh on some sort of inspection.

Why did Barrett go to BR#5? Easy, to try to save himself. He describes a huge flow of water; I would have run too. I doubt Beauchamp and his mates were made of any sterner stuff or that Hesketh and Barrett were cowards.

I don't see Hesketh standing around for 10 minutes before he orders the men to their stations. To have done so would have been gross negligence. He had seen the water rush in with his own eyes, he had abandoned his boilers and his men. I can't imagine what would have been more important to him, or Barrett, or Shepherd, than finding out what the condition of BR#6 was. It's not surprising that he did not go back himself, he needed to get to the main engine room where he could use the phones and report to the Chief engineer and Captain.

Look at what Barrett says he did: 1) dive into BR#5 as the doors are closing, 2) look into the bunker and close the door(s), 3) report water in bunker to Shepherd, 4) return to BR#6 with Shepherd. He can do all that in under two minutes. In times of stress, time seems to take a lot longer that it really does, that's probably why Barrett estimated that it took ten minutes. I know that if I had been in charge of ten men and had abandoned them under such circumstances, you would have had to tackle me to keep me from getting back there to find out what happened to them. I Barrett really hung out for any period of time after the collision, he was not only incompetent and a coward, but very atypical of sailors as a whole (and the black gang was renown for being the toughest sort of sailor).

There is just no way to quickly draw the fires. The bed of coals in each furnace is about 3 feet wide, 7 feet long and 6 inches deep. It's so hot that you could not be closer than a foot or two to the coals for more than a few seconds; try holding your hand 6 inches over a barbecue for a ten seconds and you will get the idea. The fire door is about half the width of the furnace, so you would be trying to work the coal out through a pretty restricted opening. Somebody has to hose down and get rid of the coal as the fireman pulls it out, otherwise his pants will literally catch on fire. I've talked this over at length with a man who hand-fired Scotch boilers with coal on the Great Lakes; he says no way to Beauchamp's story.

Who gave the order to draw the fires? A very good question indeed! I am quite convinced that Beauchamp was, shall we say, less than truthful here.

Opening the watertight door so that Barrett or whoever could stick his head in and give orders was not an option. The doors had to be released from the bridge. When Mr. Bell ordered some of the doors opened, it took a fair amount of doing to get it done. Either Scott or Dillon talks about this.

Cal
 

Erik Wood

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Cal,

Good to see you still hanging around. I am a little confused by your last post. So when you have the chance perhaps you could elborate a little. What part of Beauchamps story did your friend tell you didn't jive??? I have figured out that it has something to do with drawing the fires.

In early posts this was my main concern. The fact that Beachamp speaks of somethings that Barrett if vague on. It seems to me (just my opinion) that Barrett is telling somewhat of a different story then Beachamp. Which is to be expected. Two men see the same thing differently.
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Hi Cal,

Good to hear from you!
Thanks for the response to my post, its very interesting. And you may be right, one or both men may be lying for some reason. But unless I am confronted with clear evidence that contradicts they're stories, I have to give them both the benefit of the doubt. Besides, why would Beauchamp tell a story like that? That he and the rest of the BR6 gang stood by their stations and drew the fires? I mean how does it benefit him to make that up? If he testified that when the WT doors shut the men all dropped their shovels and ran to the escape stairs including him, then how is that bad? I guess I just don't see any motive for him to lie.

That goes for Barrett as well. He admitted openly that when the crash came and he saw the water coming in he dashed into BR5 along with the engineer,(one of them anyway). He didn't seem to paint himself as a hero in his testimony. He didn't claim to try to save poor Mr. Shephard, he said plainly and matter of factly that he went up the escape when the water came into that compartment suddenly. If he was already lying, why pass the opportunity to dress it up a little? Its not like anyone would be around to contradict him regarding what happened in BR 5 right?

What intrigues me about Barrett's testimony is not what he says, but what he seems to leave out.
Like why did he stop in BR 5 if he was in fact 'fleeing' from the damaged compartments?
And why did he stay in BR 5 helping the engineers if all the other stokers had already left?
And why didn't he encounter the men from BR 6 when he tried to re-enter that compartment from E deck? I should reason that they would be lingering around in the passageway above the escape ladder hatchway. Even if they all managed to climb up the ladder, closing the hatchway behind them, and leave the corridore before Barrett makes it up to that spot, then why didn't Barrett notice all the coal, water and mess on the floor and doors which would no doubt be left behind if over 10 filthy stokers had just stampeeded through that small area? Its like Barrett's testimony is missing some important details. So much goes unsaid its almost painful!

But that is to be expected I suppose since he was only answering the questions being put to him. And any dunce knows that the 1st rule of court testimony is not to say too much, that is not to ramble on and on. What is that saying, give a fool enough rope and he'll hang himself.??

In this case then it could be that they are both explaining the same thing, the collision, from two different points of view and fudging up with their time estimates. Their testimonies look worlds apart at first glance but if viewed from the proper angle, the stars may come into alignment and things start to make sense.

But who knows? Maybe I'm over doing it with this. Maybe they're both just full of bull. Its certainly not out of the question. Sigh, I don't know. I just don't know.

Thanks so much for the great comments, I enjoy reading your intelligent opinions. They make me really think, which is good!

Yuri
 

Erik Wood

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Well Yuri,

Perhaps the little shindig in Topeka will help clear it up for you. Some not all of your questions shall be answered. Or maybe I shouldn't say answered but....you will be given my opinion and why.

The Barrett and Beauchamp testmonies only hit me in a odd light while I was in the process of writing my paper. It is lurking in my editors desk somewhere.
 
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