Boat 4 and men pulled from the water.


L. Colombo

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Nov 22, 2012
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One thing that puzzles me more is lifeboat 4. It rescued some survivors from the water, but it’s not clear how many they were. Eight or nine? Besides, one (or two) of them remain unidentified. Other questions regard the timing of the rescue. I’ve tried to analyze the testimonies of the survivors (Walter John Perkis, Andrew Cunningham, Samuel Ernest Hemming, Thomas Patrick Dillon, Frederick William Scott, Thomas Ranger) and that’s what I’ve found.
Senator SMITH.
When you got in it, whom did you find in it?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
There was a quartermaster in charge - Perkins or Perkis. It was No. 4 boat. They picked us up. There was also a lamp trimmer in it named Hemming, and another sailor called Foley, and a fireman. The rest were ladies. Two of my own passengers happened to be there.
Senator SMITH.
Two of your passengers and Hemming and Foley and Perkis and yourself?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
And myself; yes.
Senator SMITH.
That made six male passengers?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Then there was a fireman there, as well.
Senator SMITH.
What was his name?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
A fellow called Smith - F. Smith.
Senator SMITH.
Did you see any other man in the boat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Yes. I think there was one of the galley hands; I am not quite sure.
Senator SMITH.
What was his name?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I do not know. The reason I know the names of any of them is that Mrs. Cummings, one of my passengers, sent me around to find out who was in the boat. Otherwise I would not know their names.
Senator SMITH.
In addition to that fireman, were there any other male passengers in that boat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Yes; I think there was another fireman in the bottom of the boat; and besides that there was my mate, who died just after he was pulled in.
(...)
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
When I came in the boat there was Smith, a fireman; another fireman whose name I do not know; Hemming; Foley; and the quartermaster.
Senator SMITH.
Yourself and your mate, and, you picked up another man?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Yes; Prentiss [Prentice], the storekeeper.

So Prentice was picked up after Cunningham and Siebert. Dillon, instead, seems to have been picked up before them: “I think there was another fireman in the bottom of the boat” appears to be referred to Dillon, which was, at that moment, laying unconscious in the bottom of the boat, where he has been thrown after rescue: Mrs Stephenson and Miss Eustis’s account to Gracie: “One man was drunk and had a bottle of brandy in his pocket which the quartermaster promptly threw overboard and the drunken man was thrown into the bottom of the boat and a blanket thrown over him.". This was is identified as Dillon. Dillon himself, in his testimony, says:

3931. When you were taken into the boat what condition were you in? Were you picked up unconscious?
- Unconscious.
3932. When you came to what did you find?
- I was not properly right when I came to.
3933. Whom did you find with you in the boat?
- Lyons lying on top of me, a seaman, and a passenger lying on top of me dead.
3934. Do you know the seaman?
- One was Lyons.
Obviously, neither Hemming nor Scott are mentioned by Dillon or Cunningham, since they had already been on board the boat for some time.

So we have, at least, this order: Scott (no doubt, first) — Hemming (undoubtedly second; ship still afloat?) — ship sinks — Dillon — then Cunningham — then Siebert — then Prentice.

This leaves Lyons: when was he picked up? Almost surely after Dillon, who was maybe the first to be recovered. But before or after the others? From Cunningham’s testimony it seems that Prentice was the last one to be recovered. This would put Lyons’s rescue between that of Dillon and Cunningham. But maybe Cunningham was wrong, and other people were rescued after prentice. I’ve noticed that several boat 4 survivors seems to tend to underestimate the total number of men in their boat.

Cunningham also said:

