Arun Vajpey

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I just saw the interesting Lynskey video clip THE ODYSSEY OF TITANIC'S LIFEBOAT #2 on the OASOG real time sinking animation thread. Several significant points were raised which I noted.
  • After Lifeboat #12 was lowered at 01:30 am by Wilde and Lightoller, the presenter reckons that both men headed forward on the port side. BUT, while Wilde joined Captain Smith near Lifeboat #2, Lightoller went down to the A-deck where Lifeboat #4 had been lowered earlier. In other words, the presenter feels that Lightoller was never near Lifeboat #2. I think so too and IMO this could be significant (see below)
  • At that time, some 16 crew members, mostly stokers, had opportunistically boarded Lifeboat #2 and noticing this, Captain Smith ordered them out - an event witnessed by survivor Mahala Douglas. Wilde arrived on the scene and added his own voice to oust the interlopers; he used expletives to hurry them along, as testified by survivor Elizabeth Allen.
  • One assumes that it took a few minutes to evict the reluctant stokers and start loading the boat afresh with passenger women and children. Elizabeth Allen and Mahala Douglas were among them but the latter's husband Walter Douglas did not get in. Last his wife saw of him, he reportedly joined Archie Butt and Clarence Moore on the deck; all three men died in the sinking.
  • Steward James Johnstone was one of the crew members manning Lifeboat #2. In an unrelated statement Johnstone had testified that Boatswain Alfred Nichols had arrived near Lifeboat #2 just as loading started and told Johnstone to "watch the star". If true, it suggests that contrary to some accounts Nichols and his men did not die trying to open a gangway door as Lightoller thought. After lowering Lifeboat #12 if Lightoller had gone directly to where Lifeboat #4 was on A-deck, he and Nichols would have missed each other as the latter arrived on the boat deck near #2. (The italics are mine).
  • In his 1962 BBC interview, Boxhall said that the Captain ordered him into Lifeboat #2 and Wilde then lowered it with about 17 to 18 people on board. That could be when Boxhall arrived on the scene after firing the rockets.
  • While Able Seaman Frank Osman testified that lowering of Lifeboat #2 was smooth, Johnstone said that it stopped briefly at A-deck level to pick-up any passengers. Could that have been where Anton Kink managed to jump in and join his family (after being refused entry earlier)?
  • There were apparently only 4 oars on Lifeboat #2 and Osman, Johnstone and Kink rowed, with the ladies taking turns with the fourth oar.
  • Lifeboat #2 was still near the sinking Titanic on the port side when Captain Smith ordered partially filled lifeboats to return to pick-up more passengers. Boxhall was one of the few who responded and Lifeboat #2 rowed around the rising stern almost under the now visible propellers to the starboard side. But the close proximity to the sinking ship and consequent fear of suction made them eventually row away without picking-up anyone else.
  • Here is something weird: In his 1912 post-disaster testimony, Boxhall apparently said that they did not see any open gangway door when Lifeboat #2 went around to the starboard side. However, in his BBC interview 50 years later, he said that there was an open gangway door with a large "mob" of people there, but sure that the mob would swamp the boat if they went close, he ordered Lifeboat #2 to row away from the ship. My question is if anyone else rescued on Lifeboat #2 reported seeing an open gangway door with a crowd of people waiting just inside? It is probably significant that other than Boxhall, most, if not all occupants of Lifeboat #2 were deceased by 1962.
  • Able Seaman Frank Osman testified that he saw the break-up from Lifeboat #2 but the presenter felt that the bit about parts of Titanic's engines falling out was incorrect.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I have often wondered about the small delay in lowering Lifeboat #2, the port side 'Emergency Boat' that was kept swung out and ready for immediate launching for things like man overboard etc. Wilde and Captain Smith were in charge of loading and lowering that lifeboat and as I always believed, that "Odyssey" video clip about #2 feels that after Lifeboat #12 was loaded and ready to be lowered at 01:30 am, Wilde moved forwards on the port side to join Captain Smith near Lifeboat #2 to start loading it with women and children. But since Lifeboats #8 and #6 were lowered at 01:00 am and 01:10 am respectively and Lifeboat #4 had been lowered to A-deck by Lightoller (who went there himself after #12 was lowered), one would have thought that loading of Lifeboat #2 would have started earlier, but apparently it did not. From what I could gather, there might have been a few reasons.
  • By the time Lightoller lowered Lifeboat #6 at 01:10 am, Captain Smith, Wilde and Murdoch were in Wilde's cabin (or was it the Captain's cabin?) for the 'firearms meeting'. Lightoller joined them.
  • By then Lightoller had already lowered Lifeboat #4 to the A-deck and so Lifeboat #2 was rather isolated and temporarily unattended on the port side forward.
  • I had read in a few works that some 16 crew members, mostly stokers, used this as an opportunity to board Lifeboat #2 while the Officers were away.
  • After the firearms were distributed, Murdoch joined McElroy at Lifeboat #9 while Wilde and Lightoller went to port side aft where Lowe and Moody were loading Lifeboats #16 and #14. Lifeboat #12 was also ready to be loaded.
  • Meanwhile Captain Smith, presumably after checking with Boxhall about the rockets, went to #2, noticed the interlopers and ordered them out. This was witnessed and reported by Mahala Douglas.
  • Wilde also arrived a few minutes later and added his weight, reportedly using a few expletives to hurry the stokers out (reported by Elizabeth Allen).
I often wondered if it was actually more difficult for passengers to board Lifeboats #1 and #2 because they were already swung out and made it awkward to climb in. I discussed this with a senior ET member privately (he prefers to be 'silent' from open forums at the present time) and the following was his opinion.

One factor that I think was overlooked was the complexity involved in actually getting into lifeboat 2. To actually get into the boat passengers had to navigate their way around the paraphernalia associated with collapsible D, as well as lifeboat 2, and climb over the rail. The lifeboat must have been affected by the list to port side, as you suggest. For women in long dresses, or with small children, the actual physical challenge of getting into the boat must have been difficult. Put with the mental challenge of climbing over a rail into a boat that was hard to see, then the process of entering lifeboat 2 must have been quite traumatic.

We agreed that the issue mentioned above might have been a factor in the fact that Lifeboat #2 was not lowered till 01:45 am. By then of course, Boxhall had arrived and took charge.
 
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