Senator SMITH.
You say you found Hemming in the boat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Hemming was in the boat, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Do you know where he reached the boat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I do not know where he got in, but he himself has told me that he was picked up.
Senator SMITH.
He swam to the side of the boat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
He swam to the side of the boat.
Senator SMITH.
Without a life preserver, 200 yards, and climbed into this boat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I do not know whether he had a life preserver on or not.
As for Hemming’s testimony:
Mr. HEMMING.
(...) I went over to the port side and saw a boat off the port quarter, and I went along the port side and got up the after boat davits and slid down the fall and swam to the boat and got it.
(...) Senator SMITH.
You swam out to this boat that you saw?
Mr. HEMMING.
Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH.
How far was it from the side of the Titanic?
Mr. HEMMING.
About 200 yards.
Senator SMITH.
Did you swim that 200 yards?
Mr. HEMMING.
Yes.
(...) Senator SMITH.
When you reached the boat, what did you find?
(...) Mr. HEMMING.
I pulled my head above the gunwale, and I said, "Give us a hand in, Jack." Foley was in the boat. I saw him standing up in the boat. He said, "Is that you, Sam?" I said, "Yes;" and him and the women and children pulled me in the boat.
(...) Senator SMITH.
How many men were there?
Mr. HEMMING.
There were four men?
Senator SMITH.
Who were they?
Mr. HEMMING.
Quartermaster Perkis, and there was Foley, the storekeeper, and McCarthy.
(...) Mr. HEMMING.
A sailor; yes, sir; and a fireman.
Senator SMITH.
What is his name?
Mr. HEMMING.
I do not know his name, Senator.
(...) Senator SMITH.
You did not return to the ship's side?
Mr. HEMMING.
No, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Not at all?
Mr. HEMMING.
No, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Or to the place where the ship sank?
Mr. HEMMING.
After the ship had gone we pulled back and picked up seven.
Senator SMITH.
Who were they?
Mr. HEMMING.
I am not able to say, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Who else?
Mr. HEMMING.
Stewards, firemen, seamen, and one or two men, passengers; I could not say exactly which they were; anyway, I know there were seven altogether.
Senator SMITH.
Name what you can of them.
Mr. HEMMING.
There was one seaman named Lyons, and there were one or two passengers and one or two firemen. Dillon, a fireman, was one of them.
Senator SMITH.
The others of the crew; can you recall that you picked up any of them out of the water?
Mr. HEMMING.
The storekeeper.
Senator SMITH.
What is his name?
Mr. HEMMING.
It was the steward's storekeeper.
Senator SMITH.
Do you remember his name?
Mr. HEMMING.
No, sir; I do not remember his name.
Senator SMITH.
Who else?
Mr. HEMMING.
That is all I know of, sir.
Senator SMITH.
You say there were two passengers in your boat?
Mr. HEMMING.
I said one or two. I could not say exactly. I know there were seven men altogether. That is all I know.
Senator SMITH.
Do you know who these passengers were?
Mr. HEMMING.
I know one was a third class passenger.
Senator SMITH.
What was his name?
Mr. HEMMING.
I do not know, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Where was he from?
Mr. HEMMING.
That I could not tell you, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Was he an Englishman or an American?
Mr. HEMMING.
I spoke to him, and I do not think he was an Englishman.
Senator SMITH.
Do you think he was an American?
Mr. HEMMING.
He spoke very good English, but I have an idea that he was a foreigner of some sort.
Senator SMITH.
You picked these seven men out of the water?
Mr. HEMMING.
Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH.
Did they swim to the boat, or did the boat go to the men?
Mr. HEMMING.
Both. They swam toward the boat, and we went back toward them.
This is what I find really interesting: Hemming says that after he was rescued (and, as a consequence, after also Scott came on board), the boat rowed back and pulled seven swimmers from the water. I’ve always read that boat 4 rescued eight people all in all, including Scott and Hemming. But, according to Hemming’s testimony, seven people were rescued after him, and this would make nine survivors, pulled from the water, all in all. Scott (who Hemming doesn’t mention at all as being in the boat, nor he mentions Thomas Ranger and maybe other men who were already on board), Hemming, Dillon (mentioned by Hemming), Lyons (mentioned by hemming), Cunningham, Siebert, Prentice (likely the “storekeeper” mentioned by Hemming), and two unnamed men. Maybe one of the two was Alfred White; another, according to Hemming’s testimony, was a third class passenger, a foreigner who spoke English very well. For the latter maybe we can search among the many third class passenger who claimed to have been in the water, but whose boat hasn’t been identified (Senan Molony’s page “Plucked from the sea”): almost all of them had probably made the story up, but one of them could be the man mentioned by Hemming. I am quite convinced that boat 4 picked up nine, and not eight, men also because of Perkis’s testimony:
Senator PERKINS.
Did you take up any more people afterwards?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes, sir.
Senator PERKINS.
Where did you get them?
Mr. PERKIS.
We picked up eight, sir.
Senator PERKINS.
You picked up eight men that were swimming with life preservers?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes, sir.
Senator PERKINS.
How far was this away from the ship?
Mr. PERKIS.
I should saw about the length of the ship away, sir.
Senator PERKINS.
You picked up eight in the water?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes; and two died afterwards, in the boat.
Senator PERKINS.
Were they passengers or men of the crew?
Mr. PERKIS.
No, sir; one was a fireman and one was a steward.
Senator PERKINS.
The others were all passengers?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes, sir. (This is obviously wrong, NdA).
(...)Senator PERKINS.
You heard the cries of the people around her?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes, sir; and we picked up eight out of the water.
Senator PERKINS.
Did those people have life preservers on?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes, sir.
Senator PERKINS.
All eight persons had life preservers on?
Mr. PERKIS.
Yes, sir.
Perkis mentions picking up eight people shortly after the sinking. Usually this figure is taken into account with Scott included among this eight people. But I am quite inclined to think that Scott was not counted by Perkis as “pulled from the water”, because he did not swim for two hundred yards (like Hemming) nor was picked up after the sinking and after spending some time in the water (like all the others). He and Thomas Ranger were just climbing down the falls to boat 4, when he fell into the water, but was immediately pulled aboard. (Well, also Hemming, according to his testimony, was picked up before the ship sank, even if shortly before; and he was not wearing a life preserver, while Perkis says that the eight people rescued from the water were all wearing it. But Perkis could have been wrong about this. Scott almost fell into the boat, Hemming had to swim for almost 200 meters, so he could have ended up counted with the other seven picked up later, while Scott seems to me less likely to have been counted among them.) So, if Scott is not counted among these eight, this leaves nine survivors including him. If we assume that, besides the identified victims and survivors, two unidentified men were picked up and one of them was a passenger, who could have been the other man? One possibility, as I mentioned, is White. But Cunningham mentioned a certain fireman “F. Smith” being on board boat 4. According to the testimony of Scott, Ranger and Perkis, the only men on board when the boat was lowered were Perkis, John Foley and William McCarthy; no firemen at all. Maybe also this “F. Smith” was picked up? But I’ve not found any F. Smith in the crew list, apart from a missing steward. Most likely he was not a fireman, but a greaser, and Cunningham mistaken Scott for Smith.
Thomas Ranger’s testimony:
4070. Is this right, that you saw one of the lifeboats, No. 4, come back to the ship?
- Yes.
4071. And you and another man called Scott started, and you climbed the davits?
- Yes, and down the falls.
4072. And you dropped into the boat?
- And the other man dropped into the water.
(...) 4074. And how many men were there in the boat?
- Two.
4075. Do you know who they were?
- Perkins, a quartermaster, and Foley, a sailor.
4076. Those were the only men in the boat?
- Yes.
(...) 4085. And you and the other man climbed the davits and dropped down into the boat?
- Yes.
4086. Did the boat then push off?
- We pulled away from the ship after we got the man in the boat by the name of Scott.
4087. You picked him up after he had dropped into the water?
- Yes.
(...) - Yes.
4104. Did you go back?
- We pulled back to the wreckage and picked up seven persons.
Ranger doesn’t mention any men swimming to the boat shortly before the sinking (Hemming), and says seven people were pulled from the water (besides Scott). But this happened after the sinking and after boat went back, so also after Hemming came on board. Did Ranger include Hemming in these seven men, or not?
Testimony of Frederick Scott:
(...) There were only two men in one boat and that was the one I got into. They pulled back for two more men, and we got in from the ship's side.
5669. (The Attorney-General.) He is right; that is boat 14; they took off two men?
- Yes; we got up on the davits and went down the falls. I got halfway down and went into the water. Ranger happened to get into the boat without getting wet. I was in the water, I suppose, about four or five minutes and they pulled me in.
5670. You were pulled in and taken into the same boat that Ranger was in?
- Yes.
5671. There were only two men?
- Yes.
(...) 5694. When the boat came to the port side we have heard either from you or from Ranger they shouted out from there they wanted two more men?
- Yes.
5695. Were you and Ranger the only ones who ran to the port side?
- Well, I do not know whether Ranger came over at the same time as me or not, but there were some stood on the port side then. There were a lot of firemen there, but they did not think about getting up on the davits to get out on to the falls.
So Scott and Ranger came on board when a call came for more men into No. 4, and this seems to reinforce the possibility that Scott was not counted among the eight “pulled from the water”. I find quite strange that Scott estimated to have been in the water for four or five minutes. Certainly, for a men who falls in freezing water, even short time periods seems like an eternity, but if Scott was immediately hauled aboard (as it seems) I don’t this should have required more than a minute or two. Four-five minutes seems nothing, but are a very long time.
Another question is how much time the survivors (apart from Scott and Hemming) were in the water before rescue. Dillon said he was in the water for about twenty minutes, and so also the other seven should have been in the water for an equal time, if not for more. Cunningham said he jumped into the water at about 2 a.m. and that swam for more than half an hour.
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I waited on the ship until all the boats had gone and then I took to the water.
Senator SMITH.
You waited on the ship until all the boats had gone and then threw yourself into the water?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Yes; into the water.
Senator SMITH.
How long was it before the boat sank?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I went in the water about 2 o'clock, I should say.
Senator SMITH.
How long had you been in the water before the boat sank?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I should say about half an hour.
Senator SMITH.
When you struck the water what did you do?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I swam clear of the ship, I should say about three-quarters of a mile. I was afraid of the suction.
Senator SMITH.
You were swimming away from the suction that you supposed would follow the sinking?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Yes.
Senator SMITH.
What did you do then?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
I had a mate with me. We both left the ship together.
Senator SMITH.
Did he have a life preserver on?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH.
What did you do?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
We saw the ship go down then. Then we struck out to look for a boat.
Senator SMITH.
You swam around in the water until you saw the ship go down?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Until I saw the ship go down.
Senator SMITH.
Then you turned to look for a lifeboat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
Then I turned to look for a lifeboat; yes.
Senator SMITH.
Did you see one?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM.
No. I heard one, and I called to it.
But timing given by Cunningham and Dillon could very well have been overestimated by being in that freezing water.
I noticed that there aren’t testimonies by Frank Winnold Prentice, John Foley and William McCarthy. Maybe their accounts could help to clear the matter. Are there any detailed accounts by them (especially by Prentice)?
 

Thomas Ozel

Member
May 17, 2012
48
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On the weblink below is BBC interview with Frank Prentice where he describes his experiences that night. He comments that there were only 7 picked up who lived - whether this is only refering those rescued by Lifeboat No.4, or whether it includes those rescued by Lifeboat No.14, is not clearly stated. In a 1966 radio interview, Prentice stated that he had spent 4 hours in the water that night, which is definitely an overestimation because Lifeboat No.4's search for survivors occured within approximately the first half hour after the sinking, as this vessel later joined a flottilla of other boats, where they took on some of No.14's passenger's (a process which must have taken a while) to enable Harold Lowe to look for more survivors, and Lowe went back about 1 hour after the sinking. Additionally, a couple of hypothermia related threads on this site, have mentioned that most victims in cold water tend to lose consciousness within about 15 minutes, so within the first half hour of the sinking seems like a reasonable time to place No.4's rescue attempt - so it seems almost certain that both Prentice and Cunningham miscalculated their time in the water. However Dillon's time of 20 minutes seems like a far more likely estimation.

Titanic Archive - Frank Prentice - YouTube

Also, I believe that Prentice (not Dillon) was the survivor who had a bottle of brandy with him, which Quartermaster Perkis confiscated. This is because on the weblink below is another thread discusssing Prentice's actions during the sinking. It includes a transcript of a 1912 newspaper interview with him, where he clearly states he had a bottle of brandy with him, which he felt could have been used to revive other men rescued from the water, if it had not been thrown overboard.

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/forums/storekeepers/19484-frank-prentice-2.html

I hope this helps.

Thomas
 

L. Colombo

Member
Nov 22, 2012
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0
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Well, Prentice's statement that there were 7 people picked up who lived, if referred only to boat 4, seems to me to reinforce the impression that 9, and not 8 (always including Scott) people were picked up by No. 4: Scott who fell into the water while climbing down the falls, Hemming who swam over to the boat in the last minutes of the sinking and 7 other people (two of whom, Lyons and Siebert, did not survive) after the sinking.
 

